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Perhaps controversial, but Aliens Colonial Marines? The game looked pretty good at the various expos before release, but looked like an entirely different game upon release. Many people commented that when a game is declared a 'work in progress' (as many are at events like E3) you don't expect it to get worse. A 4GB patch (about half the size of the entire game) for the PC version has been released and it restores this pre-release visual glory. Making it an eventual subversion.
Um..according to the typemoon wiki, Gil doesn't have A Ll the noble phantasms? It's said that he doesn't have Excalibur and Avalon as they are forged much later..? Ignore me if it's wrong though
I seem to remember Ace Custom being a separate trope at one point. Just wondering, why were they merged?
Old description, put here for posterity:
===== Whenever The Federation deploys a new Humongous Mecha, they usually begin with a prototype to test out the technologies involved before approving it for mass production. This prototype is usually at least an order of magnitude more powerful than the mass-produced versions will ever hope to be. Aside from a more distinctive appearance, it usually has more weapons, heavier armor, and more powerful thrusters than its more numerous cousins.
This trope, found mostly in Real Robot series, seems to have its roots in the Super Robot genre from which it split. The prototype is usually the mecha piloted by the hero of the story, and so tends to stand out, particularly in combat. The mass-produced mecha, on the other hand, are typically put in the hands of the Redshirt Army, and as such give a much lesser showing on-screen. In a few series, the Super Prototype will virtually be a full-fledged Super Robot.
A similar phenomenon is the Ace Custom, a mass-produced or prototype mecha customized or re-designed for the use of an Ace Pilot, taken from the customized paint jobs of planes used by Ace pilots (particularly the Germans, and especially one) of World War I. These are often essentially Super Prototypes, with the only difference being that it was made after the mass-produced mecha. In addition to a personalized paint job, an Ace Custom may have a tweaked engine, extra sensors, or a distinctive weapon, all keyed to the individual fighting style of its pilot.
A question that often comes up is why the Super Prototype is so, well, super compared to the production model. The typical reason given is that the production model is far cheaper or easier to make in large numbers, as a result of or resulting in budget cuts. The designers may have put in some stuff they decided wasn't feasible, possibly for the express purpose of impressing the approval committee. Sometimes, the technology that makes the mecha so much more powerful is Black Box tech (although one wonders why a prototype of a future possible line of mecha would include tech the mass-produced versions would never be capable of including), and thus not easily replicated (if at all), or may not be as useful for normal human pilots. But mostly, it just helps the hero stand out more.
This can sometimes seem like Truth in Television, given that military prototypes will often post impressive test results that will never be replicated by production models. This happens simply because the point of a prototype is to test the limits. Anyone actually trying to use the thing will never approach the limits to avoid having to get an overhaul after every usage, or to avoid getting themselves killed by exceeding the limits. There is some overlap with the idea of an experimental model, which has great abilities but was never intended to enter production. Military test pilots refer to this as "pushing the envelope" - the upper edge is height, the left edge is speed. Visualize this as the kind of envelope you mail somebody and you realize that particular area is where the postage gets canceled.
In some cases, like what happened in the Soviet Union from time to time, the difference will be in the quality of production. The prototype will be handcrafted with top-of-the-line materials and much attention put into perfection. The mass production models will be churned out as fast as possible with shoddy materials by under-skilled factory workers, leading to a drop in quality.
Also, series may use this because The Hero does, after all, have to Travel Cool.
See also: Conservation of Ninjutsu. Contrast with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup and Disposable Superhero Maker. Contrast Flawed Prototype. May result in Explosive Overclocking or Tim Taylor Technology. See also Mass Super-Empowering Event in the case of super powers. =====
As mentioned in edit reasons, this trope is much bigger than Anime and the Mecha Genre. I think the description should be expanded to reflect that.
With Airplanes the first prototype(s) don't perform as well as production models due to some optimization of the design after the initial test (usually the prototypes are heavier). But after these design changes were made and mass production has begun, the original Prototype will be used for further development and thus be the first to be eqipped with the latest state-of-the-art technologies to test if such an Upgrade would be worthwile for the production models since it would be too expensive to build a completely new prototype just to test one new part.
Real life example: The latest Mi G-35 prototype is merely a modified Mi G-29 demonstrator that served the maufacturer for many Years.
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