%% This list of examples has been alphabetized. Please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!

* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' was much more strongly received than [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI the original game]] as an almost-entirely across-the-board improvement on the original in game terms, plus introducing a beloved protagonist in Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
* The first game in the {{Web Game|s}} series ''VideoGame/BallRevamped'' is the least popular and least known. The rest of the games have automatic respawning[[note]]the first one annoyingly forces you to press G or click the screen every time you die, and ''then'' press space to start the level[[/note]], background music, {{boss battle}}s, better atmosphere and better physics. They got rid of randomly appearing {{powerup}}s that could [[LuckBasedMission render a level trivial or impossible]].[[note]]Fortunately, the powerups are randomly generated again if you die, so you don't have to restart the entire game.[[/note]]
* The original 1983 ''VideoGame/{{Bomberman}}'' game barely even resembled the later games in the series at all, while the 1985 version for the NES feels a little more familiar, but suffers from a slow pace and the levels being so ridiculously huge that actually finishing them can become a LuckBasedMission. The 1990 ''Bomberman'' game for the UsefulNotes/TurboGrafx16 is where the series evolved to the form it would take in most subsequent games, with ''VideoGame/Bomberman93'' and ''VideoGame/SuperBomberman'' being seen as where it really hit its stride.
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'', despite being a mechanically sound fusion of FPS and RPG elements, was rather bland and repetitive until the [=DLCs=]. One of the major complaints about the base game was that it took itself too seriously, unlike the expansions, which had far more humor. Now that it has found its true voice, ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'' took the style and ran with it [[SurprisinglyImprovedSequel to great acclaim]].
* The ''VideoGame/{{Burnout}}'' series started out poor, with the initial game being not very well received. Its [[VideoGame/Burnout2PointOfImpact second installment]] was better, though it was really the [[VideoGame/Burnout3Takedown third title]] that could be considered the beard-growing moment, with the games addition of the Takedown maneuver.
* ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes''. Initially a passable MMO whose main strength was the amazing costume editor, the addition of a mission creation tool to allow players to create their own instances for other players to enjoy took the game to the next level.
** The mission creator came later, but many players will also attest that the game has steadily and massively improved since launch due to major rebalancing that actually worked (despite copping some rage at the time), addition of many costume parts, improved writing, and a general dev focus on player-friendliness. While it's hard to place a particular turning point, the release of ''VideoGame/CityOfVillains'' could be considered a major game changer.
** There are a number of changes which qualify, but the most marked turning point is probably the sale of the franchise from Cryptic to [=NCSoft=], the creation of Paragon Studios, and the departure of much-loathed original lead developer Statesman. Several changes prior to this change were pretty good (particularly the City of Villains expansion and the addition of an an economy in Issue 9), but most of the real solid improvements came afterward (including weapon customization and the ability to play arcs you've outleveled through time travel in I11, I14's aforementioned Architect system, power customization in I16, and the Going Rogue expansion).
* The ''VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga'' started off as a standard FPS clone of ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' with a ''Franchise/StarWars'' theme, but its sequel ''VideoGame/JediKnight'' introduced Force powers and lightsabers. It eclipsed its predecessor and set the flavor of the series from there, to the point that "Dark Forces" isn't even used in the title anymore (and creating one of best known cases of ColonCancer ever).
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising'' was a well-received SurvivalHorror WideOpenSandbox game, though it was hampered by its NintendoHard difficulty, unfair save system, somewhat cumbersome controls, and survivors that epitomized ArtificialStupidity. ''VideoGame/DeadRising2'' addressed these issues and improved vastly upon the original game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Destiny}}'' started as a fairly standard shooter MMO with some fairly interesting, if poorly explained, enemies.... then come The House of Wolves expansion where a Fallen with delusions of [[Main/AGodAmI Godhood]] who managed to be a recurring enemy. And then there's [[Main/HolyShitQuotient The Taken King]].
* ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'', while not a bad game, had a rocky launch and problems later on -- loot was deemed lackluster due to the presence of the Auction House and the difficulty levels being fairly imbalanced, with Normal being incredibly boring and Inferno borderline unplayable. Blizzard started rolling out stuff to counter it by introducing Paragon levels and Monster levels, but the game ''really'' hit its stride once Loot 2.0 hit, which amped up loot strength and made the drops much more sensible, to the point where people who hadn't received a Legendary item over 40 hours now were swimming in them after 30 minutes. It was further amped once Reaper of Souls was released and introduced new modes coupled with complete removal of the Auction House.
* In 2008, Korean game developer Pentavision took their ''VideoGame/{{DJMAX}}'' series of {{Rhythm Game}}s to the arcade environment under the name ''DJMAX Technika''. Drastically different in gameplay from its predecessors, the game was already well received, although hints of FakeDifficulty, ObviousBeta and general needless complications were present. Come 2010, the sequel, ''DJMAX Technika 2'' improves on the previous game by being more streamlined in every way, adding new songs (half of which are revivals of classic songs in the franchise) and new modes such as the every popular Crew Race.
* The original ''VideoGame/DonPachi'' is pretty unremarkable by modern Creator/{{CAVE}} standards, featuring minimal bullet patterns and very few enemies present at any given time; while most don't consider it ''bad'', it doesn't look particularly impressive compared to other games of its time. Its sequel ''[=DoDonPachi=]'', on the other hand, greatly amps up the BulletHell and turns stages into chain-a-thons of enemies, not only setting the standard for future games in the series but also [[GenrePopularizer putting bullet hell games on the map]] and [[GenreTurningPoint changing the way people see scrolling shooters]].
* The first two ''VideoGame/DukeNukem'' games were fairly unremarkable 2D side-scrollers. With ''VideoGame/DukeNukem3D'' the genre changed to first person shooter complete with innovate weapons, impressive (for the time) level design, and a raunchy sense of humor. As a result Duke Nukem has become one of the most famous video game heroes of all time.
* ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsOnline'' grew a beard in September 2009 when the game went to a Free to Play model and Turbine sued Atari (the digital rights manager of ''D&D''). All the updates since Update 9 have featured much better quest designs.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series' first two installments were quite competent and well received, but the series didn't make a true commercial blockbuster until ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' came around. And the fourth installment, [[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]], [[EvenBetterSequel raised the bar even higher]]. ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' was succesful as well, becoming more universally better received on release by fans and critics.
* Whilst there may never be a consensus as to what point this happened in the ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' series from a gameplay perspective, [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV the fourth entry]] is widely seen as a major turning point in terms of storyline. Whereas only one of the first three games even had characters with names and personalities (and [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyII that game]] relegated much of its story to [[NoExportForYou Japan-only]] [[AllThereInTheManual side materials]]), ''FFIV''[='s=] cast had distinct personalities, backstories, and character development, and devoted far more time to the story than previous entries. Although successor ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV FFV]]'' put the story in the backseat, ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI FFVI]]'' would follow ''FFIV''[='s=] lead by giving more time than ever to the plot and characterization. Now, is isn't uncommon to hear people cite the stories as being as or even more important to a ''Final Fantasy'' entry as the gameplay.
* ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' grew the beard with ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral Genealogy of the Holy War]]'', the fourth game. It featured a much darker story than the past games, along with larger maps, more character interaction (to the point of being able to pair people up), and tons more drama. And after the series went through something of a DorkAge [[note]]''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones Sacred Stones]]'' was a large step down from the [[NintendoHard iconic difficulty level]], ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemAkaneia Shadow Dragon]]'' was welcomed from bringing the series' roots to the west but showed the age of its origins, and while generally considered good, ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Radiant Dawn]]'' was [[SequelDifficultySpike brutal even by the series' standards]] and required playing the previous game on a different console to get the most out of it[[/note]], the beard was re-grown with the release of the acclaimed ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening''.
* While the gameplay of ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'' had always been good from the start, the plot of the campaign didn't really start to develop beyond a blatant ExcusePlot until ''Gears of War 2''. Then, ''Gears of War 3'' grew a beard gameplay-wise: More weapons for your loadout, different weapons spawn on the map (flame nade, digger, one-shot), and more characters to play as. [[ADayInTheLimeLight And a new mode to play as the Locust]]. Of course when it comes to the weapons, [[BrokenBase some players enjoy them, others... not so much.]]
* The first two ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games were reasonably popular due to their unique gameplay and [[NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity controversy]], but once the change to 3D went full in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'', it was an immense hit, and essentially one of the first well-done [[WideOpenSandbox open-world sandbox]] games. Of course, most players were already thinking "This would be even better in 3D."
* The first ''VideoGame/GuildWars'' campaign, Prophecies, is generally considered to have long, monotonous levels compared to the other games. It also had very little max-level content and was almost completely [[SlidingScaleOfSillinessVersusSeriousness serious]], when reaching max level early on in the game and having a slightly dry sense of humor would later become part of the games signature style. Factions, the second, solidified many ideas that would be re-used in the next installments, including henchmen with distinct stories who talked to the player, a "starter island" that the character generally leaves around max level, and several pacing adjustments. It doesn't hurt that the Factions era is still widely regarded as the most balanced PvP environment in Guild Wars history.
* ''VideoGame/HeroesOfMightAndMagicV'' started out as a 3D-remake of the third game with awkward translation and mostly lazy cutscenes (using the existing animations of heroes and units instead of moving the mouth). It grew its beard over the course of the two expansions, particularly the second.
* ''VideoGame/HitmanCodename47'', while praised for it's originality, is often criticized for being incredibly unforgiving, with missions that can take over 20 minutes to finish without any save points as well as Agent 47's small health bar which often meant you were dead the second you were detected. Then ''VideoGame/Hitman2SilentAssassin'' came out with the brilliant idea of giving the player a limited amount of saves they could use in each level wherever they want. This encouraged more experimentation since you knew if your plan didn't work out you could go back to a previous save which you placed just where you needed it, but also prevents save-scumming by giving you a finite amount of saves, helping the series find a more balanced difficulty level that still challenged it's player but was never quite as punishing. The game was significantly more well received than it's predecessor.
* The original ''VideoGame/KidIcarus'' and its sequel are not bad games, but they were far from major hits. They were mostly cited as ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}'' clones for having been made in the same engine. ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' is were the franchise develops its own personality, fleshed out Pit and Palutena as characters, and gave the world its own supporting cast and feel.
* No one will say the first two ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' games are less than stellar, but ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' is when the series started growing its facial hair. Better accessibility, combat versatility, deeper characterization, and better animation are just a few of the many improvements that were brought to the series and used for every game since. [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement It should be noted, however, that this franchise has a very divided fanbase and this view is highly contested]], with just as many fans saying that [[ContestedSequel Kingdom Hearts II is where everything went wrong.]]
* It's generally seen that ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters '96'', the third game in the series, was when ''[=KOF=]'' started to take off. ''[='96=]'' added running and dodge-rolling in place of dashing and spot-dodging, two mechanics that helped set ''[=KOF=]'' apart from other fighting games, as well as making the overall gameplay smoother and more accessible. The theme tune to ''[='98=]'' even acknowledges it; the pieces were in place in '96 (though in context, that's actually referring to the game bringing the "{{Orochi}}" aspect of the Orochi Saga to the fore).
* ''VideoGame/MarioKart'' revolutionized mascot racing during its time by having 8 characters in a race and having tracks with complex designs and obstacles. ''Mario Kart 64'' took it a step further when the series made the leap to 3D by having better designed tracks, more items, and up to 4 people could play the game on the same console. ''Mario Kart DS'' led the way for online play for the series. ''Mario Kart Wii'' led the way for global-wide battles. ''Mario Kart 8'' allowed players to upload their races to Youtube directly via Mario Kart TV.
* ''VideoGame/MarvelHeroes'' was roundly criticised on various fronts upon release, including: lacklustre character models and VFX, uninspired powers and hero mechanics, broken game math, difficulty in obtaining new characters (they could only be obtained for free via random in-game loot drops), lack of good loot (for a game built around it), no endgame, not enough lore flavor and the general deficit of customisation options. All of these issues have since been addressed to varying extents, and more importantly the dev team's transparency and active communication with fans have won past detractors over.
* Though critics loved it unconditionally, the gameplay of the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' franchise was pretty rocky. ''1'' was a straightforward third-person run-&-gun somewhere between ''Halo'' and ''Doom'', hampered by unnecessary TakeCover elements. ''2'' put cover-based shooting center stage, but adjusted all the game's other elements (gun damage, special abilities, HP totals) a bit too far, resulting in fragile and unbalanced gameplay. The trilogy's final entry managed to mix everything just right, to the point that ''3''[='s=] multiplayer mode, at first derided as a cash-in mechanic, is now enjoyed unironically by franchise fans.
** This is mirrored in the driving segments. In the first game you operated the M-35 Mako, an AwesomePersonnelCarrier with extremely unintuitive physics and wonky controls. The second game replaced the Mako with the Hammerhead hovertank and made driving sequences optional. ''III'' found the best solution: [[KnowWhenToFoldEm removed 'em entirely]].
* ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' was received rather warmly, but is an ObviousBeta to even the most biased of critics. Its sequel introduces the Style system, a wealth of replay value in the sidequests and expanded chip library, the much appreciated ability to flee from battle without the need for a specific Battle Chip and a more varied soundtrack, among other things, creating an overall more polished experience.
* The first two ''Franchise/MetalGear'' games are cult classic stealth games that have a fairly standard action movie plot. 10 years later, the [[SequelDisplacement sequel]], ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' [[{{Deconstruction}} turned the concept on its head]] and added more MindScrew. It became one the most recognised games of all time.
* ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}'' and ''VideoGame/MetroidIIReturnOfSamus'' were good. ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' was '''[[EvenBetterSequel awesome]]'''. It created a massive, easy-to-get-lost-in world, atmospheric world. The SequenceBreaking and SelfImposedChallenge potential are incredible, especially with stuff such as the [[GoodBadBugs mockball]] and WallJump.
* While the original ''VideoGame/{{MUSECA}}'' is seen as a mess of confusing interfaces and gimmicks, [[AmericansHateTingle especially by American rhythm game players]] that can't read Japanese, ''MÚSECA 1+1/2'' not only adds a simple "just play for score" mode for those who [[ComplacentGamingSyndrome don't care about Grafica]], but also makes Grafica easier to use (just use the lower right spinner and the Start button to decide each of your three Grafica) and unlock (instead of a sequence of story mode objectives or [[LuckBasedMission the Graf.HOLE]], just unlock them directly in missions).
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' started out with a rather boring story, full of PlotHoles, with about 2 three-dimensional characters in the entire game. It started growing its beard with the expansions, but the real potential of the engine didn't really emerge until the greatest works of toolset manipulation (''VideoGame/ADanceWithRogues'', ''Sanctum of the Archmage'', ''VideoGame/TheBastardOfKosigan'', the ''Shadowlords'' series, and more) started to show up.
** ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' (developed by Creator/ObsidianEntertainment) was accused of doing much the same thing, via another hackneyed and cliched plotline, linear maps, tons of bugs and one of the most infamous uses of RocksFallEverybodyDies. The first expansion, ''Mask of the Betrayer'' (also developed by Obsidian), improved on just about everything in the base game. In addition to retconning the ending, it had many well-written companions, a shorter and more focused storyline and less linear areas, to the point that it's one of the most critically-revered expansions of all time and is often mentioned in the same breath as ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment''! It even had people who hated the game at a loss for words how a company could go one polar extreme to the other.
* While there is still some hard core dislike for it, EA's Origin service has gained more acceptance in the mainstream as of 2014, even pressuring Valve to keep up with some features. Some highlights include:
** You can add most EA published games that are available to the service if you have a CD key for it. Even some third party games can be added this way as well. No strings are attached, even if you have the game in your Steam library. While Steam will accept CD keys as well, it's hit and miss what can be used to add to your library.
** You can refund the games within a certain amount of time. This was one of the more high profile features the service offered that Steam didn't (Steam would eventually add it, though not as flexible as Origin's; this was only due to a major AAA game using Steam having such an atrocious port that Valve was forced to implement a refund mechanic, or they otherwise still likely wouldn't have one).
** EA occasionally gifts games to its users. And it's not shovelware, as classics like Sim City 2000 and Theme Hospital were given away, as were some newer titles, such as ''Dragon Age: Origins.''
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' was this for the ''VideoGame/{{Persona}}'' series. While the others were certainly good games, this was the installment that made the series famous. It was the first to come to the US without having been butchered by borderline racist translators and also introduced the social link system.
** Not just ''Persona''. This is considered to be the game that made the entire ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' series big in the west, and ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' proceeded to make it even more well known.
* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'': The first two cases of the first game are relatively simple, designed with fairly over-the-top characters while the player learn the basics of gameplay. In the third case, the {{HSQ}} shoots up, along with CharacterDevelopment, and, suddenly, the game switches from "non-stop wackiness" to one with real stakes. The next game in the series doubles down on both the RuleOfFunny and EarnYourHappyEnding elements that made the first game so successful.
* ''VideoGame/{{Pikmin}}'' 1 and 2 were considered cute classics for UsefulNotes/NintendoGameCube. Pikmin 3, meanwhile, was highly publicized by Nintendo and regarded as one of the Wii U's best games.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'':
** ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' were two excellent [=JRPGs=] for the GameBoy, but they suffered from several problems, including poor balance and a multitude of {{Game Breaking Bug}}s.''[[UpdatedRerelease Yellow]]'' tightened it up a bit and fixed the worst of the bugs, and the beard fully grew with ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'' and grew even thicker with those games' UpdatedRerelease, ''Crystal''.
* Version 1.1 of ''VideoGame/RakenzarnTales'' was playable, but it wasn't anything standout among crossover fangames and was almost needlessly hard. Version 1.2 moved it in the right direction by softening the difficulty to a reasonable level, adding more meaningful character interaction, new secrets and making choices and your CharacterAlignment have real consequences. Version 2.1 continued this even further by striking a fine balance for character growth and enemy strength while adding more significant choices and game-altering events for added replayability.
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' was far, far less of a joke than the previous few games of the series due to the massive changes in controls, camera, setting, everything, and wound up winning Game of the Year at quite a few websites and magazines. The gameplay and puzzles were more acclaimed than in the UsefulNotes/PlayStation titles (which themselves weren't too bad).
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil2'', rather than having a B-Movie story like the first game, ended up having one of the most engaging plots in the series. Later, the first game was remade in 2002, doing a few Retcons and trying to connect it to the later installments which made it seem a lot less cheesy.
* The original ''VideoGame/SaintsRow'', while fairly well received, was considered by many to be little more than a clone of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas''. After ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'' marked the series's shift to more dramatic storytelling, though, ''VideoGame/SaintsRow2'' managed to win over disenfranchised fans and holdouts alike by taking the humor and ridiculousness of the original game, and cranking it UpToEleven.
* ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'':
** Season One grew the beard with Abraham Lincoln Must Die. It's no coincidence that this is the episode that's given out for free (for good reasons).
** Season Two is widely considered to be much, much better than Season One, due to having harder puzzles, more variation in locations, more unique episodes, a much more coherent story arc involving most of the supporting cast and [[spoiler:killing off [[TheScrappy the Soda Poppers]].]]
** The Devil's Playhouse (Season Three) is also this. A [[DarkerAndEdgier darker]], much tighter storyline spoofing the works of H.P. Lovecraft and TheTwilightZone, with top-notch writing, acting and humor. Max gaining some rather fun psychic powers and [[spoiler: The Soda Poppers staying dead]] certainly helped too.
* The [[VideoGame/StreetFighterI first Street Fighter]] was nothing impressive at the time and also had an appalling control scheme that (supposedly) measured the strength of your punches and kicks. To say [[VideoGame/StreetFighterII the second installment in the series]] is better than the first is not an opinion, ''it's a universally agreed upon fact!'' i.e SFII took the few good things the original had going for it, expanded up on them tenfold while also leaving in a little glitch that would [[AscendedGlitch forever change the history of competitive fighting games]]. Oh and the controls were a ''lot'' less perplexing to figure out too!
* The ''SegaSuperstars'' games only started to pick up praise from the critics with the third installment, ''Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing''.
* There is widespread agreement among ''SilentHill'' fans that the beard for the series was grown during ''VideoGame/SilentHill2''. Given that [[VideoGame/SilentHill1 the first game]] tends to be listed as a favorite even after [[LongRunner eight games]], this is a testament to how revered the second game is within the fandom.
** The series has long suffered from BrokenBase Syndrome, with later games being generally less well-regarded. There are some dedicated purists who refuse to ever acknowledge any game after the fourth, but among the more open-minded fans, ''SilentHillShatteredMemories'' has achieved a cult following and some think of it as when the series grew its second beard. That [[VideoGame/SilentHillDownpour latest game]] has been quite better received critically and among fans than several games previous speaks of some truth to the idea.
* The 3D ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' games. In the mind of critics and many if not most fans, ''VideoGame/SonicUnleashed'' finally introduced a successful 3D formula in the form of its daytime stages, though [[UnexpectedGameplayChange its night stages]] [[ScrappyMechanic were poorly received]]. Then came ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', which was a critical and commercial success for keeping the formula of the day stages (albeit with less emphasis on speed and action) and adding a twist to it in the form of Wisps. And then ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations'' came out, which stuck closer to the more fast-paced ''Unleashed'' version of the formula, while adding an alternate mode that mimics the gameplay of the classic 2D games.
* ''VideoGame/SoundVoltex Booth'' featured a lot of so-so remixes of Franchise/{{BEMANI}} songs, many of which make odd use of Music/{{Vocaloid}}s, and some very old ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' remxies like "Cirno's Perfect Math Class" and "Bad Apple!! feat. nomico". However, ''Sound Voltex II -infinite infection-'' is where many fans felt that the series started to get very good, featuring higher song quality, more original songs, and new chart elements along with much better charting styles.
* ''VideoGame/SlyCooperAndTheThieviusRaccoonus'' was an episodic, linear game where you played through level after level until you faced a boss and moved on to the next episode. In [[VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves the sequel]] you instead perform "jobs" which can be anything from sabotaging the weapons of the BigBad to recon to setting up an escape route, all building up to one final heist where you stick it to the bad guy. Plans can go awry and force you to improvise, there is plenty of WorldBuilding and exploration, and much more emphasis is put on the GrayAndGrayMorality of a storyline where the protagonists and antagonists are both criminals.
* ''VideoGame/StarControl'' was a relatively popular turn-based strategy game including a spaceship melee mode a la {{Spacewar}}. The sequel, ''Star Control 2'' increased the scope of the original with a story-driven adventure mode and various other elements. ''Star Control 2'' went on to become widely considered one of the best video games of all time. Alas, [[CanonDiscontinuity there was no]] ''Star Control 3''.
* You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would speak ill of the original ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros'' While opinions may be split over its immediate sequels ([[VideoGame/SuperMarioBrosTheLostLevels Japanese]] and [[VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2 Western]]), a large part of the fanbase agrees that ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros3'' was when the series really hit its stride. And if not that, ''VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' started off on the GameBoy with minimal HumongousMecha series, no pilots or plot. The [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWars2 next installment]] jumped to the SuperFamicom, yet had an ExcusePlot, while the [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWars3 third game]] started gags from the various series and pulling {{Retcon}}s for disliked plotlines. This continued on for a while as a fun MassivelyMultiplayerCrossover excuse using {{Mecha}}, but long-time fans will say the series hit its maturity with the ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'' saga, kicking off the beginning of the complex plot-weaving between all series included rather than have a lazy mash-up for an UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny.
** [[OlderThanTheyThink Before that, however]], it had a moment in the release of SuperRobotWars4. Previously, the games were about as well known as the average Banpresto crossover (the fact that you probably haven't heard of any Banpresto crossovers unrelated to SuperRobotWars should be telling) and sold very poorly. 4 was going to be the last game in the budding franchise, but the new mechanics it introduced turned out to be smash hits, getting the franchise a massive fanbase. 4 was so well liked, in fact, that it got two UpdatedRereleases - and the latter of these, F/Final, has essentially everything Alpha 1 except animations.
* While the first ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' is far from a bad game, it suffered from a limited budget and hardware limitations. After becoming a sleeper hit, its sequel, ''Melee'', had a much bigger budget and was created to flex the graphical muscle of the then-new [=GameCube=]. A lot of the staples of the ''Smash'' series were introduced in ''Melee'', such as the popular [[CosmeticAward trophy]] collection.
* ''{{Tekken}}'' was a direct arcade port with a versus mode, some remixed music, and Galaga. It was a decent fighter, and an impressive one at that, but it left a little to be desired. Then came it's sequel. New characters, tons of new modes, better emphasis on story, better music, better graphics, the works! And the series would only continue to improve with the third game in the series.
* While fans of the ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' series of games generally hold the first game (The Dark Project) in high regard, it's generally agreed among fans that its ''VideoGame/ThiefIITheMetalAge'' was a [[EvenBetterSequel massive]] improvement, featuring a heavier emphasis on level exploration with multiple paths to finish a level, smarter guard AI, a compelling plot with a genuinely disturbing villain, and a significantly lowered focus on one-on-one encounters with enemies, and more stealth and thievery.
* For most ''WarioLand'' fans, ''Wario Land II'' (the second Game Boy title, not the Virtual Boy one) did this, as the series gameplay diverged significantly from that of the ''Mario'' series and actually started developing its own identity with things like the transformations. Which of the next two games is better on the other hand, seems to be dependent on the player.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series grew a beard around ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link to the Past]]''; not that the previous two games were bad, but the number of {{Guide Dang It}}s decreased and it got a much more manageable difficulty. The beard remained just as thick with the following game, ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening Link's Awakening]]'', which successfully converted the formula of ''A Link to the Past'' to something manageable on an [[UsefulNotes/GameBoy 8-bit handheld]]. Once ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'' was released, the beard was full and glorious.
* The ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER}}'' trilogy. ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' was a good game in its own right, but had issues such as excessively frequent battles and [[DemonicSpiders overpowered enemies]]. ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' not only fixed that all up, but spruced things up in other ways, such as adding battle backgrounds and providing more creative enemies (both in name and design).
* In a hardware example, the UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 started out as a laughing stock with a ridiculous price point, very few quality exclusive titles for well over a year after launch, and a fair amount of meme-generating idiocy (RealTimeWeaponChange, GiantEnemyCrab, AttackItsWeakPoint and ForMassiveDamage) by Sony's PR department. It was also notoriously difficult to make games for, keeping away third-party support. Things began improving in 2008 with the release of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'', which demonstrated what the system was capable of. By holiday 2009, they had launch a new slimmer model, dropped the price in half, and started a new campaign of genuinely funny advertisements featuring Sony's fake Vice President of Whatever-The-Hell-He-Wants-To-Be-VP-Of Kevin Butler. The fact that the [=PS3=] had finally developed a very respectable game lineup didn't hurt either. By the end of the generation, Sony managed to close the gap with Microsoft's Xbox 360, each with around 80 million units sold.
* The UsefulNotes/PlayStation4 is this for the brand overall. After the past two generations with increasingly frustrating-to-code hardware and inflating ego that was finally crashed down like the Hindenburg , Sony finally decides "hey, let's ask what the developers want". Not only did they win the developers over again, but Microsoft's less-than-stellar reveal of the UsefulNotes/XboxOne was heavily taken advantage of by Sony to win the gamers at E3. And it shows. The [=PlayStation 4=] is the fastest selling console ''in history''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Skylanders}}'':
** ''Giants'' added voice acting to the Skylanders... and added some well-known actors to the list.
** With every series (as early as ''Giants''), the figures started to become more detailed and better sculpted.
** Around ''swap Force'', the levels started to become less linear and opened more up for exploration, hiding some of the hidden unlockables in much less obvious locations.
** ''Swap Force'' also started to vary the playstyle of the Skylanders. While still in rather simplistic and approachable for a younger audience, the Trap Team skylanders added {{Stance System}}s, {{Status Buff}}ers, and minion masters, further rewarding others who try and play certain Skylanders.
** ''Trap Team'' also updates the graphics for the new gen, while still making sure it's aesthetically gorgeous for people playing the game on previous gen systems.
* The original {{Xbox}} is pretty much a PC in a box, and despite having graphical prowess and a decent lineup of games throughout its lifespan, its sales paled in comparison to Sony's [=PS2=] juggernaut, which dominated the generation. Its successor, the {{Xbox 360}}, improved upon its predecessor by by upping its user friendliness, which includes embracing the Xbox Live online gaming hub, adding an achievement system for rewarding certain in game tasks, and redesigning the Xbox's controller to make it more ergonomic. And that's not mentioning taking advantage of Sony's disastrous E3 2006 with its lower pricepoint and lineup of games. Although the console suffered from the dreaded red ring of death early in its lifespan, it ended the generation with around 80 millions units sold, quadrupling the sales of its predecessor.
* When the UsefulNotes/XboxOne was first revealed in early 2013, it was ridiculed by gamers and media alike for its restrictive DRM policies and a focus on Kinect and digital TV instead of gaming, which resulted in its competitor Sony taking the ball and running with it. In the next two years, MS managed to somewhat regain the goodwill of gamers by reversing its DRM policies, removing the mandatory Kinect requirement, dropping the price by $100, and reintroducing backward compatibility with its predecessor. A return to its core franchises such as ''Forza'' and ''Halo'', as well as new [=IPs=] such as ''VideoGame/SunsetOverdrive'' and ''VideoGame/OriAndTheBlindForest'', doesn't hurt either.