The countdown timer is a concept that tells players how much time is left until the game or mission ends and the race begins. It can also be used to countdown to the start of something.
The timer starts at any amount depending on which game is being played. Listed below are some of the various ways that countdown timers are used in games.
Fighting is the first way that the countdown timer is used. It allows players to defeat their opponent in that amount of time. Some games that is used are: Street Fighter IV, the Super Smash Bros. franchise, the Mortal Kombat series and Tekken 5.
This shows players how much time is left during various sports games. Basketball, soccer and football are some examples that the timer is used for. Even Mario Strikers Charged, Punch-Out!!, the Madden NFL series, and Mario Hoops 3 on 3 used it. Other games include: NHL 09, NBA Live 09, Mario Sports Mix and more.
The next way that the timer is used for is missions. These missions has a countdown timer that shows players how much time is left during the mission. If players finish the mission before the timer runs out, then they win; otherwise, they fail.
Super Mario Galaxy is one of the games that has missions like: collecting purple coins, catching bunnies, racing against penguins and blowing up trash with Bob-ombs. Upon completion, players will get one star that will be added to the star total.
Other games that used this concept are the Metal Gear Solid series and the Resident Evil series.
The Mario Kart franchise is a great example because in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, these 2 games have missions that gives the players a chance to race to the finish line, collect coins, and beat the opponents in that allotted time. Also, there's battle mode that last 3 minutes per match (Mario Kart Wii), so that counts as another example and when the race is about to begin, then Lakitu's start signal is also acceptable in this way. Even the Wave Race series and the Need for Speed series used it. Other games included in this way are: the NASCAR series and the SSX series.
Minigames is another good way that the countdown timer is used for. These minigames have a countdown timer that shows how much time is left during the minigame.
The franchise that minigames is used is the Mario Party series. Some minigames that used this concept are: Flower Shower, Mario Matrix, Treasure Dome!, Shake It Up and more. Other games that have minigames are: Resident Evil 4 and 5 (The Mercinaries), the Mario Baseball series, Super Mario 64 DS, New Super Mario Bros. and Wario: Master of Disguise. Even the Super Mario Galaxy series has minigames, too.
In many platforming games (like New Super Mario Bros. and Sonic Rush) there are levels with a timer that tells players how much time they have to complete the level. If players finish it, then they will get time bonus points equal to the amount of time that is left. If not, then a life will be lost.