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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. For entire shots of film being recycled, see Stock Footage. See also Recycled Set, and Prop Recycling. Compare Recycled Script.


Examples

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     Video Games  

  • 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.
  • 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 mostly the same assets from Super Mario Bros..
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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 Entertainment 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. Whatever 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. 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 recycles many graphical assets from Mega Man 8, which is impressive considering it was originally released for a last-generation console that uses cartridges instead of CDs.
  • 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 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 is released to rave reviews months earlier than Dominion Storm itself.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale shares graphics with Chantelise, from the same developer.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic & Knuckles is a Mission-Pack Sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, utilising characters and stages that weren't programmed in time for the latter's release. Their near identical aesthetics and mechanics allows the game's cartridge to use a "lock on feature" that combines the two games together nearly seamlessly.
    • Much similarly, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is built off of the first game's engine, meaning odd graphics and aesthetics are identical or at least very similar to the latter par the odd tweak. Sonic 2 is also compatible with Sonic And Knuckles' lock on feature, which allows you to play as Knuckles using his sprite from the latter game.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped uses the same engine from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back so a lot of models and sprites are recycled from the latter. 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 (the laserdisk 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 '94 games to The King of Fighters XII and The King of Fighters XII to The King of Fighters XIII, whose s sprites were redone.
  • 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:
    • 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 the original 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'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.
  • 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).)
  • 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, Undernight In Birth and Persona 4: Arena. The RWBY side, meanwhile, are made from scratch.
  • 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.
  • SpongeBob's Truth or Square reuses a lot of music, textures and character models from both Battle for Bikini Bottom and The Sponge Bob Movie Game (the latter of which itself also reused some of its content from the former game).
  • 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.
  • The models used for the Ryoma and Xander trophies in the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U are just their in-game models ripped from Fire Emblem Fates.
  • 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.

     Western Animation  

  • Used extensively by Disney in the days of hand-drawn animation. Most of their most famous films have clearly recognisable scenes repeated by tracing new characters over the existing animation. This was mostly done for more complex scenes such as chases and dancing that involve multiple different characters moving independently, which were by far the most difficult to produce using traditional methods. The most known example is the dancing scene from Robin Hood, that was done by tracing the dancing scenes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.
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