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  • The Crazy Castle series:
    • The Famicom game Roger Rabbit was brought to the Game Boy as Mickey Mouse, becoming the first game in the Mickey Mouse series in Japan.
    • The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle on the NES is based on Roger Rabbit. The Game Boy version is based on Mickey Mouse.
    • Mickey Mouse II was released as The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 in the US. In Europe, the game was released as Mickey Mouse, and also as Hugo, to tie into the Hugo series, followed by the sequel Hugo 2, based on another Hugo 2 game on the PlayStation.
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    • Mickey Mouse III: Balloon Dreams was released in the US as Kid Klown in Night Mayor World, becoming the first game in the Kid Klown series.
    • Mickey Mouse IV: The Magical Labyrinth was released as The Real Ghostbusters in the US and Garfield Labyrinth in Europe.
    • In Japan, Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3 was also released as Let's Go!! Kid: Go! Go! Kid.
  • The first Hebereke game was released as Ufouria: The Saga outside Japan, and features a different plot and characters, with some changes to enemy sprites.
  • Puzzle games were quite infamous for this:
    • Dolled up versions of Puyo Puyo:
      • It made their way onto the SNES and Sega Genesis in America as Kirby's Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine respectively because both Nintendo and Sega thought that the Western audience would not accept the aesthetics of the series at the time.
      • Disney Interactive also released Timon and Pumbaa's Bug Drop for the PC, which is a very stripped down Puyo Puyo.
      • Qwirks, released in 1995 was presented by Spectrum Holobyte as a game by Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris, although the game itself was a reprogrammed, but faithful, Puyo Puyo game with the same pieces, but with different background and opponent mascots.
      • Japan eventually got its own dolled-up version, Haro no Puyo Puyo for the Game Boy Advance, which used Gundam characters.
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    • Tetris Attack is a unique example in that not one but two Cash Cow Franchises' assets (characters from Yoshi's Island, and the Tetris brand name) were overlaid on the block-swapping action puzzler Panel de Pon (which, it should be added, contains almost no Falling Blocks whatsoever).
    • Several years later, Pokémon characters would replace the Yoshi characters in Pokémon Puzzle League, and from there, the last part of that name stuck. An interesting case for the latter is that PPL was a dolled up installment of a back then canceled Panel de Pon sequel for N64. The original game was later released as part of Nintendo Puzzle Collection for Nintendo Gamecube. Now, if they decided to export that game.
    • Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for the Game Boy Color is an interesting case. The overworld graphics of Ethan running through Johto are blatantly a hasty graphics-edit of Lip running between the Panel de Pon sky islands, but despite what this and the history of the Panel de Pon series might lead you to think, it was a Pokémon game in Japan too. It apparently started life as a companion game to the N64 PdP (titled Panel de Pon GB), but had the fairy characters switched out for Pokémon ones at some point in development - apparently very late, since not only was every single-player character stage finished, every player character from the original Panel de Pon has a full set of portraits buried in the code. A very unfinished version of PDP GB is, however, accessible in the Puzzle Challenge ROM via an obscure button code.
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  • Sleeping Dogs began development under the working title "Black Lotus". Activision had the developers rename it True Crime: Hong Kong. After Activision dropped the game it was picked up by Square Enix and given its current name.
  • Taken to a literal turn with The American Girls Premiere, which started life as Opening Night, a theatrical simulation game released by MECC in 1995. SoftKey, a company infamous for making a name for itself by grabbing whatever Cash Cow Franchise it sees, acquired MECC, and since their theatre sim didn't sell well, SoftKey, which has since absorbed itself under The Learning Company label, made a licensed version of Opening Night for Pleasant Company in 1997. And as Lazy Game Reviews explained in his video, it sold like hotcakes and may have accounted for Mattel's subsequent acquisition of both The Learning Company and American Girl itself.
  • The Wonder Boy series. The developer, Westone, actually retained the copyright for the code and general concept, while Sega licensed those while owning the rights to the Wonder Boy title and characters. Thus, there was nothing stopping Hudson Soft from licensing the non-Sega parts of the games and making its own versions with original characters and without the Wonder Boy name. As a result, nearly every installment of the Wonder Boy franchise received a dolled-up version by Hudson:
    • Adventure Island for the NES, a sprite-swapped port of the arcade Wonder Boy, which would go on to become its own franchise.
    • Bikkuriman World for the PC Engine is a Japan-only port of Wonder Boy in Monster Land with the Bikkuriman (a lineup of trading stickers) license tacked on. Hudson Soft also released a mobile version in the 2000s titled Super Adventure Island (no relation to the SNES game).
    • Dragon's Curse for the TurboGrafx-16, a port of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap—which, coincidentally, was titled Adventure Island in Japan.
    • The Dynastic Hero for the TurboGrafx-16, a port of Wonder Boy in Monster World.
    • Jaleco also released a dolled up Famicom version of Wonder Boy in Monster Land called Saiyuki World. Its sequel, Saiyuki World II, was localized in the U.S. as Whomp 'Em, with the original Journey to the West motif replaced with a Native American one.
    • And another one, that proves that even here, Tropes Are Not Bad: In 2014, the french developer Game Atelier decided to make a sequel to one of their games, Flying Hamster, and launched a Kickstarter campaign. Instead of another Cute 'em Up, this sequel was intended as a Spiritual Successor to Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. The campaign failed, but a developer, FDG Entertainment, got interested and decided to support the game. It got changed in Monster Boy (so it would be more obvious...), the development went well... And Ryuichi Nishizawa (the creator of Wonder Boy) learned about it... And loved it so much that he collaborated on it!! It's still called Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom because Sega owns the rights to the Wonder Boy and Monster World names, but now it's really a brand new episode of the franchise (because Sega owns nothing else of it)!
  • Contra Force actually began life as an unreleased Famicom game in Japan known as Arc Hound. The game differs from the previous Contra games by having new play mechanics (including switchable characters, AI-controlled backup, and a Gradius-style power-up selection system), as well as a present-day setting and human terrorists as villains. Konami of America haphazardly attempted to establish a connection between Contra Force and the rest of the Contra series by claiming that the ruined city in Contra III was actually Neo City (the place where Contra Force took place) in the manual.
  • The Record of Lodoss War game for the Dreamcast was not originally based on Lodoss.
  • Word of God claims that Silent Hill 4 was always going to be a game set in the Silent Hill franchise, but just as a Gaiden Game.
  • Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight is a futuristic spin-off of the first Street Fighter released for the NES in 1990, a year before the ultra-popular Street Fighter II hit the arcades. The game is a boss-centric action-platformer instead of a competitive fighting game and the plot in the Famicom version didn't even have anything to do with Street Fighter (nor with Final Fight, for that matter) despite inheriting its name. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the localization team took the liberty of changing the protagonist's identity from Kevin, a cyborg policeman, to Ken, who became a gifted scientist in the years since the first Street Fighter tournament. Capcom no longer counts this as part of the franchise (not even as a side-game) and it seems like a strange artifact today, since the franchise has since gone in a very different direction and the year 2010 passed with some of the game's predictions going unfulfilled.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The Western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was a sprite mod of the game Doki Doki Panic, which was designed by the same man as the original Super Mario Bros., and happened to be originally the prototype of a vertical-scrolling Mario-style game (making Doki Doki Panic itself an example of this trope as well). The game also had several subtle but noticeable differences from its original counterpart: a few examples include some animations having more frames for smoother animationnote , improved music, adding a "B button run" feature, being able to change characters after clearing a level or losing a lifenote , etc. Though not as referenced as other games, and despite the All Just a Dream ending, the game was canonized by the reappearance of several related enemies in later games (starting with Bob-ombs in the very next game, Super Mario Bros. 3), its inclusion along with the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (The Lost Levels) in the All-Stars compilation, having a standalone recursive import to Japan as Super Mario USA, and the fact that it gave the playable characters different abilities and gimmicks in later games like Super Mario 3D World and the Super Smash Bros. series.
    • Yoshi's Cookie was originally an unrelated puzzle game known as Hermetica that was turned into a Mario game shortly into development. The "Hermetica" name can still be seen in the Game Boy version's debug menu.
    • Wario Blast is a dolled-up Intercontinuity Crossover. The Japanese version, Bomberman GB (not to be confused with Bomberman GB 2, which was released overseas with the "2" taken out), is indeed a Bomberman game, but has nothing to do with Wario. Interestingly, despite being retitled and marketed as a Wario game, Bomberman remains a playable character.
    • Super Mario Kart was originally going to be a generic racing game meant solely to provide a 2-player counterpart to the 1-player hit F-Zero a few years earlier. During production someone suggested seeing what it would look like to put Mario in a go-kart, and history was made.
    • Game & Wario was not originally meant to be part of the WarioWare series. It was first designed as several generic tech demos to pre-installed on the Wii U, in a similar vein to the AR games and Face Raiders on the Nintendo 3DS, with some of these tech demos appearing at the console's first E3 showing. It was then attempted to expanded these tech demos and retool them into a new IP when the development team realized they had enough content to justify a retail release. Difficulties in linking the minigames together in a coherent storyline lead to the development team scrapping the original framing device in favor of using the WarioWare characters instead.
  • The first three SaGa games were released under the Final Fantasy name in North America as the Final Fantasy Legend series. This was during the period when Nintendo and Square believed RPGs had very limited appeal in North America where gamers would be more likely to purchase a title if it had a familiar brand. (The first World of Mana game is not an example of this trope, even though it was Final Fantasy Adventure in the US — it didn't start out as its own series, and was named Seiken Densetsu Final Fantasy Gaiden even in Japan.)
  • Secret of Evermore also has nothing to do with the World of Mana franchise; it just is another game using the Mana-style Ring Menu system and similar play mechanics, so the similarities were enough that "Secret of" became part of the game's title in the hopes of aiding its success at market.
  • Star Fox Adventures was originally a completely separate game from the Star Fox franchise called Dinosaur Planet, as one might guess from it being of a different genre. Many changes were made to the plot, including replacing one of the main characters Sabre with Fox, changing Krystal from a second fully playable character to a Decoy Protagonist Damsel in Distress, and adding a few space shooter missions. One might notice that Star Fox previously had no fantasy elements, and Dinosaur Planet had no science fiction elements before its reworking. Apparently, the only reason the franchises were merged was because during development, Nintendo noticed that the main character looked a lot like Fox and that there actually was a dinosaur planet in the Lylat system.
  • Privateer 2: The Darkening, the "sequel" to Wing Commander: Privateer, originated as a non-Wing Commander-related game with a working name of The Darkening (as per an advert in the back of the Wing Commander IV manual). Due to several factors, including but not limited to Executive Meddling, P2D had Wing Commander touches added before the final release.
  • When Elevator Action EX was released in the United States, publisher bam! Entertainment put the Dexter's Laboratory license over it. The three playable secret agents were replaced by Dexter in different suits, and the plot about searching for secret documents was changed into finding codes to deactivate a bunch of robots turned berserk by Mandark.
  • The sequel to the pirate-themed RPG Sea Dogs was repurposed as Pirates of the Caribbean. Aside from Keira Knightley narrating a cutscene and the plot involving a ghost ship called the Black Pearl, actual connections between the game and the movie are nonexistent.
  • Soul Reaver was conceived as an original project titled "The Shifter", which was redesigned as a Legacy of Kain spinoff, although the decision was made before any actual production work was done on the title. Later, Blood Omen 2 began life as a sequel to the Genesis cult classic Chakan before being converted into a sequel to the Blood Omen, resulting in numerous deviations from the original game design and the presence of some Chakan-esque background art.
  • In Japan, Dynasty Tactics is considered a Spin-Off of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series... but since that series isn't nearly as popular in the US, they relabeled it a spinoff of Dynasty Warriors to attract more interest.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Nevertheless, it was built from the ground up as a Mission-Pack Sequel (by a different developer to boot) and consequently, does differ from the preceding game (and while we're throwing the word "sequel" around, it is also a sequel to the SpongeBob episode "Frankendoodle", effectively making this a follow-up to two different things).
    • There is a mobile instalment of Diner Dash with a SpongeBob SquarePants makeover, where you play as SpongeBob serving customers in the Krusty Krab like in Diner Dash.
  • Double Dragon II for the Game Boy has nothing to do with the arcade game Double Dragon II: The Revenge or its NES counterpart. Instead, it's a localization of a Kunio-kun game titled Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen. The plot was changed, the River City Ransom-style backgrounds and character designs were replaced with more realistically designed ones, and the music is different as well. However, the play mechanics and level designs remained more or less the same, with only one boss getting a different attack pattern.
  • Super Spy Hunter was originally Battle Formula in Japan.
  • The Sega Master System action shooter Ashura was released in the United States as a Rambo game (based on First Blood Part II) and then in Europe as Secret Commando (which combines elements from the other two versions). Actually a subversion since Ashura was always meant to be a Rambo game, but Sega's license was only applicable in America.
  • After Color Dreams became Wisdom Tree and started specializing in Biblical video games, they rereleased some of their earlier unlicensed NES games with Bible tie-ins. Thus Crystal Mines became Exodus: Journey to the Promised Land, and Menace Beach became Sunday Funday, with the hero is rushing to Sunday school rather than to save his girlfriend. They also took id Software's Wolfenstein 3D and transformed it into the much Lighter and Softer Super 3D Noah's Ark, the only commercially released unlicensed title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
  • Balloon Fight was re-released in 2007 with Tingle from The Legend of Zelda as the balloon fighter. The box art even parodies it. However, it is worth noting that even with the parodying of this trope, Tingle's Balloon Fight is its own original game with features and enhancements over the original NES game.
    • Balloon Kid, the Game Boy sequel, was ported to the Family Computer in Japan as a Hello Kitty game. Oddly, the original Game Boy version was not released in Japan until several years later on the Game Boy Color as Balloon Fight GB.
  • Ninja Gaiden Shadow for the Game Boy was actually developed by Natsume as a port of their NES game Shadow of the Ninja: Tecmo bought the rights to the game and altered the graphics and story to make it into a prequel to the original NES Ninja Gaiden.
  • Kemco's Crazy Castle games is a series of nothing but dolled-up installments where the American versions somehow managed to be more consistent than their Japanese counterparts. The original NES version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle was actually a localization of a Roger Rabbit game for the Famicom Disk System, while the Game Boy versions of Crazy Castle and Crazy Castle 2 were originally Mickey Mouse games in Japan, though Japan also got them as Bugs Bunny games in a Compilation Re-release. Crazy Castle 2 was released in Europe as a Hugo game. Crazy Castle 3 and 4 for the GBC were Bugs Bunny games in all regions (as was the NES game The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout), but Crazy Castle 5 was made into a Woody Woodpecker game. Crazy Castle 3, however, was first released in Japan on the monochrome Game Boy as Soreyuke!! Kid (Go! Go! Kid), with Kemco's mascot Kid Klown instead of Bugs Bunny.
  • Mickey Mouse IV: The Magical Labyrinth became The Real Ghostbusters in America and Garfield's Labyrinth in Europe.
  • Donald Duck, a Sports Game for the Famicom, itself a conversion of the European Commodore 64 game Alternative World Games, was released overseas with a different license as Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular. This was done because Capcom held an exclusive license on Disney games in the US and Europe at the time.
  • Avoided in the case of Brütal Legend. When Activision was slated to publish it, they were keen to tie it in to the Guitar Hero franchise ("Guitar Hero Adventures" was apparently kicked around as a possible title), but the creative team resisted. Activision dropped the game partly over this dispute, leading Electronic Arts to publish it instead.
  • Ms. Pac-Man was created as a bootleg knockoff of Pac-Man called "Crazy Otto", got acquired by Namco's distributor Midway, and was released with the new name and graphics as an unauthorized sequel. Namco themselves have since made Ms. Pac-Man an official canon character, releasing games of their own starring her.
  • The European NES game Trolls in Crazyland is actually a localization of Doki! Doki! Yuuenchi: Crazyland Daisakusen with protagonist and his girlfriend redesigned as Trolls.
  • Quake II was originally supposed to be entirely unrelated to the Quake series, and was only given the Quake name when the original name iD wanted to give the game turned out to be unusable for trademark reasons. Since then, the Quake name has mostly come to be associated with the Strogg story arc, but that's not surprisingly given the disjointed, Random Events Excuse Plot that was the original Quake.
  • The Eastern European computer RPG Gorky-17 (released as Odium in the West) actually had 2 prequels made for it, but due to Odium's relatively obscure reception, only 1 of the games was released in the West, under the name Soldier Elite, with the names changed to do away with most references to the original Gorky-17/Odium.
  • Dragon's Lair: The Legend was a rebranded Game Boy port of Elite Systems' earlier ZX Spectrum title Roller Coaster (see it and other examples here). The Game Boy Color version, on the other hand, was a port of the original arcade game.
  • Parallax developed a space combat simulator, FreeSpace. Problem is:
    • A compression software with that name existed. Solution: put the name of Parallax's Descent series in the title. And that's why it's called Descent: FreeSpace: The Great War, even though it has nothing to do with shooting robots in outer space mines.
    • To complicate things it was called Conflict: FreeSpace in Europe, with no overt references to Descent. There was also a separate continuation of the Descent franchise, Descent³, which did involve shooting robots in outer space mines, but died a death in the marketplace.
  • Red Faction started very early development as a fourth Descent game until it was changed to be a first-person shooter. Some elements were carried over, such as the textures, the protagonist's name (Parker) and the jet fighter combat level.
  • Alex Kidd starred in two games that were not originally designed to be part of his series:
    • Alex Kidd in High-Tech World is a graphic hack made for the western market of a Japanese Mark III game titled Anmitsu Hime, which was based on a manga of the same name. The storyline was also altered for its localization. Alex's father appears in the game when he was supposed to be missing in Miracle World.
    • Alex Kidd in Shinobi World started development as an unrelated kid version of Shinobi titled Shinobi Kid.
  • Need for Speed: V-Rally and V-Rally 2 Presented By Need for Speed were dolled-up localizations of Infogrames/Eden Studios' V-Rally games.
  • A video game adaption of America's Test Kitchen was released for the Nintendo DS. In reality, it's an America's Test Kitchen game In Name Only, as it is actually a Recipe Pack Sequel to Personal Trainer: Cooking.
  • The reason the PC version of PowerSlave is so different from its console versions is because it was originally a completely different game titled Ruins: Return of the Gods, developed by 3D Realms as one of many titles to show off the then-fledgling Build engine. Eventually, they dropped the game and sold it to Playmates, after which it was modified to use PowerSlave concepts and resources, and then published.
  • The Deception game series is an entire dolled up series. In their original Japanese versions, they were thematically-related stand-alone games — the closest it comes to series ties outside of Kagero 2 is that the original Kagero had the subtitle Kokumeikan Shinsho, formally acknowledging its ties to Kokumeikan — but Tecmo decided to market them as a series in the US — presumably assuming Americans wouldn't be able to follow the idea of stand-alone games by the same company that are so much alike. Bizarrely, the only sequel in the "series" in Japan, Kagero 2, was marketed in the US as the stand-alone game Trapt. Even more confusingly, it's less a sequel to Kagero in any meaningful sense than a loose remake of Kokumeikan: Trap Simulation Game (released in the US as Deception: Invitation to Darkness) with a female lead this time.
  • Originally, The Bureau X Com Declassified was supposed to just be called XCOM, and was originally a First-Person Shooter with mild tactical elements, Starfish Aliens, a 1950s aesthetic, and Steampunk inspired weaponry, given the name of a near future isometric turn-based strategy game. It went over about as well as you can expect. After years of Development Hell, the game eventually transitioned into a third-person shooter with stronger tactical gameplay elements with the aliens replaced with one from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and its title was changed to reflect that it's intended to be a prequel while averting this trope.
  • In the early 1990s, French developer Kalisto created a rather interesting teamwork-puzzle platformer called Fury of the Furries. Namco was interested enough in it that they actually bought the license to it, replaced the titular furballs with a single Ms. Pac-Man wearing many hats and the music with variations on the Pac-Man theme, and the result was Pac-in-Time. Well, except for the SNES version of it, which was a bit more than just a mere sprite swap of Fury of the Furries. Also, the characters of Fury of the Furries were originally created for a Puzzle Game with the Working Title The Brainies. Though Kalisto later released it as The Tinies, and Titus Software released a SNES port under the original title, Loriciel published the same game as a Spin-Off of Skweek titled Tiny Skweeks.
  • Solomon's Key had two dolled-up editions: first for the PC Engine as a Licensed Game based on the Japanese samurai film Zipang (which also loosely inspired Kabuki Quantum Fighter), and later for the Game Boy Color as Monster Rancher Explorer.
  • Turrican II was ported to the Mega Drive and released as a Universal Soldier game after going through a few sprite-swaps.
  • Star Raiders II started life as a never-released Licensed Game based on 1984 movie The Last Starfighter; prototypes of this for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-Bit Computers have been found. When the license fell through, the game was released as a Star Raiders sequel instead. The Last Starfighter for the NES, in turn, was a rebranded port of the computer game Uridium.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Epic Yarn was originally planned as a completely unrelated game starring Prince Fluff, who remained in the final product as the second playable character in multiplayer. Nintendo decided it wouldn't sell, so they brought Kirby into the mix.
    • The mini-golf spinoff Kirby's Dream Course was originally a generic mini-golf game called Special Tee Shot.
  • The Game & Watch game Boxing was rereleased in 1988 as Punch-Out!!, though it has no resemblance to any other game in that series.
  • Dan Dare 3 for the ZX Spectrum. Programmer Dave Perry: "This was actually a game called "Crazy Jet Racer", then when Fergus saw it, he asked if we could change it to "Dan Dare III". So that's what happened. Crazy Jet was about a robot on a unicycle."
  • The first Alarm für Cobra 11 game. It was a cheap game using the game engine, graphics and even levels from the cheap London Racer II. Obviously, being the latter a game of street racing, what's the plot of the dolled-up installment? Infiltrate into a street racing gang. The only reason why pursuit is in the game is because it was already half-coded in London Racer II.
  • In-universe example: in the Dot Hack GU titles, the original version of the MMO "The World" was destroyed when its servers were caught in a fire on company property, resulting in the loss of most of the game's data. CC Corp merged what was left (including the Black Box folder, the core of the game) with another title they were working on to form "The World Revision 2", which the GU games take place in.
  • OutRun 2019 was originally planned as an unrelated futuristic racing game titled Junker's High, which was actually a converted version of a canceled Sega CD game titled Cyber Road.
  • Diddy Kong Racing was originally planned as a sequel to R.C. Pro-Am.
  • There are many pirated games which amount to nothing more than an obscure game with a more popular character's sprite hacked in to replace the hero, which is, perhaps, this concept concentrated to its purest form (if lacking the power of Canon). For example:
  • This was also somewhat common with arcade games, especially during The '80s:
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising originally wasn't planned to have anything to do with the Kid Icarus series. Nintendo and Sakurai were just working on a Nintendo 3DS action game involving sky and land combat when they suddenly realized that Pit would be the perfect character for such a title.
  • Yo! Noid, a side-scrolling platform game for the NES by Capcom starring Domino's Pizza's now-retired mascot (The Noid), was a graphic hack of a Famicom game titled Masked Ninja Hanamaru, which was originally about a boy ninja who attacks enemies with his bird.
  • Way, way back in the waning days of the Atari 2600, Atari changed their unreleased game Saboteur into a licensed game of The A-Team by changing around some text and replacing the hero sprite with... Mr. T's disembodied head. (The result was also unreleased.)
  • Super Pitfall II for the NES, which never went past prototype stage, was actually a scrapped localization of Atlantis no Nazo.
  • When the computer game Sleepwalker created for the British charity telethon Comic Relief was released on the SNES in the US, it was changed into an Eek! The Cat game. Instead of playing as a dog trying to get his young boy owner back home without waking him up, you play as Eek and whoever you're helping depends on the level. Speaking of the levels, most of them are ripped straight from the original. Only the UFO level was original.
  • James Bond 007 The Stealth Affair was originally not a James Bond game, though it was practically a Spiritual Adaptation to begin with. The publisher managed to gain the license for the James Bond name for video games, and all that was necessary to apply that to the game were some minor changes to the text.
  • Capcom's classic overhead run'n gun game Senjō no Ōkami (Wolf of the Battlefield) was released outside Japan under the name of Commando, while a later unrelated side-scrolling platformer titled Top Secret, was released overseas as Bionic Commando. Although the two games originally had nothing to do with each other, the developers of the NES version of Bionic attempted to strengthen the connection by adding Super Joe (the hero from Commando) as a supporting character, as well as overhead segments that play a lot like Commando.
  • The KOF Maximum Impact series is a spin-off of the main The King of Fighters series. However, that didn't stop SNK's US division from rebranding Maximum Impact 2 into The King of Fighters 2006.
  • When Shatterhand was imported to Japan, it was reskinned into a Licensed game of Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain.
  • In Australia, Beetle Adventure Racing is instead called "HSV Adventure Racing". It features HSV cars instead of VW Beetles, and the announcer was changed to sound more like a stereotypical Australian.
  • Tec Toy, Sega's Brazilian distributor, replaced or added their own licenses to localized versions of several Sega Master System games - and some Mega Drive ones as well:
  • The fourth and last game in Taito's Rastan series, Warrior Blade: Rastan vs Barbarian Saga, was a Japanese conversion of Barbarian, an unrelated arena fighter by Titus Software.
  • Data East's The Real Ghostbusters Arcade Game was an unrelated run-and-gun shooter released in Japan as Meikyuu Hunter G with some Ghostbusters elements pasted in.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell for the Famicom is actually a port of the Jaleco Arcade Game Momoko 120% with the heroine replaced with Lum and the aliens replaced with ones from the series. The original was a Spiritual Adaptation to begin with, though.
  • Variant: The game that became Super Smash Bros. was conceived as a unique title before eventually being converted into a Mascot Fighter.
  • Doraemon: Meikyū Daisakusen (Doraemon's Great Maze Tactics) for the PC Engine is a port of the Nichibutsu Arcade Game Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen (AKA Booby Kids) with the arcade game's original protagonist replaced with Doraemon, the end-of-level double doors with the Dokodemo Door, the Inexplicable Treasure Chests with Dorayaki, and the robotic Final Boss with Tsuchidama and Giga Zombie from the movie Nobita at the Birth of Japan, which inspired some new cutscenes. The localized TurboGrafx-16 version, retitled Cratermaze, brought back the original protagonist, music and treasure chests and replaced Giga Zombie with an Expy, though the doors weren't changed back and the cutscenes were edited rather than removed.
  • Konami's early MSX game Athletic Land was re-released as Cabbage Patch Kids: Adventures in the Park, with the player character redrawn as Anna Lee and a few other minor changes.
  • Blaster Master Boy was developed in Japan as a sequel to Bomber King (otherwise known by the Market-Based Title Robo Warrior), but Sunsoft decided to release it in the U.S. and Europe as a sequel to one of their own games. This explains why it lacks platforming and vehicle action but does have a lot of blowing up blocks with bombs.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: Space Cadet Adventures takes a few levels from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, such as those taking place in outer space, and replaces the R&B characters with Ren & Stimpy characters. Both of these Game Boy titles were developed by Absolute Entertainment and published by THQ.
  • The long history of this (see the film section above) in the Die Hard franchise also extends to video games. The original Die Hard coin-op and Sega Saturn game was originally released in Japan as Dynamite Deka, which was completely unrelated to the movie. It was given the Die Hard license for the international release, because it happened to feature a cop fighting his way through a terrorist-infested skyscraper before confronting a bearded Big Bad, and suffering increasing Clothing Damage as the game progressed. The sequel, Dynamite Deka 2, averts this by being released as Dynamite Cop.
  • Krusty's Fun House was originally an Amiga game named Rat Trap.
  • The WCW game for the Nintendo Entertainment System was the Famicom game Superstar Pro Wrestling with the Japanese wrestlers replaced.
  • Two games in the River King series were dolled up in Europe as Harvest Fishing. Developed by the same company as the Harvest Moon series, the River King games have no direct relation, occasional cameos aside.
  • The game that became X Rebirth was initially going to be an entirely new IP. During development Egosoft realized it was making an X-Universe game in all but name and basically said, "To heck with it; let's make a new X." Frankly, that was what the fans wanted anyway.
  • The 1980s Doctor Who computer game Doctor Who and the Mines of Teror started life as a sequel to the BBC Micro game Castle Quest, before the Sixth Doctor, a robot cat, and robots-that-definitely-aren't-the-Daleks were added.
  • Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom apparently originated as a game titled Zoom 909; it has no real connections to Buck Rogers beyond the title screen. Interestingly, Sega announced three other games for the Atari 2600 based on the same license, but due to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 none of them saw the light of day.
  • Sega's Arcade Game Strike Fighter was similar enough to After Burner that it was ported to the Sega CD and FM Towns as After Burner III.
  • The obscure pirate original Famicom game Harry's Legend is actually a hacked version of an even more obscure game called Titenic.
  • Quest Fantasy Challenge is a game made for the Game Boy Color, based on the Quest 64 license. The only problem is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the Quest series, and is actually a port of Mr. Do!.
  • Kong Strikes Back! combined the characters of Donkey Kong with the gameplay of Mr. Do!'s Wild Ride, which itself might have been dolled-up from a game called Go! Go! Coaster.
  • The Arcade Game Lethal Enforcers 3 was called Seigi no Hero in Japan, and is actually a Spiritual Successor to Police 911.
  • Castelian was released in Japan as Kyorochan Land, with the protagonist replaced by the Morinaga chocolate mascot.
  • Inverted in Homeworld. The writer wanted to make a Battlestar Galactica game (this was before the reboot), but couldn't get the rights. So they changed the plot a little bit and the ships a lot, and voila!
  • Space Raiders was reissued in Japan by the publisher of Earth Defense Forces series as part of the Simple 2000 series under the title Chikyuu Shinryakugun (Earth Invasion Force).
  • Tengai Makyou: Deden no Den was one of two multiplayer-only promotional editions of Bomberman 94, replacing Bomberman with Kabuki.
  • The Incredible Toon Machine was dolled up in Japan as the Ghosts 'n Goblins game Nazomakaimura, with Arthur and Astaroth taking the place of Sid and Al.
  • Originally, Xenoblade was going to be a standalone game called "Monado: Beginning of the World," with the name change coming later to connect it to the other Xeno titles. Even so, it had enough similarity to its predecessors in both themes and character traits that many players couldn't tell it wasn't in the same continuity.
  • The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates was originally developed by Sting Entertainment for the Western market. In Japan, it became Youkai Buster: Ruka no Daibouken, starring the mascot of Marukatsu Super Famicom magazine.
  • The Game Boy version of the Platform Game known either as McDonaldland or M.C. Kids was dolled up in the U.S. and Japan as Spot: The Cool Adventure, replacing one food promotion with another.
  • In Amsoft's series of Roland games for the Amstrad CPC, the first two releases, Roland in the Caves and Roland on the Ropes, were rebranded conversions of Indescomp's ZX Spectrum games Bugaboo the Flea and Fred. Roland Goes Digging was a Space Panic knockoff, though not the only one released for the system.
  • The Wangan Midnight game for the PlayStation 2 was essentially a rerelease of Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero with very little changed aside from the use of licensed cars and drivers.
  • Maya the Bee & Her Friends was originally going to be published as a South Park game for the Game Boy Color, but South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker took umbrage at the idea of an adult video game on a device mostly used by young children, which led developers Crawfish Interactive to scrap the South Park licence and reuse what they have done so far on a more suitable title for children. The South Park/Maya codebase was also later recycled for a game based on the Mary Kate & Ashley franchise.
  • Game Over 2 was originally published in Spain as Phantis, with no connection to Game Over (even though it had the same publisher).
  • Baby T-Rex, the Game Boy precursor to Radical Rex, was released in the U.S. as We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, in Sweden as Bamse, and in Australia as Agro Soar (starring the host of a Australian Puppet Show that otherwise has nothing to do with dinosaurs).
  • Popful Mail nearly had this happen to it. It was originally planned to be called "Sister Sonic" and focus on a female hedgehog set in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. However, fans found out and flipped their lid, saving the game from the change.
  • The SNES version of Cosmo Gang: The Puzzle, a Falling Blocks puzzle game from Namco featuring silly cartoon aliens which originally appeared in the mechanical Light Gun Game Cosmo Gang, was released internationally with redone graphics and music as Pac-Attack/Pac-Panic, a Falling Blocks puzzle game featuring Pac-Man, many Blinkies, and a fairy from Pac-Land. Evidently, Namco decided the gameplay fit Pac-Man better, as all later ports of the game were released even in Japan with the Pac-Man skin (although its appearance as a minigame in Pac-Man World 2 seemingly pays homage to its roots with the background art).
  • Once upon a time, Namco released a tennis game for the PS1 called Smash Court Tennis featuring chibi-style player characters, which was eventually deleted and is quite rare in the West at least. Then there was a sequel, titled simply Smash Court 2 in Japan. When translated for the Western market, it somehow managed to get itself endorsed by Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova and became known as Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis (complete with chibified Kournikova as one of the playable characters!) This version is considerably easier to find than its predecessor.
  • Taz for the Atari 2600 was changed into an Asterix game when it was released in Europe.
  • Thundercats: The Lost Eye of Thundera, the Licensed Game released for various computers by Elite Systems, seems to have originated as an unreleased game titled Samurai Dawn, whose only known screenshot in Computer and Video Games shows a definite resemblance.
  • On October 28th, 2015, Scott Cawthon pretended that the official website for Five Nights at Freddy's World was hacked with a download link to the leaked game. When players downloaded it, it turned out to be a version an older game of Scott's, Fighter Mage Bard, with the characters and enemies replaced with those from FNaF World.
  • F1, an officially licensed Formula One game from Domark, was a slightly updated version of Lankhor's Racing Game Vroom.
  • The Premier Manager Association Football management simulator series had three dolled-up installments released for PC in Premier Manager 97, 98 and 99. They were developed by Dinamic Multimedia, creator of the PC Fútbol series that was a major success among spanish-speaking countries. Oddly, and despite the fact there were already English football-themed games in that series (Called PC Premier), these three games were stripped-down versions (97 was one of PC Fútbol 5.0 and 98 and 99 of PC Fútbol 6.0, with 99 having some minor features of PC Fútbol 7 and PC Fútbol 2000), with everything that was accesible in the main menu, bar its three game modes (Friendly, Manager and Promanager), being removed.
  • French software house Titus made a game based upon a One-Hit Wonder novelty song by a French comedian, Lagaf'. The game was called Lagaf': Les Aventures de Moktar - Vol 1: La Zoubida. Upon realizing nobody outside France knew who the hell Lagaf' was, they turned his sprite into their company mascot, a fox, and released the (mostly unchanged) game again as Titus the Fox.
  • Sidewinder II was originally an independently-developed Atari ST game titled Blast. Virgin Mastertronic gave it wider distribution after rebranding it as a sequel to the Arcadia game Sidewinder, to which it bears no relation aside from also being a Vertical Scrolling Shooter.
  • The Japanese game Love Live! School Idol Festival spawned a Glee-themed remake known as Glee Forever.
  • Billiards game Side Pocket 2 for the Sega Genesis and Saturn was released in North America as Minnesota Fats: Pool Legend, adding in said legend among other things.
  • Music creation game Music 2000 for the PlayStation was called MTV Music Generator in North America.
  • Mad Max is a weird case. It has been in production for years but was a separate story in the Mad Max universe. However, since its release date fell close to Mad Max: Fury Road, more references to the movie were added, though it did not become a true licensed game like in most cases.
  • According to Word of God, Age of Empires III started as an unrelated game to the Age of Empires franchise. Then Microsoft, wanting to cash in to the franchise, pushed Ensemble Studios in order to add the AOE brand to the game.
  • In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, Wolfenstein: The New Order was originally supposed to be a separate game all on its own. But when MachineGames couldn't get it off the ground, they settled on taking the Wolfenstein brand instead, taking most of the ideas from the original project and transplanting them into the game we see today. The result was a game which managed to revive interest in the franchise after the modern shooter attempt several years earlier. It is telling that the next two installments of the franchise follow and improve on the model set by TNO - and, for that matter, that they didn't take five-plus years to come out as has been the tradition for the Wolfenstein series ever since 3D.
  • Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, due to the split between Codemasters, who owned the franchise name, and Bohemia Interactive, who owned the game's code and went on to develop the Spiritual Successor Arm A, was rebranded as ArmA: Cold War Assault upon its 2011 rerelease.
  • Averted for the Super NES game Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D, which, based on an alleged prototype ROM, had started development as a Dolled-Up Installment of the French computer title Jim Power in Mutant Planet as Buck Rogers: The Arcade Game. It was then finished and released as a Jim Power game, essentially becoming a semi-remake of Mutant Planet, when developer Loriciel couldn't secure the Buck Rogers license. This would account for Jim Power looking completely different in The Lost Dimension compared to Mutant Planet, as well as why he uses a spaceship in the Shoot 'em Up stages instead of a jetpack suit.
  • Both of Theme Park's rather lesser known sequels, Theme Park World and Theme Park INC. were branded by EA into the Sim franchises as Sim Theme Park and SimCoaster respectively, despite having no relation with Will Wright. The two games were branded yet again with different names in two different circumstances; Theme Park World's PS2 port was called Theme Park Roller Coaster in the United States and Theme Park INC. was renamed to Theme Park Manager for those in Australia. This also means that they got a Same Language Dub, but besides that, they're very much identical to their original versions.
  • Conflict: Denied Ops was originally developed as an unrelated co-op shooter named Crossfire.
  • Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure was effectively a simplified version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 with levels and characters taken from Tarzan, Toy Story, and The Lion King.
  • Tails Skypatrol started life as an unrelated game for an unreleased handheld. It was then a Disney licensed game before becoming a Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff.
  • The skateboarding game Tech Deck Dudes: Bare Knuckle Grind started life as a Rocket Power title before becoming a Sonic the Hedgehog title called Sonic Extreme, and then being retooled several times until it was finally released as a Tech Deck Dudes title. Both Sonic Extreme and Tech Deck Dudes: Bare Knuckle Grind were originally Xbox games, but the Xbox version of Tech Deck Dudes: Bare Knuckle Grind was cancelled. It was instead released as a PC game.
  • The forthcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, according to this story, was not initially conceived as a Star Wars game.
  • In the 80s, Realtime Associates developed a fully-working prototype of a Masters of the Universe game for the Intellivision. Gameplay involved avoiding enemies while moving around a single screen in isometric view and kicking items to the bottom of the playarea. When the Masters of the Universe license didn't work out, the game was instead retooled as a BurgerTime sequel under official license from Data East: He-Man was replaced with Peter Pepper, the enemies were replaced with the series' signature sentient food, and the game was described as taking place in the titular diner rather than Eternia (though the latter change required surprisingly few alterations to the graphics). Despite the changes being mostly sprite swaps, Diner actually worked well as a BurgerTime sequel, keeping with the original's theme of forcing food items to the bottom of the screen and avoiding food enemies.
  • SD Gundam: Over Galaxian is a Galaxian game themed after the SD Gundam franchise. It has two different story modes, "Gundam Story" (Based off of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series) and "G Changer Story" (Based off of SD Gundam G Changer).
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