The continue countdown screen was introduced to arcades in the 80s. It was a simple and effective way of getting players to fork over more money. When you fail, the screen comes up for a limited time with a countdown to insert additional coins or press a button.

Most of these games' continue screens were pretty basic—they used simple text or huge flashing numbers on a black background—but there were some really cool exceptions, like the one above from Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and like these below:

Ninja Gaiden

Street Fighter II

Mortal Kombat 4


The Punisher

Final Fight


Final Fight 3

Primal Rage


A lot of non-arcade games experimented with unique continue screen designs, too, nixing the traditional (and now useless) timer:



Earthworm Jim

Metal Gear Solid


sources: GameOverScreens, NeoGAF, Bayonetta Wiki, SanguisArcangel

There are many more! You should storm the comments with your favorite picks.