Anytime the next video game (or perhaps another medium) in a series is either easier overall, or includes at least one difficulty mode that's easier than those in the previous game(s) (even if the game still is Nintendo Hard on the higher settings).
Developers and publishers receive a lot of feedback from their customers, and when a lot of that feedback refers to the perceived difficulty (and possible aversion to spending money on a hair-pulling experience), they have incentive to tweak that feature in the sequel. The developers will try to make not an extreme drop in difficulty, just enough to ease new players in. So Easy-Mode Mockery is largely averted with these. It also doesn't preclude Sequel Escalation in elements other than difficulty.
This can even include dropping Fake Difficulty elements from the previous game(s). It can also include the addition of new gameplay elements such as regenerating health or special abilities that make survival easier than in the previous game.
Some argue that most games became this in the mid 90s, when games became more cinematic. Whether this is looking at games through a Nostalgia Filter or not depends on if you think more cinematic games is a good thing.
Typically, this results in certaingamers thinking the new game is too easy.
Compare Easier Than Easy, Lighter and Softer.
Contrast Sequel Difficulty Spike, Surprise Difficulty.
Uncharted 2 Among Thieves not only adds the new "Very Easy" difficulty level for beginners, but all of the other difficulty levels are toned down from the previous release. Except Crushing, which is harder than Crushing on the original.
Ghouls 'n Ghosts is somewhat easier than Ghosts N Goblins (though still very Nintendo Hard), thanks largely to Arthur gaining the ability to throw weapons vertically and (with the Gold Armor) use magic.
The Devil May Cry series seems to have zig-zagged. The first was Nintendo Hard, the second dialed back the difficulty to the point of many considering it It's Easy, so It Sucks, the third was a bit more difficult than the first, and the fourth was much easier.
Tokimeki Memorial 2 was made easier than its predecessor, most notably by dramatically lowering the bombing rate. This was done in order to focus in a character storyline-specific challenge instead of a mostly stat-based challenge.
In the first Power Stone arcade mode was pretty difficult, especially after beating the first boss. However, in the sequel arcade mode can easily be finished in no time at all even by new players after getting to know how to play better.
Far Cry, Crysis and Far Cry 2: Far Cry, the first game, is the FPS equivalent of Nintendo Hard on its highest difficulty and massively challenging for even experienced gamers. Both the sequel set in the African jungle, and 'spin off' Crysis are hard enough on the highest difficulties, but don't provide anywhere near the challenge that the first game did. A good part of this is due to having access to regenerating health, unlike the original Far Cry with its reliance on (somewhat rare) health kits and armor pickups.
Descent II is a definite step down from the brutal difficulty of the first game. Even with the more advanced robot A.I. and nastier bosses, the game is noticeably easier thanks to the addition of accessories like the afterburners, energy converter and ammo rack. The difficulty went back up with the third game.
Halo 2 is an interesting case in that the normal difficulty is noticeably easier than in the original game (faster regeneration, not having to worry about health, enemies die noticeably more quickly and don't dodge as much, much easier to score instant-kill headshots, a wider selection of better weaponry, vastly improved friendly A.I.), while the heroic and legendary difficulty are much harder than their equivalents in the original game, due to factors such as much weaker shields, Jackal Snipers, level design that makes it much easier to get surrounded and plasma-raped, etc.
In Call of DutyModern Warfare 2, you can survive much more damage than in the first Modern Warfare game. This is balanced out somewhat by the Sequel Escalation that results in you often fighting more enemies at once, sometimes in open environments where it's very easy to get flanked from all sides.
Modern Warfare 3, in contrast, is insane on Veteran difficulty, as you have drastically less health than in the second game, combined with psychic enemies that are given superhuman reflexes and perfect aim.
The revamp of the health system in Call of Duty 2 made it so you no longer had to worry about finding health packs, and instead when badly hurt, allowed you to heal back to full health if you could get away from the combat for a few moments. The new health system has since been the standard for every Call of Duty game since then.
Modern Warfare 2 also dispensed with the infinitely-respawning enemies, allowing players to approach the levels more conservatively.
Red Faction 2 is noticeably easier than the first Red Faction, due to the addition of inventory medikits and regenerating health, as well as the lack of enemies with one-hit-kill attacks like the Mercs with railguns in the first game. Red Faction Guerillagoes the other direction, often being downright Nintendo Hard due to frequent escort or timed missions as well as often having to fight huge hordes of enemies at the same time using a character who's actually not particularly durable.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is noticeably easier than the original F.E.A.R.; enemies can survive noticeably less damage, health and armor pickups now restore stats by 100% rather than by small amounts, and enemy aim has been Nerfed to offset the fact you can no longer lean around corners to shoot. The level design is also such that enemies have much fewer opportunities to flank and surprise you compared to the original game. In developer interviews, Monolith has admitted that the A.I. enemies were made slower and less mobile to compensate for the reduced sensitivity of controllers vs mouse and keyboard, as the sequel was made with consoles in mind unlike the first game.
And FEAR 3 was even easier than the Project Origin. The developers decided to drop armor and health kits; just a conventional regenerating health scheme now and the enemies because even dumber, weaker, and inaccurate. The enemy AI is now rather unaggressive, preferring to hang back and let you regenerate. Even the boss fights against the phase commanders are not that difficult.
The original 1999 Aliens Vs Predator for the PC was pure Nightmare Fuel, especially in the Marine campaign, as Aliens were crazy-fast and would constantly respawn, so that you could never actually clear an area of hostiles and had to keep progressing to stay alive. The sequels, which rely almost entirely on scripted enemy spawns, are still scary and atmospheric, but not as insanely tense as the original.
The original Call of Juarez game had limited, non-regenerating health (and health pickups could be dangerously rare in some areas) as well as several annoying stealth and platforming segments. The prequel, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, did away with the stealth and platforming, as well as adding regenerating health and a competent A.I. partner who follows you for most of the game.
The first three Rainbow Six games (excluding the console version of 3) had multiple teams of agents, complicated pre-mission planning, easy one hit kills by enemies, and perma-death. Starting with Lockdown, the series became a more forgiving fast-paced single squad-based shooter.
NES Remix 2 featured games made later in the NES lifecycle which had less Fake Difficulty on average than the ones in the first NES Remix. On top of this, the tasks were slightly less demanding and the 3-star and rainbow star time thresholds were much more generous.
Some of the levels in Yoshi's Story were fairly difficult, but in order to finish the game, you had to beat only one from each world, for a total of six. This is contrasted with the 48 levels that had to be finished in Yoshi's Island.
To balance out the previous game's Sequel Difficulty Spike, Jak 3 had its difficulty level toned down significantly, striking a decent balance between the original Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, which was said to be too easy, and Jak II, which went in exactly the opposite direction. In the official strategy guide for Jak 3, there was a section at the back explaining various things, like how the game was made, random bits of twoddle, and there was an apology for making Jak II too difficult.
Rayman: The sequels were much simpler due to them no longer requiring players to make a Leap of Faith to find the MacGuffins needed to progress in the game. Not to mention that certain MacGuffins required you to be in certain spots for them to even appear.
Mega Man 10 added an easy mode after franchise revival Mega Man 9 proved too old-school Nintendo Hard for some players. And before that, Mega Man 2 added a "Normal" mode for its North American release that was really an "easy" mode, especially when compared the Nintendo Hard original game and the Japanese version (retained as the NA "Difficult" mode.)
Even without the easy difficulty modes, Mega Man 2 was still generally easier than Mega Man 1, and Mega Man 10 was generally easier than Mega Man 9.
The original Crash Bandicoot trilogy; the first game was undeniably the hardest to get all the gems in. Warped is the easiest game, but adds a challenging time trial mode to give vets something to chew on.
Crash: Mind Over Mutant is also much easier the Crash of the Titans, even on its hardest difficulty. Enemies do much less damage, come in smaller groups and are easier to defeat than in Titans, Titans can jump and can be stored for use at any time, and you have infinite lives unlike in Titans.
Of the original four games, Sonic The Hedgehog 1 was by far the most difficult. Later games added the Spin Dash, which helped Sonic get out of pits and sticky situations. In Sonic 1, you actually had to build up momentum to progress past obstacles. Sonic 1 also did not have an unlockable Super Sonic Mode.
Exception to that being the Marble Garden Zone boss.
When Sonic & Knuckles was released and made to be played with Sonic 3 so both games can be combined, Knuckles' run through Carnival Night Zone is actually easier than Sonic's portions because Knuckles' levels in that zone are tons shorter and have less obstacles. On top of this, Knuckles doesn't even face a boss at the end of act 2.
Sonic Colors was much easier than Sonic Unleashed, as reaction-based hazards were greatly reduced, stages are much shorter, and Sonic's running speed is slower (even without upgraded speed in Unleashed).
Metroid II: Return of Samus adds a saving feature, some gameplay tweaks (such as shooting kneeled) and has a less open-ended world; Super Metroid returns to the original game's formula, but with II's improvements and a map (and a few improvements of its own, such as finally adding a diagonal attack). For the Metroid Prime series, after the Sequel Difficulty Spike that was Echoes, came the much easier Corruption, whose difficulty was lowered because of the new control system for the Wii (which was adapted to the other games when Trilogy packed them together).
Banjo-Tooie to Banjo-Kazooie. For starters, the first game started you out with pretty much nothing and then had to gradually find and learn the new moves in order to advance. Notes had to be collected one at a time and you had to collect damn near a thousand of them to be able to make it to the end. Aiming the eggs was impossible, late-game enemies took multiple hard hits to kill, and your egg and feather stocks had to be replenished one at a time in a manner similar to enemies (you have to leave the level first before they come back). And there were extra lives and if you ran out of them, game over. The quiz at the end could seriously kick your ass in no time flat if you didn't pay attention and learn all the secrets. Also, with regards to the note collecting, your total number of notes you had on hand to use in the Lair was the sum of your Best Note Scores for each level. If you were to collect 50 notes on a level and then leave or die, all of the notes would respawn and you would have a Best Note Score of 50 for that level. In order to raise it higher and have more notes to use in the Lair you would need to collect at least 51 notes. Each level had 100 notes to its name, some of them in spots that made for an easy plummet into a bottomless pit of death. The second game and the Xbox Live Arcade re-release of the first had notes stay collected for good. Presumably many players viewed the Best Note Score as a Scrappy Mechanic. The second game replaced the vastly simplified collectathon and survival issues with much tougher puzzles and a greater emphasis on combat.
Jumper Three has been made considerably easier in comparision to previous two Jumper games, for the sake of entering Yoyo Games competition.
Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge, a sequel to the 1997 Frogger, is generally much kinder than its Nintendo Hard predecessor. The original takes more hints from the arcade game by having you search for five baby frogs, with you going back to the beginning each time you rescue one. The worlds are also very open, sometimes making them difficult to find. The sequel is much more linear, as you collect baby frogs as you traverse through the level, with each counting as a checkpoint. They also spoon-feed you with extra lives, making this one generally much more forgiving.
Exit Path 2 is a bit easier than the first due to a smoother control scheme, an ability to double jump, and bounce pads having a fixed height.
Puzzle Quest 2 was far easier than any of its predecessors in the series. Outside of the occasional Boss in Mook Clothing (*coughvampirescough*), enemies were rarely a challenge - especially if you're playing as a Barbarian (who has access to the strongest weapons in the game and power boosting spells).
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2's story mode is a bitch to complete without losing at all (an accomplishment known as "unshaded status" after the stage clear marks that are hollow if you haven't lost and filled if you have). Maximum Tune 3 and 3 DX, on the other hand? As long as you don't crash in the last 2-3 kilometers any given stage, unshaded status is very possible.
SSX Tricky is an example of this working in the game's favor. The controls are much tighter and smoother, you are overall faster, and the introduction of Uber tricks allowed players to easily rack up the kinds of scores that only would have been possible in the original if you were playing at maxed-out stats. This allowed you to unlock new characters faster, so if you wanted to get to a certain character you could reach that character faster.
We Cheer 2 has an easier difficulty for the songs, and even includes testing for the lag calibration.
Guitar Hero: World Tour added a "Beginner" difficulty level in addition to the usual Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert levels.
World Tour also did away with the "battle modes", where you had to defeat another challenger with special power-up attacks before you could advance or beat the game. Instead, you would simply "jam" with the special guests and try to keep up with them.
Guitar Hero 2, while featuring harder songs, made hammer-ons and pull-offs mercifully easier by not forcing the player to hold both frets before shifting, and the Xbox 360 port widened the allowable gap between those frets just enough to make a difference. It also added a song to each tier, allowing players to skip over whichever one they disliked the most, and rearranged the others to more accurately reflect the difficulty curve. A perfect example of the improvement: Wolfmother's "Woman", whose fiddly pull-offs made it entirely possible to fail the first tier on Hard in the PS2 version; now it's second-tier, easier to play, and entirely optional.
Rock Band's easiest difficulty level is "Easy", but LEGO Rock Band added a "Super Easy" difficulty. No fret-work on guitar, no worrying about what drum you're hitting on drums, and no pitch detection on vocals (i.e., sing or say anything and you'll pass the song).
Rock Band 3 automatically turns on no failure mode when playing on easy, and allows it on all difficulties without penalty; Scoring Points is still as much of a challenge as always.
The 2013 Dance Dance Revolution game no longer breaks your combo when you get a GOOD judgement. What's more, a GOOD will no longer damage you when playing on a "battery" Life Meter.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is noticeably easier then the previous installments for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, while the damage formula has been tweaked so that both you and enemy Pokemon deal less damage overall, the new move leveling system allows you to compensate for this, while the enemies lack the capacity to do the same. Second, there's the new Team Attack command which provides all Pokemon with a means of wiping out a mobs of enemies periodically. Third, you can now use orbs in boss battles to boost your stats, which makes them a lot more manageable. Lastly, the Pokemon Paradise and Magnagate dungeons can provide you with an overload of useful supplies if you take advantage of them.
It's also notable for being the first game to allow the use of a Dragon type (Axew) as a starter Pokemon. Said starter also happens to easily be the strongest one in the entire series, learning Dragon Rage at an extremely low level (Which will one or two hit KO enemy Pokemon for a long time), then going on to learn its best attacking move of Double Chop only a few levels later, which makes short work of virtually everything, even before it's leveled up.
Final Fantasy VI was a fair bit easier than the previous two games, and Final Fantasy VII was even easier. Final Fantasy VIII had an uneven difficulty, and you'll get different answers based on who you ask. Final Fantasy X, however, is the easiest of the numbered games, until you reach Zanarkand where there was a huge difficulty spike.
The second game did change around the class balance somewhat (going so far as to invert Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards where the first game was very much a Mage game), so Genre Savvy players may actually have had a harder time in spite of the tweaks towards easier play.
Shadow Hearts Covenant, then played inverted for From The New World.
While the Legends remake for Skies of Arcadia is unchanged gameplay-wise, some tweaks were significant enough to make it much easier: far lower encounter rates (the most common complaint for the original Dreamcast game), several sidequests that allow for more experience points (and extra items if you do the Moonfish Sidequest), a "Wanted List" and more Discoveries for monetary rewards (the latter allowing you to recruit a particular member for your ship's crew earlier in the game), and a shiny new Infinity+1 Sword for the main character.
Guild Wars: Nightfall. One of the criticisms of Factions was that a lot of people started period or paying attention to Player Versus Environment on it because it was quite literally way easier to start and get a character leveled up in Factions than it was in Prophecies. (Factions missions give thousands of experience; Prophecies gives hundreds.) Unfortunately, Factions' PvE mode was designed with thinking everyone had already played Prophecies first, even if you did not need to have Prophecies to play Factions, and threw you right on into the hard missions. Nightfall actually lets you ease more into the missions as its difficulty spikes come in far later than in Factions.
In Video Game/Disgaea, each installment of the series gets progressively easier where clearing the main story and progressing to the post-game portion is concerned. Disgaea D2 ups the ante by making much of the grinding needed to take on the post-story portion redundant; for example, access to the Cave Of Ordeals or Harder Enemies are done by talking to an NPC instead of having to pass a (very) expensive Bill in the Dark Senate, and Rosenqueen Shop customer levels automatically raise with each story chapter that is completed. This makes it easy for even a newbie to break Level 100 before progressing to Chapter 5 of the story, a feat that was essentially unheard of in any previous installment of the series (barring loads and loads of Level Grinding and using the item world), including Disgaea 4.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was VERY long and quite challenging for a Mario RPG. The Bros. Moves, although quite fun, were difficult for some players to master. Alone, it had 27 bosses (9 of which are in the final dungeon alone) and a ton of grueling mini game challenges that were required to beat the game. The world was also tedious to traverse. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time however, changed the Bros. Moves with ridiculously easy Bros. Items, half the length and half the bosses from the first game, and far less mini game challenges. The tediousness of traversing the world was fixed in that every world was connected by time holes.
Dark Cloud 2 does away with a LOT of the aggravations from the previous game: weapons are no longer permanently lost if broken, the characters no longer have a thirst meter, enemies drop a lot more money, and the inventory window is not only much larger, but items stack—you can carry 20 of each healing item without taking up 20 individual slots in your inventory.
While it's still not exactly brilliant, the AI is much smarter. You get some control over your party's decision-making (up to and including Real Time with Pause to plan combos), and they won't randomly run off and attack enemies on the opposite side of the map.
Many spell and class feature lists are much closer to their pen-and-paper counterparts. Druids benefited the most from this: they were nearly unplayable in NWN.
Possibly the biggest reason: the Arbitrary Headcount Limit was raised to four characters, letting you have a dedicated tank, divine caster, arcane caster, and skill-monkey.
The encounters are scaled better, giving a better leveling curve. This is important because many builds hit their stride around level 10, and getting there can be rough in NWN.
Pokémon Gold and Silver are this, being noticeably easier than Red and Blue (or any later games). True, they do have a difficult True Final Boss in the form of Red and a few annoying battles, but Gym Leaders and wild Pokémon battles involve far lower-leveled Pokémon and the Elite Four's teams are all below level 50. Johto may be a smaller and simpler to navigate region in general too...
On the same note, it's safe to say that Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 can be deemed this to the originals. Some of the important battles that were quite challenging in the originals can be a complete joke here because in addition to the fact that they still use mostly the same Pokémon they had in the originals, not only have many of their movesets been dumbed down (example: Ghetsis' Hydreigon, which was capable of throwing a Curb-Stomp Battle to any unprepared team, can be easily walled by any Steel-type here, though the Champion uses a Hydreigon that's almost identical to his original one, and is identical in Challenge Mode), but the expansions with the New Unova Dex make them much easier to find counters to. While there is a Challenge Mode feature that increases the levels of trainers and movesets of some of the important battles, it requires very complex and unnecessary requirements to obtain and still isn't all that difficult.
Pokémon X and Y is also easier. The EXP share is now obtained early on and gives all of your inactive Pokémon 50% of the EXP the active Pokémon gains. Pokémon-amie allows you to bestow a myriad powerful benefits upon your Pokémon, such as increased evasion/critical rates, random status recovery, and a random Last Chance Hit Point. The new Wonder Trade system makes it very easy to obtain powerful Pokémon if you get lucky, plus trading in general is available earlier than usual. The gym leaders have fewer Pokémon than usual, the Elite Four only have four Pokémon each (as opposed to the traditional five), and the only trainer in the story that actually has a full lineup (Fisherman with six Magikarps notwithstanding) is the Champion, whose team has numerous shared weaknesses and her "ace" Pokémon of Mega Gardevoir can be easily defeated by any decent physical attacker.
Of the original Phantasy Star tetralogy, I and II were notoriously brutal, III was a bit less so though not by much, and IV was far more straightforward with much less Forced Level Grinding and greater focus on the story and characters.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan introduces Difficulty Levels to the series: the higher of the two is as hard as previous games in the franchise. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, the remake of the first game, has three difficulty levels and the highest is still just the difficulty closest to the first three games. Millennium Girl also has a significant Sequel Difficulty Drop across all difficulty levels with the addition of Floor Jump: previously you could only skip to the beginning of a new Stratum (a grouping of five floors) and only from the Labyrinth's entrance; otherwise you had to traverse all floors the long way. With Floor Jump, reaching any stairway on a floor you've mapped out lets you teleport to said stairway, so long as you're on a floor with at least one stairway you can jump to (i.e. not a floor you just entered). Since even a fully-mapped floor takes a while to go through and Random Encounters are quite dangerous, this saves you a tremendous amount of time and resources when exploring the later floors of a stratum.
Super Robot Wars generally became easier from its Famicom and Super Famicom days where bosses move twice per turn and can one-hit kill a Gundam unit. This are mainly because its improved systems, more unit variety, new attacks and constant powerups, and ability to upgrade both robots and pilots into a Game Breaker.
Double Spoiler compared to Shoot The Bullet. Mainly by greatly lowering the number of scenes cleared needed to unlock a level, but most of the more bullshit pattern types (photograph exactly the right part of the pattern, survive before the boss appears, etc.) are absent as well. Unfortunately for players, the hardest spellcard in Shoot the Bullet (if not the entire series) carried over to Double Spoiler - though the bullet size DID get reduced, and it's only 3 photos needed. And fitting for the character that uses it too...
DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu. Its bullet count would put it abovedai ou jou, however, if you're playing on Bomb or Strong Style, you get a very game-breaking feature not found in prior games: Auto-bomb. Getting hit with a bomb remaining causes you to fire a bomb instead of dying, and with each successive life your bomb capacity (which starts at 3) increases by 1, all the way up to 6 after 3 lives lost. This essentially means you start with 15 lives, and gain 1 more when you get a bomb item (at least 1 on each stage from stage 2 to 5) 7 more with each 1-Up (3 of which you can get in one loop, although 1 of which requires a very high score), for a total of at least 34 chances to get hit before seeing the Continue screen. Thus, you never have to worry about determining the right time to fire a bomb. Of course, this is all only if you are playing for survival, as a bomb, automatic or otherwise, will nullify your combo, so playing for score is still Nintendo Hard.
Even on Power Style, it's still possible to get very far, because the gauge for your Hyper Counter, a Super Mode that lets you cancel bullets, charges up very quickly. It is very possible to fully charge up another gauge while you are still in Hyper Counter mode.
Gradius Gaiden came some time after the absolutely Nintendo Hard (if you're going by the arcade version) Gradius III, and is much easier. Somewhat justified in that it's a console and handheld game, not an arcade one, so it would make sense to develop a game that players wouldn't Rage Quit over as easily. It's also an aversion of It's Easy, so It Sucks, being hailed by many fans as the best game in the series.
Gradius IV was still Nintendo Hard, but significantly less frustrating than G3 Arcade.
Touhou has been bouncing back and forth between this trope and its opposite. Mountain of Faith was rather easier than its predecessors, then Subterranean Animism was possibly the hardest Touhou ever made. Undefined Fantastic Object was easier, but then Fairy Wars shot straight back up... time will only tell where Ten Desires will fall.
Fairy wars was a particular case due to its bullet freezing mechanic; in general if a spin off touhou game has a mechanic for dealing with tons of bullets, there will be more than normal.
While easier, ten desires and UFO are harder due to the mechanic of collecting shards for lives. If you're good enough to make the most out of them, odds are you don't you need the extra lives.
Imperishable Night is one of the if not THE easiest game in the series. What it does differently to the other games is that it gives you roughtly a second to deathbomb after getting hit - Sure, it costs twice the bombs, but it's far more forgiving this way. There's also the fact that Reimu/Yukari are nigh gamebreakers (easy to avoid attacks, quite high damage for the effort needed) and a stage 5 boss that's very laughable. The game is also much more generous with powerups than any other game in the series.
Double Dealing Character is easier than Ten Desires because the method of obtaining bomb fragments (8 of which are needed for a new bomb) life fragments (3 of which are needed for a 1-Up) makes it much easier to stock up on bombs and extra lives. In fact, it's very possible to have an extra life before the second stage even begins.
Radiant Silvergun is vicious. Long stages with at least a dozen bosses throughout the game, Malevolent Architecture up the ass, and a chaining system that not only requires leaving roughly 2/3 of enemies intact, but is essential to powering up weapons and making later stages managable. Its Spiritual SuccessorIkaruga dials down the complexity, allowing the player to absorb bullets without using a weapon, change colors between chain segments thereby allowing them to play for score and still kill most enemies, and not requiring playing for score to have enough firepower for the later stages, because your weapons do not power up anymore.
Contra: Shattered Soldier is considered to be one of the hardest games in the series along with Hard Corps. The sequel to Shattered Soldier, Neo Contra, is considered by many to be much easier than Shattered Soldier. It also has Weapon Sets D and F which makes the game much easier.
Hellsinker had a much more manageable difficulty this time around when compared to the absolutely merciless predecessor Radio Zonde. That said, it's still Guide Dang It: The Shoot 'em Up.
Trauma Team is easier compared to previous installments. However, trying to get the XS rank is a lot harder.
Papyrus' NASCAR Racing 2002 Season was perceived as Slower So It Sucks after cars in the predecessor, NASCAR Racing 4 had noticeably higher speeds than in reality.
In The Sims series, it was easier in the first game to make friends, but they would pretty much degrade rapidly if you didn't talk to them every single day. The later ones make it easier to keep friends, but it's harder to make friends. It's worth noting that unless you spent a bunch of hours into the game in the first one, you pretty much had to cheat.
What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord?'s punishing difficulty is mostly down to the fact that you keep digging in the same dungeon for eight stages, so unsustainable ecosystems would perish, meaning you have to dig more of your dungeon walls down (and the heroes are much stronger and the monsters weaker in wide open spaces). The sequel ups the complexity, adding many more species and an evolution mechanic, but the stages are made a lot shorter, meaning long-term dungeon planning is much less of an issue. It also adds in a function where mana and nutrients which were previously 'lost' can reappear in the form of mushrooms at the end of tunnels, making them accessible to your creatures as a food source.
It is nigh-impossible to die in Assassin's Creed II, unless you either leave the game alone in combat (good job, by the way,) or the streamlined freerunning controls cause you to accidentally jump off a building. Even then you can just drink a potion (you can carry 15). Beyond that, the guards will no longer follow you to the rooftops, which means escape is an utter cakewalk. Still a better game than the first, though.
Now, that's an understatement. In AC 1, you play as a mostly defensive character that can kill by sneaking (difficult with multiple enemies around), throwing knifes (mid-game you get 5, after using them you have to steal more), and my parrying enemy attacks (this is how you'll deal with most enemies). In AC 2, you are a walking arsenal: hidden blade, dagger, sword, heavy weapon, 20 throwing knifes, poison darts, crossbow, and a gun. Not only can all these weapons one-hit kill unwary opponents, they can also be used offensively in fights, ironically, turning you from an assassin into a veritable force of nature (namely, death).
The original Hitman: Codename 47 had no save states OR checkpoints. If you screwed up just once you were likely to end up being riddled with bullets and sent back to the beginning of the mission; some of the more elaborate missions could be 30-50 minutes or more in length. Later games let you save in the middle of a mission, and (on the regular difficulty) allowed 47 to sustain much more damage before dying.
Starcraft II is considerably easier than Starcraft. Mainly because this time, the single player section of the game goes out of its way to be an extended tutorial on how the game is meant to be played.
HOTD 2 was a Sequel Difficulty Spike after the first game, but they dropped the difficulty somewhat for the third and fourth installments.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat did away with many Fake Difficulty gameplay elements introduced in STALKER: Clear Sky, including magical homing enemy frag grenades, and a hit detection system where only some of the shots you managed to land on an enemy would actually count even if you were 100% accurate. In Call of Pripyat it's also much easier to avoid pissing off certain factions (most noticeably the Bandits), and thus go through the game with them being neutral, resulting in much fewer firefights while free-roaming.
The thing to note about Dead Rising 2 is that, while the timer is every bit as unforgiving as the first game if you're trying to go for 100% completion (save all survivors, defeat all psychopaths, etc), the survivor A.I. has been vastly improved, making escort runs much more tolerable and removing the first game's primary source of Fake Difficulty.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record adds a checkpoint system, so that dying simply boots you back to the last map transition instead of having to go all the way back to your last save point. This is balanced out somewhat by the survivor A.I. having been slightly Nerfed so that it's less effective than in the original Dead Rising 2 (although it's still better than the first Dead Rising).
Compared to the original, Resident Evil 2 swamps the player with ammunition and healing items and has much easier monsters (no "fast" zombies, overall low-damaging Lickers instead of Hunters, and so on). Furthermore, certain coding errors make it so that certain areas with enemies are clear after a scripted event. An average player can complete a blind run without dying once. Further games, however, are another story entirely.
Part 2 also fixed two bugs in the original that made it harder: Pushing away one zombie will knock down the others close to it (as opposed to each one getting a turn at your neck until you either got a lucky break or got dead in the first game), and monsters making a Deadly Lunge-type attack could be shot out of it (whereas in the original, a Hunter leaping at you was garanteed to score a hit unless you dodged it).
Gears of War 2 adds a new difficulty, normal. It is roughly equivalent to the casual difficulty setting of the first one, which was the lowest. This makes Gears of War 2's casual difficulty equivalent to an easy mode. The developers have claimed that they hadn't intended for Gears of War to be as hard as it was on the lowest difficulty. The Dragon of Gears of War 2 is also considerably easier than the angrish inducing General RAAM from the the first. Gears of War 2 is also easier due to being much more balanced / developed than the first game; friendly A.I. squadmates are vastly more intelligent and helpful, the Locust assault rifle has been changed to a semi-auto sniping weapon which gives you a viable long-range combat solution which was sorely lacking in the first game, and enemy Locust drones and Boomers take slightly less bullets to kill than in the first game in addition to hitting you less frequently.
Gears of War 3 is much easier than the second game, to the point that many sections can be beaten by simply hanging back and letting the AI squadmates kill all of the enemies. This is on the second highest difficulty setting. Hell, on normal, you can win >80% of the fights by bayonet charging and using melee attacks. Even using the cover system becomes close to optional most of the time. Enemies are even less damaging, less accurate, and less durable.
In the original game, AI squadmates wouldn't revive down-but-not-out characters, and DBNO characters couldn't move. This meant that in order to revive a fallen teammate, another player would have to run into the (presumably dangerous) area his friend had been downed in, before he bled out. It also meant that if all the human players in a game dropped, the missions was failed and had to be restarted from the last checkpoint, which was especially frustrating when playing solo. In Gears of War 2 and 3, downed players can slowly crawl and AI squaddies are able to revive them. The "down=dead" rule returned in the highest difficulty of Gears of War 3, but Arcade mode swaps out mission failure for a 25 second respawn counter as long as at least 1 human player stays alive.
Max Payne 2, while still a challenging game, is no longer as Nintendo Hard as the first game. Max can now survive a reasonable amount of damage (compared to the first game where a handful of 9mm bullets or a single shotgun blast would spell instant game over), bullet-time now regenerates slowly over time (so you no longer can get stuck because you ran out), shootdodges no longer cost bullet-time at all to perform, and late-game enemies are no longer inexplicably Made of Iron.
Max Payne 3, however, returns to its brutal and vicious roots.
In Ace Attorney Investigations, unlike in the first Ace Attorney, after pressing all a witness' statements and reflecting before going back to the first one, Edgeworth tends to provide players with a hint as to which part of the testimony contains the contradiction. Additionally, all penalties take off 10% of the truth bar, with the exception of one rebuttal sequence later on, in which even pressing the wrong testimony incurs a 20% penalty.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is even easier: you can examine only places with evidence inside it, the marker for the examination itself notes if you already looked at the point or not, most of the movements between a place and the other are done automatically, failing when breaking Psyche Locks, percieving or checking the Mood Matrix gives you no penalties, failing too much in cross-examinations give you the option of knowing exactly where is the contradiction, most of the times you have to show evidence in court out of cross-examinations you see a flashback from earlier in the case saying blatantly which evidence is the right one and, if you get a Game Over, you will restart from the last cross-examination with full health.
Compared to the original Prototype, the sequel is almost disappointingly easy. The enemies are overall much weaker, even the bosses tend more toward Elite Mooks than true bosses. The Final Boss battle in the first game was a brutal Timed Mission, the sequel instead gives you mid-battle Check Points that fully heal you. The game rounds this up by marking all the collectibles on the map and providing a pop-up notice when you're near one. Even the Nintendo Hard Event challenges have been moved to optional Downloadable Content, and you now only need Bronze to unlock the rewards.
Dungeons & Dragons 4e is generally more forgiving than any of its previous incarnations. The design paradigm shifted from simulation-ism into game-ism: you can't have a character that's entirely unplayable, unless you deliberately aim for that.
The trope is only played with, since there is not quite a straight difficulty change when comparing 4e to other versions.
1e and 2e have vastly simpler character progression, to the point the only way to truly make a bad character is to deliberately sabotage the attributes. However, casters are quite a bit weaker compared to 3e and 4e. This is a double edged issue in terms of difficulty, since it also means enemy casters are much easier to deal with without similarly powerful casters compared to later editions.
At release, 3e's character creation is simpler than 4e due to the almost total lack of options. However, with all the supplements added, character creation has become incredibly convoluted, especially with the numerous classes designed with the express purpose of replacing other classes, meaning it is entirely possible to accidentally pick a vastly underpowered class instead of a much more powerful alternative. On a meta-level, 3e is far and away the easiest version of the system due to the over the top powers and classes available and the overly gracious multiclassing system that often ends up making specialized characters less powerful than theoretically more broadly developed characters.
Up through the Ravnica block, Magic: The Gathering deliberately included terrible, unplayable cards to tighten the card pool in Limited (games where a small, randomized pool of cards is used to built decks on the spot, instead of bringing pre-made decks to the event) and give good drafters a leg up. For the next block, Time Spiral, they decided to include dramatically fewer universally-unplayable cards. It was decided that this worked better over all, and got a lot less complaints than when deliberately useless cards were garbaging up booster pack space.
Early versions of the BattleTech wargame are no more difficult than their successors (if anything, the successive introductions of new technologies have complicated it), but its spinoff RPG Mechwarrior was originally quite difficult due to the punishingly low amount of skill and stat allocation, low health, limited armor opportunities, and relatively high damage and penalties for injuries. The random events were also extremely dangerous—a Bounty Hunter special event could mean that players might end up attacked by bounty hunters stealing their Mechs to turn on them (obviously with no Mech of their own to face it—it just got stolen after all!) in as little as 30 seconds. Later games added increased protection, skills, and ways to avoid or at least mitigate damage incurred, so player characters were much more likely to survive.
Season 8 featured watered-down Roadblocks that could be completed by a child, and was just one big loop around North America, with a small detour in Central America, instead of a trip around the world. This was because it was the Family Edition, and they had children as young as eight, which limited the international travel.
Season 11 was really easy, despite being an all-star season. Fans complained that it was too easy, and even non-experienced teams could have handled most of the challenges with no problem.
Season 15 was significantly easier than previous few races, despite recycling the infamous hay bale challenge from one of the hardest seasons ever.
Certain seasons of Survivor had a difficulty drop in regards to the survival aspect:
Cook Islands, wherein the contestants started off with a bunch of supplies, and one tribe was given a firemaking kit for winning the first immunity challenge.
While not intended, this happened to the Moto tribe in Fiji, even when compared to Cook Islands. An experiment made a "have" tribe and a "have not" tribe. Unfortunately, it basically worked the "have not" tribe, Ravu, into a Can't Catch Up situation. The Motos would lounge around in their camp with all the food from reward challenges, the shelter that was built by 19 people, with a hammock, and a freaking couch. As it was mentioned by one Moto member, "This isn't Survival - it's thrival,"
Nicaragua didn't feature any heavily physical challenges that often result in people getting hurt, like in previous seasons. Justified, in that the gimmick of the season was "Young vs. old", and dueling challenges would have been a disaster. Not to mention, the producers had offered more food reward challenges and gave them the choice to give more rice due to the shelter burning down.
Cars tend to become progressively easier to drive as they go through more designs and generations, and cars have gotten progressively easier overall to drive every decade. Compare driving a Ford Model T which has a huge array of weird driving instruments, to a modern car which can park itself, changes its gears automatically, warns you when you're drifting out of your lane, et cetera. The Porsche 911 was infamous for fishtailing when it came out, but is now far more controllable than the first generation.