Capcom Sequel Stagnation
Challenge: can you separate the "new games" from the re-releases?

"Street Masher... Street Masher 2... Street Masher 2: Slightly Different Costumes Edition..."
Homestar Runner reminisces on some of his favorite arcade games, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: 8-Bit is Enough

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 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; 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. This can lead to Sequelitis but not necessarily, as the games might still be good, or even great, in spite of the redundancy. Might be related to a game being Port Overdosed.

See Observation On Originality for one explanation.

WARNING: Too much exposure to this trope may cause Colon Cancer.


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  • 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 official arcade releases (there were bootleg Game Mods as well). 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 down Game 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).note 
      • 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.
    • For a series with such a reputation for this trope, notably, Street Fighter V will subvert this trope. At the moment, Capcom plans to release post-release content (i.e. characters) as updates instead.
  • 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). In the case of Night Warriors, it 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 lobbying for a true sequel to Darkstalkers 3. However, the series is currently in indefinite hiatus.
  • Capcom made two licensed fighters based on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, developed by the Street Fighter III team for the same arcade hardware. Not surprisingly, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future adds little to its predecessor JoJo's Venture except for a bunch of newly playable characters.
  • 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. Their minds are still stuck in Raccoon City for the spin-offs. The Umbrella Chronicles, The Darkside Chronicles, and Operation Raccoon City all go over the zombie outbreak in Raccoon City again.
  • 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.note 
    • In December 2014, Capcom would announce a Definitive Edition of the highly controversial Dm C Devil May Cry due out in March 2015, followed by a Special Edition of the more favorable Devil May Cry 4 set for June 2015.
  • Even the semi-obscure 1942 Shoot '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.
  • The Gundam Vs Series, developed by Capcom, has been zig-zagging the trope:
    • 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. This, however, is less a problem in the West in the case of the 4th generation, as the G version of Monster Hunter 4 (which was localized as Ultimate) was the first iteration of that particular generation that was released in the West (the first Monster Hunter 4 didn't even end up localized). Time will only tell if this ends up being the case for future generations.
  • 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.
  • In an unprecedented move, Capcom applied this to the Vs. series. A mere five months after the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we now have Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The new content (12 new characters and 8 new stages) was originally meant to be released as DLC, but the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 forced the development team to re-route their development cycle and instead package everything (and a few extra bells and whistles) in a manner similar to the above Super Street Fighter IV (and its Arcade Edition update). More than a few fans are still wondering exactly what the hell they bought, though.
    • 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 omnipresent Wolverine: 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 and the last. Off The Record 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 Phoenix Wright 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 as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy. The graphics were practically identical to the iOS versions, but, once more, no difference.
    • It should be noted, however, that with the exception of the DS updated version of the first game with the new case, none of these ports were made with the intention of making people buy the games again, but rather to have the titles still be in the market when their home consoles became outdated.

    Other Video Games 
  • 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 -SIGN- has now been released.
    • And Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R was released in 2013. No new characters but rebalance, move adjustment, and tournament legalizing Justice and Kliff were the order of the day.
    • In late May 2015, barely half a year out from Xrd's console release in Japan and the United States, an update, Xrd -REVELATOR-, was announced, featuring additional characters (including a returning Johnny, who was an NPC in -SIGN-) and new versions of pre-existing stages not unlike the various revisions to XX. Like Accent Core Plus, the story will continue on from where -SIGN- left off.
  • Arc System Works fell head first back into this with Guilty Gear's Spiritual Successor, BlazBlue, albeit not at first. Like Guilty Gear, each time the subtitle changes, new gameplay is introduced but they continue to use the same sprite artwork between each one.
    • The first game of the series, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger was quickly followed up in the sequel BlazBlue: Continuum Shift about a year later. Then about a year later, Continuum Shift II came out. Despite its title, it is not a sequel to the original Continuum Shift. It is simply a balance patch with three additional characters and a little extra story content. Then Continuum Shift Extend came out, which was again, another balance patch and added only one additional character and more story content. Except this time, it was a full retail release.
    • BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma follows in Continuum Shift's footsteps. The original game came first, then a patch for the additional characters, and then finally a new patch given a full retail release. The next major overhaul is called "BlazBlue: Centralfiction".
  • DoDonPachi has had no less than nine followups, all of them a Mission-Pack Sequel at best. Cave in general has frequently done "Black Label" versions of their more popular games, with a few tweaks and occasionally some minor content additions
  • 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.
    • Ironically enough, going out of their way to make it "fresh" and "new" as far as the characters went created a massive backlash, this mostly due to the fact they gave fan-favorite characters in the sixth game wildly different weapons and play mechanics, possibly even ruining their design to many. The end result was...not pretty. Also the sixth game was the final end result of their increasingly ludicrous anachronistic costumes, one could compare it to a suspension of disbelief breaking moment in a fantasy drama, or a wrestler intentionally breaking kayfabe. They simply went too far in all ways at once, and rather than break the mold, broke the base. Also, unmentioned in the bullet above but vitally important to understand how little changed between games, Xiahou Dun's cape. It didn't stop clipping through the horse's ass for SEVEN iterations. (if you include expansions) This is why the drastic changes hurt the broken part of the fanbase so much, it was the 90 foot 90 degree drop at the end of a slow and calm graded incline.
      • 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.
    • The above point about the Battle of 1999 not yet receiving a game (despite the Sorrow titles, Portrait of Ruin, Curse of Darkness, and even Judgment hinting at it) is most likely the reason Castlevania started a second timeline with Lords of Shadow. However, that string of installments is set to conclude fairly soon itself, as Mirror of Fate (the sequel to Lords of Shadow) will then tie into Lords of Shadow 2, which is set to wrap up the Lords of Shadow story.
  • This happens all too often with Konami's rhythm games, due to their very 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 12 Happy 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. This is referenced in-universe as well, where Deekin's books about the events of the first game and expansions went through all the same compilations and re-releases as the game itself.
  • The long-running Chessmaster series gets accused of this. But there's only so much you can do with chess.
  • Lunar: The Silver Star and its sequel Lunar: Eternal Blue, originally released for the Sega CD, were remade for the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. The first game was remade again for the Game Boy Advance and then for the PSP. The Lunar franchise has produced various side games, but no proper third installment yet, since Lunar: Dragon Song was a dull retread of much of the first game.
  • 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't enough!). And then game WMMT 3 DX Plus, which adds yet another course, more cars and four new songs (two of which are remixes).
  • The original Final 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 danmaku Shoot 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.
    • 2015's Guitar Hero Live finally makes a major gameplay change, stripping the controllers down to a newly-designed guitar and a microphone. Instead of 3D animation, the game used Full Motion Video with real actors.
  • The Pokémon series does not do this extensively, but it does this consistently. Game Freak's pattern of releasing two virtually identical games at once, then releasing a third nearly-identical-but-with-a-couple-bonuses game a little later has been repeated over and over and they have been doing updated remakes of older games as well. In the U.S., we got: Red and Blue, then Yellow a bit laternote ; Gold and Silver, then Crystal a bit later; Ruby and Sapphire, then Emerald a bit later; FireRed and LeafGreen (updated versions of Red/Blue/Yellow); Diamond and Pearl, then Platinum a bit later; HeartGold and SoulSilver (updated versions of Gold/Silver/Crystal); and now Pokémon Black and White. That is about 5 unique plotlines spread across 18 games!
    • The two near-identical games are justified, because 100% Completion requires trading with the other version - a mechanic that the Japanese love, but became a Scrappy Mechanic outside of Japan, making it a case of Americans Hate Tingle.
    • 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 White 2. 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 .
  • 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.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • 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. Then Mario Party 10 was given lukewarm reviews for being too similar to 9.
    • The core Super Mario Bros. series got somewhat hit with this during the New era. To demonstrate, Super Mario Maker has four gameplay styles. The first style covers two games note , the next two cover one game each note , and the last style covers all four of the New gamesnote  by itself. Granted, each of those games introduced new power-ups, set pieces, and gimmicks.
  • 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.
    • The Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey games on the Nintendo Sixty Four were particularly notorious examples. The original (released a couple months after the N64's launch) was a fun but very flawed arcade style hockey game. However, aside from improving the goalie AI (a common complaint about the original), Gretzky '98 was literally the original game with updated rosters and... a green background in the menus. While Olympic Hockey Nagano '98 (which, to this day, is the only game to ever earn a 0.0 on IGN) was literally Gretzky '98 but with the various countries participating in the 1998 Winter Olympics replacing the standard NHL teams. Adding insult to injury: Nagano '98 and Gretzky '98 were released a mere two months apart.
    • From the 16 bit days, there was World Series Baseball '96 (which was just a repackaged World Series '95 with updated rosters and a few bug fixes) and College Slam (which was just NBA Jam: Tournament Edition with college teams replacing professional teams).
  • 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 Persona 4: The Animation, the fighting game and three Spin-Offs—one of which is a Rhythm Game), 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.
      • Ironically enough, both the anime and the fighting game got "sequels". Persona 4 Arena Ultimax fixes some issues, mess with balance, adds new characters, let's you play with shadows versions, a survival mode and a new campaign with an actual plot. Sure, those are a lot of changes but nothing a DLC couldn't do, it's almost the same game. And there's the new Persona 4 Golden: The Animation, that isn't actually a sequel but retcons the older anime with the Golden game by giving Marie the spotlight.
  • 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 PlayStation 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.
  • Bootleg Unlicensed Games have a tendency towards this. Somari, for example, was rereleased at least six times under different names.
  • Dead or Alive has gotten into this, big time. The original 2012 release of Dead or Alive 5 was followed by Dead or Alive 5+ for the Vita, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, and finally Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. Each update retained the same core engine, menu styles, story mode, and basic gameplay of its predecessor, while adding a few characters and other tweaks, very similar to the Street Fighter II sequels.
  • Final Boss S-Kill from Divekick is a parody of this practice, being the leader of an organization looking to rebalance the world so it can repackage and sell it anew. His win animation also has him pulling out a copy of Divekick with randomly generated Word Salad Title suffixes and prefixes like the kind one would expect from a game afflicted by this. The game itself also poked some fun at this with its free DLC referred to as Divekick: Addition Edition+.
  • Between the release of Angry Birds and Angry Birds 2, several other Angry Birds titles were released, some being just the first title with a minor reskin (as is the case with the Star Wars titles) or with a minor gimmick (Angry Birds Space) while very few titles change the gameplay altogether (Angry Birds Go, Angry Birds Epic, Angry Birds Transformers).
  • Mortal Kombat 3 was ported to a wide range of consoles, but that didn't prevent it from being superseded on most of those platforms by an Updated Re-release titled Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, which was then expanded still further into the Dream Match Game Mortal Kombat Trilogy. The Mortal Kombat Cash Cow Franchise was clearly hitting its peak around that time.

  • 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.
  • The Dragon Ball franchise's home video release has fallen victim to this in many regions, particularly North America:
    • First you have the VHS and DVD releases of Dragon Ball Z by Pioneer that took viewers through the Saiyan and Namek arcs up to the battle with Ginyu, featuring the Ocean dub. FUNimation took it from there with single-disc releases that continued until the end of Dragon Ball GT with the now-familiar English voice actors. Both English dubs feature replacement music by Bruce Faulconer.
    • Then FUNimation began releasing the Ultimate Uncut Edition, starting the series over with the new dub actors, including the original Japanese audio track with subtitles, and omitting the more egregious Bowdlerization from the Ocean version. This release was cancelled before the battle with Vegeta.
    • Then came Funimation's infamous Orange Brick box sets, which supposedly feature remastered and improved footage along with the now-standard English dub and Japanese track. In practice, the picture is (badly) cropped from 4:3 to 16:9 (losing 20% of the picture and introducing terrible artifacting into what remains) and then "remastered" by an automated process that resulted in incredibly inaccurate colors and even more artifacting. On the (faintly) bright side, they're really, really cheap, and they include both a 5.1 English dub track with the Faulconer music and a 2.0 stereo track with the English dub over the original Japanese music in addition to the Japanese audio track with subtitles. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT received similar treatment in the Blue and Brown Boxes respectively, although they aren't quite as bad due to retaining the original 4:3 aspect ratio.
    • Finally, Funimation released the Dragon Boxes of Z, which actually feature a new and superior film transfer in the original aspect ratio, an English dub track with original Japanese music, a Japanese audio track with subtitles, and little to no censorship, representing the first and (so far) only time the full run of Z has been available on home video in the U.S. with no censorship and good picture quality. The only thing they're (arguably) missing is an audio track with the Faulconer score, for those who have nostalgia for such things. The down sides? They started out being relatively expensive compared to the dirt-cheap Orange Bricks, and as a limited release, they went out of print and are now sometimes hard-to-find at a reasonable price. They were available concurrently with the Orange Bricks. Funimation hinted at plans to release the movies, Dragon Ball, and GT in similar editions, but this never came to fruition.
    • Around this same time, Dragon Ball Kai was announced, an extensive re-edit and remaster of Z with most of the filler cut out, a new score, some partial re-animation, a new opening and ending, and new Japanese and English dubs that feature many, but not all, of the voice actors from Z. In particular, Linda Young's controversial take on Freeza's English voice is replaced by a more faithful rendition by Chris Ayres. This is available in both DVD and Blu-Ray editions and was, for a time, available concurrently with both the Orange Bricks and the Dragon Boxes.
      • Partway through Kai's run, it came to light that the new score by Kenji Yamamoto included instances of blatant plagiarism of other musicians' work. The entire score was replaced by the original Z score by Shunsuke Kikuchi in subsequent print runs of the DVD and Blu-Ray releases.
    • As if all this weren't enough, Funimation later released the "Rock the Dragon" set for those with nostalgia for the old Bowdlerized Toonami version of DBZ. It includes the Ocean dub of the first 53 episodes of DBZ and the first three films, all with the Shuki Levy score and with all of the hilariously bad censorship (such as digitally altering shirts which read "HELL" to "HFIL" and referring to it as the Home For Infinite Losers).
    • And that's not even going into:
      • The movies, which have been available on VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray in Ocean dub versions, Funimation singles, Funimation steelbook double packs, and various box sets. Earlier releases often come in uncut flavors, may or may not have English-dub-with-original-music audio options, and tend to be 4:3. and later releases tend to be uncut, have English-with-replacement music, English-with-original-music, or Japanese audio options, and be in 16:9. Which aspect ratio is "correct" is a matter of some debate, as most of the movies were animated in 4:3 but shown in theaters in matted 16:9.
      • The Wal-Mart exclusive "Best of Goku" and "Best of Vegeta" collections, collecting seven random Orange Brick episodes each.
      • English releases outside of North America, such as the so-called "Big Green" dub released in the UK.
      • The fact that the Ocean group later dubbed episodes 108-276 (but not 54-107) of Z for Canadian television, which have never been released on home video.
      • The Harmony Gold dub of the first five episodes and first three movies of Dragon Ball.
      • The well-regarded Spanish dub of Dragon Ball Z, which is two discs shy of a complete North American home video release but very difficult to track down, at least in the U.S.
      • The controversial Spanish dub of Dragon Ball Kai, which retains some but not all of the actors from Z.

  • 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!)
  • George Lucas has made three different cuts of each of the Star Wars films. Yes, even the prequels!
    • Original Trilogy: Original Release, 1997 Special Edition, 2004 DVD Versions, 2011 Blu-ray Versions.
      • The original film also had a slightly altered release in 1981 where it was subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope and the opening crawl was appropriately modified.
    • Prequel Trilogy: Film release, digital cinema release, DVD Release, Blu-ray Release
    • And now, they're being converted into 3-D.
      • This sums this issue up pretty well.
  • 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.
  • For a long time, Army of Darkness held (and may still hold) the record for the most distinct "special edition" DVD releases, with six different releases in Region 1 alone. Most feature some combination of the 82-minute theatrical cut and the 96-minute director's cut in 4:3 and/or 16:9 (which may or may not be anamorphic), plus various special features. DVDActive has a comprehensive guide.

  • 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".

    Western Animation 
  • In-universe example in The Simpsons, where Malibu Stacy is re-shelved with a new hat.
  • Phineas And Ferb Christmas Vacation first aired Christmas 2009. A year later, an extended edition aired, with only one extra song. The special would have been aired in 2010 anyway (as is normal for Christmas specials) so this is a more accepted version of the trope than the video game version.

    Software and Gadgets 
  • On a very cursory level, Windows still looks like Windows 95. But analyze the codebase and you will see that about half of Windows 10 was introduced in Windows Vista. Yes, they had to arbitrarily change the major version for Windows 10 (without doing much to deserve it, which is why they were able to offer the free upgrades) because having 8.1 be NT 6.3 internally was starting to become a disgrace.
  • Speaking of Microsoft, how much has Office 2016 changed from 2007? Not one bit.
  • Samsung has a tendency to issue Updated Re-release of the preceiding Android smartphones after releasing a new model. The Galaxy S has the Plus model and whopping 3 dual-SIM revisions, S II has the Plus model, S III has the Neo model, the S4 have the rugged Active version released in the same year, and the S5 has the Neo model again. The S6 and S7 is released in the normal, Edge, and Active model (S6 also includes the larger Edge+ model). The larger Note devices suffer similar things: the Galaxy Note 3 was followed by a nerfed model called Neo with worse camera, display, and storage. Goes more blatant with the Note 10.1 tablet where the updated model is called 2014 Edition. Of note, other Android vendors do similar things as well.
  • Apple does the same thing as well: after the original and the 3G-enabled model, the 3GS was released. The iPhone 4 was followed by the 4s model, the iPhone 5 has 2 additional revisions (5c and 5s), and the iPhone 6 (as well as the larger sized 6 Plus) was followed by 6s. More confusingly, the third and fouth generations of iPad was marketed as "New iPad" and "iPad with Retina display".

Alternative Title(s): Sequel Stagnation, Update As A Sequel