Bringing a game to another platform often doesn't end well
; less frequently, the port is better
or, at least, nothing that makes you miss the original. Some titles, however, cannot be considered simple ports - they're closer to completely new games. Important features are added (or missing); the mechanics has had substantial changes; most or all levels are changed; the visuals may have undergone a radical facelift; it may even belong to a different genre
now. In the end, even if they are supposed
to be the same game (and the publisher markets them as such), they share only the basic characters, stories, and maybe the fundamental elements. You may be a veteran of a game and still find a fresh challenge in the new version - the package is the same but the ingredients are not, or are mixed in a way to give a new flavor.
This phenomenon can happen for a number of reasons, but the games it invests can be roughly divided into two categories.
- Reformulated port: the game was supposed to be a port, and may have been so at the beginning of development, but became very different. Often hardware constraints make a straight port simply impossible; it's also not uncommon for a porting team to have no access to the original code and assets, so they have to develop from scratch. Other times, a port from a less powerful platform is seen as a chance to add features that couldn't just be implemented originally.
- Concurrently developed: the game has been developed concurrently in several versions for many platforms. They are all marketed with the same title and, while one may be the "main" version, each is its own game and is tailored to its platform's capabilities and control interface. Some are stripped-down versions of another, while others may even belong to a different genre. This is somewhat common for Licensed Games, though those which were made by different companies for different platforms (e.g. Aladdin) should be technically disqualified even though they share a title.
Mind you, a game under this trope may not necessarily be better than the original version, or just be good firsthand - this page doesn't take overall quality into account.
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- Many arcade games, particularly during the 1980's and 1990's, were completely redesigned for their home versions. This was particularly prevalent with several NES games that were based on arcade titles, since many of these arcade games ran on hardware that were much more advanced. Often times, the NES version was a completely different product from its arcade counterpart.
- Takara published Game Boy adaptations of popular Neo-Geo fighting games during the 90s such as Fatal Fury 2, Samurai Shodown, World Heroes 2 Jet, The King of Fighters '95', as well as their very own PlayStation hit Battle Arena Toshinden. In Japan, these GB versions were released under the Nettō or Dead Heat Fighters'' branding, but the few that were released overseas were given the same titles as their original counterparts.
- Action52 - Many of the titles featured in the Genesis version are completely different from their namesakes in the NES version. For example, Cheetahmen now involves climbing trees and rescuing cheetah cubs and other animals.
- The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends - Lampshaded in the intro for the SNES version:
: Say, Bullwinkle... doesn't our Game Boy
(TM) game start this way too? Bullwinkle
: Darned if doesn't, Rocky. Just what are you guys tryin' to pull here? Narrator
: Uh... nothing. Nothing at all. This game is completely different. Just start playing and you'll see!
- Astérix at the Olympic Games - The various versions were identical (bar some graphical differencies), with the exception of the Nintendo DS release: the Action Adventure segments are removed entirely, leaving only the Olympic Games proper and making it a Track & Field clone. There are, however, many more events than the ones found in the other versions.
- Battletoads - The Game Boy version was completely different from the NES game of the same name, despite featuring the same cover artwork. This point was brought home when an actual port of the original NES game was later released for the Game Boy under the title of Battletoads in Ragnarok's World.
- Battlezone1998 - The Nintendo 64 version, Rise of the Black Dogs, is widely believed to be a port but actually had to be completely rebuilt due to platform constraints, which turns it from a miserable failure to impressively accurate reformulation.
- Bionic Commando - The arcade version was a platform game with a gameplay gimmick in which the protagonist used a wire to jump over obstacles instead of a jump button. The NES version, while retaining wire-swinging gimmick, is a non-linear game that alternates between classic side-scrolling action, neutral zones to take a breath and find useful items and information, has a complex plot, and also an incredibly graphic villain death that wasn't censored. It's considered among the best action games for the NES and, unsurprisingly, it is the version that was remade as Bionic Commando: Rearmed in 2008.
- The Famicom version of the Nichibutsu Arcade Game Booby Kids, also known as Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen, replaced the temporary secondary weapons with collectible Bomber Man-like bombs, redid the levels to be less mazelike, and altered the treasure chests into items appropriate to each stage. Cratermaze for the TurboGrafx-16 is a more faithful port (though the Japanese release was dolled-up as a Doraemon game).
- Castlevania: Dracula X (aka Vampire's Kiss) - An SNES adaptation of the PC Engine CD-ROM classic Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. The fact that porting team only had 16 Megabit to work with (the standard size for most SNES releases at the time) ensured that it was never going to be a straight port, even with the voice acted cutscenes removed and music redone (as the core game could've not fit that ROM size). Instead, the developers took the basic plot and gameplay system from the original and developed an entirely new stages around them.
- Contra - The arcade version was a short action game that could be completed in a playing session of less than 15 minutes. Since this wouldn't had fly on consoles, the NES version features longer redesigned stages with more enemies and death traps.
- Contra also saw a port for the MSX2 in Japan that was completely different from the other ports, which added a health gauge and ten extra stages after completing the initial nine.
- Super C, the NES sequel to Contra, was also drastically different from Super Contra, the original arcade game that inspired it, essentially being a Mission Pack Sequel to the original NES game.
- Cosmo Police Galivan - Originally a Metal Heroes-esque platform shoot-'em-up released by Nichibutsu for the arcades in 1985, the 1988 Famicom version was a Metroid-style action game. The latter was followed by Super Famicom sequel titled Cosmo Police Galivan II: Arrow of Justice, a Final Fight-style beat-'em-up.
- D.J. Boy - The Genesis version of the Kaneko arcade game featured different stages and bosses, lacked the 2-players co-op and changed the plot from retrieving a stolen boombox to rescuing the hero's kidnapped girlfriend.
- Dead or Alive - While the Sega Saturn version was a relatively faithful conversion of the original Model 2 arcade game (with certain background details sacrificed), the PS version required an entirely new engine in order to be made, resulting in a vastly different game. To make up for this, Team Ninja added two new characters exclusive to the PS release, Ayane and Bass. This upgraded version was released for the arcades in a heavily modified form as Dead or Alive ++.
- Descent Maximum - The PS version used the same graphics engine, music, enemies, and weapons as Descent II for the PC and Macintosh, but featured entirely new levels, which were criticized for being smaller (and darker) than the PC version's.
- Deus Ex - The original PC game was ported to the PS2 under the title of Deus Ex: The Conspiracy. The areas are much smaller to accommodate the PS2's limited RAM, the opening and ending sequences had been remade into pre-rendered videos and the user interface has been simplified.
- Donkey Kong - While the four levels in the Game Boy version are rather familiar, the rest of the game shifts into Puzzle Platformer mode with keys, switches and movable ladders and platforms. The physics from the original arcade version are (mostly) intact though, although greatly expanded upon. Many consider this to be the best version of Donkey Kong, and the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games are successors to this version of Donkey Kong.
- Doom 64 - All-new levels were developed for it, the episodic format of the PC version was thrown out and enemy sprites were redrawn. But more noticably, darker graphics, muted colors and an all-new horror-inspired soundtrack gave the game a much different ambience than the computer game it was supposedly based on.
- Double Dragon - Originally an arcade game by Technos Japan Corp. the NES version lacked the 2-players co-op mode from the arcade version and changed the plot so that Jimmy Lee, Player 2 in the arcade version, ended up being the true leader of the Black Warriors. Other changes include drastically different level designs, an experience point system that forced player to acquire moves gradually rather than having them all of them usable from the outset and the removal of the head-swapped bosses. The later Game Boy version was based on the NES version. The NES versions of Double Dragon II and III were also drastically different from the arcade originals, but unlike the first game, the sequels managed to retain the co-op play from the arcade.
- Dragon's Lair - One of the most popular FMV games (if not the most popular) released during the Laserdisc boom of the arcades back in 1983. Since neither, the NES nor the SNES, had any CD-ROM drive, the versions of Dragon's Lair for those systems, rather than trying to replicate the arcade version, were instead side-scrolling action games, while the Game Boy (titled Dragon's Lair: The Legend) was a port of the ZX Spectrum title Roller Coaster.
- E Swat - Much like Shadow Dancer, the Genesis version of this game was also vastly different from its arcade counterpart. The stages are completely different and while the game seems mechanically identical at first, when the player eventually obtains the titular E-SWAT armor, the gameplay changes as well. Whereas the player's abilities didn't change that much in the arcade version after obtaining the armor (save for the addition of a machine gun as the new main weapon and a few sub-weapons), its counterpart in the Genesis version is equipped with an afterburner that allows the player to fly around for a limited time, as well as switchable main weapons in addition to the default shot. Much like Shadow Dancer, E-SWAT also received a Master System version that played more like a scaled-down port of the arcade game.
- Fighter's History: Mochizuki Kiki Ippatsu - This Super Famicom-exclusive final game in the series began development as a port of Fighter's History Dynamite and has many common elements as a result.
- Ganbare Goemon: Karakuri Dōchū - The MSX2 version features completely different level layouts from the Famicom version and most notably a unique Player 2 character. Whereas both versions have an alternating 2-Players Mode, the Famicom version simply has both players controlling Goemon, whereas the second player in the MSX version controls a different character named "Nezumi Kozō" (the Rat Brat). While Nezumi never appears in any other Goemon game, his character design was used as the basis for Goemon's sidekick Ebisumaru, who would later be introduced in Ganbare Goemon 2.
- Garou Densetsu: Dominated Mind - A PS1 port of Real Bout Fatal Fury Special that removes the multi-lane system and added new super moves and combos.
- Gauntlet - The NES version has structured stage layout, side goals and hidden levels laid out as an adventure with a proper ending. Despite having the same basic engine, it's far different from other versions of the game, which is better known as an endless multiplayer coin-guzzler.
- Ghost Chaser Densei - A Super Famicom port of the arcade Beat 'em Up Denjin Makai by Banpresto. The Super Famicom version only has half of the character roster (Makai, Iyo and Belva) and is missing a few stages and bosses as well, but the story was expanded a bit and the characters were given new moves.
- Ghostbusters - The Genesis version is nominally a "reprogrammed" version of the computer game by Activision. Unlike the similarly credited Master System version, which was a port of that game, this version plays completely differently.
- Golvellius - The first iteration of the game was a Zelda-style action RPG that switches between overhead and side-scrolling segments, was developed by Compile on the MSX, has extremely bland graphics and sound and suffers for the system's notorious problems with scrolling. Sega remade the game on the Master System with polished play mechanics, improved graphics, a completely new layout for dungeons and overworld, and some additions like new sub-bosses. Compile took note and made a remake for the MSX2 (known among MSX fans as Golvellius 2): different storyline, awesome intro and ending screens, graphics similar to the Master System version but less cartoonish, and yet another overhaul of the overworld and dungeons.
- King Of The Monsters 2 - The Sega Genesis version was more like a conventional Fighting Game than the original Neo Geo version.
- Killing Time - The PC version has different graphics and level design. The plot is the same, but has two endings very different from the 3DO original's Downer Ending.
- Knightmare II: Maze Of Galious- The Famicom version, titled Dai-Ma-Shikyō Galious and released a few months after the MSX original, has a similar gameplay system as the MSX version, but the stage designs are substantially different, with a much smaller environment to explore.
- Labyrinth - Despite being sub-licensed from Activision (the publisher of the Labyritnth computer game), the Labyrinth game released for the Famicom and MSX game was not a menu-driven adventure game like the original, but rather a top down action game similar to Zelda.
- Legendary Wings - The NES version made several changes from the arcade version, including adding a health gauge system where getting hit by an enemy simply reduces the player's shooting power by one level instead of dying in one hit.
- Line of Fire - Originally an arcade Light Gun Game with into-the-screen scrolling, converted into a Vertical Scrolling Shooter on the Sega Master System.
- Makaijima (aka Makai Island) - A remixed Famicom/MSX2 version of the Capcom arcade game Pirate Ship Higemaru. Originally Makaijima was planned as an original game developed alongside a separate Famicom port of Higemaru, but the two projects ended up being merged and Makaijima was transformed into a pseudo-sequel to Higemaru.
- Metal Gear - The NES version began development almost immediately after the MSX2 version was released with a development period that lasted only three months. Some of the changes, like the addition of the Jungle area, were done due to Executive Meddling, while others, like the removal of the Metal Gear mecha, were done due to hardware constraints.
- Metal Gear Solid - The Game Boy Color version is actually a retitled English version of a spinoff game known as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, which was modeled after Metal Gear 2 but with a graphic style and other gameplay elements taken from the actual Metal Gear Solid.
- Mighty Final Fight - An NES conversion of Final Fight that came out late during the system's lifespan (around the same time as Final Fight 2). While the NES version is 1-Player only and all the characters have been chibified, the play mechanics were translated almost accurately, with only a few moves missing, and all three characters were present. No need to buy a second version with Guy like on the SNES.
- Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord - A Master System port of the PC88 RPG Haja no Fūin ("Seal of the Dark Lord") by Kogado Studio (which was also released for other formats as the MSX2 and Famicom). The Master System version added a larger overworld and explorable towns.
- Monty on the Run - The Famicom Disk System changes a whole bunch of things around from the ZX Spectrum version. Most bizarrely, Monty is not a mole in this version, but an escaped human convict.
- Novastorm - All the versions have different bosses, level designs, play mechanics and cutscenes. Even the Sega CD version, which is the closest to the DOS original in the bits of FMV it uses, has completely different enemy placement and upgrade system for the player ship.
- Nuts And Milk - Originally a Maze Game for the MSX, PC-88 and other Japanese home computers; the Famicom version completely redesigned the game around Donkey Kong Jr.-style platforming rather than tunneling.
- Popful Mail - Originally released on PC-88 and PC-98 computers in 1991 and '92 respectively, then brought to consoles in 1994. The PC Engine Super CD version is the one that is most faithful to the PC-88 original, but the other two (Super Famicom and Sega CD) are very different both from it and from each other, sharing only the plot, characters and the basic play mechanics.
- Powerslave (also known as Exhumed in Europe and Year 1999: Return of the Pharaoh in Japan) - Although the three versions (PC, Playstation and Saturn) were released together, development started on the PC using the Build engine, best known for powering Duke Nukem 3D. Lobotomy Software then decided to try their luck on consoles but, upon realizing a straight port was impossible, they developed the Slavedriver engine and ended up making practically another game. While PC Powerslave is forgettable and has overly long, boring levels, console Powerslave is one of the best early console FPSes, and loses some nicer textures in favor of faster action, full 3D movement and smaller, open-ended levels with new weapons and abilities to discover in order to advance, predating Metroid Prime by over five years. Also, in a fun twist of irony, Slavedriver would later be used to port Duke Nukem 3D on the Sega Saturn.
- Prince of Persia - The SNES version featured new traps, new enemies and Boss Battles, and redesigned or completely new levels.
- Quake II - The console ports were produced by two different developers. Hammerhead's PS port, other than the loss of the crouching function, hand grenades, and several levels, remained mostly faithful to the PC original, while the N64 port by Raster Productions underwent more drastic changes, having most of its levels completely rebuilt, and being noticeably shorter than the other versions due to cartridge space constraints.
- Renegade (aka Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun) - To make up for the downgraded graphics and sounds compared to the arcade original, added new stages, hidden power-ups, a bike-riding segment and branching paths for the final two stages. The final stage in particular is now set in a labyrinth-like building where the player must go through a series of rooms populated by enemies from previous stages in order to locate the final boss. A wrong turn in this stage can lead the player to a previous area, including the very beginning of the first stage.
- Rush'n Attack - The NES version features a different plot from the arcade version, along with new stages and different bosses, but most notably a 2-player co-op mode (the arcade version only allowed alternating play). The game's arcade-only sequel, M.I.A., followed suit by adding 2-player co-op as well.
- Rygar - The original arcade game is a straightforward side-scrolling action game. The NES version starts with a linear stage that may seem a straight port at first but then opens to reveal a free-roaming world.
- Section Z - Originally a flying 2D shooter released for the arcades in 1985 consisting of five stages (three side-scrolling levels and two vertically-scrolling ones, although all played from a side-view). The so-called "sections" in the game were simply short corridors that the player proceeded throughout the entire game until reaching the titular Section Z, where the final boss awaits. The NES version, released almost two years later in 1987, turned the sections into fully-fledged areas with branching paths and hidden rooms. There are three stages consisting of 20 sections each, but since the Sections are now numbered (starting from Section 00) instead of being alphabetized like in the arcade game, the final area is now Section 59 instead of Section Z, rendering the game's title meaningless.
- San Francisco Rush - The PS version was reprogrammed due to the system's lack of an FPU. No need to guess how it turned out.
- Shinobi - The Master System version gives the player a health gauge (instead of making him a One-Hit-Point Wonder), adds more melee and ranged weapons, and changed the input method for Musashi's ninjutsu techniques (due to the lack of a third button). It also made the bonus rounds more frequent and changed their purpose from gaining extra lives to accumulating ninjutsu techniques.
- Shadow Dancer was also vastly different from the arcade game. Whereas the play mechanicsremained almost identical to the arcade version, the stages were completely different along with all of the bosses (although some of them were similar to their arcade counterparts). There was also a Master System version released around the same time in Europe that was much closer to the arcade version, but featured only 8 of the arcade version's 15 stages (counting the boss battles, so in reality there are only four stages) and reduced the role of the player's canine companion to a special attack only.
- Sonic Blast Man - Originally an arcade game released in 1990 consisting of five selectable mini-games in which the player must hit a punching pad as hard as possible in three turns. The game would measure the player's strength based on how hard the punching pad was hit and after the third turn, it determines whether the player has failed or succeeded. This wouldn't have translated well to home consoles, so the Super NES version released in 1992 was a Final Fight-style Beat 'em Up with bonus stages adapted from the arcade version that required the player to rapidly rotate the D-Pad to build up strength before punching the target.
- Splinter Cell - The PS2/GameCube versions of the original trilogy featured drastically redesigned stages since their hardware did not have the same amount of memory as the Xbox. The fourth game, Double Agent, was a cross-generational multiplatform release and the versions that were released for the low-end platforms (Xbox, PS2,GameCube and Wii) were vastly different from the next-gen versions released for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
- Star Trader - A PC-88 Shoot 'em Up with many cutscenes, adventure portions and a non-linear plot - unfortunately the shooting part, which was supposed to be still its core, was done badly. A later Sharp X68000 version has much better graphics and mechanics but is just a straight shooter.
- Streets of Rage - A side-scrolling Beat 'em Up for Sega Genesis that was later ported to the Master System and Game Gear. Despite the fact that the Master System and Game Gear are virtually identical in terms of hardware specs, the two 8-bit versions of the game were substantially different from each other rather being ports of the same game. Particularly, the SMS version featured all three playable characters (the GG version was missing Adam), whereas the GG version had a 2-players mode via link cable (the SMS version was 1-Player). The SMS and GG versions of the sequel (Streets of Rage 2) were also different from each other.
- Strider II - The U.S. Gold-produced sequel to Strider (not to be confused with Capcom's own arcade sequel Strider 2), was originally released in 1990 for various home computer platforms in Europe (specifically the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and the ZX Spectrum). Strider II was later remade for the Mega Drive and Master System in 1992 with redesigned stages and gameplay mechanics much closer to the original Strider arcade game. The Genesis and Game Gear versions were released in America under the title of Strider Returns: Journey from Darkness.
- Sunset Riders - While the SNES version was close to the arcade game as possible (save for the lack of 4-Player co-op and added modesty to some of the female NPCs), the Genesis version had a smaller ROM size than the SNES version and only contained two of the main characters (Billy and Cormano) and half of the bosses. Rather than making a straight port, the stages were completely redesigned, the bonus stages were changed and a new versus mode was added.
- Super Dodge Ball (aka Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu) - The NES version is vastly different from the original Arcade Game. In the arcade version, the player's team consisted of one adult character as the captain and three children. Only the adult characters have power shots and the health gauges shows the number of team members remaining rather than the health of each character. In the NES version, everyone is now the same size, but each player (not just captains, but all the members of a team) now have two power shots, individual stats and health gauges. The NES version also adds two new foreign teams not in the arcade version: India and Russia.
- The PC Engine version, subtitled PC Bangai Hen (PC Extra Edition), plays like a combination between both versions. The graphics, character roster and stages were based on the arcade version, but it adds elements from the NES version such as individual power shots and health gauge for each player.
- Super Meat Boy Forever is a reformulated version of the original Super Meat Boy, specifically designed for mobile devices in order to avoid turning the original game into a Porting Disaster. It is not exclusive to phones/touch screens, however, as it is also available on Steam.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time - The the second TMNT arcade game received two console ports in 1992.
- The SNES version is a straight conversion of the arcade game, lacking the 4-player co-op mode but adding one new stage (the Technodrome) and a few additional bosses: namely the Rat King, Slash (who replaces Cement Man as the boss of the prehistoric level), pirate versions of Bebop and Rocksteady, and Super Shredder (who replaces the regular Shredder as the final boss).
- The Genesis version (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist) on the other hand played more like a remixed version of the same game. The plot is different and while some of the stages and bosses were lifted from the SNES version, others were completely new. The new bosses included the human version of Professor Stockman (last seen in the first arcade game and its NES conversion) and Tatsu (Shredder's bodyguard from the first two live-action films). Hyperstone Heist is notably the only Turtles game to feature Rocksteady (based on his incarnation from the first arcade game rather than the pirate-dressed version in the SNES version) without his partner Bebop.
- The Terminator - The Sega CD version could had been a straight port of the Sega Genesis gasme by the same developer with the addition of a CD-quality soundtrack and grainy cinematic sequences like other Genesis-to-Sega CD. Instead, it is a completely different game with better graphics and improved play mechanics. The manual even specifies that it's more than "just an upgrade."
- Titan Warriors - An unreleased NES game by Capcom initially intended to be an updated port of Vulgus (the company's very first game) titled Neo Vulgus. The game ultimately ended up being unreleased in any form.
- Togainu no Chi: True Blood - Many visual novels released for computers intended for adults are often altered for console versions. Often this just involves removing/rewriting sex scenes. In the case of True Blood, the console ports added new characters, scenes and entire routes to compensate for the censorship.
- Twin Eagle- The NES version was producer by a different developer from the ones who made the original arcade game.
- U.N. Squadron - The arcade version was a side-scrolling flying shooter based on the manga Area 88, the player could choose between one of three characters, each piloting a different jet: Shin flew the F-20, Mickey the F-14, and Greg the A-10. The later SNES version differentiated characters by how quickly they leveled up the main weapon and how quickly they recovered from damage; each of the three pilots started with the F-8E Crusader and could purchase tother jets by using the bounty collected from completing missions. The SNES version, while lacking the 2-Player co-op mode from the arcade, also added multiple paths between stages and new bonus rounds.
- Valis: The Fantastic Soldier - The Famicom version was a redesign of the PC-88 original with branching stages that were easy to get lost in. The game was redesigned again for the Mega Drive/Genesis and PC Engine CD in 1992, with a revamped gameplay system much closer to its sequels.
- The PC Engine CD version of Valis II is also drastically different from its MSX 2 counterpart. Both were straightforward hack n' slash platformers, albeit with different level and boss designs, and the former version had the ability to voluntarily change Yuko's armor during gameplay, along with an MP bar instead of a preset number of uses for each spell.
- Zanac - Originally released on the MSX in several versions with blotchy graphics reminiscent of Xevious, but was greatly reworked for the NES. The NES version was ported back to the MSX2 as Zanac EX.
- In general, several home console games have had handheld versions, released at the same time, that became 2D platformers or top-down action games. This is especially true of movie tie-ins or games based on very popular franchises.
- The Addams Family became four different games by Ocean: one exclusively for the Game Boy; another for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System and Game Gear; a third for 8-bit computers; and a fourth for the Amiga and 16-bit consoles. At least all of these were Platform Games starring Gomez Addams.
- Alien 3 - The SNES and Genesis versions are vastly different in pacing, atmosphere and gameplay. The SNES version is a slower-paced Metroidvania that's lighter on gore but has more varied gameplay while the Genesis version offers more streamlined, tense gameplay and ratchets up the violence. Both good examples of No Problem with Licensed Games, but for totally different reasons. There is an NES version too, but it takes the majority of its cues from the Genesis version and feels more like a straightforward if stripped-down port.
- Astérix & Obelix XXL 2 - The handheld versions were released a year after the original PS2 and PC releases. While the PSP version is the same game, the Nintendo DS couldn't handle it, so it was changed into a 2D mix of a platformer and brawler.
- Astyanax (aka The Lord of King) - Released for the Arcade and NES at the same time, both versions were completely different right down to their very plot. Whereas the hero in the arcade version was a medieval barbarian-like warrior who finds the legendary Fire Axe, the protagonist in the NES game is an ordinary high school student who is transported to a fantasy setting.
- Batman - Sunsoft released a set of tie-in games based on the 1989 Batman film. The NES version, a Castlevania-inspired platform game, was released first and while the Game Boy and Sega Genesis versions loosely followed the same template, the PC Engine version, which was originally announced as a platformer as well, was retooled into an overhead Maze Game.
- Batman: Return of the Joker was released in two completely different versions for the NES and the Game Boy; the latter has a closer resemblance to the first NES Batman game. The NES Return of the Joker game was then ported to the Genesis by an American developer under the title of Batman: Revenge of the Joker. An SNES version was also planned, but canceled (a prototype ROM image is available online).
- The two Batman Returns games developed Konami, one for the NES and the other for the SNES, were both side-scrolling beat-'em-ups, but that's where their similarities ended. Sega also released its own line of Batman Returns games for the Game Gear, Master System, Genesis and Sega CD. The Sega CD version was a port of the Genesis version with added racing stages, while the Game Gear and Master System versions were almost identical.
- BIONICLE: The Game - The console and PC version is a typical Third-Person Action-Adventure game, with an extremely simplified version of the Bohrok and Mask of Light story arcs.
- The Game Boy Advance version is similar, but features all thirteen Toa, has more levels, and does not even bother with a plot.
- BIONICLE Heroes - The console and PC version is an Always over the Shoulder Third-Person Shooter, with a barely coherent version of the Voya Nui story arc.
- The Nintendo DS version is a First-Person Shooter about an unnamed silver Matoran-turned-Toa rescuing the Toa Inika, who have been captured by the Piraka and Makuta.
- The GBA version is a mixture of the two formulas above; a Top-Down View Shooter about a silver Toa (who can transform into any of the Toa Mata, and later Nuva and Inika) rescuing the Inika from Vezon.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula received a few versions of licensed games. On the NES, it's a horror themed Mario clone, complete with ? blocks. On 16-bit consoles, it's a more generic platform with oddly oversized bosses. On the Sega CD, Psygnosis made use of the CD-ROM technology to make a beat-'em-up with digitized backgrounds and FMV cutscenes. Finally, on PC, it's an FPS, if you can believe it.
- Captain America and the Avengers - The arcade and NES versions, both by Data East, were released simultaneously by the end of 1991. While the arcade version was a 4-player beat-'em-up where players could play as Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye and The Vision, the NES version was a side-scrolling platform game where only Cap and Hawkeye were playable and their objective was to rescue the other two. Data East later released a port of the arcade for the Sega Genesis in 1992.
- Mindscape later released a set of versions for the SNES, Game Boy and Game Gear. While the SNES version was also a port of the arcade game, the portable versions were actually side-scrolling platformers.
- Castlevania (NES) and Vampire Killer (MSX2) were released in Japan under the same title (Akumajō Dracula) a month apart, with the same packaging art. While they have very similar stage designs, Vampire Killer focuses more on exploration, as the player's goal is to uncover hidden items in each stage and find the key to the stage's exit.
- Daikatana - The Game Boy Color version is a top-down action RPG that was better received than the critically-panned computer FPS it was based on.
- Daiva, a space-themed war simulation game by T&E Soft, was released for seven different platforms (all the major Japanese 8-bit computers plus the Famicom and PC-98) throughout 1986 to 1987. Each version featured completely different scenario starring a different protagonist.
- Dizzy Kwik Snax - The Commodore 64 version is a completely different game to the ZX Spectrum original. On the Spectrum version you have to push blocks to squash monsters on a single screen, on the Commodore version you have to collect Fluffles and guide them to the exit in a side-scrolling gameplay.
- Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers - There were several versions for multiple platforms.
- Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PC: practically the same, just some graphical improvements for the latter two, and cutscenes in CGI instead of the game's engine.
- Playstation: obvious hit in the graphics but also completely different level design (3D and side-view sections alternate inside and not in separate levels), soundtrack and enemies.
- Playstation 2 and Gamecube: released a few years later, built on a new engine, complete renewal of the levels, an improved version of the Playstation version's soundtrack and new abilities for Donald.
- The handheld versions (Game Boy Color and Advance) are 2D Platformers and are also very different from each other, with the latter giving more abilities to Donald. Also the storyline plays a bit differently.
- Fantasy Zone - The Master System version was released a few months after the arcade game, but both versions were actually developed at the same time. The Master System version was tailor-made to take into account the lower hardware specs and features different bosses, weapon properties and less enemy bases to destroy. The Famicom version later released by Sunsoft (and along with a separately developed NES version by Tengen), both played like a mix between both versions.
- Goemon: Shinseidai Shūmei ("Goemon: The New Generation") for the PlayStation and Goemon: New Age Shutsudō!! (New Age Sailing) for the Game Boy Advance were essentially the same game, being released two months apart. The two games were part of an unsuccessful attempt by Konami to reinvent the Ganbare Goemon franchise (aka Mystical Ninja) to younger players around 2001-2002. The GBA version is essentially a watered down version of the PS game, with text and still imagery instead of voice acted cutscenes, along with less stages, but it does have some exclusive content to make up for it.
- The Goonies - The MSX version had similar gameplay to the Famicom game, more primitive graphics, and very different levels. As with Vampire Killer, keys played a major role in the MSX version, which also added an EXP bar.
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch - Sunsoft produced two radically different Licensed Games based on the movie: a top-down action game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and a typical sidescrolling Platform Game for the Game Boy.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Two radically different versions were produced at the same time, one for PC, one for several home consoles including the PS2. The console version was vastly superior both graphically and gameplay-wise. One example: Upon landing at Hogwarts, Harry needs to get past the Whomping Willow. The PC version has him walking around it in a circle as it lazily lifts and lowers its roots. The console version has a full-on boss fight against the tree, where it viciously pounds the earth and even throws the car at you.
- Jurassic Park - Practically every console at the time got a video game based on the movie, and all had vastly different gameplay styles. The SNES version combines a top-down shooter with rudimentary FPS segments, the Genesis version is a side-scroller, the Game Gear game is a totally different side scroller, and the NES and Game Boy games are stripped down version of the SNES edition, with the Game Boy one also throwing in a few side-scroller stages.
- Kool-Aid Man - The Atari2600 and for the Intellivision were two entirely different games, largely because Mattel had to produce both of them on a very tight schedule. The 2600 version is set around a swimming pool; the Intellivision version takes place inside a haunted house where two children have to summon the Kool-Aid Man.
- Last Action Hero - The tie-in games based on this movie is a "good" example of The Problem with Licensed Games, but it's interesting to see how very different it is on various platforms.
- SNES / Genesis: a traditional side-scrolling action game with some side-view driving levels.
- NES: platform game with tiny sprites and some arcade levels.
- Game Boy / Game Gear: similar to the 16 bit counterparts, but the driving stages are now overhead.
- DOS: Overhead free-roaming driving stages (predating Grand Theft Auto by some years - you can even run pedestrians over!) and side-view fighting levels. It even has some small clips from the movie.
- Amiga: based on the assets of the DOS versions, an entirely different game was crafted from them - a scrolling Beat 'em Up with no driving levels.
- Finally, there was a Sega CD version in the works, which was supposed to use some retouched assets from the DOS version along with pre-rendered backgrounds and cutscenes. Given the succes of the movie and the other games, it was quietly cancelled.
- The handheld versions of The Legend of Spyro series tended to be quite different from their console counterparts, and for reasons beyond their technically inferior hardware. The DS version of one game in the series included a whole minigame of Light And Mirrors Puzzles not found anywhere in the console versions. The Game Boy Advance version of the second game also featured a more platforming and exploration-oriented game than the console versions, and, in fact, got higher reviews than every other version of the game despite being on the least-advanced system.
- Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland - Capcom produced two games based on the animated feature film by Tokyo Movie Shinsha. The arcade version was simply titled Nemo, while NES version was titled Little Nemo The Dream Master.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers received a series of tie-in games around the time the first season ended. Although the versions released for the Nintendo platforms were published by Bandai, the Sega versions were first-party products. Although the Super NES and Game Boy versions were both side-scrolling action games, while the Sega Genesis and Game Gear versions were competitive fighting games, they were all completely different from each other. A Sega CD version was also released which was an Interactive Movie game which used FMV clips from key episodes of the series.
- MMPR: The Movie also received its own sets of tie-in games. While the SNES, Game Boy and Game Gear versions were similar to their respective predecesors, the Genesis version was a beat-'em-up that actually covered both, the events of the film and the latter half of Season 2.
- Michael Jackson's Moonwalker - Sega released both a console game and an arcade game at around the same time. They had some common elements, but the former was a Shinobi-like Platform Game, whereas the latter was an isometric Beat 'em Up that could be played by up to three people (each controlling a palette swapped MJ).
- Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 - The Xbox and GameCube versions were similar to each other but markedly different from (and generally not as good as) the PlayStation 2 version.
- Ninja Gaiden - Tecmo began development of the arcade and NES versions at the same time and ended up creating two completely different games. While the arcade version is a 2-player Beat 'em Up with emphasis on acrobatic moves (the joystick had an action button on top for grabbing ledges), the NES version is a Castlevania-style side-scrolling platformer with a wall hanging play mechanic and cinematic sequences.
- Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. While the 360/PS3/PC versions are the same game, the Wii version has a different storyline and different powers for the Prince. The PSP version is a 2.5D platformer with yet another storyline.
- Rambo - Pack-In-Video released two Action RPGs based on the second film (Rambo: First Blood Part II). The MSX game plays in a Top-Down View similar to Hydlide, while the NES game is a side-scroller similar to Zelda II.
- While Ocean Software obtained the Rambo III license from Taito, the game they ended up releasing for various computer platforms was an overhead shooter that played nothing like the arcade game Taito eventually released, which was a Cabal-style shooter where Player 2 controlled Colonel Trautman.
- Sega also produced its own set of Rambo III games for its consoles. While the Sega Genesis version of Rambo III was an overhead action shooter, the Master System version was an Operation Wolf-style light gun game that required the Light Phaser gun.
- Rainbow Six 3 - The Xbox and PS2 versions, despite using some design elements from the PC version, have a completely different story and vastly different gameplay, being mostly linear single-squad FPS's rather than plan-based with multiple teams.
- Ristar - Two versions were released: the more familiar Genesis/Mega Drive version, and a lesser-know 3D version. Much like the Sonic examples below, hardware limitations resulted in radically different level layouts and the addition of a new world, Planet Terra (replacing Undertow and Scorch).
- Shadowrun - The SNES and Genesis recieved completely different adaptations of the tabletop RPG. The SNES game, by Beam Software, is an isometric action RPG starring an amnesiac named Jake, while the Genesis game, developed by Blue Sky Software, is a Legend of Zelda-style overhead RPG with a protagonist named Joshua avenging the death of his brother.
- Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - The 8-bit versions for the Master System and Game Gear were radically different from the 16-bit originals on the Mega Drive (the 8-bit versions of Sonic 2 actually preceded the 16-bit version in some regions). The more limited hardware didn't allow for the same speed, which resulted in different level layouts, premises and soundtracks. Both still hold up well and the Game Gear versions in particular are considered more challenging due to their lower screen resolution.
- Sonic Unleashed - Two versions in development: 360/PS3 and PS2/Wii. While it met a generally lukewarm reception, the PS2/Wii version was better received: despite the obvious hit in the visual department, reviewers praised the better camera, better Werehog levels, and the Wii version's well-implemented motion controls.
- Sparkster - The Super NES and Genesis versions were completely different games, despite being released at the same time, having the same cover artwork and almost the same title (the Genesis version was subtitled Rocket Knight Adventures 2 in Japan).
- RollerGames - Konami released two games based on the short-lived rollerskating TV show. The arcade version attempted to adapt the sports itself into a video game, whereas the NES version was a side-scrolling action game that barely had anything to do with the sports save for the names of the teams (the enemies included molotov-throwing punks, a flying gunship and a Shaolin monk as the final boss).
- Spider-Man 2 - The console version is a great free-roaming game and is considered among the best titles (if not the best) based on the wall crawler. The PC version by another developer, unfortunately, is a lousy, limited action game.
- Spider-Man: Web of Shadows - Unlike the main console version, which was a Wide Open Sandbox, the PS2/PSP version was a 2D brawler, the DS version was a Metroidvania (the engine of which would later be reused for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions). Each of these versions features its own storyline and more Marvel characters than the free-roaming one for the "bigger" systems.
- Street Fighter The Movie - The console version was a completely different game from the arcade game released two months earlier, despite using the same digitized sprites. The arcade version was developed by Incredible Technologies (makers of Time Killers and Blood Storm) and played like a cross between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, whereas the console version was developed in-house by Capcom and used a modified version of the Super Street Fighter II Turbo engine. Even the character roster was different between both versions, as Blade and the rest of the Bison Troopers were exclusive to the arcade version, whereas the console versions featured Dee-Jay and Blanka.
- Strider - Produced as a collaboration between Capcom and Motomiya Kikaku that resulted in a one-volume manga and two video games, a console version for the Famicom and an arcade version for the CP System hardware. The Strider arcade game is easily the most successful of these projects, being ported to a variety of other platforms such as the Genesis, X68000 and PC Engine years after its original release, despite deviating completely from the other versions of the Strider story. The manga is virtually forgotten now, having never been re-released after its original 1988 printing, and the Famicom version was inexplicably canceled in Japan despite being announced before the arcade version, although it did see a U.S. release for the NES.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The first game for the NES came out almost at the same time as Konami's popular arcade beat-'em-up of the same title. When Konami decided to adapt the arcade game to the NES as well, they had to retitle that version Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game to make it clear that it was a different game from the first NES title and a port of the arcade version.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters - Konami used this title for a set of fighting games released for the NES, SNES and Genesis at the end of 1993. Each version was a unique game featuring its own character roster and fighting syste,.
- The Game Boy Advance versions of Konami's first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games based on the 2003 series, as well as the Nintendo DS version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare, were completely different games from their PC and console counterparts.
- When Ubisoft got a hold of the Turtles license, they made a series of tie-in games based on CGI TMNT movie for various platforms. The PC and home console versions were ports of the same game, but the portable versions for the GBA, DS and PSP were all unique. The GBA version in particular, rather than being a 3D action game like the others, was a 2D beat-'em-up inspired by the older Konami games.
- Tenchi o Kurau (The Devouring of Heaven and Earth) - Like Willow and Nemo, Capcom released two games at the same time based on Hiroshi Motomiya's manga adaptation of the Three Kingdoms tale. The arcade version was an action game where players fought enemies while riding on a horseback, whereas the Famicom version was an RPG. Both games were released overseas under the titles of Dynasty Wars and Destiny of an Emperor respectively.
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and 4 - Both games had different versions, one for the PS2/Xbox/GCN, and one for the PS1 with different goals and levels, done by different companies. Same thing happened again with the PS 360 version of Project Eight and Proving Ground being different to the Wii/PS2 version.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron - A third-person shooter released for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Transformers: Cybertron Adventures, considered to be the Wii equivalent and having the same characters and story, is a Rail Shooter.
- Turrican originally began development as a Commodore 64 game by Rainbow Arts. Factor 5, who were working on the Amiga version, originally planned their version as a straight port, but then they decided to make it a completely different game in order to utilize the Amiga's specs to its full potential. Turrican 2 was developed in a similar matter.
- Similarly Super Turrican was released for consoles in two versions. While the NES version handled by Rainbow Arts, the SNES version was done by Factor 5.
- Willow - The arcade version was a side-scrolling platform game where the player alternates between controlling Willow and Madmartigan and was pretty faithful to the movie's plot. The NES version was an action RPG that took liberties with the source material.
- World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks and War Jetz were both released simultaneously for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. The two versions have different levels and controls, especially in the case of War Jetz.
- Ys IV was developed at the same time for the PC Engine and Super Famicom. Both versions were developed by separate companies based on a rough outline written by Nihon Falcom. There was also a third version planned for the Mega Drive that ended up being canceled.
- X Men Mutant Apocalypse for the SNES was released at the same month (December 1994) as the arcade fighting game X-Men: Children of the Atom. Despite the fact that both games were made by Capcom, they're completely different games.