If this was a Mass Effect thread it should be called "The first game is a flawed masterpiece, the second game is greatest game ever crafted by human hands and the third is a crime against humanity from which it will never recover".
disgaea 4 felt like it struck that nice balance disgaea 1 had. a lot of that rides on valvatorez's charisma though.
That's because Mystery was just a remake/sequel to the original. FE4 went off in some crazy gameplay directions of its own. And a lot of Gaiden mechanics ended up coming back in one way or another over the years until they finally remade it as Shadows of Valentia with the thought of just going all-in on everything that made Gaiden what it is.
oh so like oot - mm - tww
Halo this was definitely intentional. The slower pace than Halo 2, the more straight forward story, focus squarely back on Chief.
Technically, Resident Evil did this on a bigger scale. The first three games followed the same formula, then 4-6 took off in a weird action era, and now we're back to horror/survival oriented focus with 7, RE2make, and presumably 8.
Resistance FoT is one of my favorite shooters ever, love the gameplay and lore! The PSP 3rd person game was also very good. At the same time, I never disliked so much a sequel as Resistance 2. The singleplayer was a generic Halo/CoD inspired piece of trash that 100% butchered the story (the multiplayer was okay though). Hated that game so much that I completely ignored Resistance 3. I wonder if I should have given that game a chance...
If Nintendo doesn't see SMG as a continuation of SM64, I don't think it applies.
Despite not being "128", it's hard to argue that Sunshine isn't the 3D Mario game that is the most like 64: explorable hub, levels with 6+ star/shines each, red coins, etc.
Resident Evil 1/2/3 are this as well, I think.There's another noticeable trend as well: first game is the original, second game does the first again but better, third game is kind of bloated and aimless (but not necessarily bad) because the developers already blew their load on making the second game perfect.
Mega Man X1/X2/X3
Ninja Gaiden 1/2/3 (NES)
...guess it's just a thing that happens with platformers because those are the main examples I can think of.
But the third one is the weird one in Xenosaga. Episode I tries to build on Xenogears's gameplay. Episode II tries to dumb down Episode I's gameplay, but makes it worse. Episode III is a completely generic turn based battle system. The last game is the weird one.
Pokemon, Uncharted, God of War, etc.