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Oddball in the Series
Not quite Metroidvania.
Gabe: So if Final Fantasy X has the water sword... VIII had the gun sword... and VII had the big sword... There was no IX! They skipped a Final Fantasy! There is no Final Fantasy IX!
Tycho: Was too. The guy had a tail.
Gabe: Was it a sword tail?
Tycho: No, I think it was just a regular tail.
Penny Arcade, "Final Fantasy (x+1)"

Some media, such as Final Fantasy or Gundam, are known for being long-running series with multiple incarnations. Within these series, there is always at least one installment that is drastically different to the rest. Most of the time, this installment will be considered the Black Sheep of the group.

The reasons for this particular installment being different vary, the most common generally being Genre Shift and Art Shift. Games which acquire this status are different enough that it's hard to coherently compare them to other counterparts in the series. Many a Flame War is likely to ensue over the relative quality of the title compared to its counterparts with the same license branding.

Will often happen specifically with the second incarnation of the series, often because the creators, not having realized the exact blend of their successful formula, will change it in such a way that many of the fans' favorite parts are removed. As a result, later sequels will take more influence from the first title than the second. Early Installment Weirdness can ensue if the first one is the oddball. Spin offs of a series can also fall into the trope unless the spin offs themselves start to create a series of their own.

Video Game Examples:

  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 holds this status in the main Super Mario platformer series, since it eliminated the things that made the first game popular and replaced them with new moves, like throwing vegetables at enemies or picking up enemies and hurling them at others. This was because SMB2 was a Dolled-Up Installment of another game, while the intended sequel fell under the No Export for You status until the remake included as part of Super Mario All-Stars came along (with the name changed to Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels to avoid confusion with the game released as Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan). It was even more of an oddball for the first few years after its release, since almost no enemies or elements from it were used again until the Super Mario World series (though Bob-ombs made a re-appearance in Super Mario Bros. 3). Many of them are now indispensable parts of the Mario franchise.
    • In a way, The Lost Levels also fits this trope — while it's almost exactly identical to the first game, that itself is a departure for a series that usually tries to introduce new ideas and mechanics with every installment. This is part of the reason why it wasn't originally released outside of Japan. It was made by only half of the developers of the original game, making it more like a Rom Hack of the original that was professionally published. Also, it's the only 2D Mario game in history that has more than nine worlds, with a total of thirteen, and it's the only game in the franchise to have regressive warp zones.
    • Super Mario Sunshine. Following up on the near-universally loved Super Mario 64, it introduced a water pack named FLUDD for Mario to spray enemies with. Also, many common enemies in the series were either replaced or redesigned with a unique look for the game. The game was both loved for its great level design, good scenery, and incorporation of old mechanics and new ideas and hated for FLUDD being too gimmicky, being rather difficult, having bad voice acting, as well as replacing the Koopalings with Bowser Jr.
    • Super Mario Land is also another odd one out from the main Mario platformer series. Instead of taking place in the Mushroom Kingdom or some other similar locale, the game takes place in some real world lookalike locations, such as Egypt and China. On top of this, all the enemies are quite new, except the famous Goomba and the Koopa Troopa (although he was called Nokobon, and had his shell explode when stomped on), the Fire Flower makes Mario throw Superballs (which bounce off surfaces at 90 degree angles) instead of fireballs, the invincibility theme taking a nod to the Can-Can, and two levels experiencing an Unexpected Shmup Level. It also featured Princess Daisy, who had never been seen before and wasn't seen or mentioned again for over a decade. Despite the changes, the game still plays as a typical Mario game and it has been well liked by most fans.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a strange one compared to the rest of the Paper Mario series. Bowser's role is reduced to the point of having no dialogue, the game prominently features Kamek rather than his usual Distaff Counterpart Kammy, the gameplay is radically different, and many series staples such as Whackas, partners, and the Merlin family are nowhere to be found. Kersti, the local Exposition Fairy, is the only character in the game who is not from the standard Mario 'verse. It was originally going to be closer to that of Thousand Year Door but Shigeru Miyamoto wanted the game to be more without a plot, ignoring the fact it's an RPG which is necessary to have such.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is considered to be the oddball in the Final Fantasy series. Since it plays more like an action/hack and slash RPG instead of the usual turn based one, many fans either hated it or loved it.
    • Within the main series, there's Final Fantasy II which uses a number of completely different systems (stats and spells leveling with use, for starters) than the rest of the series. Final Fantasy XI also qualifies, by being an MMORPG. Final Fantasy VIII also replaces the entire magic system with drawing and Junctioning. Not surprisingly, all three of these games tend to be heavily Contested Sequels as a result.
    • Then there is Final Fantasy X-2, which was the first direct sequel, the only game to feature an all-female party, and was a significantly Lighter and Softer game compared to the more drama-heavy entries in the main series (especially Final Fantasy X itself).
    • Final Fantasy Tactics also falls under this to some degree. Mainly focused as a strategy game where you raise up to 16 members in the party, have tons of customizations for abilities, reading the layout of the terrain to plan your attacks, etc. Quite different from your standard Final Fantasy. It got popular enough to spawn two more spin offs of the same style and an enhanced remake.
    • There are also games like Final Fantasy Legend and its sequels (actually SaGa games in disguise) and Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, a far simpler and much easier exploration-focused game intended for newcomers to the RPG genre. There was also Final Fantasy Adventure which like Legends, did the same thing, but with the Mana series. Final Fantasy Adventure was eventually remade into Sword of Mana.
  • Regarding the SaGa games in their own right:
    • The third one is by far the oddest one out. It's the only game in the series to utilize a conventional leveling system, and it does away with many of the unusual game mechanics that made the first two games unique (such as breakable weapons and the ability to carry more of them at the cost of being able to carry less other equipment). It also features a number of rather... weird things that never appeared in any of the other games - even by the standards of Saga's typical medieval/techno settings - the least of which was a sentient time-traveling battleship.
    • The DS remake of SaGa 3 is no longer an oddball; it was changed to use mechanics much more like the first two games. Note that SaGa 3 was developed by the same team as Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Save The Homeland, with its lack of marriage and emphasis on horse breeding.
    • A Wonderful Life, with its ramped-up difficulty, episodic format, and overall emphasis on your child's ultimate fate).
    • There's also Rune Factory and Innocent Life, the former a fantasy game with monsters and an ongoing plot and the latter taking place in the future with the player character a cyborg. The former was significantly more successful, and has been spun off into its own sub-series.
  • Metroid:
    • Among the Metroid Prime games, there's Metroid Prime: Hunters, which eschewed the exploratory single-player nature of the series for a multiplayer-driven fast-paced First-Person Shooter (with a tacked-on single-player mode). Metroid Prime Pinball, on the other hand, is usually just ignored outright, since, as a Spin-Off, it's expected to be quite different.
    • The fandom still apparently hasn't decided what Metroid: Other M IS. One way to look at it is as the long-awaited third-person/2.5D Super Metroid successor, which is more or less what Yoshio Sakamoto intended. And yet its emphasis on intense melee combat, cutscenes and exposition make it a different beast compared to the more shooting-focused, non-verbally plotted sidescrollers. It's also considerably more linear than the rest of the series, going against the main attribute the Metroid series is known for.
  • The Ultima series has had a bunch of black sheeps:
    • Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress is the black sheep of that franchise, being, for reasons poorly explained in the manual, set on several time-shifted versions of Earth instead of in Sosaria/Britannia.
    • Ultima VIII: Pagan is likewise set not in Britannia but on the eponymous alien world and lacks all the mainstays of the series, such as Lord British, the Companions of the Avatar, and the Eight Virtues.
    • Ultima IX: Ascension is set back in Britannia but is this both due to the heavy liberties it took with Ultima canon and for being an Obvious Beta.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • The fourth entry has several differences between it and other entries, including heroes that participate in combat, 4 levels of units as opposed to the previous 6-7, a distance-based rather than grid-based combat system, the removal of creature upgrades, and an overhaul of both the attack/defense and hero skill systems.
    • The ninth installment of the main series falls under this trope, and much for the same reason. Both Heroes 4 and M&M 9 were meant to serve as story reboots by moving the series to a new universe, just as Heroes 3 and M&M 6 had done. Unfortunately, an acute case of Author Existence Failure prevented this from happening. The main series died a sadly unspectacular death, while the Heroes series attempted to hearken back to the glory days of its third installment.
  • Armored Core: Nine Breaker, the ninth entry in the Armored Core series is particularly odd duck even for an Armored Core game. It has no plot to it — at all — and is simply 250~ tests designed to access how well you understand the game play mechanics of Armored Core. Yes, the ninth iteration of the series is an in-depth tutorial for a game engine that hasn't changed one iota from its very first incarnation. Some of the actual tests are Nintendo Hard, the arena is pathetic, you can buy or earn all the parts introduced in Nine Breaker in Last Raven anyway so there's no need to even play it for that and the mission where you actually fight Nine Ball, the selling of the game, is only unlocked after you've beaten every other test in the game. Why was it even released? Maybe From Software needed the money?
  • Ecco The Dolphin is famous for bizarre plotlines and Nintendo Hard gameplay, which someone at Novotrade must have noticed was cruel to youngsters who wanted the games but were frustrated by the brutal case of Surprise Difficulty. For them, there was Ecco Jr., an edutainment game centered around exploring the ocean where it's not possible to die.
  • Shin Megami Tensei is mainly a bunch of turn-based, Nintendo Hard RPGs. Then you have Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, which has an action-based battle system.
  • Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor. It feels more like a mod than an actual game, but it was an actual stand alone product.
    • There's also Command & Conquer: Renegade which took the series into FPS territory.
    • And Command & Conquer: Generals. It didn't play at all like any of the earlier games, did away with the iconic sidebar, removed the pre-mission videos, and was set in an entirely new continuity.
    • Command and Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight also considerably changed gameplay (this time, to a more "tactical" game a la Dawn of War II) as well as the plot; for starters, the player is not a Non-Entity General for the first time in the series. A fairly restrictive population cap was added, compared to previous games' emphasis on massed combat, and resource generation was eliminated, replaced by a capture point system.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 8 is this, since it drastically altered several Mega Man gameplay staples. There are no Energy Tanks, Rush Coil is gone and Jet can't be called by the player, stages come in two parts (with Continue only booting you back to the halfway point), all weapons are refilled whenever you die, and Bolts are finite, it all takes getting used to.
    • Mega Man & Bass: it is the only title among the classic Mega Man that counts as an Interquel, between 8 & 9, and the only one to recycle two previous Robot Masters from a previous game in its group of 8 (granted with new attacks and weapons to obtain), rather than all 8 be totally new.
    • Mega Man X 7 is the only X (or original-series) game in full 3D. As such, it plays very differently, and sadly not very well — camera control in particular is a huge problem. X7 also made the bizarre decision to withhold X himself as a playable character until about halfway in; his place in gameplay is taken by a new character, Axl, who plays about the same. While later games made him more distinct and well-rounded, Axl has yet to be forgiven by the fanbase for his debut.
    • Mega Man X: Command Mission is the X series' first and only foray into the RPG genre.
    • Mega Man Network Transmission: the only 3-D Battle Network game, an interquel between 2 & 3, and it plays more like a conventional Mega Man game than the BN virus-busting format.
    • Mega Man Battle Network 4 is completely different in structure from the rest of the series: it's basically one long Tournament Arc consisting of three Inevitable Tournaments, and it requires at least three playthroughs to unlock everything, including the Bonus Dungeon. This isn't quite as tedious as it sounds, given the increasing challenge on each playthrough and the random elements involved, but the main plot is exactly the same each timenote . BN4 also has a really sloppy English translation, which wouldn't stand out in many game series, but does in this one.
    • There is also a uncommonly mentioned Mega Man 4.5 interquel that had actual working Battlechip-loading device to go with it, and a Japan-only release of mobile Battle Network games playable on a phone.
    • The obscure Rockman EXE WS, a Mega Man Battle Network title for the Wonderswan, feeling like a cross between the traditional BN style and Transmission gameplay, and another Wonderswan game, Rockman: Challenger from the Future for the Wonderswan, with exaggerated-Japanese-esque-looking Robot Masters and only seven Robot Master levels because two of the eight Masters are a pair of twins- the Clock Men.
    • Street Fighter X Mega Man is the only official Mega Man fangame, and the only official game (besides Rockman & Forte: Mirai Kara to Chousenshanote  for the Wonderswan) in the Classic series where Dr. Wily isn't The Man Behind the Man.
    • Within the Mega Man Legends series, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is the only one to feature Tron as a playable character, has multiple gameplay types (including a puzzle game, a first person dungeon crawler and a casino), a mission-based structure rather than an open world, and is the only game in the series where Mega Man himself does not appear.
  • Many Legacy of Kain fans dislike Blood Omen 2 because it's so different from the Soul Reaver series in terms of gameplay, and because of plot holes (there are no explanations in that game for how Vorador and Janos Audron are alive again, for instance). Then again, the whole Soul Reaver series, in a way, is the Oddball in the Series, considering the original Blood Omen was a Legend of Zelda-style action game with Kain as the main character, not a Tomb Raider-style puzzle game with a different protagonist. Also, contrary to a common misconception, the game wasn't a Dolled-Up Installment developed originally as a sequel to Chakan: The Forever Man; no work had began on the Chakan sequel before it was scrapped and fully converted into a Legacy of Kain project.
  • Phantasy Star III is the black sheep of its series, with an unrelated plotline to the rest of the series, decidedly weak mechanics, and visibly less effort put into it overall.
  • Aero Fighters (Known as Sonic Wings in Japan) is a series of wacky arcade Shoot Em Ups... except for Aero Fighters Assault, which is a half-realistic 3D flight simulation.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series is famous for the fact that the main lead is "the fastest thing alive". This is true of the main series platforming games...and then you get to some of the platformer spinoffs. You get games where he is slowed down and forced to go through mazes to collect keys (Sonic Labyrinth) and birds (Sonic 3 D Blast), which make perfect sense.
    • Sonic Spinball is notable for being a pinball game with platforming elements (a complete inverse of the the Genesis Sonic games, which were platformer games with pinball elements) and had cameos by characters from SatAM. Sonic Blast for the Game Gear is also strange as it has only 5 zones (and thus only 5 chaos emeralds) as opposed to the usual number of 6 or 7, as well as being the only Sonic game with pre-rendered graphics. There's also Segasonic The Hedgehog, an arcade game where you used a trackball to navigate Sonic and two friends (Mighty and Ray) through a series of deathtrap levels in Eggman's fortress.
    • Sonic R is also unique as it is a racing game that has the characters racing on foot and features platforming elements. All other racing games starring Sonic have had "the world's fastest hedgehog" strictly using vehicles.
    • Out of the 2D Sonic games released in the early 1990s, the least known is Sonic the Hedgehog CD, perhaps because it was originally released for the relatively unpopular Sega CD system. While the game added its share of staples to the franchise (namely Metal Sonic and Amy Rose), it also diverges quite a bit from its Genesis counterparts, both in terms of aesthetics (perhaps being more surreal and colorful than — almost — any other Sonic game to date) and gameplay (in the time-traveling gimmick, slightly altered mechanics, more open and nebulous level design, optional sub-goals within levels, and the implementation of the rarely-seen Super Peel-Out).
    • Even more obscure is the 1995 Sega 32X game Knuckles Chaotix, which focuses on rubber band co-op mechanics and featured even an even more surreal artstyle not unlike Sonic CD. It also featured Knuckles, the Chaotix (prior to their Heroes branding), and Mighty (from the aforementioned SegaSonic) and like Sonic Blast featured five zones, only with five acts each instead of the standard two or three, complete with a menu hub with day/night transitions every time you entered the area.
    • The post-Adventure Sonic games aren't immune to oddballs either. There's Sonic and the Black Knight, which gave Sonic a sword. There's also Shadow the Hedgehog, a Darker and Edgier Spin-Off where gunplay and vehicles are major elements, and Sonic Heroes to a lesser extent, which had teamwork-based gameplay mechanics and a Lighter and Softer plot compared to Sonic Adventure and its sequel.
    • Sonic Lost World throws out a lot of staples from the previous games in it's gameplay and visual aesthetics. The gameplay switches up the game mechanics by having two versions of the homing attack (both of which don't operate like how the older games controlled them) and having enemies that have various ways on how they are supposed to be defeated. The visual aesthetic goes for more stylized and simplistic designs akin to the 16-bit titles, compared to the more photo-surrealistic designs of the recent Unleashed era of games. The game features planetoid levels a la Super Mario Galaxy and features a lot of one-off gimmick levels that contrast with their respective zones they appear in and don't appear elsewhere in the game (a motion-control tilt-based level where you guide Sonic in a snowball and hit billiard balls for starters). The 3DS version in particular also focuses on having Sonic do several tasks to proceed through the level, such as moving objects to certain spots in order to open gates.
  • Ys III: Wanderers from Ys is the only side-scrolling game in the series. It also differs from its two predecessors by having a dedicated "attack" button, rather than attacking by ramming.
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania: Judgment, the series' first (and, given its limited success, possibly only) Fighting Game.
    • Castlevania II Simons Quest. Back before The Angry Video Game Nerd told everyone they weren't supposed to like it (he was kidding, by the way), there actually were quite a few fans who preferred its open-ended gameplay model over the more linear parts I and III back when Metroidvania was just an itch in Konami's pants. It still stands out for the confusing, misspelled, or just plain lying hints, overabundance of instant-death pools of water and unexpectedly easy Boss Battles. The day/night cycle would return in later games, but much less annoyingly.
    • Vampire Killer on the MSX2 is a similar case, using nonlinear stages that require you to find keys to progress from one stage to the next. And like Simon's Quest, Simon can buy upgrades with hearts.
    • Castlevania: the Arcade presents the typical quest to destroy Dracula and his minions as a Rail Shooter.
  • X-COM was reimagined as a corridor shooter for 2001's Enforcer, and then as a space battle game for X-Com: Interceptor. The last is definitely one that splits the fanbase, since it's a great space game, if not necessarily a good example of an X-Com game.
  • Redguard is the last thing anyone thinks of when someone mentions The Elder Scrolls series. Then there's Battlespire, truly an oddball in its attempt at multi-player gaming which certainly failed to attract the series' fans (though Bethesda would bring a different form of multi-player to the series later).
    • Both games were intended to be the first installment of an Elder Scrolls spin-off series. Hence why Redguard is titled The Elder Scrolls Adventures and Battlespire An Elder Scrolls Legend. When neither title sold well, Bethesda decided to go back to their roots with Morrowind.
  • Silent Hill The Arcade is an arcade rail shooter in a series comprised only of Survival Horror entries on non-arcade platforms.
    • In the regular series, Silent Hill 4 sticks out. It features a much heavier emphasis on melee weapons as opposed to guns, first-person segments, almost no boss battles, and unkillable ghost enemies that attacked you through the levels. It's quality is heavily debated in the fandom.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is different from the other games in the series in that you have pretty much no offense. There's only one type of monster that you can't defeat and can only throw off of yourself and ward off with inexplicable flares. The characters are all different. Michael Kauffman, who you may know from the other games to be an evil psychiatrist and Dahlia, who is a creepy old woman, are a normal shrink and a slutty young girl respectively.
  • The original Thunder Force is a retroactive example (to the few people who have heard of it and even fewer people who have played it), being entirely an overhead shooter, while Thunder Force II alternates between this format and side-scrolling, and the rest of the series is entirely side-scrolling.
    • Thunder Spirits is the only game in the series to appear on a Nintendo system. However, it's not an original game; it's a port of Thunder Force AC (the only arcade release), which in turn is a port of Thunder Force III on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.
  • Tetris The Grand Master ACE pretty much takes "The Grand Master" out of Tetris: The Grand Master courtesy of Executive Meddling, being more in line with traditional Tetris. To its credit, it does retain a variant of TGM's signature rotation system.
  • The arcade game DJMAX Technika, unlike other DJMAX games that follow the beatmania formula, plays more like a cross between Elite Beat Agents and Lumines. It's very popular in areas where arcades have it, in some cases even being more popular than DJMAX Portable.
  • Puzzle of the Pyramid is Lighter and Softer than the rest of the The Clue Finders series, is the only game to engage in Breaking the Fourth Wall, is the only game to give Socrates any prominence, puts the characters in different clothes than any other game sans Math, is the only game not to have The Reveal or utilize Let's Split Up, Gang, and parodies everything from God's Hands Are Tied to the Evil Laugh. Even the art style is different!
    • Gameplay-wise, Math Adventures is this. Even Puzzle of the Pyramid features the ClueFinders traveling to multiple worlds. In Math Adventures they stay in the same village the entire game.
  • The Zork trilogy was a series of interactive fiction adventures by Infocom. Beyond Zork was an interactive fiction/RPG hybrid that let you roll stats for your character, with a higher emphasis on combat.
  • Backyard Skateboarding, unlike the rest of the Backyard Sports series, is an adventure game with tons of Fetch Quests. It also has bosses, which the main games lack.
  • Halo Wars, a Real-Time Strategy game amongst a family of first person shooters. Also made by a different developer. Its oddball nature is ironic, because Halo was originally conceived as an RTS.
  • Paro Wars, a Turn-Based Strategy Game amongst a family of completely silly shmups. Yes, it is a fairly serious and difficult military strategy game not unlike the Nintendo Wars series, with all the goofy Parodius characters such as Moai heads, penguins, octopi and dogs in business suits! What were they thinking?
  • Touhou:
    • Anything with a decimal point in it's number is a spinoff that plays unlike the main games.
    • Within the main series there's the Phantasmagoria games, which are versus shooters.
    • Highly Responsive to Prayers, the very first game in the series, isn't a danmaku game. It's an Arkanoid-like game with some danmaku boss fights.
    • While well received, Imperishable Night has a number of odd mechanics that hadn't been seen before or since— 'familiars' that can only be damaged unfocused, a heavy focus on bullet cancellation, stage quotas for the multiplier, the ability to gain continues, scoring based on a gauge that is altered by being focused/unfocused, alternate stages...
    • In a sub-series example, there's the first of ZUN's music CDs (or, rather, the story attached to said CD), Dolls in Pseudo-Paradise. Completely disconnected from the setting and cast of the rest of the sub-series, and just plain weird.
  • Most Lemmings games have the same general gameplay, except for two — Lemmings Paintball is an isometric Third-Person Shooter, while The Adventures of Lomax is a platformer.
  • Resident Evil:
    • There's the Gun Survivor spinoffs, which play like first-person light gun games yet rarely have light gun support in all territories.
    • Resident Evil Gaiden is the only 2D game in the franchise.
  • Parasol Stars is the oddball in the Bubble Bobble series; it lacks either of the two iconic weapons of the series (bubbles or rainbows) and instead has Bub and Bob beating up enemies with parasols, a mechanic that has yet to appear in any other game in the series. (Parasols themselves have been in the Bubble Bobble games from the beginning, but as a special item, not a weapon.) It is also the only installment in the main series that was not released in the Arcades, but for the PC-Engine and a couple of ports on less powerful platforms.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity. Ditched the interactive narrative formula, and went for action/adventure instead. Like other entries on this list, some prefer to think it never happened.
  • Quest for Glory V played like an RPG with Adventure elements, rather than vice-versa as the other four games in the series. It also ran smack into the Polygon Ceiling and didn't have as much input from the series' creators.
  • Fire Emblem Gaiden holds this distinction. While the others are completely linear games where you go from one chapter to another, this one has a map you move around on, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't because of the Forced Level Grinding you need to do every often in a while (On a series that usually has no Level Grinding at all). Furthermore, Unbreakable Weapons is NOT averted (When the series does) and magic is Cast from Hit Points (Instead of being regular weapons that hit another defense stat). Furthermore, you face off monsters often, instead of just humans aside from some bosses/Elite Mooks. And there's a weak "Villager" class that can promote to one of the "normal" base classes. Most of these ideas were recycled for The Sacred Stones.
    • While generally much better received than Gaiden and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the Jugdral games both had a number of unique features. The first, Genealogy of the Holy War, had ridiculously large and sprawling levels in which multiple castles had to be captured and there were at least as many bosses in each level as there were castles, the arena was a function in your castle in which there were a given set of enemies for each level (instead of being infinite and random), each character had their own supply of money and items couldn't be traded; also, you paired up your units in the first half of the game and played as their children in the second half. Many of these units also had "Holy Blood". While Holy Blood was naturally still present in Thracia 776 (as it was set in the same world and had some of the same characters), everything else introduced in the previous game was scrapped and never came back. However, a bunch of other new features were added. The Build stat, determining the size of a unit, was introduced, and both Build and Movement had growth rates and could potentially increase when leveling up. Large enough units could rescue smaller allied units and could capture enemy units after defeating them, and a captured enemy could be "traded" with (read: stripped of its items) before being released (at which point they'd die)...or not released, as many recruitable enemies had to be captured and kept in order to get them to join. It also was the first game to have gaiden chapters that could be unlocked by fulfilling certain requirements, and most of these chapters were full of darkness, as was one regular chapter. Also, some units had "movement stars", which gave them a random chance of being able to act twice in one turn, and all units except the main character had a fatigue meter that went up every time they engaged in combat or used a staff, which could only be reset by sitting out a chapter or having a certain item in their inventory, and if their fatigue exceeded their max HP, they'd be forced to sit out a chapter. Rescuing allies, fog of war, and gaiden chapters all became staples of the series. Capturing enemies, growth rates for Build and Move, Movement Stars and fatigue meters didn't, and none of these were ever seen again.
  • Pac-Man World 3, which was developed by Blitz Games rather than Namco, is often seen as this by fans compared to the previous two games due to the increased emphasis on combat over platforming.
  • The Pac-Man franchise also had Baby Pac-Man, which was notably odd due to being a stand-up arcade machine which was half-videogame, half-pinball game. Players were required to steer Baby Pac down one of two openings at the bottom of the maze to "enter" the pinball playfield, and you had to play the pinball part in order to get any energizers in the video maze or move up to the next higher "fruit" levels. The machine became an expensive lesson to Bally/Midway in what happens when you try to please everybody, and end up pleasing nobody—the video game players found the pinball part too hard, and the pinball players found the video game part too hard, and nearly everybody who played it wound up frustrated as a result. (The fact that the videogame portion had simplistic graphics that smacked of the infamous done-on-the-cheap Atari 2600 Pac-Man port didn't help matters either.)
  • Lode Runner's Rescue was an isometric game akin to Crystal Castles, starring the lode runner's daughter. Unlike her father, she could jump and swim, but not dig.
  • The Star Fox series has Star Fox Adventures, an Action Adventure fantasy game in the Zelda mold. The reason is because it started life as a totally unrelated game from Rare, an N64 game known as Dinosaur Planet which was to star two Funny Animals named Sabre and Krystal. After Shigeru Miyamoto saw footage of the game in action and compared Sabre's appearance to Fox McCloud's, it was taken back to be retooled into a Star Fox title, now with Fox replacing Sabre but retaining Krystal in a less important role.
  • Star Fox Assault introduced Third-Person Shooter elements, with so many missions based around them that there were only a small handful of the on-rails segments that the series is known for.
  • The Monster Rancher series of monster-raising simulation games has Monster Rancher EVO, a traditional RPG with dungeons and a party-based battle style that happens to use the Monster Rancher series monsters. Oh, and stat-raising and money-gaining are now based on your performance in a rhythm mini-game. While not necessarily a bad game, the fact that so little of it is traditionally Monster Rancher makes it very divisive for fans.
  • Devil May Cry 2 is so much of an oddball even the producers generally try to ignore its existence, namely by making all games made after the second game set chronologically before it. Between a lowered difficulty and the protagonists personality change from Badass Trash-Talker to an unintentionally-and-hilariously-cringe-worthy guy. The fanbase was largely disappointed.
  • Lunar: Dragon Song is, like the rest of the Lunar series, an Eastern RPG...but it adds a bunch of experimental (i.e. annoying) gameplay mechanics paired with a rudimentary plot and shallow characters. The other games in the series are known for old-school gameplay with well developed stories and characters.
  • The Jak and Daxter series has Jak X: Combat Racing, which turns the emphasis to Vehicular Combat in what is normally a platformer series with a large collection of other elements — it was present in the other games, but to nowhere near the same degree.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is considered to be this because it combines the gameplay of the first three games with the goal system that would later appear in Tony Hawk's Underground, but doesn't allow you to get off your board to talk to people, so you have to slow down and brake, which can often be difficult. Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, Ride and Shred are also considered to be the series oddballs mainly because they are considered terrible (in the case of the latter two, rely on a peripheral that rarely works and makes them nearly impossible to play).
  • Pokémon:
    • Several manga come off as this, such as How I Became A Pokemon Card or Magical Pokemon Journey due to the fact they don't focus on the same dynamics as most titles in the series but are a Slice of Life and Shojo set in the Pokemon world. From the games themselves, the Trading Card Games come off as odd due to the fact they apparently take place in a world apart from the Pokeverse; it's not exactly our world, but it's a Pokemon-less place where the series is at least a trading card game.
    • Out of the other spinoffs, Colosseum and XD might qualify. While they play the most like the main games compared to Mystery Dungeon, Ranger, and the various other spinoffs, unlike the main games, all battles are Double Battles. Also, while they're Spiritual Successors to the Stadium Games, they actually have a story mode along with tournament modes and lack a few things that Stadium had (the Gym Leader Tower, minigames, etc.).
    • As far as the main series goes Pokémon Black and White stand out in a number of ways. The region is based on New York rather than Japan, no Pokemon from previous generations appear at all in the main game, the game is much more story and character-driven than previous entries and the final battle is against the Big Bad rather than the Pokemon League Champion. By contrast Black and White 2 are much closer to the rest of the series.
  • Falcom's Dragon Slayer games are mostly various types of Action RPGs, with The Legend of Heroes being a more typical Eastern RPG. Then there's Lord Monarch, which is a (rather simple) Real-Time Strategy game.
  • R-Type Leo had no Force pod and no charge shot.
  • Monty is Innocent is an isometric 3D adventure game, rather than a platformer like the other Monty Mole games.
  • Fallout and Fallout 2 are turn-based, isometric computer RPGs made by Black Isle. While there is some grumbling about Microforte's Fallout Tactics, it is generally regarded to be a competent game that is hampered by some rather glaring continuity issues, but is still a turned-based tactical RPG using Fallout's signature SPECIAL system (though slightly modified). Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are fully 3D RPG/FPS games available on PC and consoles, that use a heavily modified version of SPECIAL with significant changes to the system between the two games (armor, for example, works completely differently in each). Despite all of these differences, the obvious Oddball is Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, a top-down, 3D action game with almost no RPG Elements, continuity issues that make Tactics look immaculate, and no involvement of any Black Isle or Bethesda staff.
  • Donkey Kong 3 is more or less a Shoot 'em Up. Neither of the previous two Donkey Kong games featured shooting, and scarcely any of the later ones do. Moreover, you control an exterminator named Stanley, who never appears again in the franchise.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby and The Amazing Mirror is the only Kirby game to be a full Metroidvania instead of a straightforward Platform Game the series' main games are known for. It's also the only game in the entire series where King Dedede does not make an appearance.
    • Kirby's Epic Yarn is one of these as well. Replacing the traditional "eat > gain abilities" power set with yarn-based transformations. Amongst other things. It helps that this wasn't originally intended as a Kirby game.
  • Blaster Master: Blasting Again is the only 3D game in the series, as well as the only one where you fight the bosses inside of your vehicle, rather than outside of it.
  • It's telling of how close to the formula the Mario Kart series has stuck that these two count as "oddball" for its unusual features:
    • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the most odd game out of the whole consumer series due to the two characters per kart concept the game was based on. Each kart has a driver and another person to use items and both characters can swap places on the fly. Each character also has their own unique items that only they can get, a Continuity Nod to Super Mario Kart where the AI has characters with unique items. The item tosser also has the ability to punch other players to knock them out of the way and steal their items whereas the other games that have item stealing is regulated to the Boo item. In addition, Double Dash!! is the only Mario Kart game to do away with hopping entirely and has heavier, more realistic steering and drifting compared to the cartoon-like turning physics the other games had.
    • Mario Kart Arcade GP and its sequels take some pretty strong liberties too, thanks to being co-developed with Namco. Among other things, it introduces a number of items not seen in other games (such as the square wheel attack and the "broken steering wheel" attack), there are no mini-turbos for powerslides, powersliding grants you a shield for the duration of the slide, there are coins on the track that boost your top speed, and in a single race you only get three different kinds of items—pre-selected in grand prix mode, randomly-selected if you're playing versus on a machine with no card slots, and selected by you if you're playing versus on a machine with card slots.
  • Had they ever finished it, StarCraft: Ghost would have been a stealth-based third-person shooter in an RTS series.
  • World of Warcraft was originally an MMORPG in, of all things, an RTS franchise. Then, it proceeded to sell millions of copies, became the template for a new generation of MMOs, spawned a number of expansion packs, and generally displaced the original games.
  • Also cancelled by Blizzard, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was a comic-art point-and-click adventure game following two RTS games.
  • Mario Party 9 is a total game changer compared to the previous 8 games in the series. Rather than moving individually on the board, all four players move together at the same time, but most events only happen to the player who is taking their turn; this creates strategies where sometimes moving a certain amount of spaces can screw over the next player when it's their turn. Collecting stars to become the winner was a staple in the series, but the 9th installment did away with them in exchange for mini-stars, which are quite common and are not a huge game changer. The game divided the fan base predictably.
  • Front Mission Evolved is a third person mech shooter with some poorly executed concepts such as on foot segments which breaks sequence and storytelling that leaves VERY much to be desired.
  • DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm was licensed and developed by completely different company, so the end result was significantly different from the other games in the DonPachi series.
  • Another Fighting Game example is Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble, a fighter in the vein of Super Smash Bros. instead of a Beat 'em Up platformer.
  • Double Dragon had two fighting games based off of adaptations. The first is Double Dragon V, based off of the animated series, and the second is a Neo Geo fighter based on the live-action movie.
  • Street Fighter also had two games (fortunately, it's already a Fighting Game series) based on its live-action movie, with Mortal Kombat-style live-action sprites. There's also Street Fighter 2010, a sci-fi action game, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
  • Final Fight had three games of being straight beat 'em ups, then Final Fight Revenge was a fighting game based on characters from the first game, including a zombie Belger. A couple of years later Final Fight Streetwise came out which tried to go back to its roots but with RPG elements and GTA influences. It bombed, hard.
  • Guilty Gear is no stranger to introducing strange and experimental gameplay aspects (Isuka, Dust Strikers,) or undergoing a minor Genre Shift from Fighting Game to Beat 'em Up (Isuka again, Judgement.) The biggest offender, though, is Guilty Gear 2: Overture, a Real-Time Strategy game.
  • Super Columns allowed you to rotate the jewels to form rows as well as columns, instead of only being able to adjust the order of the gems in the column like every other game. The AI wasn't programmed to do this, giving you a nice advantage when fighting them.
  • Similar to the StarCraft example, the unfinished Brave Arms would have been an Ace Combat title that, despite taking place back in its fictional world, would have been more of a Ninja Gaiden/Metal Gear Solid hybrid clone than a flight simulation game.
  • The last Dizzy adventure, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, was the only one with a sequence of separate levels. On the Amstrad CPC, it was also the only Dizzy game, not counting the two Maze Game spinoffs, to use the low-resolution 16-color graphics mode.
  • Although it's usually rated highly among the fanbase, Monkey Island 2 LeChucks Revenge is this for the Monkey Island series. Usually the game's will limit each chapter to a specific island, but the second chapter of 2 allows you to travel between three islands instead. The next two games would also continue the first game's pattern of Guybrush needing to find "A crew, a map and a ship" and some form of insult fighting, elements which are absent in the second game. There's also a story gap between both the game and it's predecessor and sequel which is never fully explored, which leaves the plot feeling a little odd too.
  • Absolute Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode is a third-person shooter in a series of Closed Circle murder mystery visual novels. Its status as the oddball is only cemented by how much darker, edgier, bloodier, and gorier it is from the main series Danganronpa games.
  • Endless Frontier and its sequel, part of Super Robot Wars, is not a crossover-heavy turn-based Strategy Game, but rather an RPG with fighting game leanings featuring a mostly original cast of characters. The focus on robots is also noticeably reduced, with only a few Mini-Mecha showing up.

Non-Video Game Examples:

  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam drastically departs from the Real Robot Genre and war themes to delightfully and shamelessly embrace Shonen and Super Robot. Still manages to be popular and loved despite, or perhaps because of, this.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 becomes this by the end of the second season and movie, given the Game Breaking abilities of the 00 Gundam and the living metal aliens.
  • Turn A Gundam was also considered this during its initial broadcast, due to the considerable differences in themes and settings. A good deal of the plot take place on Earth. But it's an Earth that's not only reverted to a pseudo-World War I landscape but also revealed to be the distant future of all Gundam.
  • Gundam Wing has been considered this, even being called one of the franchises 'Weird Series' in Lucky Star, due to it's lesser concetration in story organization, and having a scattered cast, along with their corresponding stories, through-out the majority of the show as well as the main gundam not having a simplistic beam rifle and instead carries a wave motion gun as his mainstay arament.
  • The Halloween franchise has Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Where every other movie is a slasher flick about Michael Myers, the third installment is about a crazy Halloween mask maker who wants to use magically bombing masks and Stonehenge to kill children. The original intent was to turn Halloween into an anthology series, but fans rebelled and the series reverted back to focusing on Michael Myers.
  • Friday the 13th has Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, where instead of a hockey masked killer and/or a Crystal Lake Locale, Jason becomes a body stealing demon thing for most of the film.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street has A Nightmare On Elmstreet Part 2 Freddys Revenge, where Freddy is not quite the horrific figure of the original, nor the quipster he would become in 3, and instead attacks people in reality, rather than in dreams, and manipulates the protagonist to do his bidding.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers is the only sci-fi continuity in what's normally a Science Fantasy multiverse, and the only installment to avoid broad, archetypal character types in favor of more subtle personalities (or boring personalities, depending on what side of the Broken Base you fall on). It also makes adult characters more prominent than usual, and, most famously, it's much much darker in tone.
    • Digimon Frontier stands out as the only Digimon series with no partner Digimon, instead having the human characters fuse with spirits to become Digimon themselves. Because of this radical change, it became a large Base Breaker and almost killed the franchise.
  • Within the "Baron" series, Chiisana Sūpāman Ganbaron qualifies. Unlike the previous installments, which were Super Robot Genre shows, Ganbaron is more of a typical Henshin Hero show done in the vein of Superman (albeit with the ability to call a Combining Mecha for help). Between the glut of Ultraman imitators that came out at the time and the show's sponsor Bullmark going out of business, it went relatively unnoticed.
  • Kamen Rider Hibiki was vastly different from the other Kamen Rider Series, to the point where it was originally supposed to be it's own show before Toei decided to put it as the next Rider. Everything is a departure from the previous shows. The Rider barely looks like a rider, his main weapons are drumsticks, he lacks the bike in which he has his name, and the signature move for the Riders is nixed in favor for beating the monster to death like a taiko drum (he actually puts a taiko drum on the monster to boot). Because of this, it created a Broken Base with the fandom of Riders, and the Executive Meddling that was done to try and make Hibiki more like Kamen Rider seemed to make it worse in eyes of the half that liked Hibiki.
  • Roald Dahl's book Esio Trot, while still aimed at kids, featured neither a Kid Hero nor any kind of antagonist at all.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is very different from the other Star Trek series, due to being the only one set on a station instead of a starship ("Fort Apache In Space" as opposed to "Wagon Train to the Stars"), and relying heavily on the use of the Story Arc. It also acts as a deconstruction of the utopian Federation Gene Roddenberry envisioned.
  • The season three finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic just has a weird feel to it. It's the first full Musical Episode in the show's run, and it ends with one hell of a wham that permanently changes the status quo. Naturally, the fans either loved it or hated it.
  • Pretty Cure has two potential examples:
    • Smile Pretty Cure!: There's no Myth Arc, the character designs are more cutesy and Moe, and there's a greater focus on slice-of-life and comedy (to the point that it almost feels like a parody). While it does have its fans, it's generally considered to be one of the weakest seasons.
    • DokiDoki! Precure: The main reasons are its Kudzu Plot, lack of filler, and subverting of most tropes associated with the franchise.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is quite different from the other films in the Indiana Jones series. Whereas the rest of the films have Indy trotting the globe trying racing to find an artifact before aggressive government agents from an enemy of America, this story has Indy stuck in India fighting thuggee cultists. The tone is also very different, with a wacky child sidekick and several scenes dedicated solely to gross-out reactions.
  • Nearly any popular artist who puts out a Christmas album will invariably have said album be the oddball. This is because most artists will invariably record the album in a lush, orchestral, faux-fifties style, regardless of their usual artistic style. Sometimes subverted when artists adapt Christmas classics to their own style, or Take a Third Option and just make new Christmas songs.

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