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Continuity Lock Out / Video Games

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  • The Ace Attorney series goes out of its way to avoid this, to the point of characters avoiding references to other games even when it would make sense to do so. See: Miles Edgeworth in Ace Attorney Investigations constantly mentioning that he no longer follows the Von Karma way without mentioning the fact that Von Karma murdered his father and raised him that way as revenge for a small courtroom slight... at least until the second Investigations game, which features Gregory Edgeworth's last case as a playable segment, but that was only released in Japanese and many Western fans haven't played it. He also refuses to ever refer to Phoenix Wright (who doesn't appear in the spin-offs outside of two hidden cameos) by name, which gets pretty hilarious after a while.
  • Assassin's Creed generally avoids this for the main, in-Animus plot of each game. But with a dozen games in just the main series alone, the ongoing modern day plot is likely to confuse a new player.
  • Unlike its predecessor (and most of the older Atelier titles), Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a terrible Jumping-On Point. Returning characters are introduced with very little explanation of who they are and how they relate to each other, which might leave new players confused. At one point, the game drops the word "Philuscha" in a sentence without explaining what it means; those who have finished the previous game will undoubtedly understand what's being talked about, but new players won't get any kind of explanation until several hours and dungeons later. Overall, you'll probably have a much better experience if you've played the first Atelier Ryza beforehand.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins suffers quite a bit from this, as there are a lot of references to old Batman stories (most notably, when Joker flashes back to his Red Hood costume from The Killing Joke) that are pure fanservice to old hands make no sense whatsoever to new players. Though The Killing Joke segment takes place entirely in Joker's head, so it doesn't have to make much sense.
  • Burial at Sea, Episode 1 will, right up to the ending, actually make more sense to someone who's only played BioShock than it will to someone who's only played BioShock Infinite. Booker and Elizabeth's connection has no real importance until the end, and this is an alternate Booker, so the only real connection to Infinite is Elizabeth's ability to open Tears, and the basic gameplay controls. In a storyline sense, it's more like a DLC to the original Bioshock series. Which the second episode of Burial at Sea capitalizes on.
  • Blaseball is a live-service game with a metaplot that occurs in real time. The Blaseball devs realized that this was a huge problem for trying to gain new audience members, so they got someone to make video recaps to make it possible to catch up on.
  • BlazBlue takes the cake. Let's try and break down the storyline: no matter which character you play through the arcade mode with, each of them all end up having the same ending in which they just simply cannot stop the Big Bad from unleashing his ultimate creation and getting one step closer to destroying all existence. But the thing is, each of these character endings all happened at the same time, because the Big Bad is manipulating the laws of space and time to reset time over and over again, each time creating a new dimension in which he hopes the parameters will be just right where he can carry out his ultimate goal. Confused yet? It gets worse. On top of all those endings all happening at the same time, an overarching storyline continues to unfold in which each character has their own goals that they want to achieve. Some characters are just trying to live peaceful lives, some have become bounty hunters while trying to hunt down the most notorious criminal in the world, while he himself is just looking for someone's ass to kick, namely the Big Bad. One girl is trying to figure out who she is, and eventually finds herself as the very center of all the crap that is happening. Meanwhile, the bad guy is trolling each and every last one of them, manipulating many of them and corrupting their ideals, making friends distrust each other, betray each other, and pull everyone's strings to the extent that everyone is about to just go straight up crazy. Somehow the main characters figure out the plot, band together, and defeat the big bad, but this was all part of his plan to make what is a computer equivalent of GOD overlooking the entire universe to divert its attention long enough for the big bad to take it over and advance his plan yet again.

    All of that was the outcome of just the first two games alone. Read the character pages for the game and just see how many spoilers there are. It'll take a long while before you can start to make sense of it. It's not like playing the first game will help better explain anything either. You'll be just as confused if you just bypass the first game altogether and start with the second. This isn't even counting the numerous spin-off games for multiple portable platforms like the PSP and DS, assuming that the game even gets exported over from Japan in the first place!

    Worse still, there is an exorbitant amount of side materials which all manage to tie into the main plot. Whereas you could largely get by in Guilty Gear, BlazBlue's predecessor, without these, they are crucial to understanding the BlazBlue universe. For starters, if you want to know why Hakumen is the man he is today and how Hazama is able to prey on Tsubaki's jealousy of Noel, that's where The Wheel of Fortune drama CD comes in. The Phase Shift light novels build up the underlying story of the Six Heroes and details the exploits of the Dark War's unsung hero, a time-displaced Ragna the Bloodedge, not to mention that the fifth novel throws in a hook for the third game (namely that the Celica playable in Chronophantasma is a time-displaced clone of the original brought to the present by her niece Kokonoe, created when Celica touched the Cauldron in Ishana). Even the overly fanservicey Remix Heart manga might end up influencing things down the road given the main character's friendship with three of the games' more prominent females, her status as one of the Duodecim (the twelve families Jin, Tsubaki, and CP newcomer Kagura belong to), some rather Mind Screw-laden visions of the future in later chapters, and Mai's eventual connection to a powerful grimoire created by Nine of the Six Heroes. Luckily, members of the fandom have managed to translate and give synopses of these works, but if you don't bother doing your homework, you're going to have a hard time making sense of some of the more cryptic allusions.

    Central Fiction adds Naoto Kurogane, who was in the Bloodedge Experience light novels, Es from the XBlaze games, and Mai Natsume from the aforementioned Remix Heart manga (with her appearance based on the then-concurrent Variable Heart manga, which is a midquel set between Remix Heart and Calamity Trigger). If you haven't read Naoto or Mai's stories (most likely not, as they were Japan-only) or played both of the XBlaze light novel games, you won't realize why they're in the game, or even realize that Naoto and Es hail from separate Alternate Universes—connected to the main BlazBlue world via the Boundary—yet have direct ties to other members of the main roster (as versions/analogues of certain characters existed in their realities) and/or the real Big Bad's plot.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm largely manages to avert this, thanks to the three-page summary of the prequel's story that comes bundled in the download folder. However, there are still a few gaps here and there — for example, the summary neglects to mention why Catie is able to magically unlock prison bars, despite that skill being a fairly major plot point in the first game. Still, it's a helpful resource to have, given that the prequel itself has long since been taken down.
  • Deltarune more or less takes this to its logical conclusion, making it absolutely a necessity to have played Undertale first. Not only are you expected to recognize the characters, since most of the demo's "hook" comes from seeing familiar characters in a very different setting, but the fact that you, personally, have played Undertale is a plot point; you can make references to the previous game that the character you're controlling has no reason to know about, and this is even noticed in-universe. Further, the final scene of the first chapter, while startling enough on its own, is truly disturbing to players who recognize just what's going on.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a significant amount of Call-Back and Call-Forward moments that presume the player has played most of (if not all) the other installments, as well as seen tie-in works that were written between the release of MD and Deus Ex: Human Revolution:
    • The reason why Adam Jensen is working with the Juggernaut Collective, why he's familiar and on good terms with Alexandra Vega and why he's investigating double agents within Task Force 29 is explained by a number of works that take place between games, including Deus Ex: Black Light, the Dawning Darkness and Children's Crusade comic series and a DLC from Human Revolution that introduced the Juggernaut Collective, to begin with.
    • In fact, the sudden introduction of Alexandra Vega and her prominence in the plot appears to have been a way to restore her character after she was featured in Deus Ex: The Fall (an installment that was only released on mobile, and later, PC) and the novella detailing her actions between the games.
    • Conversely, the player's enjoyment of the "System Rift" DLC relies on their understanding of Jensen's dealings with Frank Pritchard (former Mission Control in the previous game) during the Black Light novel, as well as the presence of a key character from the original game.
  • Continuity in The Elder Scrolls games works in a similar way to avert lockout. For example, you don't NEED to know about the Warp in the West to play and enjoy Morrowind — but if you'd LIKE to know how the previous game's multiple endings were resolved, just read the in-game book about it! Business and technical challenges sometimes force some bizarre contortions of continuity, but those are covered by other tropes.
  • Fallout:
    • A comparatively minor example in Fallout: New Vegas, but the Courier will have a hard time answering the questions to prove you're an NCR citizen without having played Fallout and Fallout 2. The only question you can answer based on what's in New Vegas is the one that asks what's on the NCR's flag. The answers to the other two questions, which ask what the NCR's original capital city and its most popular president are, are not found in game.
    • The villainous nature of the Enclave in Fallout 3 can seem odd without having played the previous game, Fallout 2. To a new player, the Enclave is simply the remnants of the American government who provides patriotic music and occasional radio broadcasts on their radio station (at least until they kill your father and take control of Project Purity). However, Fallout 2 revealed that the Enclave is the descendants of an elite billionaire class secretly running the American government, incredibly human-supremacist, and wants to eradicate all radioactively mutated beings from the Wasteland, which in Fallout 2 includes most of the people living in the Wastes, but is relegated to just Super Mutants and Ghouls in Fallout 3. (Knowing this also explains the psychopathic experiments of the Vaults - Vault-Tec was run by members of the Enclave, and was intended as a proof of concept that humans could survive under various, often torturous conditions (including isolation, radiation, artificially created caste systems, and so on) to later be used for space flight. Without this knowledge, however, most Vaults and their experiments will seem more like mad science run rampant than for an actual, if not completely justified, cause.) However, this backfires, as it's never really explained how the Enclave could exist in D.C. if they'd all been evacuated to an oil rig off the coast of California soon before the bombs fell.
    • The sudden appearance of the Prydwen and the Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout 4 can appear as a Deus ex Machina without having played Fallout 3. They're only mentioned in the game before this if you manage to listen to the easy-to-miss military signal and rescue Danse and his squadron at the Cambridge Police Station, and the Power Armor helmet on the front is implied to be the player's Power Armor, not belonging to the Brotherhood like on the covers of Fallout and Fallout 3. Then, after completing Act 1's boss battle, the Sole Survivor emerges from Fort Hagen to see a giant airship and several Vertibirds flying around, announcing the Brotherhood of Steel's presence to the Commonwealth. While most companions are at least familiar with the Brotherhood (Danse and MacCready the most), Codsworth, the Sole Survivor, and any new player will be thoroughly confused.
      • Similarly, Madison Li's side quest to rejoin the Brotherhood of Steel is rather nonsensical without playing Fallout 3. In Fallout 3, she works with the Brotherhood of Steel to finish Project Purity. However, in the 10 years between games, she makes her way to the Commonwealth and eventually joins the Institute, which is where the Sole Survivor finds her. The Brotherhood's motivations for wanting her back hinges on the player's knowledge of this - otherwise, it seems like they threw a dart at a board of Institute scientists and chose her.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake broadly assumes that the player has familiarity with the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, the collective name for a number of tie-in works associated with the original game. This includes Before Crisis (a mobile game that never got a release outside Japan), The Kids Are Alright (a novella released in the runup to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) and other associated tie-in games. Moments and characters from the aforementioned titles and others are mentioned liberally in the remake, with a scene in the final chapter that is contingent on the player being aware of the protagonist and climactic final fight from Crisis Core. And that's not even getting into the main antagonist, Sephiroth, who is implied to be from an Alternate Universe, post-Advent Children timeline, who manipulates the main characters by showing visions of a Bad Future that are actually some of the key story moments from the original game.
  • Final Fantasy XIV largely doesn't have this problem, provided you don't skip cutscenes or pay money to bypass large swathes of the story. What does is the collaborative NieR: Automata themed series of raids, co-written by Nier series creator Yoko Taro, which provides very little context for any of the content presented to the player. Fans of XIV unfamiliar with the entirety of the Nier universe, including predecessor series Drakengard, will be completely lost. Appropriately, an in-game NPC involved with the raids is equally confused and simply told not to question anything going on around them.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a spinoff/Alternate Continuity of Fire Emblem: Three Houses that elaborates upon many plot points brought up in the latter. Unfortunately, the story's pacing doesn't allow for proper re-introduction of those, so the game fully relies on the player being familiar with its source material. This is further complicated by the fact that both games have multiple routes and plenty of optional content, so even if one has played Three Houses before, there's a chance they haven't seen the specific piece of information being referenced.
  • The Halo series requires not only playing the preceding games to understand where the story has gone (which only gets more complicated in Halo 4 due to a timeskip after the end of the war), the games often require the player to read the books as well. In particular, the first game ends with the Master Chief and Cortana as the only survivors of Installation 04's destruction with seemingly no way back to Earth. Halo 2 picks up with him not only already back on Earth for an award ceremony, but with Sgt. Johnson back from the dead with no explanation! It's necessary to read the First Contact novel, which explains exactly how the Chief got back to Earth and how Johnson and several others survived.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series. Starting from any game from Chain of Memories and onward will get confusing. And no, despite what the marketing says, the series is a devout adherent of Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo. No game in the series is unimportant, as the player is supposed to play the games in chronological order; playing just the three numbered games will get them absolutely nowhere. For example, Chain of Memories despite the radically different gameplay, is actually a direct sequel of I and serves as the stepping stone between it and II; without it, the player will not catch even 10% of the latter game's plot (case in point: II opens with a set of characters the player doesn't know about, living in a place they don't know about and talking about things they don't know about but are probably related to I because there are flashbacks...or something). Birth by Sleep, by virtue of being a prequel, is probably the only sequel that newbies can pick up relatively mindfuck-free, but it contains many Call-Forward references that will fly over their collective heads unless they have played the preceding games. Thankfully, by the release of Kingdom Hearts III, every relevant game had been remade for various Compilation Rereleases, or at least had an abridged film version of its events in its place. Which is good, since by then, the series had been spread out over eight different home and handheld consoles, plus mobile phones and browser games.
    • To be exact, Square Enix released I.5 ReMIX for the PS3, containing KHI Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories, and an abridged, cutscene-only version of 358/2 Days. Then they released II.5 ReMIX, containing KHII Final Mix, Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and an abridged version of Re:coded. Eventually, they released PS4 versions of both collections, after a third collection, II.8 Final Chapter Prologue, containing Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] along with the new Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- and an original movie covering the major lore of the mobile game Kingdom Hearts χ, before the release of Kingdom Hearts III on PS4, ensuring that the entire series, absent playable versions of the DS games, is playable on one console.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] had a recap-like "Memoirs" feature. The generally bare-bones entries and hyper-complicated plot make the memoirs more useful for fans needing a refresher, though.
    • While many of the Disney worlds tend to retell the events of the previous movie, they're easy to follow up for players that has not watched the original movie. However in III where Corona, Arendelle and Carribean were retold, Sora, Donald and Goofy were dropped midway into the plot, interact with the cast before being sidelined leaving them to experience the moments in the background which often leaves several plot points unexplained for those who did not watch the original movie. Arendelle especially got it worst though particularly cutting out Hans' role, yet his Heartless still attacks you at the end for no apparent reason.
  • The King of Fighters:
  • The Legacy of Kain series is hard enough to follow even if you play them all. If you missed one, you have no chance. Well, you'll probably be all right if you miss Blood Omen 2: it gives some back story for the Hylden, but nothing terribly important that can't be gleaned from Soul Reaver 2.
  • Playing a LEGO Adaptation Game, apart from the Lego Batman games (which are original stories) and the Lego Marvel Super Heroes game (also original), make very little sense if you haven't seen/read the source material they are based on, as this blog demonstrates.

  • Those who are not familiar with the in-jokes in the Vinesauce community, some stretching as far back as its founding in 2010, would be totally confused by the references in Mario's Mystery Meat.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Happened with Mass Effect 2 when it was ported to the PlayStation 3. Because of licensing issues, the first game couldn't come to that console, until the Mass Effect Trilogy arrived five years after the first game's release. People were worried that new players wouldn't get the whole story, so BioWare created an interactive comic that, admittedly, tells the story from a somewhat awkward perspective. It glosses over Feros completely, leaving some players in the dark about Shiala, the Feros colony, et. al. Even worse, as Admiral Hackett doesn't appear in the sequel outside of passing mentions and a letter, his significance in the Arrival DLC is completely lost on players who didn't experience the first game.
    • Averted in Mass Effect 3 with the DLC plots from Mass Effect 2, as the game has alternate scenarios in place if the player didn't do the DLC missions. For example, Shepard is incarcerated at the start of the game for working with Cerberus rather than causing hundreds of thousands of batarian deaths, as the situation in Arrival is handled instead by Alliance soldiers and Liara defeats the Shadow Broker with a ton of hired mercenaries.
    • There are two small cases in the second and third games. Unless you've played Mass Effect: Galaxy, you won't know how Jacob knows Ish on Omega. People who haven't read the novels also won't know where Kai Leng came from.
  • Melty Blood assumes you already know all the characters and their relationships to each other. If you're completely unfamiliar with Tsukihime, it feels like a massive In-Joke. This was taken further with 2021's Type Lumina, a Continuity Reboot set during a What If? route from the Tsukihime remake, meaning you might still be a bit out of the loop even if you're familiar with the original VN.
  • Metal Gear
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Other M is frequently accused of this as part of its litany of story issues. While most of the references make sense to a casual fan, the use of this trope single-handedly turned the Ridley scene into one of the most despised scenes in series history. To wit, much of protagonist Samus Aran's backstory is a case of All There in the Manual, relegated to supplementary material; the idea that Samus is scared of Ridley comes from a Broad Strokes canon manga that explains the space dragon traumatized her as a toddler by eating her mother right in front of her and leading a massacre of her home planet K2L. Her freeze response also requires the player to understand that the majority (if not all) of the Space Pirates, including Ridley, were Killed Off for Real in Super Metroid, meaning Samus had zero reason to mentally prepare herself to see him again. Without any of this knowledge, a scene with an already contentious depiction of PTSD becomes one where causal fans have no idea why Samus would even be terrified of someone she's fought and defeated multiple times by this point in the timeline. This also led to said fans directly comparing the scene to that of Samus's more confident reaction to Kraid in Dread several years later, despite Kraid being the only Space Pirate commander for which things aren't personal for Samus.
    • Metroid Dread has two instances. The first being another case of it requiring knowledge of Samus Aran's backstory, and the second requiring the player to have completed Metroid Fusion. The former surrounds the twist that Raven Beak is one of her Chozo DNA donors, and thus considers himself her father. Except to a casual fan, that Samus even has Chozo DNA was a reveal on its own. Combined with the fact that her actual adoptive fathers, Old Bird and Grey Voice — the latter being the other blood donor — are hidden in the shadows during the scene in question, and you have many newcomers to the franchise that take Raven Beak's statement at face value. The latter involves the game's final cutscene, which loses some of its meaning if the player didn't know that the sacrificial actions of Quiet Robe-X directly contradicts our heroine's own stated beliefs about the X being nothing but soulless killing machines.
  • Zig-zagged with the Neptunia series. The canon games (the ones that further the storyline) open with both a narrator explaining how The 'Verse works, and one of the main characters Breaking the Fourth Wall to explain who the main characters are and their relationships with each other, important plot points from previous games, etc. The non-canon spin-off games, on the other hand, seem to expect you to have played the canon games and know who the characters are, since they liberally use concepts and terminology from The 'Verse with little explanation.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a sequel to and the Ratchet & Clank Future trilogy (Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty and A Crack in Time, plus Into the Nexus), which are themselves follow-ups to the PlayStation 2 games. Up until 2022, the only way to play the Future Saga was on the original PlayStation 3 platform, which was two console generations before Rift Apart and so long ago by that point (twelve years between A Crack in Time and Rift Apart) that most casual Ratchet fans won't even remember the specifics of their plots. Fortunately, Rift Apart is written as a Jumping-On Point, as it's been a long time for the characters as well, so any existing story elements are usually given a brief explainer, but that still leaves a fair amount of nuance and meaning on the table. 2022 is when all the PlayStation 3 Ratchet games were made available to stream on PlayStation 5, finally averting this trope (until the next console comes out, of course).
  • Saints Row IV has many missions and jokes that refer back to the previous games, especially Saints Row 2. If you haven't played those earlier games, the significance of certain events is decidedly lost (especially since Saints Row was exclusive to the Xbox 360, meaning a large section of the fanbase hasn't played it). Amusingly, Saints Row: The Third was supposed to be an aversion, barely bringing up the Stilwater adventures so as to not alienate new players.
  • Silent Hill 3 is an unusual case. The story and central plot twist make far more sense if you've played the first game (which this is a direct sequel to), but playing this game first helps to better make sense of the original, because it also back-fills a lot of vague and insufficiently-explained details from the first game's plot.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth generally averts this; despite being full of Continuity Porn, most references to the show are more or less used as one-off gags that don't impact the plot to a significant degree. South Park: The Fractured but Whole, on the other hand, has its plot so closely integrated with the show (especially Seasons 19-21, the most recent three at the time of the game's release) that the vast majority of the jokes and references that the plot relies on will end up completely lost on those who haven't been following the show religiously.
  • StarCraft:
    • StarCraft II is a slight example of this. There are summaries on the website and the installiation process shows off a recap of what went down in the original games, but otherwise you have to read the novels to know anything about Valerian, Tychus, Matt Horner.
    • Plot advances going unexplained in-game during the 4-year Time Skip between Brood War and Wings of Liberty caused a disconnect for people as well. If you were hoping for a continuation of where Brood War left loose ends off, prepare to be extremely disappointed.
    • You'd have to dig into the franchise's Expanded Universe to understand why Raynor is all of a sudden longing to be with Kerrigan again at the start of Wings of Liberty despite his last appearance in Brood War having his classic character defining moment of vowing to kill Kerrigan someday. We're suppose to believe that he got over his ploy for revenge during the four-year intermission, but how he got over it went completely unexplained in the game; leaving many players confused as to why Raynor's suddenly in a different emotional state.
    • You'd have to read the Expanded Universe to understand how the Dominion are all-of-a-sudden the top dogs again despite being on the recieving end of many Curb Stomp Battles in Brood War. The player's Willing Suspensionof Disbelief really comes to question here as to how the Dominion achieved such a miraculous recovery; including how Korhal instantly turns into a planetwide megapolis come Wings of Liberty despite being a desert wasteland four years prior in Brood War.
  • It is possible to understand and enjoy the plot of Suikoden III without playing the first two games in the series, but the reveal of the Masked Bishop's identity (a pivotal moment in the story) will not make any sense.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Anyone playing Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier EXCEED would be left confused if they didn't first play Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden, as two characters in the roster who were supposedly Killed Off for Real in the main series winds up in the spin-off. In fact, the developers make it a point players must play the previous games occurring in main Continuity to know what's remotely going on if they decide to start somewhere in the middle.
    • Original Generation as a whole has this problem going forward so long as Sequels are rolled out: the on-going narrative expects players to know of what has already occurred, since pre-existing characters don't bother giving Exposition to newcomers In-Universe (if there are any, chances are it's Downplayed to avoid the plot going off-rails). While The Moon Dwellers attempted to mitigate this for the audience with an "Archives" section by detailing major events that have happened, it doesn't fully explain the entire picture when there exists tie-ins to overall Continuity, such as obscure Banpresto video games like Hero Senki: Project Olympus and The Great Battle series, some of which are crucial when it comes to knowing the overall Myth Arc. That Original Generation has become an Ultimate Universe of former-Banpresto's, current-B.B. Studio's, video games by attempting to tie in their narrative elements is a reason why this trope exists only for this series (unlike the licensed-Super Robot Wars installments that are mostly self-contained).
  • In Touhou Project, this wasn't much of a problem during the PC-98 era and the first few games of the Windows era, since the plots of those games were largely self-contained. However, after Mountain of Faith the Continuity Creep starts to take place, and now it's much more difficult for newcomers to understand what's going on since each game builds upon the previous one. Comments by ZUN suggest that he feels a certain level of inaccessibility is core to the Touhou experience. The various manga and Universe Compendiums don't really help either, since all the manga series assume that one is already familiar with the games and their lore and the Universe Compendiums have some Unreliable Narration at work. That said, since Touhou is at its core a Shoot 'Em Up series and the shmup genre is known for its heavy focus on gameplay over lore, if you just want a series of Bullet Hell games, you don't need to understand the plots to have a good time.
  • The Trails Series can easily fall into this trope.
    • While each series has a more or less self-contained plot taking place in different countries across Zemuria, there are many, many side characters from other parts of the franchise that make extensive cameos and references to other events. Each of these games is a 60-100 hour RPG with tons of dialogue, making catching up a daunting task. The games set in Crossbell were an enforced example thanks to not being localized yet, it not helping that several characters from Zero/Azure are referenced, and the protagonists from those games are even briefly playable, not to mention some other Crossbell casts making their appearances in the third Cold Steel game, making players wonder who the hell these people are. As of March 2023, this isn't quite the issue that it once was, thanks to the games finally being released in the English language, though it still doesn't change the fact that most fans of the series already played the Cold Steel games without the benefit of reference to them.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie takes this trope to the extreme with one of its doors: You actually need to have played Tokyo Xanadu eX+ to fully understand one of the doors' story — namely the Magical Alisa RS door, as the story picks up where the original Magical Alisa story in Tokyo Xanadu left off. Not playing Tokyo Xanadu eX+ beforehand raises the questions of "Why is Rean a demon prince?" and "He's had a Heel–Face Turn before? And he's turned back evil now?"
  • An interesting case of this pops up in The Tricky Mod for Friday Night Funkin'. Surprisingly, despite having an insanely large amount of Mythology Gags referencing its source material that only fans of it can easily get. People who haven't heard of Madness Combat still enjoy the mod due to how polished it is and its great music, although they are still confused by the characters and the allusions made in the mod. Despite that, this has caused a Colbert Bump and Newbie Boom for Madness Combat, as many players were curious to know more about the characters that were featured in said mod and want to see more.
  • Ultima IX, being the ninth game in the main series and all, attempted to avert this... "Attempted" being the key word here. As the game was rushed to hell and back, it was simply opted to have the Avatar be able to ask about pretty much every single detail about the world, as well as a museum dedicated to the Avatar's adventures in the first town which references past games. Which would be fine if not for A: the way they went about it (hint: not the As You Know way) and B: the fact they got so many longstanding details wrong anyway. So newer players were still lost... and older players were infuriated at how the Avatar had turned into a complete ditz that forgot stuff that was not only basic knowledge but also deeply personal to him. Say it with us, folks; "What's a Paladin?"
  • The Warriors tries to avoid this — and mostly succeeds — both by recreating the opening scenes of the 1979 film at the very beginning (although some crucial dialogue is edited out) and by making the game a prequel of sorts, beginning about a year (1978) before the events of the film and firmly establishing the personalities of the nine major characters long before the actual content of the movie becomes playable. The numerous cutscenes, heavy chunks of dialogue and constant updates on the radio (the gang has one in their training studio) by the famous lady DJ about what's happening throughout the city help a great deal.
  • The Witcher games zig-zag this trope on account of serving as a continuation for a series of books that were virtually unknown outside of Poland for the longest time. The first game manages to avert through the process of making Geralt an amnesiac who doesn't remember what happened in the books. This has the effect of turning him into an Audience Surrogate who's as familiar with the world, characters, and backstory as the player is. The sequels, however, play it more straight. On top of building upon the games' ever-growing narrative, characters and story elements from the books become even more prominent, making it all the more imposing for newcomers to jump in.
  • World of Warcraft is like this at times. Events happen outside the game's continuity that still affect the game. Why is the king of Stormwind back for Wrath of the Lich King, and where was he? Why is Cairne dead in Cataclysm? Op, better read the expanded universe material to find out! To be fair, the games never leave you completely out of the loop, but you might have to dig for those tidbits. It's just the basics, not the complete story.
    • Blackwing Descent, one of the Tier 11 raids, is home to Deathwing's son Nefarian, who is running experiments on different kinds of dragons. Except Nefarian was already killed several years prior to the Cataclysm expansion. Playing through the game alone, you'll never find out how Nefarian came Back from the Dead, what the purpose of his experiments was, or how they tied into Deathwing's plan since the raid doesn't address it and neither Nefarian nor his experiments ever appear or are mentioned outside of Blackwing Descent. Were it not for the Expanded Universe, the entire raid would be a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • Nozdormu, Aspect of Time and leader of the Bronze Dragonflight, was missing in action during classic WoW and the first two expansions. It was a bit of a plot point that the rest of his flight didn't know where he was or what he was doing. Then, in Patch 4.2, he shows up during the Elemental Bonds questline. No mention of him having been gone, where he was, or when he got back was made, and everyone just acts like there's no reason he wouldn't be there. Turns out his return was covered in the Expanded Universe novel Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects... Which, when 4.2 first launched, wasn't even out yet
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Downplayed. While you can definitely play and enjoy the game without knowing a thing about the series, you will be left very confused about why certain characters, such as Goro Majima, Taiga Saejima, Kazuma Kiryu, Daigo Dojima and the bartender at "Survive" who is all but stated to be Osamu Kashiwagi, are such a big deal.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: Starting with Yo-kai Watch 2, the games began following anime canon more and more. You're required to watch the films if you want to follow the plot. This became a problem with the English release because Yo-kai Watch 4 uses a lot from the films, but only the first film was translated into English (and it's only an adaptation of 2). Akihiro Hino has acknowledged this, and plans to localize the films alongside the upcoming localization of the game so as not to confuse audiences who haven't seen them.
  • Zig-zagged with the Ys franchise: players don't need to have experienced most of its installments to enjoy other titles and can play the games in any order they see fit, even though some like Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter should be played side-by-side when the latter is an Immediate Sequel, while Ys Origin is a distant prequel to Ys I and makes references to the first two titles, but other than that, Continuity is never a real issue. However, a major Plot Point in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox regarding alchemy relies on knowledge from Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand since it used this element first. Furthermore, the climactic scene in Ys IX of the souls of Feena, Reah, Dark Fact, Eldeel, Tia and Dana Iclucia from the series protagonist's memories will make no sense to newcomers playing the franchise for the first time in Ys IX, as the souls are unnamed in the narrative — only through Word of God were these souls identified as pre-existing characters from the franchise.
  • The Zero Escape franchise has an up-and-down relationship with this. The first sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, more or less tells its own coherent story, although a couple of characters will only be fully understandable with having played the first game, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The final game, Zero Time Dilemma, instead commands fairly intimate knowledge of both previous games in order to make any sense of what's going on.