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Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel

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Top: USS Enterprise, 2257. Bottom: Same ship, 2266.
"I have to say, I find these slick computer-generated renderings of the ship kind of jarring; it makes the Enterprise look more technologically advanced than starships will look however many years later, during Kirk’s stint as captain. I’ll admit there’s really no way around that problem (short of dusting off old models from 1950s B-movies), but it’s just one of what I suspect will be many little anachronisms that arise from doing a prequel series."
The Agony Booth's recap of Star Trek: Enterprise, "Two Days and Two Nights"

While a Prequel story may be set before the events of the original story, it is being made after the original story and the creators have access to more money or better technology in order to make the work. This can be a bit of a dilemma when it comes to visual and interactive media, concerning not only prequels, but spinoffs as well. Designers often try to evolve and improve on what they did before, even when the story they're working on occurs way before their earlier designs. The end result is that the production design of prequel/spinoff looks or feels better than what they had in the current storyline. The technology to create the clothing, sets and props has advanced, allowing better graphics, better features, better special effects and better interactivity with the characters. However, even though the setting of the prequel is stated to be less "advanced" than the setting of the original, you wouldn't know that from just observing it due to The Aesthetics of Technology.

This is common in prequels to sci-fi works created in the mid 20th century, but whose prequels were done in the late 20th or 21st century. While the original is rife with outdated technology, the more "primitive" prequel will have tech that looks like it came straight out of an Apple Store (iPod look optional). What was once a crudely made Off-the-Shelf FX becomes carefully crafted and custom created by an artisan with all the seams sanded away and no "Made in China" label can be seen.

If technology had regressed in-universe in the time between the prequel this trope does not apply. If the original is set After the End and the prequel is set Just Before the End, then what we are seeing can be explained as Lost Technology unavailable to works later in the timeline. But this discrepancy can enhance the aesthetic clash if there is no such explanation, you're wondering why the original work has hard locked analog controls while the prequel has fancy holographic displays that can be customized to the user. Often this inspires some level of fanwank that can explain the regression.

The Literary Agent Hypothesis helps suspend one's disbelief when this trope comes into play; that is, the progression of technological sophistication is not arbitrary or backwards, but merely subject to the special effects and budgetary constraints of the modern-day reproduction.

Compare and contrast The Aesthetics of Technology, Long-Runner Tech Marches On, Evolutionary Retcon, Zeerust. May be a specific instance of Older Is Better. See also Zeerust Canon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Some of the individual Gundam series may also fall into this, depending if they have spinoffs of their own. This is actually kinda explained in the case of the Universal Century. It's stated that the time after Operation: Stardust, technology kept leapfrogging itself, but once the Zeon Wars came to an end, they went from flashy and Newtype-centered to being economical. Some specific examples:
    • For example, take the reputed F91 Gundam in comparison to the Unicorn. The Mobile Suit Gundam F91 takes place decades in the future whereas the Unicorn is only a few years after Char's Counterattack. Guess which one looks more advanced?
    • The cake may go to the anime of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. Despite being set before the One Year War, these first generation Zakus are zipping around and pulling maneuvers that put much more advanced mecha from older series to shame. Granted, the ones pulling off said maneuvers are well-established in the original series as Zeon's Ace Pilots by the time Amuro climbs into the Gundam's cockpit for the first time.
    • Another contender for most egregious example is Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt. This is again set during the One Year War, the first war using mobile suits. The Full-Armor Gundam in Thunderbolt makes the F91 (a bleeding-edge high-mobility suit from 44 years in the future) look like a tortoise in molasses.
  • Played with regarding the VF-0 in Macross Zero, which does have some sleeker-looking bits and various features not found on the Variable Fighters in the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross; however, its overall design is bulkier and less refined than the VF-1, with very spindly, unfinished-looking arms, all of which makes sense for a prototype. Played straighter with the Rebel VFs, however, who look more like the mechs from post-SDF sequel Macross Plus, with just a few spindly, unfinished mechanical touches of their own to remind us that they're early prototypes.
  • Word of God is that FLCL Alternative is actually a Stealth Prequel to the original and Progressive—yet it features smartphones, flatscreen screens, and more modern concepts for 2018 than the 2000-2001 original series.
  • Characters in the main Lyrical Nanoha timeline are shown using flip phones as late as StrikerS, but the Reflection/Detonation duology (which take place around 8 years earlier) show Nanoha with a smart phone. Characters are also shown wielding Force era equipment, which from the movies' perspectives wouldn't be invented for another 14 years.

    Films — Animation 
  • Zig-zagged in Monsters University. While the animation is noticeably more advanced, some of the technology is a lot less advanced than it was/will be in the first movie, like the scare training dummies (which move very mechanically and are clearly made of wood here, whereas in Monsters, Inc. they look exactly like real children).
  • Totally Spies! The Movie, despite being a prequel and origin story for the spies, includes Gadget & Set Designs (such as the cloths changing mechanism on the girl's compowders) that weren't seen on the show until the 3rd Season.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Hobbit: While The Lord of the Rings films established much of the aesthetics of the modern high fantasy settings, these aesthetics have been built upon over the years in a variety of works. Thus, to appear more spectacular, the structures are more grandiose (Erebor, Thranduil's halls, Laketown is a subversion as it takes a departure from the Shining City Minas Tirith was and is closer in appearance to something out of Game of Thrones), weapons and armor are more elaborate (noticeably in the case of dwarves and elves, but men and orcs as well) and the character designs are more diverse (all 13 dwarves, Radagast, as well as Azog and Bolg who are very distinct in appearance from any other orc). It also makes sense from an in-universe standpoint, as the world in The Hobbit is portrayed as distinctly magical and wondrous, while in Lord of the Rings the sentiment is that The Magic Goes Away.
  • The technology in the Star Wars prequels looks much shinier than it will two or three decades later. In-universe, this is because ships and architecture of the Old Republic were designed for comfort and luxury, while Imperial vessels are mass-produced warships that prioritize function over aesthetics. And the Rebels grabbed whatever they could. Although it must be said that the prequel technology is not significantly more primitive than the original trilogy technology (except for a few superweapons like the Death Star), but is mostly the same, only with more styling. The effect is actually pretty obvious over the course of the prequel trilogy, with things well on their way to how they will look in A New Hope by the end of it. Rogue One closes the circle by showing the final stage of this degrading, with several prequel vehicles and devices that have been given the aesthetic of the original trilogy.
  • Star Trek (2009): It's in the strange position of being part Continuity Reboot and part prequel. Unlike the Enterprise example there was almost no attempt at a "retro-future" look and the technology looks like it would rival anything from The Next Generation shows (24th Century). The bridge looking like an Apple Store was stated by the production team itself. The engine room, on the other hand, looks like it would pass muster on a modern-day military warship (assuming said warship contained a brewery). In-universe this is justified with the Enterprise using technology reverse engineered from the Narada (a ship that traveled in time from a post-TNG period).
  • The titular ship of Prometheus certainly looks more advanced than the Nostromo from Alien. It could be justified, however, by the fact that the Prometheus is a brand new expedition ship while the Nostromo is the equivalent of an old space truck. There are also many similarities in design for those who can search them out. Alien: Covenant, which is supposedly set only 18 years before the original, makes this trope even more apparent.
  • A variation appears in Final Destination 5, the twist being that the 2011 sequel is actually a Stealth Prequel to the original film. Computer screens and cell phones used in the movie are noticeably sleeker-looking than those used in the original- while these would have technically been available in 2000, they would have been expensive and barely on the market. Clothing is also more fitted and tailored than the baggy ensembles of Final Destination. However, this trope was likely intentionally invoked by the filmmakers as a means of misleading audiences about the time period, which is only revealed in the film's final moments.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The visual effects, most notably the hyperspace jump points, are more advanced-looking in Babylon 5's aborted spin-off The Legend of the Rangers than they are in its earlier short-lived spin-off Crusade, but The Legend of the Rangers is actually set a year and a half before Crusade.
  • An example that only briefly appears: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place some time before Battlestar Galactica (2003) — something like 30-40 years prior, considering the main character's age. In Blood and Chrome, a pre-mission briefing is conducted using something like virtual reality goggles. By the time the main series rolls around, plastic figurines on a two-dimensional map are used instead. Justified in that the Galactica is a museum piece by the time of the reimagined series, and furthermore, the ship eschews many forms of high technology (the computers aren't even networked) to protect against Cylon viruses.
  • In the Doctor Who story "Genesis of the Daleks", an Origins Episode for the Daleks, the Dalek props used have the final codified Dalek design used from "The Chase" onwards, rather than the design used in when they first appeared in "The Daleks", to say nothing of the fact that the Daleks here don't seem dependent on being fed an external electric current as in their debut serial and generally seem considerably more powerful. This has led to fans theorizing that the Daleks in "The Daleks" were a fringe group that became technologically crippled from constant warring with the Thals, though from a behind-the-scenes perspective it amounts to a simple continuity error.
  • The Batman prequel series Gotham is an interesting case. Though it is set a good 10-15 years before Bruce Wayne will become Batman, Batman stories (and by extension, backstories) typically exist on a sliding timescale rather than being tied to a specific era. Nonetheless, the makers have taken efforts to avoid this trope by giving Gotham a 'timeless, anachronistic' feel, with a mix of 70's taxi cabs, flip-phones, typewriters, 40's clothing, and modern-day demographics.
  • House of the Dragon: While the technology is recognizably medieval and will remain so until the time of Game of Thrones over a century and a half later, the clothing fashions of the period look more like that of The Renaissance in England in contrast to the late-medieval, Wars of the Roses-consistent style of at least Season 1 of the parent show. The producers use it to highlight the wealth and excess of the time period—and how Westeros is enjoying a period of plenty it will never see again after the Dance of the Dragons.
  • Played with in regard of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The show takes place in an Alternate Continuity from the Lotr cinematic trilogy, but it borrowed so many elements and Mythology Gags from the movies that they count at least as a Spiritual Successor or a Broad Strokes prequel.
    • Armenelos, shares many architectural elements with Minas Tirith from the movies, the most blatant one being having the courtyard of the palace atop the city build on a spur of rock. Both are shining cities, but Minas Tirith has a sober architecture inspired by the late Byzantine Empire, signaling its fall into decay over centuries, while its people dress up in washed out colors. Armenelos has greco-roman elements from the classic period, is lively and far more colorful with his golden domes, water channels, and having colorful plants growing over the buildings. The Numenorians people wear mostly, blue, red and white. Even the furniture shown inside White Tower of Ecthelion has an Ascetic Aesthetic to it, while the royal palace from Armenelos has colorful and rich furniture, looking very luxurious, reflecting the lavish life the Numenorians lead.
    • Ost-in-Edhil is depicted here as city with many high towers surrounded by waters and lush vegetation. In the movies all that was left of the capital city of Eregion are several stones and plain fields.
    • Khazad-dum is an Underground City thriving with life in the Second Age. In the Third one, is just huge, abandoned ruins inhabited by Orcs and a balrog.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Enterprise compares this way to The Original Series. Where the TOS NCC-1701 Enterprise computers just look like shinier 1960s computers, NX-01 Enterprise computers would look cutting edge to 2000s computers. Though if you compare the TOS movies (with their higher budget and better designed sets) then it actually does look somewhere between Star Trek: Enterprise and the 24th century shows.
    • Every Star Trek show up through the Turn of the Millennium maintained the look of the original series during time travel to that era, most notably a couple of episodes in DS9 and Enterprise: sets or props that didn't exist anymore were painstakingly remade to resemble the originals. This went out with Star Trek: Discovery, which is contemporary with the Enterprise-1701 but looks more advanced than even the Next Generation theatrical films. Season 2 implies that the ship is a testbed of not-ready-for-prime-time technology, and that viewscreens instead of holograms is Captain Pike's personal preference. However, this doesn't entirely explain why holocoms and other innovations are never seen again until DS9, decades in the future. The novel Desperate Hours describes the holocoms as "total data hogs", with the implication that this is why they never became standard note . The Enterprise is also shown, modernized but not redesigned like in the Abrams movies.
    • Said version of the Enterprise, along with Pike, Spock, and Una "Number One" Chin-Reilly got spun-out into Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The show keeps the "modern-interpretation-of-the-original-designs (now with budget!)" look from the ship's appearances on Discovery, with the same changes that were specifically designed to better blend the Original Series look with the refit version from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, making it more plausible that they were the same ship.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest III takes place before Dragon Quest, and shows monsters, items, spells, and ship travel that would not be known to the player until Dragon Quest II (as well as quite a few other monsters, items, spells and features such as travel by flight which aren't in II), taking place a generation after the first game. Erdrick/Loto's sword is more powerful than in the first game, and has the ability to cast more and stronger spells.
  • The Sims 3 is set 25 years before the original, when many of the iconic characters such as Mortimer, Bella and Bob Newbie were much younger, yet the game is packaged with 2009 fashion, 2009 furniture, 2009 tech, and 2009 houses, compared to the early 2000s feel of the original game.
  • Deus Ex, compared to its prequels, Human Revolution, Deus Ex: The Fall and Mankind Divided. The original is set in 2052, where nano-augmentation is replacing mechanical augmentation, but Human Revolution, set in 2027, makes Deus Ex look far more primitive. Word of God for Human Revolution has handwaved this by saying that the game is set during a "golden age" of technology which was immediately followed by the economic and socio-political collapse that created the Crapsack World of the original and caused technology to become more cost effective, including the augmentations. Interestingly, Word of God for the original noted the preponderance of slum levels, suggesting the more advanced tech was "offscreen", so to speak.
  • The Nitrome Flash game Final Ninja and its prequel, Final Ninja Zero. The latter is set decades before the original, yet the enemies and traps are tougher and deadlier than those in the original, and many mooks in the game have no equivalents in the original at all.
  • A variation in gameplay mechanics rather than appearances: Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is set before Devil May Cry, yet the controls, combos, mechanics and weapons are significantly more elaborate in DMC3, leaving Dante — by comparison — positively arthritic in the original.
  • With the introduction of the Big Boss-oriented prequel games in the Metal Gear series, this trope has firmly sunk its claws into the franchise. With the Big Boss games taking place during a timespan from 1964 through 1984 (as opposed to the games starring Solid Snake, which all occur during a timeframe of 1995 to 2014), specifically with Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (the two mainline games directed by Hideo Kojima following the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which was written to conclude the series). It's shocking to see Big Boss confront amazingly high-tech machines that look as if they would be more at home in the 21st century than the 20th, such as the A.I. Weapons and Zeke in PW (set in 1974), and Metal Gear Sahelanthropus in TPP (set in 1984). Aside from looking infinitely more advanced, they're shown in combat to be much more agile and powerful than everything found in the original MSX games, which take place a decade after TPP. Even the REX from Metal Gear Solid looks sluggish in comparison, with its nuclear-capable railgun having already been used by the Chrysalis and Zeke in PW. This is particularly egregious with Sahelanthropus, a humanoid-looking Metal Gear with functional arms capable of standing upright, which looks more like a predecessor to the Orbital Frames from the far-future-set Zone of the Enders series than the direct precursor to the TX-55, from the original game, that it's supposed to be. Awkward Zombie illustrates.
  • In the Ace Attorney franchise, Investigations has a camera phone (that may be a "smart" phone with its design and the fact that its owner was obsessively playing with it), while the chronologically years afterwards Apollo Justice uses (already slightly dated at the time of release) flip phones.
    • It also features a color video with sound in case 4, which is set before anything else in the series (which uses black and white during the original trilogy). The bizarre part is that it is on a tape while the same case features a wide screen flat panel TV. Though this makes some sense considering it was meant to analyze security camera footage, which is often recorded on tape to reduce costs.
    • It's also possible the phone design is more primitive, and camera phones are very expensive, the characters with ones are an Interpol agent and an international prosecutor. Other characters are probably just using more affordable versions. It seems that living in such a murder-filled universe has its advantages though, as a fingerprint set that includes a machine that can analyze prints in under a minute is PORTABLE.
    • Japanese flip phones are insanely advanced and extremely common in Japan compared to smartphones, anyways. In Japan, flip phones are much preferred to modern smart phones, and are even 'Galapagos phones', due to the unique isolation of an ostensibly obsolete technology. The localized US versions of the games are supposedly set in America, though only infrequent mentions in dialogue make that apparent. The actual look of the game is very obviously Japanese.
    • Ace Attorney Special Stage 2017 - Phoenix vs. Ryunosuke pokes fun at this when Phoenix contests Ryunosuke's claim of being his ancestor because his desk slamming and finger-pointing animations are far too smoothly animated to have come before Phoenix's Limited Animation ones.
      Phoenix: In other words, this choppy animation... means I'm the ancestor here!
  • Hard Corps: Uprising (released in 2011, set in 2613) is set two decades before the original Contra (released in 1987, set in 2633), but the weapons and technology shown in the game are way more advanced than anything featured in the original arcade and NES games, or even the 16-bit installments Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: Hard Corps.
  • WipEout avoids this by setting each new installment of the anti-gravity racing franchise a few decennia farther in the future and sticking to a stylized clean and immaculate future (with the exception of two highly dystopic editions). However the scope of the racing league seems to follow a backwards trend: the first game features a track on Mars and a polar track made out of 'artificial crystal'. Recent games are set in a generic future city. Even the track design itself grows more realistic, going from vertical drops and multiple track splits to mostly flat undulating tracks with few jumps and magnetic strips liberally applied to any place where the ship could leave the ground. This is because technology marches on, in particular game physics engines.
  • Final Fantasy VII used brick phones; Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children had a Product Placement deal with Panasonic, and used flip-phones. Well enough... except that Crisis Core then continued to use the flip phones, despite being a prequel that ended on a major backstory point of VII. When Final Fantasy VII Remake came out, it then zig-zagged the trope by both having the party continue to use brick phones (behind the technology of Crisis Core) and having some NPCs use smartphones (ahead of the technology of Advent Children).
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Halo:
    • Prequel Halo: Reach:
      • The game attempted some justification for why you have certain weapons and abilities that weren't available in the original Halo: Combat Evolved, largely that CE was about the crew of a single ship being trapped with limited supplies. In contrast, Reach takes place on the largest human colony and the headquarters of military research and development, with several of your toys being prototypes that didn't get a chance to be produced elsewhere (hence why you don't see them in the original trilogy). Halo 2 and 3 take place with better resources but the weapon selection and equipment from Reach are largely absent, excepting some things like the Spartan Laser. The Mjolnir armor that Noble Team wear look more functional like storage pouches, weapon straps and hard points to mount different mission spec options, while previously Master Chiefs' armor was designed to be like a seamless second skin.
      • The Covenant itself has weapons that were never seen in any previous game; in particular, the needle rifle is far superior to the Needler and Carbine (although the focus rifle is inferior to the beam rifle). It's handwaved as a mix of the battle of Reach hurting the Covenant enough to momentarily deplete some of their stockpiles, and the Covenant genuinely not giving a crap about standardizing their equipment across their fleets, though none of this completely explains why the Covenant in the first game, who were part of the same fleet as in Reach, don't have those weapons (especially considering that the Anniversary remake did retcon them into wearing Reach-style armor).
      • The Cole Protocol tends to be a double edged sword when it comes to preventing human technology from falling into Covenant hands. It says that any human ships "jumping" from an encounter with the Covenant have to make the jump at random. If they're in danger of capture, they have to scrub their astral navigation databases and computers, and self-destruct if they are at risk of capture. Considering that the entire planet Reach was an encounter, it makes sense that there would be no time for the more advanced human tech to be mass-produced and distributed in the less-than-four months between the start of Reach and the end of Halo 3, especially since they were still in testing.
      • Oddly, one aspect where Reach averts this is in the design of the non-Spartan soldiers' armour: individual plates are blockier, more poorly-fitted to the body and generally less comprehensive when compared with the Marines in the first game (though CE Anniversary, like with the Covenant, retcons them into wearing Reach-style armor) or on Earth in the second and third; most personnel don't have any protection for their lower arms and legs. Additionally, the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers seem to wear much the same armour (but with the addition of their distinctive plastron, pauldrons and vambraces from Halo 3: ODST) and the same two-piece twill battle-dress as the Army and Marine troops, where by contrast the previous two games had ODSTs sporting full-body plating over armoured vacuum-enabled bodysuits. This is made doubly strange by the idea, as mentioned above, that Reach was the point-of-origin for the UNSC's more advanced kit.
    • Halo Wars also shows this trope, where the UNSC has a ton of better vehicles and technology, including aircraft like Vultures, Humongous Mecha like the Cyclops, advanced bases, tanks with reverse-engineered plasma cannons, and even more protective armor for the infantry! The original trilogy has none of this, even though Halo Wars takes place two decades before the first game. Some canon has handwaved this by saying the advanced tech became too expensive later in the timeline, especially as the war began to take a toll on humanity.
    • Games taking place after the Human-Covenant War mitigate this somewhat. Halo 4 starts off with only Halo 3-era weaponry, and once reunited with UNSC forces you can find armor mods and use weapons only previously shown in Reach, supporting the theory of weapon/tech adoption being slow because of the war. The Infinity itself is the flagship of the UNSC and holds the majority of the Spartan IV contingent, which makes sense that they would have the most advanced stuff possible. The Mjolnir Powered Armor that Master Chief wears in the game was cosmetically modified to look more technically polished where you can see rivets and how the individual pieces fit together, which formed the look of the updated GEN 2 armor for Spartan IV's and was adopted as the standard Mjolnir look even in flashbacks. This is slightly more in line with the Mjolnir redesign made for Reach, but runs even more contrary to how Master Chief looked when he went into the cryo-pod in Halo 3.
  • Inverted with Perfect Dark Zero, which is a mere three years before the original, but technology is a lot less advanced - chief among them, Zero still features traditional wheeled cars, while by the original game three years later the world has apparently made the complete switch-over to flying cars.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy falls into this, taking place in between the first two games. Ridley goes from a massive winged cyborg, to a somewhat large purple dragon with tiny wings. Samus goes from utilizing complex combos to more standard beams. In most of the games, the Chozo left the planet long ago; however, in Metroid Prime, they recently ascended, only to be pulled back to the mortal plane by Phazon pollution (it's implied that Tallon IV was the last mortal Chozo outpost), after which they had a vision of Samus fighting off the entity in the impact crater. It can therefore be inferred that the tech on Tallon IV actually is more advanced than the technology from their older outposts, and that they made it specifically to help Samus on her quest. In addition, some of the technology later in the series actually shows signs of being more advanced, as well; the Zebesian Super Missiles found in Metroid: Zero Mission and Super Metroid are a separate weapon system from her regular Missiles, and the Federation in Metroid Fusion later works out how to make their own version of the Super Missile by simply upgrading the basic one's explosive power, while the Tallon IV (and Aether) Super Missiles found in Metroid Prime 1 and 2 are basically formed by jury-rigging the Power Beam & Missile Launcher to fire a combined projectile. So, basically, the series plays with this: the Prime trilogy's technology actually is more advanced, due to being made chronologically later than the technology seen in later installments; however, there are cases where the older technology works better than the more advanced models. The remake Metroid: Samus Returns would later reveal that Ridley was discarding his cybernetics over time as he recovered from his injuries.
  • The Batsuit in Batman: Arkham Origins appears to be much more protective and overall more advanced looking than the Batsuits in the other Arkham games. This was intentional, to suggest he was basing it off rejected R&D prototypes rather than building them from scratch for himself. The suit looks tough but is also raw and strapped together. Some fans have surmised that he got better at evasion and stealth, and so increased his flexibility. Batman: Arkham Knight shows Batman with a new suit that combines the armored look of Origins with a flexible fabric undersuit similar to what is used in the other games, presumably due to the higher threat level without Joker to keep playing the bad guys against each other.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The weapons could fire indefinitely (barring cooldown requirements) with no need for reloading or maintenance, but each subsequent game required the use of "heat sinks" that were functionally identical to expendable magazines or clips. It's explained a little better In-Universe, but the functional impression is that firearm design is getting less efficient over time. Bioware said they tried a hybrid system, but it wasn't fun for playtesters.
    • Similarly, the first game had omni-gel, a goo made of nanomachines that could do almost anything, but most prominently hack computers and open locks. In subsequent games, while omni-gel is still implied to be in use for repairs and such, Shepard must hack and lockpick manually. Lampshaded in Lair of the Shadow Broker, where Shepard complains how much easier it used to be. The explanation given is basically that the "terrorist attack" by Saren in the first game made everyone paranoid and change their locks, never mind that many of the locations in the sequels probably haven't updated their technology in decades, let alone two years.
  • Mass Effect 3: This is lampshaded by Conrad Verner, who was apparently unaware of the invention of thermal clips and when the concept is explained to him, especially the part where the existing self-cooling systems had to be removed to make room for the replaceable heat sinks, he feels like it's a step backward.
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set hundreds of years before the Sinnoh games, yet gives the character a smartphone (which weren’t even invented yet when the original games came out). That said, this is the only instance in the game (and is justified by the fact that we see Arceus itself give the protagonist said smartphone), every other piece of technology is fairly plausible or at least less advanced than the other games.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 is only revealed to be a prequel at the end of the game (set in 1987), but until then, with its cleaner and more modern aestheics, coupled with its high-tech robots beyond anything even at the year of the game's release, you'd be forgiven for thinking it took place much later. This has an In-Universe justification: Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria was in its prime in 1987 and fabulously wealthy, but by the time of the first game, the restaurant has been in financial ruin for years and is months away from bankruptcy, hence why the sleek high-tech androids were scrapped in favor of the more primitive and cheaper-to-maintain animatronics and the building isn't as well-kept. The Voice with an Internet Connection also handwaves it further by stating that the primitive robots from the first game were much older than the prequel robots, but were retrofitted with some of the same advanced computing and sensor technology, hence why they were being used instead of the androids from the prequel.
  • While Shovel Knight Dig is chronologically set before any of the previous Shovel Knight games, the game goes for a 16-bit art style with music composed in the Yamaha YM-2608 sound chipnote  as opposed to the original game's 8-Bit, NES-inspired look.

    Web Animation 
  • The Freelancer segments from seasons 9 and 10 of Red vs. Blue all take place before the series proper, yet it's animated entirely by Monty Oum's CGI instead of the standard Halo machinima and all of the Freelancers have Mark VI armor before the Blood Gulch Crew got their Mark V armors (which can be excused given they're cannon fodder for the Freelancers' training exercises, but this doesn't explain Texas and Wyoming downgrading in the first three seasons).

  • Awkward Zombie skewers how the Metal Gear series (see above) has fallen into this here.
    "The hard part about releasing a game in 2015 set in 1984 that's a prequel to a game released in 1987 and set in 1995 while yet itself a sequel to several games set further in the past is that you've bracketed yourself into a narrow band of available technology."

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is firmly within The '60s as far as fashion, hairstyles, culture, and slang go. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, actually mostly averts this by keeping a general early 1960's setting to befit the original show's late 1960's setting. The soundtrack, including the theme song, is heavily indebted to Doo Wop and Motown, and Velma's computer is far closer to a 1960's UNIVAC-style machine than a 1980's PC. Exceptions such as Velma having a rocket-powered skateboard and Daphne having a 1980's style cell phone crop up occasionally.
  • Most Spin-Off Babies shows are like this. The Muppet Show was made in the late 70s-early 80s, and two prominent Muppets (Kermit and Rowlf) date from the 50s. But Muppet Babies (1984) has Scooter as a computer nerd, an array of Bland-Name Product 80s video games in "It's Only Pretendo" and, of course, the kids' imaginations recreating scenes from 1980s movies like Ghostbusters (1984) and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Muppet Babies (2018) has a huge multimedia "scribble screen" in the nursery, an episode revolving around a handheld video game, and pretty modern looking plastic tube slides. Yet both feature the original Muppets productions as "the future". (For the original series, "When You Wish Upon a Muppet" has Kermit's final wish that they'll all stay together represented as a scene from The Great Muppet Caper; and in the remake, "Piggy's Time Machine" has them encounter their future selves in the Muppet Show title sequence).