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  • In early versions of Akatsuki Blitzkampf, Adler was a palette swap of Elektrosoldat, but when he was turned into his own character his moves got radically different inputs and properties. Similarly, in the arcade version Perfecti is no longer a palette swap of Mycale - she is instead an entirely different character with no shared moves.
  • Ryo Sakazaki and his best buddy Robert Garcia, the Ryu and Ken analogues of Art of Fighting, have this as part of their backstory. Ryo's principle of Kyokugen Karate, while well-balanced, seems to have a slight emphasis on punching and striking techniques, whereas Robert's style focuses on kicks. Note that this difference was established well before Ken would start incorporating a larger repertoire of kicks into his moveset in later iterations of Street Fighter.
  • In Battletoads and Battletoads and Double Dragon, the toads all played the same, and while large sprites and artwork gave them individual designs, their in-game sprites were just recolors. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs gave them different combos and finishing moves (though they still functioned the same) and their sprites now reflected the different designs from the artwork. The arcade game took this even further with by making Rash a Fragile Speedster, Zitz a Jack-of-All-Stats, and Pimple a Mighty Glacier, all with their own moves.
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    • Similarly initially all the toads used the same transformations, mostly blunt objets like ram horns, boots, and wrecking balls. Battlemaniacs gave them individual themes, with Rash prefering razor sharp weapons like axes and claws, while Pimple took the bludgeoning techniques Up to Eleven using anvils and stone fists. When the arcade game came in, Zitz used his greater intellect to create technology like bulldozers and power drills.
  • BlazBlue: Zig-zagged with Nu-13 and Lambda-11. Nu was written out after the first game, with Lambda replacing her with some balance changes (Nu was still present as her Unlimited Form). Lambda was written out after the second, with Nu coming back with the ability to use both movesets, then in the Updated Re-release, Lambda came back, Nu lost the extra moves, and while the two do still have very similar movesets, their Drives (character specific gimmick) and Overdrives (temporary power up) work differently, Lambda going for quality and Nu for quantity.
    • This extends to their characterizations. Both started as tortured automatons who obeyed without question and eventually became childlike, but in different ways. Nu is a world-hating Yandere who wants to kill/screw/fuse with her "brother" Ragna and views their fights as a budding romance. Lambda is mostly innocent and curious about the world, has a healthy relationship with her "big sister" Noel and only fights because Kokonoe reluctantly orders her to.
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    • Defied for the following pairs; Jin and Hakumen, Noel and Mu-12, Tsubaki and Izayoi, Hazama and Terumi; despite those pairs being the exact same person, they have nothing in common (sans Jin and Hakumen sharing a super)
  • Bloody Roar 2 handles this rather oddly: for starters, the clone character, Shenlong, is a literal clone of the returning character Long. On top of that, it's Long who gets a new moveset, while Shenlong has Long's moves from the first game. From 3 on they switched, with Long getting his old moves back and Shenlong getting a similar but simplified moveset. Similar cases involve Yugo and Uriko, whose movesets changed rather drastically in the second game (Yugo going from an untrained kid to a professional boxer, Uriko going from a Brainwashed and Crazy Super-Child Soldier as the Final Boss to a playable student of the aforementioned Long) and, respectively, Fang (secret character in Extreme who shares Yugo's moveset from the first game) and Uranus (secret character in 3 onwards who is essentially a playable version of final-boss Uriko). More traditional examples involve Shina (the adopted daughter of Gado) and the second Bakuryu and Kohryu (respectively the legacy and a resurrected mecha-clone of the original Bakuryu), who play rather similarly to, but still distinctive from their originators. Not to mention as well Jenny and Stun, who are straight-up replacements for Fox and Mitsuko and keep their general playstyles while adding more moves to make them unique.
  • "Soap" MacTavish was the typical silent protagonist for the British missions in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare who played identically to, and was effectively interchangeable with, Paul Jackson from the American missions. In Modern Warfare 2 and 3, he was made into a non-player character for several missions, and accordingly given a strong personality and voice actor.
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    • Price's first playable level in CoD4 likewise had him play identically to Soap, right down to being silent despite the dialogue he gets in the rest of the game. When he's playable again for the finale of 3, he's taken a cue from the Call of Duty: Black Ops cast and talks just as much under your control as he did when an NPC, and for the first half of the mission he's also given Nigh Invulnerable Juggernaut armor that Soap and all the other player characters never had access to.
  • The playable nations in the early Civilization games only differed in their city names, leaders' AI and titles. Civ III introduced the idea of national Unique Units, and gave each civilization two picks from a list of traits such as Militaristic, Industrious, Religious, etc., which Civ IV built upon by also adding unique buildings, and giving some civs the choice between multiple leaders with differing traits. This did help each civilization feel more distinct, but their unique units and buildings were just slightly-improved replacements for generic units and buildings. Then Civ V rolled around and replaced the traits system with a unique ability for every civ, each one different and many of them quite powerful: the Inca move through hill terrain as easily as other factions move along roads, Egypt builds great Wonders faster, the Polynesians can sail across oceans from the start of the game, and so forth. Civ VI has built upon this by giving national leaders distinct agendas based on their historical personalities, so President Teddy Roosevelt is a Bully Hunter and Czar Peter the Great is a modernizer who looks favorably upon more-advanced nations.
  • Subfactions were introduced in the later Command & Conquer games to give the existing factions diversity in multiplayer matches; previous games with different countries/factions/whatever simply had one or two slightly-changed attributes that you are never made aware of (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) or one unit/ability no one else gets or has to rely on tech buildings to use (Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2).
  • In the original Conquest Of The New World, all European powers were created equal, and only the High Native player functioned differently. In the Deluxe Edition, this was changed to give each power (including the Natives) a buff, causing each power to play slightly differently. For example, the French get better native relations and dominant cavalry, while the Dutch are masters of finance and the European trade.
  • Genbei "Jaguar" Yagyu inverts this trope between Neo Contra and Contra ReBirth. In Neo, he's slower but more powerful than series protagonist Bill Rizer, and you can unlock the option to replace one of his guns with a powerful but melee-range katana. In ReBirth, he not only plays identically to Bill, but dresses like him, too.
  • In a very odd bit of differentiation mixup, the Dead or Alive series features the extended ninja sub-plot playing itself out in the characters' fighting styles as well. Kasumi and Ayane, the game's Bash Brothers pair, are similar in fighting style, though with differences: Kasumi's moves set up follow-up combos far more easily, while Ayane is greased lightning with lots of very fast but proportionately weaker strikes. Hayabusa, Kasumi's bodyguard and friend, shares some of her moves, but is slightly more powerful than either for sheer hit potential and has more grappling techniques. Hayate, Kasumi's brother, first appeared in Dead or Alive 2 as Ein, an amnesiac, featuring a similar fighting style to Kasumi, but with much more emphasis on punishing single hits and short combos, though he kept some of the acrobatics. Then Dead or Alive 3 introduced Hitomi, his training partner during his amnesiac phase who is a pure karate practitioner as opposed to Hayate's karate/ninjutsu hybrid, and is slightly harder hitting and faster than him, but much more linear, lacking Hayate's jumping abilities.
    • Definitively Leon and Bayman. Bayman was in the first Dead or Alive, but was replaced by Leon in Dead or Alive 2. They retained their similarities in Dead or Alive 3, where they both appeared, but in Dead or Alive 4, Bayman has gained a bit more speed to his moves, while Leon retains a more powerful strike potential, and Spartan Nicole-458 uses their shared Russian Sabo style as a skeleton upon which the rest of her unique style was built up from.
    • This is fairly common in Dead or Alive, as much research was put into replicating the fighting styles of the individual characters from real life martial arts. As such, fighting arts with common roots often show it quite well.
  • Zigzagged throughout the Disgaea series. In the first game, many of the basic creatable classes have male-female variation, which except for sprites and tiny Stat variations, are exactly the same. In the second game, each class is given different unique passive abilities to differentiate them, and there are more variations to the Stat spread of the male-female variants (like how the Male Warrior has better HP and DEF and is better at Axe while the Female Warrior has more HIT and SPD and better with Spears). The third game, however introduces more male-female variants to the existing single-gender classes (for example now there's a male version of the previously female-only Archers), with differing Evilities and secondary weapon (the male archer can also learn Sword skills while the female can learn Spear skills), but nearly identical Stats. The fourth game then removes nearly all gender variants introduced in the third game.
  • Donkey Kong and Mario started on the same game but the latter got his own game franchise known for its speed and wide open levels while the former remained a slow-moving puzzle game. DK got a second lease on life when Donkey Kong Country was released on SNES and he finally got his own fast-paced game complete with distinct gameplay and style.
  • The Doom series has the Hell Knight, introduced in Doom II as a less durable palette-swapped Baron of Hell that fought exactly the same by throwing green fireballs. In Doom 3 they got a different appearance and served the same role as the Baron of Hell, being a more durable enemy that still threw green fire. Come the 2016 game, the Hell Knight is now a Close-Range Combatant with similar looks to its Doom 3 incarnation and lacks a fireball attack, while the Baron of Hell fights with both close and long range green attacks while still retaining its looks from the first game.
  • Super Double Dragon differentiated Billy's and Jimmy's fighting styles by giving them different basic moves, giving Billy the faster attacks and Jimmy the stronger ones. No other Double Dragon game attempted to give the Lee brothers different moves besides the iPhone version and the two fighting games.
  • Elves in Dragon Age: Origins were short humans with pointed ears. In Dragon Age II, the elves have acquired a much more distinct facial structure and a cultural preference for going barefoot (compare Marethari in Origins to Marethari in DA2).
  • In The Elder Scrolls series has a Justified example when this happened to Peryite, the Daedric Prince of Pestilence, Tasks, and Order, upon the introduction of Jyggalag, Daedric Prince of Order, in Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. Peryite's association with "Order" became downplayed and replaced with "Natural Order", essentially the cycle of growth and decay. Meanwhile, Jyggalag came to represent the idea of "Perfect Order", essentially inorganic stasis. The implication is that Peryite became tasked with representing the greater scope of "order" while Jyggalag was sealed as Sheogorath, because Someone Had To Do It. It also helps to explain why Peryite is looked down upon as a "loathesome" Butt-Monkey by the other Daedric Princes, who are primarily chaotic in nature. Come Skyrim, Peryite's quest fully emphasizes his association with pestilence.
  • Inverted in the F-Zero series. The series originally featured four characters with markedly different play styles, but as the cast expanded to include Loads and Loads of Characters, those original four have drifted to the middle, becoming little more than mildly differentiated Jacks of All Stats.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Though the Gorgon sisters Stheno and Euryale were functionally identical in both appearance and personality when they debuted in Fate/hollow ataraxia, they were significantly reworked when brought back for Grand Order.
      • More emphasis is placed on Euryale being younger then Stheno. She's generally more childish than Stheno, including being more energetic, vainer and more prone to loneliness. Euryale's outfit differs a lot from Stheno's, having silver jewelry, adorning her headband with flowers and a much shorter dress in keeping with her immaturity. She also wields a weapon to protect herself, unlike Stheno, who would rather manipulate others to fight for her.
      • Stheno is distinguished by being a bit more mature than her little sister and instead having quite the sadistic streak to her. Her outfit changes after her third Ascension, getting more ribbons and a new, partially see-through dress, among other things.
    • When Jeanne Alter was first introduced, she was pretty much a direct copy of the standard Jeanne but in black—same class, similar skills and stats, and even her artwork was basically a slightly modified Palette Swap. It was basically just her personality that differed; an unstable but oddly endearing Card-Carrying Villain as opposed to a saintly Ideal Hero. When she became a Breakout Villain and was Promoted to Playable, nearly all of this was dropped; though she was still a doppelganger in appearance, she had entirely new artwork and animations, more tweaks in her outfit and ascensions, and an entirely opposite focus (Jeanne being a passive Stone Wall Ruler while Jalter is an aggressive Glass Cannon Avenger).
  • An inverted example from Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII: Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart. While they both start as difficult and selfish people, and undergo significant development during their respective games, they actually had very distinct personalities. Cloud is a cocky, arrogant tough guy with plenty of light and goofy moments, while Squall starts off as a solitary jerkass who puts up a false wall of confidence to hide his emotional turmoil. Then you look at any version of them from Advent Children onwards, and they've practically swapped: Squall is the confident, snarky one and Cloud is constantly brooding, plagued by crushing doubt.
  • Hurdy used to be a Palette Swap version of the Mooglings in Final Fantasy XII. In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, he takes off his hat and had his own unique clothing, along with his other Moogling brothers Sorbet and Horne.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In what may be a shocking discovery for recent Fire Emblem fans, in the first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, the Fragile Speedster Pegasus Knights promoted into the Mighty Glacier Dragon/Wyvern Rider class, making the latter simply an upgrade of the former (and just as dodgy). Eventually Genealogy of the Holy War put an end to this madness by making them different classes, albeit the previous game started this process by giving Pegasi a decent Resistance (Magic Defense) stat that they lost when promoting (this also applies to the remake of the first game).
    • In the GBA games, Assassins and Swordmasters were both Fragile Speedster classes that used swords, with the only real difference being that Assassins have a small chance to One-Hit Kill a target. Path Of Radiance introduced a seperate weapon class for knives, which Assassins wield instead of swords. Awakening didn't have knives, but gave Assassins access to bows in addition to swords.
    • Character-specific example: In Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, axe fighters Bord and Cord had identical portraits. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and the DS remakes give them increasingly distinct appearances, and the same was done for Dolph and Macellan.
  • Giana Sisters: Giana's sister Maria in The Great Giana Sisters started out as simply a green-haired Palette Swap of her. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams revamped her design to be more individual. While Giana has blonde hair in a bob and wears a blue dress, Maria has her green hair in a long ponytail with a ribbon in it and wears a red dress. Her design in the endless runner spinoff Dream Runners however dials her back to essentially a palette swap, however all the characters in that game look near-identical.
  • The Gundam Vs Series has an odd example of this with Wing Gundam Zero. Firstly, Gundam vs. Gundam Next had only the TV version, but the home version added the Endless Waltz version, which was given unique traits. The sequel series Gundam Extreme Vs. started with only the movie version (which was a Composite Character of the Next incarnations), but Extreme Vs. Full Boost brought back the TV version, which required re-divergence. Ironically, this lead to the two swapping some of their traits: In Next, Wing Zero TV was ranged-centric and fired continuous beams from its twin buster rifle while Wing Zero EW was more melee-focused and fired beam shots; in Extreme Vs. it's the other way around. Other changes include Wing Zero EW being more agile (since it's not a Transforming Mecha) while Wing Zero TV has the ZERO System as a temporary buff that negates enemy tracking.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry Matsuri Hanyuu's daughter Oka looked exactly like Rika except that her hair was darker. In the Kotohogushi-hen arc in Kizuna for the Nintendo DS she received a slight redesign and also received her own artwork.
  • When Hyrule Warriors first came out, an art book revealed that the developers had toyed around with the concept of a female version of Link before rejecting it. When making the Legends Updated Re-release, they brushed off the concept and made a new Canon Foreigner character called Linkle. Instead of just being Link only female, like the original concept art portrayed, Linkle's final design bears some similarities to Link (green clothes, blond hair, pointy ears) but also some sharp contrasts: Link is a legendary hero while Linkle only thinks she's one, Linkle is a Genki Girl in contrast to how (adult) Link tends to be The Stoic, and Link is primarily a swordsman but Linkle is The Gunslinger with dual crossbows.
  • Kid Icarus has a rather strange example in that it originated in an entirely different series: Pit has a Palette Swap in Super Smash Bros. Brawl which gave him black hair and black wings, but it differed in appearance only. In Kid Icarus: Uprising they took that palette swap and turned him into the anti-hero Dark Pit, with an entirely different personality and having layers of depth. In the Kid Icarus canon Dark Pit spends the first 15 minutes of his existence thinking he's the real Pit, and for most of the game he's really bitter about being a clone, seen by the world as little more than an Evil Knockoff. Eventually he finds out that Good Feels Good (in contrast to regular Pit who indulges in the Knight in Shining Armor image) and settles into a comfortable rhythm. Things came full circle in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, in which Dark Pit is a separate character from Pit, but with almost no difference in moveset (which the following game would term an "Echo Fighter") and little opportunity to display the difference in personality.
  • In The King of Fighters, Kyo and Iori, like Ryu and Ken, were essentially clones of each other in their original appearance, but their gameplay styles began to diverge as times went by: Kyo lost his fireball and gained more powerful normal moves while Iori became quicker and more mobile.
    • And then, by The King of Fighters XII, Iori had lost his fire powers completely, while Kyo pretty much lost his fiery "Rekka-style" moves and had regained his fireball... (Though in XIII, the Rekka-style Kyo and Flames Iori are available as DLC alongside the more "classic" Kyo and the flameless Iori.)
    • Even more so, Clark and Ralf from the same series (working for an actual honest-to-gosh Colonel Badass, Heidern) start as nearly identical wrestler/brawler characters, but over the years have differentiated so that Ralf has more punching-based "brawling" special moves and fewer and less-effective command throws (although still more than the average character) and Clark has become almost a pure wrestler, with more throws and almost no other special moves. At the same time, their personalities were distinguished, with Clark being the quiet, sensitive, friendly guy and Ralf being quite the Boisterous Bruiser. They are both still complete badasses, of course, and compared to the rest of the cast, effectively Badass Normals.
    • The same goes for Mature and Vice, Rugal's Sexy Secretaries who made the jump to playable status as members of Iori's team in KOF '96. While they already had clear signs of differentiation from the beginning (Mature is a speed-based character, Vice is a grappler), every appearance of theirs since then (excluding XIII due to the shift to redrawn, HD sprites) has furthered the gap.
  • Kirby:
    • While not "characters" in the traditional sense, Bomb Kirby and Mirror Kirby were originally Palette Swaps of Sword Kirby and Beam Kirby, respectively. Newer installments of the Kirby series have given Bomb Kirby and Mirror Kirby more distinct designs to make it easier to tell them apart.
    • Something similar happened with Ninja Kirby and Stone Kirby, both used the same sprite: Kirby with a samurai hat but with different body colors. Later installments have changed this to have Ninja Kirby wear a Naruto-esque Robe and Stone Kirby to wear a stone crown with bull horns, dismissing the samurai hat idea entirely.
    • In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Dark Meta Knight was simply a Palette Swap Evil Twin of Meta Knight and shared the latter's fighting style. Later games give him a more threatening look with tattered wings and a scarred mask. He also received a brand-new fighting style that emphasizes wild and reckless attacks to contrast Meta Knight's finesse and restraint, along with mirror-based attacks to reflect his origins as a resident of the Mirror World.
  • The Materials of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. When they were originally introduced as a trio of Evil Twins in The Battle of Aces, they were basically Palette Swaps of the three Aces except with different stats. When they returned in The Gears of Destiny sequel due to popular demand, they received their own unique move sets to differentiate them from their originals. This gets several Lampshade Hangings in sequel and the supplementary materials related to it, such as the Materials explaining that the time they spent recovering from their deaths was used to devise their own fighting styles and spells, and other characters pointing out that for copies, they don't actually act, fight, or even look that much like the people they were supposed to be based on.
  • When Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes came out, this trope came into play with Iron Man and War Machine (who debuted in the previous game as a palette swap of the former). Originally, War Machine had a very similar moveset, with one extra special move (a ducking laser) and one extra Hyper. However, even with that game, there was a secret palette swap (Hyper Armor War Machine) that used missiles for his special attacks instead of lasers. So when Iron Man and War Machine were used in the same game, they went with his alternate missile-heavy moveset for War Machine while keeping Iron Man's original laser-heavy moveset.
  • Mega Man X3 gave Zero his first playable appearance, where he played like X but with a Beam Saber upgrade (which X could gain later in the game). In the next game, Zero traded his Z Buster style for a purely close range style to completely distance himself from his partner.
    • X7, with Axl's debut appearance. Aside from his Copy, dodge, hovering and a couple of different guns, Axl was very similar to X in style and how he used enemy weapons. X8 modified Axl's play style: he retained his Copy, dodge and hover moves, while getting the unique ability to aim his gun in the eight cardinal directions (though he had to stand/hover in one place while firing, unlike X). For each boss defeated, he instead received a new gun that fired projectiles based on a secondary attack each boss used, with different looks and properties from X's, and without needing weapon energy to boot.
  • Mega Man Battle Network contains an interesting example that applies to the series as a whole. One of the basic concepts behind BN was the idea of a divergent timeline where Dr. Light turned to network technology rather than robotics. This idea informed the series up until Battle Network 4, which introduced an alternate version of Classic Mega Man character Duo... problem is, Duo shouldn't have had an alternate version, since he's from outer space. From then on, Battle Network was less and less informed by the Classic series, and its sequel Spin-Off, Mega Man Star Force, didn't even bother to look back.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2's Raiden starts out playing identically to Snake. It isn't until the very end of the game that he gets the sword that allows him to showcase his Implausible Fencing Powers, which Snake doesn't possess. His switch from being a gameplay clone of Snake to having his own play style is actually part of the plot.
  • Metal Slug is a very well known case of progressive Divergent Character Evolution. In the first game, Tarma is basically just a Palette Swap of Marco, who even had the same death scream as him. In 2, although Fio is not an exact Palette Swap of Eri, she also has the same death scream as her. In X and 3, every character had a different death scream at last, and was given some backstory. And finally, in 6, they were completely differentiated by being given different in-game abilities.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The series was infamous for having several Palette Swap characters. It started with Scorpion and Sub Zero—same sprite, same basic moves, different special moves, different standing animations. Then they added Reptile as a hidden boss—the same sprite, only green, and with both Sub-Zero's and Scorpion's special moves. Several sequels and home versions later, there were eight palette swapped male ninjas, four palette swapped female ninjas, and three palette swapped cyborg ninjas. Once the games became 3D, all characters were each given a unique model and, since they were no longer sharing the same digitized sprites, they could have different basic moves. Appearance-wise, the two most drastic changes were making Reptile more animalistic and giving Ermac a floating stance and mummy-like costume.
    • In Mortal Kombat 4, Jarek and Tanya were Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of Kano and Kitana, respectively. The two older Kombatants were Dummied Out when Executive Meddling demanded more new characters. While Tanya has always been distinct by having a more acrobatic fighting style compared to Kitana's punches and fan-slashes, Jarek was nothing but a Moveset Clone of Kano, right down to possessing Eye Beams despite not having a cybernetic eye. His only unique ability was his signature Rhino Stomp, but even that was most likely meant as a new move for Kano. It took until Armageddon for Jarek to reappear with a new moveset consisting of lasso attacks in order to stand out.
  • Although there was never a game that featured the singular character, early versions of Overwatch had Genji and Hanzo's designs and abilities rolled into a single cyber-samurai character named Genji. Eventually, a diverge was made to give the character's name, cybernetics, and more ninja-like powers to Genji, and the remaining bowman characteristics were given to Hanzo.
  • In Pac Man Party, the four iconic ghosts of Pac-Man were given more distinctive looks in order to differentiate one another. No longer were they simple Palette Swaps of one another. Each of the ghosts had distinctive "hairstyles". Blinky retained the basic ghost shape, Inky was made skinnier, Pinky was given more feminine features, and Clyde became fat and huge.
  • In Paladins, Cassie originally used a bow as her weapon. When another archer was added in the form of Sha Lin, Cassie was later redesigned with a crossbow to differentiate the two. It helps that Cassie's bow acted more like a crossbow in the first place, lacking the Charged Attack expected from bows.
  • The original Parodius for the MSX gave its characters different personalities, but they all used the Gradius moveset. Parodius Da! did give Vic Viper, Octopus, Twinbee and Pentarou each a different moveset.
  • The Persona 3 and Persona 4 crossover, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, did this for both its main protagonists and the Mission Controls Fuuka and Rise.
    • The protagonists of 3 and 4 are both identical in their base games in that they can change their Personas constantly, and thus they have no fixed stats or skillset, unlike their teammates who only have one Persona each. In Q, however, everyone can equip a sub-Persona in addition to their main ones, so both protagonists are given differing builds. The P4 hero is a Jack-of-All-Stats who specializes in lightning magic, while the P3 hero's stats are generally higher than the rest of the party and specializes in fire magic. The P3 hero's higher stats are likely to compensate that he starts off weak to two elements (one being the instant-killing dark element).
    • The two support characters, Fuuka and Rise, served identical roles in their games, although in the Golden re-release of P4, Rise was given additional battle-assisting skills that Fuuka never got in P3. In PQ, Fuuka's skills revolve around healing, while Rise's skills streamline and make battles more efficient (she can cut SP costs for on round, and her ultimate skill makes the party completely immune to damage for a turn).
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver have four executives of Team Rocket, who are all unnamed and (aside from the one woman) identical in appearance. The remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver, flesh out their characters, giving each a unique name and design. Similarly, while Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were the only games to have two villain teams, Team Aqua and Team Magma, the members of said teams were practically identical in every way but appearance in spite of their diametrically opposed objectives. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do a lot to make them more unique, with a distinct look and personality for the admins and leaders; even grunts get differing dialogue and demeanors between versions.
    • With Pokemon themselves, quite a few species that were similar to previous species may end up getting changes between generations that make them more distinct. To list them all would take up the rest of the page, but one example would be between Clefable, Wigglytuff, and Blissey. Previously they were all pink girly Normal types with high hit points, but bad attack and defense. But after their introduction, they've started to diversify, with Pokémon X and Y bringing the most dramatic change: The Fairy type. Clefable was retconed to be a Fairy type, Wigglytuff was made a dual Normal/Fairy, and Blissey remained a Normal type.
  • Punch-Out!! has a fair few characters that have evolved over the years, the most notable being Aran Ryan. In the SNES game, he was a bland palette swap of Pizza Pasta who fought by the rules. In the Wii game, he's a complete lunatic who threatens Mac, the referee and the audience. He breaks just about every rule of boxing, from using his elbows to loading his gloves with horseshoes to tying a rope to one of said horseshoe gloves and using it as a flail.
  • In Raiden and its sequels, the red Raiden (1P) and blue Raiden (2P) play identically except in Raiden DX, in which the two ships differ in which axis they move faster along (Red is faster vertically, Blue is faster horizontally). In Raiden Fighters, the two ships are significantly different; the red Raiden (Raiden mk-II) uses the toothpaste laser and a delayed-detonation bomb for its weapons, while the blue one (Raiden mk-II Beta) uses missiles, spread shots with no rapid-fire capability, and a weak cluster bomb.
  • In Rhythm Heaven for the GBA, the Space Dancers and Cosmo Dancers were interchangeable, the Cosmo Dancers only representing a higher difficulty level. In the DS version, both sets of dancers received minor redesigns and hobbies, with the Space Dancers being the focus of the Rhythm Rally games and the Cosmo Dancers being the focus of the Space Soccer games.
  • Happens in the Sengoku Basara series with Matsu and Kasuga. Both formerly used Kenshin and Sasuke's movesets before gaining their own in the second game. Similarly, a few NPCs who used polearms merely had copies of either Toshie or Shingen's movesets before actually getting their own.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic and Tails played the same way. Starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Tails was given his own play style (he is unable to use the shield power-ups as double jumps, but gains a limited flying ability). Tails' play style has gotten to the point of being unrecognizable in some of the more recent games, most memorably walking in a mecha in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Also, Shadow in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). His techniques went from being very similar to Sonic in Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes to a different style. However, the fact that he became slower could raise different questions.
    • Sonic Generations has a variation involving stages. Seaside Hill was originally a complete throwback to Green Hill Zone, having palm trees and checkered soil, but since Green Hill Zone has reappeared playing up those elements, Seaside Hill in Generations plays up the ruins and water aspect more and even adding underwater elements.
    • Amy was originally a spunky but sweet girl. After Cream was introduced in Sonic Advance 2 less focus was put on Amy being The Heart and more emphasis was put on her spunk and attitude. This ended up flanderizing her into being more a temperamental Bratty Half-Pint than she originally was. Cream took over as the sweet little girl of the franchise. With time this was reversed. After Sonic Generations more emphasis was put on Amy's nice side and her energy was dialed down, while Cream was Demoted to Extra.
    • When reintroduced in Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic was simply Sonic as a child. By Sonic Forces he is a completely separate Sonic from a parallel dimension. He's also differentiated from his Modern design by being a Heroic Mime.
  • Soul Series:
    • Siegfried and Nightmare had their movesets almost entirely differentiated in III after being nearly identical in the first game and different costumes for the same character in the second.
    • In III, Amy (making her debut as a playable character), Li Long and Hwang Seong-Gyeong (returning) had the generic create-a-character Rapier, Nunchaku and Chinese Sword movesets; thus they had far fewer moves than normal characters, were largely semi clones of Raphael, Maxi, and Yun-Seong, respectively, and aside from Hwang had no side throws. In SCIII: Arcade Edition, the three were shifted into more intricate arcade-worthy characters. This served as the last time that Li Long and Hwang were playable, while the loss of the create-a-character specific weapon disciplines in IV meant that Amy had nothing to be compared to.
      • Zig-zagging the trope, Li Long and Hwang's appearances in Soulcalibur IV and Broken Destiny's Quick Match mode have them use the same moves as their replacements Maxi and Yun-seong respectively.
    • As an inversion, because the create-a-character classes were different enough from the originals for them to be missed in Soulcalibur IV/V's create-a-modes. Many fans of III were pissed that their characters had to fight the exact same way as the main cast.
    • Lizardman was almost entirely a clone of Sophitia in his first appearance, only evolving as the series went on. Later he'd get a more animalistic style, including a crawl stance. In V, he ditched the shield entirely for two axes.
    • Kilik and Seong Mi-na were very similar at first, but they evolved into two different characters, although still sharing some moves, as time went on. The true point was Soulcalibur VI, where Seong Mi-na gains many unique moves and even inherits moves from Xiba in V, making them play little like each other apart from their base weapon.
  • One accusation made toward StarCraft is referenced in one of Artanis' Stop Poking Me! lines: "This is not WarCraft in space! It's much more sophisticated!" The original StarCraft is indeed very similar to the later WarCraft titles, but the two have since diverged, especially as WarCraft transformed into an MMORPG.
  • In the Star Fox series, all of Fox's wingmen were pretty much the same at the beginning, other than in personality. This was changed in the unreleased Star Fox 2, which allowed you to choose your character, with each flying a different ship with different properties. It reverted back in Star Fox 64, where you could only play as characters other than Fox in multiplayer, and that being a purely cosmetic choice. Things stayed that way until Star Fox: Assault, which gave the players different stats on the ground (health, running speed, accuracy with weapons) and different strengths in vehicles (Falco was the best Arwing pilot, Slippy was the best Landmaster driver, Fox was a Jack-of-All-Stats, etc.). Star Fox Command took things even further and finally incorporated the different ships choices from Star Fox 2.
  • According to interviews, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town contains self-divergent evolution by doing away with several artifacts from Harvest Moon 64:
    • Gray's original design stems from him being a farmer. He has a more casual design, with gloves included, to both fit his occupation change of blacksmith and the fact he recently moved from the city. His hair is also blond instead of red because he isn't Ann's brother anymore.
    • Karen's Girliness Upgrade suits her more toned down Cool Big Sis personality more than her punkier 64 design.
    • Both Karen and Cliff lack blond bangs. Their blond bangs were because they were the grandchildren of the blonde Eve from Harvest Moon, which isn't mentioned in the Mineral Town games.
    • Popuri's original design was intended for a girl who works with flowers, not chickens, so she was given a more sturdy looking dress.
    • Sasha's original design fit when she was a soft, depressed woman but it's unusually sweet-looking for her Gossipy Hen personality in Back to Nature. Her redesign makes her more angular looking and sharp.
    • Harris was a postal worker in 64 and was changed to be a police officer. His new look now gives him a badge and a vest to look like a more modern officer. Also giving him a mustache that is a similar style to his father Thomas.
    • The Harvest Goddess received a new design because her old design has been reused for Dessie in newer Story of Seasons games.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ryu and Ken originally played the exact same way in Street Fighter I. They have since been differentiated in both moveset and characterization. Although they are both use the same fighting style, Ryu is now a Hadoken specialist and usually fights defensively, while Ken is more aggressive and prefers the Shoryuken. The divergence got a lot bigger in Street Fighter V. While Ryu is relatively close to how he was in previous games, Ken went through some radical changes, utilizing a much more aggressive moveset and V-Trigger compared to Ryu. He also no longer wears his trademark gi, which only drives the point further. Similarly, Nash plays nothing like he did in the Alpha series, thus diverging himself from a Guile clone.
    • Street Fighter III introduced twin brothers Yun and Yang. Originally, they played identically (to the point that they shared the same slot in the player select screen; you'd select Yang with a kick button), but in 2nd Impact, Yun and Yang were officially made into separate characters with different Special Moves and Super Arts.
  • The Kuniang sisters from Strider. In the first game, the three use the same Palette Swapped sprite and have the same attack, and only their leader (Ton Pooh) got an official description and dialogue, the other two being merely Filler for the boss fight. In Strider 2, the three were given different designs and hairstyles, with Bei Pooh becoming a Femme Fatale with a large ponytail, Sai Pooh getting a pigtailed childish look and Ton Pooh retaining the original design. Finally, the 2014 Strider gave each a Weapon of Choice and fleshed out the two sister's personalities, turning B/Pei into an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight and Nang Poohnote  becoming the Only Sane Woman keeping both her more hot-headed sisters in check.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Luigi is the former Trope Namer. He was originally a Palette Swap of his brother Mario created for multiplayer, and identical to him in every way. Since then, Luigi's become taller and more slender than his brother and he has a different gameplay style, being able to jump higher at the cost of low-traction. Their personalities have drifted apart as well; Mario eventually developed into a Hot-Blooded adventurous type, while Luigi became more reserved, developing a second-banana complex, a fear of ghosts, and a tendency towards bad luck. He is also said to harbor dark secrets and hidden resentment. Some fans prefer Luigi to the perceived squeaky-clean Mario for this reason. Luigi's development into a different character started with the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (a re-skin of the Japan-only Doki Doki Panic). Because Doki Doki Panic featured multiple characters with differing abilities, rather than a Color-Coded Multiplayer, Luigi was given a taller look to distinguish him from Mario and received the high-jump ability originally belonging to the Mama character. While Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World had Luigi back to being just Mario in green during gameplay, his official art used the tall design and when Mario 3 and Mario World got updated graphics for Super Mario All-Stars, Luigi got his taller and thinner design back.
    • Daisy was so similar to Princess Peach in her original appearance that many fans assumed she was the same character. (The movie doesn't help the confusion, either.) Daisy has since been split off into a more tomboyish cowgirl portrayal, especially shown in games such as Mario Strikers. She's also become a potential love interest for Luigi. Daisy was originally nearly a palette swap of Peach, with the only exception of being redesigned for the Nintendo 64 era to have slightly tanned skin while Peach was fair skinned. By Mario Party 4 and later, Daisy's skin became fair like Peach's again, but Daisy's hair was shortened to neck length, she received a different hairstyle, a wider face, a brand new voice actor in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and her eyes were made larger in comparison to Peach's eyes. Her body frame was also changed to look chubbier than Peach's in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash.
    • Another example from the Mario series is the Koopalings Lemmy and Iggy. While the two looked rather similar in earlier games, Iggy's appearance in New Super Mario Bros. Wii has him looking... well, like this. It's also notable that Iggy seems to have apparently gone insane... Well, more insane...
    • Wario was once simply an evil Mario, but has since become more of a greedy Anti-Hero.
    • Goombas were given an odd change in appearance and behavior in Super Mario World. These Goombas would eventually be renamed to Galoomba and would occasionally appear in future games alongside the original Goombas. This is a Dub-Induced Plot Hole being fixed as they were always different in Japan.
    • Tiny Kong was originally a short, kiddie Kong similar to her sister Dixie Kong. When Diddy Kong Racing DS came out, Tiny's design was tweaked in order to replace Banjo's on the roster. Tiny's new design is much taller and even more anthropomorphic-looking than her sister's.
  • In Super Robot Wars Alpha, the player built up their own character by selecting genders, choosing a face (from four males and four females), giving them names, and adding a personality (Cool, Shy, Weird, or Hot-Blooded) and accompanying voice. The Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series combined these factors and fleshed them out into the characters Kusuha Mizuha, Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield, Rio Mei Long, Ryoto Hikawa, Leona Garstein, Tasuku Shinguji, Yuuki Jaggar, and Ricarla "Carla" Borgnine (which were the default names associated with each character archetype/gender combination).
    • Alpha 2 and 3 then adopted the Kusuha and Bullet characters as the canon heroes of Alpha (with the "player" and main character assumed to have been Kusuha) and developed them even further, taking their story and character development to appropriate extremes.
    • It's worth noting that Super Robot Wars 4 did this, as well. However, only two of the eight "standard" characters (those being Irmgult "Irm" Kazahara and Ring Mao) have been included in Original Generation at this time. As a Mythology Gag, in OG (and their cameos in Alpha) they're significantly older than they were in the games they first appeared in, and instead of being a standard couple as per 4 and its re-releases, they bicker Like an Old Married Couple.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • This trope's original name, "Luigification," came from Smash Bros. fandom, referring to Luigi becoming less of a Mario Moveset Clone between the original Super Smash Bros. 64 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Naming it after Luigi was very fitting even ignoring Smash Bros., as noted above.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the characters that were clones in Melee got more of this to the point that there are no true clones in Brawl; there are only semi-clones. This continued onward into Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with Dr. Mario becoming more of a Mighty Glacier compared to Mario than in Melee, while retaining similar (but not the same) movesets. Roy also received significant changes when he was released as DLC, gaining a different stance and attack animations from Marth and turning him into a true Lightning Bruiser.
    • In Brawl, Giga Bowser, as Bowser's Final Smash, had all of the same moves, just made significantly more powerful. In for 3DS/Wii U, Bowser has been redesigned to be closer to his appearance in the main Mario series, with many of his moves changed to make him less bestial and more agile; Giga Bowser, on the other hand, remains exactly the same as in Brawl, the contrast further accentuating his monstrous, feral nature.
    • The effects of character evolution can be seen clearly in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which branded Moveset Clones as "Echo Fighters". Characters that were blatant clones in for 3DS/Wii U and hadn't had time to diverge from the originals, Lucina and Dark Pit, were reclassified as Echoes of those originals; while those that had diverged continued to be considered separate characters.
  • The original Konami Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game tried to balance the characters: Raphael is the fastest (but with the shortest range), Michelangelo is the strongest (but slowest), Donatello has the most range (but is the weakest) and Leonardo is the second in all attributes. The later games had Raph becoming the strongest and Mike the fastest, as it fits their personalities more.
  • Done with several boss characters in Tekken:
    • Kunimitsu was initially a gender-neutral Palette Swap of Yoshimitsu, but in the second game was clearly modeled as female and given a slightly different moveset. The first Tekken Tag Tournament uses her Tekken 2 persona and moves with a few additional touches, but in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 she was given a brand new move set that differentiates her from Yoshimitsu.
    • Jin started as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for his father Kazuya, but with a few moves from his mother Jun (who was also absent). Jin got his own fighting style when Kazuya came back in 4.
    • Anna started out as what amounted to an alternative costume for her sister Nina. Nowadays Anna has an almost entirely different moveset, and some of the moves she still shares with Nina have been given a personal twist. Notably, she was only included in Tekken 3 at the last minute, whereas other clone characters weren't, which meant they significantly changed her moves from that point on.
    • In the first two games Lee was a clone of Marshall Law with the occasional special move. From Tekken Tag Tournament onward, he grew to be a more distinctive character with better combos.
    • Jack and P-Jack had the same moves in the first Tekken game, although P-Jack was more powerful and looked cooler. In the second, P-Jack can fly whereas Jack-2 can't. This was carried over to Gun Jack and all the Jacks afterwards, as well as being retroactively applied to Jack-2 when he appeared in Tekken Tag Tournament.
      • In the first game, Jack, P. Jack, Kuma and Ganryu used almost entirely the same moveset. This was expanded slightly in Tekken 2, giving them individual special moves, but they still had a lot of the core moves. P. Jack notably introduced his flight ability. Tekken 3 sought to resolve the similarities by getting rid of clone characters, so it removed Ganryu, only included one Jack (Gun Jack) who had P. Jack's introduced moves, and introduced Kuma's son, who can't hit as hard as the original Kuma and has some comedy special moves, as well as his clone, Panda. Ganryu was absent from Tekken 4 as well but had an updated moveset when he returned in Tekken 5. Also in Tekken 5, Kuma and Ganryu were both given different punch moves to differentiate them from Jack-5. By Tekken Tag Tournament 2 you can play as all four and they are all sufficiently different.
    • In Tekken 4, Miharu Hirano once shared the moveset of her friend Ling Xiayou. It's not until Tekken Tag Tournament 2 where she finally becomes her own character and different moveset variations. Not to mention that she got Progressively Prettier.
  • The first Twisted Metal's character roster contained a dune buggy called Pit Viper which spat out acid blobs as a special attack. However, when the time came for the sequel, instead of repeating the same move (projectiles were extremely common as it stood), they gave it a new one (a jump-based slamming attack) to differentiate it more from other vehicles, and they also redid its color scheme, calling the vehicle Grasshopper from then on.
  • In the original Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth was the only playable valkyrie, so there was no need to set her apart from her sisters. She could use swords and bows in battle. Hrist appears as an enemy in the game as well, but she's just a Palette Swap of Lenneth, with black armor and hair and a red Nibelung Valesti. In the second game, all three valkyries are playable. Lenneth loses her ability to use bows, and they become the weapon of choice for Silmeria. Hrist uses spears in battle, a weapon that Lenneth couldn't use at all in the first game. All three sisters use swords for Nibelung Valesti, though.
  • The all-girl fighting series Variable Geo has done this exactly twice. Initially, Yuka and Chiho played very similarly to one another, with the only real difference between them being their differently animated special moves. However, as the series went on, Chiho developed into more of a Glass Cannon by playing up her ninja-ness and giving her new abilities while Yuka remained largely the same balanced character. When Yuka was sidelined for a later game's story mode, she was replaced with Tamao, an Ascended Hero-Worshipper who copied all of Yuka's moves. The following game had them diverge by once again keeping Yuka more or less the same, while turning Tamao into a borderline Joke Character who botched her attacks and had to improvise on the fly to stay in the game.
  • Virtua Fighter's Sarah and Jacky Bryant have very similar fighting styles at first. Throughout the sequels however, they have developed far different fighting styles and backstories over the course of five games. Sarah's official fighting style has been changed from Jeet Kune Do to just Martial Arts (or more specifically, what the Japanese definition of the English term "Martial Arts").
  • WarCraft:
    • Orcs and Humans were pretty identical in the first two games, but in Warcraft III, humans are the Jack-of-All-Stats while orcs have powerful but expensive units and weak magic.
    • In Warcraft II, the two races were identical in every aspect, except their respective Magic Knights (Paladin and Ogre-mage) and true mages (Mage and Death Knight) had different spells. The Orcs had most of the advantage with Bloodlust over Healing, but Mages had some tricks up their sleeve in the late-game with Invisibility and Polymorph.
  • World of Warcraft
    • The Shaman and the Paladin class both inverted and played this straight. The Shaman was originally Horde-only, just as the Paladin was Alliance exclusive. While both classes are Magic Knights, the problem was that they functioned in entirely different manners and it turned out to be a pain to balance out. They tried several things, including making the two classes more and more similar. This was not really liked (particularly as the classes have very different functions outside of buffing), and the first expansion gave both factions access to them, the Alliance gaining Draenei shamans and the Horde getting Blood Elf paladins. They were then free to start their divergent evolution without worrying about wrecking the faction power balance.
    • The sixth expansion to the game, Legions, plans on overhauling many of the class specializations so they stand out more. One of the best examples is the Rogue class specializations ("specs" for short). Before, all three specs were more-or-less the same (Subtlety relied on Stealth a bit more than the other two, Assassination used poisons sometimes, Combat was some sort of weird jack-of-all-trades). In Legions, Subtlety was revamped to focus even more on Stealth, even using the shadows themselves to attack the enemy. Assassination focused on heavy bleeding and poisoning to drain the life out of their targets. Combat was renamed "Outlaw" and eschewed Stealth almost entirely (Ambush is pretty much their only Stealth-attack), focusing more on cheap shots and dirty tricks, including bringing a gun to a knife fight and literally bribing an enemy with (fool's) gold so he fights as an ally for a short time.
    • Hunters are also being heavily differentiated in Legions. Beast Mastery is still classic Hunter, combining ranged attacks with your loyal attack animal, but Survival Hunters get rid of most of the ranged attacks, preferring to grab a melee weapon and fight right next to his/her pet. Marksmanship Hunters can skip having a pet entirely, and emphasize ranged attacks, focusing on high-damage sniping.
    • Gnomes were originally nothing more than shorter Dwarves with different class options, until the lead-up to Cataclysm finally gave them some focus by making the liberation of their lost capital city Gnomeregan a major in-game event. Post-Cata, Gnomes were given their own starting area, New Tinkertown (the reclaimed portions of Gnomeregan, named after the Gnomish district in the Dwarven capital Ironforge), and with Goblins becoming a playable race for the Horde, greater emphasis is placed on their rivalry.

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