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Gameplay Grading

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If only report cards were more like this.

"Just completing the mission is fine and all, but... if you can, give it your best shot and shoot for a S+ rank, GV!"

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)
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  • Completion: Number of items (Heart Containers, gold, among others) collected, secrets found, bonus objectives finished, and so on
  • Style/Mastery: Related to Offense, this rather esoteric category is usually more about variety: Did you use several different weapons/combos in your run, or did you spam that one Game-Breaker constantly?

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. It's also common for games to hold back the "S" grade if you're playing on the easiest difficulty setting.

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. If the ranking system is actually an integrated part of the story, then it may also result in Rank Up.


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    Action Adventure 
  • 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.

    Action Game 
  • 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.
  • In the Devil May Cry games, player performance is graded from D to SSS. The system grades not only the overall stage completion time, but also the execution of combos and tactics during individual battles. The latter is maintained by factors like the combo's length, variance (i.e. not spamming the same technique), timing (i.e. landing parries or deflections), and flawlessness (i.e. not getting hit). Otherwise, the battle's grade slowly decays over time and impacts the overall mission ranking. Higher Style ratings cause slain enemies to drop more Red Orbs.
  • Hotline Miami gives a score and letter grade at the end of each level. Higher scores can be earned through recklessness, variety, and swiftness.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Almost every single game by PlatinumGames 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).
  • Golden Axe shows you your letter grade after the game is over (typically separate from the actual score gained from killing enemies).
  • Streets of Rage 4 does this for the first time in the series. Grades range from D to S. The letters are based on score requirement, how many Star Specials a player has kept, and a Perfect Bonus (if the player(s) has taken no damage).
  • 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.

    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.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Each History Mode mission grades your performance, with each mission have somewhat different criteria (damage taken, time taken, etc.) to pull from. You are ranked for each one with B, A, or S, with B as the lowest and S the highest. Getting an S rank for each criteria of a mission can earn you a rare item as a bonus.
  • 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 and a large number of them need to be completed with an A rank to get their rewards.
  • 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.
  • Elsword gives you one each time you complete a dungeon or finish enough matches for a PvP ranking. They go as low as F if you just give up or as higher as SSS if you're a PvP master.

  • Samira from League of Legends was outright designed to be a Dante expy, and borrows a DMC-esque "Style" meter for her gameplay. Starting as soon as she hits an enemy champion, the grade ranks from E to S, increasing by rank each time she uses a different source of damage different from the previous one she just hit an enemy champion with, giving her increased movement speed for each grade she achieves. Her ultimate ability, "Inferno Trigger", is unique in that it has a low cooldown, but can only be used when her Style is at S.

    Party Game 
  • Some Mario Party games will grade you for your performance in the Story Mode.

    Platform Game 
  • Ayo the Clown: At the end of each level is a stage upon which Ayo must climb to complete the level. Upon getting up on said stage, you get graded on how many of the three teddy bears and three lollipops you collected in each level, and how much time you took to get to the end.
  • 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.
  • Crossbow Warrior - The Legend of William Tell: At the end of each level, the game lists how much Edelweiss was collected out of all of the level's, how much time you took in each level, and whether you shot the level's secret apple.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog games, starting from Sonic Adventure, have this.
  • The NES version of Solomon's Key infamously supplies a "Game Deviation Value" on its game over screen. Thirty years and counting and players still haven't figured out how it's computed.

    Puzzle Game 

    Racing Game 
  • Gran Turismo 2, regarding the driving licenses.
  • 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.
  • Speed Power Gunbike grades players on two areas: Speed, based on how quickly they were able to clear a stage/boss, and Power, based on how much damage they were able to inflect.

    Rail Shooter 
  • The various Panzer Dragoon games have always been concerned with your percentage of enemies shot down, and later games also graded you on your completion speed, damage taken, and even if you found secret routes through the levels.
  • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica and Umbrella Chronicles both grade you based on headshots, accuracy, and damage taken.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Any Rhythm Game will grade you one way or another. Ones with with a (mostly) letter system include beatmania, DanceDanceRevolution, 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.
    • Early Beatmania and Keyboardmania games had systems that went all the way to H.
    • 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.
  • In 8 Beat Story, he player is judged by how long the player's maximum combo and how high the score is. Getting S rank on both in Expert and Mother difficulties gives Core Jewels, this game's IAP currency.
  • DanceDanceRevolution gives you a grade from D (just passed the song) to AAA (all Perfect in the earlier games, a few Greats are allowed in SuperNOVA 2.) If you're playing 2-player and fail a song while the other player passes, you'll get an E.
  • CROS Sx BEATS has two separate grading systems, a letter grade and a Clear Rate percentage, and oddly enough the two are correlated but neither is a function of the other nor a function of the score. On a song with at least 90 notes, if you get a single Fail exactly in the middle and all Flawless or Super on the rest, you'll get a Clear Rate of 89% and a grade of S+. If you get a Cool on every single note, you'll get 10% of the max score, a Clear Rate of 60%, and an S++ grade.
  • 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.
  • Idolish 7 Live Mode is scored from lowest (C rank), average (B Rank, A Rank, and S Rank), to highest (SS Rank)
  • 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.
  • RAVON has a score grading system, but the ranks are, in order of lowest to highest: M, K, G, F, A, B, O. Yeah that's right, a B grade is higher than an A grade! This is because the game makes extensive use of Stellar Naming, and the grades are named after stellar classifications.
  • In the 1-player \ co-op modes of Super Beat Sports, perfect hits, late\early hits, and best streak all contribute to a meter. Filling the meter enough awards a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medal.
  • Tadpole Treble features a ranking system based on your score upon reaching the end of each given stage, and the 'end-of-level' jingle evolves based on the rank you achieved. Interestingly, one of the challenges offered by each stage is to make it to the end with an 'F' rank, which is more difficult than you'd think.note  The game even keeps track of the lowest score you've achieved in a successful playthrough of each level.
  • Depending on your score in Thumper, you will be awarded a letter grade at the end of each level, with C being the lowest, and S being the highest.

    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. Higher ranks also affect the drop rates.
  • Final Fantasy XV: After every battle you are ranked from D to A+ for Time, Finesse, and Damage.
  • 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.
  • 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).
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Pokémon Ranger games grade your performance when capturing Pokemon, with higher letter grades granting you more experience points.
  • Tales Series rank player's battle performance 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.
  • 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 of Shikigami III gives you a letter grade between levels, from F (worst) all the way up to SS (best).
  • EXTRAPOWER Star Resistance gives you a higher rank based on total enemy kills, ranked for each individual stage and for the whole game. Higher rank is generally better, and encouraged by granting health restoration at the end of the stage based upon rank. However, earning low enough ranks throughout the game - which is to say, with minimal kills - grants the elusive Holy Warrior achievement.
  • Ikaruga grades the level too.
  • SkyGunner gives various score bonuses and penalties at the end of each stage, but reserves the final grade until the end of the game.
  • Both Bullet Heaven games rate you based on your level score, with a different system in each game.
    • The first game has a standard F to A scale topped by an S rank; the second throws an E in for "not-quite-an-F-rank" while adding Rank Inflation in the form of 1-3 stars!
  • In cloudphobia, players are graded based on how much destruction to enemies they've caused, clear time, how much damage they've taken, and how high their Hit Combo chain was, which factors in not only bonus score, but also how much shield is repaired for them and the mothership as well as how much missile stock they get back in between stages.
  • Trouble Witches gives score bonuses in between based on how much lives are remaining, how much gold and Star Coins they've accumulated, defeating the boss, and a No Damage Bonus if they can through the stage without losing a life.

    Simulation Game 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Snapimals, at the end of each journey, the Captain scores the photos you took based on Size, Spot, and Angle, on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • In Viscera Cleanup Detail an inspector will evaluate your performance on completing a level and give you a percentage score based on main and secondary objectives. If your score is too low, you'll be fired and not receive an achievement for completing the level.
    • Primary objectives typically consist of eliminating trash items, splatter, and bullet holes. Some maps include additional objectives such as storing certain objects in a designated zone. The score starts at 0% when you zone in and can go up to 100% for completing all objectives or go negative if more of a mess is made.
    • Stealing or destroying certain objects will penalize the score as will filing a complaint against the Company.
    • Side objectives add extra points to your rating, allowing completion above 100%. This includes stacking barrels and crates, collecting P.I.D.s from corpses, and filling out an end-of-level report accurately.
  • Warship Gunner 2 grades you after each mission based on how many secondary objectives you completed, the percentage of enemy forces you destroyed, and whether or not you found the level's hidden item.

    Survival Horror 
  • 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.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • The Commandos games rate how well did you the mission with letters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Version 1 of Double Agent have a grading followed by a stealth rating at the end of each mission up to a rating of 100% stealth, with it being decreased by stuff like being spotted by enemies, killing enemies, the number of alerts raised, bodies being found, etc. While the solo play of Version 2 of Double Agent still uses the grading system, it doesn't give you a stealth rating, with your actions instead effecting your Karma Meter. The co-op of Version 2 does bring back the stealth ratings, though. Blacklist splits grading up into three categories with you getting mastery for one when you get enough points for it: Assault, which you get points for by killing or knocking out enemies in loud aggressive firefights, Panther, which you get for silently killing enemies and sneaking past them once they have been alerted, and Ghost, which you get by bypassing enemies altogether without alerting them and silently knocking enemies out.
  • The Swindle gives tells you how much money you stole as a percentage of what was available in the level, and gives you cash bonuses for impressive play: skilled use of technology nets a proficiency bonus, while making it out undetected with virtually all the money provides a ghost bonus.

    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.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • The Civilization games rank the player as equivalent to a real-world historic figure, from Dan Quayle up to Augustus Caesar, based on their points score at the end of the game. Points accrue based on cultural, technological, infrastructural, territorial, and other advancement, but only one potential victory path (i.e.: running out the clock) relies on out-scoring the other civilizations.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The game gives you a Hero Rank upon completion, based upon special actions in each stage laid out in a text document in the game folder, usually actions that are considered particularly heroic or brave or that would fit the characters rivalries and personalities, in true Toku fashion. A casual playthrough without adhering to the attached guide can give a middling Hero Rank, but certain conditions are tough enough for high Hero Rank achievement to be a challenge even with foreknowledge.
  • Fire Emblem has traditionally used an End Game Results Screen in nearly every installment to date, but only Genealogy thru The Blazing Blade actually graded your performance. Typically grades your performance based on Tactics note , EXP note , Funds: Army's net worth in total gold and items note , Survival: How many units you recruited (and survived until the very end). note , and lastly Combat: how efficient you are at killing enemies note . An 'S' was generally the best grade issued, but Thracia 776 takes this Up to Eleven and offers 'SSS' as the highest grade.
  • Nintendo Wars has three grading for each mission. Speed is self-explanatory, based on how fast you complete the mission, Power is based on the number of enemies are destroyed from a ratio in a single turn, and Technique is based on the number of units you have than you have lost. Technique could be elevated by spamming units from all bases so that you have more troops than you lost. Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict reworked the system, especially the Power and Technique where the former is based on the damage value inflicted and number of times you attacked during your turn and the latter is based on the number of enemy units and how much they joined divided by the number of units you own and lost, meaning that spamming units is not a good idea. How you get the rank is based on the game, as in the first three Advance Wars games, you must have at least 280 points in order to get an S-rank while in Days of Ruin, you must have at least 300 points, although that game has a 150 point limit per score than the 100 in the previous games.
  • 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.

    Other games 
  • Ball Revamped 3: Andromeda and Gemini give you a letter grade based on your score, which is determined by how quickly you beat the game and how many times you died. They do slap you with an F if you do poorly enough, which is justified because there's no way to get a Game Over.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The Hobo Bros' "Hobo Theatre" videos involve Luke attempting to tell a story using Garry's Mod props based on a list of words and phrases that Kevin reads as the story goes on. At the end of each story, Kevin grades Luke based on how well he implemented each word/phrase.
  • In the first-edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide, Gary Gygax suggests that Dungeon Masters grade their players on how well they stuck to their character and alignment and use that grade to determine level advancement.