Survival mode is a video game mode in which the player must continue playing for as long as possible without dying in an uninterrupted session while the game presents them with increasingly difficult waves of challenges. A variant of the mode requires that the player last for a certain finite amount of time, after which victory is achieved and the mode ends. The mode is particularly common among tower defense games, where the player must improve the defenses of a specific location in order to repel enemy forces for as long as possible. Survival mode has been compared to the gameplay of classic arcade games, where players face off against increasingly stronger waves of enemies. This mode was intended to give the game a definite and sometimes sudden ending, so that other players could then play the arcade game as well.
Street Fighter II on Game Boy introduced the mode in 1995, and both Tekken 2 and Street Fighter EX included the mode in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Popular games that have a survival mode include zombie games such as those in the Left 4 Dead series, games in the Call of Duty series following Call of Duty: World at War, tower defense game Plants vs. Zombies, and Gears of War 2. Also, sandbox games such as Minecraft take advantage of this gamemode by having players survive the night time from different varieties of monsters such as skeletons, zombies and Creepers.
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