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Rank Inflation / Video Games

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  • Rare's Donkey Kong games used a percentage completion rating that never stopped at 100%. DKC stopped at 101%, DKC2 stopped at 102%, and DKC3 wasn't complete until you had 103% (and 105%, which requires inputing codes for a Self-Imposed Challenge). Collecting enough DK coins in Donkey Kong Country 2 elevates Diddy Kong above Mario in video game hero status.
  • Every Mega Man Zero game has the real prize being S. In the second and third games, you only needed an A or higher rank to see and learn the EX Techniques. Refreshingly, the fourth game kept the ranking but didn't require it to see the interesting stuff.
    • Mega Man X5 goes for a B, A, SA, GA, PA, MH ranking scale; Mega Man X6 goes D, C, B, A, SA, GA, PA, UH. Mega Man X8 goes D, C, B, A, AA, AAA, S. It should be noted that getting a high rank in Mega Man X6 has nothing to do with performance, though.
      • There's a lot of confusion in regards to what the various abbreviations in Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X6 beyond A class actually stand for. The general consensus is that it's Special A, Great A, Perfect A, and Master Hunter/Ultimate Hunter.
    • In Mega Man X4, in Cyber Peacock's stage, requiring you to get S ranks on several annoying levels where you're timed, and how much damage you take is taken into consideration. In addition,some of the enemies in this area stun you for a few seconds while they drain about 1/3 of X's health (without upgrades). Completion of this with S ranks will grant you access to life tanks, lives, and even an armor capsule.
    • Battle Network and Star Force, interestingly, use a 1-10 plus S system. It determines the type and quality of chips, cards or money you get at the end of it. Occasionally, you can also get stars in addition to your rank, which correspond to extra requirements and rewards independent of the general rank/reward system.
      • Battle Network goes even further with this in 2, where you gain Official licenses with tests in the game that allow you access to higher areas and determine your success fleeing random encounters. They rank Z, B, A, S, SS, and SSS respectively. In addition, the Battle Chip Challenge spin-off rates the tournaments like this in scaling difficulty, going E, D, C, B, A, S, X, Y, Z.
  • The Devil May Cry games use this for the rankings of combos, with your grade going from D to A, followed by S. From the third game forward, SS and SSS ranks were added. The end-of-mission ranking also has a similar grading system, with extra bonuses beyond that for the Hardcores who pull off No Damage Runs and other Self Imposed Challenges. They also use Idiosyncratic Combo Levels:
  • Castlevania
    • The best ending of Symphony of the Night can only be obtained if you actually achieve 200% completion. However, the best possible score by "legitimate" means is the bizarrely arbitrary 200.6% and due to a glitch in how one sword works (which allows you to teleport forward, even through walls), it's actually possible to surpass 400% completion.
      • The 200% in Symphony was simply a method to hide the ENTIRE LAST THIRD OF THE GAME from the players. Once you've searched most of the castle (specifically, found three items before fighting the final boss), you would not get the bad ending and instead go through an inverted version of the entire castle. It still doesn't explain the .6%.
      • The .6% is essentially a math bug due to how some of the castle rooms wound up breaking apart because of the tile flipping and stuff. There are actually about 3-4 extra rooms on the inverted map, and one hidden room for Dracula's final battle.
    • Fully exploring Portrait of Ruin earns you 1000% completion, the sum of 100% of 10 different areas, in a Mythology Gag to Symphony of the Night.
  • Sonic Team revels in this. NiGHTS into DREAMS and second-generation Sonic the Hedgehog games starting with Sonic Adventure 2 give out completion rankings for stages, from E to A, and then S rank, whose requirements for attainability in some stages can break your soul. Worse, most Sonic games since Adventure 2 have the deliberately frustrating feature of resetting your score to zero when you die. Far too many controllers have died at the hands of players who fell into a pit after a ten-minute level with a near perfect score.
    • Both of the above mentioned also appear in another game by Sonic Team: Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. In later levels (particularly Circus Park and Giant Palace), the score-resetting mechanic becomes a real pain, due to the Surprise Difficulty.
    • Sonic Generations does things a little differently: Rank (which ranges from D to S) is based on how fast you complete a stage, and is slightly affected by how many rings you collect, and your rank goes up one letter if you completed the stage without dying. Dying in a level means that your time carries over (unless you're starting from the very beginning), and you can't get an S Rank (obtained by completing a level fast without dying).
  • Viewtiful Joe ranks the player on three different criteria (points, time, and defense), with grades from D to A, with V as the highest mark. And while you can get an overall V grade without being perfect everywhere, getting nothing but V ranks gets you a special rainbow-V grade.
    • Which is necessary for an infinite VFX meter. Combined with the old-school Nintendo Hard on the higher difficulties, this is something the truly Viewtiful strive for.
  • A very similar ranking system is used in Bayonetta (also designed by Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe creator Hideki Kamiya): each "chapter" is divided up into multiple "verses," for which you can earn stone, bronze, silver, gold, platinum or pure platinum medals or trophies. Again, you don't need a perfect run of platinum verse medals to earn a platinum chapter trophy, but only by completing every verse quickly enough, with a sufficiently high combo score, and without taking any damage, can you get the pure platinum trophy for that chapter.
  • Also done in a similar way in Ōkami (another game designed by Hideki Kamiya). Rank is divided into two categories: Time and Damage. And the ranks are shown by a tree's growth stage (a sprout being the lowest and a Cherry Blossom tree being the highest). The higher the rank: the more money rewarded at the end of the battle.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, A-ranked items, equipment, characters, etc. aren't very useful at all compared to S-ranks.
    • This happens in-universe in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, in which Naked Snake, for defeating The Boss, is awarded the newly-created rank of Big Boss (even though she actually allowed herself to be killed by him, so he hadn't truly surpassed her at all).
  • Although it doesn't really affect gameplay one way or the other, the Striders rank their operatives from C Class to Special-A Class. While C Class Striders are the low men on the totem pole, by no means is that a marring of their skill; they alone are said to be the one-man equivalent of an entire special forces team, and it only becomes more and more crazily superhuman from there on. Strider Hiryu, the protagonist, is one of the Special-A Class Striders (the elites and the only members allowed to wield the group's signature Cypher blades) and is distinguished among his peers for being the youngest to attain such a rank.
  • Killer Is Dead has level ranks after completing each episode. The ranks are all based on time, how high your combo level is, how much damaged you received, along with various episode-specific bonuses that usually have extremely vague requirements. The ranks from lowest to highest are D, C, B, A, & AAA.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped has a gratuitous amount on rank inflation in regards to the time trial prizes, Relics. There are sapphire relics, the first level, the gold relics which are the most you need for maximum completion, and then there are platinum relics. Then after THAT, there are so called "developer times", which are the most ridiculous times. in the game.

    Fighting Games 
  • Meta-example. Fighting game Character Tiers are often labeled as such with D usually being the lowest, then C, B, A and finally S for the highest of the high. Some games will have characters as low as F rank or characters considered so strong that they're ranked as S+ or SS rank. Please note that while characters ranked as high as S+ and SS can sometimes be considered game breakers, not all of them are banned from tournaments. Games with a very large range in tiers can end up going beyond D, especially if it doesn't use + or - (ex. the current [Smash 4 tier list goes from S to H).
    • The most notorious example of this trope being Meta Knight in Brawl, also the most notorious Game-Breaker in Super Smash Bros and a strong contender for the most notorious in all gaming. He had his very own SS Tier above every other character in the game, hence the Memetic Mutation "All aboard the SS Meta Knight". As for what made him a Game-Breaker for the uninitiated, well, put this way: a yearly report showed that Meta Knight players alone won over half of all monetary winnings across all recorded tournaments worldwide - there were very serious calls for Meta Knight to be banned, and he was under the Unity ruleset, but this ban didn't last in practice and the failure to ban him is often cited as the main reason why Brawl's competitive scene fizzled out in 2012.
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves had rankings that started at B, went up to A, AA, and AAA - but then went even further with S, SS, SSS, and eventually capping off at MIRACLE rank.
    • This ranking system was introduced back in Fatal Fury 3, and with exception of its immediate sequel, Real Bout Fatal Fury, it actually affected who you would fight as a final/bonus boss, and if your character's ending could be seen.
  • While it doesn't affect gameplay at all, the story mode in Guilty Gear XX ranks its characters on a scale from D to S++, as well as a couple characters simply not given a ranking due to being entirely too dead to cause anyone any trouble. The only four characters that actually make S-Rank or higher are, in order of increasing power, The Dragon (I-No), the Author Avatar (Sol Badguy), an unstoppable Elder Vampire that founded the Assassin's Guild (Slayer), and a gentle, innocent girl who is a Person of Mass Destruction and possibly a Messianic Archetype (Dizzy). However, these rankings are not so much as based on power as they are a threat to the Post-War Administration Bureau.
  • In BlazBlue, Ragna the Bloodedge is considered an SS-Class Criminal by the Librarium.
  • Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike has a rating system going: G, F, E, D, C, B, A, S, XS, SS, SX, MSF.
    • There are also pluses. For those who are curious, the MSF grade stands for "Master Street Fighter."
    • If you lose the first match under any circumstances, your overall grade is G (and your score is zero). It's possible to get a G for a single fight, but it has to be an absolute whitewash. MSF is a major plateau but far from impossible. There are no tricks to it; you just have to know the engine inside and out, be able to take on anybody and anything, and execute flawlessly. The grades get more generous the further you go, so if you dominate Gill, it's possible to get MSF for both that fight and overall.
  • Street Fighter IV ranks players AAA through F on Offense (landing hits and dishing damage), Defense (blocking, avoiding damage, minimizing damage), and Technique (landing successful combos) after the end of each match.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy the game will rank how well you have leveled and equipped characters, with the lowest being H and the top being SSS. Individual accessories are also ranked, and the higher the letter, the fewer you can equip of the same one - the ones without letters only let you have one of them.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online's rank system for clearing dungeons is based on how well you can pull off combos, with the lowest being F and the highest being SSS.
  • Virtua Fighter: After reaching 10th dan, players can receive titles (going up to Emperor / High King in VF4 and Champion in VF4 Evo.
  • Ditto Tekken starting from 5, going from Beginner and kyu to dan and so on, all the way to Tekken God.
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 ranks your performance in missions on a scale of D, C, B, A, S, and Z. Whatever score you get will be added to your experience meter and determines how your current mentor reacts, from disappointment at D to gobsmacked astonishment at Z.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Joanna Dark in Perfect Dark scored so well on her entrance exam that the Carrington Institute gave her the titular rank.
  • In Doom and Doom II Hellon Earth, the end-of-level screen gives out three percentages: percent of secrets found, percent of items collected, and percent of enemies killed. However, Doom II's final level features a boss that continually spawns more enemies while you try to kill it with rockets. Once you beat the level, the enemies killed number just keeps going up, reaching well into the thousands.
  • Multiplayer players of Battlefield Bad Company 2 earn medals for each weapon for racking up kills with them: Bronze, Silver, Gold 1 through Gold 10, and Platinum.
  • Halo games tend to have a large number of ranks for you to progress through. Halo: Reach has a total of fifty ranks (You can find the full list here), and subsequent games have even more.
  • The TimeSplitters series' challenge and arcade league have unlisted platinum medals for you to shoot for, along with the usual gold/silver/bronze medals.
  • In Crysis 2, you can't set the graphics to low or even normal; all you have is high, very high, extreme, and ultra.

    Racing Games 
  • Both used and inverted in the later Project Gotham Racing games, which have not only platinum medals, but also steel medals ranked below bronze.
  • Crazy Taxi grades you on a E to A scale, with a Class S License being even better than that. And an "Awesome" is even better than that, with "Crazy!!!" is the highest possible rating. On the other end, you don't get a grade at all if you didn't even earn a single cent.
  • Mario Kart: Super Circuit for the GBA has E through A, then 1, 2, and 3 stars. This has since been used in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii. After 1-star ratings, it's mostly for bragging rights - getting at least one star or all 3 in each cup will display stars next to your name online, but there is hidden content that actually requires getting at least one star in all cups in each engine class. Mario Kart 7 removed all scores below 1 star, leaving only four possible ranks (zero through three stars).
  • Trackmania Sunrise and Nations rank your track times with four medals: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Nadeo Developer.
  • Outrun 2006 ranks your racing from E to A to AAA.
    • Ditto for Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing.
  • Excite Truck gives out letter grades based on the number of points acquired in a given run. Depending on the difficulty level, an A or B is required to pass. Getting enough points yields an S grade, which can be used to unlock extras.
  • The racing game Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune allows you to, with a full-tuned car, go anywhere between 600 and 800 horsepower, which by real-life standards is rather dangerous and fatal, though thanks to the Rule of Fun, 600 is an extremely safe setup, 700 is "balanced," and 800 simply gives you poor handling. Maximum Tune 2 allowed you to reach 810 horsepower with an extra tuning point, and 815 with yet another point that required you to either beat Story Mode without losing or drive 5,000 kilometers. Maximum Tune 3 pushes the envelope yet again with a third tuning point, bringing you to a maximum of 820 horsepower and redefining 700 HP as a "grip" setting. Finally, its upgrade, Maximum Tune 3 DX, gives you a fourth bonus point that allows you to reach 825 HP, and now 760 horsepower, once classified as a "drift" setup on the brink of a "dangerous" one, is now a BALANCED setup.
    • Similarly, the class system undergoes this too: WMMT 1 has C, B, A, A+, S, then car-specific class. WMMT 2 has N, C7 -> C1, B7 -> B1, A7 -> A1, S7 -> S1, and SSS. WMMT 3 now has 9 levels for each letter class, then after S1 there's SS9 through SS1, and finally SSS. Oh, and it takes longer to go up one level now, and, assuming you use quarters to play, it will cost you at least $4,000 to reach SSS class! That's over FOUR THOUSAAAAAAAAANDD!!. For WMMT 5, the maximum rank was pushed up again to SSSS, with all existing SSS cars set to SSS9. WMMT 6 added SSSSS and split SSSS into SSSS9 to SSSS1.
  • Sonic Riders gives grades for any tricks that you perform during jumps, with C being for jumps where you don't land correctly, either because you're in the middle of a trick, or as a result of not doing any tricks during the jump. Subsequently, B is the lowest rank for a successful trick, followed by A, AA, S, SS, with X being the best. Sonic Free Riders changes AA and SS to A+ and S+, respectively, but otherwise keeps the previous rank structure.
  • The cars in Forza Motorsport (1) are ranked from "D4" (such as a typical Honda Civic) all the way to "S" (the rarest street-legal cars) and then to "R" (cars designed for racing). Forza Motorsport 2 also adds a 0 to 999 system rating the car, the faster and rarer (also a stat shown as 1 to 10) the car, the higher the number. Also, the "R" class is further divided into, in increasing performance, "R4" to "R1."
    • It is also possible to rank up a car in Forza, such as from "C2" to "B3" by upgrading parts.
  • Need for Speed: High Stakes. The absolute lowest rank for cars in the game is a B (think BMW Z3 and equivalent), and the highest? AAA with an example being the McLaren F1.
  • Super Indie Karts has a ranking system that goes from F to A to A*** (A with three stars next to it), depending on how many Race Stars you have earned during a Grand Prix.

    Role Playing Games 
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, you get rank improvements when you use item synthesis enough times. The best equipment doesn't become available until you achieve Rank S. Also, the rankings for the Gummi Ship levels can, for the second courses, go far beyond S Rank by adding numbers to the end (i.e. S++10).
  • In The World Ends with You, Noise battles are ranked from E to A, depending on how many hits you got in, how quickly you dispatched them, and how much damage you took, as well as other criteria. If you get a near-perfect rating, you get the Star (or S in the Japanese version) rank.
    • There's also pin ranks. There's the normal letters, which restrict how many identical pins you can equip - for example, two B's or one A of the same command type - and then there's the Reaper and Angel levels, of which you can only equip one, period.
  • Odin Sphere gives you a rank from D, C, B, A, to S, when you clear an enemy-infested area. Higher rankings give you more items from the treasure boxes, and portions of your score that are above the cutoff point can be applied to your score for the next area, giving you a better shot at a higher grade.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, a chocobo can enter into races at any rank from C to A. When an A-ranked chocobo graduates to the next rank, it goes to the highest class, S.
  • SeeD rankings in Final Fantasy VIII range from 1 to 30, followed by A.
    • Although SeeD ranking doesn't affect anything but your periodic pay (and there's almost nothing you can buy that's useful), getting an A rank isn't difficult, thanks to the way it's calculated (either fight a lot, with the requirement for fighting increasing at each rank, or complete a general FFVIII knowledge test for instant rank up). What is difficult is maintaining an A rank: You must get at least 10 enemy kills that are done without using GFs between each pay period, or your rank will drop.
  • The .hack GU games has this one. Depending on how many items you have, the number of enemies you killed and the number of times you got a surprise attack you can get anywhere from Rank E to Rank A after visiting an area. Usually the better your rank, the better your rewards.
  • Dragon Quest Monsters games use letter ranks for a battle arena of some sort and/or for the monsters themselves. In DragonQuest Monsters: Joker, ranks go from F (lowest) to A, then up to S and up again to X (highest). Few X-ranked monsters are available in normal play.
  • Games in the Disgaea series rate characters' weapon proficiencies from E to S. From Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice onward, weapon skills and spells are also rated from E to S. The PS Vita port of Disgaea 3 and onward added the SS rank.
  • In the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, you accumulate AP within each chapter or part, and if you get the most, you get S rank. The lowest rank seems to be C because you're actually required to complete certain quests for AP in order to progress in the story. It seems that Game Over is actually the lowest rank because the theme that plays if you get a Game Over is called "Failing Marks..."

    Rhythm Games 
  • In rhythm games rank inflation is generally justified. While difficult songs tend to follow the A-is-good D-is-poor system, when it comes to easy songs without rank inflation an A could mean anything from a relatively poor to a perfect score, making the rank system pointless in those songs.
  • Dance Dance Revolution:
    • Originally, the series only had step judgement ranks up to "Perfect", but then Dance Dance Revolution EXTREME added the "Marvelous" rank that's higher than a Perfect, only available in the course modes. Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA2 made Marvelous part of non-course gameplay as well, and it has been that way ever since.
    • The series has AAA and AA rankings. Getting a regular A isn't that hard. Getting a AA required a full combo in 5th Mix. Getting a AAA (prior to DDR SuperNOVA 2), however, requires a perfect run.
    • DDR SuperNOVA 2 loosened the requirements on a AAA to 99% score, while a perfect run now earns you an AAA with a gold circle mark, plus the results screen will show "Perfect Full Combo" overlaid on it.
    • Official Stepmania builds under default settings go even further (AAAA rank awarded for "Marvelous/Fantastic Full Combo").
      • One particular 3rd-party build added another "timing judgement" known as "Ridiculous timing", which (again, under default settings) can be best described as "barely hitting the note on Justice judgement rank". Getting a "Ridiculous Full Combo" awards a rank of AAAAA.
    • a commercialized version of StepMania known as In the Groove had seven ratings above A+: S-, S, S+ and one to four stars (however, the percentage score does top out at 100.00%).
    • Avoided in Dance Dance Revolution 4thMIX and its derivatives (4thMIX PLUS, Extra Mix, and Konamix), which has a very narrow grading scale: D for failing a song, C for doing somewhat poorly, B for any good score that is not a Full Combo, A for a Full Combo, and AA for a perfect score; a mere five grades. If you miss a step and pass, you're guaranteed to get only a B or a C, whereas in newer mixes you can get any grade between D and AA even if you miss a step, since grade is determined by a hidden points system rather than combo.
    • Dance Dance Revolution A split ranks AA to C into + and - ratings ITG-style, and in addition all grades became easier to obtain (due to loosened requirements and more lenient scoring).
    • Before the difficulty system was revamped, the maximum difficulty rating was ten. In Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 8th Mix and other games, the rating of ten flashed for the very hardest songs, to show that they were harder than the other tens. In a different sense, the revamped difficulty system itself counts, as the old "out of 10" songs have had their ratings roughly multiplied by 1.5 to fit the new "out of 20" system.
  • beatmania IIDX:
    • The Nintendo Hard IIDX games use a similar ranking to DDR's, but you only need 88.8% of maximum "EX points" for a AAA. However, the timing judgments in this game are extremely strict (rendering perfect scores impossible on any song that is more than a complete walk in the park), and it's easy to be offbeat enough to get more "Great"s (worth half credit) than "Just Great"s. The US PS2 version does inflate your rank by 1 level unless you got less than 11% of the EX points in a song (half of the cutoff for "E" in all other versions). Additionally, getting all High Ranks (A's and above and/or Full Combos) in the step ranking mode (Dan'inintei) will actually allow the person to skip a rank. The step rank mode added a rank above 10th dan, Kaiden, in Distorte D (13).

      The difficulty rating system itself went through this as well. Originally, songs were given a ranking from 1 to 7. Starting from 5th style, there were 7s displayed with a kanji meaning "forbidden"; these became "flashing 7s" in 6th style. 10th style went from 1 to 8, with flashing 7s now being 8s. IIDX RED, the next version, then had flashing 8s. Then, Happy Sky, the next version replaced it all with a scale that went from 1 to 12 and is still used.
  • Guitar Freaks and Drum Mania both have grading systems that go up to SS. The full grading scale is: E for failing a song, A-D for good to poor performance, S for great performance or a Full Combo with Goods, and SS for a Full Combo without Goods (i.e. a Perfect or Great on every note). In addition, hitting every note with a Perfect results in an Excellent, with the text overlaid on top of the SS.
  • jubeat has a grading system as follows: an E is a complete and utter failure, a D means you failed but weren't too far away from a clear, C means you cleared by the skin of your teeth (Final score between 700000-799999 points), a B requires you to already have a passing score before your Life Meter bonus is added at the end of the song (Final score between 800000-849999 points), then A (850000-899999 points), S (900000-949999 points), SS (950000-974999 points), SSS (975000 - 999999 points), and finally EXCELLENT for a completely perfect run (which actually replaces your grade and even your clear status, instead of being added on as in GuitarFreaks and DrumMania above).
  • Reflec Beat:
    • The series uses a letter grade system, but the inflation is pretty extreme. The 70% Achievement Rate you need to clear the song? That nets you an A. In other words, getting a B is a literal and justified B Grade because it results in a Game Over!
    • In the original Reflec Beat, difficulty ratings go from 1 to 10. Reflec Beat Limelight adds the "10+" rating.
  • Guitar Hero II and III rates your performances on a five-star scale, but will additionally depict golden stars if 100% of the notes are hit. Such a thing is to be expected, seeing as how it's actually impossible to get less than a 3 star rating.
    • It is in fact possible to get three gold stars, by hitting every note and inserting notes in between them to kill your multiplier. This works because the regular stars are score based, but the gold ones are accuracy based.
    • The fan ratings get crazier - having worked out the maths used to determine star ratings, Scorehero invented hypothetical fractional scales. The maximum rating attained so far is 8.7 stars (on the downloadable version of the Tom Morello battle).
    • And Guitar Hero 5 has changed it up again, with a max star rating of 9 (in Career mode) or 6 (in Quickplay). This is broken down as follows: 1~5 stars for performance, plus a 6th for Full Combo (you still get gold stars for a non-FC 100% run), and then (in Career only) up to three more for special instrument-specific challenges that the game throws out at you such as actually playing Hammer-On runs as written or tapping the slider notes. Not even Rock Band (mentioned below) is this generous. It's made easier by the fact that the game keeps the best result for both the normal song score and the instrument-specific challenge. You do not need to nail them both on the same attempt.
    • With Warriors of Rock, it gets even crazier. With special abilities like multiplier boosts and streak savers, it's not hard to amass 20 stars from a single song. To be exhaustive, once you have unlocked every Quest-mode power up from every band member, you can get 5 stars from overfilling your rock meter, 5 from maintaining a maximum multiplier, 5 from maintaining a streak, 5 for not dying (the first 5 times, you get resurrected), and then 20 for score (aided by increasing your standard multiplier to a maximum of 6, increasing your star power multiplier from double to sextuple, causing streaks to give a little Star Power boost, and causing Star Power phrases to fill your meter completely). 40 stars in total. And the game requires you do this for every song for 100% completion. Plus in Quickplay, once said warrior powers are unlocked, you can do a "Power Challenge" where you get to pick two of the eight powers. On some songs you can keep star power (whose multiplier is sextuple) going for nearly the whole song and get up to 21 stars (20 for score, plus one more for a perfect run.)
  • In Rock Band, a score 50% above the cut-off for a 5-star performance - typically requiring a near flawless performance - will also garner you golden stars, but only if you play on Expert difficulty. The percentage above the cut-off for drums is slightly lower since drummers miss out on some notes during their overdrive activation.
    • Interestingly, Rock Band allows performances to garner ratings of just one or two stars, while Guitar Hero (before Guitar Hero 5, at least) has three stars as a passing cut-off point. It's easiest to manage with the vocals, easy difficulty, and the shortest songs.
    • A "zero-star" performance, however, is still impossible; even by playing Polly on drums, although you earn no stars during the song, you will still have one on the results screen. Similarly, the original Rock Band had one song where the vocalist could never get gold stars even with the most perfect performance possible since the overdrive was ill-placed.
    • Rock Band 2 as online "battles", where you perform a song against another player's star score, which makes sense considering the vastly different difficulty levels (pure points battles would be impossible between easy and expert, for example). In these battles, it's possible to average 6.18 stars per song; that is, enough points to get gold stars, and a little less than a fifth of the way to a non-existent seventh star.
    • Also, the difficulty scale goes from zero to five dots, then an "impossible" difficulty that replaces the five dots with little devil faces. The fan community calls this "devilheads."
    • If you get a perfect score in Rock Band 4, you will earn golden laurels along side your star ranking. It is possible to earn these laurels on expert without earning gold stars if your overdrive path is poor enough, however.
  • In osu, the grades of performance starts from D, then C, B, A, S, and SS at the highest (SS means 100% accuracy). And if one uses Hidden or Flashlight mod when playing, they can get a silver S or SS with the usual requirements, written as SH and XH (respectively) in the "Historical Statistics" section of a player's web profile.
  • Tone Sphere offers a performance rating on what appears to be 1 to 5 stars. However, do well enough and you get a hidden 6th star.
  • Android rhythm game Dynamix starts with D, C, B, A, then S, then switches to Greek letters Chi, Psi, Omega.
  • Several of SEGA's rhythm games — maimai, Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Arcade, Hatsune Miku Project mirai, Chunithm, and Ongeki — allow you to go slightly over 100% score by performing certain kinds of actions to gain "extra credit" points. This can result in weird situations where you are at 100% or higher despite not having an "absolutely perfect" run. As for how it works from game to game:
    • maimai has Break notes, which nominally are worth 2500 points if you get a Perfect, but if you are extra-accurate you can get 2550 or 2600 points. These "more-than-Perfect" hits are necessary to go over 100%. An All Perfect run is precisely just that, while the SSS grade is used for a 100% or more run whether you actually AP the chart or not.
    • Getting a Justice on a note in Chunithm awards you 100% of the possible score for the note. Getting a Justice Critical gets you 101%. As such, the score seems to be out of 1 million, but the absolute maximum is 1,010,000. Similar to maimai, all Justice or higher nets you an All Justice mark, while getting 1,000,000 points is awarded with an SS rank whether it was an AJ run or not.
    • In Ongeki, getting all Critical Breaks will be enough for a Technical Score of 1 million points. You need to collect Bell notes in order to earn extra points to go over 1 million; like in Chunithm, the actual maximum score is 1,010,000.
  • Arcaea:
    • The grades go D, C, B, A, AA, and finally EX.
    • Scores seem to be out of 10 million points, but there is a hidden "power user" mechanic: If you get a "Pure" judgement with extra-accurate timing on a note, you'll earn 1 additional point, and if you get a "Pure Memory" result (all Pures), your score will have just slightly over 10 million as a result. Downplayed, as since you earn those extra points automatically from holding down hold notes and Arc notes, it's pretty much impossible to have a score that's exactly 10,000,000.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • The (in)famous(ly difficult to obtain) "S++" score ratings in Ikaruga. Interestingly enough, the lowest starts with only a C.
  • The Castle of Shikigami series of Shoot Em Ups uses a rank progression from F, E, D, C, B, A, up to S and SS ("the very best"). If you use a continue during a stage, a minus sign is appended to the front of the rank (-F, -E, -D, etc.), and the player is given a title such as "delicate" or "harsh".
  • Instead of scores, Star Raiders gives the player a rank and a class based on his performance and the difficulty level. While getting "Star Commander" is a noteworthy accomplishment, getting "Star Commander Class 1" definitely grants bragging rights.
  • Trigonometry Wars 3 Redux: The Revengeoning is somewhere between this and Harder Than Hard. It gives out "Threat Levels" to bosses; the first boss has a rating of "High", which is then followed by "Extreme", "Ridiculous", "Ludicrous", "Immeasurable", and "Infinite".

  • This sometimes extends to military ranks in games that award their players with such, when general/admiral is not quite high enough.
    • Before PvP ranks were removed from World of Warcraft, Marshal, Field Marshal and Grand Marshal ranked above "Commander" in the Alliance, and Warlord and High Warlord above General in the Horde. All of these very high commissioned officer positions are, of course, deployable in the field.
    • Surprisingly averted in Final Fantasy XI with mercenary ranks. The highest possible rank is only Captain. However, this is debatably played straight with the campaign ranks, where one can go through 5 tiers of 4 medals each, all with more bombastic sounding descriptions than the last.
    • Similarly averted in Final Fantasy XIV. You can obtain military ranks in the Grand Company of your choosing, but the developers deliberately made it so you stop at second lieutenant after doing the normal company-related side jobs. The reason is they didn't want ranks to be passed around like candy and so they implemented a side portion of the game where your character leads a squadron of recruits. Depending on how well that goes, you can get to the rank of Captain (or the equivalent). You can also see the remaining ranks that are above what is achievable, that are ranks held by certain NPCs that you can meet.
  • In The Bouncer, buying every power-up and ability for a character gives them Rank S.
  • SSX 3, being in a tournament setting, has bronze, silver, and gold. If you do really well, you'll get a platinum medal instead. Notable because the game never reveals the score needed for getting a platinum medal.
  • Super Robot Wars has a terrain expertise ranking (for both characters and mecha) which scales from D (practically useless) to A, and then S, although this is merely an aspect of gameplay and not an accomplishment.
  • "S"-rated weapons in most later Fire Emblem games, a ranking reserved for Infinity +1 Swords. (They go from E, D, C, B, A, then to S). Radiant Dawn adds "SS" to the list, with S pretty much becoming the rank for Infinity -1 Swords. With a few exceptions such as Ike, the S and SS rankings carry the restriction that any given unit can only achieve a single SS-rank in a single weapon type, with all the other weapon types available to them able to go no higher than S as a consequence.
    • Radiant Dawn goes to eleven overall. More missions, more levels and class changes, more characters and the highest stats this side of the entirely broken Genealogy of the Holy War.
      • Thracia 776, Shadow Dragon, New Mystery of the Emblem, and Awakening avert this, though. Their ranks stop at A.
    • Up until Genealogy, weapons were ranked from 1 to 20, and a character's rank in weapons in general was randomly increased on levelups as per their other stats. It was not the best system possible.
      • Not to mention legendary weapons had the highest rank of 12. Making getting 13-20 incredibly useless. Did we mention most characters had huge growths in this stat for some reason? The DS remake might be contested, but everyone agrees changing to the "regular" weapon ranking style was for the better.
    • In addition to weapon ranks, the later games tend to have rankings based on how well the player does during the entire campaign. The ranks typically start from the lowly 'E' and go up to 'S' as the highest rank.
      • Thracia 776 takes this even further, depending on the version of the game. The cartridge version of the game has 'AA' and 'AAA' as its highest ranks, and the ROM version has 'AA', 'AAA', 'S', 'SS', AND 'SSS' as the top ranks — with 'SSS' being the ultimate rank. Actually getting 'SSS' practically warrants emulation use.
    • In Awakening, there are C, B, A support levels, as in previous games, but you can also earn an S support level with one unit of the opposite gender, in which you two will be Happily Married.
      • Same thing happens in Fates, but with an added "A+" rank for two units of the same gender (excluding a male avatar and Niles or a female avatar and Rhajat), which adds extra pair-up bonuses like an S rank. (The only difference is that an S rank support has an accompanying conversation, while an A+ rank does not.)
  • The Advance Wars series also grades your achievements in every mission. There are 3 criteria (essentially number of turns, own casualties and enemy casualties) with 1-100 points each, which combined determine a ranking between E (which is really hard to get even intentionally, and past the first game the minimum is C instead) to A and then S (which requires near perfect scores). Furthermore, the whole campaign is rated in the end, and getting an S for it on the Hard mode isn't easy. Days of Ruin messes with the system abundantly but doesn't really change much as far as this trope is concerned, other than that S rank is possible at merely 2/3rds of the max score of 450, and 450 isn't even possible on some missions.
  • The second Boktai game ranks your forging abilities. Above S rank, it has R and super R rank.
    • The original rates you on dungeons, going up to S rank, and Lunar Knights ranks the shooter minigame, going up to S (I think).
  • The Ghost Rider movie game has rankings from D to A, then S with V at the top. Each rank has a suitable title (such as "Damned", "Brutal"), with the highest, unsurprisingly, being "Vengeance".
  • The Fate/stay night Visual Novel has a section with the stats for all of the Servants, from E to A with the usual plus/minus modifiers. Rank A is basically on the level of True Magic (impossible miracles). There's also the EX rank, which is shorthand for "unclassifiable" powers that, due to their nature, simply don't fit on the Ranking scale.note  The special armaments of Servants, the Noble Phantasms, also come with ranks; Canonically, a C-rank Noble Phantasm is about the same level as an A-rank regular weapon.
    • The novel prequel Fate/Zero also contain similar sections, and adds one more EX-rank Noble Phantasm; the original game had two (Ea and Avalon, which are basically the Unstoppable Force and the Immovable Object, respectively). The new one summons 2000 Servants. The entire "Grail War" only summons 7.
    • Databooks on the Nasuverse state that the Mage's Association ranks its members from First to Seventh (seventh being the lowest). For people who have achieved feats beyond that, like the sisters Touko and Aoko, they get colors Orange and Blue, respectively. The closer your color to the primary colors red, blue, and yellow, the more amazing your achievement.
  • Trauma Center started out with operation grades ranging from C through A and an S grade, which requires fulfilling certain conditions in the operation as well as getting a high enough score. Games after the first add an even better XS grade (that you can only get on Hard or Harder Than Hard). Getting A is hard enough.
  • The Rogue Squadron games had medals for each mission based on time taken, kills, ally/wingman deaths, accuracy, player deaths etc. With levels that went from no medal (almost impossible for a competent player to actually get due to being that easy) to bronze through gold (generally quite difficult) to Ace/Platinum (depending on the game) which was next to impossible using the standard ships for most missions (though a couple of notable exceptions had easier requirements for ace than gold). In many cases, however, the bonus ships were Game Breakers, having weapons which could destroy large numbers of foes in one shot, boosting the accuracy, enemies killed and, occasionally, time stats hugely. And, in one game, these secondary weapons auto-regenerated, so you couldn't run out, unlike the secondaries on the other ships.
  • Mischief Makers ranks you on how fast you complete a stage with a grade from D through A, and then S which is descripted as "Perfect!". And trust me, you need to be perfect to get an S grade.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master has grades going from 9 to 1, then S1 through S9, and finally the titular "Grand Master" rank. Tetris TGM2 adds the M grade between S9 and GM. Finally, TGM3 has, after S9, m1 through m9, followed by Master, Master K, Master V, Master O, and Master M, and of course, GM.
  • Top Skater is an arcade game that gives each trick AND your entire run a grade between E (lowest) and S (highest). The reward for an S-run is a replay of the "highlights" of the run.
    • Spiritual Successor Air Trix has this trope both ways; the possible grades range from G to A and then S, SS, SSS, S4, S5, and S6.
  • SkyGunner has ranks from E (lowest) to SS (highest). Getting SS is necessary to unlock "Detached Camera Mode". Which is by no means an easy feat.
  • Averted in the translated version of Valkyria Chronicles. While in the Japanese version, the rank to strive for during missions was 'S,' the translators seem to have decided that was silly and renamed the best rank 'A' while also shifting all the other ranks down.
  • Blast Corps had this in spades. After completing the game and finishing every level including the ones on other planets, you are presented with the message "Now do it faster!" You could then go for gold medals based on completion time for every stage, including the normally untimed story levels (in which the carrier would inexplicably explode if you exceeded the time limit, even if it didn't run into anything.) Getting gold medals for every stage gives you the message "Now go for platinum!" and reveals new target times for the platinum medals. Some of these were pretty ridiculous, such as completing one of the vehicle training missions in four seconds.
    • Getting platinum medals on every stage earns you the highest rank in the game, amusingly titled "You Can Stop Now."
  • Tenchu has 5 ranks: Ninja dog, Thug, Ninja, Master Ninja, and Grand Master. Grand Master requires you to not be seen or kill an innocent (usually). You still have to kill most of the guards though, unlike many stealth games slipping your way to to the objective and out is actually less rewarding than killing everyone, albeit silently.
    • In the first and third Tenchu games, it is actually possible to get the highest rank without killing, but Tenchu 2 changes that with it's different scoring system, there are no awards for kills/stealth kills either, but that changes with Tenchu 3.
  • In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War's Arcade Mode, how you played gave you a ranking. You start at E, progress up to A, the AAA, then S, then SSS. Normal missions were ungraded, C to A, then S. It should be noted that SSS wasn't even technically the highest you could get in the arcade mode; how close you were to ranking up was shown with a segmented bar on the score screen, and that bar would be completely filled by the time you get about 140,000 points.
  • The N64 wrestling games AJPW Virtual Pro Wrestling 2, and WWF No Mercy ranked all the attacks in the game this way, ranging from E grade for the weakest attacks to A and S grade for the Special Moves; the majority of submission moves were ranked C, which implied that the grades came from the INITIAL amount of damage dealt by the move, and most submissions were held for a prolonged period, dealing C-grade damage multiple times. Even many of the Special submissions were ranked C for this reason. In No Mercy, many of the moves were bumped up in rank to accommodate the addition of the S rank (which was not present in the previous two games) and a slew of new special moves. This would result in certain B-grade Strong Grapples (like Goldberg's Body Press Powerslam or the Vertical Brainbuster) being bumped up to an A grade and resulting in the almost certain possibility of a game-breaking move set.
  • The PS2 Contra games, Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, grades the player's performance at the end of each stage based on the percentage of unique enemies and objects they destroyed thorough the entire stage, with a penalty based on the number of lives lost or continues used (if any were lost). Maintaining an A average is the only way to avoid the Downer Ending.
  • In Jet Force Gemini on Tawfret, if you have the Shurikens, you can actually obtain an obscene death count and accuracy rating. While the death count maxes out at 65,535, the highest accuracy rating is somewhere along 100,000%.
  • Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars had a simple system: completing each mission earns a bronze, silver or gold medal depending on the difficulty level with two extra distinctions for completing all secondary objectives and getting all intelligence entries (also awarded on a per-mission basis). The name of these distinctions are specific to the faction: the intelligence distinctions are named "InOps Specialist Ribbon" for GDI, "Order of the Grand Confessor" for Nod and "Archivist Prime" for Scrin; the other one is "Commendation of Valor", "Mark of Loyalty" or "Optimum Efficiency", respectively. The difficulty levels are very strange; at earlier levels, going on hard is actually easier whereas on later levels (especially on the last Nod one), you really have to earn that gold medal.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land had C to A, influenced slightly by damage taken (but heavily if a character fainted in battle), moderately by number of turns, and heavily by finisher move's level. The best ones to finish a battle with were Lorelei's and Einherjar's EX Skills.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red/Blue rescue team offers missions starting at difficulty "E" and going up to difficulty "A", then you start finding "S" missions, then "*" (star) tasks. The sequel, Explores or Time/Darkness/Sky puts numbers next to the * to make them seem even more impressive (the higher the number, the tougher the mission). However "*5" is roughly as hard as "S" from the previous game.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs grades you on how well you perform a capture, ether "B", "A" or "S".
  • Cross Edge takes this both directions—you can get an S rank above A, but also a rank below F, and it goes down at least as far as I, if you do bad enough.
  • Billy Vs SNAKEMAN ranks missions from D through A, then AA, then S. There are also mission ranks not named after letter grades, to indicate they tie into plotlines other than the initial "become Sannin" plot, which are (save for Reaper and Burger Ninja missions) as hard if not harder than AA and S rank missions.
  • StarCraft II ranks you based on multiplayer performance into different leagues. In addition to "Bronze, Silver, Gold", there is a Platinum league, and a Diamond league. At one point in the beta there was a Copper below Bronze, but they merged Copper and Bronze and split Platinum and Diamond. There also may be an even topperest tier league, an invite only "Pro" league.
    • Since Patch 1.2, even Diamond has been demoted, with the Master and Grandmaster leagues taking the top tiers. Diamond through Grandmaster is the top 20% of all players. The Grandmaster league is the top 200, Master is the remaining top 2%, and Diamond is the remaining top 20%. Platinum is merely "noticeably better than average", while Gold is a typical player with some skill (especially with more recent patches, which expanded Gold and shrunk Bronze).
  • Acceleration of Suguri awards ranks based on how well you do in a fight, going E, D, C, B, A, S, and P. Getting a P rank requires the player to take no damage during a fight, which, being a bullet hell/fighting game, is no easy task.
  • The Galaxy Angel Gameverse has an Intel option which displays the stats of every Ship, both yours and your opponent's, such as "Offense", "Armor" and "Evasion" with values going from E to A with the corresponding plus/minus modifiers.
  • Bit.Trip Runner would award a perfect rating for collecting all gold in a level, marking said level on the menu with an exclaimation mark. Getting all the gold in each level's retro challenge rewarded players with two exclaimation marks. Double perfect?
  • Clock Tower: While A is the best canon ending, it is possible to achieve a hidden Ending S, which is basically Ending A, except another girl gets to leave the nightmare with Jennifer, rather than being offed at the last hurdle.
  • The Bishi Bashi has grades going up to SSS. You're going to need them, because due to the game's Dynamic Difficulty system, the minimum passing grade increases one rank every time you clear a stage (and decreases once for each failure). Enough consecutive successes will make the game enter Oni Mode, where only a SSS will clear a stage. Increasing bonuses are awarded for staying in Oni Mode.
  • Tournament levels and monster rankings in Monster Rancher go from E to S, with "F" signifying a tournament anyone can enter without losing status if higher-ranked.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's initially awarded a star for completing the fifth night and a second star for completing the sixth, which was already considered Harder Than Hard. Doing so unlocks a "custom night" in which the AI levels of the enemies can each be adjusted on a scale of 1 to 20. There were no awards for beating this mode at any setting, and in fact the creator of the game had assumed that beating it with all four set to 20 was impossible. After two prominent Let's Players proved that it could be done, the game was patched to add a third star for anyone who managed to do it.
  • The Wonderful 101 divides its levels into missions that each rank the player based on the time taken, the highest combo build up, and the damage they've taken individually. Each of these can be ranked from Consolation Prize (green with a blue star), to Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with a medal that takes the average ranking of all of them. Getting Platinum in all three categories will give a Pure Platinum medal. At the end of each level is a results screen that then gives a trophy based on the average results, once again reserving the Pure Platinum trophy only for those who got all Pure Platinum medals.
    • And if this system looks familiar, this is yet another game directed by Hideki Kamiya.
  • Splatoon starts you at the lowest rank of C- and goes up 9 ranks all the way to A+, with your rank going up when you win a certain number of consecutive matches in Ranked Battle. Later on, S and S+ ranks were added above A+.
    • The sequel one-ups this further with S+ having 50 sub-ranks of its own. Nine months later with the 3.0 update, ranks S+10 and above were replaced with Rank X, at which point the game notes that you're ridiculously goodnote  and has the normal ranking meter replaced with a "power" meter. However, players can still be demoted if their power level is low enough or they fail to win enough matches during the "Calculating" period at the end of each month. Each mode of Ranked Battle also has their own separate meter rather than giving the player an overall rank in competitive, meaning that you could be an S+ rank in Splat Zones while also being A- in Tower Control, for example.
  • In Strawberry Vinegar, this is used by Licia in one case:
    Licia: I feel like I'm witnessing something very, very rare~ Like A+++ rank!
    Rie: If seeing me when messy hair is A+++ rank, how would you categorize real miracles, like visions from God or water turning to wine?
    Licia: Hm...I'm not sure. Maybe they should be S rank!
  • In the Japanese version of Hyrule Warriors the highest rating achievable from Adventure Mode missions is S, and the lowest is B. However, like the Valkyria Chronicles example, the localization shifted the ranks down to A, B, and C.
  • One Piece: Pirate Warriors has ranks normally ranging from D (worst) to S (best), rating your number of KO's, "!"s obtained and time taken to complete the battle. The S level cannot be obtained on Easy, however.
  • In League of Legends your rank at the end of a match is determined by several factors, namely your creep score (lane minions and jungle monsters killed), your kill/death/assist ratio, and for support champions, damage healed, damage shielded, and wards placed. Getting an S- or higher gives you a Hextech Chest for each champion once a season and/or a token for champions at level 5 Mastery that can be used to increase their Mastery to level 6. For champions at level 6 Mastery, getting an S or S+ gives them a token that can increase their level to 7.
  • In PopCap Games's maze game Iggle Pop!, you get a medal after each level, based on the chains of same-coloured Iggles you bring to teleportation pads. Should you achieve the biggest combos possible in the level and activate all the chain counters, you will be awarded a platinum medal.
  • Wii Play and Wii Play: Motion will award the player medals going from Bronze to Platinum for each minigame if they get past a score in said minigame. It also works like an Achievement System, as the medal is displayed indefinitely on the select screen.
  • Wii Fit awards stars (from 1 to 4) depending on the performance of the player for each of its exercises.
  • Bart's Nightmare has a ranking system based on the American school grading system. The grades are mostly tied to Scoring Points, and are viewed in an End Game Results Screen (seen upon completing the game or getting a Game Over). The lowest possible grade, of course, is F. If your final score was 8,000 points or higher, Bart gets a D-, 21,000 is a D, 36,000 is a D+, 45,000 is a C-, 55,000 is a C, 68,000 is a C+, 77,000 is a B-, 87,000 is a B, 99,000 is a B+, 109,000 is an A-, 119,000 is an A, and finally, 125,000 is an A+. The catch is that in order to qualify for anything higher than B+, you have to actually beat the game.
  • Cuphead evaluates boss fights by time, damage taken, number of parries, amount of Super meter, and difficulty. The scale is usually D to A+, but one can achieve S-Ranks after unlocking Expert difficulty. There is also a secret P-Rank for the "Run & Gun" stages, earned by doing a Pacifist Run. Finally, there is a percentage completion rating that goes up when stages are beat and items are collected, but earning those S and P-Ranks boosts it over 100%.
  • Super Mario Party's co-op mode ranks the team's performance in each minigame, giving more river-rafting bonus time for higher ranks. The highest is S, followed by A, B, and so on. During the minigame, it displays your current rank; since most of them rate you based on how quickly you complete the game or how few mistakes you make, the S-rank label usually appears for most of the game even if you don't end up achieving it.
  • The Survival mode ranks in the Head Sports series go up to SS-rank.

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