Hard Mode first appeared in the very first Castlevania game made and most games have followed this tradition. It is usually playable after the game is beaten on Normal Mode. Often times, 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 ability 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 Simon Belmont 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 the 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 you beat Hard Mode, you can start another round of Hard Mode.
Hard Mode returns in Adventure. Upon beating the game in Normal Mode, you can play through it 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 x2
- Stage 9 to 12: Enemy damage x4
- Stage 13 to 16: Enemy damage x8
- Stage 17 to 20: Enemy damage x16 (Instant Death)
Clearing Stage 20 will not increase the difficulty any further. However, your score and the Stage number will still increase.
Hard Mode exists in the Game Boy sequel. However, it is only accessible via Password (Beating the main game will not let you carry on into 'Hard Mode' like in the previous Game Boy or NES games).
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 most 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 your 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 Dracula in Normal Mode. Because of the password system, this is the first game where you can start a new session in Hard Mode, provided that you beat the game before. You start Hard Mode with the character you beat Normal Mode. The player takes more damage in this mode. Additional creatures have been 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 skulls that move similar to Medusa heads, but with much more erratic and unpredictable up and down motions.
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.
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 hasn't obtained them before. The Silver Gun, Tear of Blood, Death's Scythe and Death's Robe can only be obtained in this mode.
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, a new game with a harder difficulty setting can be started.
In Curse of Darkness, the player can unlock the 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 10x and strong enemies are 20x 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 AI 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.
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: