Mission-Pack Sequel


"This is something we used to call an 'Expansion Pack,' and which Nintendo apparently calls Ka-Ching!"

Sometimes, a sequel to a video game is completely different from the original; perhaps the designers got a little overexcited about creating new things.

Other times, however, you get just the opposite: Essentially, extra levels for the original game. Either it's the same engine, or the feel is identical, or what have you; but nevertheless, the player feels slightly ripped off. Any way you cut it, you're paying full price for an Expansion Pack.

Some gamers enjoy mission pack sequels when they are obviously such, because then they know exactly what they're getting into, and sometimes extra content for a fun game is a good thing. Other gamers don't trust their favorite companies to innovate, and would rather they stick to what they're demonstrably good at.

Thanks to the general contrariness of many gamers, not producing this kind of sequel when expected to can result in They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Critics, on the other hand, tend to be Sequelphobic. This trope provides exclamations of It's The Same Now It Sucks.

To compensate for the lack of new play mechanics, a Mission Pack Sequel may feature harder levels than the original game, with more and/or tougher enemies.

It's important to realize that, until the early '90s, this was usually the standard for video game sequels. They were generally expected to offer the same experience as the first, except with new levels, a new enemy or two, maybe a couple new power-ups but little to seriously differentiate them from their predecessorsnote . It wasn't until games like Super Mario Bros. 3 demonstrated how to significantly depart from your source material while still maintaining everything that made the original great that it became more permissible for video game sequels to seriously distinguish themselves from their predecessors.

Some old games did this in a manner similar to Divided for Publication, when ported to a system which couldn't fit all the stages onto one cartridge. Also, older consoles usually did not allow for actual expansion packs due to hardware limitations, leaving Mission Pack Sequels as the only way for developers to add new content to an existing console game.

Remember that just being part of a series doesn't make a game an example of this. Having a similar game system is part of the definition of being a series; a game only qualifies as a Mission Pack Sequel if the sequel adds almost nothing in the way of innovation or new features - if you could imagine the old game with the new one's levels, enemies, and the like, and nothing would seem out of place (or the opposite, such as the developers or fans porting the old game's levels to the new game without having to change much of anything to get them to work).

An installment that embraces this, like the Half-Life 2 Episodes, Company of Heroes expansions, or the various Guild Wars campaigns, may be marketed as a "stand-alone expansion" instead of a full sequel, which usually means a lower retail price.

If it looks like a Mission Pack Sequel, but isn't a sequel, then it's probably a Gaiden Game.

Compare Serial Numbers Filed Off. Contrast In-Name-Only and Dolled-Up Installment.


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     Action Game 

  • Besides the license involved, all the LEGO Adaptation Games fall into this. There's been some interface changes throughout them, but they remain similar enough that you could buy one based on which of the licenses you like best and not be missing out on anything. On the other hand, they're all a damn good time.
  • The Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the NES were all developed on the same engine, although the sequels made some subtle changes to the original game system and each installment had at least one exclusive power-up (namely the somersault attack in the original, the red shadow clones in II, and the sword extension in III). Oddly enough, III is the only game in the trilogy that doesn't have the pseudo isometric perspective as the first two games.
  • The Tomb Raider series on the PlayStation used the same game engine for five games, but each game had better graphics than the previous game, new mechanics such as sprinting and monkey swinging. By The Last Revelation, the graphics haven't improved a lot and the game mechanics remained generally unchanged, save for one or two new abilities. By Chronicles, the game literally recycles a lot of the textures and sound effects, along with the game mechanics from the last game so nothing ever changed.
  • Blaster Master: Enemy Below for the Game Boy Color was similar to the original NES game, reusing graphics and music (albeit with different instruments) from it. However, the maps, weapons, and bosses are entirely new.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Cheetahmen II reuses a lot of elements from the original Cheetahmen on the Action 52 NES cartridge, including the catchy music, the numerous physics glitches, and the erroneous level numbering. In fact, the last two levels of Cheetahmen II (normally unreachable due to a Game-Breaking Bug) are copied wholesale from Cheetahmen. And the prototypes of the never released game used recycled Action 52 cartridges, including the labels.
  • Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness takes this Up to Eleven, being the exact same game as Castlevania 64 except where you play as a different character with a different storyline (and an impossibly hard intro level featuring a cruel Wake-Up Call Boss). For beating the game you unlock a side mission where a knight rescues some children, and the option to play the original Castlevania 64... which you basically already did.

    Beat Em Up 
  • The arcade version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge was a heavily modified version of the first game. The biggest change was in the game's controls, which used directional-based attack buttons instead of the punch and kick buttons from the first game. The level layouts were also changed with different enemy placement and new traps, most of the returning enemy character were given a few new attacks in addition to their new looks, some of the weapons have different properties and all of the stages have a new end-boss. Averted with the NES version of Double Dragon II, which uses a completely different game system from the first one.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project for the NES reuses the same engine as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, but with the additional health-draining special attacks performed by pressing the A and B simultaneously.
  • The second Streets of Rage game used a completely different engine from the first one, but the third game used the same engine as the second, only with a few new moves such as a dash.
  • Golden Axe II used the same engine as the Mega Drive port of the first one.
  • Final Fight 2 is essentially the SNES port of the first game with nation-themed stages (Hong Kong, France, Holland, England, Italy and Japan). It justifies itself by adding a 2-player co-op mode, a feature from the arcade version that was missing from the SNES port, as well as having a full 3-character roster in one cartridge (as opposed to having a second version with a character replaced, as was the case with Final Fight Guy). The sequel even brought back Rolento, who was the only boss character from the first game missing in the SNES port.

    Driving Game 
  • The The Fast and the Furious arcade game from Raw Thrills received one of these in the form of Fast and the Furious: DRIFT, which added some new Japan-themed tracks, improved the graphics, and added in some new cars on top of some returning cars. The tracks from the original game all returned, and gameplay was mostly the same.
  • The various San Francisco Rush arcade games are Mission Pack Sequels of the original; while the tracks and graphics have changed, the fundamental gameplay and emphasis on real-world physics does not. Averted with the home console versions, which add additional modes that don't involve racing around a track.
  • The Cruis'n USA series (Cruis'n World, Cruis'n Exotica, and the Spiritual Sequel California Speed) is made of Mission Pack Sequels to the first game.
  • Ridge Racer 2 for the PSP is a very blatant example: It's exactly the same game as the first one, with a few additional tracks and a couple of (mostly irrelevant) playing modes. Nothing else is different. Yet it was sold at full price (and with no indication of this in the covers). Same for Ridge Racer Revolution on the original PlayStation.
  • Crazy Taxi's various sequels were strictly alterations of the setting and characters, although they also introduced a jump button.
  • BS F-Zero Grand Prix and BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 for the Satellaview both use the same engine as the original FZero. The tracks are numbered successors to the originals and play like bonus levels from a level editor.
  • Championship Sprint has different tracks from Super Sprint, but otherwise plays the same way. It was produced to make more money, though not from Super Sprint owners; rather, it was sold as a conversion for existing two-player arcade cabinets (which explains why the option for a third player was removed).

    Fighting Game 
  • The various Street Fighter sequels, after the first version of Street Fighter II, tended to be Mission Pack Sequels of the highest degree. At least the ones that were Mission Pack Sequels were labeled as such.
  • According to those who worked on both games, Tekken 2 was what the first Tekken would have been like if they had had more time to work on it. The character roster keeps all the same characters from the original and adds several more (renaming Jack to Jack-2 to fit in with his story). It also uses the same music from the first game for several levels. However, it is a new game in that all the returning characters are redrawn with better graphics, far more moves are added to distinguish boss characters from main characters, and the Playstation version had many new modes added whereas the first game just had Arcade, Vs and Options.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The second Brothers in Arms game, Earned In Blood. The first half are different takes on the same mission as the first game, or missions that occurred in-between. The rest of the game is completely new.
  • A common accusation thrown at Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, but really a subversion: while it borrowed heavily from 2, most egregiously the entirety of the HUD and menus with only very minor tweaks, it brought new movement mechanics, new playable characters with novel abilities, and a number of new enemies with new mechanics and behavior.
  • Doom II: Hell on Earth is a good example of this trope being done right. The game engine is identical, it plays the same and there's only one new weapon and seven new enemies, one of which is a Palette Swap (compare to the original game's eight normal monsters and two bosses). The main attraction is the 32 new levels featuring sublime design. In turn, Final Doom was a one of these to Doom II, but only contained two sets of new levels - which makes sense, considering one of the sets, TNT: Evilution, was intended to just be a Game Mod before an eleventh-hour publishing deal was struck.
  • Marathon Infinity's Blood Tides of Lh'owon was basically just Marathon 2: Durandal with more levels. As the title indicates, however, Infinity's main features were really Anvil and Forge. Marathon 2 was in turn this to the original game, starting life as the 20/10 Level Pack, which would have introduced 20 new single player levels, 10 new multiplayer maps, and the shotgun, but was released as a separate game due to how much it added.
  • Left 4 Dead, meet Left 4 Dead 2. New characters, new levels, but same gameplay. Valve eventually stated that L4D2 was going to be DLC, but that the amount of work that went into it, including graphic upgrades, voice-acting, new weapons, and more, merited a full-release, albeit the console version retailed at 2/3rds the cost of a typical game.
  • Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army follows the example of Left 4 Dead is this regard; The second game is essentially the same game as the first, albeit with 5 new levels and a couple new enemies. Sniper Elite III from V2 is a lesser example, using the same engine and a lot of the same weapons and mechanics, but with an entirely new set of levels set in Africa of 1942 and other new or updated mechanics to help make stealth actually viable.
  • Halo 3: ODST was originally announced as a downloadable add-on for Halo 3, but it ended up becoming a whole new game. However, all it really does is add a new single-player campaign, a new game mode, and a few new multiplayer maps. The actual multiplayer gameplay is identical to Halo 3's. The biggest complaint about ODST has been its surprising brevity (you can finish the game in about 7 hours) contrasted to its full $60 price tag.
  • BioShock 2 could be said to be one, as the engine and basic setting are the same, and it's more of a side-story than a full sequel to the original game. It was not made by the team who made the first game, and included a multiplayer mode. At the same time, it's more of a Halo 2 style of iterative sequel: the enemy types are the same, but the models, animations, stats, and A.I. coding are all entirely new. The weapons and plasmids are also similar to those in the original game, but are entirely new versions that behave somewhat differently instead of re-using the old assets.
  • Medal of Honor: Underground is a mission pack prequel, using the same engine as the original with a few slight gameplay alterations.
  • Unreal
    • Unreal Tournament was originally going to be a second, multiplayer-focused expansion for Unreal; however, with just how big it ended up becoming, the developers split it off into an entirely new game. They still run on the same engine, thoughnote , plus UT still has almost all of the original's assets included (only missing the maps and music - models, animations, sounds and code for things like the original enemies, items, and weapons are all still there), which has led to mods recombining the two.
    • Unreal Tournament 2004 was another one, to UT2003 - essentially the exact same game with more playable models, the addition of vehicles, new weapons, new models for existing weapons (with the option to choose which model to use), new maps, and new game modes, including the return of Assault mode. This was intentional as part of a short-lived effort to make the series a yearly release a la the Madden NFL games, but nevertheless Epic themselves consider UT2004 to be what UT2003 should have been - when UT2004 came out, they gave rebates for players who traded in 2003 for it, and for digital distribution over places like Steam and GOG.com, 2003 has been skipped over entirely in favor of 2004.
  • While Quake and Quake II are very different games in terms of technology and story, they deserve an honorable mention because the expansion packs (two for each game) were actually labeled Mission Packs and offered additional single player campaigns in each one with some new weapons and enemies.
  • Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is the only game in the Dark Forces Saga not based on an entirely different engine than the previous game (excluding Mysteries of the Sith, which was an actual expansion for Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II). The main draw is the added customization options, particularly for the lightsaber (now allowing twin sabers or a double-bladed saber staff), a few new Force powers, and allowing for customization of the protagonist and his/her lightsaber as well as selecting your own powers like in Dark Forces II (as compared to Kyle's static saber appearance and power growth in Outcast) - other than the maps involved, it otherwise looks and plays identically.
  • Serious Sam:
    • The Second Encounter is an interesting case. The game itself followed this trope — same engine, additional weapons, enemies and environments — as well as a greater abundance of lame jokes from the companion AI. Yet despite being called The Second Encounter, the next game in the series, which did contain major changes to the style, gameplay and atmosphere, was called Serious Sam II, causing some confusion with the other game whose subtitle suggested the same thing. It can be confusing when looking for information regarding both installments, and it's easily to completely overlook one or the other for this very reason.
    • The HD editions of the original games takes this to its logical conclusion by way of the "Fusion" DLC/update, which adds all the content from the first game into the second to let people immediately jump from First Encounter's Egypt levels to Second Encounter's South America ones. There's also Serious Sam Classics: Revolution, which does the same for the original versions.
  • Rainbow Six does this often, with a game that looks exactly like the previous one, but with more weapons for the player to use and new missions to use them in - namely, Rogue Spear and Vegas 2. These sequels are generally considered to be among the best games in the series, right next to similarly-praised unique entries like Raven Shield and Siege.
  • The original Ghost Recon and its expansions, in turn, were all basically the original Rainbow Six in expansive outdoor environments and with more of a then-next-gen US military theme to the usable equipment; they're also honorable mentions because they were explicitly labeled as mission packs on the boxes, and released as standalone games for the consoles they came out on (with the PS2 version of Island Thunder including a third exclusive expansion, Jungle Storm). It eventually split off and became its own unique series with the cover-based Third-Person Shooter Advanced Warfighter... until Rainbow Six took cues from the console versions of Advanced Warfighter for the Vegas spinoffs.
  • The video game adaptation of The Sum of All Fears was another case, taking the Ghost Recon version of the engine to adapt another Tom Clancy book-turned-movie. Interestingly, the game starting you off in the shoes of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team made it pretty close to the original plan for the Rainbow Six game before the endorsement deal with Clancy.
  • Call of Duty is notorious for this. One of the biggest criticisms is that the multiplayer aspect doesn't change a whole lot between each installment, other than some new maps, reskinned/new guns, and reskinned characters. To add insult to injury, the DLC for Modern Warfare 2 allows you to play maps from Call of Duty 4 that look identical, but are running on the new engine. They have been trying to introduce new ideas to the multiplayer in later games (at least, the ones by Treyarch and newcomer Sledgehammer have), but the graphics were still on about the same level they've been since Call of Duty 2 until at least Black Ops II (7 years later, for context) - to the point that Modern Warfare 3 even uses the exact same HUD layout as MW2, with only updates to the text displayed over it for new game modes and weaponsnote . This is really starting to bite the series with Call of Duty: Ghosts, which has on average scored and sold lower than Black Ops 2 (breaking the trend of every CoD breaking the previous one's sales records), in part because it refused to adapt any of the changes BO2 added and is seen by many as, in effect, Modern Warfare 4.
  • Crysis 3, unlike the jump from the first game to the second, had the HUD almost entirely unchanged. The nanosuit powers are the same too. In fact, a look at the game files shows that many of them are unchanged from Crysis 2, including the files for most weapons and enemies.
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, being marketed as a stand-alone expansion, uses the same engine and gameplay mechanics as the main Far Cry 3, but has a completely different story, set in an 80s retro-future cyberpunk dystopia.
  • Far Cry 4, in turn, is also essentially Far Cry 3 in a new setting with additional content (i.e. some new guns and vehicles) and some balancing tweaks. The base engine and gameplay is the same down to the small details, it has the exact same guns (albeit with many new ones, including borrowing one from Blood Dragon), and the enemies are actually direct palette-swapped versions of the ones from Far Cry 3, down to having the same A.I. coding, stats, and animations (although some enemies have been given new moves, e.g. machete fighters now having throwing knives and chargers throw smoke grenades).
  • Dead Island: Riptide has the same engine and gameplay and is essentially the same game as the original Dead Island, with a new (shorter than the original) single player campaign. Riptide has a few minor additions, such as a 5th player character, a few new enemy types, and more weapons.
  • 007 Legends is essentially GoldenEye Reloaded with new missions, a few new weapons, and some new mechanics involving weapon attachments in singleplayer and quick-time events. The names, models and animations for returning weapons are the same, the mechanics are the same, even the basic premise of "classic Bond films reimagined with Daniel Craig's Bond" is the same.

    Hack And Slash 
  • The Onechanbara series is known for being low budget and hardly changes from game to game but from Z Kagura to Z II Chaos, there are many, many recycled assets, levels, enemies and bosses, it feels more like an expansion than a full blown sequel, in fact there are more stuff copy-pasted from Kagura than brand new things introduced in Chaos, somewhere around 65% old to 35% new. Critics are already merciless on this series, had Z Kagura been localized they sure would have been even more unkind to Z II Chaos.
  • Warriors Orochi 2. While the rest of the Dynasty Warriors uses new character models and maps for each iteration, even if they all have the same story, Warriors Orochi 2 is literally a Mission Pack Sequel of the first Warriors Orochi with some new characters thrown in for good measure. This is because Warriors Orochi 2 was, in fact, an expansion, whereas Warriors Orochi 3 - titled Musou Orochi 2 in Japan, is the true sequel.

    Mecha Game 
  • The Armored Core games are notorious for doing this. Every game with a number at the end of it are brand new games, but every game with some kind of Word Salad Title is just a mission-pack sequel built on the numbered game's engine with a few minor additions or subtractions. This was how From Software managed to put out one Armored Core a year for a decade. When they moved on to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, they began putting more effort into individual games, hence why there was only one mission-pack sequel to Armored Core 4 and it took three years to go from it to Armored Core 5.
  • The Super Robot Wars series, albeit this merely in terms of overall concept, which is pretty identical in all incarnations (turn based strategy with big robots as units). Otherwise, the game engine has undergone revisions and the list of series and the plots vary from game to game.
  • This was the case for several MechWarrior games within a specific era—it is otherwise averted, as each new series of sequels is drastically different in gameplay from the others.
    • Mechwarrior 2 was the original, while Ghost Bear's Legacy traded off the two-faction system for a single linear narrative with new missions, 'Mechs, and equipment, but effectively the same gameplay. Mercenaries was still the same gameplay-wise, but had more 'Mechs (again), a slightly more open world to play in, and an optional persistent inventory/asset management section.
    • Mechwarrior 3 was its own stand-alone game, and Pirate's Moon was just a playable standalone sequel featuring new 'Mechs and gear and a new mercenary campaign. It is also notable for averting No Campaign for the Wicked and having a playable Pirate campaign, where you learn that yes, the pirates really are all violent thugs and psychopathic assholes.
    • In Mechwarrior 4 the original storyline focused around the trials of Ian Dresari, while Black Knight played off that campaign while, again, introducing more 'Mechs and gear. Mercenaries took the same route of its predecessor in the 2 era, once again providing more 'Mechs and a more open world—the difference being that the persistent inventory and asset management portion of the game had since become standard for the 4 era.

    Platform Game 
  • Mega Man:
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was conceived when Miyamoto and his team were working the arcade version of Super Mario Bros. and redesigning the stages to make the difficulty more suitable for arcade play. They decided to create a new version of the game that only expert players could clear, which is why the original Famicom Disk version was released with the tag line "For Super Players". This is likely the reason why Nintendo of America choose to skip this one and localize an unrelated game, Doki Doki Panic, as the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2, which turned out to be a better investment in retrospect.
    • While not as blatant as the previous Mario examples, all New Super Mario Bros. games barring the first one are Mission Pack Sequels, more so with the handheld entries being more similar to each other than to their home console counterparts, and vice versa. In the case of New Super Luigi U, it's justified for being conceived as a DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U and later a stand-alone game; it reuses the same textures and elements and even places all of its levels in the same spots where those of its predecessor were, but the main difference is that the levels are much more difficult and Luigi's controls differ from Mario's as in Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2 and the Galaxy games.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 was originally intended to be an expansion of the original Super Mario Galaxy titled Super Mario Galaxy 1.5; but over time, new ideas were implemented and the release date was pushed back so more content could be made. It is still often seen as being this to the original because, although most of the level design is not recycled, and there are some new power ups and new ways to progress, the core physics engine and Mario's basic move controls were left untouched, thus becoming the first direct sequel to another 3D Mario game.
    • Yoshi's Island DS often feels like one of these to the original. Although it feels less like an expansion pack and more like a commercially published ROM hack of the first game, with a significant amount of levels that feel like they took the basic structure of the original levels and bosses and merely tweaked them a bit.
    • Yoshi's New Island was criticized for, among other things, feeling even more like a ROM hack of the original game than DS did.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles was actually a literal case of this: Sonic 3 was originally intended to be one long game, but the developers, pressed for time, released only the first few levels of the game as Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and then released the rest as Sonic & Knuckles six months later. But since the new Sonic & Knuckles cartridge could be locked on with a Sonic 3 cartridge, the two can be played together back-to-back as they were originally intended (and as a plus, joining Sonic & Knuckles with Sonic 2 lets you play the latter game with Knuckles as a player character, too).
  • Tomb Raider 2 through 5 played the same as the original, with some graphics updates and a few new moves for Lara in each one. Also, Tomb Raider Underworld is a mission-pack sequel to Legend.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander was very similar to Jak II: Renegade, and felt more like Jak II 2 than a new sequel. This feeling is likely influenced by how vastly different Jak II was from its predecessor, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. However, it was still a huge game, with two giant open-world environments and the Light Jak powers added.
  • Contra:
    • The arcade version of Super Contra was a sufficiently different creature from the original game. However the NES version, titled Super C, is basically the first NES game with all new stages. The 3D stages were replaced with overhead ones, and the Fire Gun was revamped: instead of shooting tiny fireballs that traveled in a corkscrew pattern, it now fired large ones which splits into four fragments when it hits an enemy.
    • Operation C for the Game Boy also qualifies. The play mechanics are ported over from Super C and the graphic style is also similar to the NES games, but the stages and bosses are all new.
    • Neo Contra is an overhead version of Contra: Shattered Soldier, using the same three-weapons setup, only this time you can choose your weapon configuration and the third weapon now acts as an anti-air attack which takes out airborne enemies.
  • Jet Set Willy II: The Final Frontier isn't just "more of the same"- a lot of it is almost exactly the same! Essentially it's an expanded rewrite that includes all the original screens plus some new ones. Originally designed as an Amstrad CPC port of the ZX Spectrum original, but making use of the extra memory, it was then ported back to the Spectrum.
  • Championship Lode Runner is like Lode Runner, but with more difficult levels. Irem adapted Lode Runner into four Arcade Games which differed from each other in little else but levels, including a number of original levels which were brought to the Famicom Disk System as Super Lode Runner and Super Lode Runner II.
  • Bonk's Revenge and Bonk 3 for the Turbo-Grafx 16. Revenge even reused alot of the music from Adventure.
  • Hudson's Adventure Island III was virtually copy-pasted from Adventure Island II in terms of graphics, music and play mechanics, with the only major changes being a new dinosaur buddy and a new weapon.
  • Miner 2049er Volume II for the Atari 2600 contained three stages from the original game that hadn't appeared in the 2600 version of Miner 2049er, which also had only three stages out of the original ten.
  • Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly tried too hard to copy the feel of the games prior to it rather then create a new game. This, combined with its Obvious Beta status, meant the game didn't fare well with almost anyone.
  • Cybernoid II: The Revenge gave the player a different-looking ship with a few new weapons, but otherwise played exactly like the original Cybernoid.
  • Rayman Legends has new levels, an updated art engine, and a new type of character (who plays exactly the same as Rayman), but other than that Rayman's abilities haven't been altered at all. It even includes the vast majority of the levels from Rayman Origins!
  • Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters has updated graphics, but the overall feel is the same as the original game. The main difference is the absence of Ratchet Scrolling, making the game a bit easier.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The Katamari Damacy sequels. Fortunately, the original had enough enjoyably weird potential that it almost didn't matter.
  • Lemmings' first sequels, Xmas Lemmings and Oh No! More Lemmings, were this. Oh No! More Lemmings had 100 levels in four new tilesets, and with a much steeper learning curve if you hadn't played Lemmings already, but added nothing to the basic gameplay. A proper sequel, Lemmings 2: The Tribes, followed later; this added a slew of new skills.
  • Repton 3 was followed by three new scenarios using the same game engine: Around the World in 40 Screens, The Life of Repton, and Repton Thru Time.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Cannon Fodder 2 is almost the same as the first game, but with different graphics and levels.
  • Homeworld: Cataclysm was apparently supposed to be an expansion pack to the original game, but ended up becoming a standalone when the developers started making gameplay and graphics engine changes. The results are still controversial. Controversy in the plotline aside, the more sequel-like sequel Homeworld 2 uses a control scheme much more similar to Cataclysm's than that of the first game.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert to the original Command & Conquer. Red Alert actually doesn't quite have the same engine (for starters, it stored unit statistics in a text file instead of hard-coding them in the executable), and the gameplay is slightly different, but in terms of overall appearance it practically looks just like its predecessor, especially once the original was ported to Red Alert's engine for the Win 95 and console ports.
    • Also, The Covert Operations for the first game, and Counterstrike and Aftermath for Red Alert just have new standalone missions, but with a few new twists and units. The expansion packs for the rest of the series' games have campaigns that are continuations of the main stories, and incorporate the new units into non-campaign battles.
  • StarCraft was originally built on the same engine as Warcraft 2, which caused people to call it Warcraft IN SPACE!. It was massively overhauled with a new engine and art style.
  • The two stand-alone expansion packs to Earth 2150: The Moon Project and Lost Souls. All they add are new mission and a few new units. That's it.
  • Haegemonia: Legions of Iron had a stand-alone expansion pack called The Solon Heritage. You'd think that, just based on the name, it would feature a storyline devoted to the titular Benevolent Precursors. Nope, the expansion doesn't even have a campaign. Instead, it add more maps, a few new ship types, a few buildings, a few techs, and the ability to make locked-down space stations move again. Needless to say, it was hated by fans of the original.
  • While Warlords Battlecry is a very different game from its predecessor, Warlords, the three games in the Battlecry series were essentially exactly the same but with new storylines and a few new playable races.

    Rhythm Game 
  • The Guitar Hero franchise has seen at least minimal improvements between major releases, such as an improved hammer-on and pull-off system, practice mode and co-operative gameplay between the first two Guitar Hero titles. Rocks the 80s, rushed out-the-door to meet the publishers' demands, featured only a modest facelift and new tracklist, and then the series was handed over to Neversoft and Activision...who started to apply this trope in full, starting with the release of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. World Tour added full band gameplay (mostly to compete with Rock Band), and then even more band games were commissioned such as Guitar Hero: Metallica and Guitar Hero: Van Halen, and the DS versions with the awkward "Guitar Grip" peripheral that plugged into the GBA slot. The entire franchise more or less reached its culmination of stagnation with Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, featuring nothing but remade versions of tracks from past Guitar Hero games, and Band Hero, with a new facelift and tracklist geared specifically towards the teenie bopper crowd with guitar classics such as "YMCA" and "Wannabe". Thankfully, they seem to have learned their lesson due to progressively weaker sales and reception, culminating in Van Halen flying completely under everyone's radar because the series had saturated the market so much, and most of the people who played the game got it for free with a code from Guitar Hero 5.
  • Rock Band 2 adds some interface tweaks and 84 new songs, but that's about it. Of course, it's hard to expect a whole lot more; it'd be kind of like attempting to innovate dodgeball or birthday parties. There is some room for improvement, though, especially as far as the instrument peripherals go, and the new peripherals packaged with Rock Band 2 are much better than the originals. And even then, if you're buying just the game and using your old instruments, 84 songs for $60 is a bargain by Rock Band's usual 1.99/song pricing.
    • Lego Rock Band and The Beatles: Rock Band fall into this too, though The Beatles version is very thematically different (if gameplay identical, although it did add three-part vocal harmonies). Rock Band Unplugged and the Nintendo DS version of Lego Rock Band are not considered one, being a Spiritual Successor to Amplitude instead.
    • Rock Band 3 seems to be circumventing this at long last, by introducing vocal harmonies from The Beatles: Rock Band, as well as a new keyboard peripheral and a more realistic 'Pro Mode'. Later on, Rock Band 3's price got officially dropped to around $30.
  • This is the case for damn near every Rhythm Game ever, especially the BEMANI franchise.
    • Dance Dance Revolution tried to subvert this with the Dance Dance Revolution Solo sub-series, which use single-player cabinets with up-left and up-right arrows in addition to the four familiar ones. It didn't last beyond DDR 4th Mix PLUS, though it made a comeback for DDR Konamix, which uses the 4th Mix engine despite being released in 2002, just before the release of the Japanese DDR MAX 2.
    • Additionally, DDR 3rd mix added the innovation of a tempo change, but it only occurred while there were no arrows on screen (in the song "Luv This Feeling"). DDR 4th Home/DDR 5th Arcade added the innovation of a tempo-freeze with the song "Healing Vision Angelic". DDRMAX added the innovation of a ton of new modifiers (most notably the speed modifiers), an Oni mode, and freeze arrows. The home versions also occasionally added new game play modes (such as the challenges in DD R4th, the mission modes in DDR Universe, etc.)

    Role Playing Game 
  • The Pokémon games. Every generation has had, at minimum, two alternate versions of one game that look and play exactly the same and a third Updated Re-release that also looks and plays exactly the same but with a slightly altered storyline (with the exception of the fifth generation doing something a bit different from the latter). Gens III, IV, and VI (Gen V did something different in this case as well) have also included remakes of past games, though these aren't quite this trope, as they take place in vastly different locations and commonly feature Pokemon that are extremely hard to get in the other games of their generation.
    • Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 play this the straightest as they're the usual third-game of a generation in the guise of a direct sequel. Its mechanics are more or less unchanged and the game has a few new features thrown in.
    • For a long time, all the Pokemon games recycled the 8-bit sound effect cries for the creatures, even once the games had advanced far enough in technology where such a thing wouldn't be needed, and the older cries tended to clash with the higher-quality newer cries. Pokémon X and Y finally updated them, except for Pikachu's, which is instead replaced entirely with its voice from the anime.
    • Pokémon Stadium is a somewhat unique case — the original game, only released in Japan, had less than a third of the first-generation Pokémon available, with plans to add the others through a 64DD-based expansion disk. With the failure of the 64DD, however, they opted to just normally release a complete version of the game instead — Stadium 2 in Japan, localized elsewhere as simply Pokémon Stadium. When it came time for another sequel that added the hundred or so extra mons from Gen II, the Japanese released was named Pokémon Stadium Gold and Silver (the localization is instead called, confusingly, Pokémon Stadium 2).
  • Might and Magic VI's engine was reused in Might & Magic VII and VIII; if you know how to play one of those games, you know how to play all three.
  • All the NES Dragon Quest sequels used the same engine, more or less. They made up for it by varying the way your party was set up. Specifically — DQI had no party at all, just a main character; DQII had a party of three set characters; DQIII had a set hero and up to three created generic characters; and DQIV had four "chapters" before the hero's storyline began, each focusing on one of the hero's eventual party members, each with their own parties (and party members).
    • The DS remakes of the "Zenithian Trilogy" also share an engine, which has a graphical style similar to the PlayStation version of Dragon Quest VII (and thus the remake of IV on the same system), only with fewer 3D elements. DQIV has the "chapters" explained above, DQV includes the ability to recruit monsters, and the main selling point of DQVI is the job system.
    • Honestly, Dragon Quest never strays too far from its roots no matter what engine it uses. DQIX plays basically like III (and by extension all the other games in the series) but adds randomly generated grottoes for Dungeon Crawling on top of the main game.
  • Fallout and Fallout 2 were built on almost exactly the same engine, and share all but a tiny number of assets. Then again, if you're playing Fallout for the interface, you're doing it wrong.
  • Fallout: New Vegas is an interesting case. The engine and nearly all of the assets from Fallout 3 are present, the skills and perks have been revamped, the combat system improved, the healing and buff system also revamped, and crafting expanded as well as adding new enemy types. However, the world and quests are completely new (such as the presence of strong Western elements with less post-apocalyptic elements) while adding in content from the defunct Fallout: Van Buren project also adding reference and continuity to Fallout 2. Similar to Unreal, there have also been mods combining the two games.
  • SSI's Gold Box games all shared the same engine and changed little in basic gameplay over the course of their history, but produced huge scenarios for players to explore.
  • Spiderweb Software's games, like the Exile/Avernum series, Nethergate, and the Geneforge series, present something of an odd case. The same engine and graphics are recycled for several games with few additions, but when Spiderweb does make a newer engine or better graphics, they are back-ported to all of Spiderweb's older games.
  • The Infinity Engine games released by Bioware and Black Isle between 1997-2002 (Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale 1 and 2, and Planescape: Torment), all used the same engine and play style, with only cosmetic differences, graphic updates, and a few rules tweaks here and there. The games are compatible enough that there exist mods that package the entire Baldur's Gate saga in a single game, or to run Baldur's Gate II in the Icewind Dale II interface. Digging through the game files for BGII reveals that the entire framework for the Candlekeep prologue mission in BG1 (including level scripts and dialogue from Gorion) is present (the level layout is reused for a flashback the player character has of Imoen), and many of the items and weapons from the first game are transplanted over with little to no change for their stats or descriptions. That said, BG 2 is a much bigger game than its predecessor, and it's likely that it was designed by using the first game as a template.
  • Digimon World Dawn/Dusk for the Nintendo DS, when compared to the first Digimon World DS. Aside from changing up the numbers, adding new Mons, and creating new evolvution paths, it's the same game with almost the exact same graphics and everything. The same goes in turn for their unexported sequel, Digimon Story: Lost Evolution, to the point where practically no-one has bothered to put out adequately translated information on what's going on because of the sameness.
  • Both .hack// series mirror this trope, but as each set of games is intended to be one massive game in four (or three, in GU's case) parts — with each installment picking up exactly where the previous one left off, right down to details like your character's level and the items in your possession — they are closer to One Game For The Price Of Four.
  • Chaos Strikes Back was originally intended to be an expansion disk for Dungeon Master, but ended up being released as a standalone game, despite being billed as "Expansion Set #1" and misleading packaging saying it requires Dungeon Master (though starting from an old saved game is recommended).
  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen was never marketed as a sequel, or really anything other than what it is: an expansion pack that is sold at full price. The justification is that it includes the original Dragon's Dogma as well. That said, fans who already owned the original game were more than a little ticked to discover that they would have to go out and buy it again for no other reason than because Capcom doesn't understand how Downloadable Content works.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age is a sequel expansion pack to the first game due to not being able to fit both games onto one Game Boy Advance cartridge. The sequel reuses a lot of core mechanics such as the sound effects, NPC sprites, the battle mechanics, and list of skills.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, which reuses the majority of the areas and assets that appeared in the previous game. Even returning characters Wakka and Lulu appear unchanged, even though the former had gained some weight and the latter was pregnant. Other than new areas and characters, the only change to the sequel was the battle system, and returning enemies use the same assets but have been renamed, such as "Flan Blanco" instead of "Ice Flan".
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years "is so derivative it should be taught during calculus. A more fitting title would be Final Fantasy IV: The Remix."
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords reuses the first game's engine and a lot of graphical assets. However, it compensates by going in a drastically different direction story-wise.
  • Persona 4 downplays this. While it reuses the basic engine framework, battle system (with some minor changes), and a lot of graphical and audio assets from its predecessor, it also has a completely new setting, cast, and storyline.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 is a borderline example. To its credit, it did introduce three new playable characters (although it's believed that two of these were originally going to be playable in the first game too, but couldn't be due to time constraints). However, the sheer extent to which it relies on recycled content is astounding. There are almost no new places to discover, and it has an excuse plot that allows it to get away with making the player repeatedly visit the same areas several times and requiring little plot/character development. Furthermore, there is a debt system where after every major plot event, the player must grind for money to make a large debt payment before they are allowed to progress through the main game any further (clearly to boost play time). Another thing worth mentioning is that the game has essentially no true side-quests like the first game (and most JRP Gs in general) did - instead, you simply get a lazy job board containing the most basic fetch-quest requests.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Touhou:
    • Though most of the shooting games are fairly similar, the "photo-em-ups" Touhou Bunkachou ~ Shoot The Bullet and Double Spoiler ~ Touhou Bunkachou are essentially the same game with different enemies.
    • Mascot Fighter Hisoutensoku is an odd example, being essentially an Expansion Pack and balance patch to Hisouten... that includes Story Modes for its new characters which are set well after the events of Hisouten and do not require the original game to play.
  • The R-Type games for the Japanese PC Engine are a literal example of this trope. Hudson (the developers of the PCE port) were unable to port all of the arcade version's stages into one HuCard due to memory constraints, so they split the game into two halves. R-Type I contains the first half of the game, while R-Type II (not to be confused with the actual arcade sequel of the same name) has the later stages. However, when Hudson later made the American Turbo-Grafx 16 version, they released it on a larger HuCard capable of containing the entire game. The full game was also ported to the PC Engine Super CD as R-Type Complete, with the addition of cutscenes and a Redbook audio soundtrack.

    Simulation Game 
  • While the first Wing Commander Expansion Pack was exactly that on the PC, it was released as an expansion pack sequel on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System due to Wing Commander not being worth a highly expensive pass-through cartridge (like Sonic & Knuckles).
  • Descent II was essentially Descent with new weapons and robots. It used the same game engine, and played much like the original. Granted, doubling the number of weapons and items in the game and adding high resolution and CD audio is pretty big jump for one year (1995 to 1996). Also, it turned the brutal Nintendo Hard difficulty of the original down to a more reasonable level.
    • In turn, Descent II received its own Expansion Pack, The Vertigo Series.
    • Further, Descent Maximum for the PlayStation was Descent II with all-new, albeit half-heartedly designed, levels.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, which has been nicknamed 1.5 by the critics. The third game however made major changes like switching to full 3D.
  • The first three Animal Crossing games are essentially the same game, released over and over again with small cosmetic changes. Animal Crossing: City Folk is still the same game as the original Japanese one on the N64, but with some shops shifted around, added characters, and a higher resolution. In fact, it's closer to the DS game than the DS game was to the original N64 and GameCube games. The fourth game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS, makes some more significant changes, but is still recognizably Animal Crossing.
  • Harvest Moon: Animal Parade is this to Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility.
    • Before that, though not truly a sequel (it's more of a counterpart for Sony fans), there was Harvest Moon: Back To Nature to Harvest Moon 64. It was so well received though, that it displaced the original and is now the most common source the characters of it are based on. Back to Nature however is better than most other examples at this, considering it's essentially a completely different game with the same characters and design.
  • The X-Universe had this with X3: Albion Prelude being essentially built from the same engine as the previous game, X3: Terran Conflict. Albion Prelude required an install of Terran Conflict, and it added very little new content aside from a new plot, a few new ships, and some interface and AI changes. X3 Reunion was somewhat of a mission-pack sequel to X2 The Threat; while it had a new graphics engine, it changed relatively little in regards to gameplay.
  • The Guild 2 standalone packs Venice and Renaissance. One was panned by the community while the other is somewhat better received since the pack was worked on by former members of the now defunct company 4head games.
  • While all the Ace Combat games do play rather similarly, the only true case of this is Zero to 5, which is apparent to the point that they even share a few maps for different missions. Zero does add more enemy aces and an Assault Record to keep track of them, as well as a few new planes and the return of multiple special weapons per plane (although at the cost of the sheer variety of planes from 5) alongside split-screen multiplayer from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, however. Ace Combat Infinity is a similar case, reusing most assets from Assault Horizon to create a new game which calls back to every previous game in the series.
  • New Little King's Story, if taken as a sequel, is extremely similar to the original game, with many of the same events happening in the same order as they did the last time, and near-identical gameplay. It's marketed as and in many ways qualifies as a remake, but its plot portrays it as a sequel.

    Sports Game 
  • Most officially licensed sports games, such as the Madden series and other related franchises that release a new installment each year, with the only differences being extremely minor tweaks and roster updates. You can basically skip nine out of ten Madden games if you don't want to sort through all of the mission-pack sequels.
    • If you want to count professional wrestling games as sports games, then the long-running WWE-licensed SmackDown!/SmackDown! vs. RAW series would most certainly count. Each year brings a new iteration of the series, and while they do add a couple of new features and wrestlers into each game, they inevitably remove a couple more for reasons good or bad. Then there's the fact that the gameplay's felt the same since the very first game (which came out on the original PlayStation in 2000) even with tweaks and changes over the years, and the fact that the series has been recycling animations since the very first game (with several animations in the most recent iterations still coming from the very first game).
  • The surprisingly great Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure was this for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. While a lot of mechanics were toned down for younger players and the soundtrack was horribly short, it had more levels, which were more interactive and inventive than the levels in the original. Oh, and there's a Tenacious D reference.
    • Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix for PSP was this to the original PS2 game. It simply adds 4 more levels to the game - Kyoto, Santa Cruz, Atlanta, and Las Vegas. Kyoto and Santa Cruz would go on to be playable in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland for PS2, and the other two would also be available in the later US-only Collector's Edition.
  • A sequel to the arcade version of Punch-Out!! was produced, titled Super Punch-Out!! like the later SNES game. The only differences between the two arcade games, besides the opponents you face and haircut of your character, is the addition of an extra button used for dodging attacks (which is required to avoid certain moves) and a more detailed display of top scores.
  • The MSX versions of Track & Field (also known as Hyper Olympic) and Hyper Sports split the original arcade games into two and three installments, respectively, though with some extra events added. Hyper Sports can be considered to have been an Event Pack Sequel in the first place, since not much was changed from the original Track & Field except for the types of events offered.
  • Greatest Heavyweights is Evander Holyfield's "Real Deal" Boxing with a mostly new set of boxers and somewhat improved graphics and sound (the most obvious improvement being the side-on ring overview also implemented in Riddick Bowe Boxing).

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is basically a P.O.V. Sequel to Vegas 1, with the only real differences being a new customizable protagonist, one or two new weapons of each type, and new voices for literally every returning character.
  • Thief II: The Metal Age sort of fits this trope, since it runs on the same engine as Thief: The Dark Project and uses the same menu interface and the same mini-movies when you die or beat a mission. However, there is a lot of gameplay refinement that makes it a worthy sequel; it just technically isn't anything that couldn't have been done in the original game.
  • Splinter Cell sequel Pandora Tomorrow fits the description as far as the single-player campaign is concerned, which was even shorter than the original. Pandora Tomorrow was the first Splinter Cell to feature multiplayer, but that was essentially a separate game in the same box. In fact, the game was actually meant to be an expansion for the first game, with Chaos Theory being the true "Splinter Cell 2", but then it was released as a separate game, and so Numbered Sequels went out the door to try and keep them from getting too confusing.

    Survival Horror 

    Third Person Shooter 
  • The third Syphon Filter game, despite having you play as a variety of characters, was nothing new. Every character was just a skin, and handled exactly the same as Gabe, to the point of being the same height — even the big black guy and the small Asian girl.
    • The second game was also this. Like above, Logan and Xing controlled exactly the same; the only new things to the engine were a few additional weapons.
  • Crusader: No Remorse, a game of 15 missions and a surprisingly detailed storyline for a mid-90s shoot-em-up, was followed up with No Regret, a game of 10 missions (though they were longer and more difficult), a few new weapons (and some weapons removed), a couple of new graphical touches, a couple of new enemies, a very straightforward plot (thought admittedly featuring live-action cinemeatics with improved CGI effects), a few of Origin's trademark awesome Feelies, some background information on the setting, and not much else. A mixup in the factory led to many copies of Crusader: No Remorse being mislabelled on the CD as No Regret.
  • Abe's Exoddus was just a longer version of Abe's Oddysee except for some added functions on top of the original nine speech commands that made the PlayStation version nigh-unplayable. Considering that Munch's Oddysee changed formats to 3D, that may be preferable.
    • In fairness, it wasn't supposed to be a true sequel. The stated goal for the Oddworld series was to have 5 "true" installments, each completely different, and for each installment to have at least one "bonus game" that kept things mostly the same. Exoddus was the only one of these "bonus" games to be made.
  • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, particularly the console version, is more or less the first GRAW with a new campaign and some gameplay tweaks. To an extent, the expansions for the original Ghost Recon fit as well, particularly in how they were released as standalone games for consoles. The original game and its two expansions (not counting the PS2-exclusive "Jungle Storm") are often referred to as a "trilogy" despite only being one game.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Advance Wars:
    • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is the same game as the first game, only adding one new unit, some new CO's and a 2-tier power system. Advance Wars: Dual Strike does the same thing, adding even more new units and CO's, while including dual-screen maps and the ability to use two CO's as tag partners.
    • Game Boy Wars Turbo and Game Boy Wars 2 are also this to Game Boy Wars, although Game Boy Wars 2 removes one of the two cheaper indirect units. Surprisingly, Game Boy Wars 3 averts this by being based on Nectaris instead and has quite a few units even without the promoted units added into the mix.
  • The three Fire Emblem games for the GBA (The Sword of Seals, The Sword of Flame, and The Sacred Stones) have largely the same sprites, battle animations, items, and game mechanics; The Sacred Stones was easily the biggest shakeup of the three, but its additions were nothing particularly crucial.
  • In Japan, Shining Force III was released in three scenarios, each of which presented a different character's side of the story (see also Suikoden III's "Trinity Sight" system). America only got the first scenario.
  • Napoleon: Total War. Some maintain that the game is a stand-alone expansion to Empire: Total War, and so should be praised for the relatively high level of improvement and innovation which it shows, while some see it as a mission-pack sequel that slowed down post-release development for the notoriously buggy original. The Creative Assembly themselves have avoided describing it as either a sequel or an expansion, adding to the confusion.
  • Project X Zone 2 is like the first game, but with some new characters and chapters.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • XCOM Terror From The Deep was the same game as the original with re-drawn graphics and very minor additions, such as a few more melee weapons, two-stage missions, stat mods, and FLYING (well, swimming, really) Chryssalids. They also made it Nintendo Hard, because no one realized that the difficulty settings in the original didn't actually work (the difficulty would reset to the easiest one every time the game was loaded, the game already being so hard that nobody could really tell), so when some players complained that "Superhuman" was too easy, the remake crew cranked up the base difficulty without ever noticing the dial was disconnected.
  • Downplayed with the sequels to Silent Storm, both of which run on the original game's engine with a few enhancements. Silent Storm: Sentinels is a stand-alone expansion pack but feels like a cut-down version of the original. The addition of the post-mission gather button feels like it could've been done in a patch. The addition of a weight-based backpack system (to the already-existing size-based one), a monetary system for equipment, and weapon degradation only serve to annoy players. Unlike the original, S3 has only one campaign (shorter too), and less options for the main character's voice (no Russian accent for a game made in Russia). On the other hand, many of the characters from the original game (both sides) are now available to be recruited. Hammer & Sickle takes place during the height of the Cold War in the same setting. The game is more RPG in style than a tactical shooter, but the essentials are the same. However, H&S does not have Game Breakers like Panzerkleins or energy weapons. The Night Watch and Day Watch games are also based on the same engine, but the use of magic and another dimension add a whole new gameplay element. While the game includes pistols, they are almost useless and cannot be targeted at body parts.
  • Age of Wonders 2 was close to being this compared to the first game, retaining the same play style as Age of Wonders but with improved graphics. The next sequel, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic was an even better example, being almost the same game, just with a new campaign and two new playable races. Age of Wonders 3, however, is a total aversion, having very little in common with the other games in the series.

    Visual Novel 
  • The Ace Attorney games.
    • So the second game replaces the exclamation marks with a life meter, lets you present characters' profiles, and introduces the Magatama... but the third game adds no new features at all. Apollo Justice essentially trades all of this advancement away for the "perceive" option (the lack of the magatama makes the life meter a lot less significant). Of course, they're great games nonetheless and it would be hard to change the format significantly without ruining it.
    • The Ace Attorney games, actually, are the definition of this trope, as, in addition to not deviating from format overly much, they also get harder, requiring more and more lateral thinking and harder logical conclusions. Try playing the first case of Ace Attorney and the first case of Trials and Tribulations and see what you think. This trope is likely the reason why fans often refer to the cases as 1-1 through 1-5 for the first game, 2-1 through 2-4 for the second, and so on, as if each game is just a part of one big game.
    • The general fan explanation for this is that the games are a lot like novels, so as long as the writing and plots get better, and the games become more difficult, the gameplay doesn't have to change much.
  • Largely due to the nature of Visual Novels this is unavoidable, but still draws ire when new games contain very little to offer over the old ones. Perhaps the most notable example is Da Capo which has somewhere around 10 sequels. This is not always the case of course as often games are sold for the express purpose of being rehashes of old material called 'fandisks' and some games like SHUFFLE! Essence+ add a few new characters and some routes fans had been begging for for years tacked on to the original.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Shenmue series was originally planned to be released with serialized installments (as evident by the Japanese title of the first), but this idea fell through after the release of the first game, which is why the sequel is titled Shenmue II, instead of Shenmue Chapter 2, and spans more than just one chapter. It still reuses the same graphics and engine as the original game.
  • Grand Theft Auto has several games that are expansion packs towards each other. Grand Theft Auto 2 reuses a lot of game mechanics and sounds from the first game while tweaking the gameplay, such as being able to take a few gunshots before dying. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is effectively an expansion pack to Grand Theft Auto III by having new weapons and a new setting while still retaining the old stuff like specific cars (most which were changed to reflect how they could look in the 1980s) and general movement. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas takes the expansion further by adding more vehicles, tweaking the core gameplay concept, and adding lots of new things like character stats and customization. All of this, combined with Vice City and San Andreas being the first in the series to have concrete links to previous games, caused people to refer to these games as "the GTA III era". It wasn't until Grand Theft Auto IV that nothing but the concept of the game remained the same.
  • Saints Row IV provides a complicated case. It uses the exact same engine and world map as Saints Row: The Third, but adds in enough new gameplay content (most notably superpowers that completely change how you cruise around the map, and more powerful enemies and weapons) so as to flirt at the edges of being one of these, but avoid falling fully into the classification. A more traditional example comes from the jump from the original Saints Row to Saints Row 2 - like the above, it's based on the same engine and world map, but other than some changed areas to reflect the Time Skip, slightly more in-depth character customization (such as the ability to play as a female), and the Boss no longer being a Heroic Mime, they're effectively the same game with minor gameplay/graphical tweaks and a different set of missions.

  • Wii Fit Plus is near-identical to the original except for new exercises and "balance games". It even allows you to import your save data from the original. Really, you might as well just trade in the original game when you get it, because it's useless if you have Plus.
  • Angry Birds Seasons, Rio, Space, and Star Wars I and II. The concept is simple: Start each level with some birds, and use those and only those to break through a structure and kill all the pigs inside. Rinse and repeat for dozens of installments.
  • The sequel to Silverball was Silverball Plus 2, which re-released the original game and included two more Digital Pinball Tables from Epic Pinball.
  • Every Mario Party game before the ninth (and excluding Advance) plays all but identically to the last, to the point of all N64 and GameCube titles sharing an engine with each other.
  • For The Awesome is this to Aaaaa A Aaaa AA Aaa AAA Aa AAAAAA Reckless Disregard For Gravity. Not only does it feature a new set of brutal levels on the same engine (albeit updated with better graphical effects), it also includes the entire original game with similar graphics updates.
  • Total Eclipse II: The Sphinx Jinx had a very similar premise to its predecessor and recycled not only its revision of the Freescape engine but also most of its graphics and sounds. This is another sequel that might have been an Expansion Pack if not for technological limitations: Total Eclipse II was developed only for then-obsolescent 8-bit computers and was only sold as part of a Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition of Total Eclipse.

Non-video game examples:


This phenomenon is not limited to just video games, or games in general. There are times when a sequel to a hit movie feels less like a brand new movie and more like what should've been on the second disc of the Special Edition DVD of the first movie.
  • Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. Sure, everything is beefed up given it goes from the single building AMNH to a whole complex in the Smithsonian. But a lot is recycled from the original.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York to the first movie. This time, Kevin is left alone in New York and even sets up a bunch of traps to take out Harry and Marv.
  • The Hangover Part II feels like part 2 of The Hangover part 1, except replace "Vegas" with "Bangkok", and is lampshaded by the cast with repeated utterances of "It happened again" and its variants.
  • Intentionally invoked by the makers of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; there was so much extra footage, as well as a completely different sideplot involving Symbionese-esque bank robbers, that they put together a whole new movie.
  • Sam Flynn goes through many of the same experiences in TRON: Legacy that his father did in TRON, in the same order: getting digitized by the laser and imprisoned in the Game Grid, being forced to fight in gladiatorial combat, escaping from the light cycle arena through a hole in the wall, having an ally seriously injured (Ram dies, Quorra gets better), and boarding a solar sailer which is captured by the enemy carrier. Thirty-two years, a larger scale and a rather different aesthetic help disguise this and makes them feel more like a homage to the original rather than a direct rip-off, but the comparison remains a valid one.
  • Die Hard 2: Die Harder with the terrorists taking over an airport instead of a building and John being again an Ignored Expert. This is lampshaded by John wondering to himself, "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
  • Terminator:
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens is basically a revamp of the original movie (with elements of the two follow-ups), following a youngster in a desert world who finds a droid filled with classified information, leaves said planet on the Millennium Falcon, and learns about the Force while also joining a paramilitary group against a totalitarian army which has a planet-destroying weapon.