"You've lost your weapons and the contents of your backpack somewhere during the journey. All you have are the clothes and armor on your back. This leaves you with four burning questions: Where are you? How did you get here? Who brought you here? And how in blazes can you get out of here? No make that FIVE burning questions: In what city did your luggage end up THIS time?"
Items and experience levels do not carry over to game sequels, regardless of time passed. This makes less logical sense if something is a direct sequel, although the short explanation is that it's to present an honest challenge to the player. This is usually accepted by the player, although a few games attempt a weaker explanation. Maybe the hero was on vacation and didn't bring his stuff along because he thought he wouldn't need it? Maybe it had been several months, even years, since the world last needed saving, and therefore the hero has gotten a bit out of shape? Perhaps his equipment was stolen from him by physical, or, more commonly, magical means? This is most recognized with the Mega Man series of games. Metal Blade would have been too cheap, although he still can't shoot upwards.
Since it allows each game to stand alone in terms of story development, if not events, it is roughly equivalent to the Snapback and Reset Button story tropes.
Of course, not all games are like this. Sometimes, a direct sequel might start the character with the powers from the previous game, giving them A Taste of Power before taking them away and making the character start from scratch again.
If the game actually acknowledges personal data from a previous title in the series, it's an Old Save Bonus.
Non Linear Sequels avoid the whole question. Compare No-Gear Level, for when this happens inside the game itself.
Reinventing the Wheel is a Real-Time Strategy version. See Overrated And Underleveled for a common justification. If you do keep your powers, you're probably going to find out that they're So Last Sequel.
Video game examples:
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At the end of every level of Cadaver your rucksack loses all items that are not potions or spells. This isn't so bad as those items are generally only useful on the level you've just finished.
Justified in the first two Metroid Prime games, where an explosion disables her equipment and the Ing steal them, respectively. It's subverted in Metroid Fusion as well, where both Samus and the Power Suit's organic components are infected by an alien organism and the suit must be surgically removed. All of Samus's weapons and abilities stay in the suit, but the parasite within it mutates into the main villain. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has Samus retain a few of the past game's items, such as Bombs and the Double Jump, but many of the upgrades are still gone with nary a word about them.
The fanfiction Repairs has Samus play Bag of Spilling straight...then subverts it. She can still use her abilities, albeit in a more limited fashion, and using them before they're ready again makes their repairs take longer.
In every Tomb Raider game, Lara starts with just her pistols (and on one occasion her shotgun as well) and a couple of medipacks, despite the huge amount of weapons and supplies she picked up on her previous adventures and her wealth of owning a large stockpiles of weapons.
In the Nevada mission of the third game, Lara is captured and stripped of her weapons.
This also happens in the Offshire Rig level of Tomb Raider II, following a cutscene where Lara is caught onboard the enemy's seaplane and knocked unconscious with a wrench. She does retrieve her gear in short order, however.
Chronicles hits the reset button after every chapter. Justified in that each mission is framed by one of her friends discussing it, meaning each mission takes place at a different time in Lara's life from one another.
In Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow, Soma Cruz, who has the power to absorb the souls of the monsters he slays (much like a Blue Mage from the Final Fantasy series), starts with none of the powers he gained from the first game. Genya Arikado handwaves it, explaining that since he wasn't in danger, Soma subconsciously released his acquired powers, though this doesn't explain what happened to the Infinity+1 Sword. However, if you have the original GBA game in a Nintendo DS when the game starts, you are given an expensive item that increases rare drops.
In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, you lose all the upgrades Gabriel acquired in the first game. Similarly, all the powers you had as Dracula in the opening flashback are lost after waking up centuries later.
The Legend of Zelda series is notable for this trope, as in every game the hero starts with just the basics — a sword, a shield and some minor item — and has to explore dungeons to collect weapons and tools. (Given a reference in Zelda Comic). In this case, there are several different "Links" who wouldn't be expected to have the same items as the previous one; still, even when a Zelda game is a direct sequel (such as Majora's Mask), you don't get the previous game's items. Note though that, excepting Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, all the direct sequels begin with Link being stranded in a different land — it's not unreasonable to suppose that his swag from the previous game was lost after Link fell into the Ocean King's realm or Labrynna/Holodrum.
For Majora's Mask, this wasn't just limited to between games: Whenever the time traveling hero hits his Reset Button, most, but not all, of his gear and supplies would literally spill out from his pockets into the endless void as he flew back in time (even better, the only way of accumulating money was through a stamp made of special ink imprinted on your skin by a bank teller, recording the balance of your supposed account. Whenever you travel back in time, it's implied that you fool the bank into believing you currently have an account with this balance). Link also somehow loses access to the Ocarina songs he learned in Ocarina of Time, even the ones that are also used in Majora's Mask. He "remembers" the Song of Time (through a flashback that doesn't match up with how he learned it in the first game) but has to be retaught Epona's Song and the Song of Storms by other characters.
Lampshaded/justified/something in The Faces of Evil for CD-i. When Link is informed that "it is written" that only he can defeat Ganon, he declares, "Great! I'll grab my stuff!" only to hear Gwonam reply, "There is no time; your sword is enough."
It even happens In-Game in the Gameboy Color game, Oracle of Ages. You've gotten a handful of useful stuff (a few dungeons in), when your rafting trip goes horribly awry, and lightning strikes you. You wake up on the island you were trying to get to anyway, surrounded by lizard men. Who carry off your stuff. You have nothing until you find the lizards who stole it and force them to give it back, including a handful of "trading" sequences involving planting a seedling in the past so you can get the seeds from it in the present to take those seeds back to the past to get your damn power bracelet back. This is especially apparent in the sidequests involving switching back and forth between the two Oracle games. Presumably, in-universe, Link is actually physically traveling between the two countries, but that doesn't explain why he becomes much more powerful and better-equipped when he goes back to the previous land and then leaves all his Heart Containers and items behind when he returns.
The Eldin Song of the Hero quest in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword starts with Eldin Volcano erupting as Link descends from the sky, knocking him out and allowing the Bokoblins to steal his items. The entire quest revolves around making your way through the area while slowly regaining your items to progress.
Straightly used in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. At the start of the game, Link loses all his stuff when he suffers a shipwreck at the beginning of the game. Of course, the game turned out to be set in the Wind Fish's dream, so that's another good explanation.
Averted in the Legacy of Kain series. Abilities gained by both Kain in the Blood Omen games and Raziel in the Soul Reaver games are retained from one game to the next. There are a few exceptions; for example, Kain doesn't use his Wolf form after Blood Omen 1 and Raziel doesn't use his Constrict power after Soul Reaver 1, but those powers were of limited use anyway. Still played straight when it comes to the reaver forges - poor Raziel has to imbue the wraith blade twice with every last element between Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance. Particularly glaring because it is a vital element of the plot. A deleted scene (according to interviews) would have had the Elder God destroying the Elemental Fonts used to switch the sword elements in Soul Reaver 2 - forcing Raziel to re-imbue the sword.
A mixed bag in Yakuza 2. Kazuma retains parts of his upgraded moveset, is much faster, and even has one or two new abilities, but must relearn others. And health bar reversion in the extreme, of course. Attempts to be justified between 2 - 3 - 4 by having him retire between games. He still retains a chunk of his new moveset, but loses most of his high level abilities through lack of practice.
inFAMOUS 2 semi-averts it, as Cole loses only some of his powers from the first game, and his energy meter is reduced back to its starting size. He then spends most of the game regaining his lost powers and collecting new ones. Even his original default lightning bolt attack is lost, replaced with a different bolt attack that doesn't have unlimited ammo.
Averted in Batman: Arkham City. Once Bruce Wayne manages to gear up as Batman, he starts with most of the gadgets he acquired in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The only major piece of equipment he doesn't carry over (the Line Launcher) is given to him roughly halfway through the game. It's even Lampshaded by Alfred when Batman calls in the Line Launcher. He asks Batman if he's ever considered taking up a bigger Utility Belt. Batman's response? Tried it, too heavy, weighted him down (no doubt a reference to the No Man's Land comic run where, as he was out in costume roughly 20 hours a day, he built a larger belt to handle a larger variety of crime fighting gear).
Batman: Arkham Origins, which chronologically takes place first, then retroactively makes the first two games into a case of this, by introducing new items that weren't in the first two games. When asked about what happened to these new items, the creators simply responded by saying he just chose not to bring them with him. In the Cold Cold Heart DLC, set one week after Origins, Alfred tells Batman that the glue grenade formula was unstable apparently justifying not being able to use them any more.
Happens near the end of Cave Story. Going into the Final Cave (hidden) causes all of your equipment to revert to level 1. A good player can level up two weapons, maybe three, to max while traversing the cave... if they're lucky.
Devil May Cry 2 starts Dante with none of the weapons or powers from the first game except for the "Air Hike" double jump; it doesn't explain why, either. The third game is a prequel to the first two, and thus it is only natural he has none of the gear from the second one, except for a weaker version of his "Rebellion" sword... but then it leaves the gaping question of where all the weapons he picked up in that game went before the first Devil May Cry. There must be a closet somewhere in his office stuffed with demonic weaponry. Then there's the Force Edge sword, which loses all the special abilities it had in the transition from 3 to 1 (and the loss is permanent - Dante can't buy them back); there, however, it's forgivable, since writers aren't psychic and the people writing DMC1 had no idea what would happen in the third game.
Devil May Cry 4 continues this trend. It comes between 1 and 2 chronologically, and it features a new main character altogether (Nero) who obviously has none of the weapons Dante had. However, Dante becomes the lead halfway through the game, which becomes a partial subversion: you can use the points you earned as Nero to purchase abilities as Dante. Also in Devil May Cry 4, Dante is able to use all of the "style" moves from Devil May Cry 3, although at Level 1. You can upgrade them at the beginning of missions and at Divinity Statues, and doing so unlocks many new moves.
Lego Star Wars II has an "extra" that allows the user to import characters from a Lego Star Wars save file for use in the "Free Play" mode.
In the GBC Harry Potter games, Harry somehow forgets everything he learned his first year, lost his entire Famous Witches and Wizards card collection, and loses all his money.
And in Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7, all the Defense Against the Dark Arts spells that Harry and co. learned in Years 1-4 (except for Harry's Expecto Patronum) are banned by Professor Umbridge at the start of the game, and must be relearned or unlocked.
Onimusha starts off Samonosuke with fully upgraded weapons and armor from the first game, with most of them being shown in the opening CG cutscene, and a fully upgraded soul absorbing gauntlet. After he is sent to the future, he loses all of his upgrades and begins with a simple katana and downgraded armor and must collect new weapons and upgrades.
Exception: As each new game in the Quest for Glory series was the same hero on a new adventure, players are provided with a chance to save their hero at the end of one game, and import him into the next. Importing gives your new character the stats and spells he knew in the previous game, as well as some of his gear and all his money. The one time the series plays this trope straight, in the transition between games 3 and 4, it's Justified by the fact that the hero is the subject of a forced teleport spell which is interrupted partway, throwing him into an Eldritch Abomination's final resting place. Also of note that even if you didn't import a character he would still start out more powerful than he did in the last game statwise; this all works because as the games progressed the actual stats went up, so an extremely high stat in the first game was mediocre in the second, by the fifth and final game, the minimum score you could have on a stat was the same as the cap in the first game. The fifth game features an aversion to this trope. Throughout the series, Thief characters have a Sub Plot involving a statue of a blackbird which is being sought after by everyone of the light-fingered persuasion. In QfG4, you can find and steal a duplicate Blackbird from the evil monastery in town; if you then import your character into QfG5, he'll have the Fake Blackbird in his inventory, which makes stealing the real thing a little easier by cutting out a few stepsnote If you don't have the Fake, you have to take the real statue to an artist in town to have a fake made for you.
Inverted in Quest for Glory V where Rhakeesh, upon first meeting you, will return some of the items you lost due to this trope between 3 and 4. If you play as a Paladin, he will keep the Holy Sword Soulfire (which he had given you in III) since you've found another Holy Sword with identical powers in IV.
At the beginning of Monkey Island 2, Guybrush Threepwood is hideously wealthy after his adventures on the high seas between this game and the first. He is almost immediately robbed by the diminutive but tough Largo LaGrande.
A strange case occurs in The Curse of Monkey Island (the third game in the series). You begin the game with only one item in your inventory: an inexplicable pair of helium filled balloons. Presumably these are the same balloons acquired in the endgame of Monkey Island 2, but everything else from that game has been lost. The game does this midway through the second chapter as well: While walking on a nature trail, Guybrush gets swallowed by a snake, and has to collect a wide variety of items inside the snake's belly before finding one that'll help him escape... after which the snake vomits Guybrush into a quicksand pit, which sucks almost all of Guybrush's recently discovered loot right through his pants.
In Tales of Monkey Island, an Episodic Game, Guybrush loses some items between chapters while keeping others, sometimes with no explanation, but the justification can be that those items aren't useful anymore so he just discards them, at one point a lost item could be very helpful and Guybrush says that he lost it.
The Little Big Adventure PC games (Twinsen's Adventure and Twinsen's Odyssey) do this. You eventually get all four available levels of magic (via certain items) and a cool sword in the first game... and then, in the sequel, not only the sword is gone (along with some other stuff), but when you retrieve your magical tunic at the start of the game, you only get the first level of magic and you need new items to get powered up again. This looks kinda odd, because the character still has one of the items that acted as magic power-ups in the first game... yeah.
Played straight through the Space Quest series - Roger Wilco doesn't retain equipment from one game to the next. With the exception of the Orium crystal from II, which Roger starts with in III. Also, the effects of another item carry over from II to III: acquiring the free-but-not-really Labion Terror Beast Mating Whistle in II leads to the Arnoid hunting Roger during III. This happens even if you didn't get the whistle, since it is optional.
In Infocom's Enchanter trilogy, the first and second games each end with your spellbook being lost, along with all the spells you gathered over the course of the game. That said, the second and third games do each start with you equipped with a new spellbook with a better range of spells than the anemic spellbook you get at the beginning of Enchanter.
King's Quest I. In the first game, the protagonist Graham recovers three treasures. One of these is a mirror that foretells the future, which is used to drive the plot in most of the sequels. The other two, a chest of infinite gold and particularly a shield of invulnerability, are never brought up again, although they surely would have come in handy.
In the Hook point-and-click adventure game for home computers, after you walk the plank and get rescued by the mermaids you find that you've conveniently lost all the items that you no longer have a use for.
In Simon the Sorcerer, you lose your whole inventory twice (you use a shrinking potion but all your stuff except clothes stay the same). As the game had an annoying tendency to clutter up your inventory with things you use once only, this was a good thing.
This happens again in the sequel, twice. The first time it happens Simon says "Ah! My inventory!". As before, none of the previously held items were needed in the new areas and the removal of the old inventory removes useless clutter.
Lampshaded in the third game. Some guards demand a bribe before they will admit Simon to the next area. At first he objects, but gives in after they reassure him that they just want to poke through his inventory and remove all the items that are of no further use to him.
In the Leisure Suit Larry series, Larry loses all items from the previous games. This is usually justified, as some time passes between the end of one and the start of another. Also justified in the seventh game, which starts immediately after the sixth, as he gets robbed and starts a fire in the hotel room, forcing him to jump out the window naked, losing all his possessions in the fire.
Averted in Viva Caligula: In Hell!; Caligula has all the weapons from the previous game. There don't appear to be any new ones, but it's still refreshing.
At the end of Submachine 2 you have various notes, which all disappear when you arrive in Submachine 3: The Loop ("THERE IS NO DIARY PAGE").
Submachine 3 doesn't have any collectables, so you start Submachine 4: The Lab without anything.
Submachine 5: The Root is the only game that doesn't follow directly from the last one; it opens with you in the dorm area of a different lab. Presumably, you put your knife, hammer and screwdriver (not to mention all the notes) down somewhere.
At the start of Submachine 6: The Edge, you still have the notes, cipher plates and wrench from Submachine 5 but you have to deposite them in a bin before the Machine will let you proceed. Not that they'd have been any use here.
At the end of Submachine 6 you don't have anything (you just read the notes without collecting them this time), so you don't have anything when you begin Submachine 7: The Core.
At the start of Submachine 8: The Plan, you don't have the notes from Submachine 7: The Core. But then you have just been catapulted to another layer of reality by an unstable karma portal.
In Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, your sidekick Percy carries most of your stuff. Every now and then — usually after you've completed a major event or reached the end of a chapter — he informs you that whoops! He's dropped, lost, or otherwise misplaced some of it! Fortunately, none of what he loses is actually required to complete the game; think of it as an involuntary inventory reduction.
Something similar happens in the Ace Attorney series, though in this case the characters explicitly state that they're intentionally reorganizing their inventories and dumping things they don't need anymore.
Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak justifies Hamtaro losing all of the Ham-Chat words from his dictionary by having him fall in a bucket of water at the start of the game, ruining his dictionary.
The Telltale GamesSam & Max: Freelance Police games plays it straight and subverts it at times. A lot of the items are tossed out in between chapters, but a few are either kept in their inventory later on or handwaved with where it was. For instance, the hypnotizing-proof helmet from the very first game is said to be permanently woven into Sam's hat.
In the Mental Series, Greg has a slingshot with him in the first game and in Mental Showtime for some reason. He doesn't have it in Murder Most Foul. Maybe he dropped it when escaping...
Averted in Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy as well, through an Old Save Bonusnote despite the introduction of this very article says that "If the game actually acknowledges personal data from a previous title in the series, it's an Old Save Bonus", this time it's different - as the Old Save Bonus makes you keep much more than a handful of weapons as it usually happens for the first Dissidia, as entire levels can be transferred to the sequel if you have the old save file, thus averting the need to grind all those levels and therefore actually playing out like an example of New Game+note or as an example of Mission Pack Sequel if you're that whiny, take your pick.... Ththe trope can be played straight as the player has the option to import everything but their levels so they can keep their unlockables and get their bounus items, but still have the option to level old characters up.
Persona 4 Arena takes place a few months after the end of Persona 4, but for some odd reason, the Investigation Team can only use their base level personasnote Save for Narukami, who's Insta-Kill makes use of his Ultimate Persona.
First Person Shooter
The Half-Life series has reasons why Gordon Freeman doesn't start with all his weapons and items from the previous game: removed by the G-Man at the end of Half-Life, destroyed by a security system during the penultimate level of Half-Life 2, and scattered by an explosion and train wreck at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode One. Gordon still has his weapons at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, however, and shows no indication of possibly losing them.
Half-Life 2 and its various episodes avert this when you start a game from anywhere other than the first chapter. The game will give you every weapon you can have at that point and a reasonable amount of ammo for all of them.
Portal is also affected. We see that in the ending of Portal, Chell blows GLaDOS up and ends up outside the facility and her Portal Gun was probably lost. In the beginning of Portal 2, you have to get the Single Portal Gun again, guided by Wheatley. But, when you get captured by GLaDOS, you lose it. Good thing you get the Dual-Portal Gun almost immediately.
Played straight with an explaination in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, where it is revealed that Kyle Katarn gave up the Force for fear of falling to the Dark Side (like he did in Mysteries of the Sith), and is thus unable to use the Force powers he had in the previous game.
For Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, instead of reusing that trope yet again, the developers instead gave the player the role of Jaden, his apprentice with Kyle taking a supporting role. They were fully aware of this trope, and they have specifically stated that the decision for a new protagonist in Jedi Academy was because of how silly it would get if they had to depower Kyle again and again by some excuse after another.
Halo: Combat Evolved did this as well. However given that you could only carry two weapons and two types of grenade, and that level switches usually involved a dramatic change of setting, the reset was less egregious.
In the sequels, there is a direct pause between levels where you do, in fact, keep your weapons. If you load the levels after a switch, you start with defaults.
Bad Company 2 also avoids this by virtue of the weapon crates scattered about in the campaign - even in the odd case where you lose what guns you had been using beforehand, you can typically find one of the crates and grab whatever you want from it.
Justified in the last level of Urban Chaos Riot Response. Your safe house is bombed with you in it while you're off duty, so of course you don't have any of your T-Zero equipment for you have to leave that at Headquarters. However since your apartment was attacked before, you have several weapons stashed in it. And they have a brain about the lack of equipment. "We can't contact Nick! He doesn't have his communicator!" "Use his cell phone." Nick can also grab a shield from a Burner after killing one.
The intro cinematic of Left 4 Dead ends right at the opening to the first level, "No Mercy." But the characters are shown using weapons that they won't actually find until later. During the cinematic, every character either runs out of ammo or has the gun knocked out of their hands, leaving them with only the starting pistol.
The sequel, which actually has a canonical chronological sequence to its campaigns, lampshades this in Hard Rain when the protagonists realize that they've left their weapons and the flares needed to signal their boat in a bag on said boat. The other campaigns play the trope straight, but there are some unsaid explanations. In The Passing/Dark Carnival, they arrive in a tight, cramped stock car that likely could barely hold 4 people, much less guns. Swamp Fever starts with a helicopter crash. Virgil likely wanted some payment for his services rendered, which would explain why they have nothing at the start of The Parish. Then there is The Sacrifice, wherein the old survivors arrive in a train and still don't carry anything but pistols.
Frontlines: Fuel of War has the missions divided into segments for each objective, separated by a short loading screen. The player often picks up many nifty toys to ensure that he's covered for all situations, such as carrying an assault rifle, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, pistol, sniper rifle, grenades, several UCAV drones with rocket launchers, and a pair of binoculars that drop airstrikes wherever he points them. This massive arsenal is lost in between loading screens, even if the next segment takes place mere minutes after and it would make no logical sense for him to take all of his equipment that could make the next mission a total breeze and toss them off a cliff, forcing him to find replacements.
Seeing as how the player is fully-versed in every weapon and equipment classification in the entire war, it's a surprise they don't give him a full arsenal of whatever he requests at the beginning of each mission, because the commanders know he'll find and use them anyway.
Apart from the black ops mission (where you paradrop in) it's pretty obvious that you are basically just another soldier; the story follows the reporter and the squad, not an individual soldier. Speaking of said black ops mission, you get some of those Too Awesome to Use chaingun mini-tank drones as the black ops guy, who conveniently vanishes before the next phase of the mission, when having one or two of those little things would really help with the upcoming fights...
A number of old-school first-person shooters (like Doom) were divided into three or more "episodes," each of which would start you off with only your most basic weaponry. Doom 3 does something vaguely similar when you enter or leave hell (though not if you're just using the teleporters to get from one part of Mars to another).
Marathon 2 uses the excuse that your items have all been confiscated by HQ so that they can reverse engineer them for mass production.
Heretic has weapons lost between episodes, but additionally only allows you to carry one of each inventory item across levels.
Occurs twice in Crysis. Once after getting captured, and once right before facing the final boss. This includes the attachments, some of which you will never see again after the first half of the game.
Like Halo, Crysis only lets you carry a small selection of weapons at a time. Plus, at least it was justified - and if you run around before beating the stuffing out of the guy who caught you, you can rearm yourself somewhat, and the second time you did have to stop and go in for a diagnostic check... it's not like they were expecting a giant alien squid battleship thing to pop up and blast them with a freeze-ray, eh?
F.E.A.R.'s expansions and sequels (the ones that involve Point Man, anyway) do this.
F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point starts Point Man off without weapons, ostensibly justified by having just survived a nuclear explosion.
F.E.A.R. 3 starts after Point Man has been captured and imprisoned by Armacham for an unspecified length of time.
Point Man and Fettel also lose any weapons/bodies/power armor when switching chapters. Sometimes justified by Point Man barely surviving a fall from the breaking environment, sometimes not. It's presumed he uses up guns between intervals. As for Fettel, he can't hold on to a body without constantly killing for psychic energy.
Every location change in XIII is accompanied with the player character losing the various weapons and equipment he had grabbed in the previous levels, though on occasion he gets new gear to start out with.
Hack And Slash
The same thing happens in God of War II, and the rest of the game is dedicated to going back in time to kill the person who took them. Fortunately, the player still retains most of his divine strength at the start of the game, as well as a leveled-up version of one of the most useful spells from the original game, to give players A Taste of Power.
In Chains of Olympus, a prequel to the series, Kratos is robbed of his items by the gods at the end of the game. It is not shown if they took his magic, but regardless, he doesn't have it by the first game.
3 gives Kratos A Taste of Power again until he falls into Hades again. At that point you lose the maxed out Blades of Athena and its magic, as well as any experience points obtained at that point. However, you keep the Golden Fleece and the Wings of Icarus.
At the end of Ghost of Sparta (set between the first and second games), Kratos willingly gives up the Arms of Sparta and uses them as a Weapon Tombstone for his brother Deimos.
KOEI's Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchise (and the Warriors Orochi crossovers) have averted the trope in the form of unlockables for having save data for the preceding game.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle downplays the trope; Travis apparently ditched all of his gear except for his basic Beam Katana when he left the assassin life, but he starts with the skills the player could pick up by collecting Lovikov balls in the first game. (Since this includes the mini-map, it's a very good thing.)
Travis also still has Death Metal's mansion. He keeps his giant robot in it. No explanation is given as to why he still lives in a motel room. Unless he spent all the money on the giant robot.
Averted for the most part in Lost Winds. At the beginning of the second game, Toku keeps all of his learned abilities; however, he loses his cape after tearing it off on a tree branch. He gets it back later, though.
Averted in Banjo-Tooie, where the main characters are able to use every power they acquired in the previous game, Banjo-Kazooie. This is compensated for by making them gradually acquire even more powers. They still lose a lot of HP and carrying capacity. Played straight in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, as Banjo and Kazooie lose their abilities due to years of being fat and lazy. Their lack of their abilities is often lampshaded.
Blackthorne also does this, because of the limitations of its save system. It was developed for the SNES, it doesn't include a battery in the game cartridge, and its save passwords are only 4 characters long.
Despite the fact that you're not playing as the previous Hero/Heroine in Mega Man ZX Advent, the whole plot is the fact that the Big Bad has stolen Vent/Alie's other Biometals and is putting them to use. Vent/Alie shows up looking for them later.
At the start of Sly 2: Band Of Thieves, Bently begins to tell Sly how to do the ninja spire jump, and Sly chides him for assuming that he would forget one of his most important skills. True enough, Sly retains the spire jump and rail-walk techniques that he learned in the first game for the rest of the trilogy, but he still forgot a host of other skills from that game, such as the power to turn invisible, alter time, and how to not take damage from falling in water.
It is in full effect for the jump between the second and the third game, especially with regards to equipment like the Paraglider or power ups like Silent Obliteration. Very annoying when you forget that you lose these...
The Ratchet & Clank series does this with weapons and devices, but upgrades to Clank (a robot) are retained from game to game. However, the loss of equipment is explainable to a degree: The duo are teleported out of their living room in the opening cut scene of the second game, in the fourth game they are captured by the Big Bad in the opening, and in the fifth game they are surprised by a sudden attack. The third game gives no explanation, which is especially odd considering that they are intentionally going into a war zone.
Different galactic currency means he can't buy ammo for them. Notice that Bogon Galaxy bolts are a different color than Solana ones. Also, the weapon purchases you made in each game did apparently entitle you to replacements at no or (in the case of A Crack In Time reduced) cost since if you have a save from an older game on your profile, finding a vendor who sells weapons from previous games gets you any that you'd bought in the previous game.
Clank losing some of his abilities is handwaved by explaining that some of his upgrades from the first game are illegal in Bogon.
In Quest for Booty, you start with some of the best weapons from Tools Of Destructionfor a brief battle at sea. At the end of that battle you're knocked out and wash ashore without your guns. They eventually wash ashore separately.
Notably averted in the original three Insomniac-made Spyro the Dragon games: no abilities are gained in the first game, but those gained in the second carry over to the third. Showcased over and over, however, in the later games.
The end of A New Beginning actually does explain this for Eternal Night. During the cutscene Spyro mentions that the battle with Dark Cynder and subsequent escape drained his strength, and he lost most of his powers as a result. Perfectly reasonable when one remembers that Spyro is still a child (12-14 years old). Played straight for Dawn of the Dragon however, unless you assume the same thing happened again.
In Wonderboy III The Dragons Trap, the first stage is a reenactment of the final stage of Wonder Boy In Monster Land, complete with the Legendary equipment and extended life meter. Once you get turned into Lizardman, you lose it all, and must build back up to it. Near the end of the game, you revisit the castle ruins to retrieve the Legendary equipment.
Drill Dozer is about a girl in a mech with a drill on it. In each level, the player can acquire gears, which allow the drill to spin faster and harder. At the end of every level, the drill conveniently breaks down in such as fashion as to lose the two gears, leaving them with the default first. It's blamed on "wear and tear." At the end of the game, all the gears get broken.
Jak of Jak and Daxter always loses his equipment when things go wrong at the beginning of each game. Justified in several cases: his Power Cells are spent opening a portal to Jak II; the Precursor Orbs were likely taken by the Krimson Guard; his gun and hoverboard are taken away when he's exiled to the Wasteland. Several other things are not, though: he loses multiple Dark abilities at the start of Jak 3; you have to save up orbs to buy back the car he was driving at the start of the Jak X; and he doesn't bring his armor or morph gun when he travels to the Brink in TLF.
Captain Comic 2. "...Armed only with his courage, he enters the teleport chamber..."
The Ty the Tasmanian Tiger series is a particularly strange offender; you obtain various boomerang sets with various Elemental Powers, and you always, always lose them between games - except for the Aquarangs, which only work underwater. They do, however, change appearance, from rather distinctive finned boomerangs to... the exact same model as your starting boomerang.
The Chaos Emeralds in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Justified by the good ending of the game.
Sonic 3 picks up directly after Sonic 2 (with the canonical ending being that you got all the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic 2). Hence, Sonic uses them in the opening cinematic to turn into Super Sonic, before Knuckles jumps up and startles him, losing the emeralds. Knuckles then picks them up. Granted, this doesn't explain how they end up randomly scattered throughout the levels.
Averted between Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles courtesy the lock-on cartridge of the latter. If you continue from a Sonic 3 save file, you retain any and all emeralds that you've collected in that game.
Also averted in Sonic Unleashed, in which Sonic holds onto the Chaos Emeralds through the entire game.
The rings and shields also count, though a couple games in the series do let the player keep a shield after a level ends.
Between Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic lost his Light Speed Shoes, and Light Speed Attack. Knuckles lost his Shovel Claws. All of them are replaced in the second game - However, there are also the missing Crystal Ring (Sonic), Jet Anklet, Rhythm Badge (Tails), and Fighting Gloves (Knuckles). Tails' lost items are slightly justified, due to the Unexpected Gameplay Change, but...
Done rather comedically in The Legendary Starfy series of games. In every game, Starfy has more or less the same moves, but still has to re-learn them each game. The canon explanation for this is that Starfy is so spacey and absentminded that he keeps on forgetting how to perform his own special techniques. Moe typically gets mad at him for this habit in the fifth game, at one point going "Sheesh, next this kid will forget how to swim!"
Though it's the end of the series, depending on which ending you get to Demon's Crest Firebrand may either hide everything he's earned in the game or throw it haphazardly off a cliff, suddenly realizing he doesn't want it anymore.
Kid Dracula for the Game Boy is the sequel to Boku Dracula-kun for the NES. In the first cutscene, the son of Dracula admits to Death that he already forgot the techniques he learned in the first game.
Surprisingly, the dash ability (gained from the Boots Armor upgrade in X) is a starting ability in the all of the later X games. Then again, the opening to Mega Man X stated the dash upgrade was optional from the start, so the implication is that this was meant to be available to X in his base form.
Mega Man X4-Mega Man X8 play with this in so many ways. He starts 5 and 6 with the Fourth/Force Armour and Falcon Armour from the game preceding each, respectively. The only problem is that the armors are severely weakened compared to their original versions, with the implication that X did trash them, but Alia went and salvaged them as best she could. Whereas in the first three games, X started with a 16 unit life meter, and built it up to 32. From X4 onward until X8 redesigned the meters, X started with a 32 unit meter, and could build up to 48(X4), 64(X5-6), and 80(X7). Also, X7 and X8 made the airdash and charging his X-buster an extra level available in base form. Respectively. Also, in regards to heart tanks, in X1, X is obviously significantly weaker than Zero. By the time we actually see Zero's life bar, X is only eight heart tanks away from being equal to it, and then it's just a case of them being pretty much equal. However, Zero has no such qualms, which doesn't explain why he forgets learned techniques (i.e. NOT weapons), such as his Ice Stab maneuver in X4. It's not like he dies in that particular chapter, unlike X5. Interestingly, in the X vs. Zero fight, they both pull out weapons from X4, giving the suggestion that they keep them for emergencies.
Speaking of which the trope is actually justified in Zero 2 where Zero has his Buster, Saber, and Shield Boomerang damaged and his Triple Rod totaled due to fighting constantly against Neo Arcadian forces in the desert for over a year without any R&R. It even goes so far as to show the Pause menu looking rusty and a portrait of a damaged Zero. Which is awesome, by the way; especially since the pause menu changes to an entirely different format once Zero returns to the Base and gets fixed up (in the third and fourth games the menu changes right from the beginning). Zero also holds his arm while stationary throughout that entire level, which usually only happens when he's low on health.
Also, in Zero 3 and Zero 4, when Zero has been lounging at the Resistance Base in between games instead of fighting in the desert for a year, he keeps all of his weapon upgrades (the ones you get by simply using the weapons repeatedly), so you start the game with your weapons at full power. Zero still forgets all of his learned techniques, though.
Averted in the Wily Tower level of The Wily Wars (a.k.a. Rockman Megaworld), as once you've beaten the first three games and unlocked Wily Tower, you can select 8 out of 22 available weapons and 3 out of 7 items to equip. Played straight, though, within the first three games.
Taken Up to Eleven in Mega Man 9: Granted, a world at peace would have no need of a chargeable buster, but that doesn't explain why old Rock's no longer able to slide as well.
Downplayed in the Flash game K.O.L.M. 2. Robbie retains most of his movement abilities from the first game (dashing, triple jumping, swimming, crouching), but loses all of his defensive abilities (invulnerability to spikes, damage reduction).
At the beginning of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, as he is about to make port, the Prince throws the Amulet of Time overboard, thinking he doesn't need it anymore. Cue his ship being sunk by a catapult while the Water and Light Swords you worked so hard for in Warrior Within are below decks. Fortunately, he retains all of his melee combat abilities.
Amadeus: Whatever happened to that magic talisman that allowed us to breathe underwater?
Zoya: I... um. I think someone hocked it.
Done in a truly head-desk-worthy manner in Tomba! 2. Not only has Tomba lost everything except his grandfather's amulet (which is useless anyway), he's forgotten how to swim!
In Gruntz, you do not keep any of the wonderful things you get from one level to the next. You don't even keep the same gruntz!
Real Time Strategy
The genre as a whole tends to follow this trope; no matter how big or badass your army gets by the end of the mission, in the next one you will not be allowed to bring them with you, having to start all over with a paltry few soldiers and basic buildings. The ones that have scaling weapons and armor upgrades tend to reset those at the beginning of every level as well, forcing you to spend time and money researching them again.
Supreme Commander and its expansion, Forged Alliance, plays this trope straight during the campaign. No matter what upgrades your commander unit has, the next mission will return it to tier 1 and no upgrades.
Super Robot Wars in general gets away with this, because the levels in it are fairly abstract — you generally just lose your best units for a while for various reasons. For instance, you get Shin Getter Robo and Mazinkaiser for the first few missions, but during a time jump, you are forced to ship them back home for repairs. In the Original Generation games, your characters generally keep their better units, though in some cases they have to go and pick them up out of storage.
Super Robot Wars Final allows you to carry everything over to the sequel, F Final. If you don't use that, instead you're given a lump sum of cash to use, and you don't get any of your upgraded units. The same happens in Super Robot Wars Z2.2 to a certain degree.
In Super Robot Wars Alpha you get Mazinkaiser and Shin Getter Robo, so in each subsequent game they have to come up with various excuses as to why the characters downgraded to Mazinger Z and Getter Robo G at the start of the next game. Such explanations included correcting a power imbalance or undergoing maintenance when the team gets sent to the future.
Alpha 2 uses a Continuity Nod explanation: in the previous game, the bad guys managed to pull a Grand Theft Prototype on Mazinkaiser, and the heroes recovered it by exploiting a flaw (a blind spot created by its flight pack). At the start of Alpha 2, you get Kaiser but not the flight pack, since Professor Yumi is trying to remove said blind spot so future villains can't exploit it themselves. Alpha 3 continues this train of nods as you keep the Alpha 2-era Kaiser and Shin Getter, but they are recalled early on; Kaiser to regain his Scrander and Shin Getter to fix a massive power imbalance.
Averted in spectacular fashion by Paradox Interactive's series of historical simulators. You can play Crusader Kings from 1066 to 1453, then export the save file from that into Europa Universalis III and start with the world map and conditions as they were when you left them, and play up to 1820. Then you can repeat the process with Victoria and play up to 1920. If you have the expansion pack it goes to 1936 and then lets you export its save file in turn into Hearts of Iron II which runs up to 1964. In all you have nearly 900 years of in-game continuity. This is possible because all four games run on a very similar engine.
Warcraft II introduced naval combat, complete with offshore platforms for extracting oil, a resource necessary for constructing fleets. Warcraft III effectively removed this element, having ships only in cut scenes, custom maps and certain campaign levels, with them not constructive in standard skirmish games.
In the Expansion Pack, every hero who appeared before is level ten. Arthas actually spends most of his expansion pack campaign going down from level ten all the way to level two before being allowed to level back up. The only direct use is Thrall, who was allowed to level to three in the training campaign but starts at level one in the full orc campaign. Arthas goes from a level 10 paladin to a level 1 death knight after the human campaign. And his Sword of Plot Advancement loses the ability to do chaos damage.
In addition to hero levels, Warcraft III also averts this trope with items. Pick up a cloak of + 3 intellect on your hero in one mission and it will be on your character at the start of the next mission. In fact, the game averts the trope even when it might make sense: lose access to a hero for storyline reasons in one mission and his or her items will be waiting for you at your start location in the next mission. Again, an exception is made for Arthas when he goes from a level 10 human paladin to a level 1 undead death knight, and there was probably an exception for characters between the basic Warcraft III campaign and the expansion campaigns too.
Warcraft III has an example in the Undead campaign of the Frozen Throne expansion pack. At the first mission you start off with fully powered Level 10 Arthas Death Knight. However, during the course of the campaign Arthas gradually loses power (thus levels) as the Lich King's Frozen Throne acquired a fracture due to Illidan's operations.
Company of Heroes downplays this. On an individual unit level, the player can build certain veteran units of the same rank as a unit which gained veterancy in a previous mission. Additionally, for certain missions, if the next mission directly follows the preceding mission (e.g. capture a town in one mission, defend it the next) the ending units from the first mission will be the starting units for the second. Battlefield conditions (locations of defensive structures, destroyed buildings, etc.) are also reproduced for subsequent missions on the same map.
Kerrigan's deinfestation in Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty seems to have the same intent, while the first Starcraft didn't have RPG elements and she wasn't playable in "Wings" she starts out Heart of the Swarm substantially less powerful than she was in the previous games.
In Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, Izuna loses all levels in the 2nd game, without any explanation... and also for some reason, the gods you are able to control also start at level 1.
Role Playing Game
Lampshaded and Justified in Mega Man Legends 2, where Megs is confident he can handle the bad guys as soon as he gets his old gear out of storage... until the penny-pinching Roll sheepishly admits she sold off his equipment to cover repairs for the pounding the ship took near the end of the last game.
In Parasite Eve 2, Aya Brea claims to have sealed her powers pre-game to resist the temptation to use them; naturally, she has to learn them again. Exactly how is not explained nor indicated by either ending of the previous game. She might've also said something about how she didn't want to draw attention to herself. If that's the case, then one would think the one power she did keep would be something relatively subtle, like, say, the healing ability, rather than the one that allows her to set people on fire.
Every new game in the Kingdom Hearts series gives legitimate excuses for the main characters losing all their abilities time and time again. In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora and his friends literally forget every ability they ever knew as soon as they set foot in Castle Oblivion due to Namine's memory manipulation. Sora develops a new fighting style while being forced to play by the castle's rules, only to lose those after Namine fixes their memories by putting them to sleep for a whole year. By the time they wake up in Kingdom Hearts II, they keep only a few of their old abilities from the original game. Sora develops a brand new fighting style all over again, which he uses until the start of Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], where Yen Sid advises him and Riku to throw away their self-taught fighting styles and teach them the "right" way to wield a Keyblade from square one. Dream Drop Distance also ends with Sora waking up from a coma and the near-destruction of his heart, setting the stage for the inevitable spilling in Kingdom Hearts III. As for other games such as Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, they include new protagonists starting out at the beginning of their adventures, while Kingdom Hearts Coded takes place in the datascape, and the protagonist is only a digital representation of Sora, created out of data about him from the start of the first game, so he still has to grow.
While this covers the fighting styles, there is also justification for the loss of other gameplay elements such as HP. Chain of Memories reveals that memories have physical effects, not to mention that Sora's memories are extremely interconnected with others'. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora wakes up after a year-long sleep, so it's understandable that he'd be weak and out of practice after that.
Knights of Xentar begins with the hero of two previous (never-exported) games wearing the greatest armor that could be obtained in those games and wielding the best weapon. Then bandits attack, and he declares that he'll only draw his sword to fight true evil. They rob him blind. He at least retains his exceptional skills, up until the first boss uses an unholy artifact to drain him back to a low level.
The .hack//G.U. carries over its lead character from the .hack//Roots anime, and devises a plot reason for having him return to level one. Ironically, it's then averted since your characters carry over all of their abilities, stats, and gear from Volume 1 into subsequent games.
The Baldur's Gate franchise dealt with this by having the PC kidnapped by an evil wizard prior to the start of the second game, and naturally stripped of all equipment. One could retrieve some of the contents of one's inventory in the first chamber one comes upon when escaping his dungeon lair — notably the Golden Pantaloons, necessary to forge the Big Metal Unit in the final expansion pack. Note that while equipment was lost, power was not, with characters leveling up to the point where two games, two expansion packs and over 8 million XP later, the PC goes from a level 1 weakling barely capable of defeating a rat to a level 40 demigod. There was some carryover; if you had the scimitars of Drizzt, he'd be royally pissed at you.
It was also claimed by the loading screens in Baldur's Gate II that you would be able to import your characters into Neverwinter Nights. This turned out to be completely impossible due to differences like running on 3.0 Dungeons & Dragons instead of Advanced, and in any case would have required a truly epic Bag of Spilling to cope with unleashing a 40th level demigod onto the Weak Goblins you start fighting.
It is, technically speaking, possible to avoid this if you manage to pause fast enough. You can drop all your equipment on the ground and pick it up after the cut scene, but it's definitely not intentional. A few items, when imported in such a fashion, will become significantly different items (albeit within the same class; one enchanted two-handed sword from BG becomes a different enchanted two-handed sword — with a tendency to cast a point-blank fireball spell on random strikes — when carried into the sequel) because the original items were not being used and their item codes were recycled for new items.
A lengthy password given to you at the end of of the first Golden Sun allows you to carry your weapons, armor, etc. to Golden Sun: The Lost Age when you get your original party back, averting the trope. Doing so is required to get into the Bonus Dungeon and get the final two summons. However, if you had another Game Boy Advance (or a Gamecube with a Game Boy Player) and a link cable, you could transfer the data over without resorting to the lengthy passwords.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn averts the trope with Isaac and Garet. When they join your party for a while, they still retain their high stats and Djinn from their last adventure and even let you borrow some of their Djinn to use!
Final Fantasy X-2. Yuna and Rikku start the second game as if none of the Level Grinding of the other game had occurred, having changed careers. While this might make some sense for Yuna, who starts off as a completely different class than she was in the previous game (though it doesn't explain where all her White Magic went), this makes no plot line sense at all for Rikku. Of course, Rikku was a combination Thief/Chemist in X, while in X-2 her starting class is a Thief.
In Rikku's case while she's still a "thief" her entire combat style has changed, going from using Al Bhed technology power fists and attack items, to using a traditional twin daggers (and in fact is using a dressphere which is magic based, as opposed to solid technology like she used to.) The only similar thing is her ability to steal, which she keeps anyway.
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Yes, you do start the game with the minimally trained Prince Ceodore, but his parents and everyone else that saved the world seemed to have lost all the gear and levels/spells they had. While you could say they've basically retired from monster-slaying, we've got Kain, who supposedly spent all his years holed up in a mountain filled with undead. He really has no excuse. No, not even when his really angry side kicks his ass and goes amok. At least Rydia's explanation is there: some chick froze/stole away the Eidolons, so Rydia can't summon any of them. Averted with Golbez, who has all the spells he had in Final Fantasy IV from the get-go (Osmose, Drain, Firaga, etc), despite the fact he spent the seventeen years between games sleeping!
The Interlude special chapter on the PSP version, taking place about a year after the first game is a little better, starting your party off with a more respectable level 30ish and midgame tier equipment. However not only do you still not have your endgame weapons and equipment, but thanks the chapters brief nature and lineraity, being unable to freely explore the world, you can't get them back at all (the best weapon for Cecil you can get for example is the randomly dropped Stoneblade. And if you don't feel like grinding for it you'll have to use the store bought Flame Saber). Averted with the real Rydia who shows up with all spells kept and using a Stardust Rod, an FF 4 endgame weapon. But she doesn't appear until the final battle of Interlude.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 averts this, as the main party members weren't playable in the original. And for the moments Lightning is playable, she's using entirely new, and likely more powerful, equipment. The DLC mons of Lightning (x2), Sazh and Snow use either their default equipment, or entirely new equipment. They have to be leveled up when in your party, but both Lightnings and Snow are show to be at least as powerful as they were in the previous game.
In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Yuri, the only returning PC, starts out the game at a low level with none of his previous equipment. However, the loss of his special abilities is explained by the weakening properties of the Holy Mistletoe he's stabbed with, and although he doesn't join the party until after this happens, you see him using the Amon fusion soul and fighting at a power level consistent with having beaten the last game in cut scenes prior to this.
Notable exception: The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons licensed games published by SSI during the 80's and early 90's were arranged into series of 2-4 games, and almost as a rule allowed the player to import characters from earlier games in the same series, keeping all of the experience and most of the gear. Often doing this allowed the player to get a more powerful party than starting fresh, most notoriously in the Eye of the Beholder series, where importing would give you better loot at the beginning of the game than starting fresh let you have by the end of it.
Downplayed by the transition from Champions of Krynn to Death Knights of Krynn, as you lose most of the good gear. Also, in all the games, despite keeping experience, it makes more sense to make new characters and have the old ones hand off the better gear, as the Modify command let you max stats on your newly created characters; older characters could have substantially less hit points, as they had random hit point gains until 9th or 10th level. A character from an early game could have less than half the hit points of a newly created one, despite being a level or two higher if you Level Ground.
Curse of the Azure Bonds also played it straight by having the villains steal most of your gear except for basic items and a token amount of cash, taking away the amazing magic items gathered in Pool of Radiance.
The followup to Curse, Secret of the Silver Blades also removed all character gear, with the explanation that the teleport spell that brought in the characters was accidentally not designed to bring in any (meaning any) of their possessions. The next game in the series, however, Pools of Darkness, averts the trope almost completely; almost anything that a character had in Blades will carry over.
Some series went so far as to allow the players to import characters from entirely different, unrelated games (ie. the Bard's Tale series let the player import characters from the Ultima games, not even by the same company).
The Realms of Arkania series. Not all that useful in game 3, but life saving if you import your party from 1 into the very hard 2.
Character data can be transferred from game 1 to 2, then to 3, and finally to 5 (4 is from the viewpoint of the first game's Big Bad). Loss in experience or equipment is explained as the new characters being descendants of the heroes, or the greedy king training you as a reward, but making you pay for your training with all of your gold and equipment.
Wizardry 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge has three different endings. Wizardry 7: Crusaders of the Dark Savant not only allows you to import your characters from Wizardry 6, but has four different introductions and start points - one for each ending of Wizardry 6, and one for players starting fresh.
Wizardry 8 not only allows players to import characters from the previous game, but also allows imports from the game before that. Characters maintain any alliances they had formed in prior games, and will even start at the allied base camp, but lose many levels due to the long space voyage to the new planet. The game encourages players to save after winning so that they may import their characters into Wizardry 9, but the company went bankrupt so this isn't going to happen.
The game series Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children explained this in the Fire and Ice entries for Game Boy Advance by having the powerful characters depowered at the beginning through a minor but plausible plot device.
While we're on Megaten, Digital Devil Saga has this happen between the two games. This is lampshaded then explained in that the characters were AI programs in the first game, but lost much of their power when their bodies became real in the second.
The Xenosaga games did not carry over experience between games, despite that the second game literally starts the next day. Granted, each game only lasts a few days (rather than taking years), and indeed, none of the characters is really assumed to improve (in combat anyway) over the course of the game outside of game battles. Still, Kos-Mos needs to level up in the second and third game to gain some of her previously acquired special abilities (though the fact that she's replaced with a different model every time explains that, at least). It's notable that the characters get seemingly more powerful in each game. In the first Xenosaga game, you'll usually fight the final boss with characters who have in the neighborhood of 1,000 HP each. In the second game, it'll be about 2,500 HP, in the third game, somewhere around 6,000. It may be the series' way of allowing you to think your characters get more powerful from one game to the other while still making you start off as a weak level one character.
Dawn of Mana does something similar - all your levels and items are lost whenever you start a new episode of the story. This has naturally led to the video game being very frustrating and unpopular.
Ultima VII was literally cut in half, creating Ultima VII: The Black Gate and Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle. However, each one is a full game, and by the end of The Black Gate, you're all powered up. This would be a problem for Serpent Isle. The solution? Immediately after getting off the boat there, you're struck by magical transposing lightning that trades your Infinity+1 Sword for a piece of cheese, your Uber Armor for a bucket, etc. It even trades your party members for random scrap items. Oh, and welcome to level 1 for no reason. Attempting to keep your stuff by dumping it out onto the beach before you walk to the event flag for the teleport storm doesn't work, either. There are actually two versions of that beach in the game's map. The one you start on, and the one you are sent to when the teleport storm happens. You can't get back to that first version of the beach without glitches or hacking, so you'd better get to questing!
Lampshaded in Ultima VII. At one point, Iolo explains to you that every time you go to Earth and return to Britannia, it is as if you were newborn. This explains why you always begin at level 1, and why you can approach a unicorn, something that can only be done by characters with zero experience. But that directly conflicts with the fact that you were allowed to import old characters between parts 4-6, although the only things retained were stats and experience. The Avatar also has a persistent tendency to leave lots of stuff behind when he/she is moongated to Britannia - weapons, armor, supplies and in one case the very useful Orb of the Moons. Similarily, no one seems to keep good track of your things you leave in Britannia either - in U6, you have to run all over the land to collect the Runes that people misplace, hide and even withhold from you. In The Black Gate pointedly asks you if you kept track of the mighty Quicksword Enilno - it was essential to stop the insanely powerful sorceress Minax, but apparently you dropped it somewhere.
Spoony points out that in Ultima Underworld II, this trope is really not used well, as your stats and weapons are virtually nil... Which is pretty appalling, since in the previous game (the aforementioned Ultima VII), you had all your stats raised to double maximum and had the Black Sword, a weapon with the ability to kill literally anything with just a touch (aside from those protected by Plot Armor). The only explanation that is given- or hinted at- is that you just one day showed up at Lord British's castle massively overweight, out of shape, and dressed in burlap.
Gothic 2 features a heavilyjustified example of this. After defeating the Big Bad of the last game, the hero is caught in a massive cave-in and left for dead for days before his mentor can teleport him to safety. His equipment was ruined, and being on the verge of death for so long atrophied his mind and body, causing him to lose his strength and forget his former skills.
Gothic 2 also featured alternate dialog that would allow a player to respond to characters from the previous game, either as familiar friends, or with a kind of apparent amnesia.
Gothic 3 follows a similar trend, having the player embark into adventure on the open sea with several other characters. After making landfall and discovering most of the population has been enslaved by orcs, a battle breaks out between the slave driving orcs and the rebelling slave population. Upon saving the town, the hero quickly discovers that pirates raided his ship during the battle and made off with all his spoils. To make matters worse, his time at sea has rusted his skills to nothingness, allowing you the joy of raising them back up.
Averted in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, which has a different main character from the first game—but according to the new character's back story, they were once a famous and powerful Jedi who has now lost most of their powers through the exact type of mechanism often used to justify this trope. This happens to several characters in the game, both new and returning. Kreia was once a Sith Lord, and was stripped of her power and exiled by the other Sith, Mandalore (Canderous Ordo from the previous game) mentions that he has suffered multiple wounds over the years, and is not as powerful as he used to be, and HK-47 has actually been destroyed at the beginning of the game, and must be repaired.
Averted in the Suikoden series. In II and III you can load up saved games from the previous games, and the recurring characters get a power boost in line with their level, and their weapons are sharper than they would be otherwise. Granted, they aren't nearly as buff as they were at the end of the previous game, but the general power level seems to scale up with each successive game. Lampshaded in a scene in Suikoden II, where returning character Viktor unsuccessfully chases one of the minor villains. When the villain gets away, Viktor remarks "I could have caught him a few years ago."
Very noticeable in Mega Man Battle Network, as Lan loses everything; his broken Gater folder, all his HP memory, his power ups, the ability to preset chips, etc. He eventually gets everything backed up (except the gater folder). Not only that, but it seems like the Navi Customizer gets uninstalled after every game, and in BN4, the Style Change is replaced outright with the Soul Unison ability.
The sixth game Lampshaded via the Poem program. One of the poems brings up this very trope, and it appears that not even Lan knows what happens to everything!
After the events of 4 and 5, Mega Man can become complete tainted dark and be fine at the beginning of the next game. However, this would explain the HP loss.
Sequel series Mega Man Star Force eventually explains that because digital technology evolves so quickly, all the upgrades you acquire are incompatible by the time the next game rolls around. This reasoning could be stretched backwards to the Battle Network series. Star Force 2 does not explain, however, why once you've upgraded from a Transer to a Star Carrier, your beloved friends won't renew your BrotherBands until you pull off plot shenanigans, even though you saved each of their lives a minimum of twice in the previous game.
The original 4 .hack games: .hack//Infection, .hack//Mutation, .hack//Outbreak, and .hack//Quarantine, are notable in that they allow you to bring your save data from one game to the next.
Averted in the Neverwinter Nights series. Within each major installment, you can carry over a character to expansions, with the same stats. (But not between Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2, as their main characters are different people story-wise). In Mask of the Betrayer, you get to keep whatever you had equipped when the character was exported, but not the weapon and items in the inventory.
Hordes of the Underdark, the second expansion for NWN1, has the PC's inventory stolen from his inn room at the beginning of the game. In-game dialogue allows the PC to hang a lampshade on it by repeatedly claiming you "only want my stuff back!" (Technically, however, the protagonist was not the same character from the original game - it was the same character from Shadows of Undrentide). Which you eventually can get back, mostly, provided you remember to loot one of the drow encampments. But by then you've probably found better counterparts for many of the items anyway.
Mario has starred in multiple RPGs, but no matter what level he has reached or what equipment/items he has gotten, he returns to level 1 with basic equipment (if any at all) at the start of the next game. This makes even less sense in Partners in Time, where his baby form levels up and possibly becomes even stronger than him. Interestingly, in Bowser's Inside Story, when the time comes to use a technique from the first game, it's Mario who explains to Starlow this technique that they already know how to do.
In Dream Team, this is subverted by Bowser. He retains the abilities he learned in the last game, such as turning into a spiked ball, the ability to turn giant without Kamek's help, and even the Vacuum block ability. The last of which helps him to become DreamyBowser!
In the two months between Persona 3's The Journey and The Answer, SEES lost anywhere from 50 to 79 levels (most of a year's worth of training), all of their rare and highly valuable equipment and accessories (which also could be considered mementos of the Protagonist), and even their Evokers (though those were handed in as part of their preparation to disband).
Ken and Akihiko lampshade this by likening it to cramming insanely hard for a test, only to forget everything instantly afterward. It's also possible that the uber-equipment was stored outside the dorm that they cannot leave.
It's also likely related to SEES losing their memories of the Dark Hour between the defeat of Nyx and Graduation Day, which surely had some effect on their "levels." One wonders what they did with all the equipment they found themselves holding during that time, though, especially the items that didn't come from within Tartarus.
Persona 2 averted this in Eternal Punishment, as The Hero from Innocent Sin returns with a much higher level and with a vastly stronger Persona than anybody else. Loading a card with data from Innocent Sin would result in him joining at the same level as in the prior game and with the same Persona.
In Ys IV: The Dawn Of Ys (not Mask of The Sun), you start off with the Infinity+1 Sword and armor you had at the end of Ys Book I and II, only to be captured by the Romuns, stripped of your equipment, and thrown in the dungeon.
This was downplayed in the TurboGrafx-CD version of Ys Book I and II which threw you into the second game immediately after finishing the first with all your levels, experience intact. This was made to work simply by raising the level cap and continuing to offer more powerful equipment as you progressed. Your sword and armor still get left behind in Esteria, though you get them back at the end when Ys lands.
In Ys VI, the game opens with a shipwreck. All Adol's stuff save his sword is lost, and he spends three days in a coma; between that and the various injuries of the shipwreck, as Olha puts it, "[he's] become quite frail."
Played Straight in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Not only are the Heroes of Regeneration straight up de-leveled- going from as high as Level 250 down to Level 10 in the most extreme of cases, they can't gain levels in the new game anyways, because they do not gain EXP. Their equipment, on the other hand is downplaying the trope- they come with some of the first game's best equipment from the get-go, but their weapon is each character's weakest/starting weapon- in the final chapter, they gain their best equipment. (But you can't change ANY of it). Again averted with Lloyd who's encountered at the very beginning of the game at Level 50 with his best equipment (at least he has his best -and only- weapon), but he's an enemy.
Justified in Tales of Xillia 2, at least in the case of the party's combat abilities, which were stated to have been provided to them in part by the Lillium orbs. They've ceased working and were replaced by the new Arrowcell orbs, which eventually allow them to surpass their previous potential. Still no explanation as to what they did with all of their fancy gear, though.
In Mount & Blade, you can keep you skills and cash by exporting and importing.
Tales of the Abyss has a take on this, performing a Bag of Spilling in one game. Jade, a powerful caster with some limited melee skills, starts out as a level 40 something powerhouse, but is soon nerfed when a fon slot seal is placed upon him, reverting him to a low level.
Downplayedin Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, since Mario keeps his hammer and remembers pretty much all of the stuff from the previous game. Played straight when he has to get new partners, but justified because his old ones all went back to their own lives at the end of the first game and there was no reason to suspect he'd need them when he set out. However, he still loses all the badges he had before and the Ultra Hammer/Boots.
Justified in Mass Effect 2, a character imported from Mass Effect will retain little to none of their experience and resources. For example, a level 45 character with 1 million credits in the bank will start the second game at level 2 with only one hundred thousand bonus credits. This is due to the character being dead for two years. However, certain decisions made in the first game will still carry over (both to the benefit and detriment of Shepard); this also applies to the third game.
Downplayed in Mass Effect 3: if you transfer a character from Mass Effect 2, you retain all your powers from where you left off. This puts you at level 30 (the max level cap of 2), meaning you still have to level up to get all the new powers in 3, but this is justified as your character (and enemies) becoming more powerful. New characters start at an approximation of where they would be at the end of 2. You completely lose all your weapons and have to start with grunt gear, but this is justified as well as the Alliance stripped you of your weaponry when they court martialled you for the Bahak incident. Also, if you pre-ordered the Collector's Edition, they hand you several of the game's five best gun's (the N7 weapons) for you and your squadmates. So, while you do lose your weaponry, it's not like they're sending you in with just the basic gear like in the first game.
Similarly, your cabin is empty of all the collectables from the second game. However, all of the model ships are actually just stored in cargo bins around the ship and can easily be restored (though it becomes a minor collectables challenge to track them all down), and once you make it to the citadel, an old friend reveals she's been taking care of your fish and returns them (depending on decisions made in the previous game). As for your old dogtags Liara gives you in "Lair of the Shadow Broker", Anderson tosses them to you when he reinstates you, so Shepard is actually wearing them. The only things you don't keep are your old helmet and the Prothean sphere, which was sent to a lab.
Downplayed in Buu's Fury. You start off at an even higher level than when the previous game ended. However, your stats at lowered to about half of what they were in the previous game.
When importing your Warden from the main Dragon Age: Origins to the AwakeningExpansion Pack or a DLC campaign, you will lose all items not currently equipped on the Warden and not in the common inventory. That includes all the uber-gear your Companions wore for the Final Battle and the contents of your personal storage on Soldier's Peak. You also lose all items from other DLC (except Return to Ostagar), particularly the Infinity+1 Sword Starfang, even if they are eqipped on your Player Character, but this is more of a bug than intentional application of this trope. Later Numbered Sequels avert this by starring brand new Player Characters. Not that the replacements you get if the game takes away DLC gear are high-level Grey Warden officer's items that are very powerful indeed, so unless your equipped gear was something absolutely insane like Starfang and the Bulwark of the True King, you won't be losing much. It's played straight with Anders and Varric, who join the player's party in multiple installments.
While they are not exactly sequels, the DLC expansions to Fallout 3Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt and Mothership Zeta make sure to separate you from anything cool you might have found up to that point. This is averted in the other two expansions, Broken Steel and Point Lookout, the former being an extension of the main plotline and the latter letting you carry whatever you want in, you just can't leave until a significant amount of the plot is done.
Similarly, in Fallout: New Vegas, the player loses their equipment in the Dead Money DLC due to the Sierra Madre security somehow confiscating all outside material and Honest Hearts limits the stuff players can bring based on a weight limit (though it can be increased if certain skill checks are passed). However, you're free to bring everything you have to Old World Blues and Lonesome Road, with the former starting off with a message stating that you have a "mysterious premonition" that you CAN bring all of your stuff this time around.
Averted in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Geralt keeps the Signs (spells) that he learned in the previous game. However, weapon-wise he's only limited to a regular sword and a silver sword since those were the only weapons that were of any importance.
Geralt will keep certain unique weapons and armor if he had them at the end of the first game, though they will quickly be outclassed by new equipment.
Inazuma Eleven trilogy play with this. in each sequel, every character's levels are reduced to one, but they do have better base stats than in the previous game's level one. Major characters' skill losses are based on if they will require new skills in that game or not, since they only have four fixed ability slots out of six avaliable in each game. Thus they can't retain everything.
In Robopon 2, somehow, Cody leaves Porombo Island for the Robopon tournament without carrying any of his Robopon, and is shipwrecked in Majiko's Baba Village before he can turn back for them.
The Sims for handhelds features the world's first Blackberry of Spilling. The sequels follow directly from the last, but the people you have befriended, run ridiculous errands for, and helped attain various honors and expensive possessions will not remember you in the slightest. Some have the courtesy of deja vu, at least. This includes Daddy Bigbucks, whose plans you repeatedly foil. However, The Urbz does contain a rare Easter Egg where occasionally, when you answer your phone, it'll be your uncle from the first game asking you to come visit sometime. ("The chickens miss you.")
In Pharaoh: Cleopatra, you build up Deir-El-Medina and Alexandria 4 times each from the ground up, while there's nothing in the story that would say they were destroyed since your last visit.
In the Visual NovelGalaxy Angel the girls lose some of the hearts they had from previous games making them weaker in combat. Especially awkward with whichever girl you've chosen to be your one true love. Seems they don't love you quite so much anymore. Justified in some routes when Chitose arrives in the second game and the girl Takuto loves is worried about Takuto's affection but makes absolutely no sense with Forte who simply doesn't care or Mint who can read his mind.
By the time you decide to stop playing X2: The Threat you likely have hundreds of millions of credits, a sizable trade empire, and dozens if not hundreds of warships and fighters. Then X3: Reunion, starring the same Player Character only a year later, rolls around and you're back to a crappy ship and only a few thousand credits. Fansite owner ApricotSlice has a few choice words on the subject here.
Stealth Based Game
In the first two Thief games you lose all your equipment at the end of each level and all your money at the beginning (after buying equipment). Apparently this was meant to try and avert Too Awesome to Use and encourage players to spend all their money and use all their equipment, since they can't keep it afterwards.
While that Agent 47 of the games can amass a literal armory of weapons in just one game, and though he is a master assassin who requires more exotic weapons like sniper rifles and poison, by the start of the next game, the only weapons he has are his trademark A.K.A.-47Silverballers, a silenced variant, his garrote, and a syringe. He then (although it's always optional) proceeds to either buy his weapons in the black market, or takes them with him when he exits a level. What makes it an even sillier problem is the fact that the games are not chronological, and therefore, parts of one game can happen in between the levels of another game in the series, but 47 still has to acquire the same weapon multiple times in a row. Justified in the second game, as 47 had quit the life and was living with Father Vittorio, and he could really only realistically store his Silverballers and a couple other things in the closet he had there.
Blood Money begins the game with Mr. 47 having freshly flown into the United States from his usual operating area of Europe and Asia. The loss of equipment then could be justified, since getting an arsenal past customs may be fairly difficult.
Blood Money subverts this, too — you don't have all your kickass weapons, but you do start with five basic weapons, one in each broad category, including the Custom Sniper/W2000 Sniper, which was the ultimate rare weapon in the (chronologically) previous game, and very hard to obtain outside that game's final mission. Since these five are generally the best or most generally-useful in their category, it makes sense that they'd be the five he'd choose to bring with him.
Contracts is a special case, as the majority of the storyline of the game shows 47 fighting for his life after suffering a near fatal gunshot wound, the missions being mostly remakes of missions from previous games or flashbacks to, presumably, earlier missions in his life. The only mission taking place in reality is the final one. However, it's entirely possible to play the final mission after equipping yourself with weapons acquired during the hallucinations. Chronologically, Contracts also takes place after the Curtains Down mission of Blood Money, meaning aside from his dream armory, he still has his hideaway.
Also justified in Absolution - 47's gone rogue, so he wouldn't have access to any large arsenals. He even has to trade his Silverballers to another disgraced assassin for information early on, leaving him with just an unsilenced revolver and his garrote for a few levels. Less justified in the transition from Dexter Industries to Death Factory, which is by entering an elevator, and from Death Factory to Fight Night, which is by climbing a ladder.
Averting this was part of the justification for Metal Gear Solid 2's infamous player character swap of the legendary soldier Solid Snake in favor of the de facto rookie Raiden who could be plausibly lectured on the game world. This is also justified in the very introduction sequence of the Tanker chapter, where Snake infiltrates the tanker with the help of Otacon's stealth camouflage, but he breaks it when he makes his entrance. The lack of weapons (he only carries an M9 modified to shoot tranquilizer darts) is explained by Snake not wanting to accumulate a body count of Marines who are just doing their jobs, and is supposed to be sneaking in to gather information.
Assassin's Creed I justifies this trope, with Altaďr starting off with a large number of skills at his disposal, being a high-ranking Master Assassin. However, because of his arrogance, which results in another Assassin's death and the target retaliating with an attack on the Assassin fortress, he is stripped of his rank... and more importantly his gear, which granted him the majority of his skills, up to and including his blade).
In Assassin's Creed II, you're actually playing as a different person, so you don't have any of the equipment.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood begins directly after II and assumed that Ezio had been fully upgraded, so he starts with over fifty thousand florins on his person, along with Altaďr's armor and sword, maxed Health and maxed smoke bomb/throwing knife/bullet capacities. However, the morning after returning home to his family villa in Monteriggioni, the town comes under attack by an army led by Cesare Borgia, and Ezio only manages to arm himself with one of his hidden blade bracers and a longsword before his room is hit by a cannonball, burying all his other equipment in rubble, after which he is forced to flee the area while his stuff is looted by Cesare and his troops. As a concession to the player, that bracer was the one with a built-in pistol and a poison injector, which had been mid/late-game items in II, so he keeps them along with his hidden blade, his longsword, and all of his training from II except for the heavy weapon and polearm special attacks (replaced with new attacks) and stepping replaced with the much more useful kicking. However, due to a pair of gunshot wounds suffered in the villa attack, he's left with only five Health squares at first (the same as his starting unarmored Health in II) and is unable to climb-leap until the mid-game, when he may buy an optional Climb-Leap Glove. The wounds also initially leave him only able to walk, but a fortunately short walk to the doctor allows him to sprint, free-run and catch ledges again.
Downplayed in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, which starts with Ezio being captured and escaping from Templars. In the process of the escape, he loses one of his hidden blades, but keeps the bracer with the gun and poison attachment and grabs a sword on the way. He also evidently traveled to Masyaf with relatively weak armor.
In Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf, you always start levels with an empty inventory. Justified in that it's a TV game show and that it might be another of its rules.
Happens annoyingly and constantly in Alan Wake. You always lose everything between Episodes, but also frequently at other times. Sometimes there's a skimpy excuse, like leaving behind your flashlight and gun while jumping out of a car about to go over an edge, but most often, there's not even the flimsiest reason why Alan would leave behind his vital light-sources and weapons. Perhaps the most painful example is when you wake up in jail in Episode 4. Naturally, all your stuff's been confiscated. Shortly afterwards, however, the Sheriff is brought over to your side, and tells you that your 'stuff' is in her office. When you get there, you find... a basic flashlight, a handgun with some ammo, and a shotgun (which is clearly part of the police-station's weapon-stores, and not yours). A far cry from the piles of weapons, ammo, flares, flashbangs and Heavy-Duty Lanterns you were carrying at the end of the previous chapter...
Third Person Shooter
Oni is an egregious example, not letting you keep items between levels, despite most of them being connected in some way (e.g. level seven ends when getting inside a room; level eight starts in the same room, yet all ammo clips and hyposprays you may have collected have disappeared).
Happens mid-game in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, where Stranger is soon ambushed and captured in a Hopeless Boss Fight, after which the enemies manage to strip him of all his purchased upgrades, which he never gets back. Don't worry, he gets a set of new abilites based on the fact that he's a Steef allied with the Grubbs, such as more powerful ammo, a more useful melee attack to replace his headbutt and the fact that since he's no longer a bounty hunter, he doesn't need to bother with capturing his enemies alive.
Justified in Destroy All Humans! 2, where many of Crypto's weapons are lost and have to be recovered or re-engineered because a Russian missile blew up the mothership that was storing them.
Dead to Rights takes this to an extreme, with the game often looking for reasons for Slate to drop his arsenal multiple times per chapter. There's even a scene in the Chinatown chapter where Slate gets cornered by police and told to drop his weapons, which serves no purpose other than to disarm him just in time for a gang of armed Mooks to arrive and shoot the police.
MindJack. You inexplicably lose your weapons after every encounter. You also lose whatever civilian or enemy you've mind-hacked if you're not the host player.
Turn Based Strategy
Done on a continent wide scale in the Total War series, especially the expansion packs that cover later eras. Spend a few centuries conquering the eastern Mediterranean, build up its infrastructure so that every road is a super highway, each city has a legendary wall and an urban barracks and Praetorian stable capable of producing all units, make sure that each port is big enough to produce any ship. Then play the expansion as the Byzantines and find the same area in much worse shape than when you left it.
Fire Emblem avoids this beautifully in the move between Path of Radiance and its sequel Radiant Dawn, by having each character able to gain an additional 20 levels (going from two Class tiers to three). So only a handful of characters really lost any level, stats, or experience. The only notable loss was that the main character Ike gave his Legendary weapon Ragnell to the Kingdom of Begnion as its rightful owner.
Any A supports from 9 even become bonds in 10. As well as any capped stat in 9 becoming +2 (regular stats) or +5 (HP) to the base stats in 10.
The only loss of cast between the two titles is Largo, because 10 has no Berserker class in it. This is explained because Largo lost an arm between the end of 9 and the start of 10.
Mystery of the Emblem) starts with a remake of the original game, so there isn't anything lost between the stories (except things cut for cartridge space reasons.) In the remakes (the 11th and 12th games in the series) this isn't really touched on at all, even if 12 (remake of 3 Book 2) doesn't include Book 1 (3's remake of 1). Characters that were in 1/11 but weren't in 3 are in 12 (with some in different classes if their class no longer exists in 3/12).
Not to mention Blazing Sword: Should the player play through Lyn's story, set one year before the main events of the game, any characters you used will retain their levels and stats when you continue on to Eliwood's or Hector's path.
In Nippon Ichi's Disgaea-verse, this is averted by always having a new (albeit similar) protagonist take up the mantle of Main Character. This allows the previous heroes (and apparently future ones) to maintain their insane power levels, but they all generally seem more concerned with losing their title as the Main Character (it's beginning to become their sole motivation for making cameos lately). In Disgaea, your title is Serious Business.
In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Etna (one of the main characters from the first game) initially shows up as a super powerful, Lv1000 NPC. She eventually joins your party, but not before a summoning mishap drops her down to Lv1. She was not amused.
In Heroes of Might and Magic, artifacts (other than the occasional plot-central kind) generally don't carry over between campaign missions, even though heroes and their levels do. Also, you're often forced to rebuild towns from the ground up in every mission, even when they're plot-wise the same ones as in previous missions.
The final campaign in Heroes V: Tribes of the East features a justified Bag of Spilling. Zehir gets a flying city, but has to pay with experience to move it. The first time he uses this ability in a cutscene (accidentally), he loses 200,000 experience, dropping from level 25 to level 9.
King's Bounty: In "Crossworlds," there is a campaign with the protagonist from Armored Princess, but of course she starts from scratch... well, almost. She got to keep her pet dragon (just deleveled like herself), if only because it would be impossible to get another one within the new setting.
Downplayed in Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter. While you won't be starting it with antimatter-powered dreadnoughts and all the endgame goodness of the first title, you will still get cruisers and fusion to start.
Turn Based Tactics
Justified in the X-COM series; while the games are sequential each game holds a different threat altogether from the last. For example, the second game has you fighting an invasion underwater where all your weaponry and vehicles developed for land and air combat are useless.
Even then, some of the equipment mentioned in the second game reference research from the first game as a prerequisite - Even more so, there is a considerable time gap between the games. The third game has some of the weapons from the first game (improved or repurposed). The laser rifle is basically standard equipment, apart from that there are elerium-based plasma weapons. All this put together made some veterans of the first game(s) unhappy thanks to the game being easier (you start with laughable equipment and soldiers in both 1 and 2). Of course, the aliens are considerably more powerful as you progress the game, quickly getting back to the point where the basic armour is almost ignored. The fourth game runs some time between 2 and 3 but is space fighter based instead of land-squad based, so the equipment is understandably different.
Usually in full force in the Jagged Alliance series. You don't keep any weapons or money, and neither do your mercenaries keep their increased levels and skills between games. At least between JA1 and 2, it's not clear if you're even the same commander. Averted with the JA2 expansion Unfinished Business, which had a feature allowing you to import your mercenaries and their stats from the previous game, though not their equipment. Doing so, though, made the game ramp up the difficulty due to your powerful mercenaries.
Averted in the Ace Attorney series. Nick manages to avoid losing the Magatama between the second and third games, and then over the seven years between the third and fourth.
Wide Open Sandbox
In Body Harvest, the player loses all of his weapons and items when entering a new time period.
Saints Row: The Third uses and justifies this trope. The first mission is A Taste of Power because it takes place in Stilwater, a city the Saints seized control of over the course of the previous two games. The game proper begins with the Boss skydiving into the city of Steelport with nothing but the clothes on his/her back and a top-of-the-line smartphone. Justified in the lack of funds and general resources upon arriving in the new city (and the Stilwater Saints gradually ship more and more resources in over the course of the game, including a few tanks), but not in the lack of upgrades gained in previous installments.
Saints Row IV also justifies the trope: as President of the US, the Boss has access to weapons concealed in the Oval Office. After being abducted by the Zin and thrown into a Lotus-Eater Machine, though, s/he loses their weapons and is forced into unflattering clothing. The Boss has to hack the simulation to get better clothes, weapons, and superpowers.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record justifies this trope with Frank West: a combination of age and living a cushy life during his 15 Minutes of Fame have made him soft by the time the game starts five years after the first game.
The 3-D and HD entries in the Grand Theft Auto franchise have an internal version of this involving vehicles. Often called the "disappearing vehicle glitch", it is common for vehicles driven by a player to vanish if the player goes too far away from them, or disappear completely due to a mission being triggered that requires the use of another vehicle. For random vehicles stolen by the player, or for the respawning default vehicles provided in Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, it's not a big deal, but it is also possible to lose unique/hard-to-find vehicles and vehicles the player has spent a lot of in-game money sprucing up and/or upgrading. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tried a workaround by having some vehicles impounded by police when they vanished, and available for recovery later for a fee, but this feature was never actually announced so many players didn't know about it.
Whenever Ash heads to a new area of the world (corresponding, naturally enough, to a newly-released game in the video game series), he will leave almost all of his Pokémon with Professor Oak, instead catching completely new ones (except for Pikachu) in order to help advertise the new games.
Pikachu himself seems to suffer from this in regards to experience and training whenever he enters a new area so that Ash needs more Pokemon than just him.
This is averted in most of the games themselves, though. Each one stars a different hero, so they would naturally have their own new Pokémon to start with. Moreover, once you progress far enough into each game, you gain the ability to trade with previous releases, and the Pokémon from these games are just as useful as they were before. The only games that aren't backwards compatible are the third generation, due to a huge overhaul in the way data is handled for individual Pokémon.
If a Gundam protagonist returns in another series, they will usually be without their old mobile suit from their previous series, typically because it was destroyed in their finale. However because of technology progression any new machines they'll end up piloting are usually better anyway (example, Amuro loses the original Gundam at the end of the first series, but his Nu Gundam he gets in Char's Counterattack are far superior anyway). Although their are exceptions.
Kira still has his Freedom Gundam when he reappears in Gundam Seed Destiny and due to the next line of units being weaker than it because of treaty restrictions he's just as powerful as he was previously (Athrun meanwhile has to deal with using one of the weaker newer units because Justice was destroyed).
Setsuna still has the Exia at the start of season 1 although its in disrepair and quickly replaced by the 00 Gundam, which he also still has at the beginning of the film but is also quickly replaced.
The Wing pilots still have their Gundams for Endless Waltz, although they can't access them until near the finale.
The previous 2 Age protagonists keep their Gundams throughout all 3 generations, although they get improvements as the story goes on.
Whenever Ichigo loses his an aspect of his powers, if not all of them altogether several times, he retains some portion of them.
He retains the ability to use Getsuga immediately upon using his completed fullbring powers, again when his shinigami powers return shortly afterwards, and YET again when he consolidates all his powers in the final arc.
He can immediately go bankai the moment his powers return for the second time, rather than have to train to achieve the stage again.
All of his innate reflexes and physical coordination are retained as well, regardless of the state he's in.
The Punisher's schtick being a badass normal Vietnam Vet, his stock arsenal is typically a Colt .45 and M 16 A 1 (or a later version of the rifle in more recent comics), grenades and a combat knife. So whenever he gets his hands on an arsenal of magical or sci-fi weapons from dead villains and aliens, he often ends up losing them after a few issues (example in Dark Reign, he ends having to discard his ray guns when he's being chased by members of the Hood's crew that can soak up the hits and he finally loses it all when he's hacked to bits by Daken).
The Archie Comics portrayal of Mega Man shows that if Mega Man hangs onto his acquired Robot Master arsenal, it can drive him Drunk with Power. Dr. Light uninstalls these powers and Mega Man begins using them on a "just borrowing the powers" basis.
Films — Animation
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children isn't even a game, and it goes out of its way to explain this. Apparently, in the two years since fighting Sephiroth, the characters have lost some of their drive. By the end of the movie, Cloud "finds that feeling again." As well, they're storing their materia away—and it gets stolen. They retain their Limit Breaks and are still strong enough to go up against a Bahamut with minimal difficulty, though.
In a bit of an aversion, Barret gets a brand new gun arm that transforms into a hand. Which is really a good thing since he seems to be predominantly right-handed. Also, Cloud gets a seriously epic upgrade to his omnislash limit break and it is implied that even after suffering from Geostigma he's physically stronger than he was at the end of the game. (Sephiroth's line, "Where did you get this strength?")
In the first GrailQuest adventure book, our hero is returning home laden with gold and treasure. Then the local Jerkass manages to steal all of it in a comically simple ruse. Only the treasure, though, the magic items and equipment pass to books 2 and 3. Then in 4 you wake up in someone else's body; and 5 through 8 doesn't have any items carrying over at all.
In Doom, the Gates destroy inorganic material. When Fly and Arlene use them they arrive unarmed and naked. This was an attempt to Justify the Bag of Spilling between episodes in the game. Of course, when they crash land a rocket from Deimos onto Earth, the only thing they lose in the wreck are their weapons.
Justified in Demon The Fallen. Players are playing ancient fallen angels who were demigods during the Age of Wrath thousands of years ago. However, they spent the intervening time in the entropic Abyss of Hell, where their powers and essence were gradually worn away. When they return to Earth in modern times, they are forced to possess human bodies and start off with minimal powers. As the players gain more Faith from followers, it is explained that they are gradually recovering some of the power and status that they had previously during the Age of Wrath.
Mummy: The Curse uses something like this: you begin play with no memories or personal identity; over the course of the game, you gradually recover your memory and become less a monster and more a human. Eventually, you complete the task for which you were summoned and end your Descent; when you next Arise and begin a new Descent, your memories have once again been purged and you have to start all over again from scratch.
In Fantasy Craft, every session is self-contained, like an episode of a television series. And because gear is tied to your character directly (it's a stat unto itself that raises as you level), you have to "buy"/allocate it at the beginning of each session, even things you gained last session. Mechanically, it's a means of balancing the game both for the players and the GM so that neither party has to worry about whether they are getting too little or too much gear, and said gear's relative power. The basic logic as to how your characters manage to lose all that loot between every session is given a minor handwave in the idea that "food, brothels, room & board, and general expenses" eat it aaall up, thus making sure that Status Quo Is God. You may very well have to recover a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of a certain item 3 or 4 sessions in a row if no-one in your party has a high enough "gear" stat to have that item in their inventory at the beginning of the session.
In thisZelda Comic (which the current page pic is taken from), Link explains that he always puts everything back in the dungeons he got it from at the end of an adventure. "It's, you know, tradition."
Justified in Nuzlocke Comics, of all things. Ruby's entire team is killed at the end of the Ruby-game arc, so he literally has no Pokemon when he starts his Kanto journey in the Fire Red arc. At the end of that, Mewtwo's power causes a rift in the time-space continuum when it's killed, sending Ruby's last Pokemon (Bruce) into the past and Ruby himself into the future... and to Unova, for the White arc.
Petty's spinoff series also has justification. In the three years between the Leaf Green game and the Heart Gold game, Locke failed to renew her Trainer License, and lost the rights to her old Pokemon.
Played with in the Bob and George subcomic Jailhouse Blues. X has been dropped in jail alongside Megaman, having been sent back in time so he can serve his full sentence and be out when needed, and they're discussing why they have sentences of different lengths:
X: Wait, if all Wiley's minions were men, why weren't you arrested for murder? Mega Man: There was never enough evidence. X: What? What about all your weapons? Mega Man: I dumped all my weapons into the East River after every game. Didn't you? X: ... Mega Man: You didn't, did you? X: Shut up, just shut up.
In MS Paint Masterpieces this is subverted everywhere. Mega Man, Genre Savvy enough to realize this might happen, attempts to keep his weapons from the first game by saving them on a computer, but Dr. Light finds out and deletes them just before Wily attacks. Then Mega Man loses some more of his abilities when he dies.
Enter The Arena As Your Avatar: Anything a character is carrying that they didn't have when they entered the Arena for the first time is dropped when they die, even if they respawn. Averted, though, in that if a character's player decides to pull them out of the Arena, the character will still have all their stuff when/if they come back.