Part 66: BlitzBlast explains Hard Mode
What we have here is Battle Network 2's title screen after you beat the game. Every single main Battle Network game adds little icons to the title screen after you accomplish certain things, and beating the game is always one of them.
(There used to be pictures in this post but I was dumb and deleted them off my LPix so, uh, yeah.)
In BN1, there was only one star (which you got for beating the game) and it was pretty much entirely cosmetic. I mean, if you had it you could fight Bass and MagicMan V2, but that's because MagicMan V1 is past the point of no return and you need 174 chips to fight Bass.
BN2 changed things up a lot. Beating the game will once again give you a yellow star, but now there are a total of five stars to earn, and the process of earning these stars makes up most of the postgame. Once you get all five stars, you can unlock Hard Mode. Just highlight New Game and press Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, and Right. This will turn New Game orange, and upon selecting it you'll start a new file on Hard Mode. Surprisingly, you'll actually be given an entirely new save file for this.
There are only three differences between Normal and Hard mode. First off, you can not use the Network option, so no trading in super chips at the beginning of the game. More importantly, all enemies have been buffed. Enemy HP and damage dealt have been multiplied by 1.5, and their levels have been adjusted accordingly. As such, running away is much harder. (The final difference is that you can't earn any stars on Hard Mode, but who cares about that)
Sounds like your typical Hard Mode, right? Here's the bad news: actually unlocking Hard Mode is much harder than beating it.
Remember how I mentioned you needed all five stars to unlock Hard Mode? Only the yellow star is actually easy to get. The green star requires you to beat postgame, and doing so requires you to fill in massive chunks of your library and take extremely tedious ranking tests. How tedious? 30 battles in a row tedious.
But the green star has nothing on the other three. The red star wants you to complete the library. This isn't tough in BN3 and onwards, but in BN2 (and BN1) there is no way to guarantee a chip drop. Even if you completely slaughter the enemy and get a S rank, there is a pretty decent chance you'll get some zenny instead. Add in super rare enemies and bosses that must be defeated twice for their V2 and V3 chips (and sometimes thrice for their special drops), and you have a recipe for despair.
The blue star is just as bad. It wants you to complete the Program Advance Memo. In other words, it wants you to get a guide, because there is no way in hell you're figuring out some of them. Worse, BN2 preserved BN1's Omega advances. So you don't just need three consecutive codes out of whatever chip you want the Program Advance of, you need all five. And again, you are not guaranteed to get a chip drop, especially of the code you want.
But the purple star, oh god the purple star. The purple star wants you to collect all ten secret VS chips. Doing so requires:
a) another BN2 game
b) at least three stars on both games' save files
c) a shit load of time
To get a VS chip, you have to repeatedly Netbattle another player. Upon victory, there is a chance that you will receive a VS chip instead of the normal prize from the other player's bag. Here's the worst part: the game does not insure you will always get a new chip. It is entirely possible to get 20 secret VS chips and have all of them be Fighter Sword. BN3 did something similar to this. Only there was only one prize and you did not need it for a star. BN4 also did something similar, but predictably it was even worse.
But say you did all of this and beat Hard Mode. Do you get a special prize? Yes, actually, your Normal Mode save file gets a new chip. One problem with it: it's completely worthless. It's a crappy defensive chip that doesn't actually negate all damage, so it'll only hurt your busting rank unless you have Super Armor. Stick with Invisible 3 * or Life Aura 2 R.
Having said all that, I'll still be playing through the game along with MissEchelon. And honestly, most of the frustration comes from being unable to get good busting ranks; the starting folder is already ass, trying to make it kill things with more HP is even worse.
I'll still be aiming for 9-S ranks on all of the bosses.