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 every five or so years because nuclear proliferation doesn't exist in its universe. 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.
Ace Attorney often tells us that the ends never justify the means. This is even repeated often enough to the point of being Arc Words of Case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Granted, we do see several examples of Amoral Attorney, Dirty Cop, Hanging Judge, etc. However, there are also just as many instances where someone has no choice but to use said "means" to save the day. In the very first game, Mia Fey is forced to blackmail Redd White into turning himself in, as he just has too much money and influence to be taken down cleanly. And later games show main protagonists like Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix Wright ultimately being forced to resort to illegal evidence to take down villains who are similarly "above the law". The idea of "the end justifies the means" as it's used in Turnabout Academy seems as if it's related to the idea of achieving a desirable outcome by using underhanded methods for one's own personal gain, rather then the broad idea of using illegal methods. This is demonstrated by the acts of the case's main villain along with a speech that Athena gives to him, where she says that his desire to use any means to twist the truth towards his selfish goals makes him the very embodiment of "the dark age of the law". The case's use of pushing the saying "the end justifies the means" as toxic is the primary problem, as that phrase alone does not really convey the point the game was trying to put across.
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 alsofor 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...
In Misha's Story, it's more of a case of Values Dissonance In-story. Misha has to sing to keep the Omnicidal Reyvateil from waking up and unleashing terror over the whole world and, at that point of the story, they didn't know Mir was even a being that could be talked to, much less reasoned with. For the rest of the party, it's understandable that they value the world's safety above a single girl's personal happiness.
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.
Bravely Default many characters tell you to go against what is expected of you. By doing this, however, you will get a bad ending that cuts the story short with no real closure. What you are supposed to do is... just repeat what you have been doing the whole game many, many times, completely ignore the hints that what you are doing might not be a good idea and pretend to be surprised when things go downhill. Only then you can fight the True Final Boss and get the Golden Ending.
Unless by "go against what is expected of you" they mean the player is expected to stop awakening the crystals, and they should defy that by just keep awakening them until the true final boss reveals himself.
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.
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 Dragon Age: Inquisition, if you ask party member Iron Bull about his exotic culture, he'll say that most Qunari don't think much about the Qun, the overcompassing religious philosophy that dictates their lives. They may have different beliefs than most of Thedas, but the average Qunari is still a normal person with the same mundane concerns as anyone else. To give an example, he describes how a Qunari baker cares not about the Qun or war politics, but running her business, just like a baker in human lands. However, Bull's personal quest is solely about whether or not he fits in with the culture. The player has to help him decide whether to save a Qunari war ship or his mixed-race mercenary company The Bull's Chargers; the former will sacrifice his friends, while the latter will mark him as an outcast to the Qunari. Most players opt for the second choice and it's heavily implied to be the right one. If you save the ship, then in the game's final expansion Trespasser where the Qunari are the villains, Bull will betray you without a moment's hesitation. After all, you did teach him to place the demands of the Qun above personal friendship. He'll only stay on your side if you got him to save his friends earlier, since he'll have been dismissed by his superiors. So despite his insistence that the Qunari aren't defined by their religion, the only options for his quest are to cut him off from his culture completely, or let it dictate his allegiance and you're ultimately forced to kill him.
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 few 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 (plus how merchants keep a limited stock, meaning you can't just go to the alchemist and buy 5,000,000 worth of healing potions even if you have 5,000,000 to spend) and your attempts to get rid of that money being offset by 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 big 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.
Unfortunately, Bethesda wasn't so smart with the 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 displeased with 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 "racism" if you murder the ghouls instead. Even if this comes afterThe 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?
The actual narrative of the Fallout series does not shy away from pointing out that Drugs Are Bad, as they are produced and sold almost exclusively by terrible people and used by people who are, at absolute best, 'troubled.' They also come with the risk of addiction, even for the player, and some fairly severe stat penalties. However... addiction applies ONLY these vague numeric penalties, and addictions can be removed nigh-effortlessly by certain cheap and readily available methods. So, for the player, drugs are awesome and should be used copiously for great bonuses.
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 villainswinning 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. The two characters who 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 GameJump 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).
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 have faced has used the powers of Darkness to further their own goals or to destroy the Worlds. With the extremely rare exceptions of Riku, Namine, DiZ, and Terra — and even then, they each catch a lot of hell for it — nobody uses Darkness as a benefit, and those aligned with it are almost always evil. It's so one-sided that Mickey explicitly says that Riku is the only person that he's ever met who's actually been able to use Darkness as a good power — and even then, Riku's still half-Light-aligned on top of it. Quite frankly, the "tyranny of Light" seems to be the preferable option. And Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance just reinforces this even more by introducing the setup for the final battle between the Seven Guardians of Light and the Thirteen Seekers of Darkness — guess which side are the antagonists. Furthermore, the Spirit Dream Eaters — The Heartless counterparts meant to embody Dark Is Not Evil — are heavily implied to actually be Yin-Yang Bombs instead of full-on Darkness note They come from positive, not negative, emotions; Riku, explicitly half-Light himself, temporarily becomes one to help Sora in his Dreams; and X reveals that the Spirit partner of someone corrupted by Darkness will turn into a Nightmare (the hostile version of a Dream Eater) as well., thus making the whole Dark Is Not Evil thing seem more like "Dark Is Evil kept in check by equal, if not greater, Light Is Good" anyway.
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.
Kreia also warns against going fully to either side of the Force (seeing full light-side as Stupid Good and full dark as Stupid Evil), instead suggesting a morally neutral stance. Again, this might work in another game, but here you get no rewards whatsoever for staying neutral, while going full Light Side or Dark Side Mastery gives you various really useful stat bonuses and a unique superpower after a point. Not to mention that agreeing with what she says often incurs dark side points anyway. And the fact that the writing in this game is better than the first, so being Stupid Good or Stupid Evil is an option, rather than the only option as it tends to be in the first game.
Life is Strange has a lot to say about assertiveness, decisions, and consequences, and having the courage to make the most of your gifts and achieve your dreams. But then the endings happen. Sacrificing Chloe means negating everything you did for the entire game so that it never happened, but all the loose ends tie themselves up anyway, so Max essentially saves the day by hiding in a bathroom stall and deliberately choosing not to act. Sacrificing Arcadia Bay means Max and Chloe ride off into the sunset with no consequences at all, because the tornado that Max caused inadvertently has destroyed everything that was stopping them from doing exactly that from the beginning.
This is encapsulated with a scene near the end: Max wins the contest, takes a trip with her class to accept the award, and everything is perfect... but then Chloe calls her in a panic because the tornado is about to kill her, and Max must drop this happy future to save her. The moral breaks again because the only reason Chloe isn't safely on the trip is because she was expelled due to her behavior, and everyone else Max shows any care for is already on the trip with her and out of harm's way. The only way to end that scene is to rescue Chloe at your own expense, again.
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.
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 rejectThe 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.
Worse still is her condemnation of the resistance's actions as 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. She should well understand what little choice they had as she and the other humans were struggling to survive themselves. The Reploids had no more choice in fighting then they did in fleeing. This speech 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 would, 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 the Lighter and SofterMega Man Legends showed a Mega Man fighting against pirates who were terrorizing a city as the heroic action it is. So the moral goes from "Fight for the sake of protecting people" to "Don't ever fight to defend people, even from certain death because tragedy might eventually befall other people in the process".
Nocturne: Rebirth emphasizes that it's possible for anyone to change for the better, including Reviel, the Villain Protagonist. However, this aesop doesn't apply to the non-Ancestor Devils, who are mentally programmed to be Always Chaotic Evil. As such, Reviel's attempts to reason with one of the more sentient Devils fall flat.
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.
Persona 4 will spend the entire game beating you over the head with how important it is to accept the truth, no matter how awful it is. This is consistent for most of the game, until you get to some of the social links. They have a tendency to backpedal on the message by presenting a personal conflict, taking steps to resolve that conflict, and then concluding it by not resolving the conflict and realizing that the thing that made them miserable the whole game is really just the thing that makes them happy. It also means they don't rock Japanese society's boat.
Ai Ebihara's backstory is that she was bullied for being overweight as a child, and eventually she comes to the conclusion that beauty isn't about the way you look, but the sort of person you are. However, the cast's classmate Hanako is just about every negative stereotype of a fat girl rolled into one; sure, her personality isn't the best (not that she's ever given the chance for Character Development outside of a small instance of Pet the Dog), but it's obvious that every scene where she's treated as the butt of the joke has to do with her appearance...and the fact that she doesn't care about how she looks, which would otherwise be a great message for a game that's so obsessed with staying true to yourself. In fact, just about every Jerk Ass in the game is alsoextremely unattractive, something fans have criticized a fair amount.
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 By comparison, your starter, when fully evolved, will have a BST of 534 - Garchomp's is equal to that of a legendary. 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 lowering your Pokémon's hidden Friendship stat requires you to go out of your way, but virtually everything you would do normally during the course of the game raises its 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 Pokémon 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. ExceptN, that is.
It should also be noted that the moral is never "Don't use strong Pokémon" but "Use Pokémon because you want to use them regardless of strength". If you happen to want to use strong Pokémon because you like them then the moral stands, it gets broken if the reason you want to use them is because they are strong.
Averted in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, though, where an NPC in the Battle Resort basically admits that some species are useless in competitive battling.
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. Even Nilin herself is only able to function from the start of the game because she's lost the memories of whatever happened to her that put her in prison in the first place.
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 causing 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.
In a more general sense, the memory-erasing technology is shown to be a way for people to escape from horrible, traumatic experiences, but as we see from Nilin's example, giving up all your memories willingly is a safe alternative to suicide, and it turns out that the Leapers' warped minds and bodies aren't from simple addiction. H30 is forcing vulnerable users to take on deleted memories, with the implication that "vulnerable" means "weak-willed and strongly empathetic". Bad memories are important to who we are, even if they're not our bad memories... but having those memories will turn us into violent, insane monsters? What?
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...
The thought did come up. But ultimately we decided to take it out, or not implement the idea, for two reasons. One, we felt that... Like I was saying, we wanted the loading screens to feel like it wasn't just an attack on Walker in the game, but specifically designed to attack the player. We wanted the choice for the player to fall in line with the same thing. If the player wants to stop this journey they can stop playing the game.
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 EvilGrigori. 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.
The main plot thread of Tales of Legendia resolves when Shirley realizes that just because Senel doesn't love her romantically doesn't mean that he doesn't care about her, An Aesop that a man and a woman can deeply care about each other without the need for romance. The second half of the game has Chloe's entire Character Quest be about her romantic feelings for Senel, and ends not when she gets over her need to be with Senel, but when she steps aside for Shirley, who ends up engaged to Senel!
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. The justice system is shockingly corrupt and ineffectual, yet Flynn does not propose any immediate solution to allowing powerful mass murderers walk free to continue their crimes. Since the justice system can't really touch them, what Flynn is proposing is that people get used to it until an idealistic young hotshot can gain enough power and influence to single-handedly reform the corrupt courts. Frankly, if the Empire was a corrupt as we saw it was; it may have ended with a sword in Flynn's back! While the game's intended Aesop was "justice is subjective," the Lawful Stupid Flynn comes off as far more in the wrong than the Chaotic Good Yuri.
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 there are still bad races anyway, and if you're from one of them, 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), apologizes, and 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 equivalent of the Geneva convention against his enemies, and after he loses, 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 instead!
Godlimations' Vorago bases its story off of the Biblical description of the 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 with little prompting (one for disagreeing with his interpretation of what's going on, and another for having a problem with the first time), 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.
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.
This is partially repaired in that expansion, as Garrosh's fight with Thrall has the former berating the latter for putting too much responsibility on his shoulders too quickly - Thrall grew into leadership, whereas Garrosh (from his perspective) had it thrust upon him, which ties into his original appearance in the Burning Crusade expansion, where he was crippled with self-doubt after learning what his father had done.
Xenogears 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 multiple times (even if people behind the scenes are deliberately letting him out - but even that's to pin their own crimes on him, because they know he'll take the option every time), and holding you at gunpoint because he's "got nothing to lose" ("nothing" including his still-hidden children whose disappearance inspired those atrocities), all while in his normal state of mind. Add to that, he doesn't express any real regret for his past actions while under the drug, even going so far as to try to justify them as things anyone would have done at the time.
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 if and when you fail to complete it on your own a few times.
"The Negotiator" is about trying to talk your way out of a speeding ticket. While a lot of people find themselves in such a situation, the game seems to suggest that the best way to get off the hook is "start crying uncontrollably." That's Appeal to Pity, at best. It's certainly not negotiation.
"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.
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 To be fair, however, it only earns you Persuasion Power, and the guidance mouse explicitly tells you that cheap victories can just as quickly become defeats, but still.
The boys' storyline outright encourages bullying. First, there's the stolen bike plot, where you gain persuasive power and become the leader of your peer group by shoving Dave off his bike, taking it for yourself, and making fun of his stutter when he confronts you. Then there's the actual bike recovery plot, where it's revealed that the bike really wasn't yours, but you actually lose Persuasive Power and your leadership if you admit you made a mistake and apologize; if you refuse, there's nothing anyone can do about it, so you keep your position. The mouse says cheap wins can become losses, but they never actually do; the only way to actually lose is to treat a smaller, weaker boy with a handicap with respect.
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. For good measure, it then also assumes that, since you're one of the few who wouldn't react to a situation with violence, you're probably better off playing as a girl.
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 hallway, utterly submerged in her own imagination and making everybody else kind of uncomfortable. Even before that, the other kids point out that she gets picked on because she's an outspoken braggart who pushes other kids around; in one of the classroom scenes, she actually punches another student for no apparent reason.