The lives system is the most pointless cliche in the entire videogame industry. No, seriously, what's the point, other than to artificially bump up challenge because the developers can't get the job done via challenging level design or tough bosses.
Back in the days of the arcade, the lives system made sense. When you only had to spend 25 cents to play the game, your gaming sessions had to be short. "Game Over" was how the game forced you to put in more quarters to continue playing. That made sense.
However, on the CONSOLES, what the heck is point?! I think AVGN said it best:
You should have unlimited continues [and lives] because the only reason you should have to put in a password [or load a save] is if you turn the game off and want to come back to it later. As long as you're still playing, you're gonna keep playing the same stages over and over and over again, so what's the point of sending you all the way back to the beginning? The earliest stages are the easiest, and they're the stages you end up playing the most. It's the LATER stages where you need the most practice... imagine if, in high school, you fail senior year; what happens? You do senior year again, right? You don't have to go all the way back and do freshman year again! SO, BOTTOM LINE, HAVE UNLIMITED CONTINUES [AND LIVES], GOD DAMNIT!
I couldn't have said it better if I tried.
And yet, to this day, we have games like Super Mario Galaxy, where the only thing loosing all your lives means is that you go back to the beginning of the level instead of the last checkpoint. It's a minor setback, and it seems like just an excuse from Nintendo to add extra challenge to the game. But it's not a "challenge;" it's just annoying. If the challenge to the levels can't stand on their own, they don't DESERVE to stand at all!
Unless it's an arcade game, there's no reason you shouldn't have unlimited lives!
Who's with me?