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Among some video game publishers, there exists an annoying tendency to release one game, and then release it again several times with minor changes before any wholesale sequel ever comes along. When one finally does, it's 2:1 odds that it will be a prequel that doesn't do much of anything to advance the main plotline. Whether this is done to cater to the hardcore fanbase or cynically milk a franchise for all it's worth is purely a matter of conjecture.
There is a third reason why this occurs: competitive multiplayer games. In the old days, patching a non-PC game was impossible. Arcade machines could have their hardware swapped without taxing its players in the slightest, but console game updates had to take the form of a new cartridge or disc, usually priced the same or similar to the first iteration of the game. Companies were able to get away with this due to the popularity of the games in the arcades, thus necessitating that players "keep up with the Joneses" at home. While this trope is averted more often these days, with some game updates either basically being out-and-out sequels, or being taken care of via patches or Downloadable Content, some companies still abuse the idea of releasing an update as a full game. Capcom themselves has done both in recent times; contrast the handling of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (DLC update that was also, optionally available for purchase as a standalone game for newcomers) with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ($40 retail update that wasn't compatible with the original game).
Note also that, while the trope namer Capcom does this enough to get the trope named after them, they are by no means the only publisher guilty of it.
Related to Mission Pack Sequel, but this includes the storyline as well as the gameplay. Easily leads to It's the Same, Now It Sucks or Sequelitis, although many of these games are simply So Okay, It's Average. Might be related to a game being Port Overdosed.
Contrast Sequel Escalation. See Observation On Originality for one explanation.
WARNING: Too much exposure to this trope may cause Colon Cancer.
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Trope Namer: Capcom
The most ostentatious and infamous example is easily Street Fighter II. It began with Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991, then came Street Fighter II': Champion Edition and Street Fighter II': Hyper Fighting, both in 1992; Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers in 1993; and Super Street Fighter II Turbo: The Ultimate Championship (a.k.a. Super Street Fighter II X: The Grand Master Challenge) in 1994. Four different derivatives of the original Street Fighter II in a span of three years, and that's just the arcade releases. Do note that Capcom never marketed these releases as full-fledged sequels, but updates and balance changes made largely in response to players discovering broken and unintended gameplay mechanics.
Hilariously lampshaded in a piece of envelope art shown in GamePro magazine in an early 1990s issue (years before Street Fighter III came out), which featured a couple of Sesame Street parodies. One of them showed Bert and Ernie with a Capcom representative trying to count to three. The Capcom rep counts by rattling off the various versions of Street Fighter released up to that point ("Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II': Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II': Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II..."). Ernie's reaction to this is putting a gun to his head, saying "I give up," and Bert's is banging his head on a nearby desk.
Some of the home versions are titled differently as well. The Super NES received a two-in-one compilation of Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting titled Street Fighter II Turbo, taking its title from the Japanese version of Hyper Fighting (but without the apostrophe-like prime symbol they use to represent the word "Dash" over there), while the Sega Genesis counterpart of that same compilation is titled Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition (otherwise known as Street Fighter II Dash Plus in Japan). Then we got Street Fighter Collection and Street Fighter Collection 2, a compilation of all five games for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, although covered in reversed order (the first one has both Super games and a bonus disc with Alpha 2 Gold, while the second contains the original three); Super Street Fighter II X for Matching Service, an online-compatible version of Super Turbo for the Sega Dreamcast released only in Japan via mail order (making it one of the most sought after versions of the series); Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival, a watered downGame Boy Advance version of Super Turbo; Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition, a modified version of Super Turbo that allows players to use any character from the five different iterations of Street Fighter II; and finally Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, a remake of Super Turbo that replaces the original graphics and music with artwork by UDON and music remixes by OverClocked ReMix.
Street Fighter Alpha (Street Fighter Zero in Japan and Asia), the prequel game that followed II, also got its own series of updates and pseudo-sequels. The original was immediately followed by Alpha 2, which added alternate versions of certain characters for its U.S. release (namely Evil Ryu, EX Zangief, and EX Dhalsim). Alpha 2 was then re-released in Japan and Asia as Zero 2 Alpha, which had all the extra characters from the U.S. release, plus "EX" versions of the rest of the Street Fighter II cast. Zero 2 Alpha was then ported to home consoles as Alpha 2 Gold, which added an extra character to the mix: the Shadaloo version of Cammy (who previously appeared in X-Men vs. Street Fighter), although she was initially only playable in the Versus and Training modes. Then Alpha 3 came and the home versions of that game added even more characters (eventually bringing back the entire Street Fighter II roster). The Dreamcast version of Alpha 3, subtitled Sakyo Dojo, was backported to the arcade as Zero 3 Upper in Japan, a title used for the later Game Boy Advance port (Alpha 3 Upper), which added three characters from Capcom vs. SNK 2 (Maki, Yun, and Eagle). This all culminated with the PlayStation Portable version, Alpha 3 MAX, which has all the extra characters from the previous versions, plus Ingrid (from Capcom Fighting Evolution). This isn't even counting Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, a compilation of the arcade version of the Alpha games, along with Alpha 2 Gold, Alpha 3 Upper, and a Versus/Training mode-only game titled Hyper Street Fighter Alpha that pits versions of nearly every character from all the above games (the characters who appear in the portable versions of Alpha 3 weren't included).
Street Fighter III was a bit more modest in its sequels compared to II and Alpha, mainly due to its relative unpopularity at the time of its release. The original was titled Street Fighter III: New Generation, which was followed by Street Fighter III 2nd Impact: Giant Attack, and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future. In terms of home versions, the first two were released exclusively for the Dreamcast in a two-in-one compilation titled Street Fighter III: Double Impact, while 3rd Strike got a stand-alone release for the Dreamcast, followed by PlayStation 2 and Xbox ports which helped expose the series a bit.
The Street Fighter EX 3D spin-off series consisted of four arcade games (EX, EX Plus, EX2, and EX2 Plus), two PlayStation ports (EX Plus Alpha and EX2 Plus), and a PlayStation 2-exclusive final installment (EX3).
Street Fighter IV (an interquel set between II and III) was originally released for the arcades in Japan and Asia exclusively and then ported to home consoles. The home versions added six more characters to the roster. Then it got an update for the home consoles in the form of Super Street Fighter IV which added 10 more characters to the roster. Super Street Fighter IV was then ported to the arcades (and the home consoles as DLC as Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition). Four more characters were added to the roster (Yun, Yang, Evil Ryu, and the introduction of Oni, who is an alternate form of Akuma). A 3DS version was also released, titled Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. An update titled Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Ver. 2012 was released as a downloadable patch in December 2011. Another balance update (Ultra Street Fighter IV) was released in 2014, with another 5 additional characters (four of them, Hugo, Poison, Elena, and Rolento, ported over from Street Fighter X Tekken).
To wit, Capcom's infamy with this from Street Fighter alone has led to a recurrent trend among fans of creating ridiculously long, absurd-sounding, subtitle-laden titles whenever a new title/update is announced because it's expected that Capcom's going to turn around and release another version of the game they just bought several months down the road. How affectionate the mocking is varies from person to person, especially in more recent years.
Capcom's Darkstalkers series fared even worse. Going out with Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2, which despite being numbered like sequels were just minor rule and roster updates to the original Vampire Savior, which was actually third game in the series, following the original Darkstalkers (Vampire in Japan) and Night Warriors (Vampire Hunter in Japan). And then the characters from all three (Vampire Savior, Vampire Hunter 2, and Vampire Savior 2) were combined into a home release as Darkstalkers 3 (which retained the Vampire Savior title in Japan).
Night Warriors borders between being an updated version of the original Darkstalkers and a sequel. The entire roster and stages are lifted straight from the first game, and even their ending sequences are the same, but there are many rule changes from the first game to distinguish it as a separate game.
That being said, Yoshinori Ono (producer of the Street Fighter IV series, among other titles) has been recently lobbying for a true sequel to Darkstalkers 3. However, the series is currently in indefinite hiatus.
There was a time when the Resident Evil series was heavily fixated around the events of Raccoon City in 1998, with many prequels, interquels and side-stories. Even Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the third numbered entry, was actually set around the same time period as Resident Evil 2 and added many retcons to the previous game's plot. The Resident Evil Outbreak spinoff series is set during the Raccoon City outbreak as well, but still feature many irreconcilable inconsistencies with both of those games. Resident Evil 4 finally moved away the plot and setting by being set in 2004 (six years after the events of Raccoon City) and all the numbered entries since then have taken place in present or near-future.
Originally, Devil May Cry was supposed to be the immediate sequel to Code: Veronica. They thought it was too much of a huge break in genres, though, so they ripped out the original story (Dante was a police officer named Tony Redgrave fighting against more Umbrella horrors) to the current one. Turned out to be great. So far the franchise has been pretty good about this trope (even though chronology is all over the place: The chronological order is 3-1-4-2), but that can change in a heartbeat as soon as Capcom start pumping out spin-offs (and already has changed if you count Dante's appearances in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and Viewtiful Joe as canon).
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, infamous amongst the gaming community as one of the only (or the only) game/s to be re-released because it was too freaking hard.
Even the semi-obscure 1942Shoot Em Up series isn't invincible to this. 1943 got a re-release called 1943 Kai, and 1942: Joint Strike is basically the elements of 1943, 19XX, and 1944 rolled up into one game.
And then there's 1941: Counter Attack, the third game in the series. Possibly justified in that it takes place in Europe, where the war ended sooner than in Japan.
Federation Vs. Zeon was innovative and well-received, the sequel AEUG Vs. Titans was pretty much the same game with some new machines — and then came Gundam Vs. Zeta Gundam, which was AvT with more new machines, and the popular Campaign Mode replaced with a repetitive alternate history mode.
Thankfully, the later games in the series avert this; Alliance Vs. ZAFT boasts a drastic overhaul to the game engine, Gundam Vs. Gundam gains Fanservice points for covering the franchise's entire 30-year history, and each of those games has a sequel that greatly bolsters the roster and adds in an interesting Mission Mode. And then they announced Extreme Versus, which is an overhaul of Gundam Vs. Gundam with PS3-level graphics (every other game in the series was Dreamcast/PS2-level).
Unfortunately, shortly after Extreme got a console port, they announced Extreme Vs. Full Boost. And when that got a console port, they unveiled Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost. The roster of mobile suits is getting boosted with each installment (Full Boost having nearly 120 Mobile Suits, counting DLC), but the game engine is largely unchanged save for some balance tweaks and slight changes to the Super Mode mechanic. Fans are beginning to get a little leery.
Monster Hunter seems to be falling victim to this. While each game adds new content, some games are nothing more than expansions. The 3 main games are set in different locations, with new monsters, new weapon types, and in Tri's case some monsters and weapon types were taken out in favor of all new content. However, in the expansions, commonly given the subtitle "G", the biggest changes are to the weapon types to make them more balanced, and there are usually no more than a few new monsters that aren't just palette swaps.
Dragon's Dogma is suffering from something similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 with Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen; a $40 "sequel", that's essentially a re-release of the original game with improved gameplay, and a whole new area of its own content and quests added onto the base game.
Somewhat averted by the classic Mega Man formula. Each new game demands a brand new set of eight robot masters to fight, and along with those new bosses come new weapons to play with, new levels with new artwork and tile sets, and a new story. While this rigid formula has kept the series from growing or expanding (Mega Man 7 and 8 in particular were way too short, give the consoles they were released on), it also acts as a failsafe, ensuring that each new Mega Man game will not be terribly derivative of its predecessors. For the most part it works, as Mega Man 9 and 10 can attest, but it's not foolproof. Mega Man 5 invokes stagnation by offering the player a poor assortment of weapons and pretending the big bad isn't Dr. Wily again, while Mega Man X6 does it by thoughtlessly plastering instant-death spikes everywhere and shoehorning Sigma in at the last second.
Mega Man Legends 2 came out in 2000. No sequels popped up for ten years when Legends 3 was finally announced (and later cancelled) for the 3DS, but between then, all we got were ports of the two main games to the PSP of debatable quality (as the PSP is missing a few buttons from the DualShock and the original PSX controller itself) and a cell phone game. It's even more sad as fans had been clamoring for years, and Inafune himself said Legends 3 was the game he wanted to work on before he retired (ironically, he resigned from his position at Capcom not long after the announcement of Legends 3).
The Marvel fighting games are an example as the developers re-used the same sprites in all "sequels" of X-Men: Children of the Atom (just compare the omnipresentWolverine: he has the exact same animations in X-Men: CotA, Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2). The only exception is Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where all characters were animated with 3D models (and even then, some characters were adapted straight from the preceding crossover, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, with minimal changes). Gameplay-wise, this is more arguable, although differences between certain titles boil down mainly to the roster choices (compare XvSF to MSHvSF).
According to an interview with Inafune, Capcom's official policy for quite a while was that 70-80% of new games had to be sequels. Its unofficial but de facto policy was that only sequels would be developed.
Dead Rising slid into this first with the release of Dead Rising 2 Case Zero, Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising: Cast West, and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record all being released in a little over a year between the first (Case Zero) and the most recent (Off the Record). Off The Record, which sees the reuse of the Fortune City setting, with an additional area, new weapon combinations and switching the protagonist to Frank West in a "what if" scenario.
The Ace Attorney series' first three games are guilty of this. The original trilogy was released on the GBA only in Japan. Years later, a DS version was made of all three games, which were now released internationally. Other than remastered music, improved coloring on the sprites and an added case in the first game which made use of the DS's new features, all three games were more or less the same. Later, all three games were made available on WiiWare, with the only notable difference being that the player can point the Wiimote while shouting OBJECTION! But again, no other significant differences. It's now also on the Appstore (using a free-to-play model where the user must pay for each individual episode save for 1 and 2). Aside from improved graphics, again, no difference. Then all three games were released on the 3DS in Japan in one collection as Gyakuten Saiban 123: Naruhodou Selectionnote Turnabout Trial 123: Wright Selection.. The graphics were practically identical to the iOS versions, but, once more, no difference.
Neon Genesis Evangelion has had a number of versions for its animated installments. The series itself has been re-released in Japan as the "Renewal of Evangelion" edition, containing the Director's Cut (also called the New Production Cut) versions of episodes 21-24, which contain extra scenes. "Renewal of Evangelion" also got a US release as the "Platinum Edition", albeit sans various extras that came with Renewal. The extra scenes in the cuts above also appeared earlier in Death, the first part of the first Eva movie, Death and Rebirth. Death itself (largely a recap of the series focusing on the main trio) was later given a theatrical re-release by itself, labeled Death(true), with most of the Director's Cut footage removed, and then a second re-release called Death(true)2 aired in theaters alongside End of Evangelion under the "Revival of Evangelion" project (not to be confused with Renewal). Then Rebirth, mentioned earlier, was recut and expanded upon to form Episode 25': Air, which is the first part of End of Evangelion. Phew.
Moving onto Rebuild of Evangelion (again, not to be confused with Renewal or Revival), both movies released thus far have a couple versions. Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone was re-released in theatres (and to DVD and Blu Ray) as Evangelion 1.01, which contained a large number of improvements here and there. There was then a second DVD/Blu-ray version, Evangelion 1.11, which dealt with darkness issues and added three minutes of new footage. The second film, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, in addition to already changing certain scenes that appeared in 1.0's preview, was improved as Evangelion 2.22 for DVD and Blu-ray.
Dragon Ball Z has been going through a great deal of this in North America. First you had the VHS and DVD releases by Pioneer that took viewers through the Saiyan and Namek arcs up to the battle with Ginyu, the original FUNimation singles took it from there and continued until the end of Dragon Ball GT. While most of the FUNimation DVDs had uncut footage and the original Japanese track available with subtitles, none of the Pioneer DVDs did. Then in comes FUNimation's Ultimate Uncut Edition, starting the series over, which was cancelled before the battle with Vegeta and was replaced with the Orange Box season sets, which were cropped vertically to mimic 16:9 widescreen (losing something like 20% of the picture in the process) and the colors were terribly saturated among other things. This still meant that there was no way to own the series in a proper format with uncut visuals and the original Japanese audio. Finally FUNimation released the Dragon Box sets, using updated masters that were properly remastered for better audio and video quality. Not even a few volumes in to the Dragon Box we got "Dragon Ball Kai" - which was yet another edit of the same footage that was cut and censored for air and available uncut in both Blu-ray and DVD formats.
The soundtrack scandal with Dragon Ball Kai made the North American release more difficult. Earlier DVDs have the original Kai soundtrack while later DVDs and reprints of the earlier DVDs now have replacement music from Dragon Ball Z.
The Orange Boxes were later complemented with brown GT boxes and blue Dragon Ball boxes.
And now Orange Boxes, Brown Boxes and Blue Boxes can be found bundled together in "Volumes" as opposed to "Seasons". The same can be said for the Z Kai DVD release.
Please keep in mind that the Orange/Brown/Blue Boxes, the Dragon Boxes and the Z Kai releases were, for a time, available concurrently.
Don't forget the short lived Z Blu-ray "Level" release. This means that, including the various forms and volumes/seasons, there were at least eight versions of the same material available simultaneously.
And now, we have the Orange Boxes and the new Season Blu-Ray sets, which have a better transfer than the Orange Boxes, but still crop the video to 16:9. So the only non-out of print releases of DBZ we have are widescreen cropped and over-saturated.
There have been several different editions of each Alien film, due to various re-releases and alternate versions that have tweaked or supplemented it with deleted material:
Alien had the original theatrical version, the "20th Anniversary Edition" (various scenes trimmed or extended) and the Director's Cut, which was released in 2003 and integrated several deleted scenes - including Ripley discovering the final fate of Brett and Dallas - into the finished film.
Aliens had its theatrical version, an alternate version that aired on CBS which integrated deleted footage of the xenomorphs attacking the Operations building (while also cutting out most of the profanity), and the "Special Edition" that integrated most of the remaining deleted scenes, which was made in 1992 made not released until the DVD version in 1999. The Blu-Ray version of the film also notably tweaks several scenes, including Ripley's Lock and Load Montage while flying to the atmosphere processor and the continuity error of Lance Henriksen's lower body being seen in the hole when he reaches out to hold on to Carrie Henn's character.
Alien3 had several different versions, the most of any of the film series to date:
The theatrical version, released in 1992.
A workprint taken from an early cut, released sometime around 1992-93, which features many alternate scenes, musical cues and dialogue. Several of the scenes in this release have not been released to date.
The "Assembly Cut", which reintegrated a large amount of deleted material and was released on the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set.
The Assembly Cut was further changed after a large portion of its audio track was re-recorded (due to the original ADR making the actors in the original footage very difficult to hear) and released on the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set.
Alien: Resurrection had a theatrical cut and Special Edition version included on the Quadrilogy and Anthology boxsets.
The first three films were released multiple times over the years, with several different versions including Super-8, Laserdisc (film-only/Special Edition), Videodisc, VHS (Alien Trilogy/Triple Pack/Facehugger Boxset/standalone releases), DVD (Alien 20th Anniversary/Aliens Special Edition/Legacy/Quadrilogy/Triple Pack/standalone) and Blu-Ray (Anthology/standalone). Phew.
Prometheus kinda subverted by having deleted scenes, but not an alternate cut because Ridley Scott didn't want to do so. (given both Alien and Blade Runner, a feat for him!)
James Cameron has two different cuts of Avatar: the original, and Special Edition which hit cinema screens roughly a few months later after the original was proven to be a hit. The "Collector's Extended Cut" was released as part of the three-disc Blu-ray release, adding a few more minutes of footage than the Special Edition.
Blade Runner has no fewer than 8 different versions that have been shown at some point in time. From Wikipedia, they are:
The Four Hour Rough Cut that was shown to studio executives and people involved with the production.
Original workprint version (1982, 113 minutes) shown to audience test previews in Denver and Dallas in March 1982. It was also seen in 1990 and 1991 in Los Angeles and San Francisco as a Director's Cut without the approval of director Ridley Scott. Negative responses to the test previews led to the modifications resulting in the U.S. theatrical version, while positive response to the showings in 1990 and 1991 pushed the studio to approve work on an official director's cut. It was re-released as a 5-disc Ultimate Edition in 2007.
A San Diego Sneak Preview shown only once in May 1982, which was almost identical to the Domestic Cut with three extra scenes.
The U.S. theatrical version (1982, 116 minutes), known as the original version or Domestic Cut. This version remained unreleased on home video until 2007 when it was released on DVD as part of the five disc Ultimate Edition.
The International Cut (1982, 117 minutes) also known as the "Criterion Edition" or uncut version, included more violent action scenes than the U.S. theatrical version. Although initially unavailable in the U.S. and distributed in Europe and Asia via theatrical and local Warner Home Video laserdisc releases, it was later released on VHS and Criterion Collection laserdisc in North America, and re-released in 1992 as a "10th Anniversary Edition".
The U.S. broadcast version (1986, 114 minutes), the U.S. theatrical version edited for violence, profanity and nudity by CBS to meet broadcast restrictions.
The Ridley Scott-approved (1992, 116 minutes) Director's Cut; prompted by the unauthorized 1990–1991 workprint theatrical release and made available on VHS and laserdisc in 1993, and on DVD in 1997. Significant changes from the theatrical version include: removal of Deckard's voice-over, insertion of a unicorn sequence and removal of the studio-imposed happy ending. Ridley did provide extensive notes and consultation to Warner Bros. through film preservationist Michael Arick who was put in charge of creating the Director's Cut.
Ridley Scott's Final Cut (2007, 117 minutes), or the "25th Anniversary Edition", released by Warner Bros. theatrically on October 5, 2007 and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray in December 2007 (U.K. December 3; U.S. December 18). This is the only version over which Ridley Scott had complete artistic control as the Director's Cut was rushed and he was not directly in charge.
Insane Ian titled his video game parody medleys as follows: "The Epic Video Game Medley", "The Super Epic Video Game Medley II: Championship Edition", "The Ultimate Epic Video Game Medley 3rd Strike: Revenge of the Return of the Rise of the Remake of the New Challengers", and "The Ultra Epic Video Game Medley IV: Guns of the Last Nightmare New Patriot Revelations".
Video Games (except CAPCOM, see above)
Tatsusoft (now TwinSky Games) once had a game placing Bubble Bobble characters in a Fighting Game. It made fun of the many prefixes and suffixes of the Street Fighter games and was called Super Bubble Fighter II Turbo Alpha Championship Edition + 4 Ned.
Arc System Works fell into this with the Guilty Gear games - Guilty Gear XX, the third game in the series, was followed with Guilty Gear XX #Reload (one "new" character, rebalanced moves), Guilty Gear Isuka (a four-player spin-off), Guilty Gear XX Slash (two new characters, one of which is from Isuka, and more rebalancing), then Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, which despite having no new characters has enough gameplay changes that they probably could have gotten away with calling it Guilty Gear X3 if Reload and Slash hadn't existed. And now there's Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, which fixes some glitches and adds a ton of extra features, including a story mode that takes place after the original XX.
Made worse since most of XX is built upon its predecessor X series, which itself had a regular, 1.5, and Plus release.
On the plus side, the sheer amount of differences between AC+ and vanilla XX are on the level of a full-on sequel.
Additionally, a true sequel (Guilty Gear 2: Overture) was released around the same time as Accent Core Plus (the new story in AC+ leads into Overture in some aspects where Sol, Ky, and Dizzy are concerned). And a sequel to both that and GGXX, 'Guilty Gear Xrd'' has now been released.
And Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R was released in 2013.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has given rise to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II, which despite the name is not a sequel to Continuum Shift, but a simple patch with 3 new playable characters added (though you still had to pay extra if you wanted to play as them on the console version). And again with Continuum Shift Extend which will come in the form of a new retail release for the PlayStation Vita, and HD consoles (though with some new features and additional story).
Combining the above, ASW seems to have gotten out of this stagnation. Aside of BlazBlue: Chronophantasma, which is a brand new game, they also announced a step-up of the Guilty Gear series: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-.
BBCP's updates now seem to be coming out as version numbers with a version 2 currently out in Japanese arcades.
Dynasty Warriors games all share the same plot, due to sticking to the same period in Chinese history. Each new numbered sequel brings only minor graphical improvements, and maybe one new game mechanic and one new character per faction.
All this was however brought back to normal with the 7th game which toned down several of the character designs and managed to actually appease the fanbase by moving the storyline ending point further back in history, resulting in a shed-load of new characters. Fans are still irritated however at two characters still not being present after being removed in the sixth game(Pang De and Zuo Ci). Pang De eventually gets brought back in the 7th game's expansion pack. Zuo Ci would just return in the 8th installment.
Castlevania is also starting to feel like this; All of the major plot points for the series (from the beginning to the end) have all been covered except the ultimate battle mentioned in Aria of Sorrow, which Konami seems keen on avoiding for more "let's have some random dick revive Dracula for shiggles" storylines to avoid having to close the series.
On the upswing, at least the gameplay changes, especially when the primary protagonist isn't a Belmont. Really, the series at its heart is an inverted sequel, the basic enemy types and the main villain are always the same, as opposed to the heroes, with the exceptions of Richter and Simon. And for a really bizarre take on the series, see that entry one above this one? Yeah, that's what Castlevania: Curse of Darkness was closer to, except you could use all the fighting styles with one guy.
There are eight games featuring Simon Belmont fighting Dracula in 1691.
This happens all too often with Konami's rhythm games, due to their vary nature, since the many sequels are essentially a chance to play about 30~60 new songs.
In the Dance Dance Revolution series, the first 5 main arcade titles went from just DDR to DDR 5th Mix; 3rd and 4th also had updated Plus versions with a few more songs and features. Then it went to DDRMAX, MAX 2, Extreme, Supernova, Supernova 2, and now X, X2, and the almost truly Capcom-like X3 vs. 2nd Mix.
In the beatmania series, it goes: BM, BM 2nd, BM 3rd, BM Complete, BM 4th, BM 5th, BM Complete 2, BM Club, BM feat. DCT, BM Core Remix, BM 6th UK Underground, BM 7th Keepin Evolution, BM The Final, BMIIDX, BMIIDX Club, BMIIDX Substream, BMIIDX 2nd through 10th, BMIIDX 11 Red, BMIIDX 12Happy Sky, BMIIDX 13 Distorted, BMIIDX 14 Gold, BMIIDX 15 DJ Troopers, BMIIDX 16 Empress, BMIIDX 17 Sirius, BMIIDX 18 Resort Anthem, BMIIDX 19 Lincle. And again, this only includes the main arcade series; not any of the home console versions, and not any of the arcade variants like Beatstage nor Hip Hop Mania.
The strangest thing is that a game intended to change the gameplay up (albeit only slightly) didn't do quite well, that game being beatmaniaIII. On that note, BMII is intended to be much the same back to BM, albeit much more popular.
BioWare has re-released countless compilations of Neverwinter Nights packages, one with each new expansion pack or sequel. Gold, Platinum, Diamond.. Diamond was not the ultimate collection. NWN2 and its expansions were then included in more collections. The same happened with older Infinity Engine games also.
The long-running Chessmaster series gets accused of this. But there's only so much you can do with chess.
Furcadia - Same graphics, game engine, and overall game since 1993, now with more default objects. The staff refuses to program in any new features that would create "significant changes to the gameplay" or that classify as "stuff to do".
The third installment of the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune series is suffering from this. First there was Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3. Then came WMMT 3 DX, which added a few new cars, one new song, a new course, and 20 more stages (as if 80 wasn'tenough!). And then game WMMT 3 DX Plus, which adds yet another course, more cars and four new songs (two of which are remixes).
The originalFinal Fantasy has been released on the NES, MSX2, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, mobile phones, PSP, Wii Virtual Console, PlayStation Network, and iPhone and iPod Touch. Each release has seen a handful of gameplay tweaks and a bonus dungeon or two, but the game is the same. With the exception of the Wii release, Final Fantasy II has seen a release on all of those platforms too, often bundled together with the first game. It too, basically the same game with a bonus dungeon added.
Final Fantasy IV has seen releases on the Super NES, PlayStation, WonderSwan Color, GBA, DS, Wii Virtual Console, mobile phones, PSP, and Steam. With the exception of the DS version, which was a full 3D remake with a fully revamped battle system instead of just a port, all of these releases are the same basic game with a handful of new features. The PSP version is similar to I and II on the same console graphically and includes the sequel as well as some new features.
The Oregon Trail. The first game itself had no fewer than three iterations (the teletype version, the Apple II version, and the PC/Mac version). Then there's Deluxe Edition for DOS, and the slightly updated version 1.2. The third and fourth editions are remakes of the first, and 5th Edition is a remake of II, then there was OT II 25th Anniversary Edition.
There's also a Facebook version now as well.
The Touhou series has recently started with this phenomenon with its numbering, although each game is a brand new game as opposed to a rehash; integer numbers since 2 have simply been reserved for traditional danmakuShoot Em Ups. With three consecutive games after 12 being in other genres, they've been numbered 12.3, 12.5, and 12.8.
The Guitar Hero series hasn't seen a significant gameplay change since Guitar Hero: World Tour, which introduced full-band gameplay so that the franchise could compete with Rock Band, and has been pushing out constant song pack sequels ever since Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the most egregious of which is most likely Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, consisting entirely of songs from past Guitar Hero games, charted for full-band play with their original master tracks. So it's little surprise that Activision has officially terminated the franchise.
On the note of the updated Fire Red/Leaf Green and Heart Gold/Soul Silver, it's worth noting that at the time of their release, many of the pokemon in their respective "catalogues" were otherwise unavailable in that generation without the use of hacks, so their rerelease is justified. Now, whether or not you can say the same for the upcoming Ruby/Sapphire remakes is still up in the air.
Game Freak is shaking things up in the handheld main series with Black and White2. Yes, a Numbered Sequel instead of an Updated Re-release. Apart from the plot, the games still fill the same role as a hypothetical Grey version would havenote and even the plot incorporates some of the elements that presumably would have been present in Grey, namely a focus on Kyurem over Reshiram and Zekrom.
Many of Sega's and Namco's arcade games that dispenses and uses game cards works squarely by this trope. None of them contain new storylines, only code and data to recognize new cards, and slight tweaks to the existing storyline and gameplay. Some may add new mechanics to the game with each update, but retains the same overall gameplay. And the games are timebombed to "persuade" operators to upgrade once the a certain date has elapsed on the machine.
San Francisco Rush The Rock: Alcatraz Edition, an Updated Re-release of the arcade game, added four new tracks including the titular Alcatraz, new shortcuts on the original tracks, four new cars, and a few new music pieces. It was followed by the Wave Net edition, which featured online multiplayer.
Mario Party pretty much fell into this, hardly changing at all and going up and down in quality by the game in general (up to a total of 12 games in just a few years so far). Even the better ones suffer from one simple issue: They are too similar to each other to justify buying more than one. Oddly enough, no other Mario Party title was released after game 8, which was back in 2007. With Hudson Soft (who helped develop the series) being merged with Konami and Nintendo releasing Wii Party in 2010 (which was basically Mario Party with Miis instead of Mario characters), many people assumed that the Mario Party franchise was dead.
However, it was revealed in E3 2011 that a 9th Mario Party game was being developed for the Wii, and it has indeed broken the cycle. Released in 2012, there was a 5 year gap from the previous game and it shows. The game is no longer about stars, coins, items, or playing a minigame after every turn. Instead, mini-stars are collected to determine who wins and they are obtained in many ways so games can be tight instead of being constantly random. Luck-based events were reduced greatly and the new board mechanics that have players traveling as one instead of individually creates strategy in turn order and dice use. Minigames are around, but they only occur from landing on certain spaces.
Occasionally a sports sim will introduce radical new gameplay (MVP Baseball 2004 and Madden NFL 2013 being good examples of this) but generally Sport xxxx + 1 is just Sport xxxx with tweaked shirts and updated rosters.
In fact, frequently the selling point of such games is "The same as Sport xxxx! Only with one new feature!" Cumulatively, these changes make a big difference, so that, for example, Madden 2011 is significantly different from Madden 2001, but the annual changes are less like content improvement and more like patches.
Atlus knows when they have a good hit: Persona 3 has been released a total of three times: the original, Persona 3 FES (which admittedly added a new and very hard epilogue chapter), and Persona 3 Portable (which added a new female protagonist). The success of Persona 3 prompted remakes of the original Persona game, along with Persona 2: Innocent Sin, which was never released in the North America, for the PSP. Devil Survivor was re-released with a new 8th day and new ending. To their credit, Atlus never just releases the same game, always adding something new to it, but it's still essentially the same plot.
Though they seem to have learned their lesson when moving on with Persona 4 (exploring the game via different mediums with The Animation, the fighting game and twoSpin-Offs), Persona 4: Golden is by far the worst example of this so far - aside from features involving wireless networking, a new character and some story elements, everything else so far is just for bells and whistles.
Virtual Villagers hasn't made any significant changes since the first game. (And there's been FIVE)
Eversion has had two updated rereleases, the first virtually nothing but an Animation Bump and the second adding a third ending.
Skullgirls initially parodied this trope when they would release (free) patches for the game, code-naming the patches things like "Slightly Different Edition", "More Different Edition", etc. as a way to reference fighting games that played this trope straight. But then, due to a bit of legal trouble with Konami and a de-listing of the game on console versions, the team was forced to actually re-release the game as Skullgirls Encore, which is essentially the original game with the latest balance patch and Squigly available. It still counts as a free patch to those who already bought the original game though.
Raiden IV has gotten several updates now, starting with the Xbox360 port. A patch was also released as downloadable on Xbox LIVE Arcade, followed by the NESiCAxLive version for the arcades. The newest update, titled Raiden IV: Overkill, is stated for release on Play Station Network.
Ys I & II (despite the title, they're essentially the first two games fused into one complete game) has seen many rereleases over the years, starting with the first version on Turbografx-CD, and then later on getting separate new versions for Windows PCs, PS2, DS and PSP. However, aside from graphical and audio facelifts, later releases would eventually also have updated gameplay to make them play more like modern Ys games.
In-universe example in The Simpsons, where Malibu Stacy is re-shelved with a new hat.