A lot of old Nintendo 64 games had blocky, jagged, and awkwardly disproportionate 3-D models of game characters that didn't match up with the offical art, a result of the primitive software. Such lacked the proper graphic and resolution potential used to sculpt the in-game builds. A few good examples:
Super Mario 64: One of the first games for N64, and the modeling was very rough for the characters. Mario's eyes were almost completely rectangular, and his mustache lacked the trademark ruffles that give him originality. Likewise, Bowser suffers from an oversized head (maybe it's just the ego), less hair, and T-rex-size limbs. Princess Peach even looks as though her head is a bloated turnip. When the Nintendo DS remake came out, graphics were on par with the character designs.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Not as rampant as the earlier N64 games, but jarring in some places. Link's eyes are a touch too small in both child and adult forms. Certain enemies in the game also seem different from their artwork depictions. Notably, the Re-Dead, already frightening enough to make you whip out your brown pants, had circular holes for mouths and vague skeletal features on their bodies, instead of having teeth bared in a grimace and severely emaciated body parts. Worse are the Guay- you might mistake the birds for flying origami. In the case of in-game collectibles, pieces of Heart lack beveled edges, along with many other item models being improperly designed. The Nintendo 3DS remake faithfully fixes all the errors, and even adds extra flair and detail to the graphics that turn them into Scenery Porn. Let's just say that you'll be gaping in awe at the detail of the final room of Ganon's Castle-, let alone the now far more ornate rainbow bridge that forms when you have all six Sage Medallions. However, the game seems to fail to switch from the Hookshot to a model of the Longshot when you obtain the replacement item.
Infamously, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a sequel to The Wind Waker, gave the characters fingerless mittens for hands. Link's model is absolutely hideous compared to his model in The Wind Waker. The spiritual successor, Spirit Tracks, fixed Link's model, but the "mittens" still pop up every now and then in the game regardless.
When Mario enters the castle at the end of the original Super Mario Bros.'s World 4-3, the castle is big, but when he leaves it at the very beginning of World 5, the castle is tiny!
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker maintains an astonishing level of quality throughout the game...until near the very end. Stairs in the very latest parts of the game use ramp collision boxes, while stairs in other parts of the game use correct stair programming. This is probably due to the development being rushed because of the approaching deadline.
Also probably due to the deadline, animations in the ending cutscenes are noticeably stiffer than animations in the rest of the game (which are on par with those from CGI films). Even the physics are incredibly repetitive, and might actually have been done with a simple looping animation rather than the cloth physics system used elsewhere in the game.
In Tales of the Abyss, Malkuth and Kimlasca go to war, and there's a fairly lengthy cutscene showing the bloodshed. The problem? All of the soldiers are ridiculously off model, something that never occurs before or after that moment.
During the motorcycle chase FMV, there's a brief shot of the guards on the highway reacting to Cloud gunning the bike out of the Shinra building. Cloud is properly proportioned and carefully rendered and looks fantastic. The guard is just his overworld map form.
There are also several cutscenes near the end of Disc 2 and on Disc 3 where everything is pre-rendered FMV with great particle effects, but all of the party members are blocky overworld models. These were added to mask loading times late in development.
Final Fantasy X has a mild version of this going on: Tidus and Yuna's character models in FMVs are noticeably different than their non-FMV counterparts - the FMV models look vaguely Asian, while in-game they match their concept art almost perfectly. Other characters' FMV models are pretty much spot-on.
In Mass Effect 1, on one mission you encounter Elanos Haliat, a human leader of a criminal organization. The trouble is, he was supposed to be a turian but someone accidentally gave him a human model instead, so his face is oddly stretched and elongated, with ridiculously prominent cheekbones that not even Benedict Cumberbatch could match.
With the release of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, there are now more cutscenes done by DEEN than its predecessor. When said cutscenes got leaked onto the internet, everyone started complaining that the quality was worse. JustlookatwhattheydidtoHazama. Even his animation trolls us!
Fighting Games, particularly those prone to Capcom Sequel Stagnation, suffer from this, with Super Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo being the first two major examples. In the former the four new challengers were obviously better drawn and had more animation frames, while in the latter almost everyone had a few new moves, and the sprites for those are more fluid in animation but have slightly worse shading and detail compared to the older sprites.
Also, the numerous Crossovers between Capcom and other franchises. Starting with X-Men vs. Street Fighter, where Cyclops, Wolverine and others had much smoother, visibly different-styled sprites comparing to the Street Fighter Alpha ones. But this is acceptable compared to Capcom vs. SNK where Sagat, Morrigan and some others who had their sprites ripped from older games looked REALLY Off Model, since the game had fairly high-resolution sprites.
SNK's games suffer from this as well, usually due to reusing old sprite animations. The biggest offender is in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos which used a sprite style similar to The King of Fighters series. In particular, the sprites for Terry's Buster Wolf DM is Terry sprite from Garou: Mark of the Wolves redrawn in Terry's classic outfit. The same holds true with Mr. Karate (aka Takuma Sakazaki) who's uppercut DM is Marco's sprite (also from Garou) redrawn as Mr. Karate. The effect is extremely noticeable due to the different art styles.
The opening cinematic of Vanguard Bandits was clearly made without a big budget to help. Even if you ignore the abuse of still-shots, nothing forgives Bastion (the main character) being older/younger depending on the shot, his nose becoming huge in a side-shot, or little sparkles coming from a girl's wrist. Like Spider-Man.
They did however make all the sprites taller in the DS versions by extending and showing more of the character's waist/lower body, though in courtroom scenes they just extended the benches for the lawyers rather than the lawyers themselves.
The early Pokémon games had a severe case of this.
The worst part is that while the Blue Koffing had the skull-and-crossbones in the wrong place, the Red/Green sprite didn't.
Wigglytuff's sprite from◊ Red and Green features eyes that are bizarrely disproportionate to each other compared to its normal sprite◊. In addition, Dragonite's sprite from◊ Red and Green is much more slender and serpentine, and its arms much shorter compared to later appearances◊.
Golbat◊ in Red/Blue is not only off-model, but downright... creepy. Even though it looks completely normal in all other games.
Golbat's evolution, Crobat, seems to be getting a lighter shade of pink in its shiny form in each gen. It's brighter pink in Gen II, whereas in Gen V it's such a light pink that it's almost white.
The second generation was generally a lot better, but still had its share of off-model sprites. Most, if not all, of them were fixed in Crystal, though.
While the third generation made a huge graphical leap in most areas, many of the sprites for new and old Pokémon were also quite awkward-looking. With the advent of the fourth generation, this was finally averted for good.
On a much more minor note, Deoxys and Mewtwo's heads seem to be getting a bit smaller each generation.
Human sprites often have colors that don't match their artwork, due to palette problems. Noticeably are Iris, the Sinnoh protagonists, and Volkner. Iris's skin-tone is quite darker in her artwork, the protagonists' hair is a navy blue in the artwork but a bright blue in their sprites, and Volkner isn't quite as bright blond in his artwork (not the sandy blond his anime version has, but not the shade his sprite has).
In some games, such as Silver and Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, Golem has visible nostrils, similar to Charmander. Golem does not feature these nostrils in its official artwork.
In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, most of the old Gym Leaders and Champions from previous games return. Some of the overworld sprites look incredibly off-model however, most notably, a fair share of the men look really fat, like the normally thin Roark and the athletic Brawly.
In The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, during a couple of cutscenes throughout the game, Spyro's face will briefly collapse to the floor and then speed back up to where it should be. It's blink and you'll miss it (indeed, most people won't catch it until it's pointed out to them, and even then some will miss it if it's played at normal speed), but his snout will be stretched out to the ground and his eyeballs will zoom through his chin up into their sockets.
In Persona 3: FES (or more specifically, The Answer) Aegis has an extra hand and forearm when her eyes go blank.
Yukari's hair is a Schrodinger's Cat that responds to the viewer's moods and atmospheric pressure. One minute it's short-cropped (in-game model, character portrait,) another it's shoulder-length (several anime cutscenes,) and later still it has become a mullet (rest of the animated cutscenes.)
From third-person view, Heavy's default gloves are dark brown, but in first-person, they're black.
The Natascha minigun's ammo belt is on the left side in first-person, but it's on the right side in third-person. A few other models have a similar problem.
In first-person view, a BLU Engineer will have orange gloves just like a RED Engie, but yellow in third-person, official art, and the Meet the Team shorts.
In the short "Meet the Spy", when BLU Spy brings in Sniper's corpse and sets it on the table, the corpse does not have glasses on. But later on in the short, when Spy says the line "You've seen what he's done to our colleagues", the camera pans down to Sniper's corpse and his glasses are now on.
In third-person, Sniper wears a fingerless glove only on his left hand, and a watch on his left arm. In first-person, he has gloves on both hands and doesn't wear the watch.
For years, double-jumping Scouts would acquire "crazy legs" which flapped around like "two raw bacon strips held up in a wind tunnel" and bent in impossible directions. This was partially fixed in a patch, but he still shows off his double-jointed knees◊ on a regular basis. Rule of Funny is probably to "blame" for its continued existence.
The Demoman picture that appears next to the health bar has the eyepatch over his left eye. His eyepatch is normally over his right eye.
Some servers have a mod that allows you to play as the robot classes from Mann vs. Machine. Activating this mod will still show the human arms in first-person, so the only way you'll notice you're a robot is if you taunt, lose a match, or die (or are playing with a third-person mod enabled).
Unlike the other weapons in the game, The Original's view model is centered as opposed to displayed at the side of the screen, since it's a recreation of the rocket launcher from Quake.note The first Team Fortress was a Game Mod for Quake If you increase the weapon FOV in the Advanced Controls, you can see the model cut off, floating in the air at the side of the screen whenever you reload.
Character mugs in the first three Mega Man Battle Network games are surprisingly deformed, most notably- MegaMan.EXE's eyes are miscolored brown.
The Shooting Star Rockman game takes this into consideration and replaces a few of the old mugshots (of the main characters) with proper renditions of their faces.
In Mega Man 5, Napalm Man is purple in every piece of official art depicting him. His in-game sprite and portrait depict him as blue.
Asura's Wrath: Episode 11.5 has tons of this (most of deeper lines of Asura's body look like paint and the rings on his back are made into circular protrusions, he bleeds and spits out Black Blood, Wailing Dark starts off intact instead of being broken near the handle and isn't seen to extend before that, etc.) but since it's made into a crazy insane action packed episode, its very forgivable. Helps that's directed by a key animator from the team behind FLCL.
Avoided in episode 15.5, however, as the animation style stays much more consistent than 11.5's, although it's still somewhat obvious that the animations are based on earlier designs of the characters since the Dojis look a lot more human-like, the tips of Yasha's fingers aren't covered with rings and Deus uses a normal nunchaku instead of a more elaborate one with a beam of lightning as its chain.
In Left 4 Dead 2, the female Boomer uses the male counterpart's arms when you control it in VS mode; the first person arm models show the Boomer with boils, even though the female version lacks boils. The female model also uses the male's vocal clips when its falling.
Also, after killing a Boomer, notice how its gibbed self has different colored pants and socks.
Mario Kart, in the DS and 3DS version, has the other racers that are not you rendered with less polygons (very slight) and without animations. This is intentional in order to not tax the system too much with rendering costs and keeps the frame rate smooth as possible.
In Sonic Adventure, if you look closely at Sonic during the Tornado chase against the Egg Carrier, Sonic has shorter spines and has black eyes instead of green, which was Sonic's look in the older games (and the model in particular was recycled from the three Sega Saturn games: the special stages of Sonic 3D Blast, the Sonic World in Sonic Jam, and Sonic R). Sega had plans to keep the classic style but decided to give Sonic an updated look. However, they forgot to actually replace Sonic's model in the Tornado levels, making it look like Sonic was suddenly a different character. This was fixed in the re-release.
On the topic of Sonic, in Sonic Riders, when a character is Squashed Flat, their board disappears as they land on the ground, flattened. The board instantly re-appears underneath their feet when popping back to their 3D self.
In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic looks vastly different between certain CG scenes and his in-game model. For one thing, the specific CG model can actually emote for some reason compared to the wooden expressions of the normal model, and he more closely matches his appearance in the CG of other games like Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic and the Secret Rings at the time. And yet other CG scenes inexplicably have a touched-up version of his in-game model, which is glaringly different.
Also, in the SegaNet commercial, Beat appears in it, but instead of using his in-game model like all of the other characters appearing in this and other Dreamcast commercials, they used a different model built from the ground up, exclusively for this ad (if they would've used his in-game model, then he would've stuck out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else)note Fun fact: This was also the first time Beat was seen non-cel-shaded, predating Sega Superstars Tennis by eight years. His goggle lenses are closer together, his skin tone is lighter, and his hair is bright red like in JSRF and the Sega Superstars/All-Stars series (rather than reddish-brown).
In Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed, the spinning record symbol on the back of Beat's shirt is facing the wrong direction (and no, this is not in Mirror Mode). It's spinning to the left, when it should be spinning to the right.
Speaking of All-Stars Racing Transformed, when your character gets electrocuted, switching to front view reveals that their skull has no eye or nose sockets, or teeth, they don't have finger bones, and they only have three toe bones per foot. Here's a video.
The enemies in Transformers Convoy No Nazo have sprites so badly drawn that it's hard to tell in some cases which Decepticons they're supposed to be.
In its sequel The Headmasters, all of the robots (save for Fortress Maximus) have the same robot mode sprite.
Humongous Entertainment had their games go through this for a while when they first changed from pixel art to hand-drawn graphics. Usually the faraway shots looked just fine. But when close-ups happened, the characters would fluctuate in size and proportion, as well as generally looking jagged. By SPY Fox 1 they finally seemed to get it down.
ZUN just can't keep Touhou characters consistent, aside from their uniformly round faces. This is most noticeable with the heroines, as they're the most frequently-seen characters in the series. Marisa now looks completely different from her debut, while Reimu's skintone variations gave rise to the "Zombie Reimu" meme.
Then there's the fighting games, where Alphes tries to make up for ZUN's inability to draw more than one body shape, with bizarre results— fandom consensus is that Sakuya must be stuffing her bra since her bust size is so inconsistent.
In the canceledBIONICLE game Legends of Mata Nui, the hunchback Onua suddenly becomes tall after the Toa descend underground in the cutscene leading up to the final battle... and one of his fingers also gets stuck pointing forward. Then, the Golden Masks worn by all of the Toa start randomly reverting back to their pre-golden colors in various shots.
Zap Dramatic's games do this a lot, as the characters generally slide around, have faces that face only one direction or make very weird expressions.
A very bad example is Duke Crabtree of Ambition, whose facial structure changes entirely when he's viewed at a 3/4ths angle.
There's also Rolf Klink, whose head is obviously too big for his body in his second appearance and likely to be clip art as opposed to the other hand-drawn characters.
Second Life avatars are off model quite often, mostly at the start of the loading process or when a new avatar not in the cache is rendered. Avatars tend to have gray or blurred textures during the loading process, making faces on the avatar look hideously deformed. If a person's avatar has primitives worn (polygons basically), the shape of the said primitives will be disfigured, making the avatar look deformed until it fully loads.
You can invoke this trope accidentally (or on purpose) in Garry's Mod, especially if you use the HardWare Morph models of Team Fortress 2 classes (used in the "Meet the [Class]" video for better graphics).