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Hard Mode Perks
Some video games may reward their players for choosing harder difficulties. However, merely getting Cosmetic Awards may often seem unfair, so gamers may receive some actually gameplay-affecting bonuses to keep up with the challenge. It's often bonus experience or better equipment, especially when the player may select difficulties for particular missions. These rewards sometimes have a bit of a Magikarp Power: the starting conditions for the harder difficulties are undeniably harder, but as the game goes on, the bonuses kick in noticeably.

If overdone, the harder difficulties may become easier than the easy ones, similar to the issues with Unstable Equilibrium. Contrast Easy-Mode Mockery, though Hard Mode Perks can be seen as a subtle form of it as the benefits are locked out on easier difficulties. Some players take offense to Hard Mode Perks, considering them unfair to players who cannot play on the harder difficulty settings.

Compare Bragging Rights Reward, when you don't need the reward because you already beat the hardest part of the game, and Golden Ending, which is sometimes reserved for hard mode.

Examples:

  • Most Castlevania games have a version of this.
    • In Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, the players rely mostly on equipment found during the levels in order to power up the characters. Upon defeating Dracula for the first time, it's possible to play in the Hard version of the levels, in which enemies inflict much more damage, are faster and have drastically increased HP, as well as placing more enemies on the maps and making the hazards considerably harder to avoid. However, treasure chests will provide much better equipment.
    • In both Aria/Dawn and Portrait there are certain items that are only seen in hard mode - if you're playing on normal their map locations will be bare.
    • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, starting a fresh game in Hard Mode gives you the Glyph Sleeve accessory (which allows you to store three glylph combinations to switch on the fly instead of using the Pause menu) right away instead of somewhere mid-game, as well as several glyph-dropping enemies who normally won't appear until later in the game. In addition, beating the Hard difficulty with a level 1 cap gets you the best helmet in the game that halves heart consumption and raises the normal level cap to 255 (your level carries over through even the lower cap Hard runs and any experience you earned during them carries over).
    • Castlevania: Bloodlines went one further and added in more areas and bosses on the hardest mode, making for a meatier, more satisfying playing experience, with the full ending —only available on hard mode— serving as the after-dinner mint.
    • Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth on Classic mode gives you the classical stiff jump physics, but it also removes the knife and stopwatch, two of the least effective subweapons in the game, so you always get one of the "big three" subweapons (Axe, Cross, and Holy Water).
  • The Forza Motorsport series has bonuses for players that disable driver assists (traction control, anti-lock brakes, racing/braking lines). The more assists that are turned off, the more money you get a bonus at the end of races; disabling all the assists and setting the AI on the hardest setting will give you 165% more credits at the end of the race, on top of the regular winnings.
  • In Star Wolves, harder difficulties grant experience bonus, and the experience is extremely important in the game.
  • In World of Warcraft, heroic versions of dungeons are harder but give much better loot, as well as currency with which to buy raid-quality gear.
    • Later raids also have a heroic mode. The currency awards is the same, but the loot is of higher quality than in the regular mode. Ulduar is different in that its Hard Mode causes the boss to drop extra items of higher quality, in addition to the guaranteed drops.
    • Recent expansions also added "heroic only" phase to some raid boss's battle (Ragnaros, Garrosh Hellscream)or even exclusive bosses that only appear if you played hard (Sinestra,Ra-den).
  • All Diablo games give much better Random Drops on higher difficulties. As your enemies are a lot harder on those difficulties, you will need them.
    • Diablo III In particular is an interesting example. Originally, the harder difficulty levels were a glorified New Game+, since you had to start over from the beginning to play them. However, when Reaper of Souls came out, difficulty levels were changed to make the game harder no matter what your level was, since enemies now scaled to your level. But in both cases, you got better loot on higher difficulties.
  • Sacred gives an experience bonus based on difficulty.
  • On Magical Quest: Starring Mickey Mouse for the SNES, harder modes make you start with less Hearts, but you can find more Heart Containers than in easy mode. You still have to deal with more enemies and tougher bosses, and the bonus containers are hidden.
  • Vindicators gives you a bigger number of starting stars (ie: money) for the harder difficulties.
  • This applies to most of the Dynasty Warriors series. Depending on the exact game, playing on harder difficulties will get you better weapon-drops, better stat-increase drops, or just faster experience-gain. In most cases, the best weapons can only be acquired while playing on Hard Mode or higher.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has quite a few of these:
    • Beating the final boss on Hardcore mode gives you more karma you can use to carry skills and special astral equipment and consumables into your next ascension. It also drops a piece of Stainless Steel equipment related to your class, which is decent for aftercore.
    • Taking a dietary restriction also adds karma, and the final boss will drop a consumable item related to the restriction: players who go without booze will get a high-quality food item, players who go without food get a very nice drink, and players who go without both will get cans of really good air. And if you're also on Hardcore, you'll get three of them instead of just one.
    • Combining the above two, taking the no-food no-booze path and playing on Hardcore will also replace the Stainless Steel drop with Plexiglass, which is even better.
    • Playing the Bad Moon special path will give you a piece of Brimstone gear, all of which provide a major boost to one stat at the cost of a large-but-not-quite-as-major penalty to another stat, as well as a second bonus related to the class which earns it. Each piece equipped also provides a hidden bonus, which increases exponentially as you add the rest of the set.
    • Playing the current special challenge path will give extra karma.
  • Mass Effect 1 offers higher exp (or more exp opportunities) on higher difficulties. In addition, a handful of Achievements require a character level too high to reach in one playthrough.
    • In Mass Effect 2, completing a certain character's recruitment mission on Hardcore or Insanity yields the Geth Pulse Rifle, an extremely accurate Assault Riflenote .
  • In Valkyrie Profile, getting every character at level 1 on Hard might not seem like this (and probably wasn't intended to be), but it lets you level up new characters more carefully, such as by equipping them with accessories which boost their HP and skill points at each level up. In practice, it ends up giving your characters a significant boost in power at a lower level.
    • A straighter version would be that the dungeons exclusive to hard mode contain top tier equipment that just isn't available in normal or easy difficulties. The net result between this and the above point is that Hard Mode is significantly easier if you know what you're doing, while Easy Mode can be much more difficult—and it doesn't let you get the Golden Ending. Also, you get more periods (time slots that are used up when you enter a town or a dungeon, recruit characters, etc) on higher difficulties, which just further ramps up how much tougher Easy Mode can be.
  • Almost all of the Touhou games have some method of scaling your score to the difficulty chosen. A few of them grant extra lives based on score. This means that playing on harder difficulties gets you lives earlier in these games, and the point barriers can be high enough that you can miss them if you're playing poorly.
    • Additionally, Ten Desires gives more spirits on the higher difficulties. Spirits are used to fill the trance gauge, and trance is not only a powerful attack and defense, but can be used to double the effect of bomb and life fragments.
    • The way Fairy Wars works is that you have the ability to freeze bullets, and get lives, bombs, power, and score based on the area frozen. The increased amount of bullets on the higher difficulties is a natural help. The higher difficulties also have death-bullets, which can be used to greatly extend a freeze by a clever player.
  • The "hard mode" of the original Super Mario Bros. replaces all Goombas with Buzzy Beetles, which allows the player to get as many lives as they want by having their shells being kicked repeatedly against certain structures, much like a Koopa shell. It also makes clearing a whole row of enemies much easier - stomping a Beetle and kicking it to take out all the others is effortless compared to stomping all Goombas individually.
  • Space Rangers has several sliders adjusting difficulty of various parts of the game, thus making the difficulty go from 50% to 200% - it's actually a quotient to multiply points by for the record table. Aside from that, more enemies means more experience and money once you get moderately good weapons, and the Enemy Mine becomes much easier to utilize. Also, you may pick either additional units or bonus armor for planetary fights, or deny both and get bonus experience and money.
  • In X-Com, there are more aliens per UFO and more UFOs on the higher difficulties. During the early game, when you actually have to worry about money, most of your money will come from selling alien equipment. While you'll have higher overheads from your higher death rate, this extra cash will still speed up your progress considerably (assuming you survive).
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has more stickers and trophies appear in harder difficulties, especially stickers in the Adventure Mode.
    • Also in Brawl, Duon's missiles will do more damage to himself the harder the difficulty is, should you successfully direct them back at him.
    • In Melee, you could only fight Crazy Hand in Classic and Giga Bowser in Adventure if you were playing on Normal difficulty or higher.
    • For the whole series, playing on higher difficulties would give you bigger bonus points for completing the game on said harder difficulties.
    • Super Smash Bros. for 3DS introduced a scaling difficulty system similar to Kid Icarus: Uprising for Classic mode. Spending coins to raise the difficulty gives you a chance at bigger rewards like rare trophies and customization items, and you can only face the True Final Boss on higher difficulties.
  • A number of Western RPGs including the Dungeon Siege series allow the player to begin a New Game+ with all the enemies in the game at a much higher level or scaled to the level at which the initial playthrough was ended. Needless to say, the experience, gold and loot scale as well.
  • Kingdom Hearts has this across the whole series. Long story short: if you plan on watching that bonus video, whether for the HD fight scene or just to wrap everything up, it's easier on higher difficulties. Proud Mode? Clear the main storyline, maybe a few optional areas; then beat up the final boss and you can just watch. Standard Mode? 100% Completion. Beginner Mode? Inaccessible.
    • In addition to the above, Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+ includes Critical Mode which offers an initial AP of 50, subsequent AP increases are now 3 instead of 2, and several abilities are granted on Day 3: Reaction Boost, Finishing Plus, Draw, 2 Lucky Lucky, MP Hastera and EXP Zero.
    • In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, you start with five command deck slots for attacks if you play on Critical, instead of the three you start with on the lower difficulties. You also get the EXP Zero ability, which negates any EXP earned from defeating enemies - which, in turn, makes it easier to do a low-level run of the game.
    • Surprisingly averted for Kingdom Hearts 3D in terms of actual gameplay bonuses. But that is probably due to the New Game+ feature which lets you get abilities earlier in the games that you wouldn't normally since you get to keep all of your Dream Eaters in the new playthrough.
    • At least once in the series, EXP Zero also has several other abilities besides the lack of EXP given that make such a run possible, such as Second Chance. You also usually get EXP Zero before said abilities, resulting in having an easier time for some fights than you would without EXP Zero because you normally wouldn't have said very useful abilities at that point.
  • Mushihime-sama Futari Black Label's God mode allows the multiplier counter to go up to 30,000, as opposed to Maniac's 9,999. As a result it's much easier to score high (once you tame the Bullet Hell), to the point where you can get the extends earlier than you would in Maniac if you know what you're doing. In fact, if you play with both player slots active, it's possible to max out the score counter.
  • Many classic arcade games—particularly those of the endless variety—allow the player to choose their starting stage. Choosing higher stages often will grant the player a bonus at the beginning of the game. Examples of games that do this:
  • Newer releases of Beatmania IIDX have Hazard mode, an offshoot of Free Mode (a mode that guarantees 2 stages regardless of whether you fail the first one). In Hazard, breaking your combo will result in stage failure. However, you are guaranteed four stages instead of two.
    • Hard and EX-Hard gauges instant-fail you if you hit 0%, but eliminate the need to have 80% or more at the end of the song. The former is often used to get around Difficulty Spike endings.
  • Jak II and Jak 3 have "Hero Mode", in which the enemies are more powerful, but you start with all of the guns. This makes Hero Mode easier at first . . . except in turret sections and others where you can't use your guns.
    • You can however unlock unlimited ammo, Dark Jak and invulnerability with less orbs than usual and before the game ends. And considering you need orbs to unlock Hero Mode it's not too much trouble to just go out and nab a few.
  • In Ratchet: Deadlocked, the difficulty determines the number of stars the player will receive after completing a mission (to a maximum of 5 on Exterminator), which are used to get 100% Completion and allows you to unlock Ratchet's alternate skins far faster. Thankfully, anyone who's beaten one of the other games in the series on Challenge Mode will be able to breeze through the higher difficulties.
  • In the Super Robot Wars games, achieving bonus objectives on each mission scales up the difficulty. If you keep this up long enough, however, the game often rewards you with very powerful bonus equipment in the later stages.
  • In the adventure mode of the 1999 version of Q*bert, you get double points on normal (compared to easy) and triple points on hard. This does have an in-game use: getting better high scores on early levels increases your rank faster, which lets you access optional areas (those normally-impassable "2" and "3" blocks). It should be noted that the only difference between the difficulties is how many lives you start with.
  • In DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label, playing on Power Style (though not Strong Style) will force you onto the hidden stage paths, instead of requiring you to "earn" them. This is normally a bad thing as some of the midbosses you end up encountering are That One Boss, but for those playing for score, it's also a chance to rack up easy points due to the longer stage lengths without worrying about meeting the conditions for the hidden paths.
    • If you play Bomb or Strong Style, and turn off Auto-Bomb, you'll be able to use Hyper Counter even if your Hyper gauge is not full, by using a bomb stock instead. This is very advantageous for two reasons: Going into Hyper does not kill your combo like bombing does, and while in Hyper Counter mode, your shots will cancel enemy bullets (although those bullets will fire suicide bullets in Strong Style), so you get about 10-15 seconds of protection vs. the 2-5 that a bomb gives you.
  • Playing The World Ends with You on harder difficulties will yield different enemy drops, which most of the time are better than the ones for Easy or Normal.
    • Additionally, you have the ability to change your level after you've leveled up at least once. Playing as a lower level limits your health, but gives you a better chance at getting pins after the fight.
  • DJMAX Portable 2 and Fever normally require you to play a few hundred songs to unlock 8-Button Mode. If you change the options difficulty to Hard, you'll be able to use 8-Button regardless of playcount.
    • DJMAX Portable 3 is similar. To unlock 6.2 Tracks mode in Easy and Normal, you need to reach level 50 through a LOT of Level Grinding. And THEN, you have to unlock it through a 3-item "pick a ? box and uncover the mystery prize" Mini-Game that only appears whenever you level up. If you set the difficulty to Hard, however, 6.2 Tracks is available from the get go...if you can stand the stricter timing windows and the batshit insane Life Meter (we're talking death after only 2 or 3 misses).
  • Fallout 3 allows you to change the difficulty, which ramps up enemy HP and damage resistance to ludicrous levels, in exchange for more XP from killing them. The next game did away with this system, partly to prevent players from exploiting it, note  and partly so that players could effectively play Hardcore mode (in which the Player Character will die without food, water, and sleep) on the easier difficulty levels without a penalty to experience.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 allows the player to gain more experience by increasing the difficulty. This ends up making the Easy setting almost not worth playing, as every kill is only worth a single experience point on that mode, compared to 5 per every kill you make and 3 for every one your teammates make on Normal.
  • The best materials won't spawn in Terraria until the Wall of Flesh is killed, turning on Hard Mode for the entire world.
  • The Tales series in recent entries ups the grade earned in harder difficulties, which in turn can be traded in for nice items and New Game+ perks.
    • Tales Of Graces F takes this up to eleven by upping the drop rate of certain items on higher difficulties. This results in many people trying to play the higher difficult even if they're not prepared for it. (Tales hard modes are generally made for people with some NG+ stuff or just experienced players)
  • Fire Emblem 6 buffs up the starting stats of quite a few usable characters on Hard Mode, and almost all of the affected characters are good in the first place. You'll need it.
    • Most Fire Emblem games that have individual difficulties will give recruitable characters a stat boost, since the enemies will also have one.
    • Blazing Sword in particular has a subtle one: playing Lyn's story passes on whatever stat boosts and equipment that recruits gained in her story to the main story no matter what, but if you play hers on Hard, you can have one of your cavaliers take Wallace the knight's Knight Crest, a promotion item. Since Lyn's Story on Normal is a Forced Tutorial, you use his Knight Crest to forcibly promote him, which won't happen on Hard since the tutorial is turned off.
  • Playing on Hard in BIT.TRIP FLUX (on SAGA or COMPLETE) increases the amount of Beats required to go up and down - perfect for players who can get to META, but can't stay there for long on Normal.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has an extra optional challenge on Hard mode. The recurring enemy, Nemesis, will relentlessly track down Jill until you avoid him long enough or pump enough bullets into him to knock him down for a while. Shooting down Nemesis on Easy won't change anything but doing the same on Hard will make Nemesis drop one-of-a-kind items like parts to build unique weapons or cases filled with first aid sprays. If you managed to stop Nemesis on every single encounter, the final item he drops in the clock tower is an ammo case that gives any one weapon infinite ammo.
  • Parasite Eve 2 has various challenges based on difficulty level. Bounty Mode forces you to fight stronger enemies a lot earlier than you usually do but beating them gets you better items and guns just as early. Scavenge and Nightmare mode doesn't do this, but for all difficulties above Replay Mode (Easy), your overall BP and EXP when you beat the game gets multiplied by a difficulty bonus and you get to use the leftover points for New Game+.
  • In the Streets of Rage series, playing on a harder difficulty level meant enemies not only had more health, but they would also come in bigger waves. However, more enemies also means more points to your score and if you were really good, you could rack up a huge score and net several extra lives as you played.
  • In Bastion, invoking the gods creates all sorts of negative effects that power up the monsters you fight. However, you also gain bonus experience and money per kill.
    • The limiters in Transistor, another game made by Supergiant Games, also function in a similar manner, minus the currency since there's none in it.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, you can wager hearts at the beginning of each chapter to increase or decrease its "intensity level". At higher levels, the enemies shoot more often and some take more damage. On the other hand, it opens up sections of levels that are closed off on lower difficulties, and you receive more powerful weapons if you're able to clear the chapter.
    • It also inverts this: making the intensity lower than normal costs you hearts outright instead of returning them to you for succeeding, reduces the number of enemies present, and reduces the heart drops of what enemies there are, effectively costing you hearts both ways.
  • Mega Man Legends 2 starts you off with an SS-class digger license on Very Hard mode, allowing you to enter any ruin in the game without having to take those digger tests beforehand.
  • Completing a mission on a higher difficulty on Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars will give you more stars to level up your units as opposed to the easier difficulty.
    • Future Soldier likewise gives players a greater bonus to their Ghost score at the end of a mission on harder difficulties.
  • Hard Mode in Guild Wars is unlocked at level 20 after finishing a campaign; completing the campaign again in Hard Mode will yield extra money. The quality and amount of loot will also increase in this mode, and killing every enemy in explorable zones will yield a Vanquish bonus of money.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has several difficulty levels that adjust how powerful the cops are and how often the special units appear. Higher difficulty levels usually give out more money and if you are skilled enough to play on harder levels, you could level up faster than you would on an easier difficulty.
  • Hero Mode in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword doubles the amount of damage enemies do to you, halves the amount you do to them and makes it so that hearts no longer randomly appear, but the Skyward Strike starts off at full strength, meaning it charges up quickly and does about as much damage as a swing from the fully-powered sword and once you get the actual fully-powered sword, it charges up literally instantly. You also carry over your collected materials and insects, making upgrading your items easier.
  • Gain Ground, one of the slightly more obscure Sega Genesis games handles its difficulty levels in an interesting way: if you play on Easy, you start up with 3 basic characters but most levels have another character that you can rescue and use afterwards. Hard on the other hand starts you off with every character in the game, but none of the levels have any additional characters for you to rescue: the reason this makes the game more difficult is because when a character gets hit, they're left behind where they died to be rescued but if the character rescuing them gets killed as well, the previous character is killed for good. Naturally, this is in addition to the more numerous and aggressive enemies present on higher difficulty levels as well.
    • Another thing that makes managing a large roster difficult is that you can finish levels in 2 different ways: either you walk each individual character to the exit, or you kill all enemies in the level. Since you have 20 characters from the very start and there's often a strict time limit, doing the former isn't an option for most of the time.
  • In addition to being required for the Golden Ending, Contra 4 changes the stage 1 music on Hard Mode to a remix of the original Contra theme. It's generally agreed that Hard Mode has better music, but YMMV.
  • The first Marvel Ultimate Alliance game upon hitting hard mode expands the skill slots to 15 among a few other things.
  • In the early Doom games, Nightmare mode gives the player twice as much ammo for item pickups. Not that it makes the game much easier.
  • For the First and Second "Encounters" of SeriousSam, playing on Serious or Mental difficulty would double ammo gained from pickups just like in DOOM, as well as doubling the maximum amount of ammo that can be carried. Of course, considering the large amounts of damage the enemies in the game can take and dish out on those difficulties, it's still fairly balanced. Another bonus is the score multiplier, and in the HD additions difficulties can be further customized by removing health and/or armor drops from the game as well as giving enemies varying degrees of bonus health.
    • Giving yourself infinite ammo will reduce the score multiplier, for obvious reasons.
    • While the first sequel plays entirely differently, Serious Sam 3 is essentially the same game as the first one, albeit with some new enemies and reloads. However, the one other change is that the ammo bonus for Serious and Mental difficulties has been removed. Don't fret, though: the enemies still have all the advantages they had before, and you can even give yourself multiplayer bonus enemies without actually playing cooperatively with anyone.
  • Choosing Revengeance in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance as your difficulty level results in your Parry Counter doing around 10 times as much damage as normal. If a player mastered this mechanic by this point, they will find many battles (some bosses included) easier than on Very Hard difficulty, which shares Revengeance's advanced enemy layout. This merely helps even the odds as most enemy attacks do absurd amounts of damage on this difficulty.
  • Drakensang:
    • The Zant demon encountered in the sequel can be weakened by employing up to five magical seals the player finds. This fight is nearly impossible to win for the average player without using any seals. However these seals can also be turned in for additional rewards, if they are not used in the fight.
    • Similarly, the expansion's Disc One Final Boss Kazak, which can be made easier by employing up to three of six elemental crystals. The reward for using less/no crystals is not very significant, though.
  • In the Dawn of War II campaigns, Random Drops come in three categories of increasing quality. The gear in the higher categories drops more often in higher difficulties, and not at all in the lower difficulties.
  • In Devil May Cry series, the Heaven or Hell and Hell or Hell difficulty, Dante (or Nero in 4) will die in one hit, period. However, the game is kind enough to give you several Golden Orbs from the get-go (revive lifeline) to compensate.
    • The first Devil May Cry game had a small perk for Dante Must Die mode. Lesser demons have less health than on Normal difficulty, but they can devil trigger (getting way more health and in turn, harder to stun) when a timer reaches zero (sometimes the timer is never displayed). The player has to be careful, because enemies can kill Dante in 2-4 hits if you are not careful, even without devil trigger.
  • Way of the Samurai does this in terms of sword drops, starting from 3. Not only better swords drop in higher difficulties, the Last Lousy Point is often unavailable at difficulties other than Instant-Kill Mode (which is strangely absent in 4). Most of the bonus swords are usually Continuity Cameo swords that debuted in previous games.
  • Armored Core 4's Hard Mode is quite different from the previous games. Instead of having like, a smaller FCS box, each mission amps up the difficulty by adding or removing something. The very first mission for example, deprives you of your Primal Armor, making your AC quite brittle against more than three Normals you have to face. The only thing that's consistent is that the end mission of every chapter adds an enemy Next to the fray alongside whatever it is you're up against at the end, or in the case of Marche Au Supplie, all four Next with your own allies already killed from the get-go. In return though, completing each mission in its Hard version rewards you additional tuning points for your schematics and even newer parts.
  • Tyrian rewards you in different ways, such as letting you see more levels or levels with altered layout, giving better items early on, but the best way is... After you beat Tyrian on ENGAGE mode. Rewards you with the code for Nort-Ship Z, the best Super Tyrian ship in the game..
  • The original Halo: Combat Evolved had an interesting variant of this. At the beginning, Johnson's speech about the ring and the aliens changes slightly, but it is always a humorous concept or idea. Also, only finishing the game on Legendary gives a different, and much funnier and heartwarming ending.
  • In Double Dragon Neon's Dragon (Hard) and Double Dragon mode, enemies get a higher HP and do way more damage, even if you have a maxed out mix-tape. Especially on Double Dragon difficulty. But in return you get more money and mithril from fallen enemies and bosses respectively. Which means you'll have an easier time maxing out your special abilities.
  • Hellsinker:
    • Playing with your Way of Life set to Drastic (5 lives) allows you to get to max lives faster. At max lives on any setting, getting an Extend will give you bonus Spirits.
    • Cranking up the Stella generally raises the Spirit values of enemies and laser grazing. So if you're very competent at survival, and want a large Spirit count, you'll want to keep the Stella at A as long as possible.
  • GHOST Squad allows you to set the difficulty level of each mission from 1 to 4 on the arcade cardless version, 16 on the arcade version with cardslots and GHOST Squad Evolution, and 20 on the Wii port. Higher difficulty levels open up more branching paths; some are simply there to challenge the player, but some paths provide higher scores than ones only available on the lower difficulties.
  • Expert mode in Star Fox 64 makes your wings extremely fragile and the enemies stronger and more numerous. However, the score targets for medals do not change, so if you're adept at staying alive, it's much easier to get medals as well as to score more points than you would on "normal" difficulty.
  • In Popn Music versions prior to pop'n music fantasia, Cho-Challenge mode forces the COOL judgement on, doesn't let you play 5-button charts, and removes the guarantee of getting to your second stage even if you fail your first. However, unlike in regular Challenge mode, Ojamas in Cho-Challenge mode won't trigger the horrendously distracting "DANGER" background. Also, while Challenge mode restricts you to one Ojama if you set it to always-on (rather than at intervals, as per the default), Cho-Challenge allows you to set two Ojamas and have them always-on, which not only allows you to set even greater Self Imposed Challenges but allows you to get more Challenge Points.
  • While harder difficulties in Minecraft generally do not increase the frequency of monster spawns, they do not spawn on Peaceful (the lowest difficulty). This also means you cannot gather the Random Drops from these monsters, including gunpowder from Creepers, bonemeal from Skeletons and Ender Pearls from Endermen. The only way to gather these materials on Peaceful is to loot the various "abandoned" structures spawned by the world generator.
  • Non-video game example: The game show The Chase allows players to choose between three difficulties in their personal chases, with the standard difficulty (5 questions) offering the amount of money they raised in the cash builder, and easy (4 questions) and hard (6 questions) respectively offering much smaller or much larger prize amounts relative to the standard amount. Each difficulty sets the distance between the players and the Chaser; for 6 questions, the player can only afford to miss one question. The amounts are arbitrarily set by the Chaser and differ wildly on many variables from how the player performed in the previous round. Almost all players go for the standard amount, with a few going for easy and hard. Few choose the larger amount, and even fewer still make for Awesome Moments by winning them. Of course, they then have to actually win the Final Chase regardless...
  • Crimzon Clover on Unlimited mode provides a few perks:
    • New music, though this is a subjective point.
    • You can cancel bullets by using a full lock-on or a full lock-on minus one and killing at least one enemy with it. The canceled bullets will add to your multipliers.
    • Scores can go much higher than on Original.
  • Elemental Gearbolt has this via Difficulty By Region. When Working Designs released it in English, they changed the easy mode into a training mode that ends after three levels.
  • Disgaea games allow you to pass bills (or as of D2, simply adjust with a "Cheat Shop") to increase or decrease enemy level, causing them to grant more XP, money, and mana. The games fully expect you to do this, with certain stages designed specifically as Level Grinding spots where you can beat enemies with beneficial Geo Effects, ratchet up the difficulty, and then do it again. A lot of post-game content is downright inaccessible without doing this.
  • Replaying Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII on Hard in a New Game+ gives all enemies a large overall stat boost and greatly reduces the amount of EP you get from killing them, but there's some garbs that are only available on Hard and enemies drop better items and higher-leveled commands.
  • In One Way Heroics, better items are only available on the harder difficulties.
  • Daytona USA gives you a higher top speed if you choose manual transmission rather than automatic.

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