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  • The Elder Scrolls: The first game, Arena, was a hack-and-slash Dungeon Crawler filled with frenetic, almost constant combat. The side-quests were just there to help you acquire gold and experience points. No joinable factions. From the second game onward, the series became much slower-paced and less combat-oriented, and most of the gameplay now revolves around side-quests.
    • Early games described Cyrodiil as a Mayincatec-esque setting, with jungles, rivers, rice fields, tattoos, and stone cities. By Morrowind, however, it had become cemented as a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of ancient Rome.
  • The original The Legend of Zelda lets you take keys between dungeons, which just feels completely un-Zelda like, especially since most later games (presumably in response to it being possible in the first) remind you constantly that keys only work in the dungeon you find them in. Keys could also be bought from shopkeepers. Your bow also uses rupees to make arrows, which is bizarre even without contrast to other Zeldas.
    • The first and second games also had you find whole heart containers outside of dungeons instead of Pieces of Heart. This mechanic was resurrected in the DS installments.
    • To this day, the open endedness of the original game is nowhere to be seen.
    • The second game was primarily a side-scroller with RPG Elements, a style that hasn't been used since. The 8-bit Game Boy installments and The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures did have some side-scrolling areas (the former were even complete with cross-series cameos from Goombas, which of course originated in a side-scroller and in their Zelda appearances can even be defeated using a Goomba Stomp using the Roc's Feather and Roc's Cape items), but no RPG elements.
    • This trope also applies in terms of aesthetics and plot. The Triforce for one originally had only two parts, with the Triforce of Courage and the appearance as flat, golden Sierpinski triangles not featured until Zelda II; in fact, the artwork and the cartoon actually portrayed it as glowing, gem-like tetrahedrons. While the standard look for the Triforce was codified in The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past, it was portrayed as actually speaking to Link. Link and Zelda's hair were brown, the expanded Hyrule in Zelda II the Adventure of Link (which had Death Mountain on the southern part of the World Map instead of the usual northern location and had eastern and western regions separated by water) is never heard of in any other game, and races that became iconic aspects of the series in later games (i.e. Gorons, friendly Zoras, the Sheikah) are completely absent in early games. And then, of course, the early games had zero hints to the eventual timeline issues that would develop in large part thanks to Ocarina of Time, which would not be settled until Nintendo finally released an official timeline on the game's 25th anniversary.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The first game for the MSX2 and NES had no crawling, no radar, and a simple straightforward plot. Guards could only see in straight lines and the stages were screen-based (think the original Zelda), allowing the players to escape detection by moving to the next screen (at least in the NES version, which lacked the higher alert phase). It also featured a level-up system that increases your maximum health and item capacity for every five hostages you rescued (and demotes you if you killed one) and multiple cardkeys were needed to open different doors.
    • Although it was a non-canon sequel made by a different team, Snakes Revenge played pretty much like the first game, only with the addition of side-scrolling segments.
    • Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake is much closer to Metal Gear Solid than the other previous installments, although still limited by the same technical constraints as the first. It also had some of the oddest items and puzzles in the series, such as hideable buckets, poisonous hamsters, and egg hatching.
    • Up until Metal Gear Solid 2, the bodies of dead soldiers would simply disappear once they hit the ground. Killing an enemy grunt in front of one of his buddies doesn't cause as much of a reaction as it does in later games. This is also the reason why the tranquilizer gun was introduced in MGS2, as there wasn't much need for one in previous games.
  • Dynasty Warriors is often mistaken as part of the trope outside Japan. In North America, Dynasty Warriors 1 is from a different series than Dynasty Warriors 2 and later. It's not an actual example of the trope because, while sharing a similar setting and even in Japan similar naming, they are still separate series.
  • Jak and Daxter: The first game is very different in tone from the later games in the series, although it was more in line with Naughty Dog's [own] Crash Bandicoot titles.
  • Wario Land: The first couple (one is usually forgotten since it was on the doomed Virtual Boy) games played much more like Mario games, with coin blocks, powerups, a time limit, and a lesser emphasis on puzzles/exploration. The first game was even titled: Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land.
    • Starting with Wario Land 2, the series began to focus on exploration. The second game is radically different from the first, to the point where Wario can't even die, which could be considered Early Installment Weirdness on its own, since most games after the third one have a health meter. The time limit is only present in the first one; the closest the series has ever come to a time limit since that is Wario Land 4 during the escape sequences.
  • Kirby: The first game doesn't let you absorb the powers of enemies, which was introduced in the second and became the series' trademark, at least until Kirbys Epic Yarn removed it again, which is yet somewhat a Dolled-Up Installment of a game starring Prince Fluff. However, Kirby Mass Attack for DS has the trademark inhaling move removed as well, focusing more on a Lemming-gameplay style.
  • Donkey Kong: The arcade games are very different from both the Mario and Donkey Kong platformers that came later, the first portraying Donkey Kong as a villain, the second being the only game ever to have Mario as a villain, and the third introducing Mario's cousin Stanley, who was never heard from again outside of cameos in Super Smash Bros. None of the enemies were stompable. These games also had a modern day setting, which is a big part of the reason why Fanon has the Mario Bros. as refugees from the real world (the other part of the reason being that the TV show and the movie showed them as being such).
    • Also, Mario was a carpenter, not a plumber. This characterization carried over into Wrecking Crew.
    • Hell, in early versions of the game, Mario wasn't even named Mario - he was "Jumpman".
    • Unlike in Mario Bros and subsequent Mario games, in Donkey Kong it's not possible to fall a long way without losing a life.
  • Spyro the Dragon: If not for the common title and character design, you'd hardly believe that the games of the three continuities were from the same series.
    • This arguably happened within the original series; while the engine was mostly the same, in Spyro the Dragon (1998) there were no sidequests to collect the Plot Coupons, no Hunter, and the story felt like an Excuse Plot in comparison to the deeper Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon. Oh, and Spyro can't swim, not even on the surface.

      The first game plays with a somewhat melancholic 'Last man alive' feel and you're guided through the level by the dragons you have to rescue, which also function as save points (you can't save via the pause menu). The second introduces goofy cartoon characters who talk to you throughout the levels and the levels mostly consist of helping people out and getting orbs in return.
  • Dune is an obscure Adventure/Strategy game, Dune 2 is the Trope Codifier for the Real Time Strategy genre.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • What we'd call "Small Mario" in later 2-D titles appears to be his normal height in the first game. It's also the only game where Mario can't move back on the levels, only forward. It didn't have any vertical areas either (they weren't seen until Super Mario Bros 2). The lava also originally worked very differently: it was originally depicted as essentially red-tinted water drawn over a Bottomless Pit, and Mario/Luigi would die by simply falling into it rather that either dying and being flung off the screen or jumping back out and suffering very little damage. Last, but not least, the game featured enemies in locations in which they're normally not supposed to be in, such as Buzzy Beetles in full daylight, and Goombas and (live) Koopa Troopas in castles.
    • In the original Mario Bros arcade game, the Goomba Stomp didn't work - you had to knock the enemies on their backs before you could take them out.
    • In Wrecking Crew (released 3 months before SMB), Mario can't jump, and he also wears a hard hat.
    • Super Mario 64 is, to this date, the only 3D game where both the oxygen meter (for swimming) and the health meter were the one and same (they get separate meters in Sunshine and the two Galaxy games). In addition, the star missions lack introductory cutscenes, which not only renders their locations far from obvious (bar, at times, the missions' titles), but it also allows more freedom in regards of the order in which the stars are collected (naturally, when Sunshine introduced the opening cutscenes fot the missions, it was mandatory to collect the items in a set order, except for the secret ones).
    • The early enemy designs were very different from the ones used today. For example. Bowser was originally drawn without any hair on his head (although he did have hair in the game's official artwork and in the SNES remake), Koopa Troopas were depicted as quadrupeds instead of bipeds (they inexplicably revert back into quarupeds in Galaxy and Galaxy 2), Goombas were originally drawn without mouths, and whenever a Lakitu is killed, he will actually take his cloud with him instead of leaving it behind. And the Mario Bros. themselves were originally drawn without White Gloves.
  • This is also true with the Mario RPG games. While Super Mario RPG is the only game of its kind not to be part of a series, the first Paper Mario game is the only Mario RPG game to actually have Bowser as the main villain (later games, as well as the earlier RPG, have the villain portrayed as someone else, while Bowser is just there for some other reason).
  • Super Mario Kart, the first Mario Kart game, had five races per cup instead of four like in the later games. It also featured Donkey Kong Jr. as one of the playable characters; Donkey Kong himself wouldn't appear in the series until Mario Kart 64. Super Mario Kart also introduced the feather item that allowed players to jump super high and over walls. The item hasn't appeared since then. The game also had the coin system linked to your speed and the mechanic wasn't used again until Super Circuit and Mario Kart 7. The first game even had the item boxes NOT regenerate after someone takes it, making it possible for the player to run out of items, but it would have to be done on purpose.
  • Also, the Mario and Luigi series was very different back in Superstar Saga, in that the graphics style is nearly completely different from how it is in the later games. It's not so much noticeable with Mario or Luigi, Bowser or Fawful, but for the normal enemies the difference is easy to spot. For example, early Dry Bones designs had them as quadrupeds like the Koopas from Super Mario Bros 1, while the Boos looked outright cartoony and the Boomerang Bros were actually tall bird like creatures rather than the standard designs from the main series. Compare that to Bowsers Inside Story where the enemies generally look like they do in other Mario spinoffs.
  • Tex Murphy: The first game (Mean Streets) in the series had flight sim and run & gun sequences in addition to the adventure gameplay. All of its sequels (including its remake) are FMV point & click adventures.
    • Not true. Martian Memorandum, the second game, didn't feature FMV sequences, although it did show characters as video recordings in conversations, a step towards FMV. No flight sims or arcade sequences, though.
  • Thunder Force: The first game was a free-roaming overhead-view shooter, the sequel had an equal share of top-down and sidescrolling levels, and the rest of the series only kept the sidescrolling levels. Also in the first two games, you lost all weapons except Twin and Back upon death, whereas in newer games you only lose your current weapon.
  • Grand Theft Auto: The original game, and the London Expansion pack. All the excitement of a fully realized living city in glorious, er, two dimensional blocky graphics that look like something on an Amiga. In 1997.
  • The first Touhou game for the PC 98 was a strange sort of Breakout/Arkanoid game with gravity and lots of bullet dodging; from the second game onward the series was firmly in the Shoot'Em Up genre, but the Bullet Hell formula prevalent in the Windows series was not established until the fourth PC 98 game (out of five), and the makings of the "spell card" system that would dominate the Windows Touhou games wasn't present until the fifth game. The overall tone and character designs are still fairly different.
  • The first Halo had a lifebar separate from the regenerating shield, indestructible human vehicles, less-avian-looking Jackals, Hunters who went down with one pistol shot, and other minor quirks not kept in the sequels.
    • The lifebar seems to have made a return, being absent in Halo 2 & Halo 3, but back with ODST and Reach. The remake of Halo: Combat Evolved still includes it, and of course the jury's out for Halo 4 until we get some more information.
      • The lifebar disappeared because of the new armor Master Chief recieved at the start of Halo 2. It returned in Reach because it took place before 2 (and as a result, before the armor's production) and in ODST because it focused on an ODST, not a SPARTAN. As Master Cheif was still wearing this armor at the end of Halo 3, it's likely the lifebar will disappear again in Halo 4.
  • The Spin Dash has become a staple of the Sonic the Hedgehog series since its introduction in the Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Games developed or released before Sonic 2 either lack this move or, like Sonic CD, feature an unusual variation on it. The absence of the Spin Dash is noticeable enough that a few bundled rereleases of the original Sonic the Hedgehog have an option to enable it.
    • Sonic 3 and Knuckles had the Master Emerald being kept in an underground shrine.
      • Also, it had the Super Emeralds - large grey emeralds found in the shrine with the Master Emerald, which are empowered by the regular Chaos Emeralds, and which gain colors after jumping on them and completing 7 more Special Stages.
      • Plus, this is the only game in which we see Knuckles and Tails get their own Super Modes. Sonic Heroes doesn't count, as it's just Super Sonic giving them some of his power.
    • The original Sonic had only six chaos emeralds; subsequent games featured seven.
    • And the first game's zones had three acts apiece, instead of two... Some of which had designs very much not oriented at speed.
  • The contrast between the first Super Smash Bros and its sequels is astounding. While Melee and Brawl are notable for detailed environments and characters, as well as epic orchestral music, the original had Floating Continents in front of a simple background, many more sprites for items, Pokémon, and some attacks, darker, low-key original songs and was promoted with cartoony, comic book style illustrations of the characters.
  • The earliest Mario Party games, the very first in particular, lack many features that would became standard to the series, such as collectible items, segregated story and party modes, and key board-level concepts like banking and dueling. It was also was significantly more aggressive, where the winner of a mini-game was rewarded from the pockets of the losers. The first game was also the only one to have mini-games involving rotating the control stick, which would cause blisters; the second game excised these, but it also recycled many other mini-games from the first, which the third game (and all those subsequent) would make a point of avoiding. Finally, it wasn't until the Game Cube era that a wide variety of side games were available, probably for memory reasons.
    • The first game was also strange in that you could lose coins in the post-turn minigames.
  • In the original Glider, you couldn't go back a screen, and you kept drifting left or right if you released the keys, making it difficult to hover over vents. Electrical outlets also worked differently: they didn't give out zappy surges continually like in 4.0 and PRO, but set you on fire if you passed over them, like candles always did. There was also an option to play as a dart; darts only turned up in the later games as enemies.
  • Before the SWAT series became Tactical First Person Shooters "rivaling" with Rainbow Six series by its third installment, we had a Real Time Strategy Game in the vein of X-COM Apocalypse's real-time mode. And before that, we had a FMV Game, which was a sequel/spin-off of an adventure game series, Police Quest.
  • The original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney used a penalty system with a fixed number of allowed "strikes" instead of the lifebar system of all later games. The tone of the game was slightly less comical.
    • Also, if you only count the Phoenix Wright games (the first three), the first one lacks the Magatama and profile presenting. The fourth game removed the latter and greatly reduced the presence of the former.
  • The original Resident Evil featured live-action scenes for its opening and ending sequences, whereas every subsequent installment in the series (including the GameCube version) were entirely computer generated.
    • The first Resident Evil game also feels very basic compared to the later sequels. The original lacked an auto-aiming function (unless you were playing the Japanese version) and the weapons came as they appeared without any chance to enhance them. The original game had Multiple Endings while the sequels only have a single ending each (except for Resident Evil 3 Nemesis and Resident Evil 5, although the alternate scenarios in Resident Evil 2 serve a similar purpose).
  • The first Diablo was markedly different from its sequel and the upcoming Diablo 3. Aside from the expected differences in scope, lore, balance and gameplay features, the first game was much more survival oriented and featured several instances of Nethack-style permanent character damage. Shrine effects were irreversible and not all were positive, and there was a monster that would permanently reduce your maximum life. When you died in multiplayer mode, all your gear would end up on the ground and would be lost forever if you were unable to recover it. This would be unthinkable in the sequels which revolve around Min-Maxing character builds and Item Farming.
  • In the very first Street Fighter released in 1987, Ryu and Ken are the only playable characters (with Ryu wearing red slippers for some reason); their special moves, quite overpowered in this game, are almost impossible to pull off consistently; other techniques such as combos, dizzies, and grappling moves are all non-existent; and every opponent has the same winning and losing quote (all spoken with the same crudely digitized voice clip). The game did feature the same six-button configuration used by Street Fighter II and its sequels, but it was actually added to the game as an afterthought, created as a cheaper alternative to arcade operators who couldn't afford the original cabinet which used two hydraulic punching pads that determined the strength of the player's punches and kicks based on hard they were pushed down. Additionally, Ryu and Ken's special move yells were dubbed for the overseas versions of the game, resulting in them yelling "Psycho Fire" and "Dragon Punch" instead of "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken".
  • The first game of the Nancy Drew series, Secrets Can Kill, bears almost no resemblance to the later installments. Its characters are hand-drawn cartoons, dialogue exchanges are rudimentary and not always in-character, and plot-essential clues crop up on bulletin boards for no reason. Plus, the fact that Nancy's investigating a cold-blooded murder and has to point a handgun at someone to win pushes its storyline into What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids? territory by comparison with subsequent games.
    • Secrets Can Kill has since been re-released, in an updated version that sheds most of the original's Early Installment Weirdness. The fact that Nancy's investigating a murder instead of a robbery, haunting, or other non-lethal mystery is still rather jarring, but that probably couldn't be changed considering the game's title.
  • The first Wipeout: A different, less minimalistic style for both the GUI and the vehicles, the vehicle is invincible and so weapons only slow you down, and the abillity to select between two pilots for each teams, a feature which would only reappear in Wipeout Fusion, itself an oddball.
  • Early Tetris games: no hold, no lock delay (pieces lock into place as soon as they hit the floor or the top of another piece) unless it's a game made by Sega, slower sideways movement (again unless it's by Sega), a completely random randomizer notorious for I-piece droughts and consecutive S- and Z-pieces, and only counterclockwise rotation (in pre-Nintendo versions). So you've cleared 200 lines in Tetris DS, and gotten GM rank in Tetris the Grand Master; NES and Game Boy Tetris's Level 19 should feel like nothing...right?
  • DJMAX Online (which most newer fans don't know about): No Fever, hold notes only raise your combo by 1, equipment is very expensive, and currency earned per song is very little.
  • There is an obscure Japanese PS 1 game called "Dance! Dance! Dance!". If this reminds you of the DDR series, probably in name only, since the game is very much a JRPG, except that for some reason, you find people and you do dance battles with them, one on one. Each character has their own dance style (from Samba to Tap Dance to Hip-hop to Flamenco, etc), and you are supposed to memorize what each button does and what each button chains to, on which beat of the song. Only in "Trace" mode does the computer tell you which button to press next (and even then, it makes mistakes). Compare to the now more familiar DDR format of dispensing almost entirely with characters and using D-pad arrows (or buttons, if you're playing DDR-derivatives).
  • The original Guild Wars Prophecies is almost unrecognizable from what later releases would make it. There was none of the dry, Shout-Out heavy humor that would later become a trademark, most of the game was designed for players below max level (reaching max level less then a quarter of the way through the game would later become a selling-point), and you got an over-all feeling that everything except PvP was a lead-up to PvP. depending on who you ask this was either the best or worst part of the game's life.
    • It's worth noting that the the original PvE actually WAS a prelude to PvP. The focus changed somewhere between the second and third game.
  • The first Fire Emblem games had odd quirks, such as Weapon Rank being a regular stat that went up with levels (Instead of depending of weapon usage), healers gaining no experience from healing and instead from getting hit (It's as counter-productive as it sounds, but abusable), magic and resistance (Magic defend) not going up with levels (So magic did fixed damage, pretty much), and many well-known trademarks of the series such as the Weapon Triangle or Suppport System hadn't been included by then. Oh, and classes' names were in Japanese instead of Gratuitous English. The Updated Rerelease for the DS modernized most of those things, but without changing the core game, which for some felt awkward.
    • The fifth game also introduced a bunch of new game mechanics. A few of them, such as Fog of War and the ability to rescue allied units, became staples of the series. The majority of them, however, were never seen again. This included fatigue meters, movement stars that randomly allowed units to get a second action in a turn, capturing enemies, and movement rate and build having growth rates just like all of the other stats. (Mounted units being forced to dismount while indoors, while introduced in the third game, was also never seen again after this game.)
  • Tales of Phantasia (SNES version) lacked many of the things that became trademarks of the series - for example: cooking, the Dark Wings and especially the skits. The battle system also comes as a little odd for modern Tales players - chibisized sprites, a slightly slower-paced battle system (these two also apply to Tales of Destiny), and a few other things.
  • Metroid:
    • The first Metroid game is frustrating in comparison to later ones due to no map display and Denial of Diagonal Attack. It's also the only Metroid game where you use passwords to save your progress (the Save Point wasn't introduced until Metroid II). The designs of Ridley and Kraid were also rather different: Ridley was a completely stationary winged thing of some kind who was fairly easy to defeat, and Kraid was tiny, barely larger than Samus. Super Metroid codified their current designs: Ridley as a fiendlishly tough and agile Space Dragon and Kraid as a gigantic lizard monster.
    • It's not entirely clear if the discrepancies between the first game's supplementary materials and general franchise lore are a result of this or poor communication between the manual writers and the game makers. For one thing, the artwork of the Space Pirates don't portray them as humanoid arthropods, but as stock "shiver me timbers!" pirates complete with colonial era hats and peg-legs, while Kraid is portrayed with fur. Also, the back of the box says that "left alone the Metroid[s] are harmless." Later games make it clear that Metroids are always dangerous; it's just that the Pirates' efforts to artificially multiply them and use them as bioweapons make them even more dangerous.
    • In the first Metroid Prime, the scanning system barely distinguishes between the creatures, lore or research entries that were already scanned from new ones. Scanned entries are highlighted with a dull shade of orange, as opposed to the brigther version for the unscanned ones. Both Echoes and Corruption used a color-coded system for this (green, red and blue), making the distinction much easier. Another distinction is the lack of concrete missions (i.e. collecting the keys to open a temple, as in Echoes), making the game less linear than its sequels. And most importantly, several important abilities (namely the Seeker Missile, the Screw Attack and the ability to use the Boost Ball while being attached to a Spider Rail) are absent.
  • Mega Man 1 was built on a very small amount of ROM, so the game seems clipped down compared to its sequels: there are only 6 robot masters instead of the usual 8, all of whose stages were very small; a score display was present at the top of the screen (a leftover from when the game was originally designed to be in arcades); E-tanks are non-existent; the Life and Weapon Energy items look different from in all other games; Mercy Invincibility does not protect you from Spikes of Doom; the corridors before boss rooms contain enemies; Wily's Fortress does not have a map; the Robot Master rematches are sprinkled throughout the fortress stages instead of being collected in a teleporter room; Fire Man's weakness was the ice weapon (later games usually had the ice boss weak to the fire weapon instead of the other way around); three of the weapons were thrown rather than being shot out of the Mega Buster (Bomb Man's, Cut Man's and Guts Man's weapons); and most importantly, there was no password system (the entire game must be played in one sitting).
    • Mega Man Battle Network 1 and 2 both lacked the Navi Customizer the later games have. Battle Network 1 also lacks any transformations (2 and 3 have elemental style change, and 4, 5 and 6 allow you to take on the abilities of another Navi). Mega Man Star Force 1 lacks the Link Power abilities (the Navi Customizer replacement) present in the two sequels. It also has a different art style, which is very noticeable in Echo Ridge.
  • The original Twisted Metal was much different from the games that followed it. The setting was confined to Los Angeles instead of being all over the world (and began with a glorified tutorial level that had players going one-on-one with another competitor in a small arena, unlike later games), live-action photos were used for the characters profiles, the endings consisted of scrolling text over a still picture of Calypso (a remnant of the deleted live-action endings that went unused), there were no special moves, special attacks were collectable items (instead of regenerating after a set amount of time), Needles Kane lacked his trademark Flaming Hair, the weapon pickups all have the same icon, Calypso is not such a Jackass Genie, Minion is the final boss (unlike TM2, where he's a midgame boss and had a Retcon to his origin story) and the tone is a lot more down-to-earth and less humorous.
  • Suikoden. The army battles in the original were just rock-paper-scissors choices, while the later games had war strategy game style battles.
  • The first and second Persona games have almost no resemblance whatsoever to the far more well known third and fourth games. Besides certain very broad ideas (teenagers fight monsters) and a certain character (Igor), they might as well be two different series. The art style is different, and even the game play isn't very similar, with the first two being far more combat-focused revolving around the sophisticated "speak to demons while fighting them" system, while the third and fourth games are hybrid dating/life simulators-JRPG's. With a tarot card theme that didn't really exist before.
    • Persona 1 & 2 had the ability to summon Personas as a widely-held trait and generally accepted as real, if slightly disregarded regardless. You could actually interact with NPC shop and restaurant patrons that would discuss Personas openly, and one of your team members would actually grouse that she was disappointed to find the power less unique than she imagined. Party members started out with a Persona of a specific Arcana and worked best with that one or one of a few "related Arcana"; this would be related to their personality, just as it is in later games (minus being able to swap your entire party's Personas like the main character). Persona 2 also had a cast of adults, among which was a writer for a magazine, a police officer, an "underground" intelligence expert and a Christmas Cake older "best friend" of Maya. Dungeons were actual places in the world, rather than pan-dimensional televisions or schools.
    • The first game looks far more like the Shin Megami Tensei series it's based off of, with first-person dungeon exploration and the series staple Megido having an element that isn't Almighty, this being the second game it's been in.
    • There is a reason for this: Persona 3 was released six years after Persona 2; it's arguably an almost entirely different series.
    • While we're on the subject of Shin Megami Tensei, the spinoff Devil Summoner is like this. The first two Devil Summoner titles were basically just like the main Megami Tensei series except without using the Karma Meter and more straight forward. The sequels, that were released in the West, are known as Raidou Kuzunoha might as well be a separate series since they are ActionRPGs. The only thing they have in common is they involve some detective agency and some guy named Kuzunoha.
  • The original Darius is infamous for its three-screen-wide setup. Darius II carries on this feature, but also comes in a two-screen variant. Later games in the series simply use one screen.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune only lets you drive in the Tokyo area and a small subset of the Wangan Expressway. Furthermore, to change your car's tuning, you don't do so before a race; you can only do so via a menu you can access only after inserting your card, versus races as well as stages 41-60 (the latter 2/3 of the Story Mode) have you race one lap around the course, and after the initial 20 tuning blocks, it takes five stages to get a new tuning block. Later games change/correct these issues.
  • The original Don Pachi has faster but less numerous bullets compared to its successors. It also lacks the crazy numbers of later games in the series: you're lucky to get more than a 20-hit combo, and you can only achieve scores as long as 8 digits, and that's if you're very good at the game; contrast Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu where a 200-hit combo is trivial and, on a decent run, you have a nine-digit score by the end of the first stage. Notably and entirely absent from Don Pachi (as well as its sequel Do Don Pachi) are the Robot Girls that have become a staple of the series.
  • Final Fantasy I has no Magic Points. Instead, spells are divided into different levels of magic, characters must buy each spell individually at magic shops, and they can only cast spells of a given level a limited number of times before resting, with the amount increasing as the characters' experience levels increase (much like the Sorcerer from Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition). The GBA and PSP remakes remove the "X uses per magic level" system for the traditional MP[1].
    • Final Fantasy II introduced MP, but also featured a very primitive version of Stat Grinding rather than the Character Level system that most games in the series use. It had yet to be refined; attacking your own party members was the best way to develop.
    • Final Fantasy III used the same spell levels/number of uses system as the first game (albeit the number of charges was much more plentiful). It wasn't until Final Fantasy IV that MP became the standard.
    • Both of the first two games also featured rivers which could only be crossed by canoe.
    • The first two games lacked auto-retargeting; if an enemy is defeated but you commanded other characters to attack it, those other characters will do nothing. Most, if not all remakes have "fixed" this.
    • The original split the battlefield into two separate windows, with the enemies in one window and your party in the other. Your characters' names and remaining HP were also displayed at the right side of the screen, rather than at the bottom. These were changed to what would become more the series standard interface in II.
    • The number of hits and damage were still displayed in text boxes until III which displayed damage (or healing) in red (or green) over the affected enemy or character. This became white text for damage in IV.
      • The change to numbers over the enemies for damage also allowed for faster pacing of spells; the first two games displayed damage after each enemy on a multi-target spell.
    • The first game had the Dia line of spells that did massive damage to undead. This was replaced in II by implementing the Revive Kills Zombie mechanic.
    • Cid is completely absent from the first game. Remakes add references to him in dialogue as a Posthumous Character of sorts.
    • The first game is the only one of the series to have separate music on the menu.
    • It wasn't until Final Fantasy II that many recurring series staples, including Chocobos, Malboros, Adamantoises, and Behemoths, first appeared.
  • Dragon Quest went through a bit of this.
    • Obviously, the first game was the only one where you had just one character, and could only battle a single enemy at once. It was also the only game where keys were expendable, and it forced the player to either use a spell or buy a torch to see in the game's several dark dungeons (which have been used much more sparingly since then).
    • The inn music was different in the first game. The series' standard save file menu music wasn't introduced until III.
    • In the English localizations, the first two games featured copious use of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
    • In the second game, the hero is a purely physical fighter; in any other game in the series the hero fits the role of the Jack of All Stats.
    • You weren't allowed to choose a destination for Return until III. In the first game, it always returned you to Tantegel, and in the second, the last castle you visited.
    • The menus were also quite clunky early on. In all of the NES DQ games, you had to go into your menu to do something as simple as talk to someone or open a door. it wasn't until Dragon Quest V that much of this became more streamlined with an "action" button that had multiple features like in most other Role Playing Games.
  • The first Dragon Ball videogame for the NES, Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, was neither a Fighting Game nor a RPG Card Battle Game, like almost every subsequent game, but a poorly done action game with long overhead phases a la Zelda and short sideview platform phases and boss battles, with an extremely limited moveset. Justified in that it was based on the first series, less action-packed and more focused on exploration and adventure, but still...
  • The Ultima series had some bizarre quirks throughout.
    • The first two games had only a single player character, customizable to some degree; the third game included a party of up to four, all intimately customizable; every game after that allows only small adjustments to the main character (the Avatar) during character creation.
    • The first three games include fantastic races as playable characters and friendly NPCs; from the fourth game onward, no non-human good characters can be found save the occasional monstrous defector in a town or castle. What happened to them during the unification of Britannia?
    • The first two games include space exploration and Schizo-Tech. Both also involve Time Travel, although in the first game it's just to get to the end boss, where in the second it's a necessary mechanic.
    • The first game hasn't got magical, mysteriously appearing and disappearing long-distance travel gates; the second has "time gates" which show up at specific places ever X number of steps to travel between different time zones; from the third on these became the Moongates.
    • Ultima I also includes quests to defeat specific monsters found only in the dungeon in order to obtain benefits from various kings.
    • Ultima I and Ultima III take place in "Sosaria"; Ultima II is on Earth (in various times in history). Between the third and fourth installments, Sosaria is united under the rule of Lord British and takes its new name (Britannia) from him.
    • Ultima IV requires the character to not just be virtuous, but to be virtuous in eight specific ways. In Sosaria, the player character(s) were expected to lie, cheat, steal and murder their way to the final showdown; after the fourth installment, the Avatar is just expected to be good, not to be specifically good.
    • Ultima II is the only game with dungeon-like "Towers" as well as dungeons - and the only installment in the series where the dungeons play no useful part in furthering your quest.
    • Ultima III introduced a starvation mechanic, where characters suffer damage over time if they run out of food. Ultima II just kills you off if the food counter hits zero. This mechanic held on for two more games, until it was retired in Ultima VI, which merely didn't allow you to recover hitpoints or magic while resting if you had no food.
  • Runescape Classic, the game's original incarnation, is massively different from its current version. The player characters and NPCs are low-res sprites; the game lacked dialogue boxes, meaning all dialogue is displayed above characters' heads; there was no indication on your progress in a quest, or if you've even started it in the first place; the camera is more restricted; there is no barrier dividing the Wilderness from the rest of the map; there was no members game in its earliest years (meaning that all skills, features, and areas were open to all players). Jagex has opened this game to members twice, and it can still be played if you logged in during those periods.
  • Pokémon has an odd variation: Each generation introduces a hundred or more new Mons, but while Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl show off the new Pokémon as much as possible and Pokémon Black and White has only new Pokémon until after the credits roll, Pokémon Gold and Silver mostly relies on the original 151 with the others hanging around. Mildly Justified in-plot because Gen 2 happens right next to the setting of Gen 1, which is actually visited later in the game (the only games with this feature released since Gen 2 are the Gen 4 remakes of those games), while the others are further away, with Gen 5 focusing on new Pokémon more so than usual due to being even further away (Unova is implied to be in a different country, as the foreign Team Rocket Grunt in Gen 2 and their Gen 4 remakes is revealed to be from Unova, with the now-reformed Team Rocket Grunt residing in Unova's Icirrus City in Black and White). Flipside, it also means Gen 2 has very few expies and Suspiciously Similar Substitutes compared to later generations, with the the vast majority of new Pokémon with similarities to old ones generally evolving from said old ones.
    • Don't forget some weirdness from Generation I, such as real-world locations being mentioned, the Pokémon League apparently being a new thing (your rival apparently being the first trainer to ever beat the Elite Four) and all the crazy stuff that happens in the Pokémon Tower (namely, Pokémon, even non-Ghost-types like Cubone, disguising themselves as utterly untouchable ghosts and the player fighting the ghost of a dead Marowak) which are never mentioned again and subsequently forgotten (in later games, one can encounter Ghost-types in the wild and they do not disguise themselves). Not to mention The Missingno and its glitchy "friends"...[2]
    • And let's not forget, the first generation games have legendary Pokémon completely detached from the game's plot and there solely as extras. The second generation was the first to actually incorporate them into the story, and even then they weren't the main focus. From the third generation on, legendary Pokémon became the driving force behind the antagonists' motives. This can even be seen in the number of them introduced each generation, with the first having five, and the latest two having thirteen. Each.
    • With Pokémon Red and Blue, this interestingly also manifests in a couple of mon names, both in English and Japanese. On the English side, the name "Mr. Mime" as a particular standout example feels very out of place these days (especially so given that genders were introduced in the next generation, and yes, Mr. Mime can be female), and one gets the feeling the only reason Mime Jr. was called such was to keep up the pattern, no matter how strange it feels. On the Japanese side, one gets the feeling they weren't even trying with some of the Generation I names (such luminaries as "Lizard" and "Lucky" come to mind), and it was only from Gen II onward that this changed and effort consistently happened.
    • Pokémon Blue doesn't have that many changes from the Japanese Red and Green; most are simply aesthetic and the occasional glitch-fixing. Crystal began the trend of the revised version of the generation's main games having plot differences from the original, but even then it's near identical. Emerald is where the changes really began to happen.
  • The first Worms game doesn't have the more cartoony style that every game in the series after it has.
  • The Tekken series begins with the eponymous Tekken which features only two game modes, Arcade and VS, as well as an Options mode. It also features crude graphics (albeit impressive at the time), half the characters that the games would usually have, levels based on world monuments rather than ones which suit the characters, a Galaga opening game, and the bizarre element of having to unlock characters by playing said Galaga game (Heihachi and Devil Kazuya). The music and stages are also very different, the name of the stage appearing on the screen during matches. The boss characters are more powerful clones of the starting characters, albeit with some unique special moves. P. Jack looks far more powerful than some of the later Jack (he has a drill, which he can't use), Yoshimitsu resembles a knight rather than a ninja, Heihachi is the Big Bad, and Kazuya is the lead character despite being pushed into the background in every other appearance he's made. Kunimitsu appears male rather than female (and is not revealed to be female until the next game). It also features the first Jack who, whilst essentially the same as Jack-2, doesn't appear in any other game (it should be noted that none of the Jacks barring P. Jack--who underwent a facelift between the first and second games--reappeared in a subsequent canonical game, instead being replaced by the newest model in their line). Devil Kazuya is essentially Kazuya in a purple suit with wings, but he has all the same moves (meaning he can't fly). You also can't sidestep at all. Tekken was released at a time when its graphical capabilities and arcade perfect nature was all that was needed to impress people.
    • However, by the time of Tekken 2, things had changed, and so the series started to become what it is today in its sequel, with all the usual modes such as Time Attack, Team Battle, Survival and Practise added. The Japanese version also features a Theatre Mode. All of these would become standard for the series. However, the characters were still quite crudely rendered, the AI of opponents somewhat too difficult (they tend to block far more than any other Tekken game), and some of the music, boss characters, and stages were a holdover from Tekken. Kazuya, now the Big Bad of the game, is able to sidestep, albeit not as much as characters later can. You can also use cheats like big head mode, wire frame mode, and sky mode (where kicks launch your opponent much higher than normal), things which were never included in later games. By Tekken 3, commonly regarded as the best in the main series (Tekken Tag is considered the best overall), all of the flaws had been addressed and it set the stage for the series as we know it today.
  • The Soul Series series of fighting games began with Soul Edge (and its updated revision Soul Blade), which featured the Weapon Break meter (to prevent constant blocking) and a powerful string of attacks called the "Critical Edge" while it also lacked the 8-Way Run of its successors.
    • The Weapon Break feature was somewhat revisited in Soulcalibur IV with the Soul Gauge, where blocking too much (indicated by a gem embedded in the player's lifebar changing colors before the entire lifebar itself began flashing red at critical levels) would cause your character to enter a state of vulnerability known as Soul Crush, which would also give the opponent the chance to end the round with an instant deathblow, a Critical Finish. Critical Edges returned in SCV, although in name only, as they now functioned like your typical fighting game super, with the enhanced specials (called Brave Edges) more closely (but not entirely) resembling the Critical Edges of the first game.
  • The Warcraft series has some of this, especially if you go back and play the first and second games in the series. Humans talk about God (instead of The Light), and the lore mentions summoning demons from Hell (instead of the Twisting Nether). Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil because... well, the humans are the Good Guys.
  • The very first Monster Rancher game does a number of strange things in comparison to other games in the series, such as having your monster's weight be visible in their model, having you earn money from basic training, and having death be a much more frequent occurrence if you play your cards wrong. To say nothing of the lack of Mocchis, one of the series' Mascot Mooks.
  • The plotless gauntlets of the first Time Splitters game compared to the decent story of the second and complex, brilliant and humour-filled time-travel epic of the third.
    • The first Time Splitters does make sense as part of the series plotline in retrospect, but at the time it was a series of disconnected gauntlets at various points in time with only the barest story connected to each one, and no over-arching plot. The only unifying factor was things getting really weird partway through each stage. In retrospect, it chronicles the initial emergence of the Time Splitters as they strike throughout human history and the people who managed to survive and even thwart them, but at the time it just seemed strange.
  • Many elements of the Total War series such as dynasties being more important and a more fluid take on the Risk Style Map were introduced in Rome; the first two installments (Shogun and Medieval) had stricter Risk Style Maps, less application of dynastic mechanics, and the overpowered "jedi general" mechanic.
    • Both of those have been remade now in the style established by Rome. Shogun II also has naval combat, albeit markedly different from the Age Of Sail fights in Empire and Napoleon in focusing more on boarding actions than cannon volleys.
    • The dynasty mechanic was abandoned in Empire and Napoleon, the former actually allowing you to switch governments types through revolution, and brought back in Shogun II.
  • The first Deception game was a first-person RPG which included typical item usage, merchants to buy/sell from, Summon Magic, as many traps in each room as you could fit and have MP to fund, and the ability to redecorate your castle. From Kagero on, they shifted to third-person, removed almost all RPG elements except for Hit Points, and you were limited to one ceiling, wall, and floor trap at a time, but you also received bonus points for Combos. However, the connection was far more tenuous between games in the original Japanese; the later titles are Dolled Up Installments in the US.
  • The pre-NES Bomberman was a fairly primitive single-player Maze Game where both the clearly non-robotic player character and the enemies could move right through bombs. There weren't any multiplayer options in the Bomberman games until the Turbo Grafx 16 version.
  • The Sims is very different from its descendants. It's more like a typical life simulator (many which started out as, or were, clones of said game) than the goofy Sims. Unlike the more recent games, there was no aging other than from baby to child, and the Create-A-Sim page was extremely limited.
  • When Puyo Puyo was first released for the MSX and Famicom, it was a simple Falling Blocks game with a single field and the top of the screen as the only opponent; Madou Monogatari characters were limited to the Puyos and token appearances by Arle and Carbuncle. It was the arcade version that introduced versus play.
  • Eggerland Mystery required you to collect Diamond Framers to open a door, while all other games in the Eggerland series have you collect Heart Framers to open a chest. Mystery was also the only game to include a "Type B" mode, in which each level has a time limit, or points.
  • The first Wonder Boy game is nothing like the rest of the series. Whereas all the games from Wonder Boy in Monster Land and onward are side-scrolling action RPGs (except for Monster Lair, which was an auto-scrolling platformer with shoot'em up segments), the original Wonder Boy was a stage-based platformer similar to Super Mario Bros.. NES players will most likely recognize the game under the title of Adventure Island, a modified port by Hudson Soft that replaced the original main character with Hudson's gaming expert Takahashi-Meijin (aka Master Higgins), which is part of the reason why developer Westone took the Wonder Boy series into a different direction for its sequels.
  • The first Age of Empires I might be difficult for fans of the sequels: units can only be created one at a time (fixed with the expansion pack Rise of Rome), only by going through the entire map you can find out idle units, farms are perishable buildings... and of course there are oddities such as killing the birds that fly over the screen and the War/Archer Elephant having as many hitpoints as buildings!
  • Rhythm Heaven for the GBA is pretty different than its two sequels. For starters, the mini-games are arranged in eight columns of six instead of ten columns of five, and the Final Exam Remix is Remix 6 instead of Remix 10. Also, the music for the sequels' mini-games are tailor-made for them while some of the GBA mini-games just have accompanying BGM with the same tempo. Not to mention the Unexpected Gameplay Change that Quiz brought, while the other games never radically change the rules. The Remixes of the GBA version also doesn't change the artistic theme of the mini-games and one stage actually remixes previous remixes, two things that the sequels don't dabble in.
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition DX invokes this with Championship I, a Nostalgia Level based almost exactly on the Championship maze from the original PMCE. No sleeping ghosts, let alone 30-ghost trains, and the dots are not laid out in an easy-to-follow path.
  • The first two Harvest Moon handheld games had no marriage in it and very little socialization, while the third game had marriage but only to your Distaff Counterpart. The first two games in the series to have a female protagonist had the game end after marriage, while later games in the series are notorious for giving the female versions more options.
  • The original Rayman game featured almost an entirely different setting from the later games, with a different cast of characters, a more Wackyland-style world as opposed to the more dreamlike one of the later games, a different mythos, and even different collectables. It wasn't until the second game that the modern cast of the Rayman series were introduced (most of them being old friends of Rayman's we'd never met before), along with the current version of its backstory. Rayman Origins tries to fuse the two conflicting storylines, but still skews a bit more heavily towards the Rayman 2 version of things.
  • Command and Conquer Red Alert 1 actually tried to play the series premise (a battered alliance fighting the onslaught of an invading, tyrannical empire led by an Ax Crazy dictator) entirely straight, with subtle performances and writing. The rest of the series devolved into high Camp pretty much immediately.
    • The first Red Aler game also apparently takes place in the same universe as the Tiberian games, as Kane appears as a Soviet advisor. The second game obviosuly doesn't fit into the timeline of the Tiberian games, so at some point after the firts one, the timeline must have split.
  • The first Summon Night has four possible protagonists with similar stat growth to choose from, sort of averts Schrodinger's Player Character, its stat point system resembling that of the first Black Matrix game, and starts in a world outside Lyndbaum. Later games would have two protagonists with different stat growth to choose from, follow Schrodinger's Player Character, a stat point system similar yet distinct from the Black Matrix series, and stays in Lyndbaum.
  • The differences between Koudelka and the "core" Shadow Hearts franchise are like night and day, with Koudelka playing as a strange hybrid of RPG and Survival Horror (which it was), and the SH games being straight-up RPG's with a heavy comedic bent.
    • For that matter, the original Shadow Hearts is significantly heavier on the horror and lighter on the comedy than the later games.
  • Super Robot Wars. The first game (on the Game Boy) features an incredibly simple plot (unlike the greatly complex and interwoven stories of later games), only features the "Holy Trinity" of Mazinger, Getter, and Gundam; all robots are intelligent beings (not largely non-sentient constructs piloted by humans), and health is in the double digits (while later games give robots thousands of HP). If it weren't for the title, you'd never know it was part of the series.
  • Artix Entertainment, big time. For starters, Adventure Quest started out as a very stripped-down and basic version of itself called Land of Rising Evil, where the only actual area was, apparently, Yulgar's inn (and even that wasn't originally there); Dragon Fable and Mechquest both feature much improved art at the current expense of a lot of the content already available in Adventure Quest, with some fuzzy and ill-defined interaction between the three games' plots. Justified, in that the resources put into the games literally started with about two, maybe three guys working on code from scratch. In a living room, mind you.
  • When you compare the first Animal Crossing games to the future ones you'll notice several differences. Ease-dropping on your neighbors conversations was implemented in Dobutsu No Mori e+, players couldn't use emotions until Wild World, Blathers couldn't identify fossils before, and Watering Cans didn't exist. Celeste, Brewster, and Harriet made their first appearances in Wild World, you wouldn't get a friends picture, the villagers were less interactive. You can only get NES games in the original games, acres are less fluid in the original compared to its sequels, and several buildings were either scrapped or replaced. Isabelle didn't appear until New Leaf.
  • The original Gauntlet Arcade Game, while it did say such things as "Elf needs food badly," didn't say "Elf shot the food"; instead, it had a generic line for when food is destroyed: "Remember, don't shoot food." Gauntlet II (at least for the NES) and later do mention who shot the food.
  • The original Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has more than a few oddities and idiosyncrasies going on.
    • The duty of the "antagonist" was split between two different characters. Byakuya Togami was the designated rival character, and was nowhere near as chaotic as later rivals, being more relaxed and stern. Celestia Ludenberg took up the more villainous and chaotic traits of these later rivals, but she dies as the fourth killer.
    • The hero has a Betty and Veronica situation, but the Betty is Stuffed Into the Fridge. In later games, the hero only really has one love interest. The Fridged love interest also isn't as Too Good for This Sinful Earth as the later ones, as well... Another thing to note is that love interests in the series are usually killed by the main villains, but instead Leon's biggest role in the game is to kill Sayaka, and her death is not as horrifically gruesome and drawn-out as one would expect from a Fridging in the series, just being a simple stabbing. There are also two additional options; Mukuro Ikusaba in IF and Aoi Asahina in the bad ending. The fact the game has a bad ending available at all is another oddity.
    • There are more unsympathetic murders than sympathetic ones; Leon went back to kill Sayaka out of spite (though later adaptations made him accidentally kill her), Hifumi killed Taka in cold blood over accusations of him being a pervert (even though he himself is a pervert, and Celes coldly disposed of Hifumi once he had done his task. This doesn't count Junko herself. On the other hand, Mondo Oowada is the only successful Sympathetic Murderer, with Sayaka's attempt blowing up in her face and Sakura commiting a Heroic Suicide.
    • Monokuma is of course the sole host at this point in the series, and is controlled by Junko directly. Characters who co-hosted with him did not exist yet.
    • Three of the cases also come off as unusual by modern standards of the series:
      • Case 3 features two murderers, with the first of the two being picked off by the other one after he had done his job. Later games simply have one character murder two others. As noted above, it is also not the only case with an unsympathetic killer, unlike in V3.
      • Case 4 is revealed to be a Heroic Suicide, as Sakura atones for her role as Monokuma's spy. Due to this, the helpful AI Alter Ego is smashed to pieces instead.
      • Case 5's victim has been dead for a while, and both Makoto and Kyoko are now being framed by the true Mastermind, who is now on the prowl in a mask. This case also features the possibility of a bad ending if Kyoko is killed.
    • The game also features two instances of non-students being executed; Alter Ego is smashed with a steam shovel, while Jin Kirigiri is cooked alive in a crude rocket ship.
    • Character-design-wise, the game has two oddities; Hifumi Yamada is far uglier than future Non Standard Character Designs, while Sakura Oogami is the biggest aversion of Only One Female Mold in the series.
    • There were fewer minigames during the trials, and Hangman's Gambit worked differently.

Notes

  1. Which arguably makes the game much easier, as you can spam magic, heralding cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks
  2. Glitch Pokémon are far more prevalent, well-known and just plain weird in the Generation I games.
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