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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, though if you're doing that bad, you might get a "G".
The criteria used in judging the player's performance varies, but common considerations are:
- How quickly the player completed the stage
- How little damage the player sustained
- Number of enemies destroyed
- Number of items collected
Gameplay Grading will often be presented on a Score Screen that details (to some extent) how much each factor contributed to their overall total. A common requirement for One Hundred Percent Completion is for the player to receive at least an "A" grade (if not "S") on every stage.
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 in each level (or overall), as opposed to the actual number of points the earned. "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".
- 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.
- The Ar tonelico series grades you after each and every battle, unless it doesn't give experience.
- Capcom vs. SNK
- Castle Shikigami III gives you a letter grade between levels, from F (worst) all the way up to SS (best).
- The Commandos games rate how well did you the mission with letters.
- Devil May Cry grades not only the stages, but individual attack combos, with the criteria being the length of the combo and not repeating any particular technique too frequently.
- The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country does this in Time Attack mode. Finishing the level more quickly gets you a better grade.
- Fire Emblem 4, 5, 6 and 7 do this. FE 12 also has them, but it is far too generous and gives out max ranks pretty easily.
- Golden Axe shows you your letter grade after the game is over (typically separate from the actual score gained from killing enemies).
- Gran Turismo 2, regarding the driving licenses.
- Ikaruga grades the level too.
- 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 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 Battle Network / Mega Man Star Force has 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).
- 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.
- Some Mario Party games do this in story mode.
- Mario Kart DS grades you for completing the challenge stages.
- Recent Mario Kart games also grade the player's performance in single-player Grand Prix, ranging from "E" to one, two, or three stars.
- 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.
- Mischief Makers.
- Nintendo Wars.
- 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.
- Your combos are graded during Sengoku Basara's gameplay.
- A number of more recent games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, starting from Sonic Adventure 2.
- Street Fighter III.
- 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 "*").
- Trauma Center.
- 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.
- Sky Gunner gives various score bonuses and penalties at the end of each stage, but reserves the final grade until the end of the game.
- Any Rhythm Game will grade you one way or another. Ones with with a (mostly) letter system include Beatmania, Dance Dance Revolution, 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Incredible Crisis gives grades based on your performance in a mini-game, and an overall chapter grade based on several mini-games.
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves grades your performance for each round, and you can only reach the True Final Boss if you get a high enough grade for every round.
- 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.
- Acceleration of Suguri grades you based on how much damage you took during the fight. "E" is for winning a battle by the skin of your teeth, up to D, C, B, A, S, and finally "P" for a Flawless Victory.
- 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.
- 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.