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Mood Whiplash: Video Games
"Flint.... ...I'm not sure what to say... But just stay calm and hear me out. I have good news, and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first...? No, let me start with the good news first. I picked up a giant "Drago Fang". It'll make for a great weapon. I figured you could probably use it. ......As for the bad news... ......The bad news is... ............ ...It's where I found the Drago Fang. It was...... In your... ...It was pierced through your wife's heart."
Bronson, setting the mood for a game that has mastered this trope.note 

  • Crossover with Nightmare Fuel: For such a funny, lighthearted game, Portal 2 gets surprisingly disturbing when the lights in GLaDOS's lair turn red and she screams in auto-tuned agony as her module gets ripped from the Aperture Science computer system.
    • Which is immediately followed by Wheatley taking over and letting the player go. Except he doesn't, and outright attacks them.
    • Not to mention the ending, when GLaDOS, having just saved you from being sucked into space, acts genuinely relieved that you're all right and tells you that all along, you've been her greatest friend. This heartwarming moment is ruined when she deletes Caroline and reverts to her old passive-aggressive vitriol. But then she tells you she's letting you go, but just because she doesn't want you ruining her life anymore, and just as you're not sure how to feel, the elevator doors open on a group of turrets... who don't shoot you, but rather serenade you with a beautiful opera song. If your head isn't spinning after that....
  • Happens often in Left 4 Dead 2, thanks to the automatic in-game dialogue.
    Ellis: ...Y'all... Y'all, I'm hurt.... Look, guys, KIDDIELAND!
  • Done very deliberately in Dragon Age II at several times. The plot of the game is a report of the events of the last years given by Loveable Rogue Varric to an Inqusitor who needs to know what really happened to find a way to contain the major crisis that is currently sweeping the world. Also being a successful novelist who wrote several adventure novels based on his own experiences, he occasionally tries to get around the darker parts of the report by just making up over the top hilarious scenes, which then suddenly cut back to the interrogation room where the inqusitor tells him to stop the silliness and tell her what actually happened. Then you get to start the level again, but that time it is a lot darker and creepy.
    • Of course, the scene in question dealt with a very personal and uncomfortable matter in Varric's past. He probably just didn't want to talk about it and/or felt it wasn't really relevant to the story.
    • Hawke, when played as a smooth-talking joker, sometimes invokes this. While Snarky!Hawke is irreverent and unflappable most of the time, if their family is threatened, they will switch from sarcasm to Fury so fast it catches most people off guard.
    Snarky!Hawke: I'm sorry to interrupt this lovely student-teacher reunion but WHERE IS MY MOTHER?!
    • The "On the Loose" sidequest that deals with three escaped mages in Act III is the epitome of this. Dealing with Emile de Launcet is a fairly lighthearted and hilarious little affair. Dealing with Huon insane Blood Mage who murders his wife to summon demons and Evelina insane abomination that you have to kill in front of her adopted children is horrifying and heartwrenching. And you can deal with them in any order.
    • Less intentionally, the more lighthearted bits of party banter can result in this if they trigger right after something dramatic. It's possible to hear Merrill making fun of Anders' feathery coat about a minute after she's had to kill her teacher, and possibly her *entire clan*.
  • In the original game, the Return to Ostagar DLC counts: a lonely, snowy, desolate battlefield, the ravaged, mutilated corpse of King Cailan, the heartbreaking funeral pyre, the menacing orc necromancer, and—if you brought both of them along—Wynne and Alistair flirting with each other. (Bonus points if you're playing a female Warden who's romancing Alistair at the time.)
  • The Zelda series is known for this. Examples include:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a fair bit of it, but an especially abrupt example is the transition from Kakariko Village to the Royal Family Tomb. The former is a small, peaceful village with a friendly population. (And if the in-game time is daytime, very pleasant music playing in the background; otherwise no music at all.) The latter is a gloomy dungeon with bones scattered across the floor, as well as pools of a mysterious green chemical, and zombies walking around, as you go further into the dungeon. The transition between the two? Kakariko Village is connected to the Graveyard, and one of the Graveyard's tombstones leads directly to the Royal Family Tomb when it is destroyed by LIGHTNING upon Link playing Zelda's lullaby next to it. Or alternatively, just a hole in the ground every other time you revisit the Graveyard AFTER that.
    • Used to bewildering effect in the Great Bay area of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. You've pushed poor Mikau to the shore, but you've come too late, and he's dying! His last words will surely be dramatic and plot-important, right? If by dramatic, you mean "Hopping up and pulling out a guitar and singing about how his girlfriend got pregnant and won't talk anymore, before collapsing and asking you to 'heal his soul'" then yes. It is very "dramatic".
      • What makes Mikau's death scene even more bizarre is the fact that, after pushing him to shore, you get a short cutscene of him staggering around and collapsing. Since it's before he whips out the guitar, it makes you wonder even more where he got that sudden burst of energy from...
      • Also, the cutscene right before the final dungeon, which goes from nice to creepy to nice and back again once you get to the dungeon. The day is seemingly saved, and Tatl and Tael are reunited. But then the mask separates from Skull Kid and starts talking, the moon opens its mouth, talks, and starts forcing itself downward, and you get swallowed up inside it. What's inside of the moon? A beautiful, peaceful field with birds chirping and children frollicking around a large tree. Of course, then you notice that the children are all wearing masks of the bosses you have killed, and the one wearing Majora's Mask is sitting all alone and staring, and it becomes scary again.
    • There is then The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Silent Realms, which are nice and relaxing, until the guardians wake up and come after you.
    • And in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, we have the beginning, where the worst conflict is a child being trapped with a monkey by a couple of mooks or Link's friend getting mad over a very slight leg injury on Epona. Right at the most happy, peaceful moment, where your friend is telling you to have a safe trip delivering a present, all hell breaks loose, and a group of monsters kidnap several children, shooting one with an arrow and knocking Link unconscious, Link chases after them, only to be dragged into a shroud of darkness and transformed into a wolf with a display of Body Horror before getting thrown in prison.
  • The Yakuza series is built on this trope. The game has a hard boiled, serious plotline lifted straight from the Yakuza genre... and then some of the most ridiculous sidequests in the history of gaming. So you have a scene where a character loses a family member to a betrayal by his closest friend, and then in between punishing those responsible, you can go ahead and help a flatulent man in a unitard who fights crime, but only when he eats curry.
  • Quintessence - The Blighted Venom - When scenes abruptly change from a Vikon (might or might not be with Salory) comic relief moment to something dead serious.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 veered sharply away from the angst and tragedy of its predecessor, going for a more lighthearted, fun experience. The game itself slides up and down from drama to comedy, though the switching points are rather clearly marked.
  • The tragic yet inevitable ending of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core in which Zack dies is rather jarringly offset by the peppy Jpop playing over the game credits.
    • The song is called "Why", nothing about it sounds happy. At all.
  • Final Fantasy VI gives us a scene where Terra, during two separate chats with Leo and Shadow, is wondering whether it is possible for her to love a human (since she is half-Esper) and angsting about not understanding what love even is. It's all quite touching up to the point where a seasick Locke comes tumbling out of the cabin and pukes over the railing, complete with goofy music to underscore the whiplash.
    • It goes the other way, too: after Locke and Terra find the escaped Espers at Crescent Island and bring them back to Thamasa, everyone is confident that peace is returning to the world. Then Kefka shows up, captures all the Espers, kills Leo, and causes an entire continent to rise up into the sky.
    • Sabin's story arc is FULL of this. Cut from Sabin meeting a kooky old hermit who mistakes him for a repair man, to Cyan's friends, family, and king being painfully killed by Kefka poisoning their water supply. Shortly after that, we go from eating food served by ghosts and suplexing trains to Cyan desperately chasing after the spirits of his wife and child as they are carried off into the afterlife.
  • Happens a lot in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but the normal ending takes the cake by far. Noel and Serah return from the end of time to be reunited with all their friends, having defeated Caius and restored the timeline. Hope's ark, a new home for mankind, ascends bravely into the sky. Fang and Vanille have been rescued from Cocoon's crystal pillar, presumably to awake soon from their centuries long stasis. Lightning can finally rest after being locked in endless combat for an immeasurable length of time. There's even a soothing pop song playing behind all these events. And then Serah suddenly DIES. And then it goes From Bad to much worse. When Caius forced Noel to kill him, he also killed the goddess Etro, which is what Caius wanted. Because of this, Academia becomes Valhalla, and everyone's pretty much screwed.
  • The Tales Series often gets like this with skits, which are conversations between your party members that can be (optionally) viewed by pressing a button. They are often very, very silly, and focused on such subjects as characters' outfits, shipping, and commentary on the plot. While sometimes the skits are serious during darker plot moments, other times your party will decide to start with the snarky banter when very serious events are going on.
    • Another common Level Breaker in the series is the title system, where your characters collect descriptions that you can "equip." Usually, every character has a few titles gotten through plot events. The game will happily interrupt those plot events to tell you, with a little jingly Item Get noise, that the character who just betrayed you earned the title "Traitor." Another particularly notorious one is "Luke earned the title Replica Model!" from Tales of the Abyss.
    • Similarly, Tales of Symphonia and "Colette learned Judgement!"
  • Kingdom Hearts, especially Kingdom Hearts II. In some worlds, serious conversations are interrupted by some humorous moments between the heroes' party. They're not out-of-place (this is a Disney game, after all), but some of them don't make sense. For example, there is a moment in Port Royal where Sora and Goofy comment that they are surprised that Donald didn't give up to the treasure's curse (implying that Donald is greedy, although Donald never was in that world.) And then there's Atlantica ("Let's forget about our mission and... SING!!").
  • The Kirby franchise follows the adventures of the titular bright pink, insanely cute fluffball through a primarily Sugar Bowl world. The Final Bosses of many Kirby games, however, are significantly darker than the rest of the game. 0 and 0^2, the final bosses of Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards respectively, even attack Kirby by squirting blood.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, for the past seven chapters, has been very non-serious and lighthearted; everything's played for laughs. Just last chapter, for example, your workshop leader recruited an adorable pink blob alien thing that may or may not be intent on taking over the world. Aww. But wait, what's this? "This was the last time I really enjoyed being at school..." in the end of chapter summary? Well, crap. On entry into chapter 8, cue descent into more serious grounds, like a close friend's ailing physical health, learning some slightly offsetting facts about the history of alchemy, a teacher murdering one of your True Companions, and watching the mental stability of the Posthumous Character decline in the beginning chapter flashbacks. Oh, by the way. The main character isn't human. Watch as everyone in the school but your friends reject/accuse/fear one of the most timid/nice characters in the game. Oh, did we mention that Posthumous Character? Yeaah... turns out he committed suicide by having the main character kill him because he was guilty of an act he did. And at the very end, attempted (and possibly successful depending on what ending you got) suicide because he'd thought it'd be better for everyone! Curse you, chapters 11 and 12.
  • .hack//G.U.. After some 2 or 3 missions regarding the plot, you can be sure one of your friends (who, probably, was already thrown out of the main plot) will call you to play some random quest. While in the first game this is optional, in the other two it isn't. It doesn't help that the quests are not even a little bit fun.
    • There are other examples, for example, the flowers and lace addition to the camera when Saku gushes over Endrance, and the flying friendship glomp that Haseo is subjected to by Silabus and Gaspard, in contrast to some of the more intense moments (someone becoming comatose or realizing how badly you're being manipulated).
      • Or seeing the slightly disturbing final boss roar at Skeith in a way not really normal for the series.
  • Chulip is based around a young boy trying to kiss as many people as possible in order to win the heart of his crush. He's lucky if the characters are human rather than animals, eggplant-headed boys, or people with telephone poles for bodies. The game is unapologetically nonsensical. However, there's a section of the game where he encounters the spirit of a very sweet girl who was in a car accident, but prayed that she would live no matter what. Over the course of several visits it becomes clear she's stuck between life and death in a body that's slowly falling apart and a mind that's beginning to fade. You eventually set her free by helping her remember who she was by bringing her tea to her boyfriend, the stone lion who runs the bathhouse, with her eye in your pocket and drinking her tea where she can see him. It's very touching. ...and then you're right back to kissing men in gimp suits and small Godzilla parodies.
  • Part of the reason for Beyond Good & Evil's poor sales reception may lie in its mixture of Funny Animal characters and silly gags straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon with a number of touching and intensely emotional scenes. Then again, most of it works pretty well, since the funny generally stays far away from the most poignant scenes, and if it doesn't, it works to enforce the friendship between the characters.
  • Super Mario RPG: After defeating the Giant Bipolar Medieval Knight From Nowhere Boomer, you're treated to an overly dramatic, somewhat depressing cutscene featuring Boomer effectively committing suicide, accompanied by the game's "Mallow is sad" theme. The next second, your party is doing a goofy dance to the happy, bouncy Midas River music as you ride a Shy Guy-powered chandelier up to the roof of Bowser's Castle.
    • It's Mario, the same guy who was (much later) overjoyed at the sight of Bowser being horrifically burned into Dry Bowser in New Super Mario Bros.. He couldn't care less about traumatic deaths.
    • Also Chapter 7 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door does this. Up until now, it was a pretty lighthearted, funny game. Then Lord Crump apparently dies, you discover that TEC the computer is dying, and then TEC blows up itself and the moonbase. And then, in Chapter 8 you enter the door and things get DANGEROUS, culminating in Peach getting possessed by the Shadow Queen, who has been built up as one of the most dangerous and evil villains the series.
    • And what about its sequel Super Paper Mario? It's like a giant, continual mood-whiplash, including Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser apparently getting killed. Yeah, that's right. Whereas Peach goes to heaven, Mario, Bowser and Luigi get chucked down to hell. It turns out none of them were really killed — just sent to the afterlife realms alive, but still... Great.
      • And then there's The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and the second to last chapter, in which Bowser, Peach and Luigi are all seemingly killed apparently have their games ended, one by one. After we watch the Luigi vs. Dimentio match go to the Underwhere, we reach the star block and are treated to the peppy "End of Chapter!" music.
    • At the end of Super Mario Galaxy, Mario defeats Bowser by literally throwing him into the Sun, then flying back to get Peach and the two start to dance in space. Cue Bowser watching in fear as his own galaxy starts to collapse and destroy the universe.
      • And at the end of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario looks like if he had finally defeated Bowser for the last time and is about to get the last Grand Star when all of a sudden, Bowser literally flies back up, eats said Grand Star and becomes even larger than before, therefore setting the stage for the real final battle.
  • While the seemingly mandatory slapstick quotient in point-n-click Adventure Games makes Mood Whiplash pretty common to the genre, Beneath a Steel Sky takes the cake:
    Your mother dies when you're stranded in a chopper crash, you're named after a Foster's beer label by the feral garbage gatherer tribe that adopts you and build a cute robot pal, your entire tribe is murdered by stormtroopers sent to kidnap you, funny shenanigans with a mechanic and your snarky robot buddy, a man is brutally sawn in half by a beam from one of the omnipresent and previously innocuous security cameras, funny shenanigans with an upper class nitwit boss and a cute girl, you discover that the city is being taken over by biomechanical clones of the citizenry as part of a scheme by an Evil Computer (oh, and the cute girl? You find her corpse LITERALLY stuffed in a locker like garbage after she dies offscreen... Due to radiation poisoning from the thoughtless orders of her boss, totally unrelated to the Big Bad's conspiracy!), more funny shenanigans, You descend into a Womb Level full of Body Horror and your once snarky and wisecracking robot buddy is forced into a new body that leaves him incapable of expressing any emotions, funny shenanigans with The Ditz clone, you upload your robot buddy into a monstrous half-formed human clone body, discover that the Evil Computer corrupting the city is in fact the Enemy Within of the computer's unfortunate creator, who accidentally turned the computer homicidally insane after attaching a neural interface and exposing it to the evil lurking in his own unconscious mind. Said creator is revealed to be your now emaciated father, who dies at your feet begging forgiveness after having been trapped in the interface chair for the last two decades. The evil computer disconnects him from life support and demands that you take his place, which will result in a horrifying Nonstandard Game Over. After you figure out the solution? Funny shenanigans with the mechanic from the start of the game and the cute girl's boss. Seriously Revolution, what were you thinking!?
  • Grim Grimoire starts off seemingly as a relatively light-hearted Magic School drama... but towards the end of Lillet's five days there, it rapidly turns dark, with the Sealed Evil in a Can escaping, culminating in everyone but the main character dying. The player actually knows this is coming in advance, but it's still shocking in its suddenness and intensity—and the fact that, afterwards, the first "Groundhog Day" Loop unexpectedly and suddenly turns the mood back to merely serious doesn't help matters.
  • The bizarre way No More Heroes operates simultaneously on Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny, and Rule of Fun inevitably leads to this. The most jarring example is a moment when it goes from Travis whining comically about how his entrance fee to fight Dr. Peace went to giving him a fine night on the town... to a serious discussion of how Dr. Peace's life as an assassin and dirty Private Investigator has estranged him from ex-wife and daughter, and how both he and Travis are ruthless sociopaths "addicted to blood".
    • And then there's the final battle, where Travis confronts his former lover and realizes she was the killer of his parents, then demands to hear her tragic backstory. She refuses, saying "It's too horrible. It alone would jack up the age rating of this game even further." Travis then gets her speech past the censors by fast-forwarding it, making her voice high-pitched and squeaky, accompanied by his comical reaction shots.
    • Desperate Struggle follows this trope just as much as its predecessor did. The beginning again comes across as crude yet hilarious, especially when you see Travis summon the Glastonbury. But later one starting with Ryuji, the fights stop being funny entirely (except the last fight) with Travis respecting Ryuji's strength, only to get gunned down by Sylvia. Then you come across Alice and Margaret, and Travis is not happy about killing either.
    • The final battle of the second game zigzags drastically between serious and funny. The final confrontation starts before the level, with Travis and Sylvia having sex in one of the most hilarious scenes in the series, then the actual level to the final boss is rather serious and sort of tough. Then you get to the final boss, who looks absolutely ridiculous, but presents Travis with the severed heads of Sylvia, Henry, and Shinobu on platters, and asking him how it feels to lose everything. Then the battle starts, and the boss is so laughably pathetic that you almost feel bad for him. Then he captures and nearly kills Travis, only for Henry to break in and stop him and tell him that the heads are fake. Then the boss turns into a ridiculous superhero looking thing and is absolutely monstrous to defeat. Then he turns into a colossal cartoon creature so ridiculous looking that Henry refused to fight it and left you to fight it alone. Then Travis jumps out the window of a 60 goddamn story building to cut him in half, only afterward realizing that he's about to fall to his death, only to be rescued by Sylvia, ending the game on a slow and sort of touching moment.....which then ends with Sylvia driving up to the Hotel NMH and flinging Travis off the back of a moving motorbike.
    • Also, in the second game, the scenes between the 2nd and 1st assassins cuts from one of the most serious moments to one of the funniest moments.
  • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games do this rather frequently, with the plots being lighthearted and cheery at first, then suddenly taking a dark turn later in the story. The endings also tend to do this multiple times, often in part by following up a serious Tear Jerker with an upbeat credits theme.
    • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team pulls this off when Gengar reveals to the townsfolk that the player is a human and blames their existence as the reason for the slew of natural disasters plaguing the world. Most of your former friends decide that killing you is the answer to the problem, which subsequently leads to you and your partner being run out of town, then fleeing for your lives from an elite team that's taken the duty of your destruction upon themselves. Once this matter is resolved, however, things go right back to as they were before.
      • In the ending, everyone's ready to celebrate now that the world's been saved. Then the player is abruptly forced to depart from the Pokemon world, having fulfilled their purpose. Then, they manage to stay through nothing but sheer willpower.
    • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers has a really memorable example. After a fairly consistently-lighthearted game in the vein of its predecessor, Grovyle has been captured, and Dusknoir returns to his time period... bringing you along. What follows is a long sequence set in the Bad Future of the Pokemon world, wherein you and your partner are almost killed and forced to flee for their lives.
      • The post-credits additional cutscene, in which Diagla brings the player character (and, in the remake, Grovyle and everyone else) back into existence turned an unholy Tear Jerker into the world's absolute best Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • The ending of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity pulls this off very nicely, with everybody celebrating after the world's been saved. Then the hero is informed that they need to leave the Pokemon world the next day, as presence of humans goes against the laws of nature and threatens to warp the very fabric of reality, and worse, that everyone's memories of them will fade away. However, they realize after receiving a final message from their friends as they depart, they weren't forgotten after all. But then they don't come back in the post-credits scene like the other games...
  • Pokemon Black 2 and White 2: During the intense, action-packed section of the main story between the scene where Team Plasma freezes Opelucid City and the epic showdowns aboard the Plasma Frigate and in the Giant Chasm, you have to get your 8th and final Gym Badge in a laid-back seaside resort town filled with blissful vacationers. Your rival won't even let you continue chasing down the villians until you get the badge.
  • Elite Beat Agents: You play the game for a while and the tone of the game sets itself fairly clearly, it's downright wacky with Automobile CEO heirs playing Ninja, a speed freak taxi driver outrunning the law to get an expecting mother to the hospital et al, and then you get to Mission 12: A Christmas Gift. The opening FMV looks simple enough, a father heads out to a job and his young daughter asks for a girl teddy bear to go with her male one for Christmas. No problem there, will probably be some hilarious level dealing with getting the bear in question. The FMV jumps to a few months on, the mother states that the father's "had an accident" and "will not be able to come home". Wait, what?
    • This is a once-a-game tradition for the Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan series of which EBA is an American counterpart. All three are considered extremely effective, at that.
    • The notable part is that in the final song for both EBA/Ouendan 2 had the young daughter and the sister of a figure skater who died after she had an argument with earlier participating in the final song in a hot-blooded fashion, neither Tetsu (the deceased husband of a widow whom they had an argument with) or his wife was in the final song (they do appear in the credits), also the song maintained a sadder tone then the other tear jerkers (For example, no Ouedan style OMG moment when you get 50s in that song, rather it was Tetsu being even more distant from his wife as he tries to say he loves her but wouldn't listen.)
  • Painkiller was a straightforward first-person shooter until the Asylum level, which was almost completely devoid of lights and filled with invulnerable ghosts that could damage Daniel. It was like a light version of Shalebridge Cradle from Thief: Deadly Shadows. After that, the game went back to its normal intense tone.
    • Don't forget the amputees.
    • The Orphanage anyone? Decapitated children, schoolgirls that burst into flame and scream in agony while attacking you, a giant butcher who devours the childrens' souls and cooks their bodies, children wrapped in bedsheets that explode into gorey say absolutely nothing of the iron maidens and other torture implements in the environment. One of the squickiest is the giant teddy bear in one room whose stomach has been split vertically, with a gore patch underneath it...
  • Mother 3 begins with the usual Earthbound-style humor, even amid the search for Flint's missing family in the first chapter, right up to the moment when an NPC tells you he's got good news and bad news: the good news is that he found a Drago's tooth which could be used as a weapon. The bad news is that it was found pierced through the heart of Flint's wife.
    • The endgame could also count as well. You arrive in the bustling, amusement park-like New Pork City, go up the strange and whimsical Empire Porky Building and are even shown a welcome bit of nostalgia from EarthBound in the form of a boat ride. Then, suddenly you encounter the sinister Big Bad, Porky (who was The Dragon in the last game and abused time travel, causing him to age unnaturally until he became the bed-mech ridden manchild we see in this). After a battle with Porky's 'bots a trapdoor opens causing the party and Flint to fall, Tower of Terror-style, 100 stories down into an underground cave. Battles commence and eventually we see Claus, Flint's son and Lucas' twin, finally come to his senses after serving Porky for a long time, but committing suicide right after.
    • EarthBound itself had its moments. The generally happy-go-lucky nature of the game made the abrupt switch to horror at the end all the more terrifying.
      • To elaborate, the game is bright, happy, goofy, and random for the most part, until an abrupt shift near the end where your heroes find out that organic matter cannot withstand time travel and have to be turned into robots to fight Giygas, who has gone mad and lost his body and mind. Even worse, Giygas' lines are inspired by what the creator remembered as a rape scene from an R-rated movie that scarred him as a little kid.
      • Heck, we can probably pin this trope down as the entire point of the Mother/Earthbound series. It looks cute and cuddly, with this undercurrent of dissonant weirdness, then you get to the ending and suddenly it's pure psychological horror and Nightmare Fuel. This is probably the cause of it's small, yet super-devoted fanbase - if it were either pure cuteness or pure horror, it would have been much more forgettable.
      • You don't need to go to the end of Earthbound to see this. We come accross the Happy Happyism cult, a goofy sect that want to make the entire world happy by painting it in blue. They also perform human sacrifices.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Episode 4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, the case seems to be building up to a triumph as Mia is on the verge of proving her defendant innocent and the lying witness guilty. Victory is at hand. Then the defendant begins coughing up blood. He reveals that he'd promised Dahlia that if they ever couldn't trust each other, he would drink the poison hidden in a bottle in her necklace. This is in the courtroom. On the witness stand. Right in front of you. While the game does depict corpses due to most of the cases being murders, this scene is particularly horrific.
    • The Ace Attorney'' games as a whole invoke this trope often. The overall tone of the games is fairly light and satirical; but remember that all cases are framed around often horrible, grisly murders. The fact that the games typically jump right into the snappy comedic dialogue the series is known for mere moments after a corpse is found can be rather jarring.
    • A completely unintentional example: In Justice for All's final case, presenting the wrong evidence to Shelley De Killer causes a scene where Matt Engarde is found not guilty, which leaves Phoenix so depressed that he quits law forever. The whiplash? "The miracle never happen.", an infamous bit of Engrish that was referenced in the subsequent game. This was averted in the European release, where the phrase is spelled correctly.
    • Investigations has one that doesn't involve the murder scene itself, but the reaction to it: Young Kay, having learned that her father is dead, bursts into tears. In an attempt to console her, Edgeworth offers a handkerchief - but Kay, in a moment of either confusion or outright desperation, instead grabs Edgeworth's cravat and blows her nose into it. Wow, emotionally-draining loss of family to comedic bodily functions in about three seconds.
    • The first game has a particularly big one in the fourth case. Nick and Maya are investigating the boat rental place by the lake, and the caretaker is a senile cloudcuckoolander who continually addresses Phoenix as "Keith" and asks him whether he'll agree to inherit his pasta shop, the Wet Noodle. The scene is hilarious right up until Maya, who's been talking to the caretaker's parrot, says, "Polly, Polly! Are we forgetting anything?" and it replies "Don't forget DL-6!"
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the characters have been told they are on a sinking ship and must escape within 9 hours. It doesn't stop them from making jokes and innuendos right and left.
    • The jokes and innuendos continue in Virtue's Last Reward. But perhaps the game's greatest moment of this is during a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in Quark's route when, after Sigma successfully subdues Dio and uses the #9 door to cut his robotic arm off (saving himself from lethal injection), the whole group gathers together in relief. Alice promptly succumbs to Radical-6 and kills herself.
  • Shadow of the Colossus. You finally took down that HUGE Colossus that took half an hour just to climb. Yeah, good job asshole.
  • The Jak and Daxter series pulls this off to an almost masterful degree. The most notable one is the switch between Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and Jak II: Renegade. The first consists of bright, primary colors, a relatively simple story and the heroes saving the day; the second starts off with two years of torture, is set in a totalitarian city under iron rule, and has the hero slowly heading for insanity and death.
  • Liable to happen often due to players in World of Warcraft, but one jarring example where the game itself presents this is the death knight starting sequence. From the get-go, the player and his/her npc allies happily slaughter screaming and pleading innocent peasants, torture crusaders to death, and wreak havoc and destruction across the land. It's cruel, it's evil, it's fun. Then comes the execution quest...
    • Then, immediately AFTER the execution quest, you hide behind a hilariously obvious cardboard tree to ambush a courier.
    • Another case happens when you start playing as a Goblin. Their starting area is one large funny pop culture reference, and the Goblins are all having a good time. Then Deathwing rears his ugly metal head, and suddenly everyone's screaming and running for their lives. And after that, when you evacuate the island, a cinematic starts and its back to funny again.
    • There's plenty of whiplash going on in Cataclysm. For instance, the questlines of Silverpine Forest are truly dark and serious, which is preceded immediately by the new questlines for Hillsbrad Foothills, which are almost all funny. Some are even funny while dealing with a serious subject, such as the wiping out of the largest human settlements in the area, or a Doctor performing experiments deemed horrific even by Forsaken standards- a doctor who also has a crush a blood elf npc named Johnny Awesome, thinking he's a girl.
    • There's also the new questlines for Thousand Needles. It usually begins with the Grimtotems raiding and partially destroying both the Alliance and Horde settlements in the area. Then you reach the speedbarge, which has some truly non-serious moments like the troll boss you just killed following you around as a ghost and talks with his ex-wife who hates him. Then comes the questline with Magartha, who plans on destroying all of Thousand Needles with something that the Twilight Cult created and threatening to kill you if she ever saw you again.
  • Call of Duty 4 has a amazingly brutal and tragic ending. Then during the end credits, it then switches to a rap song by Griggs. Then there is the epilogue which is a Time Crisis style mission on a plane that starts off with an Airplane quip. Seeing those two moments after the ending you have just witnessed is just so jarring.
    • A certain cheat turns the end of one mission into this: you've cornered an enemy officer on the roof of an apartment complex, trying to capture him and find the Big Bad, when he puts his own gun against his chin and commits suicide. In slow motion, his body falls backwards, and goes limp... at which point he explodes into a shower of car tires.
  • Persona 4 gives us two examples. First of all, the game loves to alternate between a suspenseful supernatural murder mystery and a Slice of Life/high school comedy. In addition, for a Shin Megami Tensei game, a series known for it's dark tones and depressing endings, Persona 4 is extremely idealistic and upbeat.
    • One of the most prominent and best examples of this occurs during the month of October, which is possibly the most cheerful period of time in the whole game, the only one where nobody gets kidnapped and without it's own dungeon, and where two of the most cheerful and lighthearted events take place. Then comes November, at the start of which the first Wham Episode happens, and after that follow two months of the darkest period of time in the game, with a completley different atmosphere from the rest of it.
    • Parodied in a famous fan webcomic:
    "Mayumi Yamano was found dead on a TV antenna and that's why you're eating dinner alone tonight. In other news, Junes commercial!"
    "You became friends with Yosuke. >Yosuke will now DIE FOR YOU."
  • Its predecessor Persona3 had a good one as well. The October 4th full moon is genuinely tear jerking when Shinjiro is killed by Takaya. But October 4th was a Sunday, and so you get this lovely statement when you wake up, along with the usual cheery atmospheric music:
    Yesterday was a terrible tragedy. However, you must still go to school today.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune plays as a mix of Gears of "War and Prince of Persia for most of its length (its mix of run-and-gun and exploration with a male protagonist led some to dub it "Dude Raider"). About the 80% mark it makes a sudden left turn into the survival horror genre, when the protagonist discovers that the MacGuffin is not just a rather large slab of gold, but is also a sarcophagus containing what appears to be an ancient South American mummy and some kind of airborne virus or fungus that turns people into mindless killers within seconds of exposure. The upshot of this is that the gun-toting pirates and mercenaries of most of the game are suddenly replaced with screeching grey super-zombies.
  • Eversion. To explain why would spoil things, but suffice to say that there's a reason that warning is on the game's opening.
    • Just in case those who haven't played the game need a further hint, said warning shares the screen with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft.
  • At the end of Gokujou Parodius, you find a cartoon bomb that proceeds to blow up the place; nothing out of the ordinary, considering every other bizarre thing you just witnessed... and then you are treated to a slow pan across the wreckage, and see your character's lifeless body float by, all accompanied with depressing music.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: The serious story and dramatic moments clash somewhat with the goofy radio stations and ads.
    • So does every other damn Grand Theft Auto.
    • An aversion in GTA IV: After a particular mission, Niko actually says something along the lines of, "I'm not in the mood for these annoying ads and DJs," and switches off the radio himself.
    • Grand Theft Auto V gave us a hilariously memorable scene where Michael is drugged by his son and hallucinates that he's flying, but it's not long before audio flashbacks of Michael's family yelling at and disparaging him start playing in the background.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day has a pretty big swing. The game is ridiculously non serious and comical, until just before the final battle, when Conker's girlfriend Berri is fatally shot by The Puma King's right hand man (although the act itself is actually pretty funny because she is riddled with machine gun bullets for a good 30 seconds straight). After Conker defeats the Alien, the game ends with him becoming king of the land the game takes place in, surrounded by his new subjects (characters he met throughout the game). Instead of being happy, he's incredibly depressed because he's stuck in his new position ruling over people he doesn't like, along with his girlfriend being dead. The credits music adds to it by being incredibly somber.
    • The original ending was even worse, with Conker walking into the bar's bathroom, walking up to the mirror, and breaking down in tears. We would then see him raise a gun to his head, and the screen would fade to black, followed by a gunshot. If that doesn't completely contrast the game's funny moments, nothing would!
  • Mega Man Star Force 2. One of the villains is a Replacement Goldfish who sacrifices himself because he loves the woman the man he replaced loved, but he knows he can never take his place. Another one of the villains, for comparison, threatens to tickle the main character's friends.
  • Both Secret Files game has a serious story, and very humorous ending.
  • Fate/stay night, and quite frequently too. Example, in Heavens Feel first we have Sakura, Shirou and Rider in a goofy fight based on Sakura's jealousy - which is less amusing a few days later - before Shirou goes off to get Ilya's help. Berserker gets eaten (and its a bad thing this time) and we have the return of Saber, and now she's all evil and stuff. Plus, Shirou's arm gets disintegrated or something and Archer uses his arm to save Shirou, then he dies. Oh, and the arm will kill Shirou if he uses it. Plus Kotomine points out it's even worse for Sakura. And then Ilya and Tohsaka start arguing about which one of them owns Shirou based on how many times they either saved him or avoided killing him when they could have while light music plays in the background. All in the space of about 6 game hours and significantly less reading.
    • Two Words: Tiger Dojo.
      • To clarify for those who haven't played the game, the Tiger Dojo is an extra scene after every Bad End in the game where two of the characters (one of which is quite minor and complains about her screen time) discuss how the player got this Bad End and what they should have done to avoid it. These are some of the funniest and genuinely enjoyable sections of the game yet they all occur after Shirou has been brutally murdered or something worse has happened.
  • In Another Code after you find out that Ashley's mom is dead, eat the candies you got at the start and she makes a joyful comment of "I love candy!"
  • Psychonauts is a game that can be mildly disturbing or depressing at times, but is also very funny and enjoyable. Then, you get to the final level. Suddenly, you're in a circus made entirely out of meat. You must help save a small child from mutilated bunny monsters (that come out of meat grinders) and eventually fight his dad, a gigantic butcher with meat cleavers. Then, you must deal with an evil version of your own dad, who throws flaming clubs at you while you navigate a very difficult obstacle course in a circus tent which is quickly filling up with instant-death water. Then, the butcher and your evil dad get tossed into a meat grinder and come out as a gigantic, mutilated, two-headed monster. But, hey, the game has a happy ending.
    • There's also a level taking place in the mind of a very happy camp counselor named Milla Vodello. The level is a very upbeat dance party/ levitation training session. However, if you happen to find a hidden room in Milla's mind, you can find a memory that shows her working at an orphanage, which eventually burns down with the children inside. Then, you can ignore Milla's advice not to mess around in that room and enter another room that contains her nightmares about that incident. It's pretty creepy.
      • Worse you go into the mind of the man who did the burning...THE MILKMAN!
    • There's also a level inside the mind of a woman suffering from bipolar disorder. You can manipulate a spotlight to literally switch the mood of the level from happy and carefree to depressing and dangerous.
    • During the level inside your own mind, after you've discovered the memory vault titled The World Shall Taste My Eggs, you climb up the thorn tower and a cutscene is activated in which The Dragon of the game uses a weaponized sneezing powder to make Dogen sneeze his brain out, which is dropped down a chute to be used in an ensuing boss fight. Said dragon goes into the next room, where Lili's being kept.
  • In LEGO Star Wars, Vader's death is treated seriously, while most of the rest of the cutscenes verge on parody. (Even the destruction of Alderaan is Played for Laughs.) Well... seriously until Luke closes the shuttle's ramp, and Vader slides into the shuttle headfirst. Take into effect that the Lego shuttle's ramp is most of the backside of the ship that flips down from the top.
  • Brütal Legend alternates between rock-fueled awesomeness and tragedy. The Mood Whiplash hits first after the final epic battle with Lionwhyte and his hair-metal army, when the demon Doviculus appears, thanks his spy among the heroes, kills Lars, and summons dozens of Bleeding Deaths to destroy the palace, after which Eddie abandons Ophelia and the heroes spend three months in hiding while Doviculus takes over the world and Ophelia throws herself into the Sea of Black Tears and becomes The Dragon. Then the game goes back to heavy-metal awesomeness for a while, at least until Doviculus tears Ophelia's heart out.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 Act 5. YES! We've WON! "Snake, hear me. Our country is an innocent child once more..." Still euphoric... "The time has come... you've earned your rest." Snake huddles on the floor, choking and twitching.
  • Every Disgaea game opens with a dark, grim and ominous narrative...that's immediately followed by the quirkiness and insanity that the series is famous for... And sometimes, it whiplashes back.
  • An admittedly minor example: the victory jingle from Sonic Chronicles. It's odd to lurch from the game's sinister, driving battle music to... cheering children?
  • Sands of Destruction has a light-hearted RPG storyline... about heroes who are out to destroy the world because it really is just that bad and unsalvageable by more conventional means. It... makes for a weird game. Reportedly the less-serious aspects were added later due to Executive Meddling.
  • Mass Effect:
    • This can happen in the first game if you're in good enough standing with both available love interests at one point. So, Virmire. You've had to abandon one of your people to die in order to save another. It doesn't matter whether or not it was your love interest; you'll feel horribly guilty any way you look at it. You've learned that Sovereign is really a Reaper, and Saren is just his mind-controlled puppet. The Council still isn't listening, the geth are still at large, and time is running out before Saren beings back the Reapers for their regularly scheduled meal. You are depressed. You have just left yet another meeting with your wishfully-thinking bosses/impromptu wake for your comrade. And if the right person survives, guess what happens next? A relationship argument.
    • A slightly less severe one occurs in the second game, in which Shepard's angry rant at the Quarian Admiralty Board and major Crowning Moment of Heartwarming at Tali's trial slides into jokes about watching Shepard yell.
    • "Priority: Rannoch" in the third game is a double-whammy. Accomplishment for taking down a Reaper destroyer on foot, then tension as the war between the geth and quarians reaches its climax. If you manage to secure peace, the tone shifts to peaceful (made even sweeter if you're currently in a relationship with Tali), with some sadness at Legion's sacrifice. If not, then no matter which side you're on, things are going to get traumatic, fast.
    • A somewhat logical one occurs during the end of a Paragon playthrough of Miranda's loyalty mission. It makes sense in-game, but watching her go from depressed at being ready to shoot Niket to a berserk rage at Enyala to her very emotional meeting with Oriana within three or four minutes of gameplay was rather sudden.
      • Her Lair of the Shadow Broker dossier is even worse, swinging from hilarity to sadness to pity within the space of a few sentences is pretty horrible. In fact, this is true for most of the dossiers.
    • In Mass Effect 3 you can have Shepard drink him/herself into a stupor at the club. The first time, you wake up next to an unimpressed Aria. The next time you wake up drunk in the elevator and a salarian glares at you before walking away. The whole thing is completely hilarious... until Shepard slowly lowers his/her head and shakes it as if to say, "Where did it all go wrong?"
    • At the end of the Citadel DLC, you can find a datapad left for you by Mordin after his death. It's pretty hilarious, including patter songs, appearances of his on an edutainment show, and lines from a pun-filled noir novel. Then you reach the last entry, and it's Mordin singing, "Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. 'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
      • A more drastic example occurs earlier in the DLC. After the wacky shenanigans of the story mission and lighthearted hang out scenes with your pals, there's the suddenly and completely depressing funeral for Thane, which is taken Up to Eleven if female Shepard romanced him; to date, it's the only time in the entire series where Shepard visibly cries. This can be immediately followed up by more lighthearted hang out scenes with your pals, and/or a big party played completely for laughs. The effect is so jarring that it's one of the few complaints people have about an otherwise well-received DLC.
      • A more amusing incident from the same DLC is the romantic version of Kaidan's visit to Shepard's apartment. Their moment of domestic fluff is ruined by Shepard asking if they have hotsauce. Kaidan seems to be contemplating braining Shepard with the skillet.
    • Hell, the Citadel DLC itself qualifies for this trope. Mass Effect 3 is a game with War Is Hell as a central premise and loaded to the gills with one Sadistic Choice after another and named characters dropping like flies. There are three DLC: one is a creepy quest to track down and try to recruit an amoral Eldritch Abomination, another is helping a sadistic crime lord reclaim her underworld empire with no help from your True Companions, and then there's Citadel, a wacky hijinks-filled caper that none of your squadmembers take seriously and ends with a dance party. And the best place to initiate this is in the midst of Shepard's Heroic BSOD.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time. One second, the duo is bidding each other farewell. The next, we're grinning at Clank's, "I always thought that you were the sidekick." The next... Ratchet is dead. You may be a little dizzy after that. It totally works, though. It's near the end of the game, and we already think that we've defeated the final boss. Even those who were suspicious of Alister would have set the WMG aside by that point, in the face of an apparent victory.
    • The middle of Ratchet & Clank 3 is up and down as well. The cutscenes around this part of the game contain slapstick and jokes about Captain Qwark's colourful personal life. In addition, one of your allies is turned into a mindless android, and Qwark apparently dies.
  • All over the place in Cross Channel, such as a sex scene with Touko being immediately followed with the revelation Youko was watching the entire time or just a few scenes later a scene where it seems like they're trying to set up an Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other situation accidentally reveals that Taichi had recorded said sex scene.
  • Sazh and Vanille take a detour to Nautilus to get away from the madness of PSICOM chasing after them relentlessly - this is a bit easy given the chaos Lightning, Hope, Snow and Fang are causing in the other direction. The whole scene is relaxing after all the fighting involved - an amusement park complete with a Disneyland-esque light show and a bit of frolicking with the Cocoon Chocobos with neither monster nor military to mar it... and then PSICOM shows up and opens fire on the two of them. This is to be expected, but it gets so much worse.
    • After punching holes in everything between them and the exit to the park proper, Sazh is reunited with his son in a lighthearted moment...which promptly goes downhill as the boy unknowingly fulfills his Focus of guiding PSICOM to the l'Cie responsible for the attack on Euride (read: Vanille). Jihl shows up shortly thereafter and makes a bad scene worse by putting on a video showing Vanille and Fang conducting the attack and Dajh walking up to them before the fireworks get started. Vanille runs off, and Sazh goes after her to try to get an explanation, only to have to talk her out of her newfound death wish. Sazh's hopes hit their nadir at this point, cuing Brynhildr to show up and end it for them, and even after he subdues the Eidolon, Sazh is still feeling horrible about what just happened - to the point where he turns the gun on himself and pulls the trigger. It's a while before it is shown that he didn't kill himself after all, though he really wanted to.
      • The fight with Byrnhildr also whips the mood back towards goofy. During the fight, Sazh and Vanille exchange their using combat banter. When you win, Byrnhildr turns into a racecar, and Sazh jumps in an frantically brings it out of a spin. Then the battle ends and he tries to kill himself
  • The original Metal Slug, like its sequels, is based on More Dakka, Stuff Blowing Up, and the Rule of Funny. The credits however, are shown over a pan of the game's stages, with the bodies of the Mooks killed strewn about. One can even see a woman visiting a makeshift grave on the battlefield.
  • Chibi-Robo, and how. It never strays away from being cute, but see how many drastic mood changes you can count in one subplot alone.
  • In the NES game Uninvited, the music may change into 'danger approaches!' if you are facing something that can kill you. But in case of the Scarlet O'hara ghost... the music is very upbeat and pleasant. Yeah, get her attention, and the Hell Is That Noise death music suddenly plays as she rips you apart.
  • The bright, humorous, mostly family friendly, PS2 dog adventure simulator Dog's Life takes a turn toward Nightmare Fuel during the last part of it. You find out that a popular brand of cat food is made out of dogs. You have to save your love interest from certain demise in a gloomy, run-down factory, where the blades are coated in blood. After you save her the villain falls and gets turned into cat food while you hear her screams. And the game still has a happy, upbeat epilogue. It's highly likely that the "T" rating was solely because of this scene.
  • In Half-Life 2 when you finally exit the mine shaft it is daytime for the first time since you entered the nightmarish Ravenholm and quite peaceful...then you notice that the dancing blue ray of light is actually a very damage heavy weapon.
    • After an intense battle, the rocket remains safe. It launches sucessfully, despite a minor weight anomaly (due to a headcrab and/or garden gnome). The super-portal is destroyed, meaning all Combine forces on Earth are stranded, with no hope of reenforcements. The missing Aperature Science research vessel has been located, meaning Dr. Freeman's adventure continues. Hey, he even gets the go-ahead from Dr. Vance to "do [his] part" with Alyx! Not only that, but it has been revealed that he may know something about a certain bastard in a blue suit.
    What could possibly go wrong?
  • In Jade Empire, in the Great Dam area (chapter 2), if you enter the ruin of the orphanage and finish The Drowned Orphans quest before you go any further into the area, you will be treated into a very weird scene where the old man buries the orphans bones...with the Assassins fighting the ghost in the background!
  • Dragon Quest IX has a sad, serious scene shortly after you fight a boss that calls itself the Ragin' Contagion.
  • At the end of fourth level in Flower it suddenly gets very dark.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn about halfway through. Your sunny nice country is suddenly covered in evil fog and littered with dead bodies. The number of supporting characters who die in your arms in staggering. Not to mention that every villain who redeems himself dies. AND the music turns creepy.
  • The plot of Iji is rather dark, and indirectly deals with the psychological effects of being forced into the role of a One Woman Army. It also has logbooks that talk about Rocket Jumping as a sport and Marco Polo being played in minefields, a gun that fires bananas, various lampshades hung on video gaming conventions, a Silliness Switch that turns the entire game into a "Blind Idiot" Translation, with the dialogue of a villain replaced entirely with sound effects (PEW PEW PEW) and emoticons ( >:( ), and some truly epic weapons and explosions.
  • Touhou Mother spends quite a bit of the game being a quirky RPG much in the style of the series it is based on. Then you're sent forward in time after a failed confrontation with the Big Bad of the game. The mood is set pretty much immediately as after advancing only one screen from where you start off you're faced by the once comic relief Butt Monkey Cirno. She's now vengeance-seeking, stoic, and one of the toughest bosses in the game. It only gets worse from there.
  • In City of Heroes, any player's first visit to Praetoria is riddled with this. Especially when compared to the Four Color nature of the vanilla game. In a game where the fate of defeated enemies was typically left up to the player, one of the first Morality Missions involves a Sadistic Choice where you have to choose to murder one of your contacts. There is no third option. Someone has to die. Talk about Darker and Edgier.
  • Custom Robo (GCN). Silly game about foot high robots and very lulzy script just ignore the end-game, where it is revealed that the world outside your domed city has been reduced to a barren wasteland, making grass extinct, the government is covering it up, and the thing that caused the apocalypse the first time is about to wake up again.
  • Deadly Premonition whips between Narm and horrifyingly gruesome murder scenes fast enough to make your head spin.
  • 'When you go between the humorous and cute Pkunk and hilariously cowardly Spathi to the Genocidal Kohr-Ah and the chilling warnings about Them from the Arilou, you see how this trope applies in Star Control II.
  • Borderlands is largely a tongue-and-cheek Crapsack World; sure, you've got wastelands packed with mutant alien beasts and pillaging bandits, but it's largely Played for Laughs. Then you get a quest to check on the friendly Cloud Cuckoolander blind cripple questgiver from the first area. Oh, he's not sitting in his usual chair, I'd better check in his shack.... Oh, there he is, hung by a foot from a ceiling fan, throat slashed and loads of blood spattered around. Nice.
  • Borderlands 2 can be even worse at points, and it absolutely revels in it. Some good examples:
    • Tiny Tina's tea party, which consists of Tina electrocuting a bandit to death because he sold her parents to Hyperion for experimentation, and is juxtaposed with some of the funniest dialogue in the game.
    • The assault on the Angel AI Core is basically one large Wham Episode, what with Angel actually being a siren (and Handsome Jack's daughter), Roland and Angel dying, and Lilith being captured by Handsome Jack. What follows this? The Player Character accidentally being teleported into Marcus' storeroom and then having him complain about how you're robbing him.
  • The Reconstruction contains two examples, both of which are lighthearted-to-serious transitions.
    • The first occurs in the Wham Level, "To Ascend". Up until that point, the game has been a relatively lighthearted happy-go-lucky Heroic Fantasy adventure, with a few bouts of seriousness but otherwise retaining its perky atmosphere. But then the Sacrificial Lamb gets thrown off a tower and the chapter boss (the first boss who isn't a mindless monster, it is worth noting) has a death scene that contains the first showing of blood in a cutscene. You also learn that you accomplished nothing throughout the entire chapter and that the characters were Unwitting Pawns to the Councillords' schemes. It is also followed immediately by one of the biggest Tear Jerker scenes in the game.
    • The game regains some of its lightheartedness in the next chapter, however...for the express purpose of delivering another Wham Episode that's even more jarring. It starts off innocuously enough, with peaceful humans arriving on Dehl's island, and Dehl then going off to find his father. In the process, he discovers his father's secret 'laboratory', which is swathed in blood and has bloody Sikohlon corpses chained to the walls. Dehl's father rambles about how he killed everyone to try and isolate a cure for the Blue Plague, and Dehl is just barely able to come out alive through the manifestation of his pseudo-magic powers — which causes his father to be graphically impaled by a sword and die.
  • Baten Kaitos: Origins has the scene in the Lava Caves. You've just watched Bein transform into an Umbra, get shot down by Valara, then discovered Sagi's bizarre dreams(?) take place before the legendary war. Then the Lord of the Lava Caves pops out, and the escape from the collapsing cavern turns into a farce.
  • A Profile has a cheerful 'going home together' scene with the Masayuki's childhood friend and younger sister interrupted by the sister asking the friend if she loves him. Since Masayuki broke up with her and Rizu was directly responsible for that everyone there knows that the answer is 'yes.' From then on the walk home is decidedly gloomy.
  • Whatever your feelings about the ending sequence of Fallout 3, it is hard to deny that the narrator's final words, as characters flash across the screen and the Lone Wanderer walks away into a dusty sunset, are sufficiently inspiring, speaking of humanity's survival and fighting the war without end...cut to Arlington National Cemetery, the graves even more sobering when surrounded by old world rubble, and you are instantly reminded you're playing a game based on the horror of war.
    • "And war...war never changes."
  • In the 'Old World Blues' expansion for Fallout: New Vegas, the hilarious, double entendre (hell, often outright sexual and perverted) silly banter of the researchers takes a decidedly dark turn when one of them starts discussing conducting experiments on large groups of Chinese prisoners. Anyone even passingly familiar with Chinese history around WWII will understand why this is such a disturbing dip in the conversation. May also double as a moment of Fridge Horror.
    • An objective one happens with the DLC's. The first DLC, (Dead Money) is a dark run through a casino, with a sad ending no matter what. (Even if all your companions survive, you can never go back. Made even worse if you're a Female Character with Cherchez La Femme, as it's implied that Christine has fallen in love with you, but can't go with you due to her silent oath to guard the casino.) The second DLC (Honest Hearts) is a mostly Lighthearted romp through a valley helping some Indian tribes.
  • The video game adaption of The Lion King follows up the overbearingly somber and ominous "Simba's Exile" level with the lighthearted and upbeat "Hakuna Matata" level.
  • While Marimo is comforting Takeru in the aftermath of the first attack on Yokohama base her head is suddenly crushed by a stray BETA, horrifying Takeru and the reader. From this event onwards, the game starts to get darker very rapidly.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend is a pigeon-dating game that has a lot of surreal humor and takes great fun in parodying the entire Dating Sim genre. It also has genuinely heartbreaking endings for some of the birds and hints of a darker plot going on behind the scenes that's fully revealed in the Bad Boys Love route.
    • The second game, Holiday Star, does this at the end of the third goofy, almost carefree episode, leading into the involved and very disturbing fourth.
  • RosenkreuzStilette does this with a few stage themes and talk themes, especially Zorne's, Trauare's, and Schwer-Muta's. Two of the talk themes get Darker and Edgier than their stage themes, the other one the other way around.
  • BlazBlue has Help Me, Professor Kokonoe!, a short cartoon where after the character's Bad Ending, they meet up with Professor Kokonoe for verbal admonishing and advice on how to get the True Ending. Many of these shorts are quite humourous, but cause serious Mood Whiplash when you consider what usually happens to the characters in the Bad Endings. This is especially true in the Bad Endings for Ragna (accidentally transforms into the Black Beast and causes The End of the World as We Know It), Lambda (loses a battle in her own mind and ends up Deader than Dead), Tsubaki (goes blind and dies in her best friend's arms) and Makoto (bumps into Relius and gets a rather nasty headache).
  • There's the opening to Heavy Rain. The very first scene in the game has the player getting used to controlling Ethan and having a fairly bright, happy day with his family as he celebrates the birthday of his elder son, Jason. Things end a little more seriously when the family's bird dies at the end. Then the next scene comes and has everything end in tragedy, presenting the somber setting of the rest of the game.
  • You wouldn't think that Pokémon Conquest would have one especially in post game episodes, but Hanbei's episode ends up being this. What started out as a competition against the junior warlords to see who could reunite Ransei ends up taking a turn for the worse for Hanbei as if he wins the contest, he starts coughing uncontrollably. Hideyoshi asks what's wrong and Hanbei insists that he got too excited. Kanbei does not believe him one bit and for a split second, Hanbei's character sprite turns serious as he tells him not to say anything before making fun of Kanbei's appearance to change the subject. If you know about Hanbei's historical counterpart, you know that Hanbei has tubercolosis and is going to die soon making the ending Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Magic Pengel is a bright and happy RPG Mons RPG, set in a world where color is used as currency and people keep magical monsters called Doodles for pets. Although the story has its sad moments, usually revolving around main character Zoe's Disappeared Dad, it never strays too far from its cheerful tone. Then, you get to the final boss area... The game's cheerful pastoral tone vanishes, and suddenly switches setting to a dark, Cyber Punk castle wherein you fight a series of Tortured Monsters to horrifically Sad Battle Music. Your friend Kiba, who has been looking out for you and supporting you all game, pulls a gun on the young protagonist and shoots her. Your friend Mono goes insane, becomes a horrific beast, and nearly destroys the world before sacrificing himself to save it. And at the end, Zoe and her little brother leave for an indeterminate period of time.
  • Inverted example with Resistance series, compared to the previous two games which was extremely bleak and dark. Resistance 3 and Burning Skies was considerable much more hopeful.
  • Team Fortress 2 indulges in this, being a Bloody Hilarious First-Person Shooter built around Black Comedy and Grave Humor (and, of course, Nice Hats). Most obvious is "Meet the Pyro", where the mood goes from whimsical (sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows) to horrific (fire, dying in a fire, being axed while on fire, being shot in the face with fire, and more fire) and back again.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 starts out as a very lighthearted, silly and quite random kid's game. There are hints of darkness here and there; Shadow's flashbacks, the references to "terrorists" and "weapons of mass destruction." But lots of kid's stories have a dead sibling and lots of them involve terrorists and WMDs even if they don't usually call them that. The game does a complete 180, however, the second Gerald appears. His last words at his public execution and the things revealed in his diary may well make this one of the darkest games ever to be marketed towards children.
  • In jubeat, pass/fail status is determined by score rather than a Life Meter. This means if you get a full combo, but you don't meet the score quota due to getting too many GOODs (you pretty much have to try, through), the game is more than happy to recognize your full combo status...and then give you a failing grade a few seconds later. (Which, outside of special circumstancesnote , results in a Game Over.)
  • Even people who don't play Portal2 might be familiar with Cave Johnson's lemons speech. What everyone seems to forget is that Cave Johnson drops The Reveal GLaDOS is Caroline in the same recording. This is also the last recording you hear from Cave Johnson in the main game, and GLaDOS gives Cave a rather emotional goodbye when it's over.
  • In BioShock Infinite, the player character travels to a city in the sky from a launch pod in a lighthouse. Once there, the city is vibrant, bright, colourful and populated with friendly, well-dressed townsfolk and playful children. The player character travels through the streets and to a festive city fair, all the way to a free raffle which the player character wins. He is then presented with his prize: first throw at the public stoning of an interracial couple, surrounded by blatantly racist imagery.
    • Factors into the gameplay as well. Unlike the first two games, the citizens of Colombia aren't always hostile on sight, and there are many segments where Booker will find himself wandering amongst peaceful crowds who are just minding their own business... Unitl you do something that makes him stand out, then everyone and their dog starts trying to kill you.
  • Dra Koi rapidly shifts between goofy romantic comedy and metafiction with bits of fights to the death popping up all throughout until the very end.
  • OFF's third zone has quite a few instances of this. Most notable are playing a silly minigame right before finding out just how is it that sugar is made, and getting chased down a hallway by a fat guy while this plays in the background right before the boss fight.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has this all over the place. It's shown in shades in most of the chapters until Chapter 21, which starts with playful banter during the flight sequence and ends on the extremely dark scene where Pit's wings burn off.
  • Forum Fantasy is a lighthearted Affectionate Parody of JRPGs and internet forums, filled to the brim with silly jokes, Shout Outs, moments of Comedic Sociopathy, and obvious traps that, when activated, come off more as humorous than gruesome literally everywhere, with the exception of one place: Botlantis, which has a dark and almost legitimately terrifying atmosphere, very subtle traps that are barely recognizable as such (if at all), and has a lot less humor than the rest of the game, with things that would probably be funny elsewhere in the game being decidedly less hilarious when executed here.
  • In Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the Dream Valley track starts out whimsical, then at one point you'll go through a portal into one of three parts of Wizeman's realm, the third of which has Wizeman himself attacking you, before you're sent back to the valley going down a river.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, at the end of chapter 11 when you have killed Gangrel and avenged the death of Emmeryn, Chrom, Avatar, and the rest of the team celebrate their victory, and Chrom gets married to whichever female unit he has the most support with, if he is not already married, completely contrasting the sad and angry themes of the previous chapters.
    • Supports between characters are unaffected, including conversations on event tiles in the actual level, as well as the level before. This means that characters could potentially get married while still grieving the death of Emmeryn or have otherwise silly or happy conversations, despite the serious nature of the levels.
    • Players can still go to DLC levels in between these levels, including the fanservice filled scramble pack, which involve the exact opposite of grief and vengeance.
  • Epyx's Winter/Summer/California Games are generally pretty lighthearted. Any injuries or accidents tend to be Played for Laughs. The exception to this is California Games 2. One moment, you're skating down a half-pipe and accidentally miss the entrance to a tunnel, the next you're staring at the funeral of your apparently late skater.
    Jontron: I came here for fun in the sun, and all I got was a bunch of depressingly amateur sports people and a lot—a lot of uncalled for death!
  • In A Witchs Tale, at the end of the first playthrough, we get a scary scene and then not two seconds later, the peppy end credits music.

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