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  • Ace Attorney:
    • The best installment of the series is generally considered to be Trials and Tribulations. All later games heavily split the fandom but are almost never considered better. All other cases have their high points compared to those of these cases.
    • The last two cases of Justice for All invert this: The penultimate case, "Turnabout Big Top," is widely considered to be the worst case in the franchise's history, due to its cartoony nature and several Scrappy Mechanics that are featured. Thus, the case that follows it would have to be spectacular in comparison. Indeed, the next case is "Farewell, My Turnabout," widely considered to be the best case in Ace Attorney history.
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  • The PS2 entries for Ace Combat are considered to be the highlights of that series, with the games only getting better from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies to Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Now, there's been some disagreement about which of those three games was the best of that era, but they have collectively overshadowed every other entry in the series and have hounded every new entry since. Even Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, widely considered to be a return to form after the somewhat middling Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, the very divisive Assault Horizon, and several lower profile spin-offs, tends to be seen as a respectable entry that falls just short of the lofty standard set by its PS2 predecessors.
  • Assassin's Creed sits within the shadow not of the first game, but of Assassin's Creed II. It is still the most critically acclaimed and beloved entry in the franchise, thanks in part to its sprawling story, charismatic hero, large cast of historical characters who remain relevant to the plot, jaw-dropping period architecture, sweeping soundtrack, and for making the most improvements and innovations on the formula. Future games would add gimmicks, change up character approaches, use other interesting and dramatic settings and so forth, but none have managed to captivate the same way. In fact, despite being follow-ups to II and following the same time period and main character, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations both garnered detractors as well.
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  • While both later installments in the Batman: Arkham Series were still well-received, they wound up having the misfortune of coming after the universally acclaimed Batman: Arkham City, still considered to be the best game in the series. Origins had to deal with having a different developer working on the game rather than Rocksteady, with many feeling that the gameplay didn't really change much up and finding it to be much glitchier than normal. Knight had Rocksteady as the developers again, but that one had several Batmobile segments taking up a good portion of the game which many felt was a Scrappy Mechanic, as well as Paul Dini not returning to pen the story, causing several people to feel it was much weaker than the previous games' stories, including Origins interestingly enough.
  • Bayonetta 2 has a character example in the form of Loptr. While he isn't a hated character within the fandom, there are some fans who feel he doesn't quite measure up to Father Balder from the previous game as he lacks some of Balder's charm and comes off as a bland villain. Also, the final battle with him as Aesir, while fun on its own merits, is seen by fans as underwhelming compared to the battle with Jubileus, who was a massive godlike being fought in space while Aesir is roughly twice the size of Bayonetta and the fight with him takes place in a dimensional void within a mountain.
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  • The Beginner's Guide, created by Davey Wreden, creator of The Stanley Parable is a game about this... Or, at least, that's one very valid way to interpret it. The game followed a very open blog post by Wreden grappling with his feelings of success and inadequacy after The Stanley Parable became a runaway success, and goes into some similar territory by being a paean to a friend of Davey's who ostensibly went through the same process. The game itself appears to have avoided falling into its own subject matter, most critics considering it another triumph of Wreden's.
  • BioShock 2 is a decently good game, but it lives in the shadow of BioShock, one of the most renowned and critically acclaimed games of all time. Had it been released as its own animal, it might've gotten decent recognition; as is, it's often seen as little more than a pale imitation, repeating most of the same steps the original took in the hopes of creating the same magic while introducing an element of chaotic multiplayer into a game about fear and isolation. BioShock Infinite, however, averted this and received praise on equal level to the original, some even finding themselves preferring Infinite over the original. Notably, Ken Levine was not involved in BioShock 2, so BioShock Infinite marking his return to the franchise made the original game a tough act to follow in two separate cases.
  • Call of Duty: The first two games of Infinty Ward's series were critical and commercial successes. Then they released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. They turned a good-selling series into a Cash Cow Franchise, perfected the single player experience, changed the perception of the "generic shooter" from World War II to modern, and created the possibly the most addictive multiplayer system of all time. Both Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games have had trouble following that act.
  • At this point, the entire Castlevania series is trapped in the shadow of the Symphony of the Night for most. On the other hand, Aria of Sorrow was really well-received for a unique battle system of collecting souls from defeated enemies at random, a less crufty castle design, and a great Tomato Surprise Plot Twist of the game's protagonist. Its direct sequel, Dawn of Sorrow, improved upon the game balance in many ways while not straying much, though received a bit of flak for the grinding of souls needed for upgrading weapons and the souls themselves, as well as the seals needed to destroy the bosses. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is often considered either It's the Same, Now It Sucks! or It's Easy, So It Sucks!, and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is, while well-received, a form of a stale formula. The game after that was the Lords of Shadow Continuity Reboot, which ended only two games later.
  • Cave Story's success and recognition was so great Studio Pixel (Daisuke Amaya) will probably never be able to top it. His next game, the arcadey Kero Blaster, was praised by the press as a well-made and engaging game, but it barely made a blip among the gaming community.
  • Chrono Cross was cursed from the beginning to never be as popular as Chrono Trigger, one of the most beloved games ever made. The Happy Ending Override didn't help matters, with some fans saying the game would have been better if it were standalone, nor did the fact that the game's very complex narrative leads to a string of Info Dumps in the second half, culminating in a Gainax Ending that is still considered to be wholly undecipherable years later. Then there's the game throwing at you a cast of over 50 playable characters where only about a quarter has any significant plot relevance, several more with storytelling potential get sidelined note , and the majority are rather one-note as a whole compared to Trigger having a much smaller but better characterized cast. And that's to say nothing of their in-game viability. In fact, when the Final Fantasy Chronicles and Nintendo DS ports of Trigger threw in several new scenes that more cohesively tie together both games and try to better explain certain aspects of Cross note , a number of fans reacted negatively, believing that it did a disservice to the legacy of the original game.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
  • Danganronpa:
    • To a certain extent, the second game in relation to the third. The second game is considered a significant improvement over the original, and while the third game's gameplay improvements were well-received, the story is significantly more divisive.
    • The Big Bad of the first game, Monokuma (AKA Junko Enoshima AKA the Ultimate Despair), is widely agreed by fans to be the best villain of the entire franchise, even better than their incarnations in other installments! The first two after, Monaca and Izuru, did get praise, but were still overshadowed. And the ones after them? Kazuo and Ryota of DR3 and Tsumugi of New Danganronpa V3 were flat-out hated by the fans, being considered weak, ineffectual, and outright stupid.
    • From Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaede Akamatsu, the Decoy Protagonist of the game became this. Within her sole playable chapter, she was established as an Ideal Hero, and the one protagonist capable of giving a new spin to the already tired Danganronpa formula with her leadership and proactive attitude. But she is executed for committing murder in Chapter 1, and the real protagonist—shy, withdrawn detective Shuichi Saihara—quickly became a Base-Breaking Character for replacing her.
    • The second and third games' fifth cases are considered among the best in the series, particularly because the truth behind the "murders" is not at all how it first appears. The sixth and final cases are not nearly as well regarded, partly because of this trope, partly because of Ending Fatigue and, in V3's case, because of the controversial plot twists involved in the ending.
  • Deus Ex, naturally. Provided you accept that there were acts that followed it at all; quite a lot of fans don't. The prequel series starting with Human Revolution started being held to the same standard as the original; considered an all-round fantastic game, and the follow-up Mankind Divided had quite a few fans struggling to invest hype in it for fear of a repeat letdown.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
  • The Dragon Age series sometimes comes across as this. The original game was heralded as a return to the good old days of the CRPG, a spiritual successor to the storied Baldur's Gate franchise. The sequel is a good game on its own merits but often fares poorly when compared to its predecessor. Dragon Age: Inquisition on the other hand...
  • While Drakengard 3 is accepted by the fans as a worthy sequel to the main games, it came after NieR, which is regarded as the series' masterpiece; by comparison, Drakengard 3 was unable to live up to that game's legacy. It was only when a Distant Sequel came along in the form of 2017's NieR: Automata that NieR itself was unseated from the top spot among the Drakengard titles, in part because PlatinumGames' handling of the title's development allowed for solid gameplay that held up well against and meshed with Yoko Taro's lauded storytelling style as opposed to hindering it.
  • One of the reasons why Duke Nukem Forever festered as long in development as it did, according to a Wired article, was simply because 3D Realms wanted their game to be as groundbreaking as Duke Nukem 3D was back in its day. As a result, they were constantly adding more and more new features into the game, upgrading the technology and occasionally restarting the entire project from scratch because what they had wasn't up to par, until they ran out of funding in 2009 and Gearbox finished off what they had two years later.
  • Depending on who you ask, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the best game in the The Elder Scrolls series. The fight began at Morrowind's release, and continues to this very instant with only the original not having many people argue in its favor.
  • While Fable III still got favorable reviews, it wasn't as good as the second. Possibly because one of the most common complaints was how they changed the gaming mechanic.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The fandom is "divided," but it's probably safe to say that Final Fantasy VIII didn't live up to what was expected after Final Fantasy VII. Whether or not Final Fantasy VII lived up to what was expected after Final Fantasy VI is the source of many flame wars.
    • There is also a Broken Base regarding whether Final Fantasy V did or didn't live up to what was expected after Final Fantasy IV, which is considered one of the top games in the series, because of its characters and heightened drama typical to many other games of the series. All of these are elements many fans felt the fifth installment of the series lacked. Other fans on the other hand felt that the game featured some of the best gameplay in the series, period, thanks to the evolved Job system, which has served as the basis for that of three spin-off titles: Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Dimensions and Bravely Default. Combine all of this with an annual unofficial charity run, and you have a franchise darkhorse, making it a tough act to follow of its own, especially when sizing up Dimensions and Default. In the case of Default, however, it is credited for helping revive interest in traditional JRPGs after Square Enix's various attempts at experimentation in the mainline FF series, and was successful enough to warrant a sequel as well as a Non-Linear Sequel in Bravely Default II.
    • And then there's Nobuo Uematsu: he has since produced many solid and great video game soundtracks, but after the dozens of anthems to video game awesomeness that pervade the sixth installment, for some people, everything he composed since is fated to be seen as "not as good as FFVI's soundtrack." Uematsu himself considers Final Fantasy IX's OST his masterpiece. For that matter, any other composer that works on the series, even in spin-offs, is destined to be held to Uematsu's standard.
    • The Heavensward expansion to Final Fantasy XIV is considered to be the best expansion to the game to this day thanks to the massive quality of life updates, improved story and content, and positive reception to the new battle classes. The next expansion, Stormblood, isn't seen as terrible, but many regard it as inferior to Heavensward and had many notable flaws in the story and in the changes to the class mechanics.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The Tellius duology, despite their poor sales, was popular and beloved, especially by the more hardcore fans, for many reasons: strong characters, diversity and variety in character types, a very morally gray narrative full of political intrigue that also managed to touch upon race relations, plenty of Homoerotic Subtext, and a strong feminist undercurrent as the story ends with women on half the thrones. Because of this, several hardcore fans considered Shadow Dragon, New Mystery, Awakening, and Fates to be inferior, though which is "worse" depends on said hardcore fan and what exactly they're looking for out of their gaming experience. For example, Fates is generally agreed to have improved on Awakening's gameplay mechanics and boasts creative map design, but suffers greatly in the story department. Suffice to say, every installment starting with Awakening had the Contested Sequel label slapped on it at some point or another, though Three Houses finally broke the trend seven years later.
    • Conversely, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the 2017 Video Game Remake of Gaiden, received this sentiment from quite a few sectors of the fanbase, in part due to the aforementioned Casual/Competitive Conflict. While the writing was generally praised, both for expanding upon the original game's plot and in comparison to the other 3DS installments, SoV also kept many of the traits in Gaiden that led fans to deem it the Oddball in the Series. Most notably, there's the lack of a weapon triangle; spartan map design that either doesn't take advantage of the size of the field or is riddled with Scrappy Mechanics, such as the desert maps in Act 2 that are difficult to navigate for most units; and generally poor growth rates across the board, which leads to Fake Difficulty when player-controlled units with abysmal Resistance stats find themselves up against a magic-reliant opposition in the second half of the game. Additionally, while the series' now standard Support system was featured in contrast to Shadow Dragon, the amount of conversations between characters is very limited; coupled with the lack of an Avatar, fans who were introduced to Fire Emblem via Awakening and Fates saw this as taking several steps back in the characterization and Shipping departments.
    • Action Girl Lyn of Blazing Sword was the first female lead character Western audiences were exposed to, causing some fans to consider the Skilled, but Naïve and more feminine Princess Eirika of Sacred Stones to be a step backward and antifeminist to boot.
  • F-Zero GX is hailed as not only the best game in the F-Zero series, but one of Nintendo's best racing games period and one of the best racers of its decade. So when F-Zero GP Legend was released a few years later, it was treated with lukewarm reception at best despite bearing a number of improvements to the sprite-based F-Zero games.
  • Golden Sun was a fantastic two-part series ending on so many plot hooks the fans clamored for a sequel. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, released years later, didn't quite live up to the legacy.
  • Gradius ReBirth, while a good game by many accounts, had to deal with being the next game in the series after Gradius V, regarded as one of the best if not the best game in the series, and suffered in reception for it. Among other things, it was developed by the then-no-name development team M2 rather than the critically-acclaimed Treasure, it only has five stages that are over in about 20 minutes, uses 32-bit sprites while V took the Video Game 3D Leap, has a good Manabu Namiki arrange soundtrack that sadly gets snubbed in favor of Hitoshi Sakimoto's more grandiose pieces, and lacks the Option control and gauge edit features that V has. Had ReBirth been released before V, it might've gotten a better rep with less lofty expectations to hold up to. It doesn't help that it's a WiiWare exclusive; while it's relatively easy to grab a used PS2 copy of V, just buy it off the PlayStation Network, or of course pirate it, the phasing out of the Wii Shop Channel means that ReBirth has essentially been forgotten about, now that the one means of buying and downloading it is gone permanently.
  • Arc System Works are responsible for Guilty Gear, a series that has a respectable place among the Fighting Game Community for its unique mechanics compared to other franchises like Street Fighter, with a very rock and roll-inspired art style and atmosphere that many appreciated. They would lose the rights to the series years later, but not wanting to discontinue their fighting game resume, they made a Spiritual Successor named BlazBlue. The series does well enough in its own country to not qualify for this trope, but in America? It has a massive stigma against it for being "Anime!Guilty Gear," mostly due to its more Shonen-influenced character designs, slower and simpler gameplay, and very confusing Cliché Storm of a narrative, not helped by several crucial supplemental materials not making it out of Japan note . All BlazBlue did was just make the fanbase want another Guilty Gear after years of updated releases rather than a new series entirely. When a true follow-up was received in the form of Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, American reception to BlazBlue's latest releases was mostly lukewarm as the hype for a new Guilty Gear was felt all throughout the community. By the mid-2010s, however, BlazBlue had largely found a voice of its own independent from its sister franchise, so it's safe to say it may have averted this.
  • Half-Life and Half-Life 2 are both two of the most critically acclaimed first-person shooters ever made, with this trope commonly cited as a reason a third installment has yet to be released. Anything less than outstanding and revolutionary from a Half-Life 3 would face major scrutiny and backlash, not helped by the fact that many are now of the opinion that Valve is not the company that it used to be. This is probably a major factor as to why Half-Life: Alyx, the first Half-Life game to be released after a lengthy Sequel Gap, is a Spin-Off for VR hardware instead of a "proper" sequel.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, no game had managed to match the third installment over the twenty years since it came out.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us has an in-universe lampshading from Joker during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Superman during the Story Mode's prologue, when Superman interrupts Batman's interrogation and confronts him after Joker tricks him into killing Lois and his unborn son, the stopping of Lois's heartbeat detonating a nuke, wiping out eight million lives. "Now run along, so I can break out of here. I've got lots of planning to do to top this."
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising was met with great acclaim for its fantastic characters, great gameplay, and for bringing one of Nintendo's most neglected franchises into the spotlight and carving an identity for itself. In fact, it has been said that Masahiro Sakurai and his team might not make a sequel to it because of this trope.
  • Kingdom Hearts is generally considered to have peaked with Kingdom Hearts II. It expanded on the first game, improved the combat system, had probably the most complex magic system in the franchise, had several well-thought-out boss battles, and so on. While anyone could pick up the game and mash X to win, people could play the game an entirely different way using magic and summons, and it was an extremely well-made game. It had its flaws, such as making the story more convoluted, but overall is considered one of the best games ever to come out on the PS2. Fast forward thirteen years to Kingdom Hearts III, and after years of hype, several side games' worth of story additions, and a switch to the Unreal III engine, and the general reception to III has been that it's good, but not as good. Combat never gets more intricate than X-mashing at most points, magic has been stripped down quite dramatically, several of the levels are expansive but empty, and the sheer amount of Continuity Lockout makes it hard for even fans who have followed the series since 2002 to understand. Ultimately, the verdict seems to have settled on Play the Game, Skip the Story, as, while the gameplay is good, it is generally criticized for feeling more like an interactive movie than an actual game.
  • Kirby:
    • For many years, Kirby Super Star was considered the franchise's peak, especially considering it was the last main Kirby game directed by the revered Masahiro Sakurai. It's particularly praised for its snappy, fast-paced controls, diverse range of gameplay styles, and expanded copy ability movesets. Thus, when the next two games (Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards) used a slower-paced gameplay style with simpler copy abilities and a greater focus on puzzle-solving, reactions were mixed. They also had the misfortune of being late releases for their respective consoles, though both were Vindicated by History. Because of this, along with a proper GameCube Kirby game being stuck in Development Hell, it took over 16 years for a game considered a true follow-up to Super Star to be released: Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
    • With the release of Kirby's Return to Dream Land ushering in a new "era" of Kirby games, this was averted as it was generally felt its 3DS sequels, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot, were Even Better Sequels that expanded upon and improved the tried-and-true Super Star formula. Robobot especially resulted in a Newbie Boom for the series, as it was lauded for its much more in-depth plot, clever level design and puzzles, and awesome boss fights. The next installment in the series, Kirby Star Allies, deliberately went in the opposite direction, as current director Shinya Kumazaki felt the series was becoming too complicated; it has a generally shorter, lighter, "back-to-basics" approach that received mixed reactions upon release, especially coming off the heels of Robobot. Opinions improved after its post-launch DLC extended the game's content and added a puzzling Extra Mode that's much more challenging than the main game, but only time can tell how it will be looked back upon.
  • Just trying to live up to the first Knights of the Old Republic; the Obsidian-made second game is a point of contention that was unfortunately rushed for a Christmas release. Meanwhile Star Wars: The Old Republic broke the base not just for being an MMO, but also because some of the game's Backstory turned that epic first game into a textbook Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is generally considered to be one of the greatest games in the franchise, if not all time. All games in the series that followed, while all still greatly beloved by fans and critics in their own right, would garner complaints because of how unsimilar—or, sometimes, too similar—to Ocarina of Time they are. More divisive entries like Majora's Mask and The Wind Waker would be successfully Vindicated by History, but it would take almost twenty years for a Zelda game to surpass both the critical and commercial success of the 1998 installment.
    • Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is one of the most developed and popular exposition fairies in the entire series, and one of the more popular Zelda characters in general. While anyone would look bad compared to her after that, Midna's successor in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Fi, fell especially flat; her robotic intonations, lack of personality, and dull interactions didn't do much to endear her to players who loved Midna's dry sarcasm, sassy mannerisms, and chemistry with Link (to say nothing of Fi's frequent Annoying Video-Game Helper moments that Midna generally lacked). It might be why no Zelda game since Skyward Sword has had a character in the "Navi" role—Breath of the Wild comes closest with Zelda's voice guiding Link in the early game, but she drops out for plot reasons after the Great Plateau.
  • LEGO Dimensions:
    • The Starter Pack's Story Mode ties most of the Year One dimensions together in such an epic Massive Multiplayer Crossover, that several collectors have expressed disappointment that for Year Two, the developers seemed to focus more on simply adding new dimensions, then on linking them together. It doesn't help that none of the new levels expanded on The Stinger of the Story Mode.
    • The LEGO Batman Movie Portal Build, modeled after the Bat-Computer, disappointed collectors who found it less intricately detailed than the Builds included with the Starter Pack (Vorton's interdimensional Gateway) and the two previous Story Packs (backdrops modeled after Zhu's Chinese Restaurant and MACUSA). Apparently the budget for the LEGO Batman Story Pack allowed for two minifigures, or a large Bat-Computer, but not both. note 
  • Lemmings 2: The Tribes improved on its predecessors in many ways and added many new abilities — so many, in fact, that almost every other game in the series, typically Mission Pack Sequels to the original with some added gimmick such as 3D environments or touch screen mechanics, has been generally considered So Okay, It's Average by the fanbase.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. No Lufia game made since has ever reached its level of critical and popular acclaim, not even its Video Game Remake, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, which drew much criticism in the vein of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!
  • Mad Max is an unusual cross-media example of this. Despite being an entirely separate project, it had the misfortune of coming out the exact same year as Mad Max: Fury Road, the first Mad Max film in 30 years, and one that not only brought acclaim and attention to the franchise that had never been seen before, but also acclaim rarely seen in the action genre, being immediately praised as one of the best action movies of all time. Even with a completely different story and concept and being a decent game in its own right, it still had to go through being compared to a masterpiece of a completely different medium in a number of reviews.
  • Mass Effect is this trope escalating steadily as the series goes on. It's easiest to break it down by game:
  • Mega Man:
  • Metroid has suffered from this in several different directions. Super Metroid set a standard for every subsequent game in the series and, by extension, the Metroidvania genre in general. This was the only reason fans didn't get Metroid 64, as the creator said almost word for word that Super Metroid was a Tough Act to Follow. When the series did return, fans were treated to the near-simultaneous releases of Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube and Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. Prime was fantastically well-received, smashing through the Polygon Ceiling and successfully switching genres from platformer to FPS while appeasing the fans, but Fusion received some flak for its more linear level design and focus on plot/character interactions resulting in far less exploration than one would expect from one of the Trope Namers for Metroidvania. Fusion, though it would later be Vindicated by History due to its Survival Horror-esque atmosphere and pacing, was quickly followed up by Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the original game that was praised for returning to the usual non-linear progression of the pre-Fusion titles. Once the Prime subseries ended with 2007's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the next 3D Metroid title was Metroid: Other M, which had a very hard time following up both Retro Studios' games and Super Metroid and exacerbated many of the problems fans had with design choices originally introduced in Fusion. This may be why, when a fourth Metroid Prime installment was announced in 2017 and subsequently hit some bumps during development, Retro Studios was eventually called in to take over development duties. On the other hand, Metroid: Samus Returns, also released in 2017, was produced by series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto—who the fandom blamed for Other M's most controversial elements and poor reception—and managed to establish itself as a worthy follow-up to its more acclaimed predecessors.
  • Phantasy Star Online is so beloved that private servers for the game are still operating across nearly every platform it was released on. Phantasy Star Universe attempted to improve upon the original game, but in spite of the addition of a dedicated single-player campaign and expanded character creation systems and classes, the game received mix reviews and many considered it inferior to Online. Phantasy Star Zero played more similarly to Online and was considered a step up from Universe, but wasn't as successful from a sales standpoint. Thankfully, Phantasy Star Online 2 proved to be a worthy successor, combining the best elements of the original Online, Universe, and Zero and having a large and dedicated player base in Japan and beyond.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red and Blue is considered the definitive incarnation of the franchise to most people, with the first 151 Pokémon still being the most iconic of them all. The series, while still remaining popular, never came close to recapturing the original games' mainstream ubiquity until the 2016 mobile game.
    • For the developers themselves, Pokémon Gold and Silver were viewed as even better than their predecessors, and were even intended to be the final games in the series, as they had no idea how they'd go about topping them. While still being good, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire having to follow them up was viewed as somewhat of a burden, and the fanbase came to consider it to be one of the weaker installments until those games were remade during the sixth generation.
    • Generation V had a hard time following itself. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, despite introducing loads of new features, were also received partly unfavorably by both critics and the fans for not being what Pokémon Black and White were, such as lacking the story that made those games stand out.
    • On a similar note, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has been highly regarded for its story and gameplay elements that variate from the main series. However, the 3DS installment Gates to Infinity has also received quite a bit of panning from fans for not being what the first two were; most complaints being in regards to the weaker story and the small number of Pokémon available as starter/partner choices and for recruitment.
    • Pokémon X and Y had it even tougher than Black 2 and White 2. While the plot isn't bad by any means, it didn't stand a chance compared to Black/White, which are widely agreed to have had the best plot of the series. The fact that the game also introduced only about 70 Pokémon, the least of any generation, was also all the more noticeable proceeding Gen V, which introduced over 150, the most of any generation since the originals.
    • An odd character-specific variation occurred with a Pokémon species from Generation IV: Lucario. For whatever reason, Game Freak and Pokémon Co. decided to give it heavy promotion before the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, featuring one in the starring role of the anime's eighth movie and with many cameos in spin-off games. The marketing push ended up being well-handled enough to actually work, and Lucario quickly became a fan-favorite. However, this proved to be a double-edged sword to the creators, as every attempt at trying to ape Lucario's success failed either partially or entirely because it couldn't live up to Lucario itself.
    • The rivals get hit with this, too. Blue is the quintessential beloved "douchebag rival" for his cocky behavior and the memes surrounding him, while Silver is loved for the darkness to his character and his backstory as revealed in the remakes. As a consequence, any of the "friendly" rivals like Bianca and the Kalos kids are scoffed at as "boring and useless", and until the remakes, Brendan and May were considered the most boring rivals in the franchise. Cheren is more of a Base-Breaking Character, and while Barry is thought of as annoying by a lot of fans he isn't bashed as heavily as Bianca or the Kalos rivals. Hau in Sun/Moon gets some flack for being a friendly rival as well.
  • Puyo Puyo Tsu's ruleset has been hailed as the competitive standard for over 25 years due to the simple additions of a second rotation button and counterattacking the opponent's Nuisance Puyo, with all subsequent games' new rulesets being seen as gimmicks that don't really belong in serious-level play (Puyo Puyo Fever's Fever Mode) or Scrappy Mechanics outright (Puyo Puyo SUN's obtrusive Sun Puyo).
  • Ratchet & Clank:
  • RayForce, the first game in the RAY Series, is regarded by many as the best game in the trilogy, due to its innovative mechanic of attacking enemies below you with Homing Lasers and splendid displays of sprite scaling and rotating for a 3D effect. Its sequels, RayStorm and RayCrisis, aren't seen as living up to the first game, due to the fully-3D graphics taking away what made RayForce look so great as well as having not aged well, as well as the lock-on system now being usable against enemies of the same altitude, which high-scoring players see as making the game worse as it changes scoring tactics completely by discouraging the player from using their main weapon.
  • Saints Row: The Third had this from fans coming from Saints Row 2. On its own, Saints Row: The Third did a lot right and in some aspects much better than Saints Row 2, like weapon upgrades needed to be earned, shortening the amount of times activities needed to be done, reducing their overall frustration, tightening controls, and overall sillier aspects. However, for every great thing the third game introduced, it lost something in the process that made the second game memorable. The story is much more streamlined and arguably focused in SR3, but the syndicate as a whole feels less memorable than the gangs from the first two games and the whole menace of them feels off when the leader is offed in Act 1, replaced with a Large Ham luchador. The town is much more easier to maneuver around in at the cost of Steelport being absolutely boring compared to Stillwater. The humor balanced with more of the serious aspects of the second gave the humor more impact and needed relief compared to the third which could pass as an [adult swim] cartoon, etc. It's not like the third game is bad by any means; but it's one where despite numerous improvements, many still like the second game better.
  • The Shantae series, after two games of being an Acclaimed Flop, finally hit it big with Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. It was considered to be a massive improvement in every respect—it had a better story, better levels, smoother gameplay, it was much longer, and had a better balance of serious moments and humor. Not only did it review well, it also brought in a large Newbie Boom and sold significantly better, even getting its own eShop card! Curse did so well, in fact, that no Shantae game since has quite been able to escape its shadow. While Half-Genie Hero wasn't a bad game, it suffered from being too easy and short, having a rushed endgame, and shaking up the formula more than perhaps it should have; it would end up redeeming itself through later updates (to the point where some consider it better than Pirate's Curse), but it was still an uphill battle and some fans dismiss it to this day. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is more liked for returning to the series' roguelike roots, bringing back the snappier and more fluid gameplay style of Curse, and having one of the best soundtracks in a franchise known for having great music, but its still-low difficulty and unambitious nature mean very few fans consider it to have topped the third.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne set the gold standard for mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, featuring outstanding three-dimensional visuals, a brand new combat system, long and complex dungeons, challenging difficulty that never lets up, six different endings rather than just the traditional Law/Neutral/Chaos branches including an ultimate ending where you personally become Lucifer's right-hand man, and Dante from the Devil May Cry series. As a result, Shin Megami Tensei IV had a lot to live up to, and that was just from mainline fans note ; complaints include the step back to 2D sprites and portraits, the recycling of the combat system from Nocturne with only minor tweaks, shorter and simpler dungeons devoid of puzzles, the decision to put the game on a Nintendo platform note a handheld one, at that — the difficulty reduction even on Master difficulty, the removal of the defense stat, a more standard Law vs. Chaos plot, and the replacement of Kazuma Kaneko with Masayuki Doi as the character designer.
  • Silent Hill:
    • The series has struggled in the shadow of its second incarnation through four sequels, numerous comics and its film release. Silent Hill 2 is widely regarded as the definitive installment, which tragically influenced its subsequent media by having various elements recur when they were either unwelcome or poorly implemented (sexy monster nurses, Pyramid Head, solipsistic protagonists fighting through suppressed trauma). Even Team Silent's third and fourth game failed to enthrall the wider public as their predecessor did.
    • Akira Yamaoka, the composer for seven of the Silent Hill games, and sound director responsible for most of the hair-raising sounds in the first three games, also made for a big shadow over the series after he left Konami.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This is one of many ways one can describe what's happened to the series. The original three games and Sonic CD are hailed effectively universally as the shining gems of the series and fantastic examples of high-speed platforming in general. Many subsequent games have been trying to get out of this shadow, with some (like the Adventure games) to far better results than others (such as the disastrous 2006 title). Even then, each one has an unfortunately strong Fandom Rivalry to go with it, due to Sega's regular experimentation resulting in every fan having a very different sense of what makes for a "good" 3D Sonic game. It eventually started dying down with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, which were very well received by critics and fans, especially the latter. Naturally, these two games combined to create another tough act to follow when Sonic Lost World was released. Although that game was at least considered far superior to the Sonic Boom games that followed. Sonic Mania was a widely acclaimed throwback to the Genesis era of the franchise, but proved itself to be yet another tough act to follow when Sonic Forces launched to mixed reception.
    • Many fans feel that ports of the first two games peaked when they were remastered by Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead and Simon "Stealth" Thomley, the latter of who was previously best-known for answering the poorly-received official Sonic 1 port on Game Boy Advance with a tech demo of Green Hill Zone Act 1 (the very first level in the game) working just fine on the GBA. In additon to a remastered engine, these ports are widely acclaimed for adding a variety of new features not present in the original versions, most notably Tails and Knuckles in Sonic 1 and Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 2. As a result, every subsequent port of these games not by Taxman and Stealth immediately gets unfavorably compared to their ports, even if the team working on them otherwise has a stellar reputation for Polished Ports, such as M2 (the team that made the SEGA AGES versions of these games on Nintendo Switch).
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the third game of the Splinter Cell series, managed to be the second entry to totally outdo its predecessor back when the series was considered a pioneer of the stealth genre. Come fourth installment, Double Agent, the game was changed up entirely with a convoluted plot booting Sam Fisher from his agency to act as a mole in a terrorist cell, and added several unpopular gimmicks, including a Karma Meter and needlessly difficult daytime missions. Met with the first lukewarm response for the series, Ubisoft decided to go for a total change up: after several changes and delays spanning years, the series finally received an Actionized Sequel that was flat out hated by parts of the fanbase. This was then followed with Michael Ironside leaving as the iconic protagonist, meaning that as much as Ubisoft tried to fix things with Blacklist, the repeat of a mixed response means the series is indefinitely on hold.
  • Much like Crash Bandicoot, the other unofficial PlayStation mascot, the post-Insomniac Games era Spyro the Dragon games don't quite live up to the original trilogy (not counting the Game Boy Advance titles except for Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy). Enter the Dragonfly was heavily rushed and critically panned by fans and critics alike. A Hero's Tail was much better recieved compared to Enter the Dragonfly, but it was still rather divisive. As for The Legend of Spyro trilogy, while they are decent games overall, the Continuity Reboot was criticized for similar reasons to Crash Bandicoot above, and nearly ended up killing the series, with Spyro being relegated to a playable character in the Skylanders series before the release of the much-acclaimed Spyro Reignited Trilogy in 2018.
  • Star Fox has had a really tough time matching the acclaim of Star Fox 64, regardless if the formula changes or stays the same.
  • Streets of Rage:
    • The first Streets of Rage was a decent counter to Final Fight. However, Streets of Rage 2 would easily be the best game in the series as well as one of the best games on the Sega Genesis and among beat 'em ups in general. Streets of Rage 3, even with its added features like cutscenes, was seen as inferior to 2, and while early reviews of the widely anticipated Streets of Rage 4 are favorable, it remains to be seen if SoR4 will be able to dethrone the second game as the series' high point.
    • The fourth game additionally has another Tough Act to Follow in the form of Streets of Rage Remake, a 2011 Fan Remake of all three Genesis installments that managed to combine the best parts of the original trilogy (ex. updating the SoR1 and SoR2 casts with gameplay mechanics added in 3, merging the events of the overarching story into a single plot with branching paths and Multiple Endings) while adding in a slew of original content and even restoring Dummied Out aspects. The end result is usually regarded as a fan tribute that actually manages to outdo the source material—and this extends to improving upon Yuzo Koshiro's already legendary music. As such, SoR4 having a more traditionally linear structure and generally reverting to a SoR2 feel gameplay-wise (most characters lack the ability to run/dash and no one can roll, though this is slightly mitigated by most of the SoR3 cast being unlockable and having their playstyles left completely intact) is often seen as a step back among fans of Remake.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Most succeeding installments from the Super Robot Wars series are generally regarded as better than their predecessors, at least when it comes to the same platform. Super Robot Wars W for the Nintendo DS is a fan favorite, featuring a great cast of series and well-liked original characters. Super Robot Wars K, on the other hand, had a myriad of problems, alongside increased difficulty and standardization of many game mechanics. Many players didn't sit well with K when they thoroughly enjoyed W.
  • Super Smash Bros., while not an example for the fanbase as a whole, has historically struggled to satisfy the Tournament Play community with later installments. Melee was — and still is — recognized as a worthy fighting game, with its fast pace and in-depth techniques often providing intense rounds. When Brawl slowed down the overall pace, added a few cases of Random Number God—most notoriously tripping—and removed the aforementioned Good Bad Bugs, potential for competitive play lowered as a consequence. For 3DS and Wii U approached a more competitive format by removing the random elements and making the game's pace slightly faster, but with Melee still making appearances in various fighting game tournaments, the former game remains standing in the shadows that the latter game has cast. It wasn't until the runaway success of Ultimate, which made its own tweaks to gameplay mechanics in an attempt to appeal to competitive-minded fans while still making the game distinct from Melee and maintaining the series' longstanding casual appeal, that Smash's second entry was finally, truly outdone.
  • Tecmo Bowl had this happen after Tecmo Super Bowl was released for the NES. In 1993, they released a sequel, also named Tecmo Super Bowl, for the SNES and Mega Drive/Genesis. One of the main reasons was because of the roster changes from the 1990 season to the 1993 preseason. Many teams and players got better or worse, such as Dallas improved the most and Chicago got worse. One common complaint was the three-season mode, where you play three seasons in a row with one team to get a better ending. Of course, it's an optional feature.
  • Many of the complaints about Total War: Rome II are essentially this: it's a pretty good game in its own right, but it's the immediate follow up to one of the best games in the series and a remake of the other best game in the series.
  • Trials of Mana was both the cause and sufferer of this effect:
    • Back when you had to emulate the game, Trials of Mana (and to a lesser extent Legend of Mana) created this for the rest of the World of Mana games; they've been seen as paling in comparison to Trials and/or Legend.
    • The Trials remake came out late April 2020... after the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Suffice to say, the game is, at its core, an Enhanced Remake of a game released in 1995, which resulted in some disappointment from reviewers and gamers alike that it didn't go to the same lengths as FFVIIR in reworking and improving upon the original title.
  • Very few Worms games has gotten even close to achieve the same success as Armageddon did when it was released in 1999. The fact that the Two games following games hit the Polygon Ceiling hard and the ones after those having been felt like they have been trying to remake Armageddon to varying degrees of success is often considered a reason.
  • The first Xenoblade Chronicles is considered a classic Wii game that successfully melded JRPG mechanics with the Wide Open Sandbox worlds more emblematic of Western RPGs and was also a major Sleeper Hit Cult Classic for a console that didn't see very many RPGs overall, some even liken it to the greatest JRPG classics of all time, like Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy VII. While Xenoblade Chronicles X and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are also well-regarded sequels, they've tended to receive much more criticism than the first game.

Miscellaneous

  • There's a reason the SNES, with its robust game library, iconic gamepad, and impressive 2D visuals, is hailed by many Nintendo fans as not just Nintendo's greatest game console of all time but their last great one: Every console Nintendo has put out after has had elements that fans find highly questionable and has them pining for the 8- and 16-bit days of good ol' Ninty. The Nintendo 64 was ill-received due to Nintendo's choice to continue using expensive cartridges instead of a disc-based format and a controller that is seen by many as the worst controller design Nintendo has ever put out. The Nintendo GameCube suffered from a poor third-party library compared to its three competitors. Although the Wii was more successful than the last two, its Waggle-bait motion controls and non-standard controller design on top of its perceived Shovelware library made many gamers see it ultimately as a joke. The Wii U suffered from a very rough start, a poor marketing campaign that failed to make clear that it was a new console and not an "upgrade" for the Wii, Nintendo falling back onto existing IPs for new games, and a pervasive lack of third-party support, ultimately leading to it being the company's first outright commercial failure since the Virtual Boy in spite of very well-received games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Splatoon. The only console Nintendo has released to have achieved anywhere near the popularity of the SNES is the Nintendo Switch, with its innovative portable design and a slew of strong titles in its first year alone leading to consistently strong hardware sales and notorious supply shortages as a result. Even so, many gamers remain skeptical about modern-day Nintendo.
  • Take Nintendo's legacy and make the decline far, far worse, and you have Sega. The Sega Mega Drive, or Sega Genesis as North and South Americans know it, was seen as the console to have in the early 90s if you didn't want a SNES, or had one but felt like getting another console anyway; an excellent library and strong processing power make it a great platform, especially if you enjoy fast-paced games, thus putting pressure on Nintendo to get or keep customers interested in their SNESes. However, Sega just kept slipping and slipping afterwards. The Sega Saturn was marred by its developer-unfriendliness, especially for 3D titles, in a period when 3D gaming was really starting to take off, as well as a decision to release it in North America early, pissing off many retailers and third-party developers, and Bernie Stolar running the system into the ground. Sega did manage to briefly get back in the groove with the Sega Dreamcast, but a number of reasons, such as the hype for the PlayStation 2 a few months later, prevented it from becoming the next Mega Drive and killed off Sega's days as a console industry force once and for all.
  • Nintendo's 1989 Game Boy version of Tetris, at least in the West, has yet to be topped by any newer version of Tetris in terms of iconic status, even though many newer versions introduce new modes and gameplay-streamlining features.
  • After Sound Voltex, Konami has found it difficult to produce new BEMANI games with a successful playerbase; in fact, three of their post-SDVX games had official network support terminated, while even longrunners like beatmania IIDX and Dance Dance Revolution continue to get updates and new versions. Miraidagakki FutureTomTom, a drumming game with motion sensor sticks and a face camera. was dismissed as fun for a few plays at best and shelved accordingly. BeatStream has a pretty unorthodox interface that players couldn't really get behind, resulting in the game being nixed as well. MÚSECA is marred by poorly-designed buttons and a confusing system that involves arranging characters into a party, and even after an update that addressed a lot of the problems with the Grafica system, it still couldn't pull in enough players and as such was discontinued as well. The jury is still out on whether Nostalgia and Dance Rush can have enough staying power to not get nixed so early. For some fans in particular, this trope applies more widely to the franchise with everything after pop'n music and IIDX being seen as substandard, due to those games being hailed as the gold standard of rhythm games, especially challenge-oriented ones.
  • Questionable monetization schemes aside, this is why Electronic Arts' Star Wars Battlefront (2015) and its sequel have garnered mixed-to-negative reactions as both entries are unfavorably compared to Pandemic's original entries and EA's own Battlefield series. Both the original Battlefront and its sequel were universally beloved for delivering on the large-scale Star Wars experience across all eras and providing variety in locations, characters, and weapons. In comparison, Star Wars Battlefront (2015) was roundly criticized for being shallow since it lacked a single player campaign, galactic conquest, space battles, and the prequel-era setting. Likewise, Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) had the unfortunate luck of coming off the heels of 2016's Battlefield 1, which was universally praised for its smooth launch, unique setting, and surprisingly good solo campaign; subsequently Battlefront II (2017) lacked these features and was seen as a step down. Furthermore, both Battlefront games lacked destructible environments, diverse ground vehicle selection, and squad systems, leading to fans deriding them as "poor man's Battlefield."
  • Games designer Will Wright seems to be heading in this direction, considering the general reaction to his latest game, Spore, hasn't been nearly as warm as with his seminal masterpiece, The Sims. The quote from Yahtzee on the main page is from Zero Punctuation's review of Spore. This is also true for post-Sims entries to the SimCity franchise, though Wright hadn't been involved with those games since at least SimCity 4. Even without Wright at the helm, 4 was critically acclaimed and is widely considered the apex of the series; just not quite as popular as The Sims.
  • In hindsight, Harmonix choosing to craft their first single-artist Rock Band game around the musical output of The Beatles might have been a poorly considered move in the long term, because no matter how great your music is, it's very, very difficult to find another group as universally beloved as The Beatles. So who did they pick for their next game? Green Day. After making the overwhelmingly popular Rock Band and Dance Central, Harmonix announced that they were making a game based off of Disney's legendary Fantasia films. It failed to impress fans, as the gameplay requires you to use your arms rather than using your whole body like in Dance Central. And the song count is quite low compared to their other games. Fans are still waiting for the next Dance Central or Rock Band to be announced.
  • Apparently, Hideo Kojima regrets being remembered only for the Metal Gear series, which overshadowed his earlier games and whose shadow looms on every possible future title. He would eventually finally move on from Konami and start producing original games once again, but time will tell if he can shake his reputation off.
  • The PlayStation 3 was this to both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, as it was more expensive, harder to develop for, had less of an advantage with third party companies (who were busy going Multi-Platform), suffered a horrible first impression at E3 2006, was tainted by absurd commercials and arrogant statements from Sony employees, has the "Sixaxis" controller instead of a proper DualShock controller at launch, and was the victim of the PSN Outage caused by hackers compromising the information of a majority of PSN users. Even as reception of the PS3 improved later in its lifespan and afterwards, the general consensus is that it still doesn't beat the PS1 or PS2. Sony was able to rebound the next generation with the PlayStation 4, however.
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