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Some video games do not have a strict sense of a linear sequel. The game may — may — take place in the same continuity, but not necessarily in the same time period. Occasionally the only thing similar is the system of play or shared tropes and references.

This is because video games, uniquely among media, have another dimension by which installments in a series can be interrelated, other than characters, setting, plot, or tone; that dimension being gameplay mechanics. Of course, this also means you might get an installment that isn't really one at all. Plus, it has the benefit of helping to avoid Continuity Lock-Out — with non-linear sequels, it doesn't really matter if you start with, say, An RPG Adventure 1 or An RPG Adventure 10.

This also avoids having to explain why the hero isn't at Level 255+ and where all his cool stuff went when he starts the next game.

Many series of this sort have Recurring Elements.

Compare and contrast to a Thematic Series, which is a series that follows themes as opposed to specific characters or settings.


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    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Bubble Bobble makes no sense. There are three number-2s and two number-3s, and chronological orders and release orders don't match. Years later did a number-4 come out.
  • The games in Falcom's Dragon Slayer series are largely unrelated to each other. While Dragon Slayer VIII: The Legend of Xanadu is a sequel to Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, and Dragon Slayer V: Sorcerian has tenuous connections to Dragon Slayer Jr.: Romancia, it's perhaps just as well that "Dragon Slayer" was stripped out of the titles of most of the localized versions and the later sequels and remakes.
  • Legacy of Kain:
    • The series plays around with the Timey-Wimey Ball and as a result only the first two, Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, are in normal order. Soul Reaver 2 picked up where Soul Reaver left off with the main characters travelling back in time to a couple decades before Blood Omen, then they travel forward to several centuries after Blood Omen, then back to centuries before Blood Omen. The fourth game, Blood Omen 2, takes place between Blood Omen and Soul Reaver in an altered timeline caused by the fifth game, Defiance (unless it's the original and Defiance erased it; there's evidence to support either). Defiance picks up right where Soul Reaver 2 left off and switches between the two heroes who are in different time periods, one is still in the time period centuries before Blood Omen and the other is exactly in the same time frame as Blood Omen, the events of that game occurring unseen at the same time as the events of Defiance. If you followed all that, congratulations, you just mastered one of the most complex time travel plots ever known.
    • Over a decade after Defiance, the short-lived online multiplayer title Nosgoth would release in 2015, serving as an interquel between the events of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • The Metroid series isn't a particularly confusing chronology, especially compared to its sister series The Legend of Zelda. Nevertheless, the release order of the subsequent games still doesn't necessarily match the order in which they take place, mainly due to the Prime sub-series being an expanded Interquel. The order is: Metroid/Metroid: Zero Mission (1986/2004) > Metroid Prime (2002) > Prime Hunters (2006) > Prime 2: Echoes (2004) > Prime 3: Corruption (2007) > Federation Force (2016) > Metroid II: Return of Samus/Metroid: Samus Returns (1991/2017) > Super Metroid (1994) > Metroid: Other M (2010) > Metroid Fusion (2004) > Metroid Dread (2021).note 
  • The third Ninja Gaiden game for the NES, Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, is an interquel between the original NES Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (since Ryu lost the Dragon Sword at the end of II, but still has it in III). Ninja Gaiden Shadow is a very distant prequel to the first NES game, while Ninja Gaiden for Xbox and its sequels (Dragon Sword, 2, and 3) are set before the NES series (and presumably after Ninja Gaiden Shadow).
  • Shadow of the Colossus and ICO take place within the same universe, with Shadow of the Colossus occurring earlier in the timeline.
  • The sequel progression in Tomb Raider is linear (while each is self-contained, stuff like artifacts in Lara's mansion show the progression) until Chronicles, which is based around events at various times in Lara's life, and the position of some scenarios in the overall timeline is very hard to work out (not helped by the way some events seem to violate previous canon). The Crystal reboot makes things much more complicated; while the changes to backstory and canon suggest a Continuity Reboot, the majority of the previous games are referenced at points in the new games, suggesting that they DO still exist in the new timeline, which makes it difficult to work out where Legend and Underworld fit in. The series would then be rebooted again with Tomb Raider (2013), and there are also two spin-offs that have their own continuity, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.
  • Ys' timeline is Origin > 1+2 > IV/Memories of Celceta > III/Oath in Felghana > V > VIII > VI > SEVEN > IX. Origin takes place a full 700 years before the rest of the series. This timeline doesn't include the spin-off games Ys Strategy, Ys Online, and Ys VS Sora no Kiseki.

    Adventure Games 
  • The games in the Atlantis series take part, in order: In prehistoric times, in the middle ages, in 2020, in the early 20th century, and in 1937.
  • Mysterious Journey II is a far, far cry from what Schizm: Mysterious Journey was. It takes place on an entirely different planet called Saarpedon, bearing no relation to Argilus, and the 2-character playing mode is dumbed back to one. In fact, the only relation to Schizm is a Shout-Out to its living ships, as buildings in the ocean which look similar on the outside but work and look nothing alike on the inside.

    Fighting Games 
  • Every 2D Samurai Shodown has been a non-linear sequel since Samurai Shodown II. III and IV are set after the original game but before II, V is a prequel to the first game, and VI is a "dream match" game with everyone from the previous numbered entries. Oddly enough, the 3D games are all set after Samurai Shodown II, although the PS version of Warriors Rage (which is a different game from the arcade version) takes place in the distant future of the other games. The 2019 SamSho entry (simply titled Samurai Shodown) is a Soft Reboot sandwiched between V and the original, though it also features a handful of characters who were not originally active at that point in history (such as Shiki from the 64 titles). This is almost certainly due to the deaths of both female lead Nakoruru and Ensemble Dark Horse Ukyo Tachibana at the end of II, who were subsequently Saved by the Fans.
  • The Street Fighter Alpha series (despite its Japanese title of Street Fighter Zero) is actually set after the original Street Fighter (and Final Fight) and before the Street Fighter II series. Street Fighter IV is an interquel between II and III, while the following entry, Street Fighter V, takes place between IV and III. It wouldn't be until 2023's Street Fighter 6 that the series would finally have an installment set after III (which first released in 1997 just to put things in perspective). The Street Fighter EX titles are a non-canon series of spin-offs believed to occupy the same general time frame of Alpha and II.

    First-Person Shooter 

    Hack and Slash 


    Role-Playing Games 
  • While Bravely Second is a direct sequel to Bravely Default, Bravely Default II takes the Final Fantasy sequel route, being a numbered sequel that takes place in a separate world from the previous two games. Given the titling conventions of the first two games, some have speculated that a direct follow-up to Second would be called Bravely Third or something similar, though this ignores the fact that Default and Second derive their names from gameplay mechanics.
  • Breath of Fire has a remarkably similar situation going to Zelda, only complicated by two, possibly three, canonical Alternate Universe scenarios:
  • Hidetaka Miyazaki (who served as director on Demon's Souls and Dark Souls) has stated that despite taking place in the same world, there are no story connections between Dark Souls II and its predecessor. As it turned out, he was either lying or overruled by DSII's two directors because there ended up being a number of nods to DSI in the sequelnote . However, it's still not a direct follow-up to DSI's story.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Several titles take place in the same universe with similar past events. Dragon Quest III is the prequel of the first two games, which are collectively known as the "Loto Trilogy" or "Erdrick Trilogy" (depending on your translation).
    • The fourth, fifth, and sixth games are also part of their own saga (the loosely connected Zenithian trilogy), albeit out of order. Though there is no explicit Word of God statement on the order of the games, the DS remakes and their stronger focus on continuity suggest that the Zenithian trilogy goes VI > IV > V.
    • To date, only Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest IX, and Dragon Quest X seem to be standalone titles in the main series, as Dragon Quest VIII hints at a multiverse due to the Godbird Empyrea actually being one and the same as the Everbird Ramia/Lamia from III. Torneko Taloon from IV also cameos as an opponent in Morrie's Monster Arena in VIII.
    • Just to complicate matters, IX features character cameos and cosplay gear from all eight previous games and the Dragon Quest Swords spin-off, which may mean something or may just be Mythology Gags.
    • Then there's the early Dragon Quest Monsters games — one's a prequel to VI, another had a VII character wind up in the Erdrick Trilogy world long after the events of I - III.
    • The final scene of Dragon Quest XI reveals that the world of Erdea is none other than the setting of the first three titles (the third in particular), only in the past. Longtime or more observant fans may have picked up on the few hints dropped earlier on: the theme of the town of Hotto is nearly identical to the music used for Jipang in III and during the post-game the overworld music changes to that of III.
    • The Builders spinoffs further complicate things: Dragon Quest Builders is set after the bad end of the original Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest Builders 2 follows not DQB but Dragon Quest II, and is a direct sequel to that game rather than an Alternate Continuity.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The main series of games (i.e. the one with a number in their title) are a downplayed example. The entire series takes place on the continent of Tamriel, with the first four games (Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, and Oblivion) being chronological, taking place over the span of roughly 34 years in the late 3rd Era of Tamriellic history. Each takes place in a different region of Tamriel note , and each overhauls its cast of characters (each has a different Player Character and very few recurring main characters). Skyrim takes place some 200 years following the events of Oblivion, but also does some Arc Welding of the events of previous games in its main plot (specifically, the destruction or removal of a various Cosmic Keystones and metaphysical "Towers" heralding the return of Alduin, the Big Bad Beast of the Apocalypse who was cast out of the stream of time in the past but prophesied to return).
    • The series also has several spin-off games with different styles of gameplay which take place in different eras of Tamriellic history. The Dungeon Crawler spin-off Battlespire (originally planned as an expansion to Daggerafall) takes place during the events of Arena but isn't directly related to the plot there. The Action-Adventure spin-off Redguard is a prequel that takes place roughly 400 years before Arena. The Elder Scrolls Online is a MMORPG prequel which takes place roughly 700 years before the events of Arena.
  • The Final Fantasy series, with a few exceptions centered around Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X, essentially reboot everything with every new game and start fresh in a different setting with different characters, making its use of numbers somewhat strange.
    • Square Enix's Ivalice realm is a consistent world visited by the player at various different points in history, each time centered on completely unrelated protagonists. The titles are non-linear, consisting of the Final Fantasy Tactics games, Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII. But even Ivalice's continuity is a little haphazard. Back when they were new, the only indication of a connection between Tactics and Vagrant Story was a few small references. Tactics would receive its own sequel later on, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which also had very little to do with its predecessor. Making Ivalice a more explicitly consistent setting was a later development, and it's still a bit different than it started out since it took some retconning to fit things together.
    • Only afterwards, some games are now getting sequels, probably inspired by the success of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. For example, Final Fantasy IV has a cellphone/WiiWare game sequel, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
    • As of Final Fantasy IX, the entire series takes place in a larger Multiverse, as did Final Fantasy X-2. The Ultimania notes that Shinra, the kid genius of the Gullwings, was the ancestor of Rufus Shinra. He even babbles about a concept remarkably similar to that of The Lifestream at one point in the game. Much later, Final Fantasy VII Remake would reinforce this by showing of a photo of the Shinra company's founders wherein one of the men shown dons a mask identical to Shinra's, with the game's Ultimania confirming this is indeed a nod to the Shinra from X-2.
    • A Japanese guide for Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy IV Settei Shiryou Hen, for those curious) states that the Blue Planet is the same world as that of Final Fantasy II, only 100 years later. It also states that the Deathbringer that King Fabul gives to Cecil was left to him by Leon from II, who then renounced his status as a Dark Knight to become a priest (as a parallel to Cecil's own class change from Dark Knight to Paladin). However, this is possibly shot down again in The After Years, which reverts the whole "Kain being Ricard's son" thing back to a Retroactive Legacy Mythology Gag; there, Kain says that he was roughly the same age as Ceodore (17) when he heard news of his father's death against an evil empire, while the Kain seen in II is a young boy (not to mention that a difference of 100 years makes it difficult for the 21-year-old Kain to be the son of the already middle-aged Ricard).
    • Final Fantasy XIII was the first game in the series to be envisioned with other games (Final Fantasy Type-0 for example) sharing a continuity in mind, although from the get-go that "continuity" was outlined as a theme involving crystals steeped in mythology and nothing else, for the most part. While it eventually gained direct sequels, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the original vision changed quite a lot over the years, with Type-0, originally sharing the XIII title as Agito XIII, renamed before its release, and with the third game — the very highly anticipated Versus XIII — announced way back in 2006 along with the other two changing into a large, separate verse so much that it's finally been renamed Final Fantasy XV. The end of the E3 trailer that announced this even implies that, as "a world in the Versus epic" (quote), Noctis will have his own saga in Fabula Nova Crystallis (its title can be faintly seen at the beginning of the trailer), as Lightning has had.
  • LISA: The Painful differs heavily from its predecessor LISA: The First in numerous ways. First is a surreal exploration of the dreams of the titular character akin to Yume Nikki, while Painful takes place in a very literal post-apocalypse where Lisa herself is long dead. The art style is different. The star of Painful, Brad, is a new character retconned into Lisa's family. In fact, practically the only similarities between the two games are the themes of paternal abuse and the father responsible for it. Even the format is different, with Painful pivoting to a 2D side-scroller.
  • The first two Lufia games were placed in reverse order, with Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals happening before Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. The first game even started with A Taste of Power that eventually became the final conflict in the second game, creating a nice little loop of continuity. The third game, Lufia: The Legend Returns, is third chronologically, 100 years after Fortress of Doom and 200 years after Lufia II. The Gaiden Game, Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, is set twenty years after Lufia II (eighty years before Fortress of Doom).
  • The continuity between the Mana Series of games is rather loose. At least one game, Legend of Mana, has been declared non-canon by Word of God, and the mobile phone game Friends of Mana takes place in a totally different world.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is numbered as a sequel to the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, but takes place in a separate continuity that's completely divorced from the story of the previous games. This is highlighted by the various changes from the art style (being more vibrant), the entirely new story that distills many others while loosely telling The Infinity Gauntlet, and the vast number of design differences such as Nick Fury changing races between games.
  • The Phantasy Star series has four distinct continuities: the "Classic" series (the Mega Drive/Master System games), the Phantasy Star Online series, (PSO as well as all of its Episodes, and possibly Phantasy Star Zero), the Phantasy Star Universe series (Universe, Ambition of the Illumini, and the Portable games), and the Phantasy Star Online 2 series (a bunch of games/media far too long to list). Continuities generally don't mix, although the idea of multiverse theory has been played with occasionally.
  • Pokémon does this. Not counting Gold and Silver, which were direct sequels to the first games, Red and Blue, every iteration since has been part of a jumbled up timeline that can only be explained by in-game functions. Pokémon Red and Blue start off the series. At the same time that these are happening, the events of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, games released six years later as part of the third generation, take place. Three years later, the events of Pokémon Gold and Silver take place. Starting around when the red Gyarados business goes down, the events of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl occur. (It helps if you consider the remakes; Ruby and Sapphire and FireRed and LeafGreen are part of the same generation and take place at roughly the same time, as are Diamond and Pearl and HeartGold and SoulSilver.) And then, some unknown time later (possibly multiple years later; see the following note for more details) the events of Pokémon Black and Whitenote  take place, followed by Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (2 years later note ). Pokémon X and Y then takes place around the same time as Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. Pokémon Sun and Moon are a few years down the road from B2/W2 and X/Y, as Red (see the above note) is officially said to be in his early twenties. note  Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD go wherever you want them to.
  • Most of the Shin Megami Tensei sequels are like this, the major exceptions being Shin Megami Tensei II, Persona 2, Digital Devil Saga 2, and Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. Some other games are hinted/confirmed to take place in the same continuity as their predecessors, such as Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and Soul Hackers 2, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, and the Persona series from P3 onward, but feature completely different plotlines and characters, with only a handful of Call-Backs connecting them. Further confusing matters are the occasional mention/suggestion of a multiverse as well as a timeline split that branches off from a crucial moment in Shin Megami Tensei I: one split leads to SMT II (with NINE, IMAGINE, and Giten Megami Tensei suggested or outright confirmed to be other offshoots), whereas the other leads to not just Devil Summoner, but also Shin Megami Tensei if... and Persona. Then there's the implication that the events of the Raidou Kuzunoha duology (distant prequels to the original Devil Summoner) also negated SMT I and its resulting chronology from ever happening... but one recurring character from that timeline (Stephen) shows up throughout Shin Megami Tensei IV and its sequel, and SMT IV itself has a backstory that, save for a few key details, is consistent with info divulged in SMT I and II.
  • The Suikoden games all take place in the same world (except for Tierkreis), but all take place in different regions and, more importantly, different times. To be specific, the first game to occur chronologically was Suikoden IV. One hundred and fifty years later, we experience the events of Suikoden V, then we get the original Suikoden five years later, with Suikoden II following it up with the shortest time span between games (a mere three years), then we get Suikoden III 15 years after that. One strange thing about this series is the character Viki, who is well-known for not only teleporting to different regions but through time as well (though this is not intentional, as she just has very bad luck and is a huge klutz). What's interesting is that she teleports through the games in numerical order, rather than chronologically. In other words, she teleports from the events of Suikoden I to Suikoden II, then to Suikoden III, and so on. Also, there are events that occur in Suikogaiden with Viki that, if she moved in numerical order, would imply her having knowledge of events that occurred (or knowing people she met) in earlier games. Her lack of knowledge of who Lorelai is in Suikoden V, even though they are both members of the Hero's army in I and II, is telling. And there are two different versions of Viki in III.
  • There are only four continuities in the Tales series, non-canonical crossovers Tales of the World notwithstanding. Even within games that share a continuity, Bag of Spilling is avoided due to each game following a different set of protagonists in each continuity.
    • The first is the "Aselia" timeline, encompassing two Symphonia games and Phantasia. All of them have different protagonists (the Symphonia sequel has a different protagonist, and both are set around 4000 years before Phantasia).
    • The second is the Destiny timeline, with the second game being about the son of the heroes of the first.
    • The third is the Xillia timeline. The second game has a new protagonist, but the entire cast of the previous game returns as playable characters, as it's been only been a year in between games.
    • The fourth is the duology of Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria, with Berseria being a very distant prequel to Zestiria the same way Symphonia was a distant prequel to Phantasia.
  • Valkyrie Profile:
    • Due to an unusual twist of plot involving Lezard time traveling from the end of the first game to the past of the sequel, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria comes both before and after Valkyrie Profile. And Covenant of the Plume is a prequel.
    • Things become even more confusing during the Seraphic Gate portions of Covenant of the Plume (i.e. the post-game), where recurring character Arngrim shows up. That Arngrim is the one from the original, unaltered version of the VP2 timeline (the one that leads into Covenant of the Plume and Lenneth), where the time-traveling Lezard wasn't there to bail Alicia, Rufus, and Dylan out of Dipan Castle and thus change the sequence of history. Like in VP2, Arngrim still ended up as one of Hrist's Einherjar, but was sent back into the cycle of rebirth as punishment for calling out Odin about what he did to Alicia, thus explaining how he can appear in the original Valkyrie Profile when it's (chronologically) set hundreds of years after Silmeria.
  • The Wild ARMs games were assumed to be non-linear at first, but Word of God says that they all take place on the same planet. This doesn't make much sense because, if that's the case, the games take place at least multiple millennia apart with Fridge Logic mass-reconfiguration of the planet's continental crust fragments. But hey, if the planet's center is filled with supernatural blue mud, you can Hand Wave just about anything.

    Shoot 'Em Ups 
  • The Aleste series kept a few main characters constant in its earlier installments, most of which could probably be linked together in order. Then there's Power Strike II for the Sega Master System and Robo Aleste for the Sega CD, each of which is set in a different historical time period with different characters.
  • Contra 4 was titled as such to indicate its placement as a sequel to Contra III: The Alien Wars. It is actually the eleventh original installment in the series and the second one specifically made for a portable platform (following Operation C on the original Game Boy). The game got away with this due to the fact that none of the other Contra sequels between III and 4 were numbered (the actual game that followed Contra III was Contra: Hard Corps for the Sega Genesis).

    Simulation Games 
  • Ace Combat is all over the place, partially owing to the Strangereal setting not being extensively fleshed out until the fourth game and Project Aces having to retroactively fit previous entries into the universe. Even so, the chronology can be hard to keep track of if you're not familiar with the series. Zero (set in 1995, released in 2006) is the first entry, and from there the order goes 1 (1995; 1995) > 2 (1997 or 1998; 1997 note ) > 04 (2004-2005; 2001) > 5 (2010; 2004) > 6 (2015; 2007) > 7 (2019; 2019) > X (2020; 2006), with 2009's Xi as an interquel occupying the same general time period as X. Meanwhile, 2011's Northern Wings is running concurrently with 04, 5, and 6, though the game itself is of dubious canonicity. This leaves 3, released in 1999 but set in 2040, as the Distant Finale, with Advance (released in 2005, set around 2032) as its direct prequel. That's not even getting into Joint Assault, Assault Horizon, and Infinity, all of which are instead set on Earth but in mutually exclusive continuities (with some dialogue from your wingman in Assault Horizon* confirming that the Ace Combat games actually exist in-universe). Additionally, the arcade predecessor to Ace Combat (also titled Air Combat) and its arcade-exclusive sequel (Air Combat 22) share their own continuity.
  • Mechwarrior: All the games are (loosely) set in the BattleTech universe, but none of them are direct sequels to each other. They each jump around the timeline to focus on different events, and not in any sort of chronological order between games. Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, for example, takes place almost a decade before Mechwarrior 2, while Mechwarrior 5 is set before any of the other games.
  • The Sims:
    • Despite its emphasis on player-driven stories, The Sims does have a loose continuity between games. The main "timeline" can be considered as follows: The Sims Medieval (released in 2011 as a spin-off of The Sims 3), The Sims 3 for PC (released in 2009), The Sims for consoles (released in 2003), The Sims 1 for PC (released in 2000), The Sims 2 for PC (released in 2004), The Sims 2 for Nintendo DS (released in 2005), and then The Sims 3 for Nintendo DS (released in 2010).
    • This timeline is complicated, however, by the inclusion of DLC worlds for The Sims 3 that take place elsewhere on the timeline, and the various games that don't seem to fit in anywhere because they have no recurring characters present.
    • The Sims 4 (released in 2014) is explicitly stated to take place in an Alternate Continuity, seemingly branching off from the timeline somewhere between The Sims 1 for PC and The Sims 2 for PC.
  • Wing Commander had a few of these. Wing Commander II was set ten years after the end of the second add-on, the Xbox Live game Wing Commander Arena was set 20 years after the events of Wing Commander Prophecy, and Privateer 2: The Darkening was... well, its own little world, for the most part, with subtle hints of a connection to the "main" games dropped throughout the game.
  • There's really only two linear sequels in the X-Universe series. X-Tension, the Expansion Pack to X: Beyond the Frontier, continues Kyle Brennan's story by having him found a corporation to help him develop a way to get back to Earth. Meanwhile X3: Reunion continues the story of the Kha'ak invasion from X2: The Threat: though the Kha'ak planet-killer has been destroyed, the invasion continues and X2's player character Julian Gardna-Brennan has been hired to train new pilots to replace the Argon military's losses.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • All the numbered Metal Gear sequels followed a linear chronology with one notable exception: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater serves as a prequel to the entire Metal Gear canon, being set decades before the events of the very first Metal Gear. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, both for the PSP, serve as sequels to the plot of MGS3 and follow Big Boss' further adventures before the first Metal Gear. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is another game starring Big Boss set years before Metal Gear Solid, or even the original Metal Gear for that matter, but is the fifth game in the MGS series to be numbered. Strangely, it is the first one to use a roman numeral instead of a numerical digit. It's also been confirmed by Hideo Kojima that Peace Walker was to be called Metal Gear Solid 5 at one point during development, but the number was removed mainly on the basis that the game was a handheld release.
  • The Tenchu series has been doing this as far back as the second installment, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins — a prequel to the original. The order goes: Tenchu 2 (2000) > Tenchu: Dark Secret (2006) > the original Tenchu: Stealth Assassins (1998) > Tenchu: Fatal Shadows (2004) > Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven (2003) > Tenchu: Time of the Assassins (2005) > Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (2008) > Tenchu Z (2006).

    Survival Horror 

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The Armored Core series is a great example of this. Each successive game takes place several years, sometimes even decades after previous one and casts the player in the role of a new Featureless Protagonist with no connection to the previous one. Usually the presence of a number in the title indicates a Continuity Reboot. So far, Armored Core, Project Phantasma, Master of Arena, Armored Core 2 and Another Age take place in one continuity. Armored Core 3, Silent Line, Nexus, Formula Front Nine Breaker, and Last Raven take place in a second continuity. Armored Core 4 and for Answer take place in a third. And Armored Core V takes place in a fourth continuity. It's really just a Fighting Game with Robots... No, not that one.
  • Dead to Rights was released in 2002 and follows Jack Slate, a cop in Grant City. Dead to Rights 2 was released in 2005, and despite it being numbered actually takes place before the original game. A third game Dead to Rights: Reckoning was released for the PSP shortly after 2. It also precedes 2. And then the fourth game, Retribution, is a re-imagining of the first game. So, four "sequels" and we haven't even got past the first storyline. Whoopie...

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Disgaea:
    • The series abides by this, though there are a few recurring characters. The fact that all the games take place in different Netherworlds helps. Infinite messes some stuff up, but most fans agree that Mao and Beryl's appearances are before D3 even though the canon best ending of Infinite doesn't match up with why Etna was in D2.
    • Disgaea 5 adds more confusion; the ending strongly implies that it's actually a prequel to the rest of the series (and that Christo will go on to become Seraph Lamington from the first game), but doesn't make this explicit, so it may just be another game in the same universe. To make matters more questionable, there are post-game and DLC encounters that involve encountering characters from previous entries in the series, and these clearly take place after those respective games (Laharl knows his sister Sicily, Mao and Raspberyl run Evil Academy together, etc). This is entirely possible even assuming 5 is a prequel, since demons are immortal and these scenarios could be taking place long after the main story... except that in the case of the DLC ones there's nothing stopping you from running them during the main story. It's probably best that you just assume some form of time travel is happening.
  • While Fire Emblem is very much a Thematic Series wherein the titular MacGuffin, a redheaded shopkeeper named Anna, and a few other Recurring Elements are often the only constants between the various individual 'Verses, a few titles have approached the matter of continuity in this manner. Word of God confirms that Jugdral, the setting of Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776, is located in the same world as Archanea and Valentia, only in the distant past. This is supported by Naga playing a role in the backstory of all five games (though Gaiden would not bear this distinction until its 2017 Video Game Remake did a better job of Arc Welding it to the events of Marth's games). Then, after chronicling adventures in three other distinct lands (Elibe, Magvel, and Tellius) and giving both of Marth's outings the remake treatment, Fire Emblem: Awakening came along, not only being set on a future version of Archanea (now known as Ylisse) but also linking together all other previous entries in some fashion, most notably including the return of the Deadlords from the Jugdral duology and featuring a DLC character who claims to be the direct descendant of Ike. From here, the series once again shifted to largely standalone stories, though with a few wrinkles: certain in-game revelations and DLC chapters in Fire Emblem Fates set it up as a partial Stealth Sequel to (a version of) Awakening, post-game content in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia provides an origin story for the Big Bad of Awakening, and Fire Emblem Engage takes a page from Heroes by having the main character aided by (the spirits of) past heroes from every corner of series history — this time in a mainline installment.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • Before Ubisoft's reboot, the main games were fairly straightforward linear sequels (while the time-skips were sometimes large-ish, there were always heroes carried over, and the new protagonists were often connected to old protagonists), but complicated things in its expansion packs. Price of Loyalty for II, seems to be taking place on a world of its own in its campaign, which doesn't strictly mean it isn't in the same overall setting but does mean its stories and heroes are entirely unconnected to the rest of the games. Armageddon's Blade for III had its campaigns either take place after III, be a bit ambiguous about when they take place in relation, or in one case be a somewhat odd prequel to III, while Shadow of Death for the same game was entire a prequel to III. The Gathering Storm and Winds of War for IV have no story connections to any of the other games, although they were meant to take place on the same world as IV, there just wasn't an explicit in-game confirmation.
    • After Ubisoft's reboot, even the main games move around. VI was a centuries-earlier prequel to V. VII was a sequel to VI, still centuries before V. V's expansions follow on one another, but the ones for the sequels jump around, sometimes to even earlier.

    Wide Open Sandbox 

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The second BIONICLE movie, Legends of Metru Nui is set a thousand years before the first, Mask of Light. The third, Web of Shadows takes place before the ultimate scene of the second, making it an interquel — save for the very last shot, which takes us back to the present timeline of Mask of Light. But technically neither prequel ties directly into Mask of Light, as that first film itself was a sequel to two and a half years' worth of books, comics, online games and videos, which bridge the gaps between the movies.
  • Chaos Fighters II has nothing to do with Chaos Fighters except for the magic and weaponry system.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia was written with each story assumed to be the last (as admitted by the author) so as such several of the later ones answer questions rather than continuing the story. As such The Magician's Nephew was written and published sixth but takes place first. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was first, is second. The Horse and His Boy was written fourth, published fifth, and set during a Time Skip in LW&W. With those three sorted out, however, the rest follow order of publication: Prince Caspian (set centuries after LW&W), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle. It helps that time shifts in-universe because Narnia is a parallel world not perfectly synced with ours. After the author's death, his estate rearranged all subsequent editions of the books by chronological order, though fans will generally recommend the original reading order based on publication instead.
  • After writing the novelization of Fantastic Voyage, Isaac Asimov followed up with Fantastic Voyage 2: Destination Brain. The second novel repeats the high concept of the first in a different continuity, allowing Asimov to develop the fictional science in accordance with his sensibilities rather than adhering to what was filmed.
  • The Fast and the Furious film series ended up non-linear because of the popularity of one character played by Sung Kang. Street racer Han Seoul-Oh dies in Tokyo Drift (the third installment, a B-Team Sequel with only a cameo from the stars of the previous two). The fourth film, Fast & Furious, brought him back by setting itself a few years before his death in Tokyo.note  Kang then starred in the fourth, fifth, and sixth films, the epilogue of which finally catches up to Han's death (now revealed to be a murder) and kicks off the plot of the seventh, finally making the series linear again.
  • The timeline for the Fletch series is all over the place. The first three books (Fletch, Confess, Fletch and Fletch's Fortune) follow a straight timeline, Fletch and the Widow Bradley is a Prequel set an unspecified amount of time before the first book, Fletch's Moxie and Fletch and the Man Who pick up from where Fletch's Fortune left off, Carioca Fletch is an Interquel set between Fletch and Confess, Fletch, Fletch Won is another prequel and chronologically the first, Fletch, Too is an immediate sequel to it, and the last two books (Son of Fletch and Fletch Reflected) are time skips after the events of Fletch and the Man Who. One factor in the series juggling chronology so much is that the author apparently found it difficult to write convincing motivations for Fletch, who goes from struggling Intrepid Reporter to filthy rich at the end of the first book.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The creators considered making Kamen Rider Agito a direct sequel to Kamen Rider Kuuga, but were concerned that a continuity might put off new fans, and that giving Kuuga a direct sequel would undermine its progaonist's journey. Ultimately they left the decision up to the fans, saying that whether the two shows are explicitly linked or not is up to the individual viewer. That said, the shows are still implicitly linked by a number of references, like off-hand mentions of the Grongi (Kuuga's enemies) and the G3 Powered Armor being based off of data the Tokyo Police collected from "Unidentified Lifeform #4" (their callname for Kuuga). It's also said that the Grongi and the Lords (Agito's enemies) are mortal enemies, and the latter wiped out last vestiges of the former in a Great Offscreen War before the events of Agito started.
    • Kamen Rider as a whole is in a very odd place regarding this trope since originally each series seemed to exist in their own worlds with nary a reference to anything that came beforenote . Then things got complicated by a number of factors, including Decade introducing the concept of Alternate Universes, Crossovers and Early Bird Cameos becoming an annual tradition in the movies, and a shadowy villain faction (Foundation X) that's had its fingers in every series starting with The New '10s and is implied to somehow be affiliated with Shocker, the evil organization that menaced the original Kamen Rider. Whew!
      • One exception to this: Kamen Rider Build takes place in its own world, since its backstory (Japan getting split into three nations in 2007) is completely incompatible with the other shows. This is made explicit in the movie Heisei Generations Final, but that opens another can of worms by having characters from five previous shows (OOO, Fourze, Gaim, Ghost, and Ex-Aid) all coming from the same parallel world to help Build deal with the movie's Big Bad.
  • The "Road Pictures" of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hope, Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour play different characters with different names in each, and at least one is set in a wildly different time period, but they all have the same cast, the same style of madcap humor, and much the same formula. It is common for there to be references to their past adventures, albeit usually during one of the many instances of Breaking the Fourth Wall.
  • The Scorpion King is a prequel to The Mummy Trilogy, the second film of which introduced the Scorpion King and showed his final fate. They then made The Scorpion King 2, which was a prequel to the prequel. There are also plans for The Scorpion King 3 which will be a sequel to the prequel of the prequel. There's also a video game of dubious canon that serves as a prequel to the prequel. Perhaps confusing things even more is that Word of God is that the Scorpion King featured in the prequel series is not the same Scorpion King featured in The Mummy Returns, but rather his Identical Grandfather. While this makes sense given their wildly different characterizations (the prequel Scorpion being far more heroic), it's never actually established in-series.
  • Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World: The stories were not published in chronological order, but the collection lists them this way too so the reader can read that way if they would like to.