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Variation of the Self-Imposed Challenge. The goal is to complete the game while collecting as few extraneous items as possible.

Often overlaps with a straight Speed Run, but not always. Sometimes it's quicker for a Speedrunner to do some judicious Level Grinding or go out of his way to pick up a Game Breaker — sacrifice a little efficiency in the short-term to pick up a lot of time later. A player on a Minimalist Run will never do that. If he doesn't need it, in the strictest sense of the word, he skips it.

Sometimes called a "low%" or "0%" run, but not to be confused with a Low-Level Run (though in some games it's possible to do both). Contrast with Hundred-Percent Completion. Compare Instant Win Condition.

Examples of Minimalist Run include:

  • The Metroid series.
    • Zero Mission can be completed with only 9% items, with the only combat upgrades being the Ice Beam, Plasma Beam, and a single pack of Missiles.
    • It's even possible to beat Fusion with as few as 1% of the collectibles. A "0% run" is also technically possible, but requires superhuman timing and precision and thus has never been accomplished without tool assistance.
    • Zero Mission also encourages low percentage runs since a few of the ending pictures are unlocked this way.
    • Metroid: Other M enforces a no item expansion run in Hard Mode, keeping the player locked at 99 energy and 10 missiles. It also removes the Last Chance Hit Point mechanic.
  • In The Legend of Zelda and later games it becomes possible to skip Heart Containers, allowing for challenging three-heart runs. Conversely, the first game can be completed without picking up the sword, except for the final boss.
  • Cave Story can be completed with only 3 weapons and 3 HP. This means that damn near everything one-hit kills you, and you don't have much to use in killing them back.
    • It's also possible to complete the game with 2 weapons and 3 HP, but this involves picking up an upgrade that merges two of the three weapons and in some ways makes a "true" Minimalist Run easier. (The weapon, for those who haven't played the game, is the Snake, a weapon that can shoot through walls.)
  • In Freelancer completing the game using your starting ship.
  • Doom has the "Tyson" speedrun category, which allows using only the fist, chainsaw and pistol.
  • Most Roguelike games (notable Roguelikes: Nethack, Angband, ADOM, Moria, and the original Rogue) have variations called "challenge games" in which a player imposes limitations on himself. For example, in Nethack, one such challenge game is to complete the game without ever eating any food; in ADOM, one might try to complete the game without ever picking up more than the essential "quest artifacts". When you consider that Roguelike games, for the most part, do not allow you to restore from a save file after you die, those who complete challenge games are usually both very good and very obsessed.
    • In Nethack, the challenges (called 'conducts') you stick to are recorded by the game and included in the character dump at the end, whereas in Angband and its thousand variants, challenge modes (such as Ironman, where you cannot use up stairs, as well as others to make monsters smarter) could be set in options.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2, the only way to aquire the blue gem is to beat the game's first level without destroying a single crate. This was surprisingly tricky to many players, given the fact that there's an impassable chest-high wall past the halfway point of the level (the trick is to jump on the bouncy crate, which doesn't break with the first jump).
  • This is occasionally done as a Metagame in World of Warcraft. 'Nude Runs' consist of players leveling normally but without the use of any equipment aside from innate abilities.
    • An similar example is a Hogger raid, an unusually strong but ultimately low-level enemy encountered very early in the game, where large amounts of extremely low level players gang up on him in a kind of false raid.
    • Also done with the game's PvP, there have been instances of people going out and deliberately getting the poorest-possible gear before heading into Battlegrounds to test their skill or the power of the class (considering that this gear inevitably has no stats other than an incredibly minimal amount of armor or some very low damage on weapons, against people usually wearing equipment designed to combat other players, this can get a bit embarrassing... to both sides, depending on how they do)
  • Resident Evil 4 gave rise to the minimum shots fired challenge, all-grenade challenge, handgun and knife challenge, and no merchant challenge. Combining the last two results in the handgun and knife no merchant challenge, in which the player must complete the game using only the combat knife and unupgraded basic handgun; in this challenge, boss fights can take upwards of two hours each. Interestingly, the Final Boss seems to have been specifically designed to be beatable using only the handgun and knife.
  • It is very well possible to play all of Dead Space using only the starting weapon, the Plasma Cutter. This leaves more than enough power nodes that you'll pick up along the way (they'll be right on the main path most of the time) to fully upgrade that one weapon and your suit, plus you will likely earn enough credits to buy all of the suit upgrades from the stores.
    • It's beyond possible, it's encouraged: there's an Achievement for it. In fact, it's actually easier to use only the starting gun on the highest difficulty, to allow you to concentrate all upgrades on it and your armor.
  • Final Fantasy X may have the king of this trope: the NSGNSNCNONENNENBB Challenge. If you were wondering, that stands for No Sphere Grid, No Summons, No Customization, No Overdrives, No Escape, No No Encounters, No Blitzball. Basically all you can do is equip weapons and armour you find in its natural state, attack with anything the character started with, and use items. Needless to say, Rikku is the key to this challenge with her Steal ability.
    • There's another challenge that substitutes No Overdrives (NO) for No Items (NI). Neither have been completed.
  • In X-COM: Enemy Unknown, it is possible to beat the game by doing a single mission besides the final one. Attacking a battleship on the ground and capturing the aliens inside can provide all the research and materials needed to unlock the final mission. All you can do to keep from being fired is shoot down UFOs and researching alien technology. You will end up horrifically underfunded, underweaponed, and on the brink of being fired, but it is very possible.
  • In the original Diablo game, this was played to the extreme by Beyond Naked Mages. Players looking for extra challenge not only would ignore beneficial items, but would actively seek out cursed and damaged items which lowered the player's stats.
  • Freeware game Iji lets you upgrade no skills except health on its hardest difficulty--and since upgrading skills is necessary before you can acquire any new weapons, you are effectively limited to the puny starting shotgun, the resonance detonator, and the kick--but since your strength is also locked at one, the kick and the detonator will only affect turrets and weak doors (and the detonator is basically a longer-range kick), so you're really left only the shotgun. You are still handed a resonance reflector right before the final boss that you can actually use so that you can damage him.
  • Luigi's Mansion keeps track of how much money you earn, giving you a reward in a similarly priced home at the end. you get an 'H' grade ranking by collecting no money the entire game. Given the large amounts of loose cash, the only thing helping is that coins (which are almost impossible to avoid) can be lost by taking damage. Anything else though, required a revert to the last save point.
  • A variant exists in some Castlevania games, where players go through while refraining from using weapons or armor. The decanonised Castlevania 64 requires some form of minimalism as spending over 30000 gold blocks the good ending.
  • Ace Combat games allow you to go through them with only the starting plane.
  • Shadow Complex features two different levels of this challenge - there is an Achivement for finishing the game with 13% or fewer items, and a 'Master Challenge' for only collecting four percent - which doesn't include a gun.
  • Despite being a newer game, Batman: Arkham Asylum is already building challenges, starting from things like no detective vision (meaning you have to be much much more observant), to no upgrades during the main game.
  • Any Super Mario Bros. game (SMB 1, Lost Levels, SMB 3, SMW, SML, New SMB, New SMB Wii, etc.): No power suits. Still too easy? No mushrooms.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. It's possible to beat most levels in the game with a grand score of zero — a challenge which is much harder than finishing with 100%. This is only possible in the GBA Updated Rerelease, however; in the original, your health (which is part of your score) regenerates between hitting the exit and and the level actually ending.
    • Most of the Mario games have "ascetic" runs, where you can't touch any coins or gain any points during a stage. (Points that you gain for completing a level are excluded.) A Super Mario World hack that enforces this rule (instantly killing you if you break it) is also available.
  • Bunny Must Die can be completed with 12% items. This foregoes every ability except for stopping time for about 1 second. This includes wonderful things like turning to the right. <15% (one additional item allowed) is required for an achievement.
  • There's at least one Let's Play of someone trying this in Mass Effect 2: not doing any of the character-specific sidequests (or any sidequests at all) and just going through the main game. Tragedy ensues.
  • It's possible to play various GTA games equipped with only one weapon at a time.
  • In Aquaria, it is possible to explore The Abyss without gaining the Sun Form (which gives you light) first. It might be even possible to reach the final boss without gaining the sun form at all.
  • A lot of the items in Oregon Trail II are completely useless except for trading or making your wagon tip over.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it's possible to go through the game without using items that restore health or energy or Praxis points (how you activate augments). It's impossible to complete it without using any weapons, however, as you must fight all the bosses. While the first boss can be killed by throwing barrels at him, the third by using a takedown at the right time, and the fourth by entering a code and waiting for the boss to die, the second is completely immune to takedowns, and cannot be defeated solely by the environment.
    • The Missing Link DLC has an achievement for not using any weapons, explosives, or Praxis Kits throughout the entire add-on; your only means of offense are takedowns. Since the boss is Burke (who can be defeated with a takedown) and several of his men, a no-weapon playthrough is possible.