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Broken Aesop: Video Games

  • The moral of the original NES A Boy and His Blob is, basically, an anti-junk food one: Don't eat lots of candy, and healthy foods are better for you. The bad guy is even a blob of what you could call sapient fat. The problem is that your main weapons to stop him? Are jelly beans. Which give your blob friend magical powers. And extra lives are peppermints. Whose side is that game on, anyway?
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: The main lesson learned is that the law is ever-changing and not absolute- if it's not just, then change it. This is demonstrated by changing the legal system from a traditional system (only the Judge decides the outcome ) to a Jurist System (think jurors and juries) on the grounds that it is fairer. The problem is the particular case that this system is introduced in is quite possibly the most biased case in the whole series. For starters the reason why Phoenix Wright chose to introduce the system in the first place was to engineer a specific outcome and this outcome is very closely related to his own interests. In other words, this "fair" system is ultimately little more than a means to an end for the very person that created it...
    • The entire Ace Attorney series paints a pretty bleak picture of the justice system, and among the many cases of noble people trying to ensure that proper justice is done, there are only two instances of a protagonist actually criticizing the system's flaws. The trouble is that both criticisms are misguided, even within their own cases' contexts. The first, as detailed above, is when Apollo rants near the end of his game's third case about how the system makes it impossible to convict guilty parties who have destroyed all evidence of their wrongdoing, no matter how clear the circumstantial evidence is. Certainly problematic, but far less relevant than how this is seemingly the only way to get their own innocent clients found not guilty, since the more obvious flaw is that someone must always be found guilty, even if they can't incriminate the right person. The second comes up in Ace Attorney Investigations 2, after a murderer admits to the crime after the fifteen-year statute of limitations has run out. One of Edgeworth's partners bemoans the existence of the statute, while the more obvious concerns should be why the "confession" cannot at least be used to free the wrongfully imprisoned defendant, or how the defendant confessed to the crime back in the day because of an overzealous prosecutor's extreme interrogation methods. With so many problems in the game's court system, it's odd that the characters focus on some of the least problematic ones.
  • Misha's route in Ar tonelico has an event where Aurica's best friend, Claire, is being harassed by a couple of bigoted thugs. Things are escalating, and it looks like its about to turn physically violent in a few seconds. The protagonist, Lyner, steps in tells them to knock it off. This angers the thugs, who attack him. Lyner, a highly trained and gifted member of an elite knighthood, kicks the crap out of them with ease, and they scuttle off, terrified. His thanks? Getting scolded by everyone in his party, because "violence is never the answer". Never mind that his intervention probably saved both Claire and her bar from a beating, and the thugs attacked him. I guess that the solution is to just stand there and let them send you to the hospital and possibly kill you? Apparently so, because that's exactly what Lyner does later in response to this valuable lesson.
    • Heck, Misha's route in general is a long Broken Aesop, and so is most of Ar Tonelico 2. One of the themes in the Ar Tonelico series is how people and Reyvateils should learn to trust each other, and to treat each other decently. But Misha is treated by the other characters, except Lyner, as an unsympathetic whiner and a brat for not wanting to be locked up in a room to sing her whole life (and even Lyner has to get her used to the role to fix her mental issues). And in Ar Tonelico 2, both Luca and Cloche learn to understand each other's point of view...followed by both of them deciding they were wrong to protest the unfairness of their lives. So they don't actually empathize with each other, despite the game pushing this interpretation; rather, they learn not to bother each other with their pain, because each one of them had no right to protest. Luca was treated very badly because she was poor (in one incident, she was punished for not responding to a customer's advances), but Luca only manages to get along with Cloche when Luca decides she was wrong to try to put on a false face to make people happy, and thus avoid being treated badly. Cloche was also treated very badly as a child, but Cloche only manages to get along with Luca after Cloche decides that her tormentor wasn't so bad, having a noble vision. And to drive the point home, Cloche is treated as in the wrong for disagreeing with her tormentor in the past, and for going along with him in the present and not exercising free will to avoid persecuting other Reyvateils. So much for Ar Tonelico being about understanding and trust...
  • The Captain America game for the Playstation 3 is about Cap punching and shield-smashing his way through a Bavarian castle on his way to rescue his teammates and drive Hydra out. This tends to get accompanied by bold statements about how the whole "Master Race" thing is crap, because the Invaders prove that no man is any less valuable to the war effort than any other.. except this is coming from Captain-freaking-America after an entire game of handling almost all the direct combat by himself.
  • In Chrono Cross, the overarching moral of the story: that humanity should be able to create its own future, rather than be coddled and manipulated by higher forces. FATE's only goal, in summation, was to protect humankind, although it believed Utopia Justifies the Means. This is painted as wrong, but come the end of the game, we learn that all of FATE's actions (and the actions of many millennia's worth of events during and preceding the game) were all orchestrated by ONE MAN in order to save the universe. Sure, it all worked out in the end, but so much for manipulating destiny being a "bad" thing.
    • The game's attempt at Humans Are Bastards Green Aesop is also this to the point of being one thing that can make one like or dislike the whole story. The game is VERY Anvilicious about how horrible humans are and that they destroy the planet, but doesn't do much to back it up. This made even worse by the fact that the player is meant to be sympathetic to some dwarfs that do every single thing that the game says is wrong about humans but think that it's okay for them to act that and the game doesn't just acknowledge them as the hypocrites they are. It doesn't help that the message really has no effect on the game's characters either.
      • To make it worse, the world is in surprisingly great condition in spite of the fact that humans are "destroying" it. Aside from the only city that can be seen being, well, a city, the entire map is completely at harmony with nature. Except the poisonous swamp the dwarves live in, which may be poisonous due to their own fault. An ending even suggests that demi-humans actually envy humans instead for building civilizations instead of living off the land by occupying their homes after killing them all, but they're simply either unable to or are too lazy to build their own civilizations.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, it attempts to deliver the message that humans are the real monsters for hating and fearing the titular monster girls, who are made out to be misunderstood victims. The main character repeatedly preaches this, and has devoted his life to creating a world where humans and monsters can coexist. However, every single monster you meet attacks you completely unprovoked, and if you lose, rapes and then either enslaves you for life or outright murders you, as the main character literally pleads for mercy. Suddenly, the "extremist" humans who see all monster girls as heartless murderers don't seem so extreme.
    • Bonus points that the extremists in the game are viewed with complete animosity from the main character, who doesn't even consider what sort of horrible things may have been done to them to make them extremists to begin with.
    • And then sometimes the aesop gets broken in the other direction, making the monsters look worse than they really are for the sake of "balance". Sometimes, monster girls are treated as in the wrong for wanting to fight back against the human extremists. This is justified in the case of Lily and Erubertie, who go way too far in their responses to incidents in their pasts. But Luka also lectures the Queen Ant and Fairy Queen, both of whom reacted while under attack in the present; and he lectures them both for taking advantage of their "victim" status. Does Monster Girl Quest wish to teach the player that it's never okay to defend yourself, or even to criticize your attacker? Heck, even in Erubertie's case, the fans seem to dislike Erubertie not because she chose disproportionate retribution against the humans but because she had the temerity to feel negatively about humans at all.
  • The Dreamcast game Death Crimson OX puts a lengthy one in at the ending. After defeating the final boss, it's spirit goes on a long rant about the evils of the gun and how we would all do better if we just got rid of the darned things. Did I forget to mention that this is a light-gun game?
  • In Fable III, you, the ruler of the kingdom, must choose between "good" decisions (mostly benevolent social programs) that cost the kingdom money, and "evil" decisions (cutting off said programs, poor environmental practices, etc.) that save the kingdom money, all in preparation for a supernatural invasion that will kill off many of your citizens if you don't put enough funding into the defense budget. Making this more difficult are that the two options are either tear-jerkingly saccharine (repair and upgrade the damaged orphanage) or ludicrously evil (turn the orphanage into a brothel); there is no third option, even to defer to later, and you cannot remind anyone that doom is barreling down on them and maybe this isn't the best time to disturb the King with their crap. This is already rife with Unfortunate Implications and Does This Remind You of Anything?, but the intended moral is presumably something about having to make hard decisions about security vs. prosperity / quality of life. Or something. The problem with this attempt at a moral dilemma is that it's possible to pad the kingdom's treasury out of your own pocket, and that like in the previous game the way you really make money is by buying up lots of property and letting the accumulated rent money roll in every few minutes of play time. And despite there being a countdown to the day of the invasion, it won't get any closer as long as you don't complete any main storyline quests. So really, the essence of being able to afford being a good ruler is killing time doing sidequests (or hell, just standing around) until you can afford to fund all the "good" programs you need.
    • There's also an incredibly obvious Third Option the game won't let you use: Raise the taxes and cut social programs as an explicitly short-term measure until the danger has passed. You know, like every single real government does in wartime. The fact that the enemy is a known one-off threat coming at a known time completely negates any point about sustained policies.
  • According to the developers of Fallout, the risk of a Broken Aesop was why one of the Multiple Endings for the town of Junktown was changed. The player has to decide between aiding a sherrif or a sleazy casino owner. Originally, the ending for assisting the Sheriff reveals that he becomes a low-grade Knight Templar, and Junktown stays small because people avoid the hassle. Assist the sleazy casino owner, though, and Junktown thrives, because the sleazy casino owner understands that slavers, drug users, and actively immoral people are bad for his business, and wipes them out . In the game proper, though, the Sheriff is the 'good' choice.
  • Final Fantasy XII pulls one of these at the end of the Gil Snapper hunt, when Elder Brunoa chides the quest-giver that you should never kill an animal solely to sell parts of it. The single best source of income in Final Fantasy XII involves running around killing massive numbers of animals in order to sell parts of them, including the ones that start out non-hostile because that's the only way to get access to all the lore.
  • Final Fantasy XIII catches considerable flak for its message of independence being constantly subverted, as your characters repeatedly do exactly what the bad guys tell them to do over and over again right up until the ending.
    • Speaking of the ending, the predictably apocalyptic scenario that comes from the villains winning is stopped by what might be a literal Deus ex Machina. What makes it even worse is the game says "you can't wait around for a miracle to happen", but a miracle is clearly what solves the problem!
    • Even one of Lightning's battle quotes seems to mess with the "fight your fate" moral, "Destiny is destiny" seems to imply the message "You should fight your fate unless your fate is to fight me in which case you're going to lose so just accept it."
  • Edutainment Game Jump Start Advanced 1st Grade has a very slight anti-cheating Aesop (i.e. when Frankie says "We'll show Jimmy we don't need to cheat to win"). However, the game centers around using gadgets to improve the characters' scooters, and one reviewer interpreted this as cheating...which would break the Aesop pretty badly, to say the least (especially since the villain Jimmy apparently doesn't add gadgets to his scooter).
  • In Kingdom Hearts, after winning the Hercules Cup, the player is treated to a heartwarming scene in which the hero realizes that anything is possible with the help of his friends. This scene is immediately preceded by said hero demanding that he face the final boss of the tournament by himself.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords features a variety of lessons by your character's mentor Kreia, who thinks you weaken people by taking on their burdens and encourages you to let people stand for themselves. In a different game she'd probably be right! The problem is that taking on people's problems is 95% of the game, and except for one beggar who only exists so she can deliver this lesson, absolutely no one who isn't a bad guy comes out the worse from your help (unless you decide to screw them over). At worst, you'll fail to save people who are marked for death.
  • Legend of Mana breaks its Family-Unfriendly Aesop of "freedom is the highest ideal, therefore be true to yourself even at the cost of everything else" by calling on the player character to deal with the aftermath every time. (A case, perhaps, of the Accidental Aesop of: "It's okay if you screw up, because the Chosen One will fix everything!")
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has a lengthy optional Fetch Quest. Once you finish it, the NPC who gave it to you simply says "Thank You", giving the Aesop that you should not help people expecting a reward. Then, just as you are about to leave, the person gives you a scroll teaching the Hurricane Spin attack, thus smashing the lesson mere seconds after teaching it.
  • Lunar has the theme running through it that 'humans don't need gods, they can take care of themselves.' This is broken in the second game as the threat of Zophar and the fake Althena is only noticed by Lucia, and everyone else being completely fooled. The plot wouldn't even had gotten started without her warning the main protagonists about this.
  • Mario Tennis: Power Tour talks a lot about how doubles are about team work (thus using each members strengths) and strategy and how it differs from singles and only at low levels can one player win a game, except you have no way to control the AI on your partner and he plays almost entirely as though you didn't exist, ruining game winning shots by running in front in front of you (one of the opponents apologizes to their doubles partner for doing exactly that and commends you on your team work despite the opposite being true in-match) and being ignorant of even basic play tactics, forcing you to, you guessed it, win each match mostly by yourself. Additionally, almost all the the singles players have their doubles teams rated EXACTLY THE SAME, so much for the two being different games then.
  • Mega Man Star Force: The Power of Friendship will grant you incredible might... except that the alien beings who allow you to actually use said power are originally drawn by feelings of utter loneliness, so the best way to become powerful is in fact to reject The Power of Friendship until the universe hands you power on a platter, then start playing nicely with others.
  • After the battle for Area Zero in Mega Man Zero 4, Neige shoots a What the Hell, Hero? speech at Zero, blaming him for all the damage caused in the fight. The anti-violence message is undercut by the fact that there's no indication that, if it wasn't for Zero, she and the other refugees wouldn't have been slaughtered. Nice job, sister. It gets worse. In her speech, the point she makes to Zero of how he and the resistance's actions are unjustifiable because they're both "fighting the same stupid war." The fact is, if they never fought, Neo Arcadia would've wiped out their entire race, save Copy X and his cronies. Hell, everything she and the other humans were doing was to survive, and what's more, even though she and the rest suffered less than the Reploids, who've barely avoided exctinction, she thinks they have the right to complain about the suffering they're just now experiencing while disregarding the fact that the Reploids have no other choce. It actually manages to break the aesop that's been shown throughout the entire franchise, from the original Megaman choosing to fight Wily, since no one else will, to the X series showing how sometimes fighting is the only choice, to the heroes of ZX and Advent fighting to protect people simply because it's right. Even Lighter and Softer Megaman Legends showed a Megaman fighting against pirates who were terrorising a city as the heroic action it is. Apparently, the message from Neige's speech is "Don't ever fight to defend the innocent from certain death because things might eventually turn out bad for others."
    • Incorrect. Not only is this way of thinking is challenged and clearly shown to be wrong, averting the Broken Aesop, (especially when the whole game and previous events in the series are taken into context), but it isn't even addressing Neige's actual source of hatred against the reploids.
      • First, Neige and the humans' hatred towards Zero and the resistance stems from Dr. Weil's takeover of Neo Arcadia in Zero 3. Throughout the Zero series, under the governance of X and the Four Guardians, Neo Arcadia was a utopia for humans and reploids. And, for the most part, that is all the humans have ever known. But, everything changed with Dr. Weil's return. After Zero attacked and defeated Copy X in Zero 3 to stop Neo Arcadia's assault on the Resistance, Copy X self-destructs, resulting in the death of Neo-Arcadia's ruler and, by the laws of succession, allowing Dr. Weil to become its new ruler, which Zero then realizes was Weil's true reason for resurrecting Copy X in the first place. Weil immediately changed the city from its idyllic state into a brutal dictatorship to fulfill his own twisted revenge against humans and reploids, all while disguising it as necessary to stop the "Mavericks", covering up the truth while blaming Zero and company all the while. It was this tyranny that drove Neige and the other humans to risk everything and flee, and after Zero defeats Weil's forces that had pursued them, that's when Neige realizes who he is and lashes out at him as, from the perspective of the humans who only knew Weil's propaganda, it was Zero's fault that Weil's in charge now, enabling his tyranny to take hold. Of course, Zero knows she's wrong, but doesn't say anything because he knows nothing he can say would convince her, instead deciding to let his actions speak for him as he helps to protect them and Area Zero from the Einherjar.
      • Second, in the event above, Neige is not just calling out Zero and the resistance, but also Craft, the commander of Neo Arcadia's forces, in the aftermath of the latter's attack on the Settlement (the one that occurs halfway through the game.) And most of this is actually directed at Craft, who led the attack, while proclaiming to Zero that the humans who escaped and Area Zero must be sacrificed for the greater good, which is itself a Broken Aesop that sets Neige off into the "same stupid war" rant mentioned above. As it turns out, Neige and Craft have a bit of history back in Neo Arcadia, and she is angry that the honorable warrior who once saved her and fought for humanity was now reduced to being nothing more than Weil's lapdog. Most of her rant is really trying to get him to see reason. However, Craft then abducts her and teleports away, which turned out to be his main objective for the attacking the camp in the first place. Upon seeing this, the other humans then turn their backs on Neige, labelling her as a traitor and blaming her for the attack, all because of her connection with Craft. They also refuse to try and rescue her out of fear of retaliation from Neo Arcadia, thinking they will be safe if they don't resist and antagonize Weil. This time, Zero calls them out on their hypocrisy, pointing out that if they were just going to cower in fear of Dr. Weil anyway, then they had no reason to put their lives at risk escaping Neo Arcadia in the first place. This finally gets through to them, as at the start of the next mission, they talk with Zero before he leaves, realizing they were wrong and pleading with him to safe Neige, as they aren't nearly strong enough to do so on their own. Notably, after rescuing Neige, talking to the humans show that they are beginning to open up to Zero and the others. Even the most antagonistic of them apologize for their actions, especially Neige, who realized that she was jumping to conclusions about the Resistance with only the information given from Neo Arcadia.
  • Metal Gear Solid explicitly delivers its "don't let yourself be ruled by your genes" message...during a nice long shot of the corpse of Liquid, who was killed by a "smart" virus that targets people based on their DNA.
    • That sounds like an over simplification as while the virus does attack people based on DNA, it's engineered to do so and is little different than hiring an assassin with a list of names. The moral is closer to "Don't let your destiny (like the genetics you were born with) control how you live your life" as Liquid spent his life obsessed with trying to be better than Solid to the point that even being told his genes were inferior drove him nuts. He died alone with that obsession as the only notable facet to his character. Compare it to one of the endings where Snake wonders if he'll succumb to FOXDIE in time just like Liquid and Naomi refuses to tell him because she wants him to live his life how he wants to regardless of how much time he actually has left.
  • Broken by economic concerns: The message of the Odd World series is that corporations are evil, world-destroying entities... except for delicious, life-restoring Sobe!
  • A common aesop in the Pokémon games is that the player shouldn't care about how strong a particular Pokémon is, and should try to use Pokémon they like. The aesop becomes broken, however, when you realize that not only can the games be made significantly easier by using stronger Mons, but most of the characters who tell you this use strong Mons themselves. For example, Cynthia delivers such a speech before the battle against her in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. Her signature Pokemon is Garchomp, a Pseudo-Legendary with a base stat total of 600 note . Her entire team also has perfect IVs, the Pokemon equivalent to genetic capabilities, and impossible to obtain without extensive breeding (made even worse when you consider the below entries as well) and massive amounts of luck.
    • This also becomes a Clueless Aesop when you consider that, due to the haphazard application of Competitive Balance, many Pokémon are very objectively great or terrible, despite the game's constant assertions that this is merely "perceptions of the selfish" - it comes across as the game's Gym Leaders who make such assertions simply not knowing enough about how the Pokémon world works, and thinking that every challenge can be beaten down by Level Grinding, which isn't true in competitive battles, where everyone is level 50 (or 100, depending on the specific game) most of the time, regardless of their actual level.
    • Another problem is that the games state that Pokémon must be treated like partners, not as tools or weapons. Yet players who breed thousands of Pokémon in order to get good IVs end up getting better results in battles. Admittedly, that would be a good In-Universe source for starter Pokémon, were it not for the fact that arbitrarly taking Pokémon away from a player would be very annoying indeed, and even then, those less-optimal Pokémon aren't abused or neglected, just left in the PC with their friends or traded off to rookie Trainers (or even other veterans who need a Hidden Ability or Pokédex completion) who would appreciate the gift.
      • Further broken by the fact that you must go out of your way to try to lower your Pokémon's hidden Friendship stat, but virtually everything you would do normally during the course of the game raises it's Friendship. Gen VI introduces Affection to mitigate this, which can only be raised by actually treating your Pokémon like a pet/friend and taking care of them, and Pokémon with higher affection get significant benefits in battle - that don't apply in competitive battles, where you would actually need them.
    • A plot point in Pokémon Black and White, with Team Plasma's vendetta against Pokémon husbandry and abuse undermined by their own use and abuse of Pokémon. Which is an early hint that they really don't care, and their true agenda is something else entirely. Except N, that is.
  • Remember Me tells us that bad memories, though painful, are an unfortunately necessary part of life. Nilin's primary skill as a memory hunter is to "remix" people's memories, and she openly declares she can make anyone believe whatever she wants. Nilin edits her parents' traumatic memories to heal the emotional rifts in her family, which just happens to require shifting the blame for a car accident from herself to her mother. All the events of the game and the foundation of the Memorize corporation itself were all caused by people and machines who couldn't forget their painful memories, and took their pain out on others.
    • In fact, all of the memories that Nilin remixes involve altering them to make them worse than they were before, which results in the deaths of at least two people: a man who commits suicide because he wrongly remembers accidentally killing his girlfriend, and a man who is going to die without the expensive medical treatment that his wife is no longer trying to procure for him because she thinks he's dead, assuming she didn't kill him when she attacked the hospital she thinks he died in.
  • Sleeping Dogs has a horrible one for a side quest. Wei goes after a street racer to get him arrested for deliberately forcing his opponents to crash during races and Wei is clearly disgusted with him for this. The problem? To even get access to this side quest you have to do street racing missions and you've almost definitely had to deliberately force your opponents to crash (especially on the first one where you have to race with an awful car) and most of those crashes looked pretty fatal...
  • Spec Ops: The Line has been criticized for its anti-violence message, which is subverted by continuing to allow the player to kill enemies with executions and live burial by sand, even after the game tries to hammer the moral home with the player/Walker mass-murdering civilians and proceeds to really rip into the player.
    • The message really falls apart when you consider that options to both just leave when ordered to and not use the white phosphorus had to be cut for the game to make its point, partly for budget issues preventing them from making a branching storyline based on that choice, but also because playtesters were consistently taking it.
  • In Star Ocean The Last Hope, the Aesop is apparently that you shouldn't help anyone or let anyone help you or you'll be helping the Always Chaotic Evil Grigori. Somehow. Of course, this is contradicted not only by the fact that you previously saved the universe by meddling in one planet's affairs, but also by the plot of every other game in the series.
  • One of the recurring themes in the Street Fighter series is that fighting for its own sake or for others makes you stronger than if you were just fighting for revenge or hatred. The poster child for this is Sagat, who originally hated Ryu for scarring him, but eventually realized that his hatred was weakening him, moved on, and became a stronger fighter for it. The problem with this is how this theme is related to Dan's initial motivation, especially in the Street Fighter Alpha series: many people, Sagat included, comment on how Dan's hatred has made him weak and silly. Sagat even comments that he used to be just like Dan. To be fair, Dan has a little more to be pissed about than Sagat: Sagat just had his chest scarred in a fight that he voluntarily participated in. Dan had his father killed by Sagat. The messed up thing is that Chun-Li is basically fighting for the same reason, and her motivation makes her arguably the strongest woman in the series. So fighting because someone scarred you in a fight is OK, fighting because you just like beating people up is OK, but fighting to stop someone who has killed before and may kill again is wrong if you aren't one of the main protagonists? The lesson becomes that hatred and a desire for revenge will make you strong like Chun-Li or Cammy, but only if you are a woman.
  • In Sudeki working together seems to be the moral of the story: the Big Bad exists purely because the resident God split himself in half. Therefore, it's odd that you get to use your full party for four notable story sessions and in only one boss fight, about a third of the way through the game. Generally your party is split in half, and oddly enough (and unfortunately enough. Tal and Elco don't have healing skills) it's men in one group, women in the other.
  • There is a subplot in Tales of Vesperia where Flynn expressed his disapproval of Yuri's Vigilante Man actions in executing Ragou and Cumore. The problem was that both were too powerful and well-connected, one of them had already been tried in a court of law and was given a slap on the wrist for feeding his own people to his pets For the Evulz. The latter is one of the most high-ranking member of the knights, a combination of military and law enforcement. Its pretty obvious the justice system is corrupt and ineffectual; Flynn does not propose any immediate solution to allowing powerful mass murderers walk free to continue their crimes. Remember kids, killing people for the sake of justice is wrong, its better to let them callously kill tons of people for the sake of their own amusement. Since the justice system can't really touch them, get used to it until an idealistic young hotshot can gain enough power and influence to single-handedly reform the corrupt courts.
  • Ultima Underworld has the Taper of Sacrifice, a candle and part of a set of virtue-themed artifacts. It teaches self-sacrifice, because a candle only brings light through its own destruction. And since the artifacts are necessary for the plot, it never burns down. In fact the player can leave it alight and never worry about light sources again.
  • Valkyria Chronicles finds a way to break most of its own Aesops because it's trying to cram too many into one game:
    • Squad 7 is full of personality and color in an effort to create Video Game Caring Potential and a scene is devoted to the main characters learning that the enemy is human too, but the entire Gallian main army is blown up at Ghirlandaio and no one cares. The game does make a brief attempt to make the Imperial Soldiers sympathetic, but they do it by having a single young Imperial soldier die in Alicia's lap while his commanding officer walks away peaceably out of respect for his demise. The rest of the Imperial Army runs concentration camps and generally acts like unsympathetic assholes for the entire remainder of the story.
      • General Damon is an asshole, and so is everyone else in the aristocracy, except Cordelia, who happens to be a Darcsen. It's implied that the army, much like Damon, are at least connected to the Gallian nobility, and therefore as worthless as he is. But they're faceless mooks, the player is expected to judge them according to Damon's example, and that's why we're not supposed to care that they've been mass-murdered. Racism is bad, but classism is totally fine.
    • Everyone learns a lesson about how racism is bad and judging people for their ethnicity is wrong, but because Valkyria powers are a metaphor for nuclear weapons and the game is strongly anti-WMD's, the end result paints the Valkyrur as manipulative, bloodthirsty, all-female monsters in retrospect. As an added bonus, the two living Valkyria are genuinely good people who are in full control of their powers, which breaks both Aesops.
      • Which is made worse at the end of the game, when Alicia chooses to completely abandon her Valkyria powers, solely because of the stress the Internalized Categorism was putting on her. So, racism is bad, but if you're from a bad race, it's better to just pretend you're not and act like everyone else. Can you tell this game was made in Japan?
    • It's better to remove everything special about yourself to fit in because people will abuse you if you don't, which is exactly what Alicia does, because of how Selvaria's life went. It breaks because Selvaria's life only sucked as much as it did because she lived in the evil empire; none of the things Alicia fears happening to her are even remotely possible. No one even approaches her about it, all her fears are in her own head.
    • Welkin makes a dramatic speech about how Squad 7 doesn't need to rely on Alicia's Valkyria powers to win the day and beat the Marmotah, continuing the game's thematic Aesop of "teamwork always beats individual excellence", but the only way Squad 7 is able to even get onto the thing is after those exact powers have been used to blow a hole in its armor plating; before that happens, it's completely hopeless. Even before that, the first time she uses those powers is when she stops Selvaria from mowing down what's left of the Gallian army; we're even explicitly told they would have lost without her intervention!
      • We're also shown that the villains are strongly individualized and none of the generals work together or have any mutual bonds to each other, and that's why they can be beaten one at a time by a unified Ragtag Bunch of Misfits like Squad 7. But Squad 7 has Alicia, who is Mary-Sue levels of powerful even before she gets her Valkyria powers and saves the entire army single-handedly, and can complete several missions alone.
    • Faldio is imprisoned for committing treason by awakening Alicia's Valkyria powers because doing so required her to have a near-death experience, so he shot her. Later, he apologizes for believing that power is the key to victory and dies in order to to prove his sincerity, driving home any of the game's anti-war aesops. But if he hadn't done it, Selvaria would have completely obliterated the army and the militia, and conquered Gallia in time for tea and thusly achieved victory for her side— he openly lampshades this at one point.
      • Faldio and Welkin had been friends for years, but when Faldio finally comes around to realizing that he was wrong (even if the events of the game prove he was right) and apologizes, pointlessly kills himself, Welkin and Alicia don't react to it any more than they reacted to Ghirlandaio. Friendship and unity, everybody!
      • On top of that, Faldio's big crime is, as stated by the game, believing in power instead of his friends... except not only did the power in question actually save the day, he knew that that power belonged to one of his friends and his plan literally depended on her survival. The activation isn't pleasant by any means, but nothing about the situation meant he was actually choosing the one or the other. If anything, he knew he was risking his career because he believed in the power of his friends.
      • There's another problem with condemning Faldio for believing in power instead of just trusting his friends to find a solution on their own: They never actually find a way to deal with Selvaria. She is eventually defeated, but that's because she throws the fight and then kills herself to wipe out the Gallian military after she's captured. We're supposed to hate Faldio for not being open to The Power of Friendship, but we're shown multiple times that the only thing that can stop a Valkyria... is a Valkyria.
    • While it is pay for DLC, they actually portray one of the Gallian commanders as a heartless bastard by having him use a poison forbidden by their "Geneva convention" against his enemies, and after he loses the commander tells his higher ups that his squad had the poison used against them.
    • War is bad and only horrible people (or good people with horrible reasons) pursue military careers in peacetime, except Welkin's father Belgan Gunther, a tank commander in the Gallian Army, is considered a great hero and referenced often in relation to Welkin's potential as an officer.
    • Varrot finally gets the chance to confront the Imperial officer who tortured and killed her lover back in the day, and Largo convinces her to let him go because If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him, and sometimes you just need to let go because revenge won't solve your problems or soothe your pain. He ends up executed by his own superiors and so everything turned out all right in the end, because Even Evil Has Standards. Except for the part where the Empire already knew Geld had been torturing and murdering people since the first war, and apparently didn't care until one of the good guys had a problem with it! And, like all the others, the player is meant to feel good about it because Geld is a terrible human being... so, actually, revenge is awesome, as long as you let someone else do it for you.
    • The anti-racism Aesop is driven with the Darcsen being a fantasy counterpart to European Jews in its World War II pastiche, but the most prominent Darcsen character is written and designed to appeal to its original Japanese audience in order to maximize the impact of her death. Appreciating other cultures and not judging them for being different is a lot easier when they embody your own culture's ideals!.
  • Godlimations' Vorago bases its story off of the Biblical description of Rapture, and has as its primary conflict a battle of ideals between a character who believes the apocalyptic events have a logical, scientific explanation and another who thinks it was prophesied by the Bible. As the creator of the game is a Christian organization, it seems reasonable to thinkthat the latter would be correct... except the man who is portrayed as "in the right" (and indeed, the only confirmed Christian in the game period) is the villain, tries to sexually assault the female main character, and is so racist, intolerant, and preachy that he comes off as an amalgam of every religious strawman ever cooked up by an atheist writer.
  • World of Warcraft: The final battle of the Cataclysm expansion, and the associated storyline and many similar events throughout canon, could be read as "mortals are badass who can protect the world just fine." Never mind that the final battle of the Cataclysm expansion and numerous other encounters throughout the game (e.g. Illidan, Arthas) can only be completed with the help of powerful and generally immortal NPCs. In some other fights, no such characters are apparent in the game itself, but the enemy has a Drama-Preserving Handicap or according to the lore the player is only Fighting a Shadow... because of the previous intervention of immortal beings.
    • At the end of the progression through the Isle of Thunder, Taran Zhu gives a What the Hell, Hero? to the Alliance and Horde, saying that their fighting perpetuates a vicious cycle of retaliation, convincing the two sides to stand down, especially considering that they both have a common enemy in Garrosh. At this point, Nalak the Storm Lord is unlocked as a world boss, thus leading to players sabotaging efforts from groups from the rival faction so that they get to kill Nalak, a common enemy for both factions, and collect his loot.
    • In the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, after killing their way through numerous Horde soldiers, some of whom (like Nazgrim) were actually pretty decent people, the heroes suddenly decide to make a statement about mercy and justice by taking Orc Hitler Garrosh Hellscream alive. Inevitably, this leads to Garrosh escaping to an Alternate Universe and creating a massive new Iron Horde for the Alliance and good Horde to deal with in the Warlords of Draenor expansion. While it's probably not fair to say the heroes should have seen that coming (time traveling dragons were involved), it still undermines the raid's intended moral when, by all rights, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they'd just executed Garrosh when they had the chance.
  • Zap Dramatic's games are intended to teach players how to negotiate with people. In this regard, it fails spectacularly, as its bizarre and improbable characters and events. Winning the game doesn't seem like a matter of one's skill in negotiations, since there's generally only one highly improbable, incredibly specific situation that's considered successful that can usually only come from one or two conversation paths. Among others:
    • Ambition in particular seems to excuse Ted's atrocities just because he's the supposed victim of an immoral wife. Despite the fact he tried to blow up an office building and essentially commit a mass murder. Made worse by the fact he's canonically considered sane.
      • In game the full explanation is that Ted at the time was under a drug that made him act that way and the sanity call might be them trying to use current sanity as evidence that the previous insanity was caused by something else since it's no longer present. But then it falls apart all over again as Ted continues to do extreme things like escaping police custody and holding you up at gunpoint because "he's got nothing to lose" all while under his normal state of mind.
      • Having a troublesome marriage? Just give your wife expensive jewelry! She'll forget about all your problems because material wealth trumps working out your differences! To be fair, you will fail if you don't get them to agree on something, and the game itself remarks that they should probably break up in the victory screen... which only makes the whole thing seem even more ridiculous.
      • The games often fail in their goal to teach you about negotiation, in the fact that nobody really comes to an agreement on anything, and you're mostly just telling people what they want to hear, or offering decisions that really make no sense. Episode 9 even allows you to sit back and let someone else do your work.
      • From "The Negotiator": Negotiating your way out of a speeding ticket requires being able to cry uncontrollably.
    • "The Track Meet" is a simulation about teaching sports ethics, where the protagonist has fallen below the GPA requirements to stay on the team and the player's goal is to handle it ethically... and the game doesn't give you an option to do so, instead requiring a player to spy on their teammates and engage in a lie of omission just so that they can confess to it later.
      • Whenever you argue with an adult in "The Track Meet", you're scolded for being disrespectful, self-centered, and making excuses, no matter what the subject is, because respect for your superiors means not questioning their judgment or talking back to them, ever. But if you don't correct the coach when he neglects to suspend you from the team because of your slipping grades, you get a game over for trying to dupe him. So "integrity" means you should never butt heads with anyone with more authority over you, unless you're reminding them that they owe you a punishment.
    • The Negotiator episode "The Raise" has a mouse spontaneously talking to you, and if you listen to the mouse, you get a game over. The game tells you that you shouldn't listen to mice, because mice don't talk. Weird, but somewhat valid... But then this mouse appears once again in "Sir Basil Pike Public School", being the main dispenser of advice.
      • Not to mention that, once you hear the talking mouse, you don't have the option to excuse yourself because you're suddenly hallucinating. It's meant to teach you not to be distracted by outside, irrelevant things, no matter how tempting or urgent, and to pay attention to the other person's reactions, but... as the game says, mice don't talk. If you go to work and have been under a lot of stress, and you start having visual and auditory hallucinations when you talk to your boss, it's probably best to end your negotiation and go see a doctor.
    • In Sir Basil Pike Public School the author gives us his take on stranger danger.
      • Also, the game was made to teach children about bullying... but there's not a lot of bullying in the game, and the player can even be rewarded for making fun of another kid's stutter.note 
      • If your bike gets stolen, don't ask a teacher for help, because he's more interested in showing off how much more clever he is than his students than actually solving the problem. In this anti-bullying game, you're more likely to get results by chasing the thief, shoving him off your bike, and taking it back yourself; you can always correct a mistake you made yourself, but once you involve a teacher, you're essentially putting all your faith in a very powerful idiot. It doesn't help if you've played any of the other Zap Dramatic games, and you know that, no matter what Zap Dramatic wants you to believe, Mr. Hartrup is pants-on-head insane.)
      • The stolen bike puzzle itself breaks its own moral because the lesson is not to make assumptions. The bike isn't being stolen, another kid, whom you've never seen before, is riding an identical bike and taunting you about how you can't catch him as he speeds away from the place where you left your own bike unattended. It gives you the option to look for your own bike first (knowing the other kid will definitely get away if you don't give chase right now), but if you take it, you get a congratulations message about how you're one of the rare few who wouldn't see all these things and not assume your bike is being stolen! And then you're told the story can't continue if you don't go through the mistaken thief subplot, and takes you back to the branch to choose to assume the bike is stolen.
  • 4X TBS and Global Strategies show the greatness of Man, beauty of history, grand achievements of humanity. Games like Europa Universalis are more neutral about waging war and brutal colonizing, but the Civilization series is very shiny and optimistic. In Civilization V, every scientific or industrial achievement is accompanied by motivational citation, you adopt various cultural advancements... But in the end, even Gandhi has to capture a city or two (which somehow significantly lowers population, if you know what I mean) or use nuclear strike on opposing civilization.
  • BioShock 2 is supposed to depict the collapse of a collectivist Utopia, but in actuality it shows nothing of the sort; Ryan, at least, believed in his ideals, but the villain of the second game was not a collectivist but rather an insane cult leader. They use the word "collectivist" a few times but there are no signs of it in the game, and there never WAS a utopia - Ryan, at least, had a society which sort of worked before it failed, but the second game's society was dead before it started.

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