Academy of Champions: Soccer is a kid-targeted soccer game for the Wii. It in itself is not a lighter and softer version of any extant franchise, but it's published by Ubisoft, and contains a special team composed of characters from other Ubisoft franchises. What does that mean? Cute and cuddly, brightly-colored Fun Size versions of Altair, Sam Fisher, Jade, and the Prince footying along with the game's Kid Heroes.
A rather bizarre example occurs with the video game adaptation of Adventures in Dinosaur City. The main characters of the film are fans of a cartoon series, of which we only see the intro, before being sucked into its Darker and Edgier real version. However the game bases its aesthetic more on said cartoon, thereby being lighter and softer then the film, but also truer to the (fictitious) source material.
In American McGee's Grimm the story of Little Red Riding Hood (save for a few curse words) actually manages to be slightly tamer in that the wolf was given a quick mercy killing via ax to the stomach. All in all this is a far better fate than, say, starving to death or having your belly get filled with rocks and drowning, like in some versions. If American McGee REALLY wanted to be Darker and Edgier, then he should have stuck with the original ending: no friendly woodsman, and Red and Granny don't get eaten whole.Lampshaded in the game — in the "original story" telling of it, Grimm mentions this about older versions... but comments that he couldn't go with that for his corrupted version while he's telling it — presumably because it'd be straying too far from the well-known story.
FromSoftware developed the Armored Core series; a series of mecha games set in post-apocalyptic futures and generally being full of War Is Hell, cynical rebellions, and all the ensuing tragedy and horror, capped off by a Real Is Brown art style. Then, in 2004, the developer decided to use Armored Core's engine and gameplay to make a Spiritual Successor robot game. Said game, called Metal Wolf Chaos, is about the President of the United States using a Mini-Mecha to fight off a coup d'etat by his evil Vice President (who is also in a mecha), while sprouting phrases like "EAT MY FLAME OF JUSTICE!" and "Nothing is pointless! And the reason is: Because I'm the president of the Great United States of America! YEAH!". Needless to say it falls under this.
Assassin's Creed Origins is the first game in the series to feature a "Discovery Tour" mode with all the action NPCs and violence removed, allowing the player to freely roam and learn more about Egypt guided by a narrator that makes it plays like an interactive version of a documentary show. This version can either be downloaded for free for owners of the main game, or purchased separately from the main game with a T rating, likely for classroom use.
Bendy and the Ink Machine's mobile spin-off, Bendy in Nightmare Run, is much less frightening than the main game. Rather than the player character being an elderly animator who has to fight off twisted, deformed versions of former cartoons and coworkers, the player may choose between cute, Super-Deformed versions of the starring cartoons and fight silly monsters.
Bully was this compared to Rockstar's other high-profile releases before it, Manhunt and the Grand Theft Auto series. A T rated game with no blood, no guns, and no killing. However, the original concept for the game was much more graphic before it was toned down.
Chaos;Head is a suspense/mystery story that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu is an Unwanted Harem romantic comedy. For one entry, at least, the series fully embraces that aspect of itself. 5pb. repeated the process with Steins;Gate Hiyoku Renri no Darling, which eschews the time travel and conspiracies in favor of fanservice and fun.
Red Alert 2 is much lighter and softer than its predecessors. Red Alert 1 is a game where Einstein goes back in time and kills Adolf Hitler, allowing a power-hungry Stalin to invade Europe. Red Alert 2 is a game where the Soviet Union invades the USA with blimps and mind-controlled squid. This was a reaction to the Darker and EdgierTiberian Sun, which most fans of the C&C series didn't like.
And the Tiberium series got Tiberium Wars. It features Tiberium WMDs, alien invasions, and maniacs in command on both sides, so it's not exactly rainbows and puppies. However, in contrast with Tiberian Sun, we see Blue Zones where humanity is thriving in futuristic cities (with basically unlimited resources thanks to Tiberium), and the GDI ZOCOM forces are starting to utilize technologies that can Tiberium and have managed to reclaim several territories already.
Darkstalkers, Demitri and Morrigans interaction in most of their crossover and guest appearances is on a much lighter note than originally portrayed in their home series; Demitri wants Morrigan to be his mistress, he hasnt been shown to be really in love with her, he admires her beauty and strength but all Demitri wants to have is the Aensland household under his thumb, getting Morrigan with it is just an welcome bonus to his harem; Morrigan on the other hand is a free spirit and isnt particularly interested in Demitri nor does she want to become a submissive mistress, to the point she would rather let herself turn into stone than become Demitris mistress in his ending for Vampire Savior. Come their later appearances, and in some of them Demitri and Morrigan seem quite close, with Morrigan teasing Demitri and calling him by nicknames and the guy actually getting embarrassed, being composed in her presence, not wanting to make her his plaything.
Day of the Tentacle is more purely a comedy, as opposed to its predecessor, Maniac Mansion, which is a horror/sci-fi game with some funny bits. Also unlike the first game, DotT has no unwinnable scenarios or time limits.
While not exactly softer, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is lighter than its vanilla counterpart: Frank West's lack of a personal stake in the Fortune City outbreak means that there is more room for humor, helped a bit by Frank being quite a bit chattier (and snarkier) than Chuck Greene.
Dead Island has a lighter and softer spinoff in Dead Island Epidemic. The series went from this tragic horror to this zombie comedy more. It's like a five-round cage fight against Brock Lesnar vs. a pillow fight with A.J. Lee.
Death Smiles, a shooter by CAVE, reduces a bit of its horror elements with a lighter style where the girls stop an evil Santa Claus to find several MacGuffins that will wake up their benefactor to save them from certain death.
Not in terms of story or subject matter, but visually, Devil May Cry 4 features a much brighter color palette for its demons, level design and environments than the firstthreegames which take place almost exclusively in bleak environments such as a haunted castle, an abandoned island, and a gothic tower respectively.
Diablo II comes off as significantly lighter and softer than its predecessor. This mostly has to do with the outside levels and there being a day/night cycle. A jungle (and a desert in all its sun-baked brightness, for that matter) during the day is just not as creepy as an underground crypt or a perpetually night time village. On the other hand, Acts 4 and 5 are more creepy than the original game, considering that the former actually takes place in hell itself and the latter takes place on a mountain besieged by The Legions of Hell.
This trope is what some of the more easily agitated fans feared Blizzard had done with Diablo III. Blizzard took the opportunity to play the accusations for laughs, and made the image on the main trope page. And then they made the lighter and softer Joke LevelWhimsyshire and included it as a secret bonus in the actual game.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: The remake for Game Boy Advance uses brighter colors and more cartoonish qualities (for example, in the GBA remake, K. Rool has fuzzy dice on the window of his ship, whereas in the original, he doesn't). The ending is also slightly altered. In the original version, K. Rool falls from his ship after defeat and gets eaten by piranhas, but in the GBA remake, he falls into the Lost World and vows for revenge, which hints at getting the Golden Ending. The Golden Ending is changed, too. In the original version, K. Rool rides away in Evil Laughter as Crocodile Isle collapses, whereas in the Game Boy Advance remake, additional dialogue is added and Funky drops a bomb on K. Rool.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! has Donkey Kong being captured (again), while Diddy Kong has also been kidnapped. Despite this, however, DKC2 was still the more aesthetically and audibly serious game of the three. Here, the levels are more colorful and based on nature like the first and K. Rool is a complete joke of a villain (well... even moreso than usual), and the secret ending borderlines on a Gainax Ending. Even the Game Over screen is a lot more toned down where it shows Kiddy and Dixie sitting in a crib before someone closes the door.
Drakengard 2 might be considered pretty dark compared to other JRPGs, but it is incredibly lighter than its predecessor. The main character isn't a complete kill-happy sociopath, has a chance to have a romantic arc that doesn't end horribly, and the game actually includes one ending where the world and the main characters are not doomed to suffer and/or die in various terrible ways.
EarthBound is far more comedic than its predecessor EarthBound Beginnings. While the original starts with a poltergeist invading the hero Ninten's house and centers around a very tragic backstory involving his great-grandparents and the final boss, the second game plays things for more humor barring a few moments. It only really gets as serious as the first game in the final battle, in which the tragic final boss from the first game is reduced to an insane, all-powerful Eldritch Abomination.
Epic Mickey is admittedly Darker and Edgier for a Mickey Mouse game, but it's actually lighter and softer for a game by Warren Spector. As he put it, "I want people to smile when they are playing, not get all scrunched up with adrenaline."
Fallout 2 zigzags this. Compared to the rest of the Fallout games, it's full of humor and pop culture references, and the main villains are cartoonly evil rather than the anti-villains the last game had. However, Fallout 2 is also thematically much darker than its predecessor, letting things like drug wars, slavery (economic and sexual), cannibalism and deliberate genocide (which had previously only been alluded to) take place on center stage.
Fallout Shelter, thanks to the cartoony Vault Boy-style artwork, and how the entire point of the game is expanding the Vault and keeping your Dwellers happy, which creates a great contrast to the other Fallout games.
Fallout 4. Compared to the utter carpet bombing the aptly-named Capital Wasteland got, Boston was targeted by only a single nuke... which missed and landed far south. Consequently, the historic city and the surrounding area are nowhere near as damaged or irradiated, people are (mostly) friendlier and more idealistic, and settlements are much closer and more numerous. The game is also less dark in its themes and stories with slavers and slavery being heavily toned down and any mention of sex or rape is just implied by select characters, and unlike Fallout: New Vegas, sexism towards a female protagonist has been removed with the gender of the protagonist never affecting the story or interactions with characters.
Fallout: New Vegas has a similar situation to Boston, where the majority of the nukes sent to blast the area were destroyed by Mr. House (only two got by because he miscalculated the day the war would come) and the story is more like the first two games, with their fair share of ridiculousness and darkness, especially with the "Wild Wasteland" trait.
Some DLCs are more light hearted than others, or even the main game. On one hand, we have the desolate Death Worlds of Dead Money and Lonesome Road, and on the lighter side, we have Honest Hearts for the Scenery Porn of Zion Valley and Old World Blues for its humour and goofiness.
Far Cry 4 also qualifies as this to a smaller level. Admittedly, you're playing a game fighting against the mad dictator of a war-torn Himalayan country, and whoever you bring to power ultimately turns the Golden Path into a Full-Circle Revolution, but it's comparatively lighter and softer than Far Cry 3, since there's less torture, rape, and slavery, and the series embraces Comedic Sociopathy more. There's even a Secret Ending where you manage to complete Ajay's original mission- place his mother's ashes in Kyrat- without killing a single soul, if you just take Pagan Min's advice and wait at his dinner table for 10 minutes until he returns.
Final Fantasy IX is accused of this, but it only really applies to the visual style, especially as the plot focuses heavily on themes such as genocide. However, it does gives off the initial impression of this with its slapstick-heavy intro.
While Final Fantasy XIV has your standard dark and gritty plot, the Hidibrand side quests about a bumbling Iron Butt Monkey buffoon detective who routinely gets blown up (or buried in the ground from the head to the torso) while sporting a hilariously creepy smile breathes the trope. The developers stated that the Hilidbrand quests were made to instill some hilarity and comedy in the game without affecting the grit of the main story. Gilgamesh becoming involved only serves to make it even moreso, with him serving a Friendly Enemy/Bumbling Sidekick role that provides many opportunities for even further laughs.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has a Cliché Storm plot along with the associated tropes, but many of the characters (including the main character) don't take the quest to save the world too seriously. One character has a very upbeat theme music that plays whenever he appears and the main character is a Kid Hero that complains about his paltry allowance.
The first Forza Horizon game was rated T by the ESRB, containing some risque humor and profanity in the dialogue. The second game received an E10+, toning down but not completely removing the risque humor and profanity. The third and fourth games were rated E, with the fourth game even receiving a patch adding additional censorship to some in-game songs to maintain an E rating with no descriptors.
Glider PRO replaces the dilapidated, stormbound atmosphere of Glider 4.0 with a sunny palette, cheery music, and a wide-open environment.
Depending on what angle you look at it from, God of War is both this and/or Darker and Edgier at the same time. Kratos is a bigger bastard and sociopath than any major Greek hero ever was. The Olympian pantheon is portrayed with a lot less of their positive traits present (while the Olympians of myth were pretty much the template for Jerkass Gods a lot of them, even Zeus, had their positive traits and Pet the Dog moments) and the story is mostly told through this bleak, bloody lense that tends to forgo the more adventurous and and lighter moments spread throughout even a lot of the darker myths. On the other hand, the games also leave out a lot of sexual deviance, bed tricks, incest and the like also found in the myths.
God of War (PS4) is a much straighter example, throwing away a lot of the gratuitous violence, cruelty, and sex of the previous games, and instead being an Coming of Age Story from the father's point of view.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game: Compared to the hard M for Mature nature of the source material, Gwent is rated T to appeal to a larger audience. In the transition, several things had to be toned down. Notably crass characters Thaler and Zoltan's parrot, Field Marshal Duda, aren't allowed to swear every other breath. The Redanian Elites have been reigned in, instead of being willing to rape for their country, they will... eat worms. Vesimir is still too old for this shit, however.
The Halo series has partially fallen into this, with the amount of blood sprayed around being reduced from enough to paint the walls purple (or blue, or orange, or red) to barely enough to fill a shot glass. Averted in that the storyline maintains its position halfway down the cynicism side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. This got to the point that Halo 5 ended up with a T rating instead of M, but since the series has always been at the low end of the M rating, most people didn't care too much.
Hitman GO is considerably tamer than Hitman, receiving an E10+ rating compared to the M rating for all the main franchise's games. There are still weapons and acts of violence in the game, but due to the board game style it comes off as much tamer. There's also none of the sex or profanity present in the other games.
The House of the Dead EX takes this to an extreme. The story consists of Cute Zombie Girl Zobiko and her love interest Zobio breaking out of a lab and escaping a zombie invasion through minigames such as catching apples, battling a zombie sumo wrestler, and encountering the first boss of The House of the Dead 4 and shooting out his bad teeth. Yes, this game exists. And the zombie couple appear as playable characters in Sega All-Stars Racing.
The Typing Of The Dead spoofs the whole thing in The House of the Dead 2 to the extreme. After finishing the Emperor, you are asked about how you want to execute Goldman; depending on how you answer the questions, one of three funny endings will be played.
House of the Dead: Overkill is not only less violent relative to previous entries in the franchise, it has loads of camp elements and humour, despite its, well... overkill of swearing.
King'sMatch-Three Game, Bubble Witch Saga 2, has cutesy graphics (including chibis on the map screen), and the only hazard is fog that obscures some of the bubbles already on-screen. Mission objectives range from the usual clearing the top of the screen to freeing an adorable ghost or rescuing animals. Compare this to the original Bubble Witch Saga, where the overarcing plotline involves evil spirits overrunning the land. This actually ties into some of the hazards, like the infected bubbles. Other hazards involve bubbles becoming encased in crystal, bombs start counting down when exposed and end the level if not removed within the time limit, poison bubbles that kill off your spiders (that's a bad thing; having spiders helps your score immensely), and death bubbles that end your game instantly if you hit them.
Left 4 Dead 2 still retains the horror and scares that the first game was built upon, but it steers a bit towards the lighter side: there are more levels in the daytime instead of nighttime, and the survivors are open to joke with each other every now and then.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: Zigzagged. The game, especially the remake, is a lot more cartoony, colorful, humor and slapstick-heavy and has wackier character designs than most of the other games in the series, but the story is among the darkest in the series.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: After the unexpectedly dark tone seen in the previous 3D installment (Majora's Mask), this game took a lighter tone with a colourful, cel-shaded look and humorous characters and dialogue (though it still has some noticeably dark aspects of its own).
The portable games are all significantly lighter and softer than their console counterparts, except forLink's Awakening and (to a lesser extent) Spirit Tracks. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes cranks it further by taking an outright comical bent; the worst thing that happens to anyone in the game is the princess being cursed to wear an ugly outfit.
There's also the cartoon series and the first two CD-i games. Everything, including the character designs, dialogue, and boss deaths, is much more comical and cartoonish than in any of the canon games.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The game is in the middle between the darker styles of its predecessor Twilight Princess and successor Breath of the Wild and the lighter style of The Wind Waker, which is evident by both the visual style and the storyline. The atmosphere of the game's world is generally cheery, especially the Sky and the islands in it, and dials back from the melancholic vibe of Twilight Princess. However, the surface below features tense, frightening areas like the Silent Realms, the underground of the Ancient Cistern, and the present era of Lanayru Desert. The game ultimately veers into a darker tone after Ghirahim kidnaps Zelda and takes her to the past to revive Demise.
Part of the appeal of Lollipop Chainsaw is that it's less intense and more humorous than the usual zombie game. However, despite its lighthearted and comical nature, it manages to have a somewhat unsettling Game Over screen (you actually see the main character becoming a zombie, albeit drawn in an American comic style, as opposed to serious zombie games, which have a very generic Game Over screen).
Mario Strikers: Battle League is this compared to the original on the Gamecube and Charged on the Wii, which were Darker and Edgier takes on the Mario universe. While the art of the games is still highly stylized, Mario and his friends dropped their Jerkass Ball personalities and are back to their usual bright and cheery selves.
Invoked in Mass Effect 3. Jack has become an instructor and no longer swears like she used to. In fact, the worst she does is punch Shepard in the face, before kissing him if romanced. Lampshaded when she tells her students to cover their ears, before telling Joker "Hey, Joker! F—"[LOADING SCREEN] Then there's the game's final piece of DLC, Citadel, which is meant as a final sendoff to the trilogy and its characters; it's goofy, cheesy, fun, lampshades anything and everything in the trilogy, and ends on a long party for every surviving squad member from the series. Though the majority of the actual base game is the darkest the franchise has ever been, with the demoralizing war for the fate of the entire galaxy and all.
The Mega Man ZX series compared to the previous series, Mega Man Zero, which is the darkest chapter in the series. It doesn't mean that ZX is light, exactly (after all, the main cause of the conflict is an Artifact of DoomEmotion Eater that also eats people's souls with regular mentions of Mavericks slaughtering innocent people and talks of genocide), just that Zero is Dark with a capital D (as in systemic genocide of the Reploids is just the start of the problems, mass-brainwashing, war and suffering, and the darkest villain of the whole franchise who believes Dystopia Justifies the Means and who tries to blow up the New Eden with a Kill Sat and then a Colony Drop. Oh yeah, and the previously-mentioned Artifact of Doom in ZX? That's his Soul Jar merged with the wrecked remains of the Kill Sat turned Colony Drop).
Mega Man 8 stands out as a very brightly-colored entry in the Classic series, especially compared to its Darker and Edgier predecessor Mega Man 7. Mega Man himself has Incorruptible Pure Pureness, the color palette is much more pastel-like and vibrant, the characters (especially the robot masters) are much sillier and goofier, and the soundtrack is much more relaxed and subdued.
Mega Man Powered Up could be considered this compared to the original game, with the brighter graphics, the cutesy voices, the Super Deformed art style, and the lowered difficulty.
In an overall dark series, Mega Man X1 and Mega Man X8 stand out as unusually cheerful and laid-back entries. Sure, X1 has Zero's Heroic Sacrifice and X8 has all the horrific implications of the New Generation Reploids planning on wiping out humanity, but they carry a triumphant and hopeful tone that our heroes will end up victorious and happy regardless. Compare this to the other entries, where there's usually some heavy Bittersweet Ending due to the number of innocent or tragic victims involved or the implications going forward.
A mod for the sombre nuclear war simulator DEFCON exchanges Mutually Assured Destruction for Christmas and Santa Claus: the silos become Christmas trees, the ICBMs are presents, the bombers are reindeer-pulled sleighs, and the megadeath casualties become millions of happy children.
The NES version of Metal Gear is lighter than the MSX version by the simple expedient of using brighter colours in the graphics and using a cheery, poppy soundtrack rather than the original's chiptune-John Carpenterpastiche proto-Synthwave. It also changes some levels around to give the impression that Outer Heaven is a military base in the jungle (similar to the campy 80s action movie setpieces of the day), when in the original it's clearly based on a prison camp.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, while not without dark content, was designed to be more comic-book like and "youthful" in order to contrast with the bleak and fatalistic Metal Gear Solid 4 that preceded it. The art direction is colourful, there's no blood, the character in the position that would usually be the main villain is clearly a good person doing what she thinks is best, there's cute kids, and the optional audio conversations put an unusual amount of emphasis on the characters just having fun partying together and organising concerts.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe had all of MK's blood removed, and the fatalities severely toned down, to comply with DC's restrictions and the ESRB T rating. The Joker's awesome Fatality from the game's early promotional materials was even replaced with a Gory Discretion Shot for American audiences.
The Lego Adaptation Games are often a lot more light-hearted and less self-serious than the various source materials, with humorous cutscenes, bright and colorful visuals, and in early games, characters who mime and mumble rather than have actual dialogue. And as the series progressed, death itself became too dark for the cutscenes, no matter how poignant the original made them. Cedric Diggory, Boromir, and Han Solo are among those who "get better".
MySims is a lighter and softer version of The Sims with chibis, no child-rearing or romance, and very few actual social aspects from The Sims. It's a very fun game, but it's also more like Animal Crossing for people who don't like being bossed about by a tanuki. In other words, if the only thing you liked about The Sims was killing them in various and evil ways, My Sims might not be for you. There are no swimming pools, eating is something that happens because they happen to encounter a table and chair, and you can't block doorways with furniture (and if you could, you'd be stuck until you removed it). The worst you can do is Be Mean, which ranges from insults and hitting them with water balloons to stepping on their feet and getting into dust-ups, complete with dust cloud.
Octopath Traveler: Compared to some other stories of the game which involve instances of murder, betrayal and revenge, Tressa's story is significantly more lighthearted than the others. She's the only character confirmed to have living biological parents, and her story involves her going out to see the world and make friends/money along the way. She hasn't suffered any major personal tragedies in her past. This heavily contrasts with Primrose's story, which is possibly the darkest one of all, containing implications of sexual content, human trafficking and her quest being driven by the desire to kill the men who murdered her father.
Pocket Mortys is this to Rick and Morty. The show's signature humor is still there, but it's toned down to a PG level, with there being no adult content other than some minor swears and a bit of innuendo. Some lines from the show are even Bowdlerized.
The Japan-exclusive Wiiware titles of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series are much more lighthearted then the previous games, using the chibi Pokémon models first seen in Pokémon Ranch and having a silly plot, with its climax boiling down to you stopping the townsfolk from arguing over some chocolate you brought them by finding some special cookies for them to share (as opposed to preventing the world from being destroyed).
Illusion's H-Game library started off as dark sci-fi and fantasy style H-Games, but as they got newer, better 3D technology, their library softened a bit. Compare Rapelay to Sexy Beach 3, for instance.
Portal 2 is a few shades lighter than its predecessor, being a little less dark than the original in exchange for being a little bit sillier. While Portal 2 is certainly dark, it doesn't have the constant feeling that something is wrong like the first game did, due mostly to Portal 2 exploring a lot of the mysteries that the first game left unanswered.
After the fanbase's displeasure over the Darker and EdgierPrince of Persia: Warrior Within, Ubisoft made The Two Thrones less immaturely outrageous, although still a M-rated game. The hero even apologizes for his foul mood in the previous game. The 2008 iteration dialed it back to a Teen rating, aiming for a fantastical, exotic, magical atmosphere reminiscent of Sands of Time. 2010's "Forgotten Sands" took this even further, mimicking the first game in mechanics and tone so closely that it might as well have been a spiritual successor.
Red Faction 1 and 2, despite being in the same series, barely resemble each other in many ways, especially overall tone. The first game mostly takes place in Mars within many dark tunnels, and you're part of a miner rebellion to fight off an evil corporation. In short, it's Total Recall (1990) as a first person shooter. The following game? Yeah, you're part of a super soldier squad overthrowing a Stalin expy, and yeah, it's still violent, but the game's direction is nowhere near as grim and desperate. When enemies nearly get shot dead on the first game, they're screaming for help. On the second one, they jokingly flee, saying they need to think of a new strategy. No, that part's not a joke.
Resident Evil 4 is this to earlier games in the Resident Evil series, as well as later titles. There's a lot of Ascended Meme going on, and it even pokes fun at the silly plots that the series is known for.
While Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 are on the hopeless side, depicting humanity being slowly overwhelmed by an alien menace. Resistance 3 and Resistance: Burning Skies are much more optimistic and heroic than the preceding games.
The games after Saints Row 2. While the first two SR games did have their moments (moreso for the latter), they still took themselves seriously because the Saints were a ragtag ensemble of hardened criminals who were initially established specifically to combat Stilwater's more chaotic and dangerous gangs, and to protect their eponymous neighborhood. Then they became every bit as ruthless as the gangs they fought in sequel.
Saints Row: The Third had a tonal shift, due to the Saints becoming world-wide celebrities. The story itself is much less dramatic and dark, and more parodic and goofy in comparison.
By the time Saints Row IV was announced that the Boss became a U.S. President, then was abducted by aliens, and was able to wield powers within a stimulation, everyone knew what type of game it would be.
Samurai Shodown 6 in comparison to the rest of the series. It uses a festival setting, has no blood or killing moves, and introduces several new fighters who are intentionally designed to be comical or lighthearted.
The first game in the Shadow Hearts RPG series is M-rated, gloomy, and fairly gory; the second game scored a T-rating and abandons most of the gore for oddball humor, but keeps the grim atmosphere fairly intact; and the third game, also rated T, is so goofy and light-hearted in comparison that it threw some fans off. The Lighter and Softer trend is even more obvious if Koudelka, the Survival-Horror semi-prequel to the original, is considered.
The Devil Children / Demi Kids sub-series seems like this. The demons are cuter, the characters are bright and colorful children, we have the usual friendship messages, etc. However, the cast still suffers through a lot of the same terrible things that happen to mainline SMT characters. It was actually pretty successful in Japan, spawning two anime series plus manga and other merchandising. Its run in the U.S. was less fortunate, as Book of Light/Dark didn't impress.
Devil Survivor's Updated Re-release, Devil Survivor Overclocked, has some of the most idealistic Law and Chaos routes in the series. God and His angels are more moderate than usual even in the original release, and in Amane's 8th day you prove to be even more moderate than them, redeeming several people that the angels have forsaken and proving a world under God isn't so bad a concept. While Naoya's 8th day can go standard Shin Megami Tensei Chaos if you kill enemy tamers, if you spare them then you end up uniting all of humanity against God and pulling out a pretty happy ending.
The Devil Summoner games such as Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army and Soul Hackers overall feel more like Saturday morning actions Shounens, in that while they can get pretty dark, no apocalypse occurs, there's more humor, and the more colorful protagonists tend to not betray each other. The Raidou games feel like you're controlling Lupin III with a demon army. Meanwhile, Soul Hackers features a cool hacker protagonist alongside his friend Hitomi that has been possessed by a demonic spirit named Nemissa, only for this particular demonic possession to be Played for Laughs instead of horror as is usual for SMT, as the two minds bicker back and forth when Hitomi acts like an idealistic comic book superhero while Nemissa is trying hard to be a '90s Anti-Hero and failing humorously.
Though the Persona sub-series can get pretty dark itself, it is definitely lighter and softer when compared to mainline SMT. While Shin Megami Tensei I involves various horrors like the hero's party betraying each other and leading bloody campaigns of violence to seize control of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the genocide of whatever side you don't align yourself with, and the murder of just about every unfortunate civilian you meet, the Persona games generally involve a group of disparate individuals coming together to successfully save the day. Persona 2: Innocent Sin's ending is the exception, being undoubtedly the darkest point in the entire Persona series.
Persona 4 is a considerably more cheerful game compared to its predecessors. While the story is about tracking down a serial murderer while being confronted with the party's darkest secrets and deepest fears, it has a fairly positive attitude about the whole thing. It makes for a nice change after the seriously Bittersweet Endings of Persona 3 and Persona 2, and though it has a lighter feeling to it, it still contains some really dark subject matter.
The main cast's character arcs tend to be lighter in Persona 4 than in Persona 3. Just to compare the first two party members you get in both games, Junpei's arc is he feels like he has no future ahead of him since he's mediocre at best in just about every thing he does, and everyone else he knows is headed to big things. He's also afraid of turning into his drunkard, waste-of-space father. Yosuke's main character arc in comparison is dealing with his feelings about both living in the country instead of the city and the death of the girl he was in love with. Yukari's arc is that she can't stand people who can't stand up for themselves, like her mother who throws herself at boyfriend after boyfriend. Later on she has to deal with the fact that her father is probably partially responsible for the whole mess they are in. In comparison, Chie just feels jealousy towards her best friend and later just wants to be able to protect people.
In Persona 3, you get a dog named Koromaru. He is cute, pretty intelligent, and does funny things sometimes, but otherwise he's just a normal dog who happens to be able to summon a Persona. In Persona 4 however, you get Teddie, a sentient bear mascot suit who regularly makes bear puns in the English dub and is probably the biggest comic relief character in the game.
This trope occurs over the course of Persona 5. The game starts with the protagonist being arrested for an assault he didn't commit and is promptly sentenced to probation, forcing him to change schools. Right from the start, the atmosphere at school is gloomy, due to the influence of the volleyball coach Suguru Kamoshida, who spreads rumors about you, physically abuses his team and sexually harasses the female students, which everyone keeps quiet about due to the reputation his team brings to the school due to him being a former Olympic athlete. Once the protagonist and his friends dispatch his shadow in the Metaverse and take his palace's treasure, Kamoshida undergoes a change of heart, confesses his crimes and turns himself in. Once he leaves the story, the game's tone brightens considerably. Then it's subverted on the later arcs, with child abuse and death galore. The Updated Re-releasePersona 5 Royal then plays this trope straight, as while Dr. Maruki's reality warping plans are unnerving, he's still a good person in his wish to genuinely see others free from pain, as opposed to the mad false God Yaldabaoth.
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri's is an extremely dark game showing the last remnants of humanity trying to survive on a hostile world after Earth nukes itself into oblivion. Technologies and ethics get grimmer the further you go on, such as the infamous Self Aware Colony which vaporizes dissidents for vandalism, and the leaders of the expeditions eventually becoming little more than brains in jars. Civilization: Beyond Earth, on the other hand, while still sad, is largely upbeat - Earth's civilizations banded together to launch dozens of colony ships to the stars, and the Earth still survives in some form, as the Purity's "Promised Land" victory has them warping refugees in from Earth to colonize the new planet - while Supremacy's "Emancipation" victory has them conquer Earth.
Silent Hill: Downpour is less malevolent compared to the rest of the games. Its less gory than previous entries and character motivations are much more justifiable by comparison. Murphy killing the man who murdered his son is somewhat more reasonable than James killing his wife.
The Simpsons Hit & Run, compared to Grand Theft Auto, the gameplay of which provides the basis for the former. You can run over people, but they can't die. You can take any car you want, but you're just hitchhiking, not stealing them. You can piss off the police, but all you get is a small fine, as you have no weapons for the cops to confiscate.
Skies of Arcadia, compared to RPGs in general at the time of its release (originally in 2000 on the Dreamcast, then ported in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube), is lighter and softer in its impossibly optimistic and clean-cut protagonist Vyse (as opposed to the cynical brooding heroes such as Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart who were more popular at the time), a fairly simple plot (it has its dark moments, but even so), and easy-to-learn battle system. Taken somewhat further in the U.S Dreamcast release, when situations involving drunkenness and a particular near-rape scene involving one of the female protagonists was edited out.
Street Fighter X Tekken is a crossover game between Street Fighter and Tekken. Contrary to the serious tone both video game franchises have, this game doesn't take itself particularly seriously, what with the humourous character winquotes, the general "party" atmosphere, and the high amount of joke storylines. And Bad Box Art Mega Man.
Sunrider Academy is this in comparison to the main Sunrider games. While it has its share of lighthearted moments and silly harem antics, at its core Sunrider is about a galactic war between two interstellar superpowers, and the protagonist is a starship captain who has to choose between being moral and being pragmatic as he tries to liberate his conquered home planet. Sunrider Academy, meanwhile, is a comedic Highschool AUDating Sim where the starship captain is now a member of the student council, and his biggest concern is keeping three of the schools clubs from going under while also trying to get a girlfriend before the end of the year.
A number of jarring moments from Cross Ange are only implied or downplayed. Unlike the original series where There Are No Therapists, several heroes intervene on their negative qualities, including the Misanthrope Supreme personality of the main character. Finally, some problems and character relationships are either improved early on or arguably better than they were in canon, including Sylvia.
For Super Robot Wars X, the developers at Bandai Namco aimed for a more kid-friendly/Super Robot approach. SRW V is pretty dark with the lead-world being based on Yamato. Mashin Hero Wataru is the primary focus of X, and much of the early story is focused on the silly circumstances that surround said series. On the same note, consider that Getter Robo (which uses Armageddon's world these days), Evangelion, and Seed are all missing in this one. It feels that more depressingly dark or grimdark stories were pushed out. Heck, even Mazinger Zero just ends up being "the darkness of Mazinger". And even more profound on this, they made the influence of Wataru seep into both Code Geass and Cross Ange, making it a bit more lighter than what happened in V and even had the titular Lelouch and Ange eventually tone down their aloof and harsh personalities thanks to Wataru.
Team Fortress 2, as compared to its progenitor Team Fortress Classic and other realistic first person shooters such as Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, or Battlefield. Other such games and even prior installments in the Team Fortress series skew towards the serious and grim, without much in the way of intentional humor. On the other hand, Team Fortress 2 plays like a deranged Pixar cartoon, and is designed to be both highly stylized and Denser and Wackier than what came before it. In spite of what critics might claim, it's no child's game—it's still surprisingly graphically gory and there's no pretense that people aren't dying horribly—but the tone isn't as heavy or serious as other competitors in its genre. This air of lighthearted frivolity makes it easier to dismiss the absurdity of what's going on as just par for the course. While many realistic games have storylines just shy of Ripped from the Headlines, the backstory for Team Fortress 2 involves a war being fought over driveway gravel of all things.
The hideous True Ogre from the Tekken series can wear a mask in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that not only replaces his demon horns with red maple bonsai trees, it also makes him look like a cartoony version of himself with Puppy-Dog Eyes. It's somewhat... cute. The mask can be seen at the beginning of this video.
Test Drive Unlimited is pretty much lighter and fresher than Overdrive (the darkest in the series), employing bright colorful graphics, Wide-Open Sandbox set in tourist attractions and having more-soothing music, whereas Overdrive has Serious Business storylines and Heavy Metal music employed by point-to-point races and gritty graphics.
Tetris: The Grand Master 4 - The Masters of Round would've been this, featuring flowery and colorful visuals in contrast to Tetris: The Grand Master 3's space theme, but the game was canceled. TGM 2015 recycles its visual assets, retaining this trope.
While the Core Design Tomb Raider games weren't exactly graphic, they did have some pretty dark content like Lara getting impaled on spikes if you fall into a spike pit and Lara being framed for murdering Werner von Croy in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. When Crystal Dynamics took over the franchise and gave it a reboot, Lara's deaths in game and failures in quick time events have none of the gory details that would have been shown. The games reducing the violence was done in order to keep the games rated T. Tomb Raider (2013) would swing the other way into Darker and Edgier territory.
Toy Story 3: This game is much more light-hearted than the film it is based off of. The Toy Box mode is pretty much all just fun and games, and the story mode has hints of some of the movie's intense moments but nowhere near the same level, and no hint of the more emotional scenes either.
Bizarrely for a First-Person Shooter, the Alternate Continuity of TRON 2.0 is much softer and upbeat in tone than the canon built around TRON: Legacy. This despite Flynn going MIA in both timelines, Lora Baines-Bradley being killed off, and swapping A.I. Is a Crapshoot for Humans Are the Real Monsters. Killing civilian Programs instantly nets you a Non-Standard Game Over, the Programs who are not actively shooting at Jet tend to be very friendly and helpful (and one of the factions who do shoot at Jet call it off when they realize he's on their side after all). Contrast with Legacy, where every Program is trying to get Sam killed in a messy and painful way, or TRON: Uprising where the protagonist is openly hated by most of the citizens. Furthermore, Jet is able to rescue his father and save cyberspace from the Datawraith mercenaries and viral threat. Of the Legacy canon, Anon stops Abraxas and dies horribly. Sam has to watch his father die in front of him, and Beck's Doomed by Canon.
The endings in the Twisted Metal games made by 989 Studios (Twisted Metal III and Twisted Metal 4) tend to be much lighter and sometimes downright comedic when compared to their predecessors. That said, it's impossible for anyone to outwit Kalypso in 989's timeline, where sometimes the cast manages to subvert the Deal with the Devil. There's also Small Brawl, which invokes this trope via Spinoff Babies.
The final two levels of Unpacking are notably prettier and lighter in atmosphere than the ones before them most likely reflecting the protagonist's own mood.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is remarkably more colorful in setting, has much more vibrant and upbeat music, and starts off with a lighter plot - a far cry from the original Valkyrie Profile, with its drab color palette, depressing soundtrack, and story involving loads and loads of death and Ragnarok around the corner. Oddly enough, this is justified in-universe - as explained in Silmeria, a MacGuffin (the Dragon Orb) keeps Midgard stable, and when Odin takes it away, Midgard turns into a Crapsack World as seen in the original game.
The arcade racing game Wangan Midnight R uses dark visuals with lots of grays, whites, and orange and a soundtrack that sounds like something out of a chase scene in an older film. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune is, in comparison, substantially more colorful (both in scenery and interface), has any number of Joke Cars (A Corolla and a HiAce van in a racing game full of cars that have 280 stock horsepower?), and uses a surreal trance soundtrack. Gameplay-wise, the difficulty has been skewed down from R's nerfarious opponents and stringent time-limit, to WMMT 1 and 2's more-lenient time limits and slightly-easier (but still hard) game modes, to easier opponents in 3 onwards.
WiiWare game Water Warfare is a lighter and softer version of the entire "FPS Deathmatch" genre. While it plays much the same as other multiplayer FPSes, with multiple weapons and areas, deathmatches, Capture the Flag games, and the like, it's entirely nonviolent—all the weapons are squirt guns and water balloons, and the worst that ever happens to anyone is that they get wet.
Before that there was Nerf Arena on the PC, which plays out like your average deathmatch FPS, but with harmless Nerf weapons.
The Xeno series. The original Xenogears is probably the darkest game in the series, with Xenosaga and Xenoblade Chronicles being progressively lighter in tone. Both games are not lighthearted at all when they get serious, but they are in comparison to Xenogears.