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[[quoteright:322:[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ganondorf1_6735.jpg]]]]
%% This list of examples has been alphabetized. Please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!
* ''Blam! Machine Head'' was inexplicably rated K-A[[note]](Kids to Adults, the mid-90's equivalent to the Everyone rating)[[/note]] despite its cutscenes featuring a beavy of violent and sexual content (the first 20 seconds of the opening feature a [[{{Gorn}} man being turned into chunky salsa]] while the ending has the villain's head being blown off by a pistol, with bits of his head flying toward the screen). The actual gameplay is more tame, largely owing to the early PS1/Saturn-era primitive 3D, but still features enough graphic violence against organic beings that T rating would've probably been more fitting. In comparison, the same developer's far more tame ''VideoGame/TombRaider'', which was released a month later, was rated T.
* ''VideoGame/BrainDead13'' is a game where the protagonist gets to die in all sorts of graphically violent ways, which has made it extremely hard to understand why this was given a K-A rating then.
** There's the whole issue with Vivi the {{vampires|AreSexGods}}s and her ''[[{{Pun}} titillating]]'' appearance, [[BuxomIsBetter figures]] and MaleGaze, and one suggestive magazine in the FreezeFrameBonus that can be too suggestive for children, yet we may never understand why all of these are ''totally safe for kids'' with a K-A rating. What's even stranger is that Japan's game rating organization (pre-CERO) slapped each box of the game (exported from America) with an "all ages" (全年齢, ''zen nenrei'') rating on a green sticker, hoping that its audience of children would be less sensitive to mind-numbing bloodless violence and sexuality than America's children (due to cultural differences). The proof is in the pudding [[http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/scale_small/0/2579/1662326-brain_dead_13_box_front.jpg here]].
** The [=iOS=] port averts this by ramping up the rating to a 12+, which is an equivalent of either a "Teen" or an "Everyone 10+" rating.
* ''VideoGame/{{Cuphead}}'': With constant references to tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and rather disturbing imagery, as well as ''the Devil himself'' along with a few mentions of Hell, would you believe that this game is rated E by the ESRB? It's almost as if they're applying the ValuesDissonance of the time period this game is paying homage to.
** And while nobody is saying that [[ViewersAreMorons kids can't enjoy difficult games]], the [[SurpriseDifficulty cutesy cartoon look of the game belies]] a ''[[NintendoHard wickedly difficult]]'' RunAndGun game, which might catch both kids and parents off guard.
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfTheDragons'' is a Flash browser game that's marketed to children on kid-friendly sites like Kongregate with the promise of high fantasy and relatively simplistic gameplay. The premise is simple enough - a farmhand rises to become a champion. How that champion gets there, though, is brutal and unapologetic:
** Text and images show enemies being dispatched in a number of gruesome ways (having their throats slit, being impaled by multiple swords, being decapitated, main characters being covered in gore and viscera). Several of these deaths are described with paragraphs going into detail about the minutiae involved, and how the main characters stand back to watch someone they've just sliced open bleed to death.
** In "Peril of the Pumpkin Patch", two children are spied on and chased by creature with a flaming jack-o'-lantern for a head. His victim, the girl, has her head mounted on a pike (that is also seen in one of the chapter images), which is subsequently used to terrorize the residents of a local town.
* ''VideoGame/DrawnToLife'':
** The first game has a rather dark plot, and some references to the Bible. It also has some rather [[NightmareFuel imposing]] bosses such as the Angler King. And when the boss Frostwind literally [[TurnsRed turns red]], it looks like he's spitting [[FamilyUnfriendlyViolence blood]] when he opens his mouth. '''And it still got away with an E rating!'''
** The DS sequel has [[SuddenDownerEnding the infamous ending]], a woman nearly ''committing suicide'' so her son could be Mayor, and the main villain's [[WellIntentionedExtremist reasons behind]] his scheme to [[spoiler:seemingly]] end the world.
* The ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series features several Disney characters and allows the opportunity to explore worlds based on Disney films. However, several characters die in the series, not to mention a depiction of murder in "birth by sleep". There are also themes of depression and some depictions of blood. WordOfGod via Tetsuya Nomura has stated that Kingdom Hearts was [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids not originally created with kids in mind]] but the decision to include Disney characters has inevitably got the attention of children. The first game was rated E but the rest were rated E10.
* ''Franchise/{{Kirby}}'':
** ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand3'' has the infamous boss fight against [[spoiler:the TrueFinalBoss, Zero, a giant eye with a red iris who freaking shoots ''blood'' at you as an attack, and later ''rips its own iris out of its body'' in a gory manner to keep fighting and then ''explodes, shooting blood '''everywhere'''''!]] That boss fight is ''why'' ''Franchise/{{Kirby}}'' is reputed as SurpriseCreepy.
** It's practically a RunningGag for the ''Kirby'' series that it will feature pretty dark elements and SurpriseCreepy moments. ''VideoGame/KirbyPlanetRobobot'' is probably one of the darkest games in the entire franchise, only to still be rated E for Everyone!
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' has several examples of this:
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' has a dungeon and a sub-dungeon that include zombies, mummies, hands sticking up out of acid, walls made of skulls, really long arms that grab you, frightening music, a creepy miniboss, and guillotines and torture devices spattered in blood. In addition, Castle Town while Link is an adult is a ghost town infested with zombies.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'' has recurring themes of death, apocalypse and corruption, as well as frequent instances of GettingCrapPastTheRadar. Yet it was rated ''E for Everyone''. Later re-releases would bump up the rating to a more appropriate E 10+.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' definitely ''looks'' like it's for kids, and had an ''E for Everyone'' rating to match. Then you start playing and the first thing you see is an intro screen describing that Hyrule and its inhabitants were destroyed [[TheGreatFlood biblical style]], then you get to see the [[NightmareFuel Re-Deads]], ''then'' there's the climax [[spoiler:where Link impales Ganondorf through the head and he turns to stone]]. Given these elements, saying this game is "kiddie" is a ''serious'' FandomBerserkButton.
** The trope began to be averted with later ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games, which got higher ESRB ratings so they would be aimed at older audiences. ''Twilight Princess'' was rated T, and nearly every game from ''Spirit Tracks'' onwards, including remakes of previously E-rated entries, were given [=E10+=].
* In Australia, ''VideoGame/LufiaIIRiseOfTheSinistrals'' was rated G (that country's equivalent to E), despite being one of the most mature games on the system.
* ''VideoGame/MagicalStarsign'' starts as a cute, fluffy game but once the second act starts things swiftly go downhill. There's too much horrible stuff going on here to list it all without taking up pages, but to sum it up: [[spoiler:The main plot is about bringing mages to a planet where just being there turns them into into gummy-like inanimate blobs to be used as fuel for a space worm]].
* ''Franchise/MegaMan''
** ''VideoGame/MegaManX4'' was when the Mega Man X series started to get dark. In Zero's opening cutscene, Zero is having a [[NightmareFuel Nightmare]] in which there is blood on his hands. And don't get us started on [[AxCrazy Double]]. Mega Man X4 has an [=E=] rating.
** ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' looks like an average kid's game, but is the darkest series in the franchise, with the main plot being hinged upon ''genocide''. And somehow the ESRB saw fit to give this game an ''E rating''. From the bloody intro of Mega Man Zero to [[spoiler:[[WellIntentionedExtremist Elpizo's]]]] [[SensoryAbuse ear-grating scream]], it's baffling on why it's rated E. And then there's [[PersonOfMassDestruction Omega]] and [[MadScientist Dr. Weil.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'':
** ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' is a creepy, dark and atmospheric game that features one boss [[FamilyUnfriendlyDeath being stripped to the bone]], and it got a K-A rating. Then when it came to Virtual Console in 2007, it still kept its Everyone rating. When it came to New 3DS Virtual Console in 2016, it was re-rated to a more appropriate Everyone 10+.
** ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion''. You begin with the story being that Samus was ''nearly killed'' by a parasite called the X, and you're dropped right into the BSL Research Station, which is, as far as you know, completely devoid of human life thanks to the X. Early on you have to navigate a series of eerie unlit corridors because there's been an ''explosion'' in the quarantine room. Turns out it's just a Hornoad-X, but if you explore a bit you find a room completely frozen. If you decide to continue further inside, despite the damage you take from the cold (you've been injected with Metroid DNA) you see [[spoiler:'''Ridley''' (Who was supposed to be '''dead''') frozen in a block of ice.]] Play farther into the game, go down the Main Elevator, and what appears to be [[spoiler:Samus]] bursts into the shaft. [[spoiler:Then it zooms ''right'' in on 'her' face, revealing that it's some kind of mimic.]] You later find out that this mysterious entity is called the [[spoiler:SA-X, and that ''it's tracking you.'' You also can't even hope to kill it yet. You are told to ''run'' if you encounter it.]] And it '''does''' catch up with you. Then there's a boss called the [[spoiler:Nightmare]]. It's been flying through the background of the damaged area of the ARC Sector, startling you the first few times it happens. Then you [[spoiler:fight it]]. It has [[spoiler:a creepy mask, and when you damage it enough the mask breaks, revealing its disgusting alien face that, as you damage it further, begins ''dripping'']].
* ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' may have very cutesy cartoony-looking graphics like its predecessors, and with a prequel as lighthearted as ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}'', and how kid-oriented it looks on the surface, most people don't expect a game like this to have things such as [[spoiler:multiple incidents of FamilyUnfriendlyDeath, characters going through realistic emotional issues and very deep rooted psychological trauma as a result, a scene where a 12-year-old boy and his friends [[MushroomSamba go on a terrifying hallucinogenic drug trip]], a villain who represents [[AllegoricalCharacter the sins of humanity]] and also runs what is basically a dictatorship over the protagonists' home, animal abuse with an electric collar, a child committing suicide by electrocuting himself due to the psychological trauma he's experienced]], etc.
* ''VideoGame/NiNoKuni'' is in a similar boat to ''Wind Waker'' in that it uses colourful anime-style graphics (specifically, it was animated by Creator/StudioGhibli) despite it dealing with some surprisingly dark themes. The main character (who's only 13 by the way) watches his mother die of a heart attack only a few minutes into the game, and the eponymous 'other world' is very clearly a CrapsaccharineWorld with everyone living in fear of an EvilSorceror who can effortlessly MindRape anyone who even ''thinks'' about standing up to him. Then there's Myrtle's story in the real world, which gives a surprisingly realistic view of how domestic troubles can traumatize kids psychologically. [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And Drippy drops]] [[GoshDangItToHeck G-rated equivalents of]] ClusterFBomb all over the place.
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' had some [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar very questionable dialogue]], two female main characters (a ghost and a wind-spirit/fairy/creature) who are completely naked (granted, [[BarbieDollAnatomy neither has nipples or vaginas]], but still), Princess Peach as an InvisibleStreaker, demonic possession, and Hooktail chewing up Toads while they are still alive. The rating? E.
* ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' is much like it's predecessor. The story involves stopping the destruction of reality, one villain who is a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds and another who is the ''Mario'' equivalent of The Joker from Batman. There are also a surprising number of [[DisneyDeath Disney Deaths]].
* PETA is known for controversially marketing [[FamilyUnfriendlyViolence graphic]] [[FamilyUnfriendlyDeath content]] involving animal cruelty to children. Their parody games ''VideoGame/CookingMamaMamaKillsAnimals'', ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndBlue'', ''VideoGame/SuperTanookiSkin2D'', and the others are no exception. They're gory and usually feature videos of animal abuse, but they're based off family-friendly properties and are [[ArtStyleDissonance generally cute looking]].
* The ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games fall under this, as the plot of every game in the series runs surprisingly deep and dark, the villains are often terrifying and vile, and many Pokemon have dark backstories. Some games, however, fall under this trope more than others:
** ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' feature many moral questions, a grieving, disillusioned champion, and a little girl literally killed in her sleep by nightmares, as well as [[spoiler:the implied mental abuse and brainwashing of a young man, manipulated all his life and kept in an emotionally immature state (with a creepy theme and childlike "playroom" to show it, itself accompanied by creepy music) by the BigBad Ghetsis, with said BigBad being quite possibly the most vile villain the main series has ever seen.]]
** The [[VideoGame/PokemonColosseum Orre]] [[VideoGame/PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness games]] were one of the first instances where the games truly started exploring darker territory, albeit ''Colosseum'' more so than ''XD'' featuring, among other things, a gritty, bleak CrapsackWorld of a region and a deadly practical, vile, ruthless evil team that would give [[spoiler:Ghetsis]] a run for his money. It shows that ''Colosseum'''s protagonist, Wes, being 17, is practically ancient by Pokemon protagonist standards back then, and even now is still quite old.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonRescueTeam'', you have to save the world from an impending comet while fighting against a Gengar that accuses you of being a cruel traitor that was cursed for selling out his own Pokemon. In ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers of Time and Darkness'', the plot is that you have to change the future because, as it is, [[spoiler:it is a world of ''complete'' and ''utter darkness'', where the sun never rises and the wind never blows.]] Besides that, innocent Pokemon get kidnapped, you have extremely freaky visions and, above all else, this whole game is a [[spoiler:''suicide'' mission. That's right. You ''die'' at the end and you ''know'' you're going to die.]] Chew on that. Finally, in the re-release of ''Time and Darkness'', ''Explorers of Sky'', they have mini-stories. And each one of those has a bad part, but the worst is probably in the last one, when one of the antagonists plans to [[spoiler:''suck your soul out of your body (think [[Franchise/HarryPotter dementors]]), possess you, and go to the past in your body to convince people he is you.'']] In the post-credits story, [[spoiler:the BigBad disguises himself as a good guy, visits you in your dreams, and tells you that the world is going to end, that it's all your fault, and that ''you and your partner should kill yourselves.'']]
** ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonGatesToInfinity'' appears to be LighterAndSofter... until [[spoiler:you get betrayed by a fake damsel in distress, learn that the BigBad is an homicidal nihilist who has murdered potentially ''dozens'' of other humans summoned to stop him, see one of your allies ''frozen into a block of ice and shattered into pieces'' and fight a non-Pokemon EldritchAbomination composed of hopelessness, mistrust and despair]]. [[SarcasmMode Definitely kid-friendly.]]
** ''VideoGame/PokemonSunAndMoon'' have new Pokédex entries that tend towards the darker and more realistic, for example, many of them elaborate on the predator-prey relationship between Pokémon, whereas previous games and iterations of the franchise barely touched upon such things. Some of them even explicitly mention death, which is something the series had generally avoided previously. Adding to that, [[spoiler:the BigBad of the game is surprisingly dark and twisted, guilty of several types of parental abuse, including emotional abuse, manipulation, and neglect to outright abandonment.]] Furthermore, Team Skull [[spoiler: is a surprisingly cerebral {{deconstruction}} of the typical ''Pokémon'' evil team with goofy grunts, as it's revealed that they merely ended up that way due to their inability to find better lives and are only doing what they need to to survive]] and their leader is [[spoiler:a jaded man who is heavily implied to have been physically abused by his parents]].
* The ''VideoGame/ProfessorLayton'' series makes you think it's rated E+10 because kids can exercise their minds with fun puzzles, has cartoon-ish style characters, and has white humour, so [[FridgeLogic why they dont make it E instead of E+10]]? Because there are various types of crimes, as well as political subjects, some murder cases [[spoiler:which turn out to be fake]], [[spoiler:an OmnicidalManiac who used an HumongousMecha to [[MoralEventHorizon destroy and kill people]]]], surreal and paranormal events, a connnection with the devil [[spoiler:which turns out to be just the herzen family heraldic shield]], and HIGH amounts of NightmareFuel.
* ''VideoGame/RType Delta'' is rated E. The final stage [[spoiler:features depictions of fetuses as enemies to shoot.]] The ending for the R-13 [[spoiler:features it becoming captured by the Bydo, with the final shot after the credits being of the ship enveloped by Bydo matter.]]
* ''VideoGame/Rayman3HoodlumHavoc'' has all sorts of sexual innuendos, Globox getting drunk, and the swamp hag using the word "pervert".
* VideoGame/RaymanOrigins is also well known for making the fairy girls (all of them) [[MsFanservice absolutely blatant sex-objects]], complete with HartmanHips, JigglePhysics, Suave voices (albeit in pig-latin), porno-like music when you save them and the trailer shows Rayman using his hair to blow Betilla's skirt up...also, Betilla created him, so that technically makes him [[ParentalIncest his MOM]]. Just to top it off, the manual describes Betilla as a [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar badASS]].
* Some attribute the commercial failure of ''VideoGame/{{Shantae}}'' to this, among other factors. ''Shantae'''s cutesy, colorful graphics, goofy humor, being on the kid-friendly UsefulNotes/GameBoyColor leading to the assumption that it's a kid's game. The problem is, it's also strangely... [[ParentService sexy]] for something aimed at kids, and also more difficult than your average kid's game.
* The ''Franchise/SlyCooper'' series has you play as a raccoon thief who [[HarmfulToMinors witnessed his parents' murder at age eight]] and seeks to [[YouKilledMyFather avenge their death]] in the first game. In addition, the series contains [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar suggestive humor]], depictions of tobacco use, and references to alcohol. ''[[VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves Band of Thieves]]'' even features ''drug dealers'', and it was rated ''E''. To this day, no game in the series has ever received a rating higher than E10+.
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' sometimes has content that you wouldn't expect from a colorful video game series with cartoon FunnyAnimals:
** ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' ends with the flooding of a whole city.
** ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' features mass government killings, including a terminally ill 12 year old girl, Eggman using "Weapons of mass destruction", blowing up the moon, and putting a gun against Amy's head, and Sonic nearly dying in the equivalent of being ''chained to a bomb''.
** ''VideoGame/ShadowTheHedgehog'' was going to be aimed at older fans, but they decided to tone it down. Judging by the use of realistic guns, minor swearing, dark storyline, and [[ArsonMurderandJaywalking textures straight out of an M-rated game]], it looks like they failed.
** In ''SonicTheHedgehog2006'', Sonic ''gets murdered'' at the end of the game. (He gets better.)
** ''VideoGame/SonicLostWorld'' features very dark dialogue such as "I long for death's cold embrace", "First you're contemplating genocide" and talk of skinning alive, and Amy and Knuckles get the ''life sucked out of them''. (They get better.)
** ''VideoGame/SonicForces'' has [[TheBadGuyWins Eggman]] [[TakeOverTheWorld taking over the whole entire world]], SceneryGorn, a merciless villain, Sonic mentioned to have been tortured for 6 months, innocent cartoon animals being KilledOffscreen... ([[RuleOfThree They get better.]])
* The two ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia'' games are this trope in Australia, where they somehow managed to get PG ratings despite the first game having violent deaths and occasional blood in cutscenes and pretty explicit sexual references (there's jokes about bondage kinks) and the second game being BloodierAndGorier, featuring huge amounts of blood in death cutscenes, terrorist attacks complete with masses of bloody civilian bodies (in one of the first areas of the game, at that), sexual references as normal and ''incredibly'' dark themes towards the end of the game. (The main character has to [[spoiler:murder his brother to save the world]].)
%% * Terranigma was rated PEGI 3 and OFLC G upon it's SNES release.
* Practically too many [[ShoddyKnockoffProduct bootleg]] (and sometimes original) {{Browser Game}}s to count; featuring super inappropriate themes such as pregnancy, surgery, and sometimes even violence or sex (the last one can't help, but make you think [[WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic "fet...ish...ga...me"]])
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'' has a Nightmare Fuel page large enough to rival some countries, and not without reason. It also touches on some fairly heavy themes, including morality, death and the death of children in particular, depression, and even suicide. Take VideoGameCrueltyPotential to its logical extension, and the comedic trappings of the game completely disappear, replaced by a grim, disturbing slog as the player murders their way from one lovable character to the next. All said, it's a game that's able to scare and/or move many ''adults'', let alone kids! Despite this, the game is rated E10+ and Toby Fox has implied or directly stated on multiple occasions that he considers it to be a family game and has no quarrel with children playing it.