Radd: I don't get this sequel.
Sequel Radd: Huh?
Radd: It's not much like my game at all. The rules are too different. I mean, you can stand on top of enemies? And you can't shoot Radd Beams??? What's the deal with that? It's almost like the humans just copied our characters into a totally unrelated video game!
This is the practice of inserting a work into a franchise which it was not originally intended for, usually because of the marketing value of the name
. This is usually the result of Executive Meddling
, or else a dangerous similarity between a work-in-progress and a published and copyrighted one. Usually easy to spot, since the setting or style is noticeably different.
If the decision to doll up the installment is made soon enough, attempts can be made to make the installment more like the series it's being installed into. The differences between setting and style will then be toned down.
If a Dolled-Up Installment
is sufficiently successful and accepted, it can trigger Lost in Imitation
: that is, later intentional installments of the series will take on characteristics that began with the Dolled-Up Installment.
It's common with Licensed Games
. In some cases, all the programmers do is replace the sprites, for a game that ties into the source material In Name Only
. A True Dolled-Up Video Game Installment will at least fit a bit more seamlessly into the franchise, such as with games dolled-up to fit into other, already established game franchises. Compare Super Mario Bros. 2
, for example, to Yo Noid!
Subtrope of What Could Have Been
Might overlap with Market-Based Title
, if the new title puts the work in a franchise popular in the country
The opposite of a Spiritual Successor
, where the official franchise may be different, but the installment has a clear heritage.
For when it's the box cover
that makes the work look as though it's something it's not, see American Kirby Is Hardcore
. See also In Name Only
, Translation Matchmaking
, Recycled Script
. Divorced Installment
is the opposite, where a work originally intended to be part of a series or franchise is revised to become a standalone work.
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Anime & Manga
- The Italian Macekre of Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash* Star was going to be dolled up as a sequel to its own Alternate Continuity, the original Futari wa Pretty Cure. Apparently, the reason "Nagisa and Honoka" look different is because of a Plot-Relevant Age-Up... even though Saki and Mai are younger than the old heroines left off at the end of Max Heart. Luckily they changed idea.
- That's because the new heroines were Expies of the original duo to the point that saying it was them under new animation styles would have worked quite well, at least until the team-up movies started. In the end it's lucky that they changed their minds.
- Robotech was an amalgamation of three different series into one; Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. None of these have anything in common, other than Transforming Mecha and a similar artistic style.
- The Robotech movie also added scenes from Mega Zone 23, tacked onto footage from Southern Cross (even Carl Macek thought this was a dumb idea at the time, and so did the handful of viewers who saw one of the test releases).
- The first season of Voltron was the American adaptation of Go Lion, while the second was an adaptation of Dairugger XV; they were unrelated, other than being Combining Mecha series involving a Five-Man Band (in the latter's case, three separate Five Man Bands).
- Downplayed in that the two series were in the same universe, but not the same part. Lion Voltron was the Voltron of the Far Universe, Vehicle Voltron was of the Near Universe, and an unproduced third series using Lightspeed Electroid Albegas would have had Gladiator Voltron of the Middle Universe.
- Ninja Resurrection wasn't a sequel to Ninja Scroll, but you could be forgiven if the box text and the distributor misled you. The only similarity was the main character's name, Jubei. Ninja Scroll's protagonist is an homage to Yagyu Jubei, one of the most famous ninja and folk heroes in Japanese history. Ninja Resurrection, based on the novel Makai Tensho, actually uses Yagyu Jubei as its protagonist.
- It's not even called Ninja Resurrection in Japan. ADV Films, the US distributor, changed the title, added the subtitle "The Return of Jubei," and marketed it to make it look like a sequel. Many viewers were furious when they found out, but the deception made it a big financial success anyway. Ironically, it sold better than the real sequel to Ninja Scroll did.
- The Italian version of the volleyball anime Attacker You! made the main character You into the cousin of Kozue Ayuhara, star of Attack No. 1, another famous volleyball anime. The two shows have, of course, nothing to do with each other besides being about volleyball.
- It was a common occurrence in American comics to alter comic scripts (and sometimes already drawn stories!) made for one series to another one when needed; one example was a John Carter of Mars story converted into a Star Wars fill-in issue by Marvel Comics.
- Similarly, some of the Conan the Barbarian stories written by Roy Thomas for Marvel Comics were adaptations of novels by Gardner Fox about his barbarian hero, Kothar. Change a few proper nouns, and presto!
- This goes back to the Golden Age, actually. There is evidence that some stories were hastily rewritten to accommodate various in-house situations (at least one very late Golden Age Green Lantern story has him so OOC that it must have originally been a Batman story, and at least two All-Star adventures were rewritten with cast changes).
- Even though you don't notice it when you read it, the Spider-Man classic Kraven's Last Hunt started out as a Wonder Man/Grim Reaper story. When that was rejected, writer J. M. DeMatteis reworked it into a Batman/Joker story and submitted it to DC. When that was rejected for containing too many elements similar to another story then in the works (i. e. The Killing Joke), DeMatteis reworked it again into a story featuring Batman and Hugo Strange. But that was also rejected, and so he finally hit upon the idea to use the story for Spider-Man.
- In the 1970s, Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart created Shang-Chi, a new Asian martial-arts character, for Marvel Comics. Because Marvel had recently acquired the rights to Fu Manchu, it was decided that Shang-Chi would be Fu Manchu's son.
- And now that Marvel no longer holds the rights to the Fu Manchu character, it is unlikely that we will ever see an "Essential Master of Kung Fu" on the shelves. Drat.
- Marvel never actually had the rights in the first place; they believed incorrectly that he was a Public Domain Character- this was half-true and a very complicated issue, but it boils down to certain Fu Manchu stories being in the public domain while others aren't, and the copyright varies from country to country.
- Marvel's been using Shang-Chi's father as a villain again for some time — he came back in an early MAX version of the franchise, for example — but they avoid calling him "Fu Manchu" (using nicknames or supposed "real" names instead) and they never depict his face unless it's masked or, as in Secret Avengers, mutilated and rotting. They did much the same in the 1990s, using a visually altered version of Fah Lo Suee in a story but only ever referring to her by a newly-coined (Marvel-owned) nickname. Note that Nayland Smith and other Rohmer-original characters like Karamaneh, who did show up when Marvel had the license, simply don't appear anymore.
- Fearless Defenders was originally not going to be called that, as it was a spin-off of the Fearless mini-series from Fear Itself. Word of God states that Marvel slapped Defenders onto the title in order to boost sales, even though the new team had nothing to do with any of the prior incarnations of the group.
- Writer Mark Millar has been accused of doing this with Civil War given the Alternate Character Interpretation of several of the characters involved (Iron Man as fascistic, Captain America as being morally wrong, etc).
- In the 90's, writer Christopher Priest pitched a DC Comics series called The Avenger, which would've starred a teen superhero struggling with the realities of young adulthood. At some point during development, someone decided that the idea would work better as a Legacy Character series centered around the Ray, one of the original Freedom Fighters, and thus the 90's The Ray series was born.
- The commentary track for Aliens reveals this trope was in play. When asked to do a sequel to Alien, James Cameron wrote an outline for his thoughts on a film, which was actually based on something he wrote a few months earlier with the Alien characters dropped in.
- Adrift, despite maintaining its original title in Europe and Australia, was retitled Open Water 2: Adrift despite the only thing they have in common being that both feature people stuck in the middle of the ocean and the focus of the first film being sharks of which there are none in the "sequel".
- Die Hard is in a unique position in that all of its sequels are based on completely unrelated source material. Die Hard 2 was based on a novel that was unrelated to the novel that Die Hard was based on, Die Hard with a Vengeance was based on an original screenplay titled Simon Says (which was also considered for use in a Lethal Weapon sequel), and Live Free or Die Hard (also known as Die Hard 4.0) was based on a combination of a magazine article titled "A Farewell to Arms" and an original screenplay titled WW3.com.
- Die Hard itself was something of an inversion: the novel it was based on was a sequel to the novel The Detective, which was made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra. The film version, therefore, was originally going to be an instalment in a budding series. But Sinatra didn't want to do it, so they rewrote the script to give it a new protagonist.
- Amusingly the original "Die Hard" (based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever) was originally being shopped as a sequel to Commando.
- The fifth film is about the closest there's been to a Die Hard film actually beginning life as a Die Hard film. But even so, the screenplay was a rejected one for the 4th film.
- Ebirah Horror Of The Deep AKA Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster was originally going to feature King Kong instead of Godzilla. This becomes quite evident when Godzilla starts ACTING like King Kong. He is revived by electricity (like King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and very unlike the Godzilla of that movie). Yes, he even shows interest in a female human.
- Averted by the Halloween series. Though Halloween III: Season of the Witch did not feature Michael Myers, it was the intent of the director to make a different horror movie each year.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is actually based on a book with no connection to the franchise beyond this movie.
- The Haunted Palace (1963) was an adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story, and was originally titled The Haunted Village. But because its director (Roger Corman) and star (Vincent Price) were better known for Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, the production company decreed that a few lines of Poe's poem be tacked onto the film, and the title changed to match.
- The Conqueror Worm, a historical drama that contains one of Vincent Price's best performances, is an even more egregious case: known as Witchfinder General in the U.K., it was renamed for the American market and overdubbed with Price reading some lines of Poe's poem to seem to stitch it onto the Roger Corman series.
- Another, particularly shameless, example featuring Vincent Price: the German dub of the film Scream and Scream Again renamed his villain Dr. Browning as Dr. Mabuse, and was marketed as an installment in Germany's long-established Dr. Mabuse franchise.
- The 2004 film version of I Robot was initially based on an unrelated screenplay, Hardwired, before being given the title and some surface features of the short story collection by Isaac Asimov. Granted, the dolling-up process did incorporate something like a Hollywoodized version of Asimov's Three Laws, and the final plot somewhat resembles a mish-mash of Asimov's "The Evitable Conflict" and The Caves of Steel. Still a painfully awkward fit with Asimov's stories, though, and nothing excuses making Susan Calvin into a hot young sidekick. (Contrary to what some have said, the film bears even less resemblance to Eando Binder's "I, Robot" than Asimov's story collection, except in the basic "robot kills someone" sense.)
- Ocean's Twelve started out life as a stand-alone heist flick about two dueling master thieves that got the Oceans Eleven gang shoehorned into it when the first film's massive popularity required a sequel as quick as possible. The role of the protagonist was split between Danny (master thief), Rusty (relationship with Europol agent), and (to a certain extent) Linus.
- The Rage: Carrie 2 was originally written as a standalone film titled The Curse. It was retitled and rewritten presumably because somebody pointed out the obvious similarities to Carrie and decided that calling it a sequel would not only allow it to cash in on the success of the original, but would help it avoid accusations of plagiarism.
- The DVD release of the '90s made-for-video movie Robot Wars (no relation to the TV show of the same name) calls it Robot Jox 2. It doesn't take place in the same universe as Robot Jox but has a similar look due to both being handled by the same effects company.
- Saw 2 was based on an old script that was turned down repeatedly for being "too violent" and eventually picked up because Saw was a big hit and the script had similarities. According to writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman, the finished product bears little resemblance to his original script beyond character names.
- Inverted when a script originally meant to be a Saw prequel was, due to lack of interest by the producers, altered into a stand alone movie, The Collector.
- When A Shot in the Dark was adapted into a movie from a stage play (which was itself translated from French), the only seemingly Defective Detective Paul Sevigne was replaced with Peter Sellers's slapstick Detective Patsy, Jacques Clouseau. This sequel to The Pink Panther shares little more than the title and the premise with the play. The Artistic Title sequence of A Shot in the Dark also sets it aside from other movies in the PP series by featuring neither the cartoon panther nor the famous Instrumental Theme Tune (the movie has its own Instrumental Theme Tune).
- On the other hand, the film actually introduced several major elements of the franchise not present in the first film (Cato, Dreyfuss and of course Clouseau as the protagonist), and is considered by many to be the best entry in the series.
- Not to mention Clouseau's comic accent, which was absent in the original.
- Then there's the animated Pink Panther theatrical shorts and television series which is about an actual pink panther.
- Robert Rodriguez once planned a stand-alone movie about kids going inside a video game, which he later turned into Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. This should come as no surprise considering how the decidedly not spy-oriented premise was haphazardly shoehorned into the Spy Kids verse.
- In Italy the film was promoted as "Missione 3D: Game Over", without any hint it was part of the Spy Kids franchise, perhaps for the better.
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II was originally a film unrelated to the Prom Night franchise called The Haunting of Hamilton High before it was unlucky enough to get picked up by the original Prom Night's distributor, who realized that they had another prom-themed horror film on their hands, and retooled it to cash in on Prom Night's success.
- Starship Troopers had little to do with the novel on which it was allegedly based. The rights to the name were bought after the script was written.
- All of the sequels to Troll are In Name Only sequels. Troll 2 was originally titled Goblins, but for whatever reason, the distributors just slapped Troll 2 on the movie, despite the lack of trolls. There are also two movies with the name Troll 3, neither of which has anything to do with the first two.
- Similarly, House III: The Horror Show was simply a haunting movie called The Horror Show, but the distributers wanted to cash in on the success of the first two films. That's why it's the only sequel without a pun title (e.g. House II: The Second Story, House IV: The Repossession).
- All of the Watchers "sequels" are, in fact, remakes (save for part 3). This makes a Watchers movie marathon an exercise in redundancy.
- Hellraiser: Deader was originally intended to be completely unrelated to the series, despite there being a good bit of fan material on the disk related to it
- Films in the Curse series have nothing to do with each other (aside from the body-horror element returning in at least part 2)
- The TV movie Malibu Shark Attack was re-titled for some DVD releases as Megashark In Malibu, with the tagline "the legend returns", presumably an attempt to cash in on the dubious fame of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. To make things even more unusual, the title card in the film itself reads Shark Attack of the Malibu in this version.
- The Bruce Almighty sequel Evan Almighty was initially written as a completely separate script called The Passion of the Ark. After Universal spent a few million on the script, the script was reworked into a sequel due to the success of Bruce Almighty combined with Steve Carell's newfound fame. The final result shows that rewrites occurred.
- Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky was released in some areas as Monty Python's Jabberwocky. Half of the group had nothing to do with the film.
- Anchorman has a weird case with Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, a collection of alternate takes and a lengthy deleted subplot about terrorists from the original film, all cobbled together to feature length. The narrator sells it like it's a sequel, but it's obviously not.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit is well known as a loose adaptation of the novel by Gary K. Wolf, but what is less known is that the plot line involving the highway and the dismantling of public transportation was originally meant to be used for a sequel to Chinatown.
- The script of an unproduced movie Big Baby was rewritten to be a sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, thus came Honey I Blew Up The Kid.
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was first just an After the End film about a man meeting up with a colony of feral children. Then someone suggested that man should be Mad Max.
- Bruno Mattei's shark mockbuster Cruel Jaws is titled in some places Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws (then again, the film blatantly uses footage from Jaws and Jaws 2).
- There's persistent rumors that the first Resident Evil movie was this. Supposedly after Romero's version fell through, Paul Anderson was hired to shoot the movie. Anderson had a script that was vaguely similar to Resident Evil hanging around and decided to use it.
- The script to George of the Jungle was originally a spec script for a Tarzan parody called Gorilla Boy that writer Dana Olsen avoided sending in to Disney as he felt that the studio didn't want Dueling Movies. Olsen later found out that George of the Jungle didn't have a script so he sent Gorilla Boy to Disney, Disney liked it and Gorilla Boy became George of the Jungle.
- The script for Superhero Movie was originally intended for Scary Movie 4, until they realised it had no horror movie references, and so it was made it into a Superhero spoof.
- One alternative title for Memorial Valley Massacre turns into a sequel for Sleepaway Camp.
- Meatballs Part II was originally shot under the name Space Kid and was going to be more like Porky's than the first Meatballs. Then the film got picked up for distribution, the Meatballs name was applied and nearly all of the sexual content was cut to create a more family friendly film in the vein of the first. Of course, the two later films would end up becoming raunchier in an attempt to keep the franchise going.
- After the film Society bombed, the sequel's script was rewritten into Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4.
- After Masters of the Universe bombed, the script for the planned sequel was rewritten to make Cyborg. Some listings still put the film as Masters of the Universe II: Cyborg.
- In a remake's attempt to become a Divorced Installment, the 2010 version of The Karate Kid was originally named "The Kung-Fu Kid", but Jackie Chan refused to do the movie unless it was renamed to increase its marketing appeal.
- 8MM 2 has nothing to do with Eight MM. It doesn't even feature a video camera at any point, let alone an 8mm one. It was shot and produced as a boilerplate softcore erotic thriller (the kind you might see on Cinemax late at night). The Eight MM name was tacked on in the 11th hour when the distributors got the rights to that movie, in a last-ditch attempt to make a profit on the film.
- The Raid 2: Berandal was actually written by Gareth Evans before the original The Raid. When The Raid became an international success, Evans simply dusted off his older script, and changed a couple of character names and rewrote the beginning so that the main character would be one of the surviving main characters from the earlier film.
- The Italian war movie The Last Hunter was originally sold as a sequel to The Deer Hunter, even though the two are remarkably dissimilar other than the Vietnam backdrop.
- Dracula Untold wasn't originally intended to be part of a new "monster universe", but the ending was altered to allow for this.
- Orson Scott Card had already drafted an outline for his novel Speaker for the Dead before deciding to insert the protagonist from his previous short story "Ender's War" into the lead role. He expanded the short story into the novel Enders Game to provide backstory for Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game became by far the author's most successful book, and launched a popular series. When asked by his publisher to write a third installment, he used an idea for a standalone book he was writing, Philotes, and inserted Ender into that one as well.
- Leslie Charteris wrote several stories early in his career featuring protagonists very similar to The Saint. When he decided to concentrate on the Saint as his main character, these stories were included in the Saint short story collections with the hero's name changed to Simon Templar.
- William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! is a sort of classic-literature version of this. The young people in the "present time" of the novel were originally going to be characters Faulkner had never written about before: one a Southerner and one a Northerner. However, Faulkner ended up giving these roles to Quentin Compson (a main character from his earlier novel The Sound and the Fury) and his Canadian roommate Shreve, thus giving Absalom, Absalom! intertextual relationships with other works involving the Compson family.
- The Ian Fleming short story "Quantum of Solace" is largely simply about a doomed marriage and the power plays within it. However, Fleming also inserted a framing device of James Bond being told the story at a cocktail party so he could put it in For Your Eyes Only, a collection of James Bond short stories.
- It is rumored that most, if not all of the stories Casshern Sebastian Goto writes for The Black Library are actually rewritten from original military SF pieces he had previously tried and failed to publish with other companies, which would certainly explain his cavalier attitude towards 40k Canon.
- This happened to the work of Robert E. Howard, the inventor of Conan the Barbarian. Four novellas which originally had nothing to do with Conan and in fact had entirely different settings were posthumously rewritten into Conan stories. Indeed, Howard's The Phoenix on the Sword, the first Conan story published, started life as a rewrite of a rejected Kull of Atlantis story.
- Relatedly, several of Marvel's early Conan comics were plots from the "Kothar" novels by Garder Fox, with the names changed.
- E. E. “Doc” Smith's Triplanetary originally had nothing to do with his later Lensman novels, but was heavily rewritten after their success to serve as a prequel, with First Lensman written specifically to bridge the two storylines.
- Triplanetary is something of a double example, since it wasn't even a book at all to start with; it was three entirely unrelated short stories which were rewritten to be a single book so that the book could then be used as part of the Lensman series.
- Somewhere between this and Poorly Disguised Pilot, Rinkitink in Oz was intended as the beginning of a new series, but crossed over with Oz because the author was having a hard time getting anything published that wasn't an Oz book. Sadly for him, everyone preferred Dorothy and company, and he found himself writing yet more Oz books.
- The fifth Artemis Fowl book, The Last Colony, originally had nothing to do with Artemis and centered around a new character, Minerva. However, since the new character was a lot like Artemis, another insufferable child genius, Eoin Colfer instead opted to focus the book on Artemis and include Minerva as a secondary character.
- When a collection of James H Schmitz's Federation of the Hub stories was republished by Baen Books, the non-Hub story "Planet of Forgetting" was rewritten as a Hub story, "Forget It". The theory here was that it may well have been a Dolled Down Installment in the first place.
- When Douglas Adams needed to come up with a storyline for the third book of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, Life The Universe And Everything, he took an old Doctor Who movie script called "Doctor Who and the Krikketmen" and rewrote it to be about the Guide characters (with some difficulty; he would later say the problem was finding a Guide character who was interested in saving the universe — he eventually settled on Slarty and Trillian, who essentially become Expies of the Doctor and Sarah Jane).
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was likewise cribbed from "Shada", an uncompleted Doctor Who story. Professor Chronotis was originally a Shada character, as is the fictional college he works at (St. Cedd's), his time machine (which closely resembles a TARDIS), and his unnaturally long life. The story itself also derives from his completed Doctor Who "City of Death."
- Tracy Beaker: The Dare Game was originally a play for a Manchester theater. Jacqueline Wilson was originally going to let Tracy rest, but the lead girl was very similar to Tracy. So when the theater rejected her play after a fire and some new management, she turned it into a Tracy book.
- P. G. Wodehouse rewrote a few of his earlier stories around his more popular characters, such as Jeeves and Wooster.
- Cracked's 5 Little-Known Sequels That Ruined Iconic Stories explains that Charles Webb admitted that his novel Home School, the sequel to The Graduate, had the old characters shoehorned into a new story.
- Will Murray wrote several official Doc Savage novels based on fragments and story ideas left behind by the original Doc Savage author Lester Dent. One of these—Flight Into Fearwas an unsold non-Doc Savage story Murray rewrote to star Doc and his aides.
- Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier's English translation of the early French SF novel Docteur Omega by Arnould Galopin controversially included multiple Shout Outs to Doctor Who, including a strong innuendo that Dr. Omega actually was the First Doctor using a pseudonym.
Live Action TV
- Torchwood began as an idea for an original series called Excalibur. When Russell T Davies' revival of Doctor Who did well, he converted it into a Spin-Off.
- The Super Sentai series Hikari Sentai Maskman and Choujuu Sentai Liveman were renamed Bioman 2 and Bioman 3 when aired in France.
- Similarly, in Brazil, the Metal Heroes series Jikuu Senshi Spielban became Jaspion 2.
- This happens with the American versions of Toku series as well, and it's not just in name. When the footage from one series runs out, it's time for a new enemy to displace the old, render the current tech obsolete (or scrap), and have the same characters don new gear. The two seasons of VR Troopers, the two seasons of Beetle Borgs, and the first six seasons of Power Rangers were done this way, to generally agreeable effect, before Power Rangers made the switch to the Japanese format starting with Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Of course, when you have an original cast using only the suited fight footage from an earlier series, it's easy.
- An episode of The Rockford Files ("Sleight of Hand") was based on a novel called ''Into Thin Air."
- Gene Roddenberry combined this with Poorly Disguised Pilot to try getting a potential series called Assignment: Earth off the ground. When no one went for his pitch, he turned the pilot into an episode of Star Trek. The result is that Kirk and Spock enter the storyline and... do pretty much nothing. In the end, no series was made despite the Sequel Hook.
- Much like "The Slaver Weapon" example below, the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Catspaw" was loosely based on the writer Robert Bloch's earlier unrelated short story "Broomstick Ride" (though with a different ending).
- Shotaro Ishinomori intended to adapt his story "Onigeki Hibiki" into a TV series. However, he died before doing so, but said work did end up being produced...dolled up as Kamen Rider Hibiki.
- Friday the 13th: The Series was originally intended to be a stand alone series entitled "The 13th Hour" but Frank Mancuso decided to connect it to the Friday the 13th franchise at the last minute, despite it having nothing to do with Jason Voorhees or the films.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent was originally going to be a standalone series, based on the character dynamic between Detectives Goren and Eames. The studio, thinking that it was more likely to be picked up and draw a larger audience as a Law & Order show, added the DONG DONG Law & Order-sound and called it Law & Order.
- When Michael Jackson released Off The Wall, it was such a monumental success that his previous record label, Motown, released an album of material—both unreleased and just kinda obscure—as One Day in Your Life in 1981, the pure schmaltz of which made "ABC" sound like AC/DC. The following year, Thriller (1982) was released and by 1984, it became the biggest selling album ever, prompting Motown to remix some older songs—some being over decade old—and released Farewell My Summer Love the title song of which makes "The Girl Is Mine" sound like "Helter Skelter." This stopped happening, thankfully, however, future Michael Jackson album releases seemed to coincide with well-timed The Jackson Five hits collections.
- In 1983, Yes had kinda reunited (four of the five members of the new band - all save guitarist Trevor Rabin - had been in Yes at one time or another, though never all at once) and recorded 90125, but had decided to rechristen themselves Cinema. The recording company said it would make more sense to keep the Yes name, and so they did (though the guitarist objected, as he wanted a new band instead of inadvertently joining a reunion).
- After several former members of the band formed a parallel group with the Exactly What It Says on the Tin name "Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe"note , several songs which would have been released for the second album ended up with some form the above incarnation of Yes, to form the somewhat awkwardly named "Union" album, all under the Yes banner. It's awkwardly named as the two different lineups didn't really record much together; other than Jon Anderson's vocals, it's pretty much two different bands on the same album.
- A much earlier Yes-related example was a track Rick Wakeman composed for the album Fragile, entitled "Handle With Care" (as a play on the album's title). Due to contractual prohibition of Wakeman making any compositional contributions to Yes works, it eventually got renamed "Catherine of Aragon" and inserted on his first solo album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
- Jay-Z's song "Renegade" with Eminem off the The Blueprint was originally written and produced by Eminem as a song for Royce da 5'9". The part during one of Eminem's verses containing what sounds like vocalized record scratches was actually dubbing over a reference to Royce in the lyrics.
- When a band breaks up and the member who was the main creative force records a solo album, it's not uncommon for the record label to insist that the album be released under the band's name. Black Sabbath's Seventh Star, Candlemass' Dactylis Glomerata, Manilla Road's The Circus Maximus, Jethro Tull's "A" and Megadeth's The System Has Failed and United Abominations, among countless others, are examples of this phenomenon.
- It's even worse when the member involved wasn't the main creative force. After Velvet Underground split up, the group's non-original member Doug Yule recorded a solo album called Squeeze, which the record company, against Yule's wishes, insisted on releasing as a Velvet Underground album. This naturally led to Yule and the album being despised by the few people who had actually been Velvet Underground fans during the group's existence, and killed his career stone dead.
- Johann Sebastian Bach apparently composed several church cantatas by taking a previously written secular cantata, replacing the texts of the arias and choruses and composing new recitatives and chorale settings. In some cases, such as the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249), all that survives of the original secular cantata is its text and the numbers reused in the sacred version.
- The Meat Puppets lineup of Golden Lies is another example. Guitarist and singer Curt Kirkwood started a new band named The Royal Neanderthal Orchestra, but legal issues with the Meat Puppet's record label forced them to use the Meat Puppets name.
- Charles Schulz originally created the character of Peppermint Patty for a children's book he planned to write. He never got around to writing it, so he made her a Peanuts character instead.
- Sleeping Dogs began development under the working title "Black Lotus". Activision had the developers rename it True Crime: Hong Kong. After Activision dropped the game it was picked up by Square Enix and given its current name.
- The Wonder Boy series. The developer, Westone, actually retained the copyright for the code and general concept, while Sega licensed those while owning the rights to the Wonder Boy title and characters. Thus, there was nothing stopping Hudson Soft from licensing the non-Sega parts of the games and making its own versions with original characters and without the Wonder Boy name. As a result, nearly every installment of the Wonder Boy franchise received a dolled-up version by Hudson:
- Contra Force actually began life as an unreleased Famicom game in Japan known as Arc Hound. The game differs from the previous Contra games by having new play mechanics (including switchable characters, AI-controlled backup, and a Gradius-style power-up selection system), as well as a present-day setting and human terrorists as villains. Konami of America haphazardly attempted to establish a connection between Contra Force and the rest of the Contra series by claiming that the ruined city in Contra III was actually Neo City (the place where Contra Force took place) in the manual.
- Dolled up versions of Puyo Puyo made their way onto the SNES and Sega Genesis in America as Kirby's Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine respectively because both Nintendo and Sega thought that the Western audience would not accept the aesthetics of the series at the time. Disney Interactive also released Timon and Pumbaa's Bug Drop for the PC, which is a very stripped down Puyo Puyo. Japan eventually got its own dolled-up version, Haro no Puyo Puyo for the Game Boy Advance, which used Gundam characters.
- The Record of Lodoss War game for the Dreamcast was not originally based on Lodoss.
- Word of God claims that Silent Hill 4 was always going to be a game set in the Silent Hill franchise, but just as a Gaiden Game.
- Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight is a futuristic spin-off of the first Street Fighter released for the NES in 1990, a year before the ultra-popular Street Fighter II hit the arcades. The game is a boss-centric action-platformer instead of a competitive fighting game and the plot in the Famicom version didn't even have anything to do with Street Fighter (nor with Final Fight, for that matter) despite inheriting its name. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the localization team took the liberty of changing the protagonist's identity from Kevin, a cyborg policeman, to Ken, who became a gifted scientist in the years since the first Street Fighter tournament. Capcom no longer counts this as part of the franchise (not even as a side-game) and it seems like a strange artifact today, since the franchise has since gone in a very different direction and the year 2010 passed with some of the game's predictions going unfulfilled.
- The Western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was essentially a sprite mod of the game Doki Doki Panic, which was designed by the same man as the original Super Mario Bros., but was otherwise unrelated. Though not as referenced as other games, and despite a tacked-on All Just a Dream ending, Bob-ombs become recurring characters, and Yoshis Island resurrected Shy Guys and most of the other memorable enemies, some of which became permanent staples of the franchise. It was also an obvious reference pool for later games, since it gave characters different gimmicks: Luigi is a loose-handling but high-jumping character taller than his brother. It also kicked off the sporadic use of Princess Toadstool in an action role for future games. Similarly, Peach's ability to fly/float has stuck around, but remains canonically unexplained.
- The game also had several subtle but noticeable differences from its original counterpart. A few examples include some animations having more frames for a smoother animation, being able to change characters after clearing a level or losing a life, etc. The game was even Recursive Imported to Japan as Super Mario Bros. USA.
- Interestingly, the POW blocks (which debuted in the original Mario Bros.) weren't American-made. Miyamoto did work on Doki Doki Panic, too, so a very small amount of the Mario-ness was already present.
- Interestingly enough, Doki Doki Panic originally started out as a more "vertical" Super Mario Bros., The game eventually became Doki Doki Panic before being turned back into Super Mario Bros. 2 USA.
- Tetris Attack is a unique example in that not one but two Cash Cow Franchises' assets (characters from Yoshi's Island, and the Tetris brand name) were overlaid on the block-swapping action puzzler Panel de Pon (which, it should be added, contains almost no Falling Blocks whatsoever).
- The first three SaGa games were released under the Final Fantasy name in North America as the Final Fantasy Legend series. This was during the period when Nintendo and Square believed RPGs had very limited appeal in North America where gamers would be more likely to purchase a title if it had a familiar brand. (The first World of Mana game is not an example of this trope, even though it was Final Fantasy Adventure in the US — it didn't start out as its own series, and was named Seiken Densetsu Final Fantasy Gaiden even in Japan.)
- Dinosaur Planet, better known as Star Fox Adventures, was originally a completely separate game from the Star Fox franchise, as one might guess from it being of a different genre. Many changes were made to the plot, including replacing one of the main characters with Fox, changing Krystal from a second fully playable character to a Distressed Damsel, and adding a few lackluster space shooter missions mostly so they could say they were there. One might notice that Star Fox previously had no fantasy elements, and Dinosaur Planet had no science fiction elements before its reworking. Apparently, the only reason the franchises were merged was because during development, Nintendo noticed that the main character looked a lot like Fox and that there actually was a dinosaur planet in the Lylat system.
- Cynics suggest that Nintendo may have insisted on the Star Fox license because Rare had recently been bought out by Microsoft, and Nintendo didn't want Dinosaur Planet to be the start of a successful franchise for their competition.
- Privateer 2: The Darkening, the "sequel" to Wing Commander: Privateer, originated as a non-Wing Commander-related game with a working name of The Darkening (as per an advert in the back of the Wing Commander IV manual). Due to several factors, including but not limited to Executive Meddling, P2D had Wing Commander touches added before the final release.
- When Elevator Action EX was released in the United States, publisher bam! Entertainment put the Dexter's Laboratory license over it. The three playable secret agents were replaced by Dexter in different suits, and the plot about searching for secret documents was changed into finding codes to deactivate a bunch of robots turned berserk by Mandark.
- The sequel to the pirate-themed RPG Sea Dogs was repurposed as Pirates of the Caribbean. Aside from Keira Knightley narrating a cutscene and the plot involving a ghost ship called the Black Pearl, actual connections between the game and the movie are nonexistent.
- Soul Reaver was conceived as an original project titled "The Shifter", which was redesigned as a Legacy of Kain spinoff, although the decision was made before any actual production work was done on the title.
- Blood Omen 2 began life as a sequel to the Genesis cult classic Chakan before being converted into a sequel to the Blood Omen, resulting in numerous deviations from the original game design and the presence of some Chakan-esque background art.
- In Japan, Dynasty Tactics is considered a Spin-Off of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series... but since that series isn't nearly as popular in the US, they relabeled it a spinoff of Dynasty Warriors to attract more interest.
- Drawn to Life: Sponge Bob Square Pants Edition. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Nevertheless, it was built from the ground up as a Mission Pack Sequel (by a different developer to boot) and consequently, does differ from the preceding game (and while we're throwing the word "sequel" around, it is also a sequel to the SpongeBob episode "Frankendoodle", effectively making this a follow-up to two different things.).
- Double Dragon II for the Game Boy has nothing to do with the arcade game Double Dragon II: The Revenge or its NES counterpart. Instead, it's a localization of a Kunio-kun game titled Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen. The plot was changed, the River City Ransom-style backgrounds and character designs were replaced with more realistically designed ones, and the music is different as well. However, the play mechanics and level designs remained more or less the same, with only one boss getting a different attack pattern.
- Super Spy Hunter was originally Battle Formula in Japan.
- The Master System action shooter Ashura was released in the United States as a Rambo game (based on First Blood Part II) and then in Europe as Secret Commando (which combines elements from the other two versions). Actually a subversion since Ashura was always meant to be a Rambo game, but Sega's license was only applicable in America.
- After Color Dreams became Wisdom Tree and started specializing in Biblical video games, they rereleased some of their earlier unlicensed NES games with Bible tie-ins. Thus Crystal Mines became Exodus: Journey to the Promised Land, and Menace Beach became Sunday Funday, with the hero is rushing to Sunday school rather than to save his girlfriend. They also took id Software's Wolfenstein 3D and transformed it into the much Lighter and Softer Super 3D Noah's Ark, the only commercially released unlicensed title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
- Balloon Fight was re-released in 2007 with Tingle from The Legend of Zelda as the balloon fighter. Box art even parodies it.
- Balloon Kid, the Game Boy sequel, was ported to the Family Computer in Japan as a Hello Kitty game. Oddly, the original Game Boy version was not released in Japan until several years later on the Game Boy Color as Balloon Fight GB.
- Ninja Gaiden Shadow for the Game Boy was actually developed by Natsume as a port of their NES game Shadow of the Ninja: Tecmo bought the rights to the game and altered the graphics and story to make it into a prequel to the original NES Ninja Gaiden.
- Kemco's Crazy Castle games is a series of nothing but dolled-up installments where the American versions somehow managed to be more consistent than their Japanese counterparts. The original NES version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle was actually a localization of a Roger Rabbit game for the Famicom Disk System, while the Game Boy versions of Crazy Castle and Crazy Castle 2 were originally Mickey Mouse games in Japan, though Japan also got them as Bugs Bunny games in a Compilation Re-release. Crazy Castle 2 was released in Europe as a Hugo game. Crazy Castle 3 and 4 for the GBC were Bugs Bunny games in all regions (as was The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout), but Crazy Castle 5 was made into a Woody Woodpecker game. Crazy Castle 3, however, was first released in Japan on the monochrome Game Boy as Soreyuke!! Kid (Go! Go! Kid), with Kemco's mascot Kid Klown instead of Bugs Bunny.
- Kemco's Mickey Mouse IV: The Magical Labyrinth became The Real Ghostbusters in America and Garfield's Labyrinth in Europe.
- Kemco's Donald Duck game for the Famicom was released overseas with a different license as Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular.
- Wario Blast is a dolled-up Intercontinuity Crossover. The Japanese version, Bomberman GB (not to be confused with Bomberman GB 2, which was released overseas with the "2" taken out), is indeed a Bomberman game, but has nothing to do with Wario.
- Narrowly avoided in the case of Brütal Legend. When Activision was slated to publish it, they were keen to tie it in to the Guitar Hero franchise ("Guitar Hero Adventures" was apparently kicked around as a possible title), but the creative team resisted. Activision dropped the game partly over this dispute, leading EA to publish it instead.
- Ms. Pac-Man was created as a bootleg knockoff of Pac-Man called "Crazy Otto", got acquired by Namco's distributor Midway, and was released with the new name and graphics as an unauthorized sequel. Namco themselves have since made Ms. Pac-Man an official canon character, releasing games of their own starring her.
- The European NES game Trolls in Crazyland is actually a localization of Doki! Doki! Yuuenchi: Crazyland Daisakusen with protagonist and his girlfriend redesigned as Trolls.
- Quake II was originally supposed to be entirely unrelated to the Quake series, and was only given the Quake name when the original name iD wanted to give the game turned out to be unusable for trademark reasons. Since then, the Quake name has mostly come to be associated with the Strogg story arc, but that's not surprisingly given the disjointed, Random Events Excuse Plot that was the original Quake.
- The Eastern European computer RPG Gorky-17 (released as Odium in the West) actually had 2 prequels made for it, but due to Odium's relatively obscure reception, only 1 of the games was released in the West, under the name Soldier Elite, with the names changed to do away with most references to the original Gorky-17/Odium.
- Dragons Lair: The Legend was a rebranded Game Boy port of Elite Systems' earlier ZX Spectrum title Roller Coaster (see it and other examples here). The Game Boy Color version, on the other hand, was a port of the original arcade game.
- Parallax developed a space combat simulator, FreeSpace. Problem: a compression software with that name existed. Solution: put the name of Parallax's Descent series in the title. And that's why it's called Descent: FreeSpace: The Great War, even though it has nothing to do with shooting robots in outer space mines.
- To complicate things it was called Conflict: FreeSpace in Europe, with no overt references to Descent. There was also a separate continuation of the Descent franchise, Descent³, which did involve shooting robots in outer space mines, but died a death in the marketplace.
- Alex Kidd starred in two games that were not originally designed to be part of his series:
- Alex Kidd in High-Tech World is a graphic hack made for the western market of a Japanese Mark III game titled Anmitsu Hime, which was based on a manga of the same name. The storyline was also altered for its localization. Alex's father appears in the game when he was supposed to be missing in Miracle World.
- Alex Kidd in Shinobi World started development as an unrelated kid version of Shinobi titled Shinobi Kid.
- Need for Speed: V-Rally and V-Rally 2 Presented By Need for Speed were dolled-up localizations of Infogrames/Eden Studios' V-Rally games.
- A video game adaption of America's Test Kitchen was released for the Nintendo DS. In reality, it's an America's Test Kitchen game In Name Only, as it is actually a Recipe Pack Sequel to Personal Trainer: Cooking.
- The reason the PC version of PowerSlave (known in Europe as Exhumed) is so different from its console versions is because it was originally a completely different game titled Ruins: Return of the Gods, developed by 3D Realms as one of many titles to show off the then-fledgling Build engine. Eventually, they dropped the game and sold it to Playmates, after which it was modified to use PowerSlave concepts and resources, and then published.
- The Deception game series is an entire dolled up series. In their original Japanese versions, they were thematically-related stand-alone games — the closest it comes to series ties outside of Kagero 2 is that the original Kagero had the subtitle Kokumeikan Shinsho, formally acknowledging its ties to Kokumeikan — but Tecmo decided to market them as a series in the US — presumably assuming Americans wouldn't be able to follow the idea of stand-alone games by the same company that are so much alike. Bizarrely, the only sequel in the "series" in Japan, Kagero 2, was marketed in the US as the stand-alone game Trapt. Even more confusingly, it's less a sequel to Kagero in any meaningful sense than a loose remake of Kokumeikan: Trap Simulation Game (released in the US as Deception: Invitation to Darkness) with a female lead this time.
- Originally, The Bureau X Com Declassified was supposed to just be called XCOM, and was originally a First-Person Shooter with mild tactical elements, Starfish Aliens, a 1950s aesthetic, and Steampunk inspired weaponry, given the name of a near future isometric turn-based strategy game. It went over about as well as you can expect. After years of Development Hell, the game eventually transitioned into a third-person shooter with stronger tactical gameplay elements with the aliens replaced with one from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and its title was changed to reflect that it's intended to be a prequel while averting this trope.
- In the early 1990s, French developer Kalisto created a rather interesting teamwork-puzzle platformer called Fury of the Furries. Namco was interested enough in it that they actually bought the license to it, replaced the titular furballs with a single Ms. Pac-Man wearing many hats and the music with variations on the Pac-Man theme, and the result was Pac-in-Time. Well, except for the SNES version of it, which was a bit more than just a mere sprite swap of Fury of the Furries.
- The characters of Fury of the Furries were originally created for a Puzzle Game with the Working Title The Brainies. Though Kalisto later released it as The Tinies, Loriciel published the same game as a Spin-Off of Skweek titled Tiny Skweeks.
- Solomon's Key had two dolled-up editions: first for the PC Engine as a Licensed Game based on the Japanese samurai film Zipang (which also loosely inspired Kabuki Quantum Fighter), and later for the Game Boy Color as Monster Rancher Explorer.
- Turrican II was ported to the Mega Drive and released as a Universal Soldier game after going through a few sprite-swaps.
- Star Raiders II started life as a never-released Licensed Game based on 1984 movie The Last Starfighter; prototypes of this for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-Bit Computers have been found. When the license fell through, the game was released as a Star Raiders sequel instead.
- The Last Starfighter for the NES, for that matter, was a rebranded port of the computer game Uridium.
- Kirby's Epic Yarn was originally planned as a completely unrelated game starring Prince Yarn. Nintendo decided it wouldn't sell, so they brought Kirby into the mix. It seemed to work, as Epic Yarn wound up the best selling console Kirby game of all time. Fortunately, it also didn't suffer in quality.
- The Game & Watch game Boxing was rereleased in 1988 as Punch-Out!!, though it has no resemblance to any other game in that series.
- Dan Dare 3 for the ZX Spectrum. Programmer Dave Perry: "This was actually a game called "Crazy Jet Racer", then when Fergus saw it, he asked if we could change it to "Dan Dare III". So that's what happened. Crazy Jet was about a robot on a unicycle."
- Red Faction was originally conceived as the cancelled Descent 4. Some elements were carried over, such as the textures, the protagonist's name (Parker) and the jet fighter combat level.
- The first Alarm für Cobra 11 game. It was a cheap game using the game engine, graphics and even levels from the cheap London Racer II. Obviously, being the latter a game of street racing, what's the plot of the Dolled-Up Installment? Infiltrate into a street racing gang. The only reason why pursuit is in the game is because it was already half-coded in London Racer II
- In-universe example: in the Dot Hack GU titles, the original version of the MMO "The World" was destroyed when its servers were caught in a fire on company property, resulting in the loss of most of the game's data. CC Corp merged what was left (including the Black Box folder, the core of the game) with another title they were working on to form "The World Revision 2", which the GU games take place in.
- OutRun 2019 was originally planned as an unrelated futuristic racing game titled Junker's High, which was actually a converted version of a canceled Sega CD game titled Cyber Road.
- Diddy Kong Racing was originally planned as a sequel to R.C. Pro-Am.
- There are many pirated games which amount to nothing more than an obscure game with a more popular character's sprite hacked in to replace the hero, which is, perhaps, this concept concentrated to its purest form (if lacking the power of Canon). For example:
- This was also somewhat common with arcade games, especially during The Eighties:
- Kid Icarus: Uprising originally wasn't planned to have anything to do with the Kid Icarus series. Nintendo and Sakurai were just working on a Nintendo 3DS action game involving sky and land combat when they suddenly realized that Pit would be the perfect character for such a title.
- Yo! Noid, a side-scrolling platform game for the NES by Capcom starring Domino's Pizza's now-retired mascot (The Noid), was a graphic hack of a Famicom game titled Masked Ninja Hanamaru, which was originally about a boy ninja who attacks enemies with his bird.
- Way, way back in the waning days of the Atari 2600, Atari changed their unreleased game Saboteur into a licensed game of The A-Team by changing around some text and replacing the hero sprite with... Mr T's disembodied head. (The result was also unreleased.)
- Super Pitfall II for the NES, which never went past prototype stage, was actually a scrapped localization of Atlantis No Nazo.
- When the computer game Sleepwalker created for the British charity telethon Comic Relief was released on the SNES in the US, it was changed into an Eek! The Cat game. Instead of playing as a dog trying to get his young boy owner back home without waking him up, you play as Eek and whoever you're helping depends on the level. Speaking of the levels, most of them are ripped straight from the original. Only the UFO level was original.
- James Bond 007 The Stealth Affair was originally not a James Bond game, though it was practically a Spiritual Licensee to begin with. The publisher managed to gain the license for the James Bond name for video games, and all that was necessary to apply that to the game were some minor changes to the text.
- Capcom's classic overhead run'n gun game Senjō no Ōkami (Wolf of the Battlefield) was released outside Japan under the name of Commando, while a later unrelated side-scrolling platformer titled Top Secret, was released overseas as Bionic Commando. Although the two games originally had nothing to do with each other, the developers of the NES version of Bionic attempted to strengthen the connection by adding Super Joe (the hero from Commando) as a supporting character, as well as overhead segments that play a lot like Commando.
- The KOF Maximum Impact series is a spin-off of the main The King of Fighters series. However, that didn't stop SNK's US division from rebranding Maximum Impact 2 into The King of Fighters 2006.
- When Shatterhand was imported to Japan, it was reskinned into a Licensed game of Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain.
- In Australia, Beetle Adventure Racing is instead called "HSV Adventure Racing". It features HSV cars instead of VW Beetles and the announcer was changed to sound more like a stereotypical Australian.
- Tec Toy, Sega's Brazilian distributor, replaced or added their own licenses to localized versions of several Sega Master System games - and some Mega Drive ones as well:
- The fourth and last game in Taito's Rastan series, Warrior Blade: Rastan vs Barbarian Saga, was a Japanese conversion of Barbarian, an unrelated arena fighter by Titus Software.
- Data East's The Real Ghostbusters Arcade Game was an unrelated run-and-gun shooter released in Japan as Meikyuu Hunter G with some Ghostbusters elements pasted in.
- Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell for the Famicom is actually a port of the Jaleco Arcade Game Momoko 120% with the heroine replaced with Lum and the aliens replaced with ones from the series. The original was a Spiritual Licensee to begin with, though.
- Variant: The game that became Super Smash Bros. was conceived as a unique title before eventually being converted into a Mascot Fighter.
- Doraemon: Meikyū Daisakusen (Doraemon's Great Maze Tactics) for the PC Engine is a port of the Nichibutsu Arcade Game Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen (AKA Booby Kids) with the arcade game's original protagonist replaced with Doraemon, the end-of-level double doors with the Dokodemo Door, the Inexplicable Treasure Chests with Dorayaki, and the robotic Final Boss with Tsuchidama and Giga Zombie from the movie Nobita at the Birth of Japan, which inspired some new cutscenes. The localized TurboGrafx-16 version, retitled Cratermaze, brought back the original protagonist, music and treasure chests and replaced Giga Zombie with an Expy, though the doors weren't changed back and the cutscenes were edited rather than removed.
- Konami's early MSX game Athletic Land was re-released as Cabbage Patch Kids: Adventures in the Park, with the player character redrawn as Anna Lee and a few other minor changes.
- Blaster Master Boy was developed in Japan as a sequel to Bomber King (otherwise known by the Market-Based Title Robo Warrior), but Sunsoft decided to release it in the U.S. and Europe as a sequel to one of their own games. This explains why it lacks platforming and vehicle action but does have a lot of blowing up blocks with bombs.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Space Cadet Adventures takes a few levels from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, such as those taking place in outer space, and replaces the R&B characters with Ren & Stimpy characters. Both of these Game Boy titles were developed by Absolute Entertainment and published by THQ.
- The long history of this (see the film section above) in the Die Hard franchise also extends to video games. The original Die Hard coin-op and Sega Saturn game was originally released in Japan as Dynamite Deka, which was completely unrelated to the movie. It was given the Die Hard license for the international release, because it happened to feature a cop fighting his way through a terrorist-infested skyscraper before confronting a bearded Big Bad, and suffering increasing Clothing Damage as the game progressed. The sequel, Dynamite Deka 2, averts this by being released as Dynamite Cop.
- Krusty's Fun House was originally an Amiga game named Rat Trap.
- The WCW game for the Nintendo Entertainment System was the Famicom game Superstar Pro Wrestling with the Japanese wrestlers replaced.
- Two games in the River King series were dolled up in Europe as Harvest Fishing. Developed by the same company as the Harvest Moon series, the River King games have no direct relation, occasional cameos aside.
- The game that became X Rebirth was initially going to be an entirely new IP. During development Egosoft realized it was making an X-Universe game in all but name and basically said, "The heck with it; let's make a new X." Frankly, that was what the fans wanted anyway.
- The 1980s Doctor Who computer game Doctor Who and the Mines of Teror started life as a sequel to the BBC Micro game Castle Quest, before the Sixth Doctor, a robot cat, and robots-that-definitely-aren't-the-Daleks were added.
- Gunforce II, one of the last Arcade Games Irem produced, was titled Geo Storm in Japan and has only a vague resemblance to Gunforce.
- Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom apparently originated as a game titled Zoom 909; it has no real connections to Buck Rogers beyond the title screen. Interestingly, Sega announced three other games for the Atari 2600 based on the same license, but due to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 none of them saw the light of day.
- Sega's Arcade Game Strike Fighter was similar enough to After Burner that it was ported to the Sega CD and FM Towns as After Burner III.
- The obscure pirate original Famicom game Harry's Legend is actually a hacked version of an even more obscure game called Titenic.
- Quest Fantasy Challenge is a game made for the Game Boy Color, based on the Quest 64 license. The only problem is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the Quest series, and is actually a port of Mr. Do!.
- Kong Strikes Back! combined the characters of Donkey Kong with the gameplay of Mr. Do!'s Wild Ride, which itself might have been dolled-up from a game called Go! Go! Coaster.
- The Arcade Game Lethal Enforcers 3 was called Seigi no Hero in Japan, and is actually a Spiritual Successor to Police 911.
- Castelian was released in Japan as Kyorochan Land, with the protagonist replaced by the Morinaga chocolate mascot.
- Inverted in Homeworld. The writer wanted to make a Battlestar Galactica game (this was before the reboot), but couldn't get the rights. So they changed the plot a little bit and the ships a lot, and voila!
- Space Raiders was reissued in Japan by the publisher of Earth Defense Forces series as part of the Simple 2000 series under the title Chikyuu Shinryakugun (Earth Invasion Force).
- Tengai Makyou: Deden no Den was one of two multiplayer-only promotional editions of Bomberman 94, replacing Bomberman with Kabuki.
- The Incredible Toon Machine was dolled up in Japan as the Ghosts N Goblins game Nazomakaimura, with Arthur and Astaroth taking the place of Sid and Al.
- Originally, Xenoblade was going to be a standalone game called "Monado: Beginning of the World," with the name change coming later to connect it to the other Xeno titles. Even so, it had enough similarity to its predecessors in both themes and character traits that many players couldn't tell it wasn't in the same continuity.
- The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates was originally developed by Sting Entertainment for the Western market. In Japan, it became Youkai Buster: Ruka no Daibouken, starring the mascot of Marukatsu Super Famicom magazine.
- The Game Boy version of the Platform Game known either as McDonaldland or M.C. Kids was dolled up in the U.S. and Japan as Spot: The Cool Adventure, replacing one food promotion with another.
- In Amsoft's series of Roland games for the Amstrad CPC, the first two releases, Roland in the Caves and Roland on the Ropes, were rebranded conversions of Indescomp's ZX Spectrum games Bugaboo the Flea and Fred. Roland Goes Digging was a Space Panic knockoff, though not the only one released for the system.
- The Wangan Midnight game for the PlayStation 2 was essentially a rerelease of Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero with very little changed aside from the use of licensed cars and drivers.
- Game Over 2 was originally published in Spain as Phantis, with no connection to Game Over (even though it had the same publisher).
- Baby T-Rex, the Game Boy precursor to Radical Rex, was released in the U.S. as Were Back A Dinosaurs Story, in Sweden as Bamse, and in Australia as Agro Soar (starring the host of a Australian Puppet Show that otherwise had nothing to do with dinosaurs).
- Popful Mail nearly had this happen to it. It was originally planned to be called "Sister Sonic" and focus on a female hedgehog set in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. However, fans found out and flipped their lid, saving the game from the change.
- Kid Radd 2 (a fictional game within the comic) resembles the original Kid Radd in name and main characters only, to Radd's dismay. It somewhat resembles Super Mario Bros. 2, in that the "damsel in distress" is playable and the heroes can lift and throw enemies, and the physics are different in other subtle ways.
- Spoofed when Platypus Comix featured a Mulberry comic with artwork taken from Shadowgirls.
- Bobwhite: This guest comic shows young Cleo's distraught reaction to Mario 2.
- The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon" was adapted by Larry Niven from one of his Known Space short story "The Soft Weapon", with the Pierson's Puppeteer being replaced by Mr. Spock, and the Enterprise crew standing in for the other humans opposing the Kzinti.
- Michel Vaillant, a French animated series based on a comic book of the same name about a heroic race car driver who keeps getting mixed up in crime and espionage, aired in the United States on the Family Channel (now known as ABC Family) under the title of Heroes on Hot Wheels. The show had nothing to do with the Hot Wheels toyline, other than the fact that Mattel sponsored the English dub.
- The Sonic Underground show was accused of this as it involved only Sonic, Robotnik and Knuckles as the original characters. Most background characters were more alienesque than animal, Sonic had a brother and sister who made up a rock band and was a prince, and the hook was that every episode the moral of the episode would be summed up in one song.