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Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels
aka: Idiosyncratic Difficulty Names
Even difficulty-selection menus are cuter with puppies.

Most video games have adjustable Difficulty Levels so as to provide more of a challenge to good players while allowing poor players the satisfaction of finishing and finding out how the story ends. Traditionally, they would just be called Easy, Medium, and Hard (and possibly Expert). However, a recurring clever idea is to name them in a way reflecting of your game's style or plot. Another widespread trend is to Title Drop one of the difficulty settings, typically the hardest one.

Of course, if you use more than one word, everyone will call them "Easy", "Medium" and "Hard", but it does help establish continuity and mise en scène.

For idiosyncratic "Very Easy" and "Very Hard" levels only, see Easier Than Easy and Harder Than Hard.

Only unusual examples should be added to this article.

See also Easy-Mode Mockery, where the idiosyncracy extends to your treatment in the gameplay. For comments on your gameplay, see Idiosyncratic Combo Levels.


Examples (listed in order from easiest to hardest):

  • Alley Cat

  • Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway

  • Colonization
    • "Discoverer"
    • "Explorer"
    • "Conquistador"
    • "Governor"
    • "Viceroy"

  • Crescent Pale Mist
    • "Pumpkin Knight (Easy)"
    • "Magic Knight (Normal)"
    • "Sacred Knight (Hard)"
    • "Terror Knight (Fear)"
    • "Knight of Nightmare (Planeriel)"

  • Devil May Cry, especially the fourth game.
    • "Human
    • "Devil Hunter
    • "Son of Sparda
    • "Dante Must Die
    • "Heaven or Hell" (Everyone, including you, dies in one hit)
    • "Hell or Hell" (Only you die in one hit)
    • "Legendary Dark Knight"

  • Ōkamiden has one, too.
    • "Greenhorn"
    • "Old Hand"
      • This particular select is also a Scrappy Mechanic due to it looking like it's asking you if you want to see the tutorial and the fact Old Hand means your ink will not regenerate.

  • Doom: Early alpha builds of Doom called the easiest skill level "I Just Want to Kill" and the menu graphic filename M_JKILL was retained for skill 1 in the final version. The Samsara mod, which allows you to play as characters from other first-person shooters, gives each character their original game's difficulty levels, such as "Can I Play, Daddy?" or "Kindergarten".

  • Doom 64
    • "Be Gentle!"
    • "Bring it on!"
    • "I Own Doom!"
    • "Watch Me Die!"

  • Chex Quest had their Doom versions renamed to fit the game.

  • Duke Nukem 3D and Duke Nukem Forever
    • "Piece of Cake"
    • "Let's Rock"
    • "Come Get Some"
    • "Damn I'm Good"

  • Heretic had Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe titles that are references to the Wolfenstein 3D and Doom level names:

  • The sequels to Heretic, Hexen and Hexen 2, had difficulties named after the player's chosen class, depending upon whether the player was a Fighter, Cleric or Mage.
    • "Squire" / "Altar Boy" / "Apprentice"
    • "Knight" / "Acolyte" / "Enchanter"
    • "Warrior" / "Priest" / "Sorcerer"
    • "Berserker" / "Cardinal" / "Warlock"
    • "Titan" / "Pope" / "Archmage"

  • Hexen 2 had four character types: Paladin, Crusader, Necromancer, and Assassin, with the Portal of Praevus expansion adding the Demoness as the fifth type.
    • "Apprentice" / "Gallant" / "Sorcerer" / "Rogue" / "Larva"
    • "Squire" / "Holy Avenger" / "Dark Servant" / "Cutthroat" / "Spawn"
    • "Adept" / "Divine Hero" / "Warlock" / "Executioner" / "Fiend"
    • "Lord" / "Legend / "Lich King" / "Widow Maker" / "She Bitch"

  • Hyper Princess Pitch
    • "Trainee"
    • "Combat Lady"
    • "Battle Princess"
    • "War Queen"
    • "Goddess of Explosions"
    • "Reallyjoel's Mom"

  • Shadow Warrior
    • "Tiny Grasshopper"
    • "I Have No Fear"
    • "Who Wants Wang"
    • "No Pain No Gain"

  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
    • "Citizen"
    • "Specialist"
    • "Talent"
    • "Librarian"
    • "Thinker"
    • "Transcend"

  • Sid Meiers Civilization
    • "Settler" (IV and V)
    • "Chieftain" (I to V, Revolution)
    • "Warlord" (I to V, Revolution)
    • "Noble" (IV)
    • "Prince" (I, II and IV) / Regent (III and IV)
    • "King" (I, II, V and Revolution) / Monarch (III and IV)
    • "Emperor" (I to V, Revolution)
    • "Demigod" (III: Play the World, Conquests mode)
    • "Immortal" (IV and V)
    • "Deity" (II to V, Revolution)
    • "Sid" (III: Play the World, Conquests mode)

  • Sid Meier’s Pirates!
    • "Apprentice"
    • "Journeyman"
    • "Adventurer"
    • "Rogue"
    • "Swashbuckler"

  • Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon
    • "Investor"
    • "Financier"
    • "Mogul"
    • "Tycoon"

  • Viewtiful Joe

  • Wolfenstein 3D: With accompanying mugshots of the hero B.J. Blazkowicz. On "Daddy" difficulty, he wears a baby bonnet and sucks a pacifier. On "Death Incarnate", he looks borderline satanic.
    • "Can I play, Daddy?"
    • "Don't hurt me."
    • "Bring 'em on!"
    • "I am Death incarnate!"

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: Updated version of the classic formula.
    • "Can I play, Daddy?" - Blazkowicz is wearing a baby bonnet and pacifier.
    • "Don't hurt me." - Blazkowicz has a This Is Gonna Suck look on his face.
    • "Bring 'em on!" - Blazkowicz has a neutral expression.
    • "I am death incarnate!" - Blazkowicz has a Death Glare/Kubrick Stare.
    • "Uber" - Blazkowicz is sporting a menacing Slasher Smile, and is covered in blood splatter.

  • My Little Pony Vs. Starcraft 2
    • "Derpy"
    • "Filly"
    • "Pony"
    • "Trollestia"

  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
    • "Earth"
    • "Galaxy"
    • "Universe"
    • "Fourth Dimension"

  • God of War: The hardest difficulty levels in each God of War game refer to Kratos' allegiance in each respective game.
    • "Mortal" (I and II) / "Spartan" (III)
    • "Hero" (I) / "Spartan" (II) / "God" (III)
    • "Spartan" (I) / "God" (II) / "Titan" (III)
    • "God" (I) / "Titan" (I) / "Chaos" (III)

  • Crusader: No Remorse
    • "Mama's Boy"
    • "Weekend Warrior"
    • "Loose Cannon"
    • "No Remorse" (original) / "No Regret" (sequel)

  • Tales of Phantasia, Destiny 2, Symphonia, Rebirth and Abyss
    • "Simple"
    • "Second"
    • "Mania"
    • "Unknown"

  • Diablo
    • "Normal"
    • "Nightmare"
    • "Hell"
    • "Inferno" (III only)

  • Supreme Commander: The bottom three describe the AI's behaviour.
    • "Easy"
    • "Normal"
    • "Hard"
    • "Swarm"
    • "Tech"
    • "Cheater"

  • Resident Evil 4: The game also features a gun called Mathilda. For extra pun, the main character of The Professional is named Léon.

  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis: Picking a character for Mercenaries mode affects your difficulty.
    • "Mikhail" (easy; has shotgun, magnum and rocket launcher)
    • "Carlos" (normal; a customizable handgun and an assault rifle)
    • "Nicholai" (standard handgun and knife)

  • Scorched Earth has AI skill and tactics levels, although there was no clear hierarchy of easiest to hardest beyond that Morons played like, well, morons, and the Cyborg had better aiming skills and virtually always hit whatever he aimed at.
    • "Moron" (Shoots at random; randomly changes its aim following a miss.)
    • "Tosser" (Shoots at random; adjusts aim following a miss, but not very well)
    • "Lobber" (Tends to high, lobbing shots)
    • "Chooser" (Picks a target, stays on it, corrects aim fairly effectively)
    • "Shooter" (Picks a target, corrects aim very well)
    • "Poolshark" (Tends to make bank, bounce and wrap shots)
    • "Spoiler" (Takes out damaged opponents, steals kills, ruins your shot)
    • "Cyborg" (Very good aiming, virtually always hits what it aimed at, always corrects effectively in the rare case of a miss)
    • "Unknown" (One of the first eight types was chosen at random and clicking on the tank did not reveal which one it was.)

  • Legend of Mana gives you the Forbidden Tome after beating the Mana Goddess for the first time, which lets you increase the game's difficulty.
    • "Normal" (first playthrough)
    • "Nightmare" (enemies are 20 levels higher than normal)
    • "No Future" (all enemies are level 99)

  • Ninja Gaiden
    • "Ninja Dog" (I) / Acolyte (II)
    • "Normal" (I) / "Warrior" (II)
    • "Hard" (I) / "Mentor" (II)
    • "Very Hard" (I only)
    • "Master Ninja" (I and II)

  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
    • "Realistic"
    • "Ultra-Realistic"
    • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
      • "Low Risk"
      • "Guarded Risk"
      • "Elevated Risk"
    • Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars/Future Soldier
      • "Rookie" (SW)/"Recruit" (FS)
      • "Veteran"
      • "Elite"

  • Blood
    • "Still Kicking" (I) / Genocide (II)
    • "Pink on the Inside"
    • "Lightly Broiled" (I) / Homicide (II)
    • "Well Done"
    • "Extra Crispy" (I) / Suicide (II)

  • POed:
    • "I Like to Watch"
    • "I'm Over 40 and Have Arthritis in My Trigger Fingers"
    • "I Don't Eat Quiche"

  • Elite Beat Agents
    • "Breezin'"
    • "Cruisin'"
    • "Sweatin'"
    • "Hard Rock!"

  • Ouendan's difficulty levels are commonly known to English-speakers as Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard/Insane. They are actually called:
    • "Kigaru (Light-heartedly Cheer)"
    • "Kakan (Boldly Cheer)"
    • "Gekiretsu (Fervently Cheer)"
    • "Karei (Gracefully Cheer)"

  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard and Matt Hazard: Blood Bath And Beyond
    • "Minimum Hazard" / "Wussy"
    • "Major Hazard" / "Damn This is Hard"
    • "Maximum Hazard" / "Fuck This Shit"

  • R-Type Final
    • "Baby"
    • "Kid"
    • "Human"
    • "Bydo"
    • "R-Typer"

  • Serious Sam:
    • "Tourist"
    • "Easy"
    • "Medium"
    • "Hard"
    • "Serious"
    • "Mental"

  • Jets'n'Guns

  • Conkers Bad Fur Day: The CPU opponents in multiplayer modes could be set to one of the following:
    • "Inbred"
    • "Crap"
    • "Normal"
    • "Bastard"
    • "Einstein"

  • Postal 2 took this to a ridiculous level. The officially-recognized "A Week in Paradise" mod takes this even further by adding the bottom two.
    • "Liebermode" (guns are replaced with shovels)
    • "Hestonworld" (everyone has guns, including civilians)
    • "Insane-o" (everyone has random weapons)
    • "They Hate Me" (everyone with a weapon attacks the player)
    • "Nightmare" (everyone has guns and attacks the player)
    • "Really Fucking Hard" (same as Nightmare but with extra weapons from Insane-o—includes even more grenade types and high explosives, up to miniature nukes)

  • Minecraft: When in its pirate speak.
    • "Smooth Sailin' (Peaceful)"
    • "Deckswabber (Easy)"
    • "RegulARRRR (Normal)"
    • "True Pirate (Hard)"
    • "Aimless Sailing (Creative)"
    • "Swashbuckler (Survival)"
    • "Captain (Hardcore)"

  • The Curse of Monkey Island has Normal and Mega Monkey. The latter is the real full game, while the former has some of the puzzles removed and is described as being for game-reviewing journalists.
    • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge you could choose between "Monkey Island 2" ("I want it all! All the puzzles! All the work!") and "Monkey 2 Lite" ("I've never played an adventure game before. I'm scared."). This is also described as being the "optional easy mode for children and magazine reviewers" on the back cover of the game.

  • Kane & Lynch: Dead Men:
    • "Aspirin"
    • "Codeine"
    • "Morphine"

  • A computerised version of Monopoly rated computer opponents as Calculator, XT Clone and 386/33MHz. This was early in the PC's lifetime, when the 386/33MHz was the most powerful computer around. Of course, as it transpires, the three difficulties all turn out to be synonymous to "stupid", even if the game had a remake that replaced the "386 MHz" with "Core i7".

  • Unreal Tournament had subtitled bot skill levels.
    • "Novice (They won't hurt you... much)"
    • "Average (They know how to kill)"
    • "Experienced (Don't get cocky)"
    • "Skilled (You think you're tough?)"
    • "Adept (You'd better be good)"
    • "Masterful (I hope you like to respawn)"
    • "Inhuman (You are already dead)"
    • "Godlike (I am the Alpha and the Omega)"

  • Rise of the Triad has three lists of names for its four difficulties (with a picture to go with each name).
    • First set:
      • "I am a Chew Toy." (see the page image)
      • "Will of Iron, Knees of Jell-O (TM)."
      • "I'm in my Element: Lead."
      • "Two Words: Reaper Man."
    • Second set:
      • "The Enemy Will Devour Me."
      • "Which Part is the Trigger?"
      • "I Have Pet Names For My Grenades."
      • "No One Shall Live."
    • Third set:
      • "Dig My Grave. Now."
      • "I Think I Left the Stove On."
      • "I'm a Freight Train O' Death."
      • "They Call Me 'The Cleaner.'"
    • Regardless of which list shows up, they're alternatively called "Easy", "Medium", "Hard", and "Crezzy Man" by the game.

  • In the Japanese and PAL versions of Metal Gear Solid 2, the player is asked whether they played the first Metal Gear Solid or not and if they want a lot of action or not. The first three answers will start the game on the Tanker chapter, while the last two choices will skip to the Plant chapter.
    • "I've cleared the previous game multiple times, so bring on the action!"
    • "I managed to clear the previous game, but action isn't my strong point!"
    • "I didn't clear the previous game myself, but I watched everything!"
    • "I didn't clear the previous game, but bring on the action!"
    • "I didn't clear the previous game, and action isn't my strong point!"

  • Metal Gear Solid 4 names its difficulty levels after the series characters.
    • "Liquid Easy"
    • "Naked Normal"
    • "Solid Normal"
    • "Big Boss Hard"
    • "The Boss Extreme"

  • Vigilante8
    • "Unleaded"
    • "Super Unleaded"
    • "High Octane"

  • Space Megaforce: The bottom two difficulties, which cause enemies to fire back when destroyed, are selected by pressing left (as if selecting an easier difficulty).
    • "Normal"
    • "Hard"
    • "Hyper"
    • "Tricky"
    • "Wild"

  • Bemani games tend to do this a lot.
    • Dance Dance Revolution, which is particularly notorious for changing its difficulty names. Currently there are typically five tiers of difficulty levels, three of which have changed names many times:
      • "Beginner"
      • "Basic" (1st to 5th Mix, SuperNOVA to present) / "Light" (DDRMAX to DDR Extreme) / "Standard" (DDR USA)
      • "Another" (1st to 2nd Mix) / "Trick" (3rd to 5th Mix) / "Standard" (DDRMAX to DDR Extreme) / "Difficult" (DDR USA, SuperNOVA to present)
      • "Heavy" (DDRMAX to DDR Extreme) / "Maniac" (1st to 2nd and 4th to 5th Mix) / "Step Step Revolution" (3rd Mix) / "Expert" (DDR USA, SuperNOVA to present)
      • "Challenge"
      • Prior to Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix, each difficulty rating had its own name: Simple (1), Moderate (2), Ordinary (3), Superior (4), Marvelous (5), Genuine (6), Paramount (7), Exorbitant (8), Catastrophic (9). The remake of 2nd Mix in Dance Dance Revolution X3 vs. 2nd Mix features a boss song with a difficulty rating of 10, named Revolutionary.
    • beatmania IIDX
      • "Light 7" (up to IIDX 11) / "Normal" (IIDX 12 onwards)
      • "7 Keys" (up to IIDX 11) / "Hyper" (IIDX 12 onwards)
      • "Another"
      • In beatmania IIDX 15 DJ TROOPERS (PS2), they introduced "Kuro Another", which make the original Another charts look like Light 7s by comparison.
      • beatmania IIDX 21 SPADA introduces the "†LEGGENDARIA" difficulty, similar to "Kuro Another".
    • pop'n music:
      • 5-Button (phased out beginning in Sunny Park)
      • Enjoy (renamed "Easy" in fantasia, removed in Sunny Park)
      • Easy (replaces 5-Button beginning in Sunny Park; this is somewhat distinct from fantasia's Easy mode)
      • Normal
      • Hyper
      • EX
    • Drum Mania, Guitar Freaks, and jubeat all currently use the names Basic, Advanced, Extreme.
      • The former two games used to call them Normal, Real, and Expert Real in early installments.
      • During the XG arc of Gitadora, the difficulty names were changed to Novice, Regular, and Expert, and add Master. Master was kept in future games, but the lower three levels were renamed back to Basic, Advanced, and Extreme.
    • Keyboardmania had Light, Normal, and Real. Normal was renamed Light+ in 2nd Mix.
    • Dance Mania X has Mild and Wild.
    • Reflec Beat averts this for the most part, using the more traditional-sounding Basic, Medium, and Hard. However, some songs have a fourth chart, which are labeled as Special difficulty.
    • Sound Voltex uses Novice, Advanced, Exhaust, and Infinite.
  • Pump It Up: Normal, Hard, Crazy (for single-pad charts); Freestyle, Nightmare (for double-pad charts)
    • Beginning on Fiesta however, it is completely averted, as rgw difficulty levels are no longer given names, and are instead referred to in-game by their level number.

  • DJMAX Technika: Technika 2 switches out to slightly more traditional naming conventions.
    • "Lite Pattern (LP)" / "Star"
    • "Popular Pattern (PP)" / "Normal"
    • "Technical Pattern (TP)" / "Hard"
    • "Special Pattern (SP)" / "Maximum"

  • The Touhou games have the standard Easy, Normal, and Hard, but above Hard is Lunatic. In addition, there's the Extra Stage, and Perfect Cherry Blossom had two difficulties for it: Extra and Phantasm, Phantasm being the harder of the two.
    • Most of the games also have alternative level names to go with the standard ones. Phantasmagoria of Flower View, for example, has difficulties named for different types of plants/flowers (Extra being the demonic cherry tree from PCB).
    • The difficulty levels in Imperishable Night, whose plot centers around a stolen full moon (don't think about it too much), are, fittingly enough, named after specific phases of the moon in Japanese:
      • Easy: "Shingetsu", New Moon
      • Normal: "Mikazuki", Third Day Moon (waxing crescent)
      • Hard: "Uetsu Yumihari", Upper Bowstring Moon (waxing half-moon)
      • Lunatic: "Matsuyoi", Waiting Evening (waxing gibbous, specifically the day just before a full moon)
      • And then the Extra Stage has one final moon phase: Full Moon. note 
    • Subterranen Animism also has its own naming scheme:
      • Easy: Fairy Class
      • Normal: Kappa Class
      • Hard: Tengu Class
      • Lunatic: Oni God Class
    • Ten Desires has prayers for stuff that supposedly ranges from easy to impossible to achieve:
      • Easy: Pray for health and long life
      • Normal: Pray for traffic safety
      • Hard: Pray for business prosperity
      • Lunatic: Pray for IT data security
    • In addition, in all games the difficulty level comes with a subtitle, with Easy usually being toted as "for Sunday gamers" and Lunatic generally being titled "for weird people" or "not suited for anyone".
    • Even some of the fangames get in on it. Gensou Shoujo Taisen has difficulties named after SRW games.
      • Easy: Alpha
      • Normal: Alpha Gaiden
      • Hard: F Final
      • Lunatic: EX

  • I Wanna Be the Guy: The easiest setting adds extra save points all labelled "WUSS" instead of the usual "SAVE" and gives the Kid a pink bow that never leaves the screen. On the other hand, the hardest setting removes all save points, forcing the player to complete the game without dying. Despite the name of the latter, a few people have actually done it.

  • Kirby's Avalanche has difficulty levels named after degrees of food spiciness.
    • "Mild"
    • "Medium"
    • "Spicy"
    • "Hot"
    • "Cajun"

  • Marathon
    • "Kindergarten"
    • "Easy"
    • "Normal"
    • "Major Damage"
    • "Total Carnage"
    • "Vidmaster" (unofficial)
    "I pledge to punch all switches, to never shoot where I could use grenades, to admit the existence of no level except Total Carnage, to never use Caps Lock as my "run" key, and to never, ever, leave a single Bob alive."

  • Bungie's post-Marathon, pre-Halo RTSes Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II : Soulblighter: The game had flavour text describing the difficulty levels.
    • "Timid" ("You will grow tired blunting your weapons on a poorly-led horde of mindless corpse-men; and once you have reduced them to so much sausage filler, the sweet taste of success will turn to ashes in your mouth")
    • "Simple"
    • "Normal"
    • "Heroic"
    • "Legendary" ("You will brave the army of a Commander who has never known defeat, and the piled dead will reach the heavens; but should you succeed, in an age not yet dawned you will be spoken of as a god!")

  • Halo: "Mythic" is a fan-made difficulty.
    • "Easy"
    • "Normal"
    • "Heroic"
    • "Legendary"
    • "Mythic" (requires turning on all of the various skulls that increase the difficulty of the game in addition to the normal hardships of Legendary difficulty)
      1. Level restarts on player death
      2. Player shields only regenerate upon melee hit
      3. Enemies evade and throw grenades often
      4. No motion tracker
      5. Reduced ammo
      6. Enemy resistances increased
      7. Double enemy health
      8. Every enemy is a King Mook
      9. Player cannot see what weapon they are holding

  • Carmageddon: The original created some controversy with its lowest difficulty setting, while Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now took things even further. Carmageddon TDR 2000 made them less violent.
    • "As easy as killing bunnies with axes" / "As easy as stamping on kittens" / "Sunday Driver"
    • "Normal everyday carnage" / "Normal day-to-day depravity" / "Boy Racer"
    • "As hard as French-kissing a cobra" / "As hard as fisting a Velociraptor" / "Speed Demon"

  • Blazing Lazers has a difficulty selector that is only available via a secret code at the opening of the game.
    • "Normal Dog"
    • "Hard Human"
    • "Super Mania"
    • "God of the Game"

  • Alien Soldier has only two difficulty levels.

  • Afro Samurai has two difficulties, with the second unlocked after a complete playthrough.
  • "Number Two Headband"
  • "Number One Headband"

  • Parasite Eve 2 has a few and each one gives bigger bonus multipliers at higher difficulties.

  • Sword Of The Samurai names its difficulty levels after Japanese swords of increasing length.
    • "Tanto — 'for beginning players'"
    • "Wakizashi — "for intermediate players'"
    • "Katana — 'for experienced players'"
    • "No-Dachi — 'for master players'"

  • CnC Renegade
    • "Recruit"
    • "Veteran"
    • "Commando"

  • Mega Man 9:
    • "Normal"
    • "Hero"
    • "Super Hero"

  • Freedom Fighters

  • Jade Empire
    • "Student"
    • "Master"
    • "Great Master"
    • "Jade Master"

  • Overboard for the Playstation 3 had difficulty levels sounding like this:
    • "Oohh!"
    • "Ooohhh!"
    • "OOOHHH!"

  • City of Heroes and City of Villains used to take this a step further. You can change your difficulty at special NPCs who, for a fee, will spread word about you, affecting your Reputation (heroes) / Notoriety (villains). This affects the missions you will receive.
    • Heroic/Villainous (standard)
    • Tenacious/Malicious (more enemies)
    • Rugged/Vicious (harder enemies)
    • Unyielding/Ruthless (both)
    • Invincible/Relentless (standard sized spawns of even harder enemies).
      • The difficulty system was altered for Going Rogue. Now you can separately set what level the foes should be compared to you (from -1 to +4), how many foes should spawn in missions (from x1 to x8), whether you want to fight Bosses as Lieutenants, and whether you want to fight Archvillains as Elite Bosses.

  • Max Payne and Max Payne 2:
    • "Fugitive" (1) / "Detective" (2)
    • "Hard Boiled"
    • "Dead On Arrival" (very hard, limited saves per level)
    • "New York Minute" (time attack)
    • "Dead Man Walking" (insane one-room enemy-spawning survival mode)

  • Painkiller:
    • "Daydream"
    • "Insomnia"
    • "Nightmare"
    • "Trauma"

  • Most Star Trek games
    • "Ensign"
    • "Lieutenant"
    • "Captain"
    • "Admiral"

  • Crysis has "Delta Force" difficulty, with an Easter Egg file name of Bauer for its most realistic, Harder Than Hard setting.

  • Golden Eye 1997 and GoldenEye Wii
    • "Agent" (1997) / "Operative" (Wii)
    • "Secret Agent" (1997) / Agent" (Wii)
    • "00 Agent" (1997) / "007" (Wii)
    • "007" (customizable difficulty level)(1997)
    • "007 Classic" (no Regenerating Health)(Wii)

  • Perfect Dark: Bots in multiplayer mode also have various difficulty levels, ranging from Meatsims that almost always miss to Darksims that almost always hit, spawn near weapon spawn points, and can teleport when the player isn't looking. Zero adds "Dark Agent".
    • "Agent"
    • "Special Agent"
    • "Perfect Agent"
    • "Perfect Dark"
    • "Dark Agent" (no Regenerating Health)(Zero only)

  • Quantum of Solace: Difficulty level also carries over to achievements. Depending on difficulty, the player gets "Octopussy", "Tomorrow Never Dies", "You Only Live Twice", or "The Name Is Bond, James Bond." No points for guessing which achievement goes with which difficulty.
    • "New Recruit"
    • "Field Operative"
    • "Agent"
    • "007"

  • The Jedi Knight series of Star Wars games uses various Jedi ranks in different methods in different games, ranging from "Padawan" up to "Master". An exception to this is The Force Unleashed, which uses Sith ranks instead, from "Apprentice" up to "Master".

  • Descent is pseudo-military:

  • The Atari 2600 game Laser Blast:
    • Cadet
    • Lieutenant
    • Captain
    • Commander
  • Corridor 7:
    • Corporal
    • Lieutenant
    • Captain
    • Major
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked has difficulty names based around its "gladiator battle television show" theme. Each difficulty also has an amusing description.
    • Couch Potato note 
    • Contestant note 
    • Gladiator note 
    • Hero note 
    • Exterminator note 
  • The Conduit, in keeping with its conspiracy/terror theme, uses the five levels of the Homeland Security Advisory System:
    • Low
    • Guarded
    • Elevated
    • High
    • Severe
  • Battle for Wesnoth has difficulty settings named marked by units of different levels and mostly named after them, customized per campaign:
    • "Horseman (Beginner), Knight (Challenging)", "Fighter (Easy), Commander (Normal), Lord (Challenging)", "Spearman (Easy), Swordsman (Normal), Royal Guard (Challenging)" or "Peasant (Easy), Outlaw (Normal), Fugitive (Difficult)" - Human; also "Civilian (Beginner), Recruit (Easy), Soldier (Normal)"
    • "Fighter (Beginner), Hero (Normal), Champion (Challenging)", "Fighter (Beginner), Lord (Normal), High Lord (Challenging)" "Soldier (Easy), Lord (Normal), High Lord (Hard)" - Elvish.
    • "Fighter (Easy), Steelclad (Normal), Lord (Challenging)" - Dwarvish.
    • "Grunt (Challenging), Warrior (Difficult), Warlord (Nightmare)" - Orcish.
  • The difficulty levels of the Duel Colosseum in Dissidia: Final Fantasy take their names from the airships in the series:
  • Darkest of Days:
  • While they do have a few differences in special moves, the teams in Sonic Heroes are basically difficulty levels, with Team Rose being easy, Team Sonic being normal, Team Dark being hard, and Team Chaotix being "other" (usually having some sort of odd mission).
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade
    • Muso - easy
    • Shura - crushing even to the average gamer who's beaten Muso
    • Shigurui - Shura, except One-Hit-Point Wonder
  • Wet
    • Cake Walk (easy)
    • Hired Gun (normal)
    • Fixer (hard)
    • Femme Fatale (very hard)
    • Golden Bullets (one-hit kills for everyone!)
  • Tetris: The Grand Master 2 PLUS
    • Normal
    • Master
    • T.A. Death
  • Tetris: The Grand Master 3
    • Easy
    • Master
    • Shirase
  • Tetris: The Grand Master 4
    • Konoha
    • Master
    • Rounds
  • Tetris: The Grand Master ACE
    • Normal
    • Hi-Speed
    • Hi-Speed 2
    • Another
    • Another 2
  • The original San Francisco Rush had audio Idiosyncratic Difficulties based on which car you picked. Each car handling class was accompanied by a car alarm which got gradually more intense the more a class traded handling for speed, topping off with Extreme's "It's dangerous!" followed by screaming. The N64 port added a few special cars that had difficulty levels of "Oooooh!" and "Yeah!"
  • DuckTales: The Quest for Gold uses money puns:
    • Easy Money
    • Standard Wages
    • Hard Earned Cash
  • The Call of Duty series often uses:
    • Greenhorn - "You will crush the enemy without effort."
    • Regular - "Your abilities in combat will be tested."
    • Hardened - "Your skills will be strained."
    • Veteran - "You will not survive."
  • 50 Cent Bulletproof:
    • Playa - Very Easy
    • Hustla - Easy
    • Thug - Normal
    • Gangsta - Hard
    • G Unit Soldier - Very hard.
  • Wipeout normally has speed classes stand in for difficulty levels:
    • Vector
    • Venom
    • Flash
    • Rapier
    • Phantom (hidden difficulty in earlier games)
    • Wipeout HD has AI difficulty levels in addition to speed classes:
      • Novice
      • Skilled
      • Elite
    • Wipeout 2048 has completely different speed classes due to being a prequel to the rest of the series:
      • D Class
      • C Class
      • B Class
      • A Class
      • A+ Class
  • Death Rally:
    • Speed Makes me Dizzy
    • I Live to Ride
    • I Got Petrol in my Veins
  • The World Ends with You only has a different name for its hardest difficulty, but each setting has a little one-liner to go along with it.
    • "Easy: Face the Noise"
    • "Normal: Erase the Noise"
    • "Hard: Hush the Noise"
    • "Ultimate: Crush the Noise"
  • Paperboy was one of the earliest video games to use this trope - your delivery routes are:
    • Easy Street
    • Middle Road
    • Hard Way
  • The NES version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge have fancily-named difficulty levels that affected not only the strength of the enemies and the movement of traps, but also the length of the overall game.
    • Practice (which lasts only three stages)
    • Warrior (which has all the stages except the final one)
    • Supreme Master (the only difficulty where the final stage, and the ending, can be seen)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
  • One Must Fall 2097:
    • Punching bag
    • Rookie
    • Veteran
    • World class
    • and after cheating:
    • Champion
    • Deadly
    • Ultimate
The tournament mode has:
  • Aluminum - The perfect difficulty setting for new players
  • Iron - Think you're ready to fight with the big boys?
  • Steel - To survive, you need ball bearing of steel.
  • Heavy metal - Prepare to be rocked!
  • Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2
    • Casual
    • Normal
    • Veteran
    • Hardcore
    • Insanity
  • Mass Effect 3 removes Veteran and adds Narrative below Casual. The multiplayer mode offers its own difficulty scale:
    • Bronze
    • Silver
    • Gold
    • Platinum
      • The Combat Simulator in the Citadel DLC has its own difficulty settings. While some additional modifiers can be turned on and off freely, the difficulty of the enemies goes as follows (except for the Mirror Match):
    • Foot Soldiers
    • Elites
    • Super Elites
  • Global Agenda ranked its Player Versus Environment missions as Low, Medium, High, or Maximum security. Later patches first added a new level above maximum then removed the Low setting, leaving Artifact Difficulty Levels which are even more idiosyncratic. The current settings are:
    • Medium Security
    • High Security
    • Maximum Security
    • Ultra-Max Security
  • Stargunner uses military-style naming. Good luck beating the game even on the easiest difficulty.
    • Ensign
    • Captain
    • Admiral
  • Resonance of Fate has 10 difficulty levels with each more idiosyncratic than the one before.
    • Normal
    • Advance
    • Hard
    • Professional
    • Hurt Me Plenty
    • Ultimate
    • Supremacy
    • Legendary
    • Mythology
    • Zenith
  • Alien Rampage:
    • Like To Hide.
    • Shoot And Run.
    • Stand And Fight.
    • Just A Psycho.
  • Genetos:
    • Beginner
    • Standard User
    • Programmer
    • Hacker
    • Creator
  • Microprose's adaptation of Magic: The Gathering used wizard ones:
    • Apprentice - start with 10 life, one color, enemies have X life
    • Magician - start with 8 life, two colors, enemies have X+Y life
    • Sorceror - start with 6 life, three colors, enemies have X+2Y life
    • Wizard - start with 4 life, four colors, enemies have X+3Y life
    • You could further adjust difficulty by choosing your color; red, green, and white were easier than black and blue, just because of the low life totals.
  • Kingdom Hearts has:
    • Easy (later, "Beginner")
    • Standard
    • Proud (from Final Mix onwards; previously called "Expert")
    • Critical (beginning with Final Mix+ and BBS)
  • Alien Trilogy:
    • Acid Reign
    • Raging Terror
    • Xenomania
  • Guilty Party has:
    • Rookie (Easy)
    • Detective (Medium)
    • Super Sleuth (Hard)
  • Raiden Project:
  • Raiden IV:
    • Practice
    • Very Easy
    • Easy
    • Medium
    • Original (arcade)
    • Hard
    • Very Hard
    • Ultimate (Harder than Harder Than Hard)
  • Mushihime-sama and its sequel:
    • Original
    • Maniac
    • Ultra (in Mushihimesama Futari Black Label, this is replaced by God).
  • Ōkamiden
    • Greenhorn
    • Old Hand
  • Sniper Elite
    • Rookie
    • Cadet
    • Marksman
    • Sniper Elite
  • Haegemonia uses the usual names but each has a subtitle:
    • Easy - Come on! You are better than that!!!
    • Medium - Correct decision...
    • Hard - Are you completely sure???
  • Craz'd!
    • Beginner Mode
    • Awesome Mode
  • DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label:
    • Bomb Style - More bombs.
    • Power Style - More firepower.
    • Strong Style - Same bomb capacity as Bomb Style, most firepower, but hardest enemy patterns.
  • DoDonPachi Sai Dai Ou Jou:
    • Shot - Strong shot, weak laser.
    • Laser - Weak shot, strong laser.
    • Expert - Strong shot, strong laser, and most importantly, enemy patterns dramatically increase in difficulty.
  • Crimzon Clover:
    • Simple — Simplified scoring system and no Break Mode.
      • The arcade port swaps out Simple for Boost mode, which is a new mode altogether.
    • Original
    • Unlimited
  • The Infocom text adventure Leather Goddesses Of Phobos had "Tame", "Suggestive", and "Lewd". Didn't affect game difficulty, just the text descriptions of the action.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 didn't have selectable difficulties but each scenario had three different objective sets of increasing difficulty:
    • Apprentice
    • Entrepreneur
    • Tycoon
  • Sin and Punishment: Star Successor's difficulty descriptions:
    • Easy - "You will be sheltered."
    • Normal - "You will be tested."
    • Hard - "You will be punished."
  • Blue Wish Resurrection:
    • Heaven
    • Original
    • Hell
    • Accel, in which bullets accelerate as they move further. Changed into a setting in the options menu in Blue Wish Resurrection Plus
  • Aerobiz Supersonic featured:
    • Glider
    • Prop
    • Jet
    • Jumbo Jet
    • Supersonic
  • Ace Combat: From 04 on up, featured unlockable difficulty modes after beating it on Hard.
    • Expert
    • Ace
  • Storm the House 3
    • Has very typical level names (Easy, Normal, Hard) up until the last one: WHY GOD!?
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    • Tell Me A Story
    • Give Me A Challenge
    • Give Me Deus Ex
  • Quake III: Arena
    • I Can Win
    • Bring It On
    • Hurt Me Plenty
    • Hardcore
    • Nightmare
      • Each level colors part of logo to red with first having none colored, and 5th having special "logo". 5th also plays SFX.
  • Arcania - Gothic 4
  • Rock Band 3 has a three-dimensional matrix of difficulties. Two of those dimensions are simply named: modes available (on guitar, bass, keys, and drums anyway) are Basic and Pro, chart difficulties available are Easy, Normal, Hard, and Expert, but the third dimension, the difficulty for a given song on a given instrument, follows this scale:
    • Warmup
    • Apprentice
    • Solid
    • Moderate
    • Challenging
    • Nightmare
    • Impossible
      • These levels are present in the other games of the series as well, except the first game has two more song difficulty levels: Skilled and Blistering, with Challenging sandwiched between them.
  • The original Guitar Hero games, made by Harmonix before Activision took the license from them, also had idiosyncratic song difficulty levels:
    • Opening Licks
    • Axe Grinders (first game only)
      • Amp Warmers (second game only; replaces the previous one)
      • String Snappers (also second game only)
    • Thrash and Burn (absent from the Rocks the 80s version)
    • Return of the Shred
    • Fret Burners (first game only)
      • Relentless Riffs (second game only; replaces the previous one)
      • Furious Fretwork (also second game only)
    • Face Melters (absent from the Rocks the 80s version)
  • Trash Panic:
    • Sweets Course
    • Maindish Course
    • Hell Course
  • Soldier of Fortune II
    • Amateur: easy
    • Gun for Hire: medium
    • Consultant: hard
    • Soldier of Fortune: nearly impossible
  • Indie puzzle game Chromashift has normal level numbers, but a different description for each:
    • Level 1: For Beginning Players
    • Level 2: A Fairly Safe Bet
    • Level 3: Not Too Hard
    • Level 4: Getting Fairly Difficult
    • Level 5: Yeah, Good Luck With That
  • Far Cry tells you what to expect for each difficulty level:
    • Easy: A peaceful tropical island stroll. Enjoy your vacation.
    • Medium: You will be challenged, but adventure requires a little danger, right?
    • Challenging: Your enemies are smarter, more accurate, and really pissed off. Good luck. You'll need it.
    • Veteran: Serious jungle madness. We hope you have a high tolerance for pain.
    • Realistic: You must be amazingly skilled or incredibly foolish. Forget paradise - this is hell.
  • Death Smiles Mega Black Label
    • Level 1
    • Level 2
    • Level 3
    • Level 999
  • Loaded
    • Players Are Fairies
    • Players Are Boring
    • Players Are Confident
    • Players Are Brutal
    • Players Are Loaded
  • Galactic Civilizations: the individual races can be set to any of Fool, Dunce, Beginner, Sub-Normal, Normal, Bright, Intelligent, Gifted, Genius, Incredible, Godlike or Ultimate; Intelligent is the only one that's fair, with the earlier ones cheating in your favour and the later ones simply cheating. The game as a whole has the following difficulties:
    • Cakewalk
    • Easy
    • Simple
    • Beginner
    • Normal
    • Challenging
    • Tough
    • Painful
    • Crippling
    • Masochistic
    • Obscene
    • Suicidal
  • The Berenstain Bears' Camping Adventure:
    • Bear Cub (Easy)
    • Brown Bear (Medium, the default)
    • Grizzly Bear (Hard)
  • Air Zonk:
    • Sweet Mode (5 lives)
    • Spicy Mode (3 lives)
    • Bitter Mode (1 life)
  • Zigzagged in Commandos 2: Men of Courage, where the difficulty levels are Normal, Difficult and Realist (for Very Hard).
  • Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge has Vaquero (Cow Boy) for Normal and Pistolero (Gunslinger) for Hard.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor:
    • Elves Just Want to Have Fun (Easy)
    • Dwarvish Moderation - a practical approach to dungeoneering (Normal)
    • Going Rogue - because losing is fun! (Hard)
  • The Saboteur:
    • Easy
    • Medium
    • Hard
    • Fecking Hard

  • Legend Garden
    • Cake
    • Noob
    • Piggy
    • Master
    • Legend

  • Kid Icarus: Uprising uses a difficulty slider from 1.0 to 9.0, with the difficulty fine-tunable to 0.1 increments. In addition, each 1.0 increment has its own name:

  • X-com: Enemy Unknown and Terror from The Deep
    • Beginner
    • Experienced
    • Veteran
    • Genius
    • Superhuman

  • X-Com Enemy Unknown 2012

  • Crimson Alliance
    • Easy
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Immortal
    • Ridonkulous!

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
    • Novice
    • Apprentice
    • Adept
    • Expert
    • Master
    • Legendary

  • Damage Incorporated:
    • Grenada
    • Desert Storm
    • Korea
    • World War II
    • Vietnam

  • A Valley Without Wind has two sets of difficulty levels, one for platforming, and another for combat.
    • Combat:
      • Featherweight
      • Apprentice
      • Adept
      • Skilled
      • Hero
      • Master Hero
      • The Chosen One
    • Platforming:
      • I Have No Desire to Be The Guy
      • I'm Afraid Of Heights
      • I Can Jump, Thank You
      • I Get Mistaken for A Certain Plumber
      • I Am Not The Guy, but I Am Close
      • I Am Already The Guy

  • The Blessed Engine, a Game Mod for Doom that turns it Nintendo Hard.
    • Ultra-Violence
    • Nightmare!
    • Certain Death.
    • No Chance
    • !

  • VSB-doom, a Game Mod for Doom which allows you to play as the cat-like alien Coeurl (unfortunately, the mod seems unavailable anywhere on the internet.)
    • Cougar
    • Tomcat
    • Pussycat
    • Kitten
    • Mouse
    • Note the inversion from the usual fare—rather than go "from wuss to badass", the levels go "from strong to weak".

  • Raptor: Call of the Shadows
    • Rookie
    • Veteran
    • Elite
  • In Unison on the PS2, instead of selecting a difficulty, you pick a character to play as.
    • Trill (Normal)
    • Cela (Hard)
    • Chilly (Very Hard)

  • Space Tanks (Similar to Scorched Earth, but in space)
    • please don't hurt me!
    • child's play
    • basic
    • simple
    • almost normal
    • standard
    • complex
    • pretty difficult
    • quite heavy
    • super sophisticated
    • incredibly awkward
      • Yes, all these are in lower case.

  • The Metroid Prime series has:
    • Normal Mode
    • Veteran Modenote 
    • Hard Modenote /Hyper Modenote 

  • Weaponlord
    • Adventurer
    • Warrior
    • Barbarian
    • Warlord

  • Killing Floor has the normal easy/medium/hard, but past that:
    • Suicidal
    • Hell on Earth

  • Power Gig: Rise of the SixString
    • Recruit
    • Disciple
    • Master
    • Virtuoso
    • Legend

  • Spin Doctor
    • Pre-Med
    • Intern
    • Resident
    • Specialist

  • Symphony, a music player vertical Shoot 'em Up, uses sheet music loudness notation for its difficulty levels:
    • Pianissimo
    • Piano
    • Mezzo-piano
    • Mezzo-forte
    • Forte
    • Fortissimo

  • PAYDAY: The Heist
    • Easy
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Overkill
    • Overkill 145+ (reserved for players whose rep level is 145 or higher)

  • Super Hexagon

  • An Untitled Story
    • Simple
    • Regular
    • Difficult
    • Masterful
    • Insanity (same as Masterful but everything kills you in one hit)

  • Distorted Travesty
    • Beginner
    • Veteran
    • Hardcore
    • Distorted

  • Skate Or Die: The CPU difficulty for your opponent is determined by the characters:
    • Poseur Pete
    • Aggro Eddie
    • Lester

  • Cthulhu Saves the World
    • Easy
    • Medium
    • Hard
    • Insane (Not that uncommon in other games, but remember who the protagonist is...)

  • Phone version of Prince of Persia has:

  • River City Ransom EX:

  • Double Dragon Neon:

  • Streets of Rage:
    • Very Easy (2nd game only)
    • Easy
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Hardest/Very Hard (Not in the Western version of 3)
    • Mania (2nd game only)

  • Zombies TC, a Game Mod for Doom, based on Night of the Living Dead
    • Reporter
    • Cop
    • Coroner
    • Undead
    • Nightmare!

  • MassMouth 2

  • Vanquish
    • Casual Auto
    • Casual
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • God Hard

  • Bayonetta

  • The Wonderful 101

  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

  • Stellavanity

  • Hellsinker has three axes of difficulty.
    • Level (Stella range, stage select only):
      • Unplugged
      • Limited
      • Compressed
      • Distorted
    • Way of Life (Maximum number of lives);
      • Drastic
      • Moderately
      • Prudently
    • Bootleg Ghost (Auto-bomb behavior):
      • Aspirant
      • Solidstate
      • Adept

  • The House of the Dead Overkill - Extended Cut
    • Bitch
    • Agent
    • Motherf***er

  • Sequence has the standard "Easy", "Medium", and "Hard", but above Hard is "Spasmodic". Additionally, each difficulty has a label:
    Easy - For those musically challenged.
    Medium - For those musically challenged, yet stubborn.
    Hard - For those not musically challenged.
    Spasmodic - For those socially challenged.

  • All of the games in the Gundemonium Series have this in one form or another. The first two games adjust the limits of the Dynamic Difficulty.
    • Gundemonium (Recollection)
      • Novice
      • Revised
      • Unlimited
      • Demonic
    • GundeadliGne
      • Novice
      • Standard
      • Advanced
      • Demonic
    • Hitogata Happa
      • Euridice
      • Nobilimente
      • Allemande
      • Doomsday

  • Remember Me
    • Script Kiddie
    • Errorist Agent
    • Memory Hunter

  • Spec Ops: The Line
    • Walk on the Beach
    • Combat Op
    • Suicide Mission
    • FUBARnote 

  • FATE

  • One Way Heroics
    • Walk in the Park
    • Afternoon Stroll
    • Grueling Campaign
    • Inhumane Odyssey

  • Danganronpa
    • Gentle
    • Kind
    • Mean

  • PAYDAY 2
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Very Hard
    • Overkill
    • Death Wish

  • Fitting the Western Spaghetti theme, Outlaws goes "Good", "Bad" and "Ugly".

  • Shin Megami Tensei IV
    • Fellow
    • Prentice
    • Master

  • Fire Emblem Awakening has two axes of difficulty:
    • The first affects battle difficulty and certain item prices:
    • The second affects Final Death:
      • Casual
      • Classic (referencing the series' tradition of Final Death)

  • The Matrix Path Of Neo
    • "Novice" - "Easy"
    • "Beginner" - "Medium"
    • "Master" - "Hard"
    • "The One Mode" - "Harder Than Hard"

Non-video game examples:

  • One StickManStickMan comic strip, has a swordfight training robot that has difficulty settings including the following. note 
    • Expert
    • Master
    • Impossible
    • Combine Harvester
    • No Seriously, Give Up Now


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alternative title(s): Idiosyncratic Difficulty Names
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