At what point does a game become a sequel rather than just an upgrade?


Topic came up at a local recently. Basically someone was talking about how the first iteration of a Capcom title always sucks. They mentioned Alpha series as an example. However, to me the Alpha 1, 2 and 3 were stand-alone titles in the Alpha series. Now it’s probably not hard to make a case for A2 being an upgrade of A1, but to me, Alpha 3 is much more than an upgrade. In other words, Alpha 1 cannot be seen as “Vanilla Alpha” in comparison to Alpha 3, at least in my opinion. But this raises an interesting question: At which point does an upgrade become a sequel?

WW -> CE -> HF are clearly upgrades. But is SSF2:NC an ugprade? It’s on a new hardware platform. It pretty much has a new engine. However, it’s still a Street Fighter II title. So going by the naming, it should be seen as an upgrade, no? Or does the name simply not matter? If it’s a case of aesthetics, what about SFIII:NG to 3S? Is CvS2 an upgrade of CvS1, or is it a sequel? How about the EX series?

What about games like Tekken and VF where the core mechanics hardly change at all across iterations? What about KOF 94 to 98? Vampire Hunter -> Vampire Saviour?

I can’t actually think of stable criteria to distinguish sequels from upgrades. To me it seems like a case of marketing + what the majority of the community thinks, regardless of whether or not stable criteria exist.




This is basically it. We’ve never really come together to define a criteria for what separates a sequel from an upgrade.



Imo, is when there are enough system changes between the games.



This is my view. But then I asked someone who played KOF (since 94) and they said “well most of the early versions of KOF play exactly the same bar balance changes”. So do we consider those upgrades or sequels? I’m not very knowledgeable about the series so I can’t comment.



Dunno about that.
Outside some specific KOFs (97 to 98 for example) each KOF has had enough system changes between them to consider them more than just revisions.
Maybe your friend talked about the core gameplay mechanics that have been kept consistent between each versions, although there have been also some changes between them, specially at the beginning of the series.

The thing is, like d3v said, sometimes the developers have revisions masked as sequels, and sequels masked as revisions.

For example, if we go by the criteria that there are enough system changes, we could say that SF2 to SSF2 and GGXX Slash to GGXXAC are sequels masked as revisions.

But some people would argue that if the games share a lot of base resources (sprites, music, backgrounds, gameplay elements) even if there are enough mechanics to differentiate tem, the game would be still seen as a revision instead of a sequel, for example, the BlazBlue Series, where you can indentify different sub series by its gameplay mechanics (CT, CS, CP and CF) but many people could also seem them as just revision, at least between CT to CS, and CP to CF.



My definition of when it should be a sequel instead of an upgrade would be:* when the engine or gameplay is changed so much that most of the nuance of the previous game is lost.*

But as others have said, there is no real rule for it. Capcom doesn’t seem to have one that covers every series they make. I’m guessing that they make a sequel when they don’t feel they can get away with more upgrades. And when it’s something like Marvel or SF, they know that the community will be pissed if the sequel is just another upgrade.



Whenever modern Capcpom isn’t involved.

End thread.



Yeah, we’ve not got a set of agreed criteria. it would essentially revolve around when there are sufficient changes to the game engine Whatever that means.

Here’s a novel one though, which is easier to establish - once the stage graphics change. it’s a bit off the wall, but it seems to work.



Even that is up for debate. Sure it can apply to stuff like SF (3S has different stages from NG and 2I, Alpha 1, 2, and 3 all have different stages), but what about Guilty Gear or Persona 4 Arena, where you see stages carried over with minimal changes?



When there’s a major system/engine change.

KOF '94-'95 are extremely different to '96-'98, they are almost completely different entities besides 3-on-3 fights. Physics are different, hitboxes are oldschool with strong hitboxes (almost everything crosses up), oldschool invincibility, dodge instead of roll, super high damage per hit, dash and no runs, manual meter building and no Advanced meter, lots of fullscreen projectiles… they are extremely different.

'96 starts to move away from the initial Fatal Fury influences and becomes its own thing tilting things towards stronger rushdown and weaker defense. Most characters had their projectiles become short range semi-pokes, rolls were introduced, hops and superjumps, running, guardbreaking, counters, etc. '97 and '98 feel different enough but are also polished and refined versions of what '96 pioneered.



“Major” engine/system changes can be hard to quantify. Many of these KOF changes aren’t really system/engine changes. They are arguably just hit-box and damage i.e. balance changes.

One of the biggest changes in SFII was going from CPS1 to CPS2. That was a completely new engine on a new hardware platform, but the gameplay remained pretty much the same, with the notable exception of new “non-system” gameplay features e.g. Air juggles, grounded overheads, whiffed grab animations. And of course supers and throw techs in ST.

In terms of the changes to the core game engine, in ST you now had selectable speeds. The command interpreter also worked in a somewhat probabilistic manner: e.g. Doing a move in 12f would guarantee execution whereas doing it in 16f would only result in 80% success. In the previous versions the move was also guaranteed if you did it in the relevant frame window. However, even though there engine was almost completely rewritten, many people would still consider this an upgrade instead of a sequel.



All I mentioned makes for a massive system change. '94-95 feel completely different from '96-98. Hitbox/damage change arent’t balance changes when they completely change how the game plays by the way. It’s not the same to go from high priority high damage normals and invincible AAs that make a much stronger oldschool ground game to something where you are much more free to get in the opponent’s face.

ST is also not a simple upgrade. Supers, juggles, speed, throw teching and overheads change how the game plays compared to previous SFII games.



This is all purely subjective. Balance changes can change the way characters play. It’s always been like that. And when you consider the progression of the games it’s not always so clear. Like you mention '94-95 as a unit compared to 96-98. Does this imply 95 is an upgrade or 94? What about between 95 and 96? Obviously when looking at a game like 94 and comparing it directly with 98 some changes some effects are much, much more pronounced, but my point is that it’s not always clear to see where this transition lies. Hence this thread. For any set of criteria you choose, there appears to be a counter-example.

As for ST, the game really doesn’t play that different to its predecessors. Or rather, the perceived difference in gameplay is as I said earlier - purely subjective. For me, the addition of reversals had a greater effect on gameplay than supers IMO. Without reversals, you could get tick thrown to death by any character with a greater throw range. Now if you added supers, overheads and juggles to World Warrior, the game still wouldn’t change much. Once you got knocked down you would still potentially get put into an inescapable situation. In other words, the gameplay would not change - the knockdown meta would still be tick to death.



Do you have any slight familiarity with KOF? '96 is the big turnaround for the series. Rolling, new supers, air blocking(gone after '98 but still), 7~9 new characters making new and remixed old teams (and drastic changes to some old like a complete revamp on Kyo, the MC), graphics and sounds overhaul, new types of jump(a staple in the series since then) among other stuff besides amping up in the story part with team edit endings and actually having some sort of “true ending” setting up for the next game.

You can somewhat say '95 is an upgraded version of '94. It kind of started an actual story and introduced Iori(along with his teamates Eiji from AOF, Billy from FatalFury and Saisyu as midboss) in place of a previous team and introduced Team Edit but in terms of gameplay it didn’t change much from '94. People even say '95 is the “Street Fighter” of KOF.

'98 is a refined '97(plus some old characters back and no story) in its system but have many differences from '96 with the two different grooves: One a reminiscence of the first games called “Extra” with a meter you can charge, dodge, being able to supers when you have low HP and a small dash but faster walkspeed. And a new “Advanced” one with stock meter filled based on your offence and defense, rolling and being able to do a full run but a lower walkspeed.

And then '99 throw almost everything out the window(including characters) with strikers that works like assists from MvC games, armor mode, new kind of roll and supercancels. Somewhat refined in 2000 and 2001 is just a pretty crazy game where everything juggles and you can edit your team to have one to three playable characters and put the others as strikers. 2002 picks the Advanced mode of '98 but adds new stuff like the supercancels and changes the “powered up mode” when you spend a meter for being able to cancel many moves; also you have Supers when “low HP” again. 2003 and XI can also be put together introducing and refining tags like MvC but no assists, choosing one character to have the ability to do a stronger kind of Super and there’s a more drastic change in movement and hitboxes making the game more jump friendly. XII is a completely different game but introduces a major graphical update. XIII again goes back to 2002 as a base but puts the “cancel stuff” in a separated meter, revamp in many characters and introducing EX moves that costs 1 meter like a regular super. Now XIV goes 3D, tries to blend '98, 2002 and XIII with a few tweaks like blowback throwing the opponent to the other side of the screen and EX moves tied to the “MAX mode state meter”.

tl;dr, in KOF some few iterations can be considered just an upgrade but most are “true sequels”.



Yet nobody calls ST sequel (because, again as ilitirit pointed out, it’s purely subjective).



But it isn’t really that subjective. ST plays different to previous SF games due to the new systems, even if it retains their basis. It’s not a tune here or a rebalance there, it’s several new mechanics that clearly affect how the game plays (to the point many CPS1 players ignore it due to how supers work).

As for KOF it’s easier to tell; '95 is an upgrade of '94 since it adds few new things and is largely “more and better” of the same thing. '96 is a an entirely different beast that discards most of '95 mechanics, physics and playstyle. It plays nothing at all like it’s predecessor besides being 3-on-3 and having manual charging. No room for discussion there, the difference is massive and obvious as Kensou explains in detail.



Yet is is subjective because nobody really calls ST a sequel to SF2.



Yet people make a clear distintion between previous sf2 gmes and games from ST onwards, so is not really that subjective.
No one calls it a sequel, true, but no one ignores the fact that changed how sf2 played quite drastically.
To deny this is just being anal for the sake of arguing.



I’ve never come across this. “Pre” ST includes NC, and NC arguably plays much closer to CE than HF in the eyes of the players (hence the immediate backlash toward the game when it was released - it was too slow).

I also don’t get the idea that juggles and overheads made the game play differently. They didn’t.