Category Archives: Difficulty Select

Difficulty Scaling: The Legend of Zelda

When it comes to difficulty settings in games, the majority have options clearly labelled as some form of Easy, Normal, Hard, and other settings on a scale like that. The differences between them were usually just easier or harder versions of the regular content, vial altering the enemies or the puzzles faced by the player.

There are a few games that take difficulty settings in a slightly different direction than this linear path, and one series that has been implementing this is The Legend of Zelda.


An example of the methods they use to create extra difficulty in Zelda games is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Originally for the Nintendo 64 system, it was rerealeased multiple times over the years, and during it’s GameCube release, added a second version called the Master Quest. Ocarina of time-Master Quest was the equivalent of its Hard mode, something that hadn’t existed at all in the original game.


It flipped the entire in-game world’s map to a mirrored version, and then redesigned all the dungeons to have harder sets of puzzles and tougher enemies. But the most noticeable change was introduced in the final re-release for the Nintendo 3DS. in this version of the Master Quest, all damage taken from enemies is doubled. And when poor Link stars out with only 3 hearts, double damage can kill him in about two hits in the very first dungeon.

This sudden vulnerability really makes the player think during puzzles and combat. There aren’t nearly as many times one can use trial and error when it’s so easy to die. You’re placed on the defensive, using your shield and trying to do damage as efficiently as possible without risking yourself.

Later Zelda games like Skyward Sword and The Wind Waker (HD version) also implement this double damage system in what they call Hero Mode, where naturally occurring healing items are removed at the same time. This form of difficulty feels different to me because it doesn’t quite mess with the AI of enemies, but forces the player to take what was once a simple enemy more seriously by decreasing the mistakes they are allowed to make.

I don’t necessarily think this method is the best form of difficulty I’ve seen, but I do think it’s a slightly fresher application of what Hard Mode should be.



Trial of Hope and Despair


Difficulty in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair doesn’t become a factor in the game’s run until you reach the trial phase of each murder mystery. Before that the game plays out entirely same regardless of the difficulty the player selects. The calm before the storm plays out exactly the same, the murder discovery, and the search for clues all play out the same regardless of your selected difficulty.

But when all the clues have been investigated and the player funnels in with the rest of the characters to begin the trial, is when the difficulty begins to shape the adventure for you. While not entirely present in the game’s first chapter, as it plays out roughly the same regardless of difficulty because of its role as introduction to trial mechanics, there are still some nuanced variation based on difficulty selected.


Using “Kind” difficulty as a baseline, Danganronpa’s normal mode, the game’s logic takes the front seat of difficulty as trying to figure out how clues play into each other and attempting to make leaps of judgement take front and center. The game gives you limited options to choose from in debates, narrowing down your choices, and gives a pretty decent amount of time to think things through before committing to a decision. Additionally mistakes are punished with damage to the player’s life points, but quite a few mistakes can be made before the player completely fails.

“Gentle,” the game’s easy mode, really eases up on the player, reducing the debate options even more, nearly making time a non-factor, and stripping most mini-games of their difficulty in the trials. On the other hand “Mean,” the hard difficulty, takes it in the other direction by giving the player a lot more options to choose from in debates, requiring the player to apply logic to the matter at hand and really find out what the answer is instead of firing blindly. The difficulty also cuts time by a lot for the player, requiring them to be quick with their decisions. Many of the various mini games also spike in difficulty, within the realm of reason, requiring the player to be more active and play closer attention.


Overall difficulty modes in Danganronpa 2, dont affect much of the player’s experience, but instead give the player slightly more nuanced control over how they want to affect the logic of the trials. Do they want to proceed smoothly within the trial, or want to have to think hard about proceeding from topic to topic within the trial.