Low Threat Construct: Die in the name of the Evil Wizard! Nameless One: What evil wizard are you talking about? Low Threat Construct: Uh...the one that doesn't exist until you set the Rubikon Dungeon construct to *hard* difficulty level. Boy, will you be in trouble then.
Easy Mode Mockery is where the game radically changes when you play on easier difficulties. There are two ways to go about this:
The Serious Way: You cannot unlock extra gameplay modes or features on the easier difficulties. The game may also end early or not give you the best ending. This is to prevent you from just unlocking all the extras on the easiest levels and then ignoring the main game.
The Humiliating Way: The game turns ridiculous in one way or another on easy difficulties. For example, all the enemies turn Super-Deformed and your weapon becomes a broomstick.
Related to Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels, where the names of the easy modes often contain taunts. Compare No Fair Cheating, where making the game easier through cheats is discouraged. For some cases where Easy Mode Mockery is provided by other players, see "Stop Having Fun" Guys. Subtrope of Earn Your Fun.
Now a lot of these "mocking" endings are worth seeing at least once, and in a few cases (most notably Guitar Hero 2 and Rocks The 80's), you actually get rewards from the easiest difficulty you can't get any other way. However, this is cold comfort to those people who really cannot just "practice and get better", such as those with disabilities, and do not appreciate a game making fun of them for something that is entirely out of their control.
A related trope is Hints Are For Losers, which is when the game mock or penalize the player for trying to use hints.
Contrast Hard Mode Perks, where the game achieves the same result by rewarding you for choosing harder difficulties. Usually averted with a Sequel Difficulty Drop.
Spider-Man on the Playstation has a Kid Mode (or the "Easy mode that's so easy it's no fun" mode). The Official New Zealand Playstation Magazine issue #40 page 102 gives this lovely gem:
Fight like a Baby — Kid Mode is a quick way to ruin the game. Avoid it. It bypasses several of the puzzles and trickier bits and it will even complete parts of the game for you. Honest to god in the beginning of the game when you foil a bank robbery, the bank robbers set a bomb. After you take them out you have to solve the problem of how to keep the bomb from destroying the bank. On Easy, Spider-Man says "I need to put this bomb in a safe place". He really emphasized "safe". Guess where you're supposed to put the bomb.
Similarly, the Sega Genesis Spider-Man would stop you at certain points if you didn't play on Nightmare, the highest difficulty...
You can only get the best ending in Superman 64 by beating it on the hardest difficulty. Playing the game on Easy Mode will remove the (infamous) rings from the Ride stages, but in doing so, the game will end before the second-to-last action stage. Likewise, Normal mode will end before the last stage.
After you die five or six times, Ninja Gaiden Black offers you the "Ninja Dog" difficulty, which forces you to wear a girly purple ribbon and mocks you in the opening cutscene. And Ayane will insult you throughout the game when she helps.
And speaking of our demon slayer hero, in the original Devil May Cry, if you use a Vital Star anytime during the first three missions, or die three times, you are offered Easy Automatic Mode. Choosing this mode locks you into this difficulty, and you cannot unlock anything other than New Game+.
You also miss out on fighting some monsters as well. Shadows, Frosts, and Fetishes don't spawn in easy auto mode.
And even then you're stuck in the Easy-Auto difficulty. The only way to get out of it is an entirely new file.
The first X-Men game for the Sega Genesis ended halfway through on 'Amateur' Mode (the easiest difficulty level) with a closeup of Magneto's sneering face and the text, "Amateurs can never defeat me! Try being a hero!" scrolling by.
Contra 4 not only ends at stage 7 on Easy mode but outright taunts you, telling you that you'll never see the ending on Easy. With that exact wording!
You do, however, still get to unlock Challenge Mode. This is a good thing, because some of the challenges give you glimpses of the final stage, so you can practice a bit before you get to the real thing. Because beating Normal mode in one shot is more than difficult enough without the added challenge of playing a level you've never seen before.
Contra III will only let you fight the True Final Boss on the hardest setting. The Easy and Normal mode will stop after the Final Boss reveals it is Not Quite Dead and you get a message telling you to play on the next difficulty level and are promptly booted to Stage 1. However, you do get to retain all your weapons (including your stock of mega bombs), lives, and score from your previous playthrough when you restart on the next setting.
In Orcs Must Die, if you decide to play on the easiest difficulty, you will only be able to earn two skulls, the thing you use to upgrade your traps, for finishing a level, instead of a maximum of five on the harder difficulties.
Castle of Illusion ends after you collect the third gem if you play on easy, with Mizerabel merely giving Minnie back to you.
Get killed enough times in the Xbox360 Live Arcade game "The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile", and you'll unlock an easier mode, humiliatingly titled, "Pretty Princess Difficulty". Enemies rarely attack, have less health, and bleed hearts instead of blood. Some levels also feature pink hearts in the background, further emasculating and ridiculing the player. To add some context, this is a very violent and bloody game, presented only in black and white. The pink hearts are extremely noticable.
In the PSN/XBLA game Capcom Arcade Cabinet, all the games have a "Casual Mode", which features extra lives and easier enemy placements, but you cannot earn Achievements/Trophies in this mode.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers on the Sega CD will end on earlier levels when playing on lower difficulties. You can only play the entire game on hard mode. This is bizarre for a game seemingly aimed at the youngest of players.
Some LucasArts adventure games such as the Monkey Island series offered a Lite mode which had fewer puzzles and shorter length. It's really not worth playing these no matter how bad you are at adventure games because you aren't getting the full experience: in this case, playing the Easy mode is its own punishment.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge labeled the two modes and gave each a subtitle; Easy mode was "I've never played an adventure game before, I'm scared", and if you chose this mode, most of the puzzles were solved for you, making for a very unsatisfying experience (In addition, the Lite mode was advertised on the back of the game box as being geared towards video game reviewers). The Curse of Monkey Island, by contrast, had regular (Being a Swashbuckling Pirate Adventure) and Mega Monkey (Being a Swashbuckling Pirate Adventure, But with More Puzzles) modes. Regular was a complete and satisfying game experience; Mega Monkey added puzzles to the normal mode for people looking for a greater challenge.
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow has two possible routes to the endgame, a long one and a short one. Taking the short one locks you out of several sidequests and has a much more bittersweet denouement. Cassima even wistfully laments all the things Alexander didn't do because he took the short path.
Dark Queen: We might be evil, but at least we don't cheat!
The Genesis version of Golden Axe has a Beginner mode consists of only three stages, ending the game with a battle against Death Adder Jr., a weaker version of the real Death Adder.
Streets of Rage 3 on Easy difficulty in the American version would end after defeating Robot X, who would say, "You play this game like a beginner." This is just plain mean, as the NA version bumped up the difficulty, with Normal being the equivalent of Hard in the original Japanese version. In other words: you get punished for playing on Japanese Normal. A highly unnecessary case of Nintendo Hard gameplay. A code that lets you choose a level to start from can bypass this.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge for the NES gave it to you on this one in the American version. Playing the game on the "Practice" setting only takes you to the third stage, while "Warrior" takes you through the whole game except for the final stage. Fighting the True Final Boss to see the ending can only be achieved by playing the game on "Supreme Master", the hardest of the difficulty settings.
The Japan-only PC Engine version of Double Dragon II actually has Multiple Endings depending on the difficulty setting. The Easy mode ending is the bad ending where the final boss escapes during the last battle, while the Normal and Hard mode endings are a Segmented Ending. The Normal ending shows the final boss giving his dying speech, but only the Hard ending shows Marian returning to life.
The Game Boy version of Double Dragon II, a completely different game from the aforementioned versions, ends the game after the first four (of ten) stages when played on the Easy setting.
If you select Easy on God Hand, Gene will mock you by saying, "What, you want me to hold your hand?" In the game itself, Easy mode restricts the in-game difficulty meter to the two lowest levels, so players will only earn low rewards on the enemies they kill.
In the SNES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the ending on Easy or Normal mode merely consists of Splinter telling you to hone your skills more, followed by Shredder laughing at you. In true Konami fashion at the time, you have the beat it on Hard mode to see the real ending.
Collectible Card Game
In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Stairway to the Destined Duel, if you lose 5 times in a row, you unlock Mokuba as a duelist, and he's laughably easy. Note that your starter deck is usually pretty bad, so unless you buy the real life cards or look the codes up on the internet and enter them, you will lose. A lot.
Twisted Metal 2. When played on Easy, the game ends just after the first boss with a big stop sign featuring the message "No losers allowed beyond this point".
Rock N Roll Racing limited what planets you could race on (and thus what cars you had access to), depending on the difficulty setting. The last planet was only playable on the highest setting, and to make it more challenging, the tracks from it weren't available in the practice mode (where you could choose the planet you wanted to race on.)
The number of laps on a race in Fatal Racing is difficulty dependent. Girlie mode has this below 5 laps for all of the first two cups. Two problems come from this: first, the AI is NOT restricted by the acceleration and braking stats of the car they drive (which means the slowest car can pass you from 16th place on the first lap), and second, the 8th course of the first two cups is nigh-unwinnable on Girlie mode, and most of the other tracks are difficult to get decent placement on, requiring a near-perfect performance on all 8 tracks in championship mode to win. The final slap in the face? The third cup is only unlockable on Impossible or DEATH difficulties - by clearing BOTH cups before it on that difficulty!
To be fair, Girlie mode isn't intentionally more difficult than several higher settings, it just happens to be that way due to the short race lengths. A similar issue occurs in Wipeout 2097/XL where the first track on the slowest speed setting is actually difficult in a slow ship because you only have slightly over a minute to overtake 11 opponents.
This is more like an unexpected gameplay change. On Girlie mode you just have to pick a fast car and overtake everyone, much like a traditional arcade racer; damage is largely irrelevant. On Impossible and DEATH, due to races that last well over 15 laps and the lack of ways to actually outrace opponents when the track is not favourable to your chosen car, the only way to win some of these races is by having a better pitstop strategy, which also forces you to crank up the damage multiplier. In short, the easier difficulties do not prepare you for the real game in any way shape or form.
If you beat Rogue Trip using one of the unlockable vehicles (which a vastly more powerful than the regulars), the AAA representative, who usually gives you a code, tells you, "My grandma could win using a vehicle like that. Try again, this time without using a ringer!"
In Mario Kart 7, the top screen on the Nintendo 3DS shows Mario demonstrating how fast you'd expect to be going when you select a difficulty level. In 50cc mode, Mario drives really slowly.
On top of this, the added beat to the music that plays when you have a big lead in a race doesn't play on the easy setting. However, you'll have to complete races on 50cc to unlock some kart parts and earn your star ranks.
Super Mario Kart doesn't allow you to race in the Special Cup on 50cc. You have to play on at least 100cc to see it.
Rage Racer mocks players who use automatic transmission by not having AT on new cars that are Grade 4 or higher; you can only use them in manual transmission.
Even the old One Must Fall fighting game got in on the trope: you had to have the difficulty set to a particular level—or else the end boss of the story mode would mock you when you reached him and you couldn't complete the storyline.
Or in Tournament Mode, the "unranked challengers" only appear if you're competing on a high enough difficulty (among other conditions). If you want to get all the secret upgrades for your bot, you need to be playing on either the second hardest or hardest difficulty.
The Game Boy version of the original Killer Instinct just rolled the credits after the fight against Fulgore on the easier difficulties, so no one could see the ending or even the final boss.
The SNES version of Killer Instinct has 6 difficulty levels, each of them having a different ending text depending on the level you beat the game on: everything below 4 just earns you different degrees of mockery about the final boss being as much of a wuss as you are, 4 showing the actual character-specific endings and 6 revealing the code to play as the boss.
The Nintendo 64 version of Killer Instinct Gold was also guilty of this. If you play through the game on Very Easy, you won't even get to the end boss; you instead get some saditty message about not being worthy, then the credits roll. At Easy, you fight him but will not get an ending after winning.
In the first Sailor Moon video game for the Super Famicom, a sidescroller released only in Japan, you can only complete the first two levels in easy mode before the game ends.
Xenophage Alien Bloodsport does not allow you to fight either boss on the easiest difficulty. The next one up only lets you fight the first boss, and you have to be playing on at least the middle difficulty to fight the second boss. Even on the easiest difficulty the game is still pretty hard.
Mortal Kombat 3's difficulty selection on the PC included "Wuss" in place of the easy option.
In Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 console games and Trilogy, your reward for winning was determined by your level.
Also, selecting tournament difficulty would have Shao Khan laughing evilly. Selecting the easiest/shortest tournament would have him say "You make me laugh" in a condescending tone.
There is a Game Boy Color Shrek game called Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown, in which selecting the difficulty uses Donkey's head as a cursor. If you select easy mode, he will stick his tongue out at you and even on medium, he will not look impressed.
In a related phenomenon, the tutorial for the easier control scheme in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND is less the usual tutorial interspersed with insults from Rachel, and more insults from Rachel interspersed with a tutorial.
Wolfenstein 3D and its sequel showed the protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz's face next to the difficulty selector, with increasingly fierce expressions as the difficulties got harder. The easiest mode, "Can I play, Daddy?", shows him wearing a baby's bonnet and sucking a pacifier.
The second easiest mode isn't much kinder: "Please don't hurt me." It shows him looking scared.
This mocking naming of difficulty levels would continue through the Doom series ("I'm Too Young To Die" and "Hey, Not Too Rough") and Heretic ("Thou Needest a Wet Nurse" and "Yellowbellies-R-Us").
The PS1 version of Doom just states it outright. "I'm Too Young to Die" is now named "I am a Wimp".
Rise of the Triad insults you for the two lowest difficulty settings. One of the possible names for the lowest one is "I am a chew toy" with a picture of a doll in a dog's mouth, while the second-lowest is "Will of iron, knees of jello," with a picture depicting a dollop of smelted iron on a cube of jello.
Painkiller will disable levels unless you play on Trauma (the hardest) difficulty. Frustratingly, playing on Trauma disables the 5th chapter of the game because the game's semi-true ending takes place at the end of the 4th chapter. Not to mention Trauma changes the rules such that certain bonus objectives are impossible to achieve. You get the option of starting with all the bonuses from your last playthrough at the second hardest difficulty, but that's actually easier than starting over on the hardest. Whee.
In addition, when selecting Daydream as the difficulty level at the start of the game, the game outright warns the player that Daydream is intended for beginners and thus extremely easy. And that the bonus tarot cards are disabled and can't be earned at all.
Any difficulty not Trauma also (possibly intentionally) creates a Plot Hole in the ongoing story - it's not explained how you meet Eve, a character who helps the PC.
Halo: Easy is the only difficulty that does not yield an achievement upon completion of the campaign.
In Postal 2, the police meter goes down much slower in the easier difficulty levels, and you can't unlock Enhanced Mode if you play at a level below "Average". The very easiest difficulty level arms pretty much all characters with shovels instead of guns. Not exactly a punishment, although you do miss out on how the game was meant to be experienced. Also, since no one really has guns, finding ammo is nearly impossible.
The easiest setting is called Liebermode (a shot at former Senator Joe Lieberman, one of the most vocal Moral Guardian crusaders against video games). In it, not only is everyone significantly less agressive than they could be, just about every weapon people wield are tazers that quite literally do absolutely no damage when wielded by anyone other than the player.
When you play Serious Sam HD on the "Tourist" setting, enemies explode into puffs of flowers instead of clouds of blood.
You get double the health plus regeneration on the easiest mode. On the Xbox version of Serious Sam it shows a picture of Sam dressed as a baby, fitting enough.
The trend is continued in Serious Sam 2, pacifier and all.
TimeSplitters 2: The campaign missions are shortened on Easy difficulty, causing them to end about halfway through.
The only way to enable full episode selection in SNES Doom was to play on a high difficulty. Selecting easy mode forced the player to go through the entire game from the beginning to even see the later levels. On the SNES, picking "I'm too young to die" would get you brutally murdered and chucked back to the title screen with no explanation at all after beating the boss of "Phobos Anomaly", .
On the other hand, they save the mockery 'til the end, which avoids the problem of driving away newbies before they've become thoroughly hooked.
In Galactic Civilizations II, a turn-based space strategy game, the AI of computer players is circumscribed on lower difficulties. As an example, on an easy setting, the AI will not react to your assembling an invasion fleet directly next to one of their planets. It will, however, pop up the diplomacy screen and tell you he knows what you're doing — it's simply that his generals are too stupid to take appropriate actionnote Print game journalists often play games on easy settings to work through them more quickly, and Stardock was concerned that because the AI was nerfed on those difficulties, reviewers might unjustly pan their AI players. The AI notifications were put in to forestall this possibility, and it was largely due to the overall tongue-in-cheek feel of the game that it took the form of mockery..
The NES and Game Boy versions of The Lion King end early if you play them on "Cub" mode (as Scar puts it on the ending screen, "Well done, my little cub, but that was Easy"). The Game Boy version, being longer than the NES version in a twisted form of logic, ends at The Stampede on Cub mode; the NES version ends after the Elephant Graveyard.
"Kids" difficulty in Viewtiful Joe unlocks nothing, and your power-ups in that mode don't transfer to the other difficulties. The one exception was the PlayStation 2 port of the original, which unlocked Dante from Devil May Cry on completion in any mode.
The PS2 version also has an even easier difficulty level called "Sweet" (an outright Take That against the player; "sweet" and "naive" are the same word in Japanese).
In I Wanna Be the Guy, setting the difficulty to Medium (the easiest level) puts a pink ribbon in The Kid's hair, which is now feminine and long. Also, the save points that aren't there in Hard mode have the word "Wuss" in place of "Save".
Early versions had an Easy mode. It would kill you in the title screen to save you the trouble of playing the game.
I Wanna Be The Fangame has certain areas you cannot reach on Medium as you'll be blocked by a force field labeled "no ribbons".
Rick Dangerous 2: the game allows you to start in level 2, 3 or 4; however, you don't actually unlock the final level, or see the ending, unless you start from level 1.
In addition to naming its Easy Mode "Child's Play", the SNES title Plok not only gives you slower-moving enemies, but also cuts out many of the game's levels, including the Legacy Island world and the final Fleapit stages (ending the game instead on a screen challenging you to play on Normal).
You could also destroy the normally indestructible rolling logs with your limbs on "Child's Play".
The Genesis version of Sparkster (not to be confused with the Super NES version, which was a different game) uses a surprisingly subtle form of this, skipping levels instead of ending them early; unfortunately, the very first skipped level contains one of the MacGuffins you need to unlock the true ending. (All the others are available in all difficulty levels, of course.) Oh, and having all seven MacGuffins gave you significant advantages against the final boss: namely a fast-charging rocket-pack and immunity to one of the first form's attacks.
Speaking of the SNES Sparkster, it has this even at Normal Difficulty. Easy mode is labeled Digest (which is their way of saying "this mode is missing lots of stuff"), but there's really no excuse for Normal mode to not have the final boss in it unless they really wanted it to be a True Final Boss.
The DisneyHercules computer game, when played on the Easy setting, ends on the Mount Olympus level with Hercules freeing Zeus. It ends with a nice little still image and the usual "now try a higher difficulty" message.
In Metroid Zero Mission (the remake of the original NES Metroid for Game Boy Advance), there are numerous ending images that you can see showing Samus in various states of disarmament: from full Power Suit, to helmet removed, to armor removed and in the Zero Suit (blue jumpsuit), to armor removed and in short-shorts and a small top. Which image you see is determined by your completion time and item percentage. But if you play on Easy, you'll only ever see the image of Samus in full armor, sitting atop a rock.
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose has the game skip parts of the levels, one whole level, and even the ending if you happen to play the easiest mode... And it's the only difficulty where you get passwords.
Your moves are also altered: on the easiest mode your dash on its own will count as an attack, while in harder modes you have to do a dashing leap or slide to avoid damage.
Castle of Illusion's "practice" mode offered heavily shortened, boss-less versions of the first three levels, and instead of fighting the big bad Mizrabel you'd buy her off with gems.
"Lil' Kids" mode in ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron made it impossible to die, but ended the game after level five, thus robbing players of the chance to collect the Funkopotamus' favourite things and get the good ending.
The Castlevania for the Nintendo 64 ends after the Castle Center level if you play on the easiest difficulty setting.
In Mega Man Powered Up the final battle with Dr. Wily ends after the first phase on Easy Mode, wherein Wily escapes cackling "Maybe next time!". It still gives you the normal credits sequence, though.
Hammerin' Hero unlocks "Apprentice" difficulty (the lowest setting) if you should get Game Over three times at any point in the game. Playing any level on Apprentice starts your hero off with a blue helmet, which allows him to absorb two extra hits before dying.
Prehistorik Man, when played in Easy mode, ended in level 14 out of 23, right after the second boss.
Monster Bash has three difficulty settings, each with a picture of the hero flexing his muscles next to them on the selection screen. The "Easy" setting, however, features him Flexing Those Non-Biceps.
The Xbox LIVE Arcade title ''Splosion Man offers the player the chance to skip a level if they die too many times attempting it. A picture will come up on the screen stating that you can now select the "Way Of The Coward" option from the pause menu. Your punishment? You WILL wear a tu-tu in the next level.
The sequel, Ms. 'Splosion Man will let you "Cheat on the Game", letting you skip to the next checkpoint if you die on one section of the level multiple times. That said, you will suffer the effects of "The Curse": Your score for the level goes to zero, your time for the level goes to 999:59:99, and worst of all Ms. Splosion Man suddenly gains a lot of weight in her rear and the background music changes to a pro-"Ba-Donk-A-Donk" song.
The easy mode in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (accessible by pressing Select on the file select screen) changes Mario from regular size to small on the file select screen and causes a screen reading "EASY MODE" to pop up before you enter every stage.
In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, if you die around five times, you are granted an Aku Aku mask for every time you die until you get another checkpoint. If you happen to die so much, either because the lack of skill or you are trying to get 100% on the level "Cold Hard Crash", the closest box becomes a checkpoint.
Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers took the "fewer levels on easy mode" idea Up to Eleven—it had a difficulty slider, and the lower it was set, the fewer levels you could play, down to just the first level at anything below 11%. If you want the whole game, you'd have to set it to at least 81%.
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, you can have the Cosmic Guide play a level for you if you die too many times in it. However, you get a bronze star rather than a genuine Power Star. They count toward your total star count, but if you have even one bronze star in your inventory, you can't unlock the final level. The Cosmic Guide will not work if you're playing as Luigi, however.
Unfortunately, 3D Land and NSMB Wii actually do that if you are offered use of the easy mode, which is a damn shame because it doesn't distinguish between bad players training to get better and bad players selecting easy mode. NSMB 2 seems to have fixed that.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels featured a variation of this: If you use any warp zones (even the ones that send you back to an earlier level) while playing this game, then you cannot unlock World 9. If you beat Worlds 1-8 without warping and complete World 9, but use warp zones in Worlds A-D, then you will be locked out of World 9 the next time you play it.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 indulges in this a bit; once you've chosen your character, you choose the difficulty mode, with a corresponding picture of Jazz, Spaz, or Lori, making implications about who that difficulty mode is intended for. Normal mode is your chosen rabbit, no bells and whistles; hard mode gets a hulked-out, 'roided-up version; and easy mode gets a cute little melonheaded baby version.
Used to a degree in The Impossible Game. While the game ordinarily plays high pace, energetic music while in regular play, it switches to a what can only be called a child's lullaby if you go into Practice Mode.
The Lost Vikings 2 would add dialog to the normal screen of your vikings being revived if you died in the first level, telling you that since you're so utterly hopeless that you managed to die before the game has really even started yet that you're going to get some extra powers to help your sorry ass get through the game. That said, it's literally impossible to die on that particular stage unless you're actively trying to, so it's more like an Easter Egg: said powers made most of the game a lot easier.
Bonk's Revenge ends after the first boss on Easy difficulty, and after the fourth boss on Medium.
Distorted Travesty will mock you regardless of what difficulty you play on, but it will mock you even harder if you play on Easy mode.
Playing Jumper Two on easy mode disables time trials, making secret stages unavailable, adds a green "easy mode activated" displayed on stage select screen and file loading screen and checkpoints that weren't tested well.
In Sonic Heroes, if you're playing as Team Rose, the length of every level is reduced (i.e., you start off Seaside Hill after the huge jump that you go through as Team Sonic and Team Dark) and your Team Blast gives each member of the team an attack increase, a shield, and invincibility. Might count as a subversion, since you have to beat their story to unlock the ending, and eventually, the True Final Boss.
Skipping levels in 1001 Spikes is clearly designed just for beginners - Skipping any level locks off the end of the Ruins until you go back and complete it, and by proxy Blocks off every level after that. No levels after 5-6 are skippable unless you buy a certain item.
In the SNES game Tetris Attack, the story mode ended at different points on each level. Easy mode ends after the second boss, Medium ends after the third, and only Hard and higher allow you to actually face Bowser himself. The original Japan-only Panel de Pon (which Tetris Attack and all the later Puzzle League games are based upon) had an identical system.
Furthermore, clearing Tetris Attack's story mode on Easy doesn't give you an ending, only a simple "Congratulations!" message, accompanied by Yoshi wishing you good luck on the next difficulty level. Idling at this screen would cause Yoshi to inform you that you won't be getting any special reward for finishing Easy mode, and you should just press Reset (which wasn't actually necessary— the localization lets you just push A to exit the ending screens). Further idling causes him to yell at you.
Yoshi: HEY! I'M NOT KIDDING! That's all, there isn't anymore. Press RESET!
There was also an option in the settings to have the game play itself, with several levels of skill. Trying to use this to complete any mode with an ending gets you a message telling you to play for real.
In Pokémon Puzzle League for N64 (which was actually an unreleased in Japan sequel to Panel de Pondolled up), Easy Mode stops you after Giovanni, Medium stops you after Bruno, Hard stops you after the second Gary. You get a cup at the end of Hard, but the true ending isn't seen until you beat the game on Very Hard or Super Hard.
Volfied ends the level before the final boss in easy mode.
The Myst manual, after informing you how to use the help mechanic, (something never told to you in-game, and written outside the main text of the manual, by the way) tells you that Real men and women don't cheat
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine has a particularly annoying invocation of this trope. Beating the game on a difficulty setting other than Hardest prompts a message to try again on the next highest difficulty. The message for beating it on Hardest? "Thank you for playing." In other words, it's even more of a mockery on the highest difficulty.
Playing Dr. Mario (in the NES version, at least) on its lowest speed setting, in addition to the decrease in score, locks you out of the between-round intermission cutscenes.
In Gruntz, the "Easy Mode" disables the timed trap-doors in the High Rollerz world... which makes some of the levels unwinnable (you are supposed to push overpowered enemies into them).
Turn Based Strategy
Agarest Senki has a difficulty system which has an impact on a carryover to a New Game+. If you play on easy, you'll only be able to transfer a few things from the old game save to a new one in a different setting. On the other hand, finish the game on Hard lets you carry over everything from the old file to the new one on any setting.
The Japanese version of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn cut out some of the dialogue when played on the easiest difficulty. The international release used only a single script for all three difficulties, but for some reason it was the shorter version. There was also an unintentional one in the US release: If you had an easy mode save on your memory card, then when you attempted to transfer data for the Old Save Bonus the game would freeze. note This was because the international release of Path of Radiance took out that game's hardest difficulty setting and replaced it with an even easier easy mode, and the developers of Radiant Dawn forgot to account for this when they designed the Old Save Bonus. This was fixed in the PAL version.
An incredibly minor example in two Fire Emblem games: NewMystery of the Emblem introduces Casual Mode, which disables Perma Death and allows Save Scumming. It also introduces Lunatic Mode, the second-hardest difficulty level in the game. Your reward for clearing Lunatic is, naturally, Lunatic+, the actual hardest. But if you clear Lunatic on Casual, you unlock Lunatic+ for Casual only. This is carried over in Awakening.
Real Time Strategy
Quitting a Skirmish in Age of Empires III and opting for an easier difficulty will make the NPCs comment on your weakness.
Myth: the Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soul Blighter have rather epic descriptions of the various difficulty level. "Timid," the lowest difficulty setting, describes the game experience ahead as "You will grow tired of blunting your weapons on an army of mindless corpse-men, and the sweet taste of victory will turn to ashes in your mouth."
In Defense Of The Ancients and a commercial spin-off Heroes of Newerth, there is easy mode. This is a competitive PvP game so it doesn't actually make it easier to win because the opponents have an easier time too. What it does is give you more gold across the board and reduce tower hp, supposedly to make games go faster; in practice it throws off balance and turns the game into 'carry mode' where endgame heroes dominate. Consequently, if you play easy mode games (and Ho N has a running counter of just how many you played) you get mocked and often even kicked from games. God help you if you played 100 easy mode games before you were told that only noobs do that.
On the first two Guitar Hero games, you earn no money in Easy Mode and cannot access the Store. The second game is particularly mean, as you aren't allowed to perform encores and cannot access the last set of songs, preventing you from playing them in Quickplay, and are told to try the harder difficulties on the loading screen. (This is rather frustrating when you realize you must complete Easy and five-star all the songs to unlock two of the guitars.) The third game, which is somewhat harder on all difficulties than its predecessors, removes these limitations.
Rock Band, made by the same company that made the first two Guitar Hero games, returns to this trope in the solo modes, preventing you from unlocking the last sets of songs on the Easy career tour. The multiplayer Band World Tour mode takes this further: after a certain point, the Easy difficulty is locked out, forcing everyone to play at least on Medium.
Rock Band 2 continues the tradition. If certain songs are in your setlist in tour mode, Easy difficulty is locked out. On some late single-song gigs, Easy and Medium difficulty gets locked out, forcing everyone that was on Medium to jump to Hard.
Going even earlier, Harmonix's first two games, Frequency and Amplitude, lock out certain songs depending on your difficulty level. The only way to unlock every song in the game is to beat in on the highest difficulty. This isn't so bad in Amplitude, but in Frequency, your hands would sooner liberate themselves from your arms and jump out the nearest window.
Parappa The Rapper's spiritual sequel Um Jammer Lammy gave you an Easy mode, where the game ended after the Hell/Desert Island (depending on your locale) level, preventing you from playing the last song or seeing the ending.
The original Parappa The Rapper ends after level 3 on Easy. It also doesn't allow you to save your progress.
In DJMAX Portable 2, if the difficulty in the Options menu is set to Easy, you will not be able to level up after Level 30, unless you change the difficulty to Normal or Hard, you'll get less points, and you won't get as much EXP or Gold. You also can't unlock any songs for "8-Button Mode" play unless you bump up the difficulty.
In DJMAX Fever, which plays almost exactly like DJMP2 but with different songs and missions, the level cap is removed and the scoring penalty is weaker; you only lose 5% of your points.
In beatmania IIDX, using the Easy modifier to clear a song will mark your status for that song as "EASY CLEAR", although a non-Easy clear, Full Combo, or Perfect overrides it. Newer installments have an "Assist Clear" status that is even lower than Easy Clear, for using Assist mods (Auto-Scratch, Legacy, and 5-key, or any combination thereof), while earlier versions wouldn't even count anything played on Auto Scratch and/or 5 Keys besides incrementing the song's play count.
In Pop N Music's Enjoy mode, the game hides the score display, and you can't use any modifiers, not even Hi-Speed.
Guitar Rock Tour on Easy Mode ends with the characters musing about how their rise to stardom came way too easily.
In Hatsune Miku Project Diva F, playing on the Easy difficulty prevents you from unlocking the Hard versions of songs, and some modules and items. Additionally, if you choose to use a help item, the rank shown will have a green heart beside it. Some help items go further and automatically give you the CHEAP/LOUSY rating regardless of performance, preventing you from unlocking new songs.
Role Playing Game
The secret movies at the end of Kingdom Hearts won't unlock if you're playing through in Easy mode.
This is carried into Birth By Sleep as well; on Normal difficulty, you have to fulfill several rather demanding tasks in order to 100% the game and unlock the true ending (which provides real resolution, unlike the other episodes), whilst in Proud and Critical you simply need to complete the final episode, and on Beginner you can't unlock the secret ending at all.
Barbatos, the Bonus Boss of the PS2 version of Tales of Destiny, if fought on the Simple difficulty, will immediately start the fight off with an upgraded version of his Genocide Braver called Cheap Eliminate, his quote for the attack being something that roughly translates to "You aren't qualified to fight me!". It covers the entire length of the screen in front of him, and is instant death for anyone who gets hit by it, save for those using certain invulnerability granting moves. He'll then use it immediately after every single attack he performs, but can be defeated if one can get close to him, where dodging it becomes a simple matter of dashing past him when he starts firing it and countering accordingly. The battle generally ends up becoming a solo job due to the AI being incapable of dodging the move consistently, however.
In the Updated Re-release, he gains a new attack called Hell Heat that fires dozens of similarly powerful homing beams that he'll use in between every few Cheap Eliminates (And almost constantly at low HP). This will wipe out those who opted to dodge the former attack by simply jumping over it, but can still be negated through other means. His stats also got buffed so he doesn't go down nearly as quickly as in the original version.
While Fallout 3 will not actively taunt you, you take a penalty to all experience earned in Easy and Very Easy mode (you gain a proportionate boost in Hard and Very Hard). The game doesn't shut of features per se, but it will be difficult to reach the level cap (and the nifty Perks found there) with the heavy XP nerf that playing on Very Easy entails.
Playing Easy mode in Valkyrie Profile cuts out a significant amount of content from the game, leaving out many dungeons and some items, and making it impossible to get the best ending (which is admittedly almost impossible to get without the guide anyway.) Ironically, this actually makes Easy mode harder than either Medium or Hard, since some of the content which Easy omits is extremely helpful for winning the game.
Apart from the inability to get the best ending on easy, Valkyrie Profile is all over the place. Each of the game's dungeons only appears in certain difficulties, and only on some playthroughs, so playing easy mode, then normal, then hard will actually get you more content than just hard mode. Furthermore, hard mode is possibly the easiest, because new characters start at level 1, which is an advantage once you have items that improve their stats when they level up; you wouldn't get those benefits if they join the party at level 30 in easy mode. Also because sometimes you need to level up characters for skill points in preparation for sending them to Valhalla, and it takes less xp with level 1's.
In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, cheat codes disable certain unlockables, Achievements, and for difficulty-based game completion Achievements you must play on the same difficulty from beginning to end. (This is to prevent, for example, playing the last stage on Sith Lord after playing all previous missions on Sith Apprentice.)
The second game's Xbox achievement picture for beating it on the lowest difficulty is Jar Jar Binks. Now that's just mean.
The first Boktai game has a couple of puzzles near the end which offer you their solutions... as long as you're okay with being immortalized as a "LOSER" on the nearby hint panel.
In Septerra Core the master code to unlock cheat codes is "IMAREALWEENIE" and the cheat code to make enemies stop attacking you is "MAKETHEMSTOPMOMMIE".
There's a few ways that Worldof Warcraft makes you go through different difficulty levels for raids:
Higher item levels and stats for gear obtained through Normal and Heroic versions of dungeons and raids. There's even some text to tell people if you got a piece of gear from LFR or Heroic mode through each gear's tooltip.
Some achievements can only be done on Heroic difficulty. Most if not all of the 5-man achievements must be done on that difficulty.
A few bosses (Lady Sinestra in Bastion of Twilight and Ra-den in the Throne of Thunder) can only be accessed on Heroic difficulty.
In Digital Devil Saga, the door leading to Bonus Boss Satan will not open if you play in Normal difficulty, as the characters are plainly too terrified to open it. In Hard Mode, you can go through, and you'll see why everyone was so scared.
In Shin Megami Tensei IV, you can unlock Easy Mode by, essentially, debasing yourself. First you must die once, pay a rather large amount of your money to Charon to get revived, getting mocked by having died, die again, and watch as Charon again all but laughs at you. Providing you still have enough money to pay him, of course.
Bizarrely inverted most of the time. The endings tend more and more to the cynical side as difficulty increases, with the Good/Easy ending being happy to the point of appearing like a Fix Fic, while the Good/Difficult ending is downright depressing. (Actually, most of the endings are. Good/Easy is the only one where none of the four main characters die.)
Played straight however, in that the Evil/Difficult ending is a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, featuring The Hero soloing and backstabbing everyone, then travelling back in time to prevent him ever becoming a vampire, then followed by The Reveal.
The World Ends with You inverts this with Pins that Noise only drop on Easy difficulty. At the same time, it's played straight, as you can't get many of the higher-quality drops on Easy.
Shoot Em Up
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend for the NES gives you a much easier game if you lose in the prologue level, but it consists of five stages (out of twelve) and has a joke All Just a Dream ending.
Gun Nac will not even show you an ending if you played the Novice setting. Instead, you get an image of an ugly guy saying "You haven't defeated me yet." In fact, he appears in all of the endings except for Expert.
The Touhou games have a few instances of this. In Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, if you beat the Stage 5 boss on Easy mode, she essentially mocks you(r character) for playing Easy mode. Your character then leaves. Bad End. No final boss for you.
Mountain of Faith gives you the Bad Ending if you beat Kanako on Easy mode... after making her last two attack patterns harder than the Normal versions by having multiple bullet waves line up in a more murderous fashion.
More specific to the trope, most regular Touhou games won't let you unlock the Extra Stage if you complete the game on Easy (Perfect Cherry Blossom, Imperishable Night, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Great Fairy Wars, and Double Dealing Character being the exceptions). In fact, Subterranean Animism has a bug that if you already have the Extra Stage unlocked and then complete the game on Easy, it will lock the stage right back up. Though, for a few of the games, there is a way to make the higher difficultieseasierthan Easy mode. But considering that the Extra Stage is somewhere between Hard and Lunatic in terms of difficulty, if you can only clear the game on Easy, you are probably not prepared for the Extra Stage anyway.
- "Eh? SERIOUSLY? EASY MODO?" "How gross! The only ones that should be caught playing Easy Mode are elementary school students, right?" "HAHAHAHA!"
Yet another example is Kogasa. Yes, she mocks easy players with a surprise, because her last spellcard on easy is BY FAR more difficult than on normal and up.
In an interesting inversion, Subterranean Animism contains a bit of Hard Mode Mockery as the difficulty selection screen subtly implies this is for people with no life. On the other hand, easy mode's description is essentially "please train more so your friends won't make fun of you".
In the 5th and 6th Metal Slug games, your game ends in the second-to last level if you play on easy mode.
Played mostly straight in Novastorm, which had two difficulty levels ("Easy" and "Hard"). The only differences in the two were the number of enemies, the value of the coin pickups dropped by some enemies, and the special weak point locations on some bosses. This means that someone playing on hard and defeating ONLY the enemies that showed up on Easy will still get stronger weapons faster than on Easy mode. Surprisingly enough, you don't take more damage on Hard for any given hit or scrape, so you had a choice between "weak weapons" and "more enemies". Of course, the high score board didn't care what difficulty you played (or how many times you died...), so any real attempt at a high score needed to be made on Hard.
The Wii version of GHOST Squad has an aiming cursor feature turned on by default, as opposed to the arcade versions, which don't have the feature to begin with (save for sniping and hand-to-hand missions). Turning it off will allow you to score more points.
The Nintendo Hard arcade version of Gradius III has an Easy mode in which you only lose some of your powerups when you die, as opposed to the traditional Gradius way of losing all of them. However, you only get to play the first three stages.
Gradius Rebirth's easy modes either weaken or remove normal enemy bullets, but cannot be used to access to the second loop.
In the Wanted game, the easiest difficulty setting is labeled "Pussy."
In the American PS1 port of Ray Storm, if you change any of the stages' difficulty settings to lower than the default, or change your starting number of lives to higher than 5, the game switches from Combat Mode to Training Mode, in which you can only play the first four stages.
Fridge Logic kicks in when you try to decrease the difficulty on stage 5 or higher: That also triggers Training Mode. So what's the point of being able to lower difficulty on those stages?
In Alien Hominid, the easiest difficulty gives you a ridiculous amount of lives to complete only one third of the game. Upon completion, the game insults you and tells you to play on an actually challenging difficulty.
Playing in "Trial Mode" on Shikigami no Shiro III allows you to take more than three Hit Points of damage (being hit by enemies or bullets uses up one of your bombs instead), but the game ends after you defeat the third boss.
Space Invaders Extreme 2 offers a Beginner difficulty level that yields infinite lives, but only lets you play the upper-path stages. You also cannot play Beginner stages in Stage Select or Ranking modes.
The original Space Invaders Extreme marks scores achieved with the Paddle Controller with a "P" next to them, and you cannot use the paddle in Ranking or Versus modes. You can, however, do so in SIE 2, with the only penalty being a "P" in Ranking mode. Also, if you aren't using a paddle, and are in Versus mode on Nintendo WFC, you can exclude paddle players from being able to challenge you by selecting "Vs. Anyone (No paddle use)".
SuperR-Type gives an ending message on the lines of "Congratulations... and yet this was only training. You cannot know what your next encounter will bring" and then on the next screen, "Let's try the next difficulty level!"
The arcade game Point Blank has 4 missions on its' easiest, "Training" difficulty, opposed to the normal 16. Also, the final, bonus level won't be triggered. Point Blank DS tones this down with 4 levels on "training" difficulty versus 8 on others.
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony will only let you play the first three levels on Normal difficulty, requiring you to beat them on Difficult to unlock the fourth, and then beat all four on Legendary to unlock the fifth. There is no normal mode for level 4, or normal or difficult for level 5, even in the Gauntlet mode, which ends if you choose a difficulty too easy for that level.
Some versions of Raiden 1 and 2 only allow you to play five stages on the lower difficulty settings.
In the Genesis port of Thunder Force II, a hidden options menu allows you to change the difficulty between Training, Normal, and Hard. Setting the difficulty on Training only allows you to play the stage you select, then you're taken back to the titl escreen.
Thunder Force VI: Easy and below give you the worst ending, compared to hard and above which give you the best ending.
CAVE's console ports in general disable achievements and at save high scores to a separate leaderboard (if they're saved at all) if you play on non-standard difficulty settings. (This occurs even if you raise the difficulty, since having more bullets shot at you can lead to higher scores by milking bullet cancelling/grazing bonuses.) Some games also won't allow you to face the True Final Boss on easier difficulties.
Raiden FightersAces plays this trope straight, but also inverts it. Difficulty levels below Normal cannot be used in ranking mode. The same disqualification occurs for difficulty levels above Arcade (Arcade being one level higher than Normal).
Project Sylpheed has a rather nonsensical version. You earn half the usual upgrade points on easy. This can actually make easy mode harder than normal due to the lessened ability to buy better weapons.
FreeSpace makes some of the medals only available on harder difficulty settings. FreeSpace 2, however, does not.
In Punch-Out!! (Wii), losing 100 times in single player mode unlocks the headgear, which protects your face from attacks, greatly reducing the damage you take from most attacks. However, it means you're as much of a loser as the game's resident French punching bag, Glass Joe.
Playing on Easy level in the original NBA Street will eventually result in several quips from commentator Joe "The Show", including:
"Why you playin on Easy level? You better than that!"
"Change your difficulty level! You playing on Easy, son!"
"You got some game, playa! Why you still playing on Easy?"
Some older FIFA games offer to increase your difficulty if you build up a sizeable lead. Presumably the same applies if you go down by a few.
In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, getting a high score while using Kid Mode will get "Poseur" stamped over your skater's picture.
Stealth Based Game
In Metal Gear Solid 4, the difficulty levels are all named after characters. In order to emulate the single most kickass and heroic character in the mythos, you have to beat it on The Boss Extreme difficulty. (Other than that, though, other than her signature firearm, the unlocks are all related to the the namesake of the Big Boss Hard difficulty.) However, if you're not up to that standard and decide to play it on Easy Mode, you're stuck in name as Liquid. (Strangely enough, there's two Normal difficulties — Naked Normal and Solid Normal, which are just the Japanese Normal and Overseas Normal/Japanese Hard settings, respectively.)
In Metal Gear Solid 3, playing on the easiest difficulty starts you out with the EZ Gun in your backpack. It has infinite ammo, is completely silent, raises your camo index to 80%, increases the speed of stamina recovery (and consequently, lowers the rate at which you lose stamina), and causes your footsteps to be silent. It needs to be reloaded after each shot, but that's not a problem when enemies can barely see you standing up in broad daylight with no camo on.
MySQL specifies "--i-am-a-dummy" as a synonym for the "--safe-updates" option.
There's something of a mild inversion in the Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels of the Resident Evil remake, where the name of the difficulty level is even less mocking than plainly calling it "easy". The respective easy and normal modes are called "Hiking" and "Mountain Climbing", likening the easy difficulty to a leisurely, enjoyable experience.
Resident Evil 3 had an easy mode that starts Jill off with infinite ink ribbons (basically unlimited saving), an assault rifle with unlimited ammo, and a case that has 3 first aid sprays inside. Playing on easy locks you out of some of the unlockables and stalker monster Nemesis doesn't drop any items when you kill him.
Resident Evil 4's Easy mode (found in the PC and PAL versions of the game), some areas containing key items are sealed off and the related doors are left unlocked, and some of the more difficult secondary bosses are removed; however, you don't get to unlock any new toys for use in Normal or Professional modes. This can be somewhat disconcerting to those who try Easy mode after Normal and Professional (e.g., to beat the game in every possible form), as one of the sealed off areas contains a piece of a composite treasure item (which is moved to a different location in the Easy version). Also, you have to wonder what kind of crazy architect designed a parapet that cuts off your access to the staircase - and in two different instances, no less.
Third Person Shooter
In Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, you don't get to find out whether or not Dash died if you just beat easy. You must beat it on medium difficulty at least. He lives. He jumped under cover of the fireball.
If you die on Easy in 50 Cent Blood On The Sand, a secret achievement called "Not Bulletproof" will be unlocked. The kicker? Unlocking that achievement will give you zero gamerscore points.
Wide Open Sandbox
Body Harvest has two difficulty settings (Hero and Zero) but the easier one will end the game after the third level/time period. Considering these levels can take players a long time to get through, it becomes particularly enraging to find out you have to play through those three levels/time periods all over again to see the last two.