invoked The original Donkey Kong is very different compared to the mainstream Mario and Donkey Kong games. Mario's jumping skills were less impressive then in later games, as Mario had to climb ladders if he wanted to go up a level. Unusually for a 2D Mario game, Mario can suffer from Falling Damage. The game seemed to take place in the real world rather than a fictional one, like the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario had to rescue not Princess Peach, but his regular girlfriend Pauline. The game's backstory also revealed that Mario was kind of a dick, as he was the abusive owner towards Donkey Kong. He was even the Big Bad in Donkey Kong Junior! Also, DK completely lacked his trademarked tie.
In the original Mario Bros. arcade game, the Goomba Stomp didn't work - you had to knock the enemies on their backs before you could take them out. For players coming from later Mario games, this could become a problem as early enemies include turtles that closely resemble the Koopas in the later games; they can't be stomped in Mario Bros. This is why some Nostalgia Levels based on Mario Bros. replace the enemies with The Spiny, which was firmly established as the standard non-stompable enemy.
Character designs: What we'd call "Small Mario" in later 2-D titles appears to be his normal height in the first game. In addition, Luigi was originally a Palette Swap of Mario, with white hat and overalls and a green shirt. He still had his shirt, but his hair was also green (due to palette limitations). With fire power, the brothers look identical. It wasn't until the U.S. version of Super Mario Bros. 2 that Luigi was depicted with his current tall and slim look. Also, the Mario Bros. were originally drawn without White Gloves. In addition, the colors of Mario and Luigi are red/gold/white, instead of the trademark red and blue. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario and Luigi lack the blue color on their clothes (interestingly, Super Mario Bros. 2 managed to get the colors right since the sprites were outlined with blue). Super Mario World has Mario wearing defined jeans with back pockets, which wouldn't be shown in detail until Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
World designs: The first game, as well as The Lost Levels and the obscure sequel Super Mario Bros. Special, whether due to limitations or for stylistic reasons, all lacked the biomes that would appear in later games. It's pretty weird to enter World 2 and find it to be another grassy field-esque area after seeing desert after desert occuring in the series, for one example. For the same reason, they're also the only main 2D Mario games where the boss in each world is always the same (Bowser, even if only one of the iterations of him is real), and until the All-Stars remake no boss music was implemented. Lastly, until Super Mario Bros 3, world maps are absent.
Enemy designs: The early enemy designs were very different from the ones used today. For example, Bowser was originally drawn without any hair on his head (although he did have hair in the game's official artwork and in the SNES remake), Koopa Troopas were depicted as quadrupeds instead of bipeds (they inexplicably revert back into quadrupeds in Galaxy and Galaxy 2), Goombas were originally drawn without mouths, and whenever a Lakitu is killed, he will actually take his cloud with him instead of leaving it behind. Last, but not least, the game featured enemies in locations in which they're normally not supposed to be in, such as Buzzy Beetles in full daylight, and Goombas and (live) Koopa Troopas in castles.
Minigames are completely absent. The first game to introduce a minigame of any sort was Super Mario Bros 2, and subsequent games would follow suit.
The game is, to date, the only 3D game where both the oxygen meter (for swimming) and the health meter were the one and same (they get separate meters in Sunshine and the two Galaxy games). This created a loophole which allowed Mario to regain health simply by jumping into water.
Super Mario 64 was also more non-linear. While you could select a particular star to pursue, the game would generally not actively prevent you from going after others. While selecting certain stars would sometimes make changes to the world that makes a star accessible or inaccessible, you could get many stars in a level in any order. Later 3D Mario games would only allow you to go after the specific star you select (secret stars would also be available). Also, the star missions in Mario 64 lack introductory cutscenes, which renders their locations far from obvious (bar, at times, the missions' titles).
In some respects it was also an Early Installment Weirdness for much of 3D gaming. For a lack of other games to compare with, entire levels quite visibly hanging in the middle of nothing were perfecly fine back then, but would have been considered signs of an Obvious Beta mere years later. It was also very cubic, even by later N64 standards, and thus unusual in a series that seems to prefer round shapes whenever possible.
New Super Mario Bros. 1 is the only game in the New subseries to not have the Koopalings as the main bosses, but rather unique opponents like Giant Goomba and Petey Piranha. It also lacks a post-finale Special World, and Bowser appears as early as the end of World 1 (in the other games of the New Super Mario Bros. series, he doesn't appear until the final boss battle, and in it he doesn't have a second phase where he turns into a giant). The first game also uses a very different soundtrack to the one that debuted in the Wii game and was reused to varying degrees in the 3DS and Wii U entries (notably, the castle theme has a much darker tone than the standard theme introduced in Wii).
This is also true with the Mario RPG games:
While Super Mario RPG is the only game of its kind not to be part of a series, the first Paper Mario game was the only Mario RPG game to actually have Bowser as the main villain (later games, as well as the earlier RPG, have the villain portrayed as someone else, while Bowser is just there for some other reason). Paper Mario: Sticker Star reverted back to this, or even further with an excuse plot rivaling that of the main series, and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is the first game in the Mario & Luigi series to have Bowser as the main villain, rather than as an ally or minor villian. The first game also lacked timed hits/action commands at the very beginning, and required a key item to be able to block and use such moves. Thousand Year Door and Sticker Star start out with these right away.
The graphics style is nearly completely different from how it is in the later games. It's not so much noticeable with Mario or Luigi, Bowser or Fawful, but for the normal enemies the difference is easy to spot. For example, early Dry Bones designs had them as quadrupeds like the Koopas from Super Mario Bros. 1, while the Boos looked outright cartoony and the Boomerang Bros were actually tall bird like creatures rather than the standard designs from the main series, even mushrooms were white with red spots instead of the other way around. Compare that to Bowser's Inside Story where the enemies generally look like they do in other Mario spinoffs.
Also unusual compared to the sequels are the Bros. attacks, which are fairly mundane and physical compared to the more creative, item-based specials of later games.
The first game is the only one where Mario and Luigi can switch their positions. In every following installment, Mario always takes the lead, and Luigi always sticks behind him.
The game had five races per cup instead of four like in the later games. It also featured Donkey Kong Jr. as one of the playable characters; Donkey Kong himself wouldn't appear in the series until Mario Kart 64. Super Mario Kart also introduced the feather item that allowed players to jump super high and over walls. The item hasn't appeared since then. The game also had the coin system linked to your speed and the mechanic wasn't used again until Super Circuit and Mario Kart 7. The first game even had the item boxes NOT regenerate after someone takes it, making it possible for the player to run out of items, but it would have to be done on purpose. Super Mario Kart also had the 150cc difficulty locked whereas it is freely open to players in the later games.
The first game also had 5 laps per race while the rest of the games play with only 3 laps. This was due to the tracks in Super Mario Kart being quite short while the tracks and their retro counterparts in later games were lengthened a bit to accommodate the new racing mechanics. Time Trials in Super Mario Kart had no item use at all compared to the later games where they allowed the use of Triple Mushrooms in Time Trials.
The Spiny Shell is so infamous in the Mario Kart community that it feels just weird that it didn't appear in the first Mario Kart game at all. It would make its debut in the 2nd game, where it still had some functional differences compared to later games (such as not flying, the impact not being too powerful and you could hold it idifinitively on the back of your kart).
Super Mario Kart is also the only game in the series where the AI has their own items (some of the characters use the normal items you would get like a green shell) and had infinite uses of them. It wasn't until Mario Kart 64 that the AI was regulated to only using items the player could use, though they could still use items without actually having to grab an item box.
Other item behavior has also changed. The first game did not allow the player to trail an item behind them like a shield - the only way to block an item coming at you was to drop it behind the player with the right timing. Also, items sent behind you were always dropped - no firing shells backwards like in later games. The second game allowed fake item boxes to act as a shield when trailed behind, which was dropped in subsequent games. Double Dash!! returned to the first title's idea of no item shielding, but added an alert for when an item was going to hit you from behind so the second player can shoot it backwards.
In the first game, the computers follow each other in a straight line, clip through hazards and have only one item depending on the character.
Super Mario Kart and Super Circuit also didn't allow you to advance any further in a GP if you got fifth place or lower. If you retried the course you lost one of your 3 lives, which meant 4 loses was a game over. Mario Kart 64 didn't let you continue from a low position either, but they did get rid of the life system and you could retry as much as you wanted.
The earliest games, the very first in particular, lack many features that would became standard to the series, such as collectible items, segregated story and party modes, and key board-level concepts like banking and dueling. It was also was significantly more aggressive, where the winner of many mini-games was rewarded from the pockets of the losers. Some mini-games had the entire team working together, with no villain other than the stage itself. The first game was also the only one to have mini-games involving rotating the control stick, which would cause blisters; the second game excised these, but it also recycled many other mini-games from the first, which the third game (and all those subsequent) would make a point of avoiding. Finally, it wasn't until the GameCube era that a wide variety of side games were available, probably for memory reasons.
The first four games have Donkey Kong as a Player Character, but in subsequent games he's made into a supporting character instead. It wasn't until Mario Party 10 when Donkey Kong was playable once again.
The first Mario vs. Donkey Kong game plays quite differently from its sequels. You control Mario, instead of an army of windup Mini-Marios, in what is essentially a Spiritual Successor to the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong instead of an indirectly-controlled Puzzle Game in the vein of Lemmings.
The early Game & Watch games starring Mario portrayed him very differently. In most of Mario's Game & Watch games he's portrayed more as an Everyman with fairly ordinary jobs, much like Mr Game & Watch. Mario Bros shows Mario & Luigi working at a cake factory and Mario's Cement Factory is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Perhaps the most unusual one however was Mario's Bombs Away◊, portraying Mario as a soldier, complete with a uniform and green helmet, passing bombs over to his troops which would be used to blow up the trees the enemies are hiding in. Also noteworthy is that one of the fellow soldiers is even shown smoking, and will toss lit cigars onto some spilled oil on the ground which catches fire and can light your bomb's fuse prematurely. While the game is still cartoony enough that it's safe for kids, it's certainly a setting that you'd never see Nintendo touch with the Mario franchise today. The game was however unlockable in Game & Watch Gallery Advance.
The original Final Fantasy I is essentially an unlicensed Dungeons & Dragons product. It has almost the entire bestiary, including a Beholder (for those who don't know, it's one of D&D's original creations), and depicts Bahamut as a dragon (the mythological Bahamut is a giant fish, D&D was the first to depict it as a dragon). The classes are suspiciously similar, and the magic system is almost lifted directly from D&D. This is especially hard to imagine nowadays, with releases like Final Fantasy XIII which are almost exclusively SciFi and feature Mind Screw plots.
It also has no Magic Points. Instead, spells are divided into different levels of magic, characters must buy each spell individually at magic shops, and they can only cast spells of a given level a limited number of times before resting, with the amount increasing as the characters' experience levels increase (much like the Sorcerer from D&D Third Edition). The GBA and PSP remakes remove the "X uses per magic level" system for the traditional MP.
Final Fantasy II introduced MP, but also featured a very primitive version of Stat Grinding rather than the Character Level system that most games in the series use. It had yet to be refined; attacking your own party members was the best way to develop.
Final Fantasy III used the same spell levels/number of uses system as the first game (albeit the number of charges was much more plentiful). It wasn't until Final Fantasy IV that MP became the standard.
In the first game, characters are all chosen from character classes and have no individual personalities.
Both of the first two games also featured rivers which could only be crossed by canoe.
The first two games lacked auto-retargeting; if an enemy is defeated but you commanded other characters to attack it, those other characters will do nothing. Most, if not all remakes have "fixed" this.
The original split the battlefield into two separate windows, with the enemies in one window and your party in the other. Your characters' names and remaining HP were also displayed at the right side of the screen, rather than at the bottom. These were changed to what would become more the series standard interface in II.
The number of hits and damage were still displayed in text boxes until III which displayed damage (or healing) in red (or green) over the affected enemy or character. This became white text for damage in IV.
The change to numbers over the enemies for damage also allowed for faster pacing of spells; the first two games displayed damage after each enemy on a multi-target spell.
Cid is completely absent from the first game. Remakes add references to him in dialogue as a Posthumous Character of sorts.
The first game is the only one of the series to have separate music on the menu.
Bahamut started as a helpful NPC, before he became a strong summon and a recurring tough fight.
As stated above, the first Final Fantasy's bestiary was overwhelmingly drawn from Dungeons & Dragons. It wasn't until II that many recurring series staples, including Chocobos, Malboros, Adamantoises, and Behemoths, first appeared. Several other elements, such as moogles and summon magic, first appeared in Final Fantasy III instead.
Final Fantasy IV introduced the series' then trademark "Active Time Battle System," although it was quite different than the later titles in the series. There was no gauge that filled up that would let the player know when it was their characters' turns to attack, so they just had to wait until an icon randomly flashed over one of them.
Though practically considered synonymous with Final Fantasy, Limits don't enter the gameplay until Final Fantasy VI, and they're not a fully fleshed out system with dramatically different types of abilities and special effects for each character until VII.
The contrast between the first Super Smash Bros. and its sequels is astounding. While Melee and Brawl are notable for detailed environments and characters, as well as epic orchestral music, the original had Floating Continents in front of a simple background, many more sprites for items, Pokémon, and some attacks, darker, low-key original songs and was promoted with cartoony, comic book style illustrations of the characters. It also lacked a lot of moves and abilities that were introduced later, like air-dodging, and a side-B special move for examplenote Side-B moves did technically exist in the first game, but only the unplayable Master Hand was given a unique one - everyone else's side-B is the exact same as their normal-B special move. It also had very few unlockable elements, likely due to memory constraints. Lastly, it's the only game that has the platform-boarding minigame, which was scrapped in the later games in favor of Home-Run Contest and the Multi-Man minigames.
In the very first Street Fighter released in 1987, Ryu and Ken are the only playable characters (with Ryu wearing red slippers for some reason); their special moves, quite overpowered in this game, are almost impossible to pull off consistently; other techniques such as combos, dizzies, and grappling moves are all non-existent; and every opponent has the same winning and losing quote (all spoken with the same crudely digitized Engrish voice clip). The game did feature the same six-button configuration used by Street Fighter II and its sequels, but it was actually added to the game as an afterthought, created as a cheaper alternative to arcade operators who couldn't afford the original cabinet which used two hydraulic punching pads that determined the strength of the player's punches and kicks based on hard they were pushed down. Additionally, Ryu and Ken's special move yells were dubbed for the overseas versions of the game, resulting in them yelling "Psycho Fire" and "Dragon Punch" instead of "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken".
Even the sequels had this. Combos were actually an Ascended Glitch, and as such there was no combo counter. Street Fighter II was also notably violent, with battered, bloodied, bruised character portraits when somebody lost and in the actual fights you had blood coming out when certain attacks hit (like with Vega's claw or when Blanka bit at somebody's neck) and hits to the stomach actually caused a Vomit Indiscretion Shot sometimes. It was also very toned down compared to the sequels, some characters had energy projectiles and the villain had flame engulfed punches but that was it. Later games in the series would make everyone a Street-Level Super Hero.
Throughout the series, Raiden has been the protector of the earth and a wise, noble mentor to the heroes...so it can come as a bit of a surprise that, in the first game, he destroys the world in his ending.
The original Mortal Kombat only had one fatality for each character, while all future games (except for Deadly Alliance and Armageddon) had at least two for each character. The "Fatality" text was also bland green text, instead of the dripping red text in the later games. Several series mainstays, such as Shao Kahn and the female ninjas, weren't introduced until the second game. The story of the game was far more generic, being a simple tournament based plot instead of the battle between realms plot of the later games. Through the power of Ret Canon (caused by the first film), the story was later rewritten to fit with the ongoing realm wars of the later installments.
The Tekken series begins with the eponymous Tekken which features only two game modes, Arcade and VS, as well as an Options mode. It also features crude graphics (albeit impressive at the time), half the characters that the games would usually have, levels based on world monuments rather than ones which suit the characters, a Galaga opening game, and the bizarre element of having to unlock characters by playing said Galaga game (Heihachi and Devil Kazuya). The music and stages are also very different, the name of the stage appearing on the screen during matches. The boss characters are more powerful clones of the starting characters, albeit with some unique special moves. P. Jack looks far more powerful than some of the later Jack (he has a drill, which he can't use), Yoshimitsu resembles a knight rather than a ninja, Heihachi is the Big Bad, and Kazuya is the lead character despite being pushed into the background in every other appearance he's made. Kunimitsu appears male rather than female (and is not revealed to be female until the next game). It also features the first Jack who, whilst essentially the same as Jack-2, doesn't appear in any other game (it should be noted that none of the Jacks barring P. Jack—who underwent a facelift between the first and second games—reappeared in a subsequent canonical game, instead being replaced by the newest model in their line). Devil Kazuya is essentially Kazuya in a purple suit with wings, but he has all the same moves (meaning he can't fly). You also can't sidestep at all. Tekken was released at a time when its graphical capabilities and arcade perfect nature was all that was needed to impress people.
However, by the time of Tekken 2, things had changed, and so the series started to become what it is today in its sequel, with all the usual modes such as Time Attack, Team Battle, Survival and Practise added. The Japanese version also features a Theatre Mode. All of these would become standard for the series. However, the characters were still quite crudely rendered, and some of the music, boss characters, and stages were a holdover from Tekken. Kazuya, now theBig Bad of the game, is able to sidestep, albeit not as much as characters later can. You can also use cheats like big head mode, wire frame mode, and sky mode (where kicks launch your opponent much higher than normal), things which were never included in later games. By Tekken 3, commonly regarded as the best in the main series (Tekken Tag is considered the best overall), all of the flaws had been addressed and it set the stage for the series as we know it today.
The Soul series of fighting games began with Soul Edge (and its updated revision Soul Blade), which featured the Weapon Break meter (to prevent constant blocking) and a powerful string of attacks called the "Critical Edge" while it also lacked the 8-Way Run of its successors.
The Weapon Break feature was somewhat revisited in Soulcalibur IV with the Soul Gauge, where blocking too much (indicated by a gem embedded in the player's lifebar changing colors before the entire lifebar itself began flashing red at critical levels) would cause your character to enter a state of vulnerability known as Soul Crush, which would also give the opponent the chance to end the round with an instant deathblow, a Critical Finish. Critical Edges returned in SCV, although in name only, as they now functioned like your typical fighting game super, with the enhanced specials (called Brave Edges) more closely (but not entirely) resembling the Critical Edges of the first game.
In the original Dead or Alive, fights took place over platforms representing the fighting arena, and if the fighting moved away from them into the hazardous area called "danger zones," a fighter who was knocked down would not only take additional damage than normal but they'd also be sent skyrocketing into the air.
In the original game, the character of Tina Armstrong was presented as a brunette (mainly due to graphics limitations). In later ports she was also given a few costumes where she had blonde hair, with the in-game explanation that she dyed it. In later games her blonde hair is its natural color.
Guilty Gear's Instant Kills in the first game would not only win the current round, but the entire fight and were relatively easy to use. Later games kept I Ks, but they only won the current round, and were much harder to pull off.
A few characters also changed between the first and second game outside of story reasons: Ky was given a less flashy Instant Kill as Zwei Voltage didn't fit his character, and Axl had a complete redesign - his theme went from 'March of the Wicked King' to 'Make Oneself', and his beefy build was significantly reduced.
The game had easy specials, where you could flick the right analog stick if playing on a controller to instantly perform a special, super or astral. This was replaced with beginner/stylish mode starting with Continuum Shift which could be used on an arcade stick.
Only Ragna, Rachel and Nu-13 had Astral Heats. Other characters Astrals count be unlocked, but were not usable in ranked online play.
Crash Bandicoot is also very different in its first iteration. Levels are played in a strict order rather than selecting which one from a warp room. Levels don't have any Crystals, and getting gems has to be done by getting all the boxes without dying. Saving can also only be done by getting a gem or getting to a bonus round. Also, Cortex's voice is different, Crash has a very limited amount of death animations, and the game was really, really hard. And to save your progress, your files went directly into the Memory Card (as an alternative, you could use passwords), whereas in the sequels you can store up to four separete sub-files in the same card file.
The original Sonic the Hedgehog has no spin-dashing, no characters other than Sonic and Robotnik (suffice it to say, this would change a bit), fairly trippy and abstract graphics (particularly in the special stages and Spring Yard Zone), fairly slow and mellow music, levels of very varying difficulty and length (seriously, play Labyrinth and then continue on to Star Light), and a relatively slow, platform-based gameplay style. Other oddities include only six Emeralds instead of the standard seven, the Emeralds only changing the ending instead of granting Super Sonic mode, and three acts per zone instead of two (though most modern games have 3 acts, the third is usually relegated to the boss).
Compared to later 3D titles, the original Sonic Adventure is much more open-ended (though Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Unleashed come close). Also, while six playable characters isn't too many for the Sonic series, no later games would match the differences between their gameplay; for example, Sonic and Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2 control the same and have similarly designed levels. And the writing and voice acting in Adventure are a lot more stilted and campy and the animation is especially dated in a way where you still knew what they were going for but they weren't quite there yet.
When Knuckles the Echidna was introduced in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, he was pink, at least in his in-game sprites. All subsequent games changed him to the more masculine red.
Kirby: The first game doesn't let you absorb the powers of enemies, which was introduced in the second and became the series' trademark. The only games after the first that don't contain Copy Abilities are oddballs in the series.
Kirby was also white on the box art instead of his trademark pink, at least in the American version. This was because Shigeru Miyamoto envisioned the character as yellow, while series creator Masahiro Sakurai was the one who wanted him to be pink, causing Nintendo of America to be unsure of what color Kirby was really supposed to be (the Game Boy did not have a color display). White was, of course, the safest choice.
Kirby's design gradually evolved over the years. In earlier games up to the N64 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, he had small, beady eyes, and was less round; this design was clearly implemented in Kirby's Dream Land 3. His design has remained consistent from Kirby 64 onwards, as has his voice.. or lack thereof.
The first game to have Copy-abilities is Kirby's Adventure. Some abilities were almost useless, others had only one way to use them (though it made sense, there was only one other button) and didn't give Kirby a distinctive hat. Kirby Super Star had to add those iconic elements, though they weren't present in Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards either (which is justified, as the game used a system of ability combination and had too much abilities to give unique designs and multiple uses to). And there were some redundant Copy Abilities, specifically the Ice/Freeze and Fire/Burning abilities, mostly due to the fact that a lot of them were very limited and only allowed one attack per ability. The Burning and Fire abilities are usually merged in later games, although the Freeze and Burning abilities were used in later games as well.
The second and third Dreamland games add rideable animal helpers for Kirby to use that have their own abilities (Rick can Goomba Stomp and later climb walls, Coo can fly freely, Kine can swim freely, Pitch can glide and fly, Nago can jump multiple times and Chuchu can walk on celings), they also provide alternate uses for Kirby's Copy-abilities. They were largely rendered obsolete by Kirby being more versatile with the uses of his abilities (including being able to transform into them in one game), and haven't made much more than cameos. A case of Tropes Are Not Good, however, as many fans clamor for their return.
Dreamland 3 also has a two player mode, which would become standard for the series. For some reason, they introduced a different character, Gooey, who was Kirby's match and could do everything he could do, but looks quite different. Then, Kirby Super Star had Kirby use his abilities to create helpers with the ability he sacrificed, allowing a second player to jump in, though they didn't have as much control over the abilities they had, which necessitated an enemy that when copied allowed Kirby to... copy abilities. Just so the second player could use it. They haven't appeared again until the Video Game Remake, and never since. Kirby's Dream Course introduced yet another character, Kirby's brother Keeby, who's a Palette Swap of him. Every game since that had a multiplayer option, was content with just having multiple different colored Kirbies without any explanation why there's more than one of him (save Amazing Mirror, where they're present in the single player as well). The most Return To Dreamland also lets the second (and third, and fourth) player control the already existing Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee.
For some reason, King Dedede was evil in the first game, stealing food from people and keeping it for himself. Every other game in the series has the main villain be a terrible Eldritch Abomination who either possessed Dedede or had Kirby believe he was the source of his troubles, turning every game except the first into a Vile Villain, Saccharine Show. Also extends to Meta Knight's portrayal in Super Star, though that's a Dub-Induced Plot Hole (in the original Japanese, he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist)
The arcade games are very different from both the Mario and Donkey Kong platformers that came later, the first portraying Donkey Kong as a villain, the second being the only game ever to have Mario as a villain, and the third introducing a new protagonist named Stanley, who was never heard from again. None of the enemies were stompable. These games also had a modern day setting, which is a big part of the reason why fanon has Mario and Luigi as refugees from the real world (the other parts of the reason being that the older comics, the TV show and the movie showed them as being such, and Miyamoto has stated that the Mario Bros. arcade game from 1983 takes place in the New York sewer system).
Also, Mario was a carpenter, not a plumber. This characterization carried over into Wrecking Crew, where he wears a hard hat—and, unlike almost every other Mario game, he can't jump.
Unlike in Mario Bros. and subsequent Mario games, in Donkey Kong it's not possible to fall a long way without losing a life.
Spyro the Dragon: If not for the common title and character design, you'd hardly believe that the games of the three continuities were from the same series. This even happened within the original series. While the engine was mostly the same, in Spyro the Dragon (1998) there were no sidequests to collect the Plot Coupons, no Hunter, and the story felt like an Excuse Plot in comparison to the deeper Ripto's Rage! and Year of the Dragon. Oh, and Spyro can't swim, not even on the surface.
The first game plays with a somewhat melancholic 'Last man alive' feel and you're guided through the level by the dragons you have to rescue, which also function as save points (you can't save via the pause menu). The second introduces goofy cartoon characters who talk to you throughout the levels and the levels mostly consist of helping people out and getting orbs in return.
The first game is pretty significantly different. Bosses did not have to be defeated to progress through the game, Gnasty's minions are other Gnorcs he made out of gems where Ripto and the Sorceress just had an army of mooks that inexplicably followed them, obviously there are other dragons besides Spyro, and though a few powerups appear, they're very different than the standard versions in later games. Even the music of the first game is unusual, being more raw and 1970s progressive rock-themed. The music of the later games comprises of multiple, often contrasting genres instead.
The first Metroid game is frustrating in comparison to later ones due to no map display and Denial of Diagonal Attack. It's also the only Metroid game where you can save your progress anywhere (the Save Point wasn't introduced until Metroid II), and this was a Password Save except in the Disk System version. It also had Ambidextrous Sprites, something that even Metroid II averts despite being an early Game Boy game, and had no visual differences in the different suit power ups bar Palette Swaps and beam upgrades were mutually exclusive. The designs of Ridley and Kraid were also rather different: Ridley was a completely stationary winged thing of some kind who was fairly easy to defeat, and Kraid was tiny, barely larger than Samus. Super Metroid codified their current designs: Ridley as a fiendlishly tough and agile Space Dragon and Kraid as a gigantic lizard monster.
The first Metroid title also started Samus out with just 30 energy points, even though the maximum she can hold is 99 before she finds Energy Tanks. This also meant that every time you died or picked up from where you left off via password, you'll start off with 30 energy points, forcing you grind for more energy every time. All games past the first installment will always start off Samus with 99 energy points on every new file you load and all energy you collected is retained when you save. The Prime series and Metroid: Other M take it a step further by fully healing you when you save.
It's not entirely clear if the discrepancies between the first game's supplementary materials and general franchise lore are a result of this or poor communication between the manual writers and the game makers. For one thing, the artwork of the Space Pirates don't portray them as humanoid arthropods, but as stock "shiver me timbers!" pirates complete with colonial era hats and peg-legs, while Kraid is portrayed with fur. Also, the back of the box says that "left alone the Metroid[s] are harmless." Later games make it clear that Metroids are always dangerous; it's just that the Pirates' efforts to artificially multiply them and use them as bioweapons make them even more dangerous.
The first Metroid Prime has three major oddities in relation to its sequels:
Scans work much differently than in later games, as scannable objects are denoted by floating icons rather than highlighting their models, and with different coloration: normal icons are orange, important ones are red, and already-scanned objects have faded icons. Compare to the later two's blue for unscanned, red for important, and green for scanned. The game also doesn't retain what objects you've scanned since your last save if you die, so be sure to rescan everything again upon dying, or you might just lock yourself out of a complete logbook if you forget to scan a boss again or something and then save afterwards (and make no mistake: it's happened.) Thankfully, that's also fixed in later games.
The game is known for the lack of concrete missions (i.e. collecting the keys to open a temple, as in Echoes), making it less linear than its sequels, so the overworld areas are more natural and organic in this sense, and are thematically closer to the areas found in the 2D games. Samus does not get to interact with any non-playable characters either.
Most importantly, several important abilities are absent - namely the Seeker Missile, the Screw Attack, the ability to use the Boost Ball to launch from a Spider Rail, or being able to shoot while grappling. In addition, the maximum possible amount of missiles is 250 and not 255.
Mega Man 1 was built on a very small amount of ROM, so the game seems clipped down compared to its sequels: there are only six robot masters instead of the usual eight, all of whose stages were very small; a score display was present at the top of the screen (a leftover from when the game was originally designed to be in arcades); E-Tanks are non-existent; the Life and Weapon Energy items look different from all other games; Mercy Invincibility does not protect you from Spikes Of Doom; the corridors before boss rooms contain enemies; Wily's Fortress does not have a map; the Robot Master rematches are sprinkled throughout the fortress stages instead of being collected in a teleporter room; the Wily Machine was the Final Boss rather than being a penultimate boss like in the other games; Fire Man's weakness was the ice weapon (later games usually had the ice boss weak to the fire weapon instead of the other way around); three of the weapons were thrown rather than being shot out of the Mega Buster (Bomb Man's, Cut Man's and Guts Man's weapons); and most importantly, there was no password system (the entire game must be played in one sitting). Good Luck!
Mega Man Battle Network 1 and 2 both lacked the Navi Customizer the later games have. Battle Network 1 also lacks any transformations (2 and 3 have elemental style change, and 4, 5 and 6 allow you to take on the abilities of another Navi). Mega Man Star Force 1 lacks the Link Power abilities (the Navi Customizer replacement) present in the two sequels. It also has a different art style, which is very noticeable in Echo Ridge. Battle Network 1 and 2 were also much slower. In 1, the custom screen does not show the chip's code below the icon, you have to hover over it. Furthermore, instead of throwing away chips to add, the add command just added 5 more chips on the next screen, but instead of that being it, there are actually 15 slots instead of 10 or 8 like the later games have, meaning you have half your folder available in just two turns.
Mega Man X had the first two games, where you could NOT play as Zero, the intentional Ensemble Dark Horse who is not only the most popular character out of the entire Mega Man series, but who was also supposed to be the main character. For the first game specifically, the head armor is used to break certain blocks with your head Mario-style, dashing is not an initial part of X' repertoir, but rather his Leg armor upgrade, which unlike all the other armors in the series, is mandatory and unavoidable. The Buster upgrade on its own was simply a 4th level charge shot and not getting it lets you take Zero's buster when he inevitably dies later in the game. Also, the boss rematches, like the Mega Man 1 example above, aren't in teleporter rooms but interspersed throughout the levels.
The second game had the Ride Chaser as a Power Up Mount like the Ride Armors that you can find in a level and use, later games would have dedicated Ride Chaser levels.
Mega Man X3 had a very odd set of additions that are never seen again, including a double jump, healing (both of those were special items that you could only get one of or find the super special item in the final parts of the game) and the ability to choose different Ride Armors for certain purposes. Even playing as Zero was different as you could only use him once per stage, would disappear when you reached the boss and if he died in any stage, you lost him for good. Unless you reached a miniboss in the second stage of Doppler's fortress: Zero could fight that one. He'd be unplayable when the boss kamikazes itself, but Zero would pass his saber to X as an additional buster power up.
Also, the first three games contained secret armor powerups that could only be reached if were at full health and had all the powerups from the initial stages. The first two games featured Street Fighter moves, Hadoken in X1 and Shoryuken in X2, that could only be used at full health. X3 didn't go this route, instead providing an enhancement part that powered up your armor's abilities and turned it gold. Also, Zero's beam was a buster upgrade, so there wasn't a health requirement to use it.
The original Kingdom Hearts had platformer elements that would force Sora to do a lot more exploring and jumping to discover all the hidden items. This was pretty much dropped from all future installments. It was brought back in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, except much more fluid and streamlined. One Fan Nickname for the game was "Kingdom Hearts: The Floor Is Lava" as a result.
The first game also featured a context sensitive menu item at the bottom of the command menu, which would be used for interacting with the environment out of battle and using Sora's limits in battle. This made for some slightly awkward gameplay for three reasons. One, it was impossible to interact with the environment while a battle was taking place. Two, it was impossible to really choose which limit you were going to use, with the game deciding which one was available based on the context of the battle. And Three, the follow up attacks for the limits could be easily missed due to how small the menu item was. This was changed in future games with the reaction command and similar concepts. The HD port of the first game did away with the menu item, replacing its function with a reaction command. The fourth slot is now used for summons, whereas earlier the player had to navigate through the magic menu in order to summon.
Another instance is the Scan ability, which shows how much health the currently targeted enemy has. In the first game, it's unlocked at level 9, 12, or 15 (depending on what you chose in Dive to the Heart). In the rest, it's one of the starting abilities. Additionally, in the first game, Scan indicated the remaining bars of health with different colors instead of the green squares used later. This became problematic when a boss had more health than there were colors (5 bars.)
A minor example, but it's worth noting that the original Kingdom Hearts had the camera controlled with the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons instead of the right analog stick. Said analog stick instead was used to navigate the context sensitive menu as an alternative to using the D-pad. Later games in the series, along with the HD port, changed the camera control to the right analog stick (though naturally the handheld entries, all of which being be on systems that lack a second stick, revert back to using the shoulder buttons for camera control; that is unless you use the optional Circle Pad Pro add-on for the 3DS in Dream Drop Distance, which gives players the PS2 control scheme).
Another minor example is that the original release of Kingdom Hearts 1 back in 2002 didn't have an option to skip cutscenes. Pausing during the game's lengthy cuscenes was possible, but not so with skipping, which often annoyed players who had to redo difficult boss battles, being forced to hear the same dialog over and over again. The Final Mix re-release added in a "skip" option that players could choose after pausing during cutscenes... but only in Japan. Thankfully this became a series-standard feature after this point, and like the aforementioned additions of the reaction commands and new camera controls, the HD port included this feature as well.
The "Trinity" signs of the first Kingdom Hearts allow Sora, Donald, and Goofy (and only those three party members) to interact with the environment in some way to reveal a hidden treasure. The Trinity marks are absent from Chain of Memories onwards.
Another minor example is the design of the ubiquitous Organization XIII cloaks. Although it isn't super-obvious at first, it appears that the design of the cloaks may not have been finalized for most of the development of the first Kingdom Hearts game. When Sora meets Xehanort's Heartless in the Secret Place on Destiny Islands, the character in question is wearing an Off Model version of the cloak, which was colored brown and missing some of the details seen in the cloaks worn by characters like Axel. It's worth noting that the cloaks look much more like their final versions in the unlockable "Another Side, Another Story" cutscene at end, and the battle against Xemnas in Final Mix.
It's interesting how different the first Mass Effect game is from the sequels:
The characters had a much larger roster of combat and defensive abilities. Additionally, Shepard and their squad could use each of their abilities (such as biotic and tech) one at a time, meaning you could used one ability, then another, and then another, and so on until you had to wait for them all to recharge. In both sequels, when Shepard or a squadmate used an ability this temporarily kept them locked out for all respective available abilities for them at the time until it recharged after a few seconds.
The combat was quite different, as the weapons didn't actually use ammo and had an "overheating" meter that would keep Shepard from temporarily using the weapon for a few seconds until it filled up. The sequels discarded this mechanic (although Dummied Out code shows that it was partially implemented in Mass Effect 2) in favor of clip-based weapons that could be refilled from enemy drops and crates.
In a case where the series moved away from a standard gameplay mechanic used in previous Bioware games, not only did Shepard have a standard RPG equipment system, but it also applied to all members of the party. In the sequel, the companions didn't have any customizable armor (instead having just a couple of outfits to pick before a mission, and no customization), and the sequel did a hybrid system (where certain outfits gave armor/combat bonuses). Likewise, the original game had several different classes of armor, including light, medium and heavy variants.
The item system resulted in the player being able to pick up large amounts of useless items, which could either be sold for Vendor Trash or converted into omnigel. This was later done away with altogether - in the sequels, crates and item boxes give credits, ammo or a single armor piece/weapon/item that often only can be utilized by Shepard and can't be sold. This was later lampshaded in the Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker by Liara.
Dragon Quest I was the only game where you had just one character, and could only battle a single enemy at once. It was also the only game where keys were expendable, and it forced the player to either use a spell or buy a torch to see in the game's several dark dungeons (which have been used much more sparingly since then).
The inn music was different in the first game. The series' standard save file menu music wasn't introduced until IV (though it was added to III, which originally had no menu music or intro cinematic, when localized outside of Japan).
In the first game, the mechanics of Random Encounters meant that you could wander near-endlessly without encountering a monster, then fight several of them in close succession. Later RPGs got smoother mechanics regarding this.
In the English localizations, the first two games featured copious use of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. This disappeared as early as the NES Dragon Warrior III - it was still there a bit for when you visited Alefgard in order to give it a different feel from the Overworld, but even then it was far less prominent and most of the game doesn't use it at all.
In the second game, the hero is a purely physical fighter; in any other game in the series the hero fits the role of the Jack of All Stats.
You weren't allowed to choose a destination for Return until III. In the first game, it always returned you to Tantegel, and in the second, the last castle you visited.
The menus were also quite clunky early on. In all of the NES DQ games, you had to go into your menu to do something as simple as talk to someone or open a door. it wasn't until Dragon Quest V that much of this became more streamlined with an "action" button that had multiple features like in most other Role Playing Games.
In Dragon Quest I, you had to go into the menu to climb stairs. This one was corrected in later NES installments.
First, it had something called "Promotion Exams." Since Cursed Memories, the bills you were allowed to submit to the Dark Assembly were mostly dependent on where you were in the story and which side-quests you had completed. In Hour of Darkness, on the other hand, your characters had to take these Promotion Exams, which were solo fights against increasingly-strong groups of monsters, to be able to submit better bills. If you lost, it was a Game Over. Notably, reincarnating a character (referred to "transmigration" originally) required you to take at least 3 exams for that character, and reincarnating also set that character's Senate level back to 0.
Secondly, the way new classes unlocked was very different. Since Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, it's worked like this: unlocking the first tier of a class requires either having a certain combination of other classes at certain levels, then passing a bill in the Dark Assembly (humanoid-type classes) or defeating a monster of that type (monster-type classes). To unlock higher tiers of a given class, you had to have the previous tier of that class levelled up to a certain point. In Hour of Darkness, humanoid classes unlock immediately upon fulfilling the requisite class-and-level combinations, and you can unlock a higher tier by having any tier of that class levelled up to a certain point. And monster tiers didn't unlock on levelling at all–unlocking a higher level monster tier required defeating a monster of that specific tier.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena was a hack-and-slash Dungeon Crawler filled with frenetic, almost constant combat. The side-quests were just there to help you acquire gold and experience points. No joinable factions. From the second game onward, The Elder Scrolls series became much slower-paced and less combat-oriented, and most of the gameplay now revolves around side-quests.
Early games described Cyrodiil as a Mayincatec-esque setting, with jungles, rivers, rice fields, tattoos, and stone cities. By Morrowind, however, it had become cemented as a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of ancient Rome.
The Khajiit were originally described as humans with cat ancestry and portrayed as humans with slight catlike features and facepaint made to resemble cats. Only later did they become actual Cat Folk. Then again, this happened gradually: Daggerfall gave them furry bodies and tails, but they were otherwise still pretty human-like. Morrowind was the first with the modern portrayal. Word of God is that the more human-like ones from earlier games were different breeds of Khajiit than the ones in later games, and those types just haven't been showing up in the games anymore.
EarthBound Zero, unlike either of its sequels, was designed after the Dragon Quest series. Enemies were generally more straightforward in both name and form, could not be seen on the field, and were encountered randomly. Your HP goes straight to the difference when you take a hit instead of "rolling". Battles take place in front of a pitch-black background, as opposed to the psychedelic patterns that Earthbound and Mother 3 would showcase note Of course, this was made for the NES, which is more graphically limited than the Super NES and Game Boy Advance., battle messages are shorter and more simplistic, and there are only three battle themes throughout the game (four if you count Giegue's, which is really just a never-ending screech). Ninten doesn't even have a PK/PSI power equivalent to Ness' PSI Rockin' or Lucas' PK Love, not even PK Beam (which Ana has instead, along with the three elemental spells). Not such a variety either of any kind of items, be they weapons, food, or what-have-you. And, you recover PP with multi-use PSI Stones, rather than with certain kinds of confectionary. And don't expect to meet any Mr. Saturns either.
The first Diablo was markedly different from its sequel and Diablo III. Aside from the expected differences in scope, lore, balance and gameplay features, the first game was much more survival oriented and featured several instances of Nethack-style permanent character damage. Shrine effects were irreversible and not all were positive, and there was a monster that would permanently reduce your maximum life. When you died in multiplayer mode, all your gear would end up on the ground and would be lost forever if you were unable to recover it. This would be unthinkable in the sequels which revolve around Min-Maxing character builds and Item Farming.
The original Guild Wars Prophecies is almost unrecognizable from what later releases would make it. There was none of the dry, Shout-Out heavy humor that would later become a trademark, most of the game was designed for players below max level (reaching max level less then a quarter of the way through the game would later become a selling-point), and you got an over-all feeling that everything except Pv P was a lead-up to Pv P.
It's worth noting that the the original PvE actually was a prelude to Pv P. The focus changed somewhere between Factions and Eye of the North.
The firstFire Emblem games had odd quirks, such as Weapon Rank being a regular stat that went up with levels (instead of depending of weapon usage), healers gaining no experience from healing and instead from getting hit (It's as counter-productive as it sounds, but abusable), all playable characters as well as enemies having no Magic Resistance and no growths in it either, the Magic stat not existing at all (combined with the lack of resistance, magic damage was completely dependent on the magic tome), and many well-known trademarks of the series such as the Weapon Triangle or Support System hadn't been included by then. Oh, and classes' names were in Japanese instead of Gratuitous English. The Updated Re-release for the DS modernized most of those things, but without changing the core game, which for some felt awkward.
Final Death was still part of the series from the beginning, but characters didn't say anything when they died. Later games would give every character unique Famous Last Words which made deaths far more emotional. This also meant that several characters in the first game never said anything at all, something that seems very strange compared to the fleshed-out characterizations in later games. Character portraits were far less unique, with most being Palette Swaps or worse, the exact same portraits as other characters. Very few enemy bosses had unique portraits either, and even significant opponents like Michalis and Gharnef were palette swaps of playable characters.
The fifth game also introduced a bunch of new game mechanics. A few of them, such as Fog of War and the ability to rescue allied units, became staples of the series. The majority of them, however, were never seen again. This included fatigue meters, movement stars that randomly allowed units to get a second action in a turn, capturing enemies, and movement rate and build having growth rates just like all of the other stats. (Mounted units being forced to dismount while indoors, while introduced in the third game, was also never seen again after this game.)
The NES games also had the odd trait of not showing where your characters can move. You had to memorize, or check every time, each characters movement rate and use that to count where they should be able to go in a turn. Plot-wise, Marth was a very naive Kid Hero, later games had much more mature protagonists, which resulted in a Retcon of his personality in the Video Game Remake.
The class system still hadn't been refined in the first game, which resulted in a few oddities to players of later games. Some classes lacked promoted versions entirely (Fighters, Thieves and, most notably, Marth's Lord class, which made him comparatively weak) and some couldn't promote despite promoted versions existing (Armor Knights and Hunters). Pegasus Knights promoted to Dragon Knights, while later games would make both separate class families, and Priests and Mages promoted to the same class. There was also a "Balistician" class that could only equip Siege Engines, which never made it into future games apart from remakes, and a character who could transform into other members of your army. The Swordmaster class didn't exist yet, which meant that Nabarl/Navarre, who started a Fountain of Expies who were all Swordmasters, was actually originally of the Mercenary > Hero class branch.
The first few games also didn't readily reveal how much damage you'd give and receive against an enemy before entering battle meaning things were a lot less calculated. Or a lot more calculated if you were willing to look at your opponent's stats and compare it to your own units. Later games showed your stats and your opponents when choosing to launch an attack but you had to subtract their defense/resistance from yourself to figure out how much damage would be done. It wasn't until the Elibe saga games on Game Boy Advance where you were told outright how much damage you would inflict and take. Critical hits also use to triple base attack instead of damage dealt meaning they were a lot more powerful.
Plot wise, the biggest example is the Falchion of Gaiden. The creator had intended all divine swords to be called "Falchions", but scrapped that idea when he introduced a whopping 5 in Genealogy. So that leaves two completely unrelated swords called "The Falchion", One of which is literally just a regular steel sword with a Goddess trapped inside giving it her powers, the other forged from a divine dragon fang.
Tales of Phantasia (SNES version) lacked many of the things that became trademarks of the series - for example: cooking, the Dark Wings and especially the skits. The battle system also comes as a little odd for modern Tales players - chibisized sprites, a slightly slower-paced battle system (these two also apply to Tales of Destiny), and a few other things.
The first and secondPersona games have almost no resemblance whatsoever to the far more well known third and fourth games. Besides certain very broad ideas (teenagers fight monsters) and a certain character (Igor), they might as well be two different series. The art style is different, and even the game play isn't very similar, with the first two being far more combat-focused revolving around the sophisticated "speak to demons while fighting them" system, while the third and fourth games are hybrid dating/life simulators-JRPG's. With a tarot card theme that didn't really exist before.
Persona 1 & 2 had the ability to summon Personas as a widely-held trait and generally accepted as real, if slightly disregarded regardless. You could actually interact with NPC shop and restaurant patrons that would discuss Personas openly, and one of your team members would actually grouse that she was disappointed to find the power less unique than she imagined. Party members started out with a Persona of a specific Arcana and worked best with that one or one of a few "related Arcana"; this would be related to their personality, just as it is in later games (minus being able to swap your entire party's Personas like the main character). Persona 2 Eternal Punishment (Persona 2 was split up over two games, but only one initially made it to the US) also had a cast of adults, among which was a writer for a magazine, a police officer, an "underground" intelligence expert and a Christmas Cake older "best friend" of Maya. Dungeons were actual places in the world, rather than pan-dimensional televisions or schools.
The first game looks far more like the Shin Megami Tensei series it's based off of, with first-person dungeon exploration and the series staple Megido having an element that isn't Almighty, this being the second game it's been in.
While we're on the subject of Shin Megami Tensei, the spinoff Devil Summoner is like this. The first two Devil Summoner titles were basically just like the main Megami Tensei series except without using the Karma Meter and more straight forward. The prequels that were released in the West are known as Raidou Kuzunoha and might as well be a separate series since they are Action RPGs. The only thing they have in common is they involve some detective agency and some guy named Kuzunoha.
The Ultima series had some bizarre quirks throughout.
The first two games had only a single player character, customizable to some degree; the third game included a party of up to four, all intimately customizable; every game after that allows only small adjustments to the main character (the Avatar) during character creation.
The first two games include space exploration and Schizo Tech. Both also involve Time Travel, although in the first game it's just to get to the end boss, where in the second it's a necessary mechanic.
The first game hasn't got magical, mysteriously appearing and disappearing long-distance travel gates; the second has "time gates" which show up at specific places ever X number of steps to travel between different time zones; from the third on these became the Moongates.
Ultima I also includes quests to defeat specific monsters found only in the dungeon in order to obtain benefits from various kings.
Ultima I and Ultima III take place in "Sosaria"; Ultima II is on Earth (in various times in history). Between the third and fourth installments, Sosaria is united under the rule of Lord British and takes its new name (Britannia) from him.
Ultima II is the only game with dungeon-like "Towers" as well as dungeons - and the only installment in the series where the dungeons play no useful part in furthering your quest.
Ultima III introduced a starvation mechanic, where characters suffer damage over time if they run out of food. Ultima II just kills you off if the food counter hits zero. This mechanic held on for two more games, until it was retired in Ultima VI, which merely didn't allow you to recover hitpoints or magic while resting if you had no food. The starvation mechanic was omitted from the NES version of Ultima IV
Ultima IV requires the character to not just be virtuous, but to be virtuous in eight specific ways. In Sosaria, the player character(s) were expected to lie, cheat, steal and murder their way to the final showdown; after the fourth installment, the Avatar is just expected to be good, not to be specifically good.
Runescape Classic, the game's original incarnation, is massively different from its current version. The player characters and NPCs are low-res sprites; the game lacked dialogue boxes, meaning all dialogue is displayed above characters' heads; there was no indication on your progress in a quest, or if you've even started it in the first place; the camera is more restricted; there is no barrier dividing the Wilderness from the rest of the map; there was no members game in its earliest years (meaning that all skills, features, and areas were open to all players). Jagex has opened this game to members twice, and it can still be played if you logged in during those periods.
The differences between Koudelka and the "core" Shadow Hearts franchise are like night and day, with Koudelka playing as a strange hybrid of RPG and Survival Horror (which it was), and the SH games being straight-up RPG's with a heavy comedic bent.
For that matter, the original Shadow Hearts is significantly heavier on the horror and lighter on the comedy than the later games.
Super Robot Wars. The first game (on the Game Boy) features an incredibly simple plot (unlike the greatly complex and interwoven stories of later games), only features the "Holy Trinity" of Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, and Franchise/Gundam; all robots are intelligent beings (not largely non-sentient constructs piloted by humans), and health is in the double digits (while later games give robots thousands of HP). If it weren't for the title, you'd never know it was part of the series.
Shin Super Robot Wars's engine occupies an evolutionary slot somewhere between the original Famicom mechanics and the "modern" 2-D engine used in the Complete Box and turbocharged for F/F Final. Its "classic" features include:
Individually-upgradable weapons, which is annoying for a series that encourages the player to see as many combat animations as possible. This quickly degenerates into using one (hopefully free) regular-duty P weapon, and one "big gun" for dispatching bosses or other heavies.
Single-instance transformable mecha during Intermission. This is a very strange arrangement where you must explicitly "transform" or "combine" units to see what their different capabilities are. This is more than a mere annoyance when you see that it impacts how units sortie - if a unit is transformed to flying mode on a map precluding flying-only vehicles, it will be unsortiable. Moreover, combinable units have a separate set of equipment slots from their constituent units, so beware!
Old-school magical mechanics. While the spell list is considerable expanded over most of the "original" chronology games, spells like "Encourage" only work on adjacent units instead of allowing arbitrary selection. The most telltale sign is that "Luck" confers both double money and double experience.
Shin also has hidden items, which can be missed if you don't use a guide.
Super Robot Wars Advance was much different compared to its Game Boy Advance sequels - most of its graphics were just yanked from SRW F/F Final, the upgrading system from Shin was in place here, there were a bunch of Guide Dang It secrets and the final stage was a Nintendo Hard countdown mission that forced you to complete it in X amount of time before everything went up. It was also the only game in the set without a New Game+.
The first two Fallout games might qualify to people more familiar with the latest games, as 1 and 2 were top-down third-person RPGs with turn-based combat as opposed to using a first-person perspective and real-time, FPS-style combat.
In Suikoden I, characters could only use a single Rune at a time, and there were no skills to customize character stats. Suikoden II let characters use up to three Runes (depending on their Magic stats), and Suikoden III introduced skills.
Suikoden III used a modification of the regular battling.
II, IV, and V all use strategy-type battles, but each are different. II and IV use strategy RPG-style battles, one on foot and one in boats. V uses real-time strategy.
Dark Cloud is this to Level-5 in general - if you play it now, you'd be surprised at how toned down, plot-light, and lack of quirkiness (though it's still there) it has compared to their more recent games like Ni no Kuni or Jeanne D Arc.
The very first The Denpa Men game has no overworld of any kind—your Player Headquarters consists entirely of you choosing between options on a menu, and you simply travel to dungeons by selecting them. The dungeons are the only locations you can actually walk around in. The game also has only two equipment slots ("Clothing" and "Accessory"), and of the two, only clothing is visible on your character. It's also lacking a number of secondary gameplay features that the second game introduced (such as gardening, fishing, and the ability to change your color with paint), but the lack of equipment slots and overworld is the most glaringly odd.
The original Hyperdimension Neptunia used a lot of elements that were either improved upon or discarded entirely in later iterations of the series:
All NPCs other than Neptune's gang and the Big Bad are represented by silhouettes in conversation. In later games, NPCs who aren't important to the plot are hidden from view.
Characters can't sell or otherwise discard unwanted items, which left most inventories cluttered with useless weaponry later in the game.
Consumable items were absent; each character had to rely on "Item Skills", which gave them a chance to use specific items by combining four different alchemical components under certain conditions, and even then they were only usable during battle.
The Share system isn't introduced until you get a specific character in your party, and how it works isn't explained at all in the game. Neptunia mk2 does a better job of integrating the Share system into the story from the start.
Rather than having a single regular battle theme, the battle music is simply a slightly sped-up version of the dungeon theme your characters are in at the moment.
Players were graded based on how quickly they could complete each sidequest dungeon, and faster times rewarded the player with more Credits.
The first Advance Wars is vastly different from later games in the series in several respects:
Every CO has only one CO Power, and there's a severe imbalance between each one, with weaker ones like Olaf's Blizzard and massive Game Breakers like Eagle's Lightning Strike. Powers don't cause a BGM Override either.
The tutorial is separate from the main Campaign rather than integrated into it.
Most missions in Campaign mode are pre-deploy, and you don't get to see the map before you choose C Os.
Only Orange Star is playable in Campaign, and all other nations are enemies.
The player is prompted to enter their name and takes a direct role in the campaign as Orange Star's "strategic advisor". (Similar to the tactician in Fire Emblem Elibe) This was dropped from all future games.
The Black Hole army uses Palette Swaps of Orange Star troops as opposed to their own sprites. (There is an in-story reason for this, though)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was originally designed to be a vague prequel to the original game rather than set in its own continuity. The Prince mentions that his home city is Siraf, when the sequels established it to be Babylon. The game is also set in medieval Islamic Persia due to the Arabic inscriptions everywhere. The other games seem to be set in pre-Islamic Persia, since Babylon is the capital of the empire and Forgotten Sands takes place in Israel, which was controlled by Achaemenid Persia but no later dynasties. Furthermore, the first game has a series of wall paintings depicting the origins of the Sands of Time, which contradict the backstory given in Warrior Within.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is more linear than its sequels, which are open world and feature plenty of sidequests (whereas the first game relies mostly on the Riddler's Collection Sidequest). It also lacks Batman's ability to slide while running, fire the Batclaw in mid-air and incorporate it during gliding.
The original The Legend of Zelda lets you take keys between dungeons, which just feels completely un-Zelda like, especially since most later games (presumably in response to it being possible in the first) remind you constantly that keys only work in the dungeon you find them in. Because of this, keys can also be bought from shopkeepers to cheat if the player was having trouble clearing a puzzle. There are no towns anywhere, so the only characters besides the main three (Link, Zelda and Ganon) are Old Men and Old Women found in caves. Your bow also uses rupees to make arrows, which is bizarre even without contrast to other Zeldas.
In regards of bosses, none of them have a Battle Theme Music, not even Ganon. And until The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, this was the only game where more than one dungeon had the same boss. The seventh dungeon has the same boss as the first (Aquamentus), and the eighth dungeon has the same boss as the fourth (Gleeok).
The first and second games also have you find whole heart containers outside of dungeons instead of Pieces of Heart. This mechanic was resurrected in the Nintendo DS installments.
This trope also applies in terms of aesthetics and plot. The Triforce for one originally had only two parts, with the Triforce of Courage and the appearance as flat, golden Sierpinski triangles not featured until Zelda II; in fact, the artwork, the cartoon, and the CD-i games actually portrayed it as glowing, gem-like tetrahedrons. While the standard look for the Triforce was codified in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it was portrayed as actually speaking to Link. Link and Zelda's hair were brown, the expanded Hyrule in Zelda II The Adventure Of Link (which had Death Mountain on the southern part of the Overworld Not to Scale instead of the usual northern location and had eastern and western regions separated by water) is never heard of in any other game, and races that became iconic aspects of the series in later games (i.e. Gorons, friendly Zoras, the Sheikah) are completely absent in early games. And then, of course, the early games had zero hints to the eventual timeline issues that would develop in large part thanks to Ocarina of Time, which would not be settled until Nintendo finally released an official timeline on the game's 25th anniversary. Said timeline relegates the early games to a third timeline in which Ganon won in Ocarina of Time; even the creators seem to argue that the early installments were weird.
The three Pendants of Virtue needed to draw the Master Sword in A Link to the Past were the first of the recurring sets of green, blue, and red plot coupons symbolizing courage, wisdom, and power; however, the Pendant of Wisdom was red and the Pendant of Power was blue, whereas nowadays the reverse is standard.
Link in the first two games is a brunette. All other incarnations are varying degrees of blond. And he originally had a long nose, which is used as a joke once. After Ocarina of Time all Link's lack it.
The first game for the MSX2 and NES had no crawling, no radar, a transceiver that was completely room oriented and a simple straightforward plot. Guards could only see in straight lines and the stages were screen-based (think the original Zelda), allowing the players to escape detection by moving to the next screen (at least in the NES version, which lacked the higher alert phase). It also featured a leveling system that increases your maximum health and carrying capacity for every five hostages you rescued (and demotes you if you killed one) and multiple cardkeys were needed to open different doors.
Although it was a non-canon sequel made by a different team, Snake's Revenge played pretty much like the first game, only with the addition of side-scrolling segments.
While Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is much closer to Metal Gear Solid than the previous installments, it is still limited by the same technical constraints as the original Metal Gear. It also had some of the oddest items and puzzles in the series, such as hideable buckets, poisonous hamsters, and egg hatching.
In the first Metal Gear Solid, Snake's maximum health and item/ammo capacity increases after every boss battle (a play mechanic carried over from the MSX games) and there were two endings based on one specific choice halfway through (all the other games series only had single endings). Also, there were no tranquilizers, relative lack of sound-based stealth (one could run as fast as they can towards an enemy, and so long as it wasn't over a specifically loud floor he won't notice), there was no way to aim a gun in first person view or perform a roll, and the plot, while still intricate, is not as insane as later games.
Up until Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the bodies of dead soldiers would simply disappear once they hit the ground. Killing an enemy grunt in front of one of his buddies doesn't cause as much of a reaction as it does in later games. This is also the reason why the tranquilizer gun was introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2, as there wasn't much need for one in previous games.
This is played with in the case of the Dynasty Warriors games. The original Sengoku Musou was a straight-up fighting game featuring characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Following that, Shin Sengoku Musou was released, introducing the Hack and Slash gameplay that the series is known for. The latter game was localized as simplyDynasty Warriors 2, making it a clear example of this trope outside of Japan, while in Japan, they technically belong to separate series.
Tex Murphy: The first game (Mean Streets) in the series had flight sim and run & gun sequences in addition to the adventure gameplay. The second game drops the flight sim/run and gun gameplay, and the other games from there on (including the Mean Streets remake) are FMV point & click adventures.
Thunder Force: The first game was a free-roaming overhead-view shooter, the sequel had an equal share of top-down and sidescrolling levels, and the rest of the series only kept the sidescrolling levels. Also in the first two games, you lost all weapons except Twin and Back upon death, whereas in newer games you only lose your current weapon.
Grand Theft Auto: The original game, and the London Expansion pack. All the excitement of a fully realized living city in glorious, er, two dimensional blocky graphics that look like something on an Amiga. In 1997. Your character was a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and the body armor only protects you from three bullets. Lives and scoring multipliers were in both first game. They would be done away with in III There also was no saving during levels either, meaning quitting the mission early or Game Over cancels a few hours of work the player did. This was essentially bad in the two Vice City levels, where it would take a few hours to complete the levels. Players had only four weapons to choose from: a Handgun, Machine Gun, Flamethrower or Rocket Launcher. Wanted levels were also different from other games: Even a one-level wanted level would not dissipate on its own, unlike other games.
The third game had the option of changing the camera view to an overhead state so you could play it similar to the previous titles in the series. This was notably missing from Vice City onward. Also missing from III was the in-game map in the pause menu, which forced you to use the map included with the game manual if you wanted to navigate the streets well. An in-game full map was included starting with Vice City.
The first Touhou game for the PC-98 was a strange sort of Breakout/Arkanoid game with gravity and lots of bullet dodging; from the second game onward the series was firmly in the Shoot 'em Up genre, but the Bullet Hell formula prevalent in the Windows series was not established until the fourth PC-98 game (out of five), and the makings of the "spell card" system that would dominate the Windows Touhou games wasn't present until the fifth game. The overall tone and character designs are still fairly different.
While most characters in the Windows games have last names, most PC98-era characters don't.
Most enemies in Windows games are either fairies or balls of energy; in the PC98 games, various other entities such as ghosts and fairies on the ground join the fray.
In Lotus Land Story and Mystic Square, you get a bomb back after each stage. Not in the Windows games, unless you play as a specific character pair in Imperishable Night.
Characters who would go on to appear in the Windows games look dramatically different. Reimu has a more traditional-looking miko outfit (no armpit jokes for you) and boasts purple hair. Marisa, in her first incarnation, has a purple outfit and red hair; her signature blond hair doesn't show up until a few games later. Yuuka's hair is longer, curlier, and she wears pants instead of a skirt, and that's only in her second form; when you encounter her initially she's wearing pink pajamas of all things. Alice is a young child, and her outfit is really only similar in that it's heavy on blue.
The Windows games have some oddness of their own: In the sixth and seventh games, nonspells were treated like traditional boss patterns, cycling through a few different attacks that could overlap. By the time the eighth game came out, nonspells followed the same basic design philosphy as spellcards. Storywise, up until the 9th game the setting was much darker and implicitly much larger. Youkai tended to have Western names, and several were given a generic species of 'youkai' instead of something specific.
The sixth game in particular, (Embodiment of Scarlet Devil) being the first Windows game, has a couple of elements from the PC-98 era and introduces a few things that would be later used in the series. For instance, this was the first game that introduces the focus mechanic, a skill that allows you to slow down your speed to maneuver through more clustered bullet patterns. While the later games would let you see your actual hitbox when you did this, the sixth game didn't do this. Unless you applied a patch that showed your hitbox at all times or if you got the updated version of the game, you had to estimate the size of your hitbox and maneuver accordingly. This game would also stop you from fighting the final boss on Easy Mode, automatically giving you the bad ending regardless of if you continued or not. Later installments would not do this and would let you fight the final boss on any difficulty. The sixth game is also the only game in the Windows series to not have a score/power-up gimmick of some sort. Later games would incorporate things like time, UFO's, cherry blossoms, etc. depending on the game.
The firstHalo had a lifebar separate from the regenerating shield, indestructible human vehicles, less-avian-looking Jackals, no Brutesnote when they were introduced in Halo: First Strike there was mention of this being humanity's first encounter with the species; that kinda fell through when more prequels came and threw them in anyway, Hunters who went down with one pistol shot, and other minor quirks not kept in the sequels. It also lacked quite a few features that are now considered staples of the series, such as having a fairly long-ranged punch as opposed to the mini-leap melees present in the rest of the series, no dual-wielding, an absence of most utility "precision" weapons (Battle Rifle, Carbine, etc.) other than the pistol, and almost every vehicle handles completely differently in this than it does from the rest of the games (most notably the Scorpion, which drives similarly to the Warthog). Almost all of these features are roughly in their present form from Halo 2 onward.
The lifebar, absent in Halo 2, 3 and 4, made a return in ODST, Reach, and the remake of Combat Evolved. The canonical explanation of the lifebar disappearing is because of the new armor Master Chief recieved at the start of Halo 2 including "automated biofoam injectors" that immediately heal him of any and all injuries sustained while the shield is out, and stayed in 3 and 4 because he's still wearing that same suit. It returned in Reach because it's a prequel set before the armor's introduction, and in ODST because it focused on an ODST rather than a SPARTAN.
In the original Glider, you couldn't go back a screen, and you kept drifting left or right if you released the keys, making it difficult to hover over vents. Electrical outlets also worked differently: they didn't give out zappy surges continually like in 4.0 and PRO, but set you on fire if you passed over them, like candles always did. There was also an option to play as a dart; darts only turned up in the later games as enemies.
The original Silent Hill is the only installment of the franchise on the original PlayStation (many of them are for the PlayStation 2). There are also a few oddities here and there, including:
Not a lot of puzzles; most of the gameplay is based on survival and combat
Harry, the player character, is by far the worst gun user out of any of the game's protagonists. This was because the game actually factored in external elements (perception and distance affected gun accuracy). While each is justified - they're all civilians - the player for the second game is far better.
This is the only game where the nurses act the way they do because of an external parasite.
The Multiple Endings are based on two decisions only; there's no Karma Meter or mixture of both involved. The endings change whether you have saved or killed your partner, Cybil, from a parasite, and if you were able to find an important item or not in Michael Kaufmann's apartment; naturally, the best ending requires you save Cybil and get the item.
The monsters were not representations of any facet of Harry's psyche, but rather Alessia's likes and dislikes. In fact, much of the plot doesn't focus on Harry at all: he doesn't have any connection or deep-seated flaws, he's just a guy looking for his daughter.
The original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney used a penalty system with a fixed number of allowed "strikes" instead of the lifebar system of all later games. The tone of the game was slightly less comical. Pressing isn't properly introduced until the second case, while all future games introduce it in the first case. The first case is much shorter than any other case in the series, including other first cases, only having one witness, while most first cases in the series, except for Investigations, have at least 2 witnesses to cross examine. Also, if you only count the Phoenix Wright games (the first three), the first one lacks the Magatama and profile presenting. The fourth and fifth games removed the latter and greatly reduced the presence of the former.
The originalResident Evil featured live-action scenes for its opening and ending sequences, whereas every subsequent installment in the series (including the GameCube version) were entirely computer generated.
The first Resident Evil game also feels very basic compared to the later sequels. The original lacked an auto-aiming function (unless you were playing the Japanese version) and the weapons came as they appeared without any chance to enhance them. The original game had Multiple Endings while the sequels only have a single ending each (except for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil 5, although the alternate scenarios in Resident Evil 2 serve a similar purpose). The first game also lacked the limping animation that the player character could suffer if they were hurt, which meant even if your health was in the red, you could run at a brisk pace just fine. There was also 3D object scanning if you chose to inspect an item (though there was no purpose behind it), something that the later games dropped, but was brought back for the remake to use for a few puzzles.
Loading screens via opening doors were done throughout the series to disguise loading times while also adding to the tension of the game's atmosphere and were greatly reduced by Resident Evil 4 and later due to the games being on more powerful systems. The Gamecube remake of the first game was powerful enough to allow players to move between rooms without a loading screen, but in a strange twist, play testers complained that the game didn't feel like Resident Evil without the opening doors animation, so Capcom put the "loading screen doors" back in the game.
The entire series has made a big Genre Shift from claustrophobic, escape-oriented survival horror to an adrenaline-fueled action series where the protagonists, while still under extreme duress, have more control over the situation; to wit, the first game has a S.W.A.T.-based team trapped in a horror-filled mansion, while Resident Evil 5 is set in Africa with two soldiers freely going gung-ho on infested civilians. With it, a lot of the "survival" aspects have been lost, but even during the early years of the franchise, the second game deviates heavily from the first by giving Claire and Leon far more than enough gun ammo to make it through the game. In the first game, ammo was highly limited, and running out of a particular ammo made certain boss fights near impossible to beat.
Another difference that gaps the first few games from later ones is that the undead creatures and monsters are far more resilient and aggressive than they were later on. It can take four to five bullets from a hand gun to take down a zombie in the first three games.
The entire series was made to feel like an American horror film. The difference is the later ones were based on serious drama/horror films and the first one was a camp B-Movie. The iconic title whisper was accompanied by an awkward scream that was removed much for the better in the later titles, and the cut scenes are live action. And most well known of all is depending on how you look at it, the bad voice acting or intentionally badly written and read the lines are.
The first game of the Nancy Drew series, Secrets Can Kill, bears almost no resemblance to the later installments. Its characters are hand-drawn cartoons, dialogue exchanges are rudimentary and not always in-character, and plot-essential clues crop up on bulletin boards for no reason. Plus, the fact that Nancy's investigating a cold-blooded murder and has to point a handgun at someone to win pushes its storyline into What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? territory by comparison with subsequent games.
Secrets Can Kill has since been re-released, in an updated version that sheds most of the original's Early Installment Weirdness. The fact that Nancy's investigating a murder instead of a robbery, haunting, or other non-lethal mystery is still rather jarring, but that probably couldn't be changed considering the game's title.
Averted now, at least in part, due to the release of The Deadly Device. Now Nancy has another murder case on her resume...it just took her 27 games to get there
The first Wipeout: A different, less minimalistic style for both the GUI and the vehicles, the vehicle is invincible and so weapons only slow you down, and the abillity to select between two pilots for each teams, a feature which would only reappear in Wipeout Fusion, itself an oddball.
Early Tetris games: no hold, no lock delay (pieces lock into place as soon as they hit the floor or the top of another piece) unless it's a game made by Sega, slower sideways movement (again unless it's by Sega), a completely random randomizer notorious for I-piece droughts and consecutive S- and Z-pieces, and only counterclockwise rotation (in pre-Nintendo versions). So you've cleared 200 lines in Tetris DS, and gotten GM rank in Tetris: The Grand Master; NES and Game Boy Tetris's Level 19 should feel like nothing...right?
In the Atari arcade version: separated levels with an end-of-level bonus based on the height of your field, line-raising as a level feature instead of a multiplayer punishment, and having to play on levels whose designs were based on the initials of the top three high-score entries.
Sega's 1988 arcade version of Tetris supports up to three buttons...that all rotate counterclockwise.
The original Twisted Metal was much different from the games that followed it. The setting was confined to Los Angeles instead of being all over the world (and began with a glorified tutorial level that had players going one-on-one with another competitor in a small arena, unlike later games), live-action photos were used for the characters profiles, the endings consisted of scrolling text over a still picture of Calypso (a remnant of the deleted live-action endings that went unused), there were no special moves, special attacks were collectable items (instead of regenerating after a set amount of time), Needles Kane lacked his trademark Flaming Hair, the weapon pickups all have the same icon, Calypso is not such a Jackass Genie, Minion is the final boss (unlike TM2, where he's a midgame boss and had a Retcon to his origin story) and the tone is a lot more down-to-earth and less humorous.
You could regenerate specials in the first game and icons had a specific type. The regen time was very long for some characters though. Freeze missiles were also a pickup in the first game.
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune only lets you drive in the Tokyo area and a small subset of the Wangan Expressway. Furthermore, to change your car's tuning, you don't do so before a race; you can only do so via a menu you can access only after inserting your card, versus races as well as stages 41-60 (the latter 2/3 of the Story Mode) have you race one lap around the course, and after the initial 20 tuning blocks, it takes five stages to get a new tuning block. Later games change/correct these issues.
The original DonPachi has faster but less numerous bullets compared to its successors. It also lacks the crazy numbers of later games in the series: you're lucky to get more than a 20-hit combo, and you can only achieve scores as long as 8 digits, and that's if you're very good at the game; contrast Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu where a 200-hit combo is trivial and, on a decent run, you have a nine-digit score by the end ofthe first stage. Notably and entirely absent from DonPachi (as well as its sequel Dodonpachi) are the Robot Girls that have become a staple of the series.
The first Dragon Ball videogame for the NES, Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, was neither a Fighting Game nor a RPG Card Battle Game, like almost every subsequent game, but a poorly done action game with long overhead phases a la Zelda and short sideview platform phases and boss battles, with an extremely limited moveset. Justified in that it was based on the first series, less action-packed and more focused on exploration and adventure, but still...
The first Worms game doesn't have the more cartoony style that every game in the series after it has.
The Warcraft series has some of this, especially if you go back and play the first and second games in the series. Humans talk about God (instead of The Light), and the lore mentions summoning demons from Hell (instead of the Twisting Nether). Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil because the humans are the Good Guys.
In first game you can build roads and walls, and buildings must be built next to roads.
The very first Monster Rancher game does a number of strange things in comparison to other games in the series, such as having your monster's weight be visible in their model, having you earn money from basic training, and having death be a much more frequent occurrence if you play your cards wrong. To say nothing of the lack of Mocchis, one of the series' Mascot Mooks.
The plotless gauntlets of the first TimeSplitters game compared to the decent story of the second and complex, brilliant and humour-filled time-travel epic of the third.
The first TimeSplitters does make sense as part of the series plotline in retrospect, but at the time it was a series of disconnected gauntlets at various points in time with only the barest story connected to each one, and no over-arching plot. The only unifying factor was things getting really weird partway through each stage. In retrospect, it chronicles the initial emergence of the Time Splitters as they strike throughout human history and the people who managed to survive and even thwart them, but at the time it just seemed strange.
Many elements of the Total War series such as dynasties being more important and a more fluid take on the "Risk"-Style Map were introduced in Rome; the first two installments (Shogun and Medieval) had stricter Risk Style Maps, less application of dynastic mechanics, and the overpowered "jedi general" mechanic.
Both of those have been remade now in the style established by Rome. Shogun II also has naval combat, albeit markedly different from the Age Of Sail fights in Empire and Napoleon in focusing more on boarding actions than cannon volleys.
The dynasty mechanic was abandoned in Empire and Napoleon, the former actually allowing you to switch governments types through revolution, and brought back in Shogun II.
The first Deception game was a first-person RPG which included typical item usage, merchants to buy/sell from, Summon Magic, as many traps in each room as you could fit and have MP to fund, and the ability to redecorate your castle. From Kagero on, they shifted to third-person, removed almost all RPG elements except for Hit Points, and you were limited to one ceiling, wall, and floor trap at a time, but you also received bonus points for Combos. However, the connection was far more tenuous between games in the original Japanese; the later titles are Dolled Up Installments in the US.
The pre-NES Bomber Man was a fairly primitive single-player Maze Game where both the clearly non-robotic player character and the enemies could move right through bombs. There weren't any multiplayer options in the Bomberman games until the Turbo-Grafx 16 version.
The games were also very slow paced and lacked a lot of power-ups like the rollerblades or bomb kicking. It wasn't until the Super NES era that the series found its place.
The Sims is very different from its descendants. It's more like a typical life simulator (many which started out as, or were, clones of said game) than the goofy Sims. Unlike the more recent games, there was no aging other than from baby to child, and the Create-A-Sim page was extremely limited.
When Puyo Puyo was first released for the MSX and Famicom, it was a simple Falling Blocks game with a single field and the top of the screen as the only opponent; Madou Monogatari characters were limited to the Puyos and token appearances by Arle and Carbuncle. It was the arcade version that introduced versus play.
Eggerland Mystery required you to collect Diamond Framers to open a door, while all other games in the Eggerland series have you collect Heart Framers to open a chest. Mystery was also the only game to include a "Type B" mode, in which each level has a time limit, or points.
The first Wonder Boy game is nothing like the rest of the series. Whereas all the games from Wonder Boy in Monster Land and onward are side-scrolling action RPGs (except for Monster Lair, which was an auto-scrolling platformer with shoot'em up segments), the original Wonder Boy was a stage-based platformer similar to Super Mario Bros. 1. NES players will most likely recognize the game under the title of Adventure Island, a modified port by Hudson Soft that replaced the original main character with Hudson's gaming expert Takahashi-Meijin (aka Master Higgins), which is part of the reason why developer Westone took the Wonder Boy series into a different direction for its sequels.
The first Age of Empires might be difficult for fans of thesequels: units can only be created one at a time (fixed with the expansion pack Rise of Rome), only by going through the entire map you can find out idle units, farms are perishable buildings; and of course there are oddities such as killing the birds that fly over the screen and the War/Archer Elephant having as many hitpoints as buildings!
Rhythm Heaven for the GBA is pretty different than its two sequels. For starters, the mini-games are arranged in eight columns of six instead of ten columns of five, and the Final Exam Remix is Remix 6 instead of Remix 10. Also, the music for the sequels' mini-games are tailor-made for them while some of the GBA mini-games just have accompanying BGM with the same tempo. Not to mention the Unexpected Gameplay Change that Quiz brought, while the other games never radically change the rules. The Remixes of the GBA version also doesn't change the artistic theme of the mini-games and one stage actually remixes previous remixes, two things that the sequels don't dabble in. Lastly, some first-time stages have no practice sessions.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX invokes this with Championship I, a Nostalgia Level based almost exactly on the Championship maze from the original PMCE. No sleeping ghosts, let alone 30-ghost trains, and the dots are not laid out in an easy-to-follow path.
The first two Harvest Moon handheld games had no marriage in it and very little socialization, while the third game had marriage but only to your Distaff Counterpart. The first two games in the series to have a female protagonist had the game end after marriage, while later games in the series are notorious for giving the female versions more options. As a whole the first few titles were considerably darker than what we're used to now, with the series getting increasingly Lighter and Softer from Magical melody onwards (but even FOMT was this to Bt N, and Back to Nature itself was this to 64▪)
Any fan who picks up the SNES series on Virtual Console will be surely shocked by the difference from what they know. There's no rucksack, no hearts besides the names (instead being in a diary much like in ''Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life), no heart events, and no real Harvest Godesss interactions. The English translation was censored, thus getting you drunk on "juice", and there are references to other gods besides the Harvest Goddess. The game is surprisingly difficult as there is no clock, you cannot ship at night, and the days feel so quick. You often have no time to woo women and get your work done in the same day. The friendship system is also off, as you can only really advance your relationship with the bachelorettes.
The original Rayman game featured almost an entirely different setting from the later games, with a different cast of characters, a more Wacky Land-style world as opposed to the more dreamlike one of the later games, a different mythos, and even different collectables. It wasn't until the second game that the modern cast of the Rayman series were introduced (most of them being old friends of Rayman's we'd never met before), along with the current version of its backstory. A subtle difference is that many characters are limbless like Rayman himself. This would not be the case in later installments. Rayman Origins tries to fuse the two conflicting storylines, but still skews a bit more heavily towards the Rayman 2 version of things. It does manage to explain the Electoons and Rayman's origin at the hands of Betilla the fairy.
The first Red Alert game also apparently takes place in the same universe as the Tiberian-series games, as Kane appears as a Soviet advisor. The second game obviously doesn't fit into the timeline of the Tiberian games, so at some point after the first one, the timeline must have split.
Artix Entertainment, big time. For starters, AdventureQuest started out as a very stripped-down and basic version of itself called Land of Rising Evil, where the only actual area was, apparently, Yulgar's inn (and even that wasn't originally there); Dragon Fable and MechQuest both feature much improved art at the current expense of a lot of the content already available in AdventureQuest, with some fuzzy and ill-defined interaction between the three games' plots. Justified, in that the resources put into the games literally started with about two, maybe three guys working on code from scratch. In a living room, mind you.
When you compare the first Animal Crossing games to the future ones you'll notice several differences. Eavesdropping on your neighbors conversations was implemented in Dobutsu No Mori e+, players couldn't use emotions until Wild World, Blathers couldn't identify fossils before, and Watering Cans didn't exist. Celeste, Brewster, and Harriet made their first appearances in Wild World, you wouldn't get a friend's picture, the villagers were less interactive. You can only get NES games in the original games, acres are less fluid in the original compared to its sequels, and several buildings were either scrapped or replaced.
The original GauntletArcade Game, while it did say such things as "Elf needs food badly," didn't say "Elf shot the food"; instead, it had a generic line for when food is destroyed: "Remember, don't shoot food." Gauntlet II (at least for the NES) and later do mention who shot the food.
Ratchet & Clank is very different to its sequels. Weapons don't upgrade (bar buying them with Gold Bolts), your health increase is bought only, not from leveling it up, and it starts at four health and only goes up to eight. The game initially has an air meter when you're underwater and no fast swimming (though both of these disappear when you get the appropriate gadgets, and the sequels keep them). Weirdest perhaps of all, the only way to strafe is bought through a hover pack upgrade well into the game (along with a mid air jump not present in the sequels), but makes it impossible to jump and you move very slowly. The later games are practically unwinnable without some quick strafe flipping. Also, Ratchet takes longer to run and swing his wrench, and must remain stationary if he throws it. He has a noticeably different voice actor as well.
Ratchet is also noticeably different as a character in the original game. In the first game he was characterized as an arrogant, streetwise punk who bullies and belittles Clank for much of the game (before he realises the error of his ways and the two become new best friends), while from the second game onwards he is far more mature, warm-hearted and selfless.
In the second game, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, a first person mode was added, but it was only available in challenge mode after beating the game. Oddly, Ratchet could not swing his wrench in this mode (unless he's on a grind rail), only throw it.
There's also a noticeable shift in the games' storytelling starting with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction. Whereas the first five games and Secret Agent Clank are whacky episodic adventures, starting with Tools of Destruction (sans All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault) the series begins to take itself (slightly) more seriously and features explorations of the titular characters' origins and even features an overarching plot as opposed to the largely episodic nature of the PS2 and PSP games.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is also different from future Sly Cooper installments. Barring a few brief moments where you control the team's van Sly is the only real playable character in the game, and the level design is quite different: In the original, you had to progress to the hub of the level's villain which had the remaining stages. You then needed to pass through each one and collect keys in to gain access to the boss, unlike the following games which had more Sandbox/Grand Theft Auto feeling where you'd complete a certain number of missions before the next area was available. The character designs were noticeably different, Murray's voice was more high-pitched, and the cutscenes had very crude-looking artwork and animation, compared to the "cleaner"-looking cutscenes from the later games. And in the original game Sly was a One-Hit-Point Wonder who had to collect coins to earn lucky horseshoes so he could take extra hits (and even then, it could only go up to two), a far cry from all sequels where he and the other characters all had a health meter.
Tomb Raider needs time to get used to if you played the other games in the series. Lara Croft doesn't have flares in the first game, nor does she have the ability to duck and crawl, sprint, monkey swing, or even flip herself in a 180 degree turn when she jumps forward or back. Saving was also regulated to checkpoint style save crystals whereas all other games after the first one allowed you to save at any time. Lara also has very few guns compared to her arsenal in the later installments. The Anniversary remake keeps the paltry amount of guns. In the original game, Lara Croft notably lacks her trademark ponytail.
The first MechWarrior game was hit by this. While it featured the expected first-person Humongous Mecha combat (like the later games), it had an extremely simple graphics engine (it came out in 1989, after all), and had role-playing elements. It was also the only singleplayer mech game to take place before the Clan Invasion, and the last official single-player game to feature the Unseen 'Mechs (Mechwarrior Online and its Project Phoenix releases are multiplayer-only). It also did not feature the ability to customize your 'Mech, a staple of every Mechwarrior game since Mechwarrior 2. It also did not feature a third-person perspective option, something that was available in most of the subsequent games.
The first installment is noticeably different from its later two installments. Most obviously, it was sold under the title Call of Duty4, which was later mostly phased out due to the franchise's split between Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Its campaign switches between the Russian countryside and a hostile, unnamed Islamic country, as opposed to the more varied setings of the series' later two installments. This, combined with the second and third installments' heavy use of Rule of Cool, is why some of the first installment's gritty realism feels lost in its sequels. It also featured "Arcade Mode" and unlockable campaign cheats, which were no where to be found in later installments. The game's multiplayer experience is also heavily modified in its sequels. The first installment featured three fixed killstreaks, equippable night vision goggles, and an equipment system that was heavily reworked in sequels. An RPG in Call of Duty 4 is classed as a first-tier perk, rather than equipment, for example.
World at War featured fully usable tanks in multiplayer, complete with players gaining a fourth perk that only affects some aspect of using a tank, and a single-player co-op - two things that have never been seen again. Co-op did somewhat return for later games, however - Modern Warfare includes Spec Ops mode that can be played with two players (Word of God says that they wanted straight-up campaign co-op like in World at War, but couldn't balance the levels for more than one player and so went for remixed levels more suited for instant two-player action instead), while Call of Duty: Black Ops has kept the four-player Nazi Zombies mode (which is likely why singleplayer co-op didn't return - given the choice between that or Zombies, everyone always picked Zombies).
Call of Duty 1 compared to later games. No Regenerating Health, very few Respawning Enemies situations, little use of grenades by enemies, and no sprinting. Its expansion (another example in itself; none of the later games in the series have had singleplayer-only content added after release) added sprinting, which cannot be used for nearly as long as it can in later games, but is otherwise identical. Call of Duty: Finest Hour was much the same as the first game, but with no Gameplay Ally Immortality and a reworked medkit system to accommodate this (you could carry large medkits around with you and Heal Thyself or an ally with them). It was also the only game with a female player character (Tanya Pavelovna, a Russian sniper) and the only one where a player character starts as a Heroic Mime but then becomes an NPC who can talk, until the Black Ops games (females are playable in some Nazi Zombies maps, an important female NPC in Black Ops II is temporarily playable in an optional mission) and Modern Warfare 3 (the second playable character introduced speaks in cutscenes and the final level, where he is an NPC), respectively.
The first two Bloody Roar games have in-depth story modes that are absent in the later titles. They — and 2 in particular — are also generally considered vastly superior to the later titles by fans, in part because of this. The first game also doesn't have Beast Drives.
In a fairly subtle example of tonal shift, the original Lego Star Wars was much more of a straight retelling of the films with the occasional joke slipped in than the outright over-the-top parodic wackiness that would later become the standard for the LEGO Adaptation Game series.
In the very first game, only Jedi had the ability to build objects. Also, characters with blasters couldn't dodge, making playing as them a lot harder in the original game.
In the first two Star Wars games, in levels with multiple characters (in other words, more than just the default two), to switch to any additional ones you had to stand right next to them, and you'd need to do so several times in order to complete the puzzles. Beginning with the first Indiana Jones game, you could now switch between any character no matter how far away they were.
Even then, there was no confirmed plot connection between Postal and Postal 2, until Postal 3 finally confirmed that it was the same character. But Postal 3 has since been disowned by the developer with promise to make a new game in its place.
In retrospect, X: Beyond the Frontier was rather obviously an immature game. You could only pilot the one ship you started with, the interface was slow and unintuitive and its learning curve was more of a learning mountain of doom, the ships didn't have defenses beyond shields, trade and station building was limited and combat was extremely simplistic. The X-Tension, uh, extension was widely considered "what Beyond the Frontier was meant to be" - and even that was still somewhat unripe, especially concerning combat - which, if anything, was even more simplistic due to the tendency of the AI to fly in a straight line while under attack. It took four years after Beyond the Frontier for X2: the Threat to come out, and that finally gave the game the features and gameplay mechanics it's maintained since then and that we know from X3: Terran Conflict.
Donkey Kong Country feels very basic compared to its sequels. Unlike the sequels, the first game has very few gimmicks so platforming is more straightforward. The player also cannot become one of the animal buddies (unless it was a specific bonus level) instead of riding them, a concept that was not explored until the sequel. Bonus areas are simply there to grant the player bonus bananas, animal Bonus Stage tokens, extra lives, among other goodies, and doesn't use the "do this objective to get a bonus coin" format. The first game also uses the Palette Swap trope a lot more for enemies and bosses while the sequels uses them far less.
The original God of War lacks a lot of the combos that appear in the sequels, there are only three bosses, the 'Rage' special attack cannot be be interrupted and the gods don't appear physically but rather fiery holograms and most of them are be redesigned in later games (Hades has a demonic face as opposed to wearing a horned helm, Poseidon's an old bald guy as opposed to appearing young and having long brown hair, etc.). It's also the only game to feature or even mention Artemis. The extra videos include several storylines that will be retconned by furthers installments (Cronos is said to have died in the desert a century after the events of the game, Kratos' brother was originally taken by the spartan soldiers and starved in the mountains and Kratos knew Zeus was his father since the beginning). It's also worth noting is that the storyline of the original is a classic Greek tragedy, an element that the sequels forgot.
The first Freddi Fish game, the very first Humongous game to stray from pixel art and use hand-drawn cartoony graphics, has many glaring differences from its sequels, as well as all later hand-drawn Humongous Entertainment games. For one, the animation is much looser and characters tend to go Off Model rather often. Freddi also has a different design, where she is much rounder and has a tall upper fin. Perhaps the biggest difference though is its plot; it's much Darker and Edgier and even violates Never Say "Die", a trope all the successors made a point to play straight. Also, on the earliest print runs of the game, the cursors that are made to look as if they're pointing into the distance rather than to the sides have a different design than other Humongous games — they are long and thin rather than short and thick, though this was corrected on later prints.
Putt-Putt Joins the Parade also has very little resemblance to any later HE game. The game is much smaller and the puzzles are very simplistic; also, you are sent down one of three streets to mow lawns in order to make money, and solving the puzzles to make it across the other two streets will be entirely unnecessary unless you also decide to deliver groceries, not to mention only one of the three requires an item to solve it (another one also can be solved with an item, but you can also solve it by honking your horn). The mini-games are much more like toys rather than arcade styled, as they have no objective (one of them is a cube where you just mix everything up to make crazy pictures, for instance). The characters are usually one-off characters created for small scenes, and are not given much development. It's also the only game in the entire series that actually makes use of the gas gauge, as it slowly drains while you play, although Take Your Time is in full effect as you cannot actually run out; later games would simply make the gas gauge a decoration. Finally, bar Putt-Putt Travels Through Time, this is the only game that doesn't give you a checklist of the items that you need to finish the game.
Most games in the Edutainment Game series Jump Start have a toolbar constantly at the bottom of the screen with options such as Go Back/Exit, Help, Progress Report, and Difficulty Levels, but the earliest installments (the original versions of JumpStart Preschool, JumpStart Kindergarten,JumpStart 1st Grade, and JumpStart 2nd Grade) don't (though most of the options can be accessed other ways). Also, the original JumpStart Preschool and Kindergarten don't contain any sort of goals, progression, prizes, anything. Perhaps most importantly, all the characters' (except Edison's) designs in all of those games were different than their designs in all later games except JumpStart Pre-K (i.e. Frankie and CJ had no clothes other than their collar and hat, respectively).
The original Game Boy started out with just a light gray edition in 1989. Then came the Play It Loud! series in 1995, in which it was released in five more colors (along with white in Japan and blue in Europe), and that sets the standard for all subsequent handhelds by Nintendo (starting with the Game Boy Pocket in '97) to be released in all different colors upon launch.
The first Ace Combat game (Air Combat in the US) had a world map that allowed the player to play missions in any order once they'd been unlocked and planes had only guns and standard missiles (weapon changing first appeared in the third game). Losing a plane was permanent, and crashing every plane led to a game over. Finally, there were no fictional "super planes" until the second game.
In Ace Combat 2, the playable superfighter set itself apart by way of being able to launch four standard missiles at a time. Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere allowed a lot of the mid- to late-game planes do this with the standard missiles as well; on top of this, the weapon changing system in this game consisted of you replacing the standard guns-and-missiles with different variations. It wasn't until Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies that the current weapon system (guns and two standard missiles at a time, on top of a separate special weapon) was set in stone.
Earlier beatmania games can seem odd to someone who plays more modern entries. In the first few versions, there are only four timing judgements (the flashing Great / Just Great was not introduced until beatmania 4th MIX), Goods will break your combo instead of incrementing it, and the game has more of a "street" theme compared to modern titles.
In the original jubeat, your exact post-song bonus is displayed. Additionally, there is no "EXCELLENT" ranking—you can get a perfect score of 1 million, but the highest grade is SS, which is awarded at 950,000 points.
The original Reflec Beat only has two Top markers, even on Hard, and focuses particularly on battle—winning will allow you to clear the song even if you have <70% Achievment Rate, said Achievement Rate is not shown during stages, and the announcer declares "You win!" and "You lose!" rather than "Clear!" and "Failed!". Finally, the menu interface is much darker than its successors and the song selection screen shows two scrollable columns of songs represented by album art rather than grids of album art.
The oldest two Dance Dance Revolution games only let you pick from a subset of stage-specific songs on each stage, unless you activate a hidden "All Music" mode in 2nd Mix. Additionally, mainline games up to 4th Mix run at only 30 FPS, which can come off as an eyesore for those accustomed to newer games, do not have speed modifiers, and finally, do not have the options menu—modifiers have to be entered via secret codes on the dance pad.
The original F-Zero has a number of differences that make it stand out from its successors:
There are only four unique machines in the game. The rest of the competition is comprised of generic brown machines that try to get in your way, generic purple machines that you start to see if you fall below 5th place, and exploding stalled flashing machines.
The game does not keep track of individual opponents, other than the one in 1st place, or 2nd if you're 1st. The way opponents are implemented are such that you can't lap purple machines or named opponents no matter
Also, while a non-fatal crash will cause the entire crowd of opponents to easily surpass you in a few seconds, here it takes a while to fall down several places.
The rank requirement system, which requires that you be a particular place or higher to go to the next lap or else you lose one life. In later games other than Maximum Velocity, you can come in 30th place in Grand Prix mode and you'll still be allowed to go to the next stage.
The original Naruto Ultimate Ninja came didn't attempt to accurately adapt the anime, instead having character endings that outright contradict the series. It also lacked a world to walk around in.
The Wolfenstein games are one of the most influential first person shooters of all time, pretty much creating the genre. Starting with the third game, that is - the first two games were overhead stealth titles.
Darius: Though the original game did have branching paths, it didn't use a stage select screen. Instead, the levels split into divergent courses after the Boss Battle.
Saints Row was originally a much more down to earth sandbox action game based on gang violence. Fans of the later entries' over the top, irreverent humor might be shocked to see that the original was playing it much straighter. It also didn't let you change the main character's gender.
Nintendo's recurring game setting, Wuhu Island, made its first appearance in Wii Fit- but there, it was called "Wii Fit Island" and looked somewhat different, lacking certain landmarks and having different names for others. It wasn't until Wii Sports Resort that the island got its standard appearance, which was then used for later versions of Wii Fit.
The original Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan lacks a lot of the features from its successors, Elite Beat Agents and Osu Tatakae Ouendan 2. There's no bonus stages, which means that levelling up has no purpose, the final stage is just one song instead of two, the art style is a lot cruder than the later games in the series, the records menu is just a scrolling list of your score and rank rather than allowing you to see the rank of any stage you want, it's also the only way to view your rankings, as they don't appear on the song selection screen, the song's difficulty also doesn't appear on that screen, and you are unable to skip the intros to levels, only able to skip the Manga part of the intro.
The first Professor Layton game, The Curious Village, is a bit different from other games. The characters aren't as zoomed in during dialogue exchanges, the red exclamation mark symbol appears when you do any examination instead of just appearing when you've activated a puzzle, and there's very little voice acting outside of the Anime cutscenes and the victory/failure quotes after puzzles.
The first Cho Aniki was considerably less homoerotic than every game that came after it, though still pretty weird on its own.
The first game in the Shantae series is the only one where Shantae has multiple lives (later games give her just one, with each heart on her health bar accounting for four hits instead of just two) and interaction in towns is limited to Shantae rotating until she finds the building she wants to enter, similarly to Shining in the Darkness. It's also the only one with an active day/night cycle, with tougher monsters coming out at night, and one building in towns only accessible at night. Also, the original is the only one to feature multiple towns, and it lacks the "skull = death" pits causing the need for many blind jumps.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is rather different from the rest of the series: there's an overall time limit, you have a specific amount of money that you can spend on things and replenish by gambling (rather than just having a "money" item that is exactly enough for whatever you need to buy), the game world is divided into smaller areas that you can only get between by taxi (which costs money), and one of the women (the prostitute) is completely optional to interact with to beat the game. Later games play more like traditional adventure games, and every girl somehow brings you closer to the "final girl".