Hard Mode, or simply Hard, is an alternate mode frequently present in games that conform the Castlevania series. This mode generally becomes available to the player after completing the game on the Normal difficulty. In it, the player can go through the game a second time with a harder difficulty setting.
Hard Mode first appeared in the very first Castlevania, and since then most games have followed this tradition. It is usually playable after the game is beaten on Normal Mode. Oftentimes, it features additional enemies in the area, enemies being replaced by more powerful enemies, enemies gaining extra characteristics, faster enemies, and reduced attack and defense abilities for the player. This mode has had different names in some games, such as "Crazy Mode".
In Castlevania Judgment, there is an even harder mode that is unlocked after the completion of Hard Mode: Brutal Mode.
Game specific information
In Castlevania, Hard Mode is an additional quest that takes place after the player beats Dracula in Normal Mode. As there are no saves or passwords in the original NES version of this game, it is not possible to play Hard Mode without first playing through the entire Normal Mode during that session. It features additional enemies, such as Bats or Medusa Heads in awkward places. Some of the enemies, such as Zombies, move faster. Each enemy deals twice the damage they normally do, even in early levels. Additional hidden crowns, which are worth many points, can be found in this mode. Every time the player beats Hard Mode, another round of Hard Mode can be started.
Hard Mode returns in The Adventure. Upon beating the game in Normal Mode, the player can play through the game again with damage from creatures increased twofold. This will continue to increase with each subsequent loop through the four stages.
- Stage 5 to 8: Enemy damage ×2
- Stage 9 to 12: Enemy damage ×4
- Stage 13 to 16: Enemy damage ×8
- Stage 17 to 20: Enemy damage ×16 (instant death)
Clearing Stage 20 will not increase the difficulty any further. However, the score and the stage number will still increase.
Hard Mode in this game is very similar to the Normal mode, as the enemies and damage do not change from the regular gameplay. Despite this, there are a few differences that add to the challenge:
- The Vampire Killer will downgrade immediately upon contact with some enemies, making the whip system much more in-line with Castlevania: The Adventure.
- There are no Passwords for Hard Mode other than the initial Password to begin the game. Therefore, there is no way to resume progress, meaning players will have to get to the end in one sitting (although 'Continues' are still unlimited).
In Dracula's Curse, Hard Mode can be played after beating the game in Normal Mode. The player starts Hard Mode with the companion with whom they beat Normal Mode. However, it's not possible to switch them for another companion during the course of this quest, even when/if defeating the bosses that gave the option to recruit a partner in the standard game.
The player takes more damage in this mode. Additional creatures are added and others have been swapped with more powerful ones. There are some creatures that appear in this mode that do not appear in the normal game, such as floating Skull Heads that move similar to Medusa Heads, but with much more erratic and unpredictable up and down motions.
Because of the password system, this is the first game where the player can start a new session in Hard Mode. Starting a new game with the secret name "AKAMA" at the Password screen starts a new game with Trevor only already in Hard Mode, without the need of beating Normal Mode. However, this password follows the same aforementioned rule: no companions can be recruited during Trevor's quest.
Entering the Konami Code at the title screen (a sound will confirm it) enables the selection of the "Expert" difficulty in the option screen. The code also gives the player the possibility of starting the game with 9 lives if it is entered at the title screen after the music settings in the option screen have been set to BGM 05 and SE 073.
Enter "HARDGAME" at the Name Entry screen. A sound will play if the code was entered successfully.
In this game, hard difficulty can be played once the game has been beaten once. In this mode, enemies will receive 20% less damage. Their souls will be easier to get as long as Soma has not obtained them before. The Kaiser Knuckle, Silver Gun, Tear of Blood, Death's Scythe and Death's Robe can only be obtained in this mode, scattered throughout the many areas that conform the castle.
Crazy mode is one of the two first alternate modes unlocked in Lament of Innocence, along with Joachim Mode. After finishing the game as Leon Belmont, a new game with a harder difficulty setting can be started. The changes on difficulty can be summed up on this three points:
- Enemy placement changes. Sometimes, rooms will have more enemies than in Normal Mode, or feature more powerful enemies replacing them. Specially, enemies exclusive to Pagoda of the Misty Moon will now wander around normal stages.
- All enemies will have new attacks and the pattern for their regular attacks will change (listed below).
- Environmental traps suffer a complete redesign in most cases.
- Leon begins this mode with 18 ATK, 12 INT and 50 Hearts.
- Tutorial pop-ups will no longer appear.
- The player can enter from the opposite side to the tutorial room, but it will only let the tutorial to be played backward, with tough enemy waves to compensate.
- Middle-sized enemies, such as Cyclops or Axe Armors, will no longer be stunned or staggered by powerful attacks.
- Most enemy attacks will instantly break Leon's guard.
|Lament of Innocence - Hard Mode changes on enemies|
|Shadow Wolf||Inherits fire breath from Hellhounds|
|Spartacus||Inherits suicidal attack from soldiers.|
|Peeping Eye||Inherits laser shot from Buckbairds.|
|Flame Elemental||Combo now consists of five hits. Geyser has increased width. Reduced recovery time. Hit-stun may randomly stop working.|
|Frost Elemental||Spins five times instead of the normal three. New ice projectile attack. May sometimes stay suspended in midair to avoid hits. Reduced recovery time.|
|Thunder Elemental||Thunders now come in more complex and extensive patterns. Three-hit combo can be immediately followed by a second combo or a thunder explosion. Reduced recovery time.|
|Golem||Summons rocks on every step. Uses the two hit combo from its normal second phase from the beginning.|
|Doppelganger||Two are fought simultaneously.|
|Doppelganger||Begins the fight doing all the attacks from its second phase. Inherits the lunging attack from the blue version.|
|Maggot||Spawns more frequently. Petrifies on first hit, curses on second.|
|Soulless||Inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Soulless||Inflicts Paralysis on contact.|
|Medusa||Melee combo lasts longer. Casts petrifying lasers while summoning rocks.|
|Succubus||Uses vines from the beginning of the fight.|
|Joachim||Certain sword attacks will hover around Leon trying to deal additional hits.|
|Walter||Recovers from his explosion faster.|
|Death||New nuke attack. His projectile attack summons two homing bolts now. Catastrophe consists of four projectiles. Minions track Leon better and explode faster.|
|Forgotten One||Sweeps three times in a row quickly. Venom pouring from his arm is now as wide as the whole arena. May fire lasers even when rocks are not present onscreen.|
In Curse of Darkness, the player can unlock Hard Mode (called Crazy Mode), as well as Trevor Mode, which allows the player to play as Trevor Belmont. It is unlocked by starting a new game with "@CRAZY" as the save name.
In this mode, most enemies are ×10 and strong enemies are ×20 the level compared to Hector, while retaining the same experience given in Normal Mode, making the game much more challenging and making it harder to level up. The enemies A.I. is also slightly improved as they can sometimes synchronize attacks in order to break Hector's guard. Similar to Lament of Innocence, finishing the game on this difficulty allows the player to purchase the Mobius Brooch, which reduces the cost of the Innocent Devils' skills to zero.
As usual, Hard mode becomes available after completing the game once in Normal mode. To access it, select "Game Start" from the title menu and then "Select Data" from the files menu; a bat-like icon with the word "Clear" will appear on the next screen above your old, cleared file; select it (not the actual file icon below it) and the option to start a new game will be given to start a new game+ either on Normal or Hard difficulty.
Hard mode has the following gameplay changes:
- All Medusa Heads become Gold Medusas.
- Stats no longer level up continuously. The player needs to level up a few times in order to gain stat boosts.
- Traps (spikes, blades, etc.) deal about double damage.
- Some enemies are leveled-up and have more HP.
Hard Mode returns in Portrait of Ruin as an unlockable feature after beating the main game and receiving the good ending. Upon selection, the player is prompted with a choice of three level caps. Completing each difficulty level cap will reward the save file used with one of three items, depending on the level cap selected:
- Level 50 or lower: Vic Viper (LCK +50).
- Level 25 or lower: Twin Bee (INT +50).
- Level 1: Konami Man (STR +50).
Each of the rewards above may be obtained only once, but if the player feels up to the challenge, they can freely skip an easier level cap in favor of a more difficult one with little fear of missing that cap's reward.
The following are differences from Normal Mode:
- All damage dealt by the player is reduced by 25% compared to Normal.
- All enemies have a bonus to their attack power that scales with the player's level. This starts at different points, depending on the cap chosen, but as a player levels up, enemies deal more and more damage. This caps out at 100+ per hit when the player reaches the cap chosen and is not affected by a character's DEF or MND.
- Some enemies and bosses receive additional traits and/or bonuses compared to Normal Mode. All known changes are listed below:
|Portrait of Ruin - Hard Mode Changes|
|Zombie||Walks faster and inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Bat||Moves faster and adjusts its flight path to hit the player if they move.|
|Axe Armor||Can curve its axes mid-flight so they return low if thrown high, and vice-versa.|
|Wight||Walks faster and inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Frozen Shade||Wind-up for frost attack is much shorter; summons 5 icicles instead of 3, which take aim and are launched much faster.|
|Invisible Man||Attacks far more aggressively and no longer pauses between attacks.|
|Spittle Bone||Sprays fire over a much greater area.|
|Ghost||Spawns more frequently and moves much faster.|
|Slime||Moves faster and inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Flying Skull||Moves faster.|
|Great Ghost||Dashes further and faster.|
|Hill Guard||Moves much faster.|
|Corpseweed||Spawns fully grown; shoots three blobs aimed directly at the player as soon as they approach, and then in regular intervals.|
|Medusa Head||Are always gold, and thus always inflict Stone on contact.|
|Moldy Corpse||Sprays clouds further, and in all directions.|
|Red Axe Armor||Can curve its axes mid-flight so they return low if thrown high, and vice-versa.|
|Maneating Plant||Spits two skulls at once instead of one; releases more spores after it flowers.|
|Wyvern||Shoots three flaming dragon heads in a row instead of one.|
|Ghoul||Walks faster and inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Armored Fleaman||Moves faster and attacks more aggressively.|
|Tanjelly||Moves faster and inflicts both Poison and Curse on contact.|
|Vice Beetle||Sprays fire over a much greater area.|
|Ghoul King||Walks faster and inflicts Poison on contact.|
|Vapula||Magic breath moves faster and has double the range.|
|Bone Ark||Fires two blasts instead of one.|
|Skeleton Farmer||Moves faster.|
|Dullahan||Wind-up for jump attack is much shorter; homing blasts are launched faster and the fifth blast is replaced by four blasts that all do less damage.|
|Keremet||Spawns slimes more often.|
|Death||Spawns scythes more frequently.|
|Werewolf||Calls forth 5 wolves instead of 3.|
|Mummy Man||Blocks that are summoned offscreen will still be launched at the player.|
|Whip's Memory||Uses subweapons more often.|
Hard Mode returns in Order of Ecclesia, much in the same way as it did in Portrait of Ruin. After beating the game and receiving the good ending, the player can select to choose Hard Mode upon starting a new game. Upon doing so, the player is prompted with a choice of level caps. Beating the game on these level caps for the first time will reward the save file used as follows:
- Hard, level cap 255: Unlocked only after beating Hard level cap 1. While it allows full leveling, it otherwise functions like the level cap 50 variant.
- Hard, level cap 50 or lower: Awards the Queen of Hearts upon beating Hard Mode for the save file used.
- Hard, level cap 1: Once the player beats Hard Mode with this level cap, they unlock the ability to level up to 255, as well as another level cap of choice upon selecting Hard Mode.
The reward for beating Hard Mode on the level cap of 1 is a one time reward only, but the rest of the level caps do offer their reward if it is the first time for the save file used.
The following are differences from Normal mode:
- All damage dealt by the player is reduced by 10%, compared to Normal.
- All damage dealt by enemies has a bonus that is different depending on the level cap chosen:
- In addition, if more than 1 point of damage comes from the enemy's base ATK, that base ATK value gains a +50% bonus.
- Some enemies receive additional bonuses and/or traits that make combat against them more difficult. Others may simply appear earlier in the game compared to Normal Mode. To name an example: Medusa heads can be seen as early as in Ruvas Forest and will always be gold colored, signifying that Stone will be inflicted upon taking a hit.
Hard Mode unlocks in Harmony of Despair after finishing Chapter 6. Subsequent chapters (DLCs in Xbox 360) have their Hard Mode already unlocked. Enemies have a higher degree of vitality and the player characters suffer more damage per hit. In addition, certain enemies receive different attacks compared to Normal Mode. For example: Dracula's final form sports fire pillars briefly before using Demonic Megiddo, and one of his normal attacks will have lightning cutting through the room, nullifying the possibility of jumping.