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New Work, Recycled Graphics

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Let's face it, making graphics is expensive and time consuming. A lot of studios just don't have the budget to completely remodel entire landscapes, inventories, and characters for every work they make, especially if it's part of a larger series. If you aren't moving to a new system or game engine, sometimes it just makes sense to build the new world as an expansion of the old. Done well, this can help establish continuity between installments, and allow the developer to provide larger worlds to explore on a smaller budget.
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While this is most easily noticeable in Video Games (especially Mission Pack Sequels), the rise of 3D modelling is beginning to cause other media to adopt it as 3D modelling becomes more ubiquitous — see Recycled Animation for such cases. For entire shots of film being recycled, see Stock Footage. Closely related to Prop Recycling (which is more specific in what is reused between games) See also Recycled Set. Compare Recycled Script.


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Examples:

  • Hitman 2 reuses a lot of assets from its previous entry, Hitman (2016), though unlike other examples, it doesn't hide this fact as the latter game is available in the former if you own it (for free!)
  • Tales of Xillia 2 reuses almost the entire map from Tales of Xillia as they are set in the same world not long after one another, though the sequel adds in many new areas, mostly in Elympios, the land you only visit briefly at the end of the first game.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 takes place about a year after Final Fantasy X ended. While the maps are largely the same, the new ability to climb allows access to previously inaccessible areas, while the inablity to swim closes off others. Other locations close off or open up due to the lack of influence from the Fayth, or scarcity of chocobos, or just were discovered by increased travel, while areas that were off the path before are unneeded and unvisted.
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  • Spiderweb Software is still recycling old sprites interspersed with new ones in their games that they have used since the 90's to create a large number of diverse worlds from the biotech flavour of the Geneforge series, to the underground adventures of Exile and Avernum. It's largely dropped objects like meat and clothing that end up being reused.
  • The first three Spyro the Dragon games are all built on the same engine and with the same general graphics, and thus certain models (notably character models) are recycled between them.
  • Gothic series:
    • The first two games are both built on the same engine, so they recycle various elements, particularly the entire area of the Mining Colony (although with changed textures and in some cases certain changes in the landscape).
    • In the Forsaken Gods expansion to the third game, this is taken to absolutely egregious levels due to the unrealistic time constraints put on the developers (who, on top of that, were completely different people than the creators of the base game). The addon is set strictly in the (largely unchanged) middle part of the world map from the base game while throwing out the other two parts of the continent, effectively giving us mostly the same content as the base game, except with the two thirds of it removed and only with some changes to the NPCs who inhabit the world, plus a few new items and some updates to the cities.
  • Some The Legend of Zelda games do this.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels used the exact gameplay engine and most of the same assets from Super Mario Bros., overlapping with a Mission-Pack Sequel.
    • The first three Mario Party games used some assets from Super Mario 64. The second and third games also reuse the character models and many sound effects from the first game, and the second Mario Party even has some tweaked versions of minigames from the first.
    • The GameCube Mario Party games (4 through 7) all use the same character models, sound effects, and other graphics like coins and spaces. This also applies to Mario Party 8 on the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix, the latter of which Hudson Soft co-produced with Konami.
    • Mario Kart Wii reuses many character and item models from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and recycles the models of the GameCube retro tracks directly from that game (this is most notable with GCN Mario Circuit, which is virtually untouched from its original incarnation). The tech-wise compatibility between the GameCube and Wii made this easier. Mario Kart 7 also reuses various assets from both Double Dash!! and Wii.
    • Naturally, Super Mario Galaxy 2, as a Mission-Pack Sequel to Super Mario Galaxy, reuses models, assets, backgrounds, music, powerups, sounds, and effects from its source game.
  • This is prevalent through the Paper Mario series. Super Paper Mario reused many of its character sprites from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, at twice the resolution and with some minor updates (like Peach's dress). Paper Mario: Sticker Star updated many of the character sprites to be closer to their current appearances, but still reused previous ones when possible, most noticeably with the main Super Paper Mario cast. Paper Mario: The Origami King recycles many sprites from Paper Mario: Color Splash, albeit in much higher resolution. A comparison of Mario's sprite between all games in the series can be seen here.
  • Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Donkey Kong 64 and Conker's Bad Fur Day all reuse multiple assets between games, especially noticeable with the sounds. Since they were all made with the same engine for the same console by the same studio, this is somewhat understandable.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze reuses some assets from Donkey Kong Country Returns. It's noticeable with the sound effects, which are primarily derived from the latter game (such as DK and Diddy's voice lines, Diddy's jetpack, and the pronounced "KNOCK-KNOCK" sound of Goomba Stomping an enemy), and some of the character, prop and UI animations. A few of the Mooks are also Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of enemies from Returns; Awks and Dozies are birdlike Goombas (the former a parrot, the latter a dodo) while Rawks and Sour Dodos are recolored variants that actively chase the Kongs, Tiki Buzzes and Hootzes are both flying Goomba Springboards while Tiki Tork and Puffton both fill the niche of a flying enemy that can be stomped thrice, and Squidly and the fish fired by Archy both fly through the air from the right, ripe for the stomping, while Electrasquid and the flaming fishbones shot by red Archy are similar enemies that cannot be stomped.
  • Fallout series:
  • Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: the latter recycles the graphics engine and many assets of the former, colors them in neon, and then adds a Denser and Wackier plot.
  • Kirby games occasionally have this:
    • Kirby: Squeak Squad shares lots of graphics with Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, which shares lots of graphics with Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land for example.
    • Kirby Super Star Ultra has mostly new graphics, but occasionally reuses sprites from Super Star (for minor enemies such as Bronto Burts and Bombers) and Nightmare in Dream Land (such as those of King Dedede and certain mini-bosses).
    • In an unusual example, Kirby's Return to Dream Land recycled many of its assets, including graphics and music, from the infamous canceled GameCube Kirby game. From there, Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot, and Star Allies are all built off of the same base engine as Return to Dream Land, and multiple graphics and other assets are reused between games. It's most noticeable with Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, as they're both on Nintendo 3DS. The series' general director, Shinya Kumazaki, discussed the challenges of this approach on the Planet Robobot Miiverse community:
      Kumazaki: "We were instructed by our producer to avoid any situation that might remind players of Triple Deluxe and I think that although this was a great idea, it was a nightmare to put into practice. We had limited development time and still had to make use of the assets from the previous game. Because we were using Triple Deluxe's engine, a lot of the gameplay felt similar, so I was constantly fighting to preserve the Kirby series' distinctive feel and yet produce something fresh and new."
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins re-used many assets from First Encounter Assault Recon, also by Monolith and released the same year.
  • Darkstalkers: Morrigan's sprite has never changed since her first appearance while everyone else's has. Not only that, her crossover fighting game appearances even have her using the same sprites (with new bits attached depending on the game), which makes her stick out like a sore thumb compared to the others. This is only averted in the Bandai Namco crossovers (Namco × Capcom, Project X Zone), Cross Edge (a crossover between Gust and NIS that also featured Darkstalkers characters), and Morrigan's 3D appearances (Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite). There's also the matter of the Super-Deformed sprites used in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Super Gem Fighter, but these games were released while the Darkstalkers series was still running (and thus before Capcom's sprite reusing became prominent).
  • This was a hallmark of the pre-3D Capcom vs. games. Marvel vs. Capcom reused sprites from Street Fighter Alpha, Darkstalkers, X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, with only a handful of characters (usually those who hadn't appeared in prior fighting games) getting new ones. Capcom vs. SNK fared better, since they had to redraw all the SNK fighters anyway, and also threw in a new sprites for a few Capcom characters like Ryu, Chun-Li, M. Bison, Maki and Yun. Unfortunately, this, coupled with the increasingly advanced hardware the games were being played on, made the early-to-mid '90s sprite recycling look even more blatant by comparison. Then comes Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, a 3D game which reuses most of the assets of the previous 3D game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3. They do, at least, polish the models differently to give them and the stages a more cinematic feel.
  • Pokémon:
  • Mega Man (Classic):
    • Mega Man himself uses the same sprite design in each of the 8-bit games, aside from some extremely subtle color changes (primarily in his skin color) and very minor edits to the sprites themselves (most noticeable is the altered ladder-firing sprite between the fourth and fifth games). The Wily Capsule also sees little to no modification. Some of the Robot Master bosses also have designs based from previous ones, notably the "Guts Man clones."
    • Mega Man & Bass for the SNES recycles many graphical assets from Mega Man 8, which is impressive since the latter was released for the next-generation Sega Saturn and PlayStation. What’s particularly notable is that this is the only Mega Man game to reuse Robot Masters, as two Robot Masters from 8, Tengu Man and Astro Man, reappear here.
  • Averted with Starcraft: while in development, the game used much the same graphics and interface as Warcraft II, but the developers started again from scratch when they saw a tech demo of a much higher-quality RTS called Dominion Storm Over Gift 3, leading to the Starcraft we all know and love. They later learned that the demo wasn't a game at all, but a premade video the booth guys were pretending to play. Not only that, Starcraft released to rave reviews months earlier than Dominion Storm itself.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale shares graphics such as items and monsters, with Chantelise, set in the same world.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was built off of the engine of Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), and in turn Sonic 3 & Knuckles was built off of the engine of Sonic 2. For that matter, Sonic 3 itself was originally one game that was split in two to meet deadlines. There are some graphics and sound effects that remained unchanged for all four games. The "lock-on" feature of Sonic & Knuckles allowed it to combine with Sonic 3 to create a seamless experience, and as a bonus, combining it with Sonic 2 unlocked the ability to play as Knuckles in that game. Palette limitations were the only thing preventing them from incorporating Knuckles in the original game, which instead unlocked an expanded Blue Sphere minigame.
    • All three games in the Sonic Advance Trilogy also ran on the same engine and reused many graphical assets between them, particularly the characters themselves.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped uses the same engine from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, which uses a modified Crash Bandicoot (1996) engine, so a lot of models and sprites are recycled between games. According to designers from the series, Naughty Dog also allowed later developers to use assets from their games for authenticity purposes (this is especially noticeable with the Eurocom developed Crash Bash).
  • Stern made Cliff Hanger (a laserdisc game) by reusing footage from The Castle of Cagliostro and The Mystery of Mamo.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 reuses most of the player party sprites from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which is justified since both games take place in Ivalice and have the same races and battle classes (Advance was in a fictional Ivalice while A2 uses the real deal).
  • Only a tiny number of Super Robot Wars games avert this. Virtually every game in the franchise uses art assets, music, voices, and/or animation choreography from at least one earlier game, or more often several. This is especially true in cases where a character's voice actor has died, such as Banjo Haran's voice actor Hirotaka Suzuoki, but they continue to voice the character in new games over a decade after their death due to reuse of voice clips from their prior appearances with Manipulative Editing used to give the clips new context.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Final Fantasy XIV recycles a lot of monster models from Final Fantasy XI (both being MMORPGs) with the textures and shading given a small upgrade. The two games are not related to each other.
  • Just a Cleric is made on the same engine as Weebish Mines and reuses certain graphics and enemies from that game.
  • In The King of Fighters series, SNK loved this trope. From The King of Fighters '94 to The King of Fighters XI, developers recycled the same sprites possibly to save time as a game was released each year until The King of Fighters '94 to The King of Fighters 2003 in which SNK began to launch the games of the series by editions, not more per year. This trope was repeated in The King of Fighters XIII, however, which reuses sprites from The King of Fighters XII.
  • The Borderlands series has reused a number of assets since its inception. The most prominent examples are the containers that litter the landscapes of Pandora and Elpis, but a few enemies here and there have also been ported over with minimal changes, if any. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! even recycles the interface from Borderlands 2, with only a few modifications; the weapon system was also copied over more or less intact, including most legendary weapons.
  • Kingdom Hearts makes a habit of it:
    • While Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is limited in how much it can reuse from the first game since it's the first 2D game in the series (although it does manage to fit some graphics from it into the Game Boy Advance cartridge through FMV cutscenes), the PS2 remake is almost completely made out of old graphics, since the story is about revisiting memories of the first game's worlds and all the characters appeared in some form in either Kingdom Hearts or Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has a number of FMV cutscenes which reuse models from Kingdom Hearts II, and a couple of cutscenes are actually ripped directly from that game. Many of the level maps are also taken directly from either Kingdom Hearts II or Kingdom Hearts, though with lower texture resolution to fit on a handheld and new doorways leading into previously-unseen areas.
    • Kingdom Hearts coded reuses a number of level maps from previous titles as well, though often with considerable alterations.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance reuses a few of Traverse Town and Monstro's level maps from the original game, but more obviously it reuses the vast majority of its combat-related content from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
    • Every in-engine character model and background environment in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is ripped directly from all the games between the original game and Dream Drop Distance. Due to asset incompatibility between Unity and Unreal Engine 4, models and level maps from Kingdom Hearts III are reused by means of FMV cutscenes and stock footage music videos.
  • The Neptunia series is infamous for this, as it tends to add a minuscule amount of content to each new game that isn't just recycled from old ones, from the enemies down to the music. If you look at the earlier games and then at the modern ones, a lot of the content is still present and unchanged.
  • Most games by Atlus in the Shin Megami Tensei series rarely use new graphics and instead recycle from past games. Usually one game will act as the baseline for one generation and all games following it will borrow from that.
  • Saints Row 4 does this deliberately as part of the plot. Visiting old scenarios is done as an attempt to demoralize the heroes.
  • Rakenzarn Frontier Story reuses several tilesets, sprites and tunes from Rakenzarn Tales, due to both using the RPG Maker engine to transfer one from the other.
  • The first 3 PlayStation 2 Ratchet & Clank games are all based on the same engine and use the same graphics for the titular characters and Captain Qwark. Most of the gameplay animations in later games are cribbed from earlier games as well, such as Ratchet high jumping, swimming, or holding a one-handed, two-handed, or glove weapon, or Clank holding his hands to his head when commanding Gadgebots and his pose when gliding with the Heli-Pack.
  • RosenkreuzStilette's sequel, Freudenstachel runs on the same engine as the original. As such, several common enemies, music tracks, and tile sets were unchanged. Most characters have been redesigned to some extent, meaning several sprites were modified, though there are still plenty of fresh character sprites and animations to go around.
  • Used heavily throughout the Trails Series. The games taking place within an individual arc occurr within a single country, meaning there'll be plenty of time running back and forth through the same environments. While there's a lot of new dungeons and paths to liven up the map, it can still be irritating running across the same places over and over again. On the plus side, it does help maintain continuity between games, making players protective of the NPC cast.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis recycles some assets from Resident Evil 2. The most notable one is the Raccoon Police Department, which has the exact same layout as it did in the previous game, only with the eastern side and most of the western side of the building sealed off. The music in the area is also reused. Despite being a fully polygonal game, Resident Evil: Survivor also reuses a lot of assets from 2, from enemy models to Sherry's run cycle being repurposed for new character Lilly Klein.
  • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles reuses assets from Resident Evil: Outbreak for its Resident Evil 3: Nemesis segments, from stage maps to zombie models to even a random event from Outbreak occurring. (The woman who screams and dies in the restroom in the subway. It even uses the same character model ("Amelia", who also appears as a zombie throughout the chapter).)
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake) Uses the same engine as Resident Evil 7 so its inventory interface is the same as well as the prompts for picking up items, the animation for using the bolt cutters to open chained up doors is the same as well as the yellow tape wrapped around an electrical box. The Mr. Raccoons found throughout the game are basically the same as the Mr. Everywheres from Resident Evil 7 and both share the same sound effect when shot.
  • Resident Evil 0 uses the same game engine used in the remake of Resident Evil, which recycles many of the sound effects for the guns as well as reusing animations and sound for the regular zombies.
  • The first two BlazBlue games have the same assets, while the third game has all the characters being redrawn and all the existing themes being remixed. The fourth game reuses stuff from the third.
  • Blazblue Cross Tag Battle takes the assets - both the characters and the stages - from its participating franchises: BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth, Persona 4: Arena, and Arcana Heart. The RWBY characters and Yumi, who haven't made an appearance in a 2D fighter before, are made from scratch. For Akatsuki Blitzkampf however, Akatsuki reuses his sprites from Under Night In-Birth, while Blitztank's sprites are new.
  • The Metal Slug games all recycle plenty of assets (especially the games post-3), but 4 takes it to absurd lengths - even the bosses are cobbled together from old sprites. 5 also has a pretty egregious example where one of the backgrounds is full of mechs with the markings of a faction that doesn't actually appear in the game.
  • Some of the SpongeBob SquarePants platformers reuse things from each other. The games below are both particularly noticeable and fairly reasonable, as Heavy Iron Studios worked on all three of the ones mentioned:
    • The Sponge Bob Movie Game reuses a lot of music, textures and character models from Battle for Bikini Bottom, and SpongeBob and Patrick's movesets are mostly cribbed from BFBB as well. SpongeBob in particular has ditched the bubble-based attacks for more physical moves as part of the film and game's overarching plot of SpongeBob wanting to be treated like a man, such as his Bubble Spin (where he spins with a bubble wand out) being replaced with the Karate Spin (where he spins with his karate gloves on), or the Bubble Bash (where he dons a bubble Viking helmet and leaps upward) becoming just the Bash (which has him put on a karate glove, or a spiked metal gauntlet when upgraded, and uppercutting).
    • SpongeBob's Truth or Square also borrows a lot of models, textures and music from both Battle for Bikini Bottom and The SpongeBob Movie Game. It's easiest to notice with the music, with very few tracks being new to the game; for example, SpongeBob's Pineapple uses the same song as the main hub of BFBB, "Fun Times Jellyfishing With Patrick" uses the Jellyfish Fields theme from BFBB, the Patrick hammer powerup uses the "I'm Ready... Depression" theme from TSSM, and "Pretending to Be Tough With Patrick" and the Demento-bot battle in "Kara-tay! With Sandy!" use the slide theme from BFBB.
  • Mach Storm, an arcade game by Bandai Namco, recycles the engine, graphics, scenes, and gameplay from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon only without real plot.
  • The developer of Gamer 2 reused the police officer sprite from an earlier itch.io game, Electra City. In turn, his later game The Wolf and the Waves reused Gamer 2's zombie sprite.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
  • Puyo Puyo eSports has a LOT of assets from Puyo Puyo Tetris, and the most of the character artwork is edited from the mobile title Puyo Puyo Quest.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy uses the same game engine for every game, though each game generally has different assets for the graphics, sound, music, and animation. Only a few sounds like Samus's Power Beam shots stay the same between each game.
  • Jurassic: The Hunted recycles most of its weapon models from developer Cauldron's previous FPS games: The Whitworth Rifle and the Colt Model 1855 are from History Channel: Civil War – A Nation Divided and its sequel, the Taurus Raging Bull, the Mossberg Shotgun, SAW and the FN Scar L are taken from Soldier of Fortune Payback, the Glock 18 and RPG-7 are from Secret Service: Ultimate Sacrifice and the BAR is from History Channel: The Battle for the Pacific.
  • The various MDickie games reuse some graphics assets, but are more notorious for the reuse of the gaming engine. Since Mat Dickie started out doing wrestling games, it results in odd situations, such as characters in his Bible simulator, The You Testament, suddenly breaking out power-bombs and piledrivers.
  • Throughout the Atelier series, graphics are often reused. The most notable example would be Punis, who have kept the same model since 2009's Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland. Other examples are item illustrations, which are often recycled between games (sometimes in different ways: a graphic for man-made metallic string in Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is used for bug silk in its sequels, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings).
  • Rampant in Blaster Master: Enemy Below on Game Boy Color, in respect to the NES game, though it was a completely new title. The reused graphics even include some for items that were never used in that version.
  • Vanguard in the original PS3 release of Demon's Souls is a direct model reuse of the "Dabrad" Golem from Enchanted Arms.
  • Supermassive Games reuses various character models (or at least the faces) in their games. For example, Jonathan Finn in Hidden Agenda has the same face as Charlie in Man of Medan and Daniel in Little Hope, and there are a number of others.
  • When House Flipper was first released it used mostly stock Unity assets, with many textures and items that are commonly seen in other games that use the engine too. As the game has continued to grow and develop, Empyrean has introduced a number of their own designs as well.
  • Mortal Kombat
    • This was the entire purpose of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, which was basically a console-specific revision of Mortal Kombat 3 brought back characters and stages from the original Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II in order to have the entire character roster up to that point in one last 2D game. While Johnny Cage's sprites were created using a new actor, due to a royalty dispute with his original portrayer (Daniel Pesina), Rayden's and Baraka's were recycled wholesale from Mortal Kombat II with only the running animations being newly-recorded using stand-ins. This isn't so much of an issue with Baraka, since the actor wore a mask, but with Rayden his face is obscured when he runs to hide the fact that he's not Carlos Pesina.
    • Mortal Kombat: Armageddon recycles character models from the previous two entries, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat: Deception, in order to bring back as many fighters from the series as possible. This is due to the fact that all three games ran on the Renderware engine, allowing for easy assets reuse. Only characters from the older arcade-era entries had to be remade from scratch.
  • Wildlife Park 3 by Deep Silver: many baby animals are reused models from Wildlife Camp: In The Heart Of Africa, with less cartoonish eye textures.
  • Disgaea 1 Complete, the remake for the Nintendo Switch, mostly recycles character sprites from 4, 5, and D2. Where this is most apparent are for generic units, where humanoid classes are replaced with the most recent versions (some with different voice clips) and monster units, where a few of them had their sprites replaced with whatever fits close enough.
  • Valve Software in general loves doing this whenever they can. When a good chunk of your staff is poached from modding teams, it tends to come with the territory. Even Team Fortress 2, the first Valve game to feature a unique art style, sneaked a few in here and there, sometimes by running them through a Photoshop filter. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in particular featured two entire maps copied almost wholesale from Left 4 Dead 2.

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