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To put it simply, this is when a work that is part of a series or franchise is re-tooled into a standalone work, with most or all signs of its heritage completely erased. This is, for all intents and purposes, the exact opposite of a Dolled-Up Installment.
Just to be clear on this, here is what this trope is not about:
- This trope is not about being a Canon Dis Continuity or an Alternate Universe. If an author writes a novel about Sherlock Holmes in a dystopian future, and later declares that novel never happened, it's still a Sherlock Holmes novel. If he rewrites that book so that it no longer has anything to do with the Sherlock Holmes mythos, then its this trope.
- This trope is not about having a simple title change or partial omission. If a work is called "Sherlock Holmes Without a Problem," and is later renamed to simply "Without a Problem" (or is simply called that in the first place) but still stars Sherlock Holmes, it's still a Sherlock Holmes story. If Sherlock Holmes and any recognizable characters from his universe are renamed and re-written into completely different characters, then it's this trope.
- With some exceptions, this trope is not about an idea changing into a completely different idea during the creative process. The only exception is if an idea started out as an installment of a franchise and turned into either something original, or an installment of a completely different franchise. If an author starts out writing a story about indians but it ends up being about cyborgs, it's not this trope. But if an author starts out writing a Sherlock Holmes book and winds up turning it into something original, it is this trope. If he starts how writing Sherlock Holmes and then turns it into a James Bond book, it is also this trope. Yes, this trope can overlap with Dolled-Up Installment, and often does--see the examples.
If you're not sure if an example counts, read on and ask yourself if it fits in with the ones below.
Anime & Manga
- Eagle Riders was actually a mash-up of Gatchaman II and Gatchaman F. Because Saban did not own the rights to either of the previous Gatchaman adaptations (Battle of the Planets and G-Force) they had to pitch their dub as an unrelated series.
- The Jean Claude Van Damme movie Cyborg was originally going to be a sequel to Masters of the Universe. (though as Troubled Production shows, the story is complicated)
- Are We Done Yet? was originally going to be a remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
- Die Hard is a weird case: it was based on a novel titled Nothing Lasts Forever. Since the predecessor novel, The Detective, which was already turned into a film (starring Frank Sinatra), it was written as a sequel to The Detective, but when Sinatra turned it down, it was rewritten as a stand-alone film. It was also briefly considered to be used for a Commando sequel.
- The Collector started as a Saw prequel.
- Tears of the Sun was adapted briefly into what would have been Die Hard 4. Bruce Willis said John McClane should die at the end of Die Hard 4.
- In what is probably the most bizarre case of this happening in film history, the plot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was originally meant to be used as a second sequel to Roman Polanski's Chinatown. (which kinda crosses with Dolled-Up Installment, as the film is based on a book)
- High School Musical was originally written as Grease 3 (which explains a lot), with Sharpay being Rizzo's daughter.
- Shock Treatment was the final incarnation of a horrendous script titled Rocky Horror Shows His Heels, which would have been a very direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the end, the plot was changed entirely while many of the songs remained, though the final film bears no resemblance and only weak connections to Rocky Horror.
- Colombiana was originally written as a sequel to Leon the Professional that would have focused on Mathilda. Apparently, Luc Besson couldn't get Natalie Portman interested and it was rewritten into a standalone film.
- Snow Day was originally written as a Pete & Pete movie, but Nickelodeon took too long to approve the script that by the time they gave the go-ahead to start filming, the actors who played Pete & Pete themselves (Michael Maronna and Danny Tamberelli) were too old for their roles, resulting in the change of characters.
- Train (essentially Hostel, on a train) was initially going to be a remake of Terror Train.
- Camp Fear was originally slated to be a sequel to Cheerleader Camp.
- The Hong Kong movie The Avenging Fist started out as a Live Action Adaptation of Tekken. A lot of the source material's influence remains, though.
- Chaos was going to be a remake of The Last House on the Left, though the change was so last minute that both films are still extremely similar.
- Ghosts of Goldfield was originally going to be the fourth Urban Legend film, but was released independently of the series at the last minute.
- Pirates of the Caribbean was originally a Monkey Island film, but the license never worked out. The similarities are obvious, just to start with the plot: An unlikely hero rescues his political love interest (the governor in MI, the governor's daughter in POTC) from an undead pirate. Many of the locations from the games were recycled as well--the Voodoo Lady and her shack accessible by coffin became the Tia Dalma and hers, and the town cobbled together from various ships was taken directly from LeChuck's Revenge, among many others.
- Kull the Conqueror was originally going to be the third Conan the Barbarian movie, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was unavailable at the time.
- Eurotrip was originally supposed to be a sequel to Road Trip before it was realized that other than the concept, had little to do with the previous film. Road Trip would later get an In Name Only sequel in the form of Road Trip: Beer Pong (which is more of an American college version of Beerfest).
- Prometheus was originally planned as a prequel to the Alien series until Ridley Scott decided to rewrite it as a stand-alone story (it's still set in the Alien universe, but has very little ties to the actual storyline).
- Life The Universe And Everything is a Divorced Installment and a Dolled-Up Installment - originally a movie script called Doctor Who and the Krikketmen, it was divorced from Who and dolled up as the second season of the Guide TV series. When that got canceled in pre-production, it finally becoming the third Guide novel.
- The third Super Sentai show, Battle Fever J, was originally planned to star a Japanese counterpart of Marvel's Captain America character named "Captain Japan", following up on the success of Toei's live-action Spider-Man series.
- The Turbo Grafx 16 platformer Keith Courage in Alpha Zones was originally one of many games based on then-popular anime series Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru (Spirit Hero Wataru). The story went from being about a kid pulled into a spirit realm to battle demons, to being about an adult who is part of a military organization that fights aliens. However, the game's title screen still shows a Sunrise copyright, perhaps because only the Excuse Plot was actually altered.
- One of the most successful examples: Devil May Cry started as a sequel to Resident Evil 2, before Capcom realized it was straining too much and turned it into an original game.
- The Wonder Boy games were developed by Westone and published by Sega. While Westone owned the rights to the programming of each game, Sega owned the rights to the title and character designs, and as a result Hudson Soft was forced to graphically modify and rename each game when they got the license to work on ports for non-Sega platforms. The only exception was Monster Lair, the third Wonder Boy arcade game, which remained unchanged when it was ported to the Turbo Grafx 16.
- The original Wonder Boy itself was remade for the NES as Adventure Island (with Hudson's spokesman/gaming expert Toshiyuki Takahashi serving as the model for the new protagonist Takahashi-Meijin, also known as Master Higgins), which inspired its own series of sequels independently developed by Hudson for the NES, Super NES, Game Boy, and the TG16.
- Wonder Boy in Monster Land was remade for the Japanese PC Engine as Bikkuriman World, a licensed game based on the Bikkuriman series of trading stickers.
- There was also a Famicom version of Monster Land by Jaleco titled Saiyuki World. This version inspired its own sequel (Saiyuki World II), which was localized for the NES under the name of Whomp 'Em and had its Journey to the West motif replaced with a Native American one.
- Wonder Boy III the Dragons Trap was remade as Dragon's Curse for the TurboGrafx 16. The PC Engine version of said game was curiously enough released under the name of Adventure Island, the same name that Hudson's own Takahashi-Meijin no Bōkenjima series is known as outside Japan.
- Wonder Boy in Monster World became Dynastic Hero on the TurboGrafx CD and had all the original characters replaced with bug people.
- Outside the Wonder Boy series, Hudson Soft also ported the Sega/Westone arcade beat-'em-up Riot City to the TurboGrafx CD under the name of Riot Zone (aka Crest of Wolf), while Blood Gear (a mecha-themed action game) was originally planned as a sequel to Aurail.
- Blazing Lazers for the Turbo Grafx 16 was originally a tie-in to the movie Gunhed, though it doesn't resemble it much. The English manual still names the player's ship as a "Gunhed Star Fighter."
- De Cap Attack was originally a tie-in to the anime Magical Hat in its Japanese version. The localization team didn't feel like paying the licensing fees for an obscure and unimported anime series, so the graphics and story were redone from scratch.
- Several games released by Bandai for the Nintendo Entertainment System were anime Licensed Games in Japan that were released overseas in disguised form:
- Dragon Power was originally a Dragon Ball game. At the time, Dragon Ball was not well-known in the United States. (However, the game was also translated to French with the Dragon Ball license intact.) Bandai tried to change it into a more generic Journey to the West game and whileJourney to the West itself is not well known in America, unlike Dragon Ball, it is public domain.
- Chubby Cherub was originally a game based on the anime Obake no Q-Taro. Few changes were made to the game aside from replacing Q-Taro with a cherub.
- Ninja Kid (not to be confused with Jaleco's Ninja-kun games) was a similar alteration of Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro: Youkai Dai Makyou.
- Black Belt, a side-scrolling beat-'em-up for the Master System, is a localization of a Hokuto no Ken game for the Mark III in which the graphics were altered to remove all traces of the original license. Kenshiro was renamed Riki and his blue vest and jeans outfit was replaced by a white karate gi, while all of the other characters and backgrounds were modified as well, changing the game's locations from post-apocalyptic deserts and towns to modern day temples and cities.
- The Japanese Mega Drive sequel, Hokuto no Ken: Shin Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu, was released overseas as Last Battle: Legend of the Final Hero, but the changes made during the localization were lazier by comparison to the first game. All the sprites were recolored and the names were changed, but the character designs remained almost identical and the seemingly nonsensical script (which consisted mainly of out-of-context dialogue transcribed verbatim from the manga) was a word-to-word translation of the original, aside for a few minor changes. Gore was also removed for the overseas release.
- Sega also made two video games based on the manga Kujaku-Oh (Peacock King, also known as Spirit Warrior): one for the Sega Master System and a sequel for the Sega Genesis. The Master System original came out in America as Spellcaster and the Genesis sequel came out as Mystic Defender, in both cases having all the Peacock King elements replaced with wholly new storylines and characters.
- Street Combat for the Super NES was originally a Ranma One Half game in which you played as either male or female Ranma and battled the rest of the anime cast. The U.S. version turned Ranma into a mulleted soldier named Steven (female Ranma was Steven in street clothes, while male Ranma was Steven in Powered Armor), and the Ranma cast with all sorts of things (Kodachi, for example, became a clown). This was averted with the sequel, which was brought to the U.S. as Ranma One Half: Hard Battle.
- Thunder Force IV for the Sega Genesis was released in America was Lightening[sic] Force: Quest for the Darkstar. This was odd, as previous games in the Thunder Force series had come out under their original titles, and Thunder Force IV came out under its actual title in Europe.
- One of the original concept for Fighting Force was to make it a 3D sequel to the Streets of Rage series (and indeed, the leaked Saturn prototype has much more overt similarities to SOR, such as Hawk looking like Axel), but Sega pulled the deal for an unknown reason and the game became its own thing.
- The Working Title of Final Fight was Street Fighter '89. According to producer Yoshiki Okamoto, he was originally commissioned to work on a sequel to the first Street Fighter, but he wanted to make a side-scrolling beat-'em-up after being inspired by the success of Double Dragon. When it was obvious that the resulting product resembled nothing like the original Street Fighter, the game was renamed Final Fight. Despite this, many of the characters from Final Fight later crossed their way into the Street Fighter series and other Capcom fighting games (including a spin-off of its own titled Final Fight Revenge).
- The shmup Metal Black was originally envisioned as a sequel to the Darius series, with the plot being that the heroes return to Darius only to find it devastated by the activities of Belser. But Taito executives thought the plot was depressing and it was retooled into being a separate game. Its heritage can be seen in the many fish-likes enemies, and the whole beam-dueling gimmick would be picked up and expanded in G-Darius.
- Despite the divorce from Darius, Metal Black was then re-wed to Taito's earlier shoot 'em up Gun Frontier (even being referred to as Gun Frontier 2 in the opening), despite having nothing to do with it.
- An inversion: Natsume's side-scrolling action game Shatterhand for the NES was first released in Japan as a Licensed Game for the Famicom based on the Metal Hero series Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain. However, the Solbrain version, despite being released first, is actually the modified version, not Shatterhand. Angel, a subsidiary of Bandai, agreed to cover the publishing costs for Natsume under the condition that they could modify the game to promote one of Toei's superheroes.
- Red Faction was originally concieved as the cancelled Descent 4. Some elements were carried over, such as the textures, the protagonist's name (Parker) and the jet fighter combat level.
- Journey to Silius started development as a Terminator game, but was reworked into a stand-alone title when Sunsoft's license expired.
- Sunsoft also started work on a Superman game for the NES (following their success with the Batman games), but was later re-tooled into a Captain Ersatz called Sunman when they were unable to retain the rights. It ultimately ended up not being released in any form.
- Power Punch II was originally developed as a sequel to Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, with the original title Mike Tyson's Intergalactic Power Punch. (A beta version of Mike Tyson's Intergalactic Power Punch has since leaked out.) And no, just in case you were wondering, there is no Power Punch I.
- Nuclear Strike had a trailer for a new installment called Future Strike, which ended up being turned into the unrelated game Future Cop LAPD.
- The sequel to Need for Speed: Shift dropped the NFS from the title and was titled Shift 2: Unleashed (not to be confused with the other Shift 2.
- The first Battle Tanx started out as a N64 port of BattleSport.
- James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire was originally a Play Station 2 version of The World Is Not Enough, before it was turned into an original Bond story.
- Die Hard Arcade was actually the international localization of Dynamite Deka with the Die Hard license added to the game. The localization of the sequel, Dynamite Deka 2, did not retain the Die Hard license and was released instead as Dynamite Cop.
- Renegade, Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom (aka Street Gangs), Nintendo World Cup, and Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge were all localizations of different games in the Japanese Kunio-kun series that were westernized (or in the case of Nintendo World Cup, globalized) in order to make them more marketable overseas. The Neo Geo version of Super Dodge Ball, along with the Nintendo DS games localized by Aksys Games, are the only games in the series where Kunio and Riki retained their Japanese identities in the overseas versions.
- The original Double Dragon was planned as a sequel to the original Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (aka Renegade). The change in title, setting and characters was precisely done to appeal to the western market from the get-go without the need of making a separate overseas version.
- The Super Famicom game Super Mad Champ was originally planned as a Kunio bike-racing game. Developer Almanic was the same team that worked on Kunio-tachi no Banka for Technos.
- The NES game Destiny of an Emperor, along with the arcade games Dynasty Wars and Warriors of Fate, were all games by Capcom based on Hiroshi Motomiya's manga series Tenchi o Kurau, which was loosely based on the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
- Battalion Wars is a borderline example. The Working Title was Advance Wars: Under Fire, but Nintendo decided to change the name due to the fact that it was a very different game from the original Advance Wars and it wouldn't have made much sense to release a game named after the Game Boy Advance on the Game Cube (it's still part of the Wars series though). In Japan, the game was released as Totsugeki! Famicom Wars.
- Lunar Knights for the Nintendo DS is actually the overseas version of the fourth Boktai game (Boktai DS). The first two games sold poorly outside Japan due to its solar sensing gimmick and as a result, the third game didn't get an international release and Konami took out the solar sensor in the fourth game. The localization team attempted everything to distance the fourth game from the franchise by changing the title and renaming the main characters Django and Sabata into Aaron and Lucian.
- Mega Man was originally meant to be a licensed game based on Astro Boy, but they lost the license, so Capcom tried something different.
- The NES game Tecmo World Cup Soccer is actually a rebranding of a Captain Tsubasa-themed soccer sim, likely changed because Captain Tsubasa is not licensed in the United States.
- Mortal Kombat was originally going to be a Bloodsport video game, but ended up as an original property. This can be seen in Johnny Cage, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Jean Claude Van Damme.
- Project Snowblind was originally going to be Deus Ex: Clan Wars.
- A persistent rumor, with some strong supporting evidence, is that Lady Stalker was originally going to be a Dragon Quest Gaiden Game based around Alena from Dragon Quest IV. However, if one believes the rumor, due to a loss of the license partway through development, they quickly made it into an unrelated game.
- The Play Station 2 shooter Dragon Rage was planned to be a Might and Magic spinoff.
- After the developement of Duke Nukem 3D, 3D Realm planned to make another side-scrolling Duke Nukem titled Duke Nukem Forever (no, not that one.). The project was cancelled and sold to another developer, which finished and released it as Alien Rampage.
- The Jaguar shooter Hover Strike was originally meant to be a remake of Battlezone 1980.
- Beetle Adventure Racing for the N64 started development as a Need for Speed game, and used the same engine as the NFS games of the time.
- The Commodore 64 game Astérix and the Magic Cauldron was released in the United States as Ardok the Barbarian, likely because Asterix was not popular enough there to be worth licensing.
- Tower of Doom for the Intellivision was to have been the third Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge for the system, but it was released without the license after Mattel abandoned the game and the console midway through development; most gamers couldn't tell the difference, of course. (This is completely unrelated to the later game Dungeons and Dragons Tower of Doom.)
- The unreleased NES game Time Diver Eon Man by Taito started development as a sequel to Wrath of the Black Manta.
- The original Donkey Kong was reportedly a Popeye game initially, but changed due to licensing issues.
- Secret Weapons Over Normandy was apparently born out of a cancelled Medal of Honor spin-off called Fighter Command.
- Magical Doropie was originally going to be based on The Wizard of Oz. To add insult to injury, it was macekred further into The Krion Conquest for the US market.
- Heavenly Guardian for the Play Station 2 and Wii was originally announced in Japan as Kiki Kai World. Apparently the Kiki Kai Kai characters were replaced with original ones because the developer somehow lost the license.
- Fallout 1 was supposed to be Wasteland 2, but Interplay lost the rights. It's almost the same story and very close to the same setting, and it went on to become much more popular than its predecessor. It's only in 2012 that Wasteland is getting a canonical sequel.
- Rise of the Triad was to have been a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D; its working title was "Wolfenstein 3D Part II: Rise of the Triad".
- Rage of the Dragons, a Neo-Geo fighting game by Evoga and Noise Factory, was originally intended to be a sequel to the Neo-Geo version of Double Dragon, but the developers were unable to get a hold of the rights. Thus, all the characters were turned into ersatzes of the Double Dragon cast: the Lee brothers became the Lewis brothers, while Abobo became Abubo.
- Alien War began as a "Total Reality" Haunted House Experience, based on the Alien franchise that toured the UK in the 90s. Due to a combination of Executive Meddling (Fox wanted them to tone down the experience, to make it less intense and less frightening) and the rights to the characters and images from the films expiring, when it was revived in 2008 it abandoned any (official) links with the alien films and instead featured Expies of the movie characters including the aliens. See here for more details
- ↑ Including the party being near carbon-copies of the party from Alena's chapter in Dragon Quest IV; a series of tomato enemies that are suspiciously similar to the Dragon Quest slimes in appearance and near-identical in mechanics, right down to having a "rotten tomato" that can inflict poison equivalent to the Babble/Bubble Slime; and some items being identical between the two games, down to their price