Gameplay Grading

If only report cards were more like this.

A number of games, upon the completion of a level or stage, will actually critique the player's performance to tell them how skilled they were.

This is usually expressed on a letter-based grading scale ranging from "D" (bad) through "A" (good) through "S" (or star, for super/perfect). Some scales may include an "E" rank as the absolute bottom of the scale, but few games will ever award the player an "F" for their performance, because if you're really doing that badly, you probably already got a "G" anyway.

The criteria used in judging the player's performance varies, but common considerations are:
  • Time: How quickly the player completed their objective
  • Offense: Number of enemies destroyed, combo length, etc.
  • Defense: How little damage the player sustained (may also reflect knockouts or lives lost)
  • Completion: Number of items (Heart Containers, gold, among others) collected, secrets found, bonus objectives finished, and so on

Gameplay Grading will often be presented on a Score Screen that details (to some extent) how much each factor contributed to their overall total, sometimes with each item given its own individual rating. Likewise, while this is often done on a per-objective basis (for each battle, level, etc. completed), the scores may also be aggregated (or otherwise influence) a broader score that ranks the player across a larger portion of the game (or possibly the entire game as a whole). Indeed, some games may track the player's best score for each objective or level and report their "total score" once the game is completed (though a "total score" can also be calculated independently from individual grades).

A common requirement for 100% Completion bonuses is for the player to receive at least an "A" grade (if not "S") on every graded stage.

Even for games where Scoring Points is a big part of the game, gamers are still far more likely to discuss the grades or ranks they achieved, as opposed to the actual factors that contributed to it. "I got an A on every level" is gamer speak, while "I scored a million points on every level" is more often than not Pac Man Fever.

May lead to Rank Inflation if there are additional levels above "S".

See also Awesomeness Meter and End Game Results Screen. See Do Well, but Not Perfect for games that challenge you to get, for example, exactly a "B".

Kyu and Dan Ranks are a Sub-Trope of this.


Beat 'em Up
  • Golden Axe shows you your letter grade after the game is over (typically separate from the actual score gained from killing enemies).

Fighting Game

Hack and Slash
  • Asura's Wrath does this for every episode, based on the time, you took to complete the gameplay sections, overal battle points during the combat, and how well you preform the QTE's, of all things.
  • Hyrule Warriors gives you ranks for each mission based on the time it took to complete, the damage you received, and (usually) the number of enemies you defeated. Many stages in Adventure Mode require you to get a certain grade to unlock them.
  • Your combos are graded during Sengoku Basara's gameplay.

Minigame Game
  • Incredible Crisis gives grades based on your performance in a mini-game, and an overall chapter grade based on several mini-games.
  • Some Mario Party games do this in story mode.

  • Some instance dungeons of Aion give the participant(s) the following possible letter grades: S, A, B, C, D, and F. There are score and time cutoffs to achieve each particular grade, and higher grades provide better rewards. No rewards are given if the participants receive an F grade.

Platform Game
  • Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage assesses the player's performance after each level and gives a "Style Rating." Unfortunately, their relative ranking is not self-explanatory, nor are the raw scores shown.
  • The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country does this in Time Attack mode. Finishing the level more quickly gets you a better grade.
  • Time Trial Mode in VVVVVV has grades of "B", "A", "S", and best of all "V". You get a B just for finishing, while a V requires a No Death Run within a set par time (depending on the level) while picking up all shiny trinkets.

Racing Game
  • Some Mario Kart games grade the player's performance in single-player Grand Prix, ranging from "E" to one, two, or three stars. Mario Kart DS also grades you for completing the mission stages.

Rail Shooter

Rhythm Game
  • Any Rhythm Game will grade you one way or another. Ones with with a (mostly) letter system include beatmania, Dance Dance Revolution, jubeat, In The Groove, and DJMAX Technika.
    • The Nintendo Hard Beatmania IIDX is a rare example of one which actually will slap you with an "F" for a truly abysmal performance, although it is possible (yet extremely unlikely) to clear a song with an F.
    • For In The Groove, players who fail a song or course receive a grade of "F" regardless of the percentage score. In standard mode, the "F" grade is only shown if one player fails a song while the other player passes it in two-player mode.
  • Dance Dance Revolution gives you a grade from D (just passed the song) to AAA (all Perfect in the earlier games, a few Greats are allowed in Super NOVA 2.) If you're playing 2-player and fail a song while the other player passes, you'll get an E.
  • Hatsune Miku Project Diva does this, although with worded grades. From worst to best they are MISS×TAKE (or DROP×OUT in F's English release), CHEAP (or LOUSY in F's English release), STANDARD, GREAT, EXCELLENT, and PERFECT.

Role-Playing Game
  • The Ar tonelico series grades you after each and every battle, unless it doesn't give experience.
  • Final Fantasy XIII and sequels: After most battles you receive a rank of zero to five stars. Some Achievements require you to get five stars for certain battles.
  • Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force have this: 1-10 and S rank. High ranks mean either more money or a greater likelihood of getting a chip. Against the optional Navi bosses, it determines what grade of chip they drop, with their best chip requiring a 9 or above (and being more likely on a 10, and pretty much guaranteed on an S).
  • In Odin Sphere, the treasure chest that appears when the player wins a battle will contain more money/items if the player earned a higher grade.
  • Valkyria Chronicles had an unusual system in which you were graded solely on how quickly you captured the enemy base (usually the main objective) resulting in a good strategy for an 'A' ranking being to deploy Alicia the Scout by herself, and just run her through the enemy ignoring firing and gunplay for captures.
  • In The World Ends with You, the player's grade is one bonus to their pin points, multiplying it by a factor from 0.80x (for "D" — that's a 20% decrease) to 1.50x (for "*").

Shoot 'em Up
  • Castle Shikigami III gives you a letter grade between levels, from F (worst) all the way up to SS (best).
  • Ikaruga grades the level too.

Third-Person Shooter
  • One ranks the player's performance after the completion of each stage on a scale from Sedate to Pissed to Enraged to Rage.

Other Games
  • The Ace Combat games do this, grading your performance by the time you spent on a mission and the score you've achieved. Higher grades increase the reward for the mission.
  • The Commandos games rate how well did you the mission with letters.
  • Devil May Cry grades not only the stages, but individual attack combos, with the criteria being the length of the combo, not repeating any particular technique too frequently, and not getting hit during it.
  • Fire Emblem 4, 5, 6 and 7 do this. FE 12 also has them, but it is far too generous and gives out max ranks pretty easily.
  • Gran Turismo 2, regarding the driving licenses.
  • The Hitman games give you a rank based on the number of non-targets killed and alarms raised during a mission. Different ranks carry different cash bonuses, with the elusive "Silent Assassin" rating netting the most.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, the Gummi Ship levels are graded with one prize unlocked for each rank achieved. When playing these levels for a high score, Rank Inflation kicks in as a truly high-score receives declarations of "S+1" rank, "S+2", and so on.
    • Re: coded grades you during boss battles, awarding prizes for reaching B, A, or S rank. Anything lower than a B simply earns a dash mark where the grade would normally go on the Score Screen.
  • The Mega Man Zero games grade you based on completion time, enemies killed, number of times hit, number of continues used, and number of Cyber Elves used. An "A" or "S" ranking is typically required to get additional moves from the bosses.
  • Mega Man ZX graded your battles against the bosses as levels 1-4, starting at 4, and going down a level to the minimum of 1 each time you hit the Boss' weak point (where the Biometal was located]]. Each drop in level also lowered the available energy for that Biometal's form, and lost energy could be regained by paying to have the Biometal repaired or going back and re-fighting the boss to get a higher level.
    • ZX Advent has a medal system (Gold, Silver, Bronze), with each medal being gained by beating the boss with a different Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker ranks your performance after each mission, with completing the level quickly, not killing enemies and not raising any alarms increasing your grade. The ranks go from C up to S.
  • Mischief Makers.
  • Starting from Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. a grading system is implemented during boss fights, particularly in how well you and how fast you get the QTE's down.
  • Nintendo Wars.
  • Ōkami and Ōkamiden rate the player's performance after each battle, based on time spent and damage received. The ratings are icons of plants; seeds represent the lowest rank and blossoming cherry trees the highest. The higher rating you get, the more money you obtain as a bonus. Even the Final Bosses have one, which pops up immediately before the End Game Results Screen.
  • The Pokemon Ranger games grade your performance when capturing Pokemon, with higher letter grades granting you more experience points.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog games, starting from Sonic Adventure 2, have this.
  • Trauma Center.
  • Viewtiful Joe grades each level in sections, with an average given at the end. It substitutes "V" (for "Viewtiful") in place of S, and even offers a rainbow V.
  • Sky Gunner gives various score bonuses and penalties at the end of each stage, but reserves the final grade until the end of the game.
  • The Inazuma Eleven games grade your performance on the optional repeatable matches. An S requires you to win in a complete shutout with at least 5 points, and getting all S ranks on a set of matches gets you a reward (in addition to the one you get for just beating the set).
  • The Rhythm Heaven games rate your performance at the end of a song. If you do reasonably well enough, you'll get an "OK". A near-flawless performance nets you a "Superb" rating, as well as a medal toward unlocking mini-games. If you miss too many beats, you'll get told to "Try Again" and can't proceed to the next stage until you get an "OK" or better. After getting a "Superb" rating, the game will sometimes give the player an opportunity for a "Perfect" rating, but after three failed attempts, the opportunity goes away until next time. Getting perfect is just a regular "Superb" except during these opportunities.
  • The Steel Panthers games don't give players letter grades, but they do calculate the exact measure of victory or defeat using a ratio of the victory points acquired by both players over the course of a scenario. This mostly matters in predefined campaigns, where the next scenario that you advance to can change depending on whether your victory was a Strategic one or a Marginal one.
  • Alien Hallway rates your performance on each level from 1-5 stars, with higher ranks earning more gold to buy upgrades. Getting five stars on every level rewards you with a Steam achievement.
  • Most of the earlier games in the Silent Hill series had a variation of this after the credits, giving between one and ten stars depending on your performance through the game. The ranking you got sometimes also determined the power of the game's secret weapons in a subsequent playthrough.
  • Star Raiders, at the end of each mission, assigns the player a ranking which is determined by a function of skill level, energy used, time taken, and number of enemy ships and starbases destroyed (with a greater penalty for bases destroyed by Zylon). Successful players can achieve ranks ranging from Rookie to Star Commander; failed players are Galactic Cook or Garbage Scow Captain.
  • Almost every single game by Platinum Games does this. Some examples are Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and The Wonderful 101. The grades usually depend on the game, such as letter grades from S to D (Revengeance), bronze or platinum medals (Anarchy Reigns) or awards that span from Pure Platinum to Stone (Bayonetta and the Wonderful 101, with the Stone award becoming a Consolation Prize in the latter's case).
  • Tales Series rank player's battle perfomance at the end of each battle with numbers. Grades sum up and can later be exchanged for in-game items and features or saved till the end of the game for Grade Shop, which, among other things, sells grade bonuses for New Game+. Combined with bonuses on setting higher game difficulty they can really take grades on the further playthroughs Up to Eleven. But not unless you perform bad enough to actually get a NEGATIVE number. ...Which in that case ALSO gets multiplied by all your bonus indices.