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?
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon tries very hard to sell itself as a Modern Warfare with fighter pilots instead of SAS operators, with the same "War Is Hell and not at all glamorous" message. All well and good... except, much like the entire rest of the series, all the "hell" on the ground is invisible from the air unless you're directly causing it (at which point it is awesome), "fighter pilot" is possibly the most (if not the only) glamorous MOS in existence, and you are not only a fighter pilot, you're one so legendarily good that allies praise the Lord and enemies crap their pants just when you show up over a battlefield. War Is Hell... unless you're an awesome fighter pilot, because then war rocks?
    • The Ace Combat series in general suffers from this. The games are known for carrying the theme that nuclear weapons are bad. However, the wars in this series break out because of how there is no nuclear weapons proliferation present. Even worse, the various super weapons that are supposed to serve as a deterrent fail as such because no one outside their country of origin ever knows about them, completely defeating the point of a deterrent - in fact, they're more often used to start wars rather than deter others away from them, and the ones that aren't are instead pulled out at the last minute to try and turn the tide of a war that's going badly for them.
  • A very minor one, but in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Apollo rants about what the point is in a legal system that protects criminals. This remark doesn't make much sense though, when you consider that the real problem should be about why the legal system seems to make it so easy to wrongly accuse someone, yet so difficult to prove a wrongly-accused client's innocence. The system doesn't protect criminals, since someone is always going to be convicted no matter who it is. It's likely that the wording of the line was just unclear though.
  • Misha's route in Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia 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 II. 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 II, 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, but also 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...
  • 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.
  • The Captain America: Super Soldier 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 a 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 is made even worse by the fact that the player is meant to be sympathetic to some dwarves that do every single thing that the game says is wrong about humans, but think that it's okay for them to do, and the game completely fails to 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 (and even the city is remarkably clean and isn't visibly polluting any of the surrounding area), 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.
      • The dwarves especially come up short when you see their technology as compared to that of the humans; the humans don't use vehicles besides sailing ships and mostly-mundane weapons, everything else either runs on apparently-clean sophisticated future tech like FATE or organic chemistry and magic like some of the non-human party members. The dwarves are working with smoke-and-fire-belching, filthy, steampunk-ish war machines at best.
  • 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.
  • DC Universe Online: Players are given missions to fight Bane and Bane's Streetgang, who abuse the super-steroid Venom, yet anyone can use the Neo-Venom Boost Iconic Power, "an experimental derivative of Venom" with no adverse effects.
  • The Dreamcast game Death Crimson OX puts a lengthy one in at the ending. After defeating the final boss, its 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. The intended moral appears to be about having to make hard decisions about security vs. prosperity / quality of life. The problem with this that it's possible to pad the kingdom's treasury out of your own pocket. 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. All the player needs to do to be able to bankroll all the "good" programs and still be able to save all of their subjects is kill a couple hours doing sidequests and letting their income pile up.
    • In fact, getting a particular special weapon almost requires this. The key needed to get it is hidden in an alcove high in the room in your hideout where all your money is stored. To get it, you need to accumulate 5,000,000 gold to climb up a hill of coins to reach the key. Now that you have the key, where's the chest it opens? Underneath all that gold, which you now have to get rid of access the chest. Technically you could spend all that money to reveal the chest, but with how far 5,000,000 goes in that game and the hefty property income you probably have coming in every few minutes by that point, by far the quickest and simplest way to reveal the chest is to just funnel all that money into the royal treasury. Now you not only have a special weapon, the treasury has a hefty chunk of the amount it needs to keep all your subjects alive, and you're beloved by your people for generously donating your personal fortune to the kingdom like that.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately, Bethesda wasn't so smart with Fallout 3 and its infamous Tenpenny Tower questline. In synopsis, there is a conflict revolving around a heavily fortified and luxuriant hotel between a thuggish band of wandering Ghouls who want in and the existing human inhabitants, who are rather unpleased at the motion. The player can either murder one party on behalf of the other, or go through the trouble of diplomatically convincing the humans that these ghouls can be trusted and so earn them a place inside the tower, which is big enough for them all. Except that, afterwards, you find the ghouls have murdered the human inhabitants and dumped them in the basement while you weren't looking. Now, this could easily pull off any (or all) of three Family Unfriendly Aesops: the oppressed can be as bad as their oppressors when given the chance, diplomacy doesn't always work, you can't always get a happy ending. Except the game is very clearly aiming for you to support the ghouls, to the point of giving Good Karma when you get the ghouls inside and causing Three Dog to hound you incessantly for "Fantastic Racism" if you murder the ghouls instead. Even if this comes after The Reveal. This has frustrated many a player, since the blatant anti-racism motif to the quest is undercut by A: the fact you can convince the humans that they were wrong to be racist to begin with and B: the ghouls are just as racist, as shown by their murdering the humans once you get them in.
    • Speaking of which, Roy, the leader of the ghouls, tries to convince you to side with him because of the bigotry of Tenpenny Tower's human residents. Except that, if you do, one of the ways he suggests you can get him and his followers inside is by opening a door into the underground tunnels inside so he can herd waves of feral ghouls in as Cannon Fodder. So, it's okay for ghouls to abuse other ghouls, but not okay for humans to do the same?
  • 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."
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has the moral that, "Humanity doesn't need a God." Except to help the souls of the dead reincarnate. And to hold back the chaos that's engulfing the world. And to create a new world after a human (an immortal human, but still definitely human and not a god) succeeds in screwing up the old one to the point where it can't be fixed. Sure, the God of the game is a Jerkass, but he's still all that's standing between humanity and extinction. Basically, if you were trying to write a plot that proved how much humans did need the Gods, you couldn't do too much better than this game.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening's aesop is basically, sometimes one must sacrifice themselves in order to save many lives. So what's the problem? The two characters that did that, the Avatar and Emmeryn, both end up surviving. However, there is some wiggle room in this: it's greatly implied in the former's case that his/her bonds of friendship and love were strong enough to break the bond between him/her and the Big Bad, so it's less Broken Aesop and more Aesop Override, and in the latter's case she's so brain damaged from her fall that she's no longer the same Emmeryn you see in the story, so you may as well say the Emmeryn of the earlier chapters is 'sacrificed'. Not to mention the latter one is technically an optional plot point so you don't have to break the aesop if you don't want to.
  • 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).
  • 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.
    • The whole series preaches Balance Between Light and Darkness... despite mainly having Light Is Good heroes vs. Dark Is Evil threats. Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is bad with this as well. At one point, Xehanort preaches about how the worlds must have a balance of light and darkness. Fine and dandy there, but every threat the heroes faced used the powers of darkness to further their own goals or to destroy the worlds. With the sole exception of Riku, nobody uses darkness as a benefit and those aligned with it are evil at heart. Quite frankly, the "Tyranny of Light" seems to be the preferable option.
  • 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!")
  • 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 teamwork (thus using each member's strengths) and strategy and how it differs from singles, and only at low levels can one player win a game, except that you have no way to control the AI on your partner, and he/she 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 his senior doubles partner for doing exactly that and commends you on your teamwork 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 ratedexactly the same, so much for the two being different games, then. This is made even worse when your doubles partner has the audacity to criticize the teamwork of one of the junior doubles teams.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a minor one: at one point, in a plague zone, Shepard has the opportunity to lecture some looters about taking money and supplies from dead people, despite, due to Gameplay and Story Segregation, doing the exact same thing all over the place, including the very same plague zone.
  • 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 extinction, 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 choice. It actually manages to break the aesop that's been shown throughout the entire franchise, from the original Mega Man 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 Mega Man Legends showed a Mega Man fighting against pirates who were terrorizing 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".
  • Metal Gear Solid explicitly delivers its "don't let yourself be ruled by your genes" message during a nice long shot of Liquid Snake's corpse, who was killed by FOXDIE, a virus that targets people based on their DNA. It gets worse as the series progresses, where in the fourth game Solid Snake is dying of old age at 42 because, yep, that's in his genes.
  • 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. Luka even becomes enraged to the point of almost killing one of them when one claims that he has killed 100 monsters (which isn't even true), yet never shows that kind of animosity towards any of the numerous monsters that devour humans or kill them for fun.
    • 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 Erubetie, 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 Erubetie's case, the fans seem to dislike Erubetie not because she chose disproportionate retribution against the humans but because she had the temerity to feel negatively about humans at allnote .
  • 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!
  • Used deliberately in Phantasy Star IV, as part of a deconstruction. The entire game (the entire series) sets up a good versus evil, darkness versus light conflict, with the revelation on what Dark Force really is: The sentient Hate Plague spawn of a Cosmic Horror that opposed the god-like creator of the sentient races of Algo, who created them and the solar system itself to keep it imprisoned. But Chaz realizes that all this means is that the only difference between the good guys and the bad guys is what side of the prison door they're on, and taking up the light side's cause means doing exactly what makes the bad guys bad.
  • 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.
    • And for one more nail in the coffin, take the first game and consider Blue and Giovani, the first being your rival who when you ultimately defeat him is told he doesn't love his pokemon enough and that's why he lost, and the second being a crime boss. Sure, the aesop comes out on top since you're the one who won those fights, but these two people are the former Pokemon League Champion and the 8th Gym Leader, two of the most prestigious titles of the whole region. So friendship might be the best, but you can sure get far without it if you try.
    • 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 editing her mother's memory of the car accident that ruined her life. Originally, Nilin threw a temper tantrum over a toy and unbuckled her seatbelt, requiring Scylla to intervene for safety's sake and distracting her from the road (causing her to blame Nilin); after the remix, Scylla was just a sloppy, irresponsible driver (and thus blames herself). 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.
    • Almost all of the memories that Nilin remixes involve ruining someone else's life, by 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. Only one of these has any negative consequences for her personally, while the others all work out in Nilin's benefit and end up disasters for countless others. Moreover, the amnesia she suffers from the beginning of the game which is self-inflicted, as she turned herself in, gives her the opportunity to continue on as a Memory Hunter without a past to weigh her down and gain the perspective she needs to confront her problems. So, it's wrong to want to escape painful memories even if that's the only way to heal your emotional wounds, but it's heroic to fabricate painful memories on others and completely change who they are if that gets them out of your hair.
  • 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...
  • 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's father was killed by Sagat. As of Super Street Fighter IV, however, this Aesop may have been redeemed as per Gouken's win quote to Guile. In SFIV Vanilla, Gouken tells him that power will not expunge his grief. By Super, Gouken is astounded that Guile hs turned his anger into "strength of heart".
  • 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.
      • There's a bit of an Aesop pileup in the context of Alicia, Cordelia, and Damon: Alicia leaves her powers aside because a person isn't defined by their race. Damon is an aristocrat, and therefore evil. Cordelia is the princess and the height of the nobility, but she's not evil because she's a Darcsen and is thus defined by her race.
    • 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?
      • And then there's the Darcsen. They're commonly mistreated as victims of Fantastic Racism, but then we find out that they didn't actually cause the ancient calamity they're hated for, and the blame gets shifted to the Valkyrur where it belongs and the idea that they're the worst things to ever happen in Europa is The Reveal, and the Darcsen are presented as being pretty universally wonderful and not even angry about being mistreated. As it turns out, racism's actually fine, you just have to make sure you hate the correct race.
    • 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 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 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!.
    • Most of the stuff Valkyria Chronicles has to say about war being terrible tends to ring hollow by the later parts of the game because of how thoroughly the story depends on having the villains kill themselves and each other off so that the heroes don't have to. Almost all the major conflicts boil down to Squad 7 mowing down a bunch of faceless enemy soldiers to reach one of the bad guys, and then have one side spare the other so that the good guys won't be caught in the crossfire when another villain takes the first one out. So, yeah, war is bad, but since both sides know which one is good and which one is evil and act accordingly, of course it'll all work out just fine.
  • 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 think that 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, who shoots two separate characters for disagreeing with his interpretation, tries to sexually assault the female main character and threatens a young child immediately after, and is so racist (brings up his problems with the Dutch completely out of the blue in the first conversation with him), intolerant (see the two shootings above), 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.
    • The Mists Of Pandaria was advertised as shown as the evils of War, and the dark measures both sides. Except it ended up as an extreme case of Black and White Morality, as all Alliance characters were portrayed as good, including previously ruthless characters, with all their bad actions blamed on the Sha or the Horde. Meanwhile the majority of the Horde characters were simply portrayed as For the Evulz Motivated badguys.
    • Mists of Pandaria also was supposedly doing an anti racism aesop. They did this via not only making Garrosh, a Generically Evil Fantastic Racist, but also making the Entire Orcish race barring three characters act exactly like this, regardless of previous positive characterization, act exactly like Garrosh. Essentially Fantastic Racism on the part of the writers!
    • In the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, after killing their way through numerous Horde soldiers, a few of whom (like Nazgrim) were actually pretty decent people, the heroes suddenly decide to make a statement about mercy and justice by taking the randomly evil 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.
  • Xeno Gears has an arc, early on, with the core message that drugs are bad. It involves one of the main characters using a certain drug called Drive to grow stronger- unfortunately, it also turns her into a murderous lunatic, and she is only broken out of this after a tense "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight. All well and good, until Drive is available to buy in unlimited quantities later on, and gives unlimited stat boosts to your characters, with no negative effects whatsoever.
  • Zap Dramatic's games are intended to teach players how to negotiate with people. In this regard, it fails spectacularly, with 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, and therefore somehow not responsible for his own actions.
      • The full explanation is that Ted at the time was under a drug that made him act that way; the sanity call was from people 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 beating the player character to death for no reason whenever you fail the interview with him in the third part, escaping police custody, and holding you at gunpoint because he's "got nothing to lose", all while in 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, 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. Even if you manage to get a good ending, the coach rewards you for your integrity by skirting his own rules to allow you to stay on the team while everyone else who had your same problem got cut. So "integrity" means you should never butt heads with anyone with more authority over you unless they owe you a punishment, but that definition only applies to you. Authority figures are welcome to break whatever rules they want in order to play favorites because their integrity cannot be challenged.
    • 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, but 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.
      • There's a little aside where you can stand up for a girl being picked on. If you do, you get a colorful animated musical number where you and the girl rock out to her anti-bullying song... which is kind of an amateur emo-rock hate song about how much better she is than the other kids. It doesn't help that if you don't stand up for her, she does the song anyway, and she pretty much just dances by herself in a mundane school
  • Daccat's Island in Skies of Arcadia is built in such a way that it requires two groups of people cooperating together to make it to the center where the late pirate's treasure is being held. Once Vyse and company make it to the center, though, they find nothing but a single coin (Daccat knew better than to hoard his gold forever, and spent it while he was still alive) and a note extolling The Power of Friendship and how it's the real treasure. Except that when you get back to the nearest Sailor's Guild, the guildmaster there is willing to pay you a small fortune for that antique coin you took with you.