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Anvilicious / Video Games
aka: Grand Theft Auto

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  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, a game focused on air combat with an awesome soundtrack and lots of explosions, features a trio of wingmen for the player character who hate war, often to the point of giving pacifistic rants in the middle of missions where they are assisting the player in killing dozens, if not hundreds, of enemy airmen, sailors, and soldiers.
  • Agent USA: Television is brainwashing our population and turning them into zombies.
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  • Sally reminds you to "Always eat your vegetables, you know" in every Backyard Sports game.
  • The BioShock games aren't very subtle in their imagery, and this means that when the game is trying to present a message subtly, it's hard to tell. The first game seems to say "Objectivism is bad", the second game goes the other way and seems to say "Collectivism is bad", and the third game goes with both "Nationalism is bad" and "Anarchism is bad". The main overarching message of the whole series seems to be "any kind of extremism in any human endeavour or ideology is bad", an interpretation supported by Word of God.
  • Blue Dragon will never stop telling you "Don't give up!" The main character is obsessed with that message from the beginning, and although he does learn a different lesson (It's okay to retreat for the bigger plan), the message of "Don't give up" isn't going anywhere.
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  • The "Fake Geek Guy" sidequest in Borderlands 2's "Tiny Tina" DLC is a very unsubtle jab at the "fake geek" issues note , basically saying that if somebody enjoys a certain pastime, it shouldn't matter whether they got into it before or after it was popular. The writer even admits that his writing was "about as subtle as a sledgehammer".
  • Castlevania Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow are pretty much screaming "Fate can be altered", with Soma fighting with the whole idea he is the reincarnation of the "Dark Lord Dracula". Bonus points to the good end of Dawn of Sorrow where Arikado (Alucard) blatantly states "Don't worry, Soma, if the world needs a Dark Lord, they'll come; you needn't be the one" speech…
    • One can also argue the first game is about how being Dracula doesn't mean you're a bad person, it's just the way you are and the real enemy is intolerance.
  • Chrono Cross would like you to know that Humans Are the Real Monsters. Although once The Reveal about the Pantheon telling you this hits, it's hard to tell how seriously we're supposed to take it.
  • In Civilization III, the minute you hit industrial and start building factories, orange pollution gets dumped all over, necessitating extra workers just to keep it cleaned up. And there's no way to stop it, even if the factories are destroyed somehow, until the 'green' constructions become available. Yes, pollution is bad and annoying. Thank you.
    • Thankfully they pulled this back a great deal in Civ 4, where industrialized society is more unhealthy than previous, but not destructively so. The only real anvils are in the in-game encyclopedia, and even then they're aimed only at a handful of targets (notably, the Caste System is the only form of social organization not to have positives listed).
    • Civilization V seems to have pulled back on the anvils, and taken a more neutral stance on all things. In fact, Civ V seems to be more about all the good humanity can do when united, if the opening cinematics are any indication.
  • Some side quests and character backgrounds in Dragon Age: Inquisition are basically a Very Special Episode about LGBT characters put into a video game. YMMV of course; given real world attitudes and practices, others think the lack of subtlety is a good thing.
  • Eternal Sonata is extremely guilty of this in the ending. All the characters, one at a time, stand in front of a black screen and speak directly to the player and blatantly spell out the ideas and concepts that they struggled with during the entire storyline and spell out some of the more subtle notions, like products that make life easier but are quite dangerous and if human beings are the masters of creation or the masters of destruction.
  • Fantasy Strike's story mode makes Sirlin's political views clear. The most heavy-handed is Grave's ending, which consists of him being chewed out by DeGrey for not caring about politics despite having the strength to change things, which is presented as unacceptable given the amount of injustices in the world (Grave is successfully convinced to join DeGrey's cause). Meanwhile, Rook's ending has him deliver a speech to a crowd about why Sirus Quince and the Flagstone government are evil, and most of the reasons he gives — their homophobia, racism, and poor environmental practices — are topics of heated discussion in real life. Finally, when Sirus Quince was made playable, he was given a special attack called "Alternative Facts", a reference to a meme about Donald Trump's inauguration, which, when combined with the other points mentioned, strongly implies that he is meant to be seen as a strawman of American right-wing politicians.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is often depicted as this, mostly depending on whether or not one buys into the Alternate Character Interpretation.
    • To explain, the game tells you rather often that you shouldn't run away from reality. However, the world they're running away to is a world that grants the desires of all the kids, including one character being treated well and having his parents care for him, with another finally being able to walk after being disabled from the legs down in the "real" world, and the other having her hair naturally be pink (as she was bullied in the "real" world because her natural hair colour is white). In addition, the world is very much real and full of real people, with the only (known, as the main character doesn't really make an attempt to go back any other way) solution being to destroy the world.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar Games reminds the player that American conservatives are absolutely evil at just about every opportunity possible. It's best summed up by the in-game TV show "Republican Space Rangers". They also give Liberals a going over, portraying them as paranoid conspiracy theorists. All humour in later GTA games is based on campy exaggeration of typical (usually negative) traits of portrayed groups. Most characters in these games are walking, talking caricatures. Of course, this ends up with the side effect of most of the characters being one-dimensional and poorly written, all in some vain ham-fisted attempt at "satire".
    • Grand Theft Auto V is probably the worst with this, for Trevor alone. Trevor's one real reason to be in the game is, "This is what a GTA Protagonist would be like in real life", but it never really goes beyond that. He lacks anything beyond his psychotic nature, and he's just too psychotic, crude, and annoying to be sympathetic, which, granted, is what they were going for, but the message is lost when he is, as with the above examples, a walking caricature. A better exampe of the "GTA protagonist as an actual person" concept would be… well, your character in GTA Online, as for the most part, they are you.
  • Haze: War is bad! Really, really bad!
  • Iji. Killing is bad, even when they're trying to kill you. We get it. Really, we do. Even when it's an almost completely forced boss fight. Well, she never apologises for that kill. It's the only kill in the game which doesn't impact on Iji's behaviour. Given the boss might have killed your brother a stage or so ago, depending on your actions, it's not like anyone would be sorry about his death. Even his own side hates him.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a deconstruction of the Star Wars universe, more especially, of the fact that bad things happened because of "the will of the Force". And it's so heavy handed with this that even its fans agree that it could have done with more subtlety and Chris Avellone apologized for it, saying it came off as way more bitter than he intended.
  • Yes, Lost Odyssey, we get it: immortality sucks and Kaim hates it. Except in the end, that wasn't the point at all. The immortals decide eternity isn't so bad after all, just a matter of taking the sour with the sweet. Though the message might also be "Be grateful for what you have, and make the best of it. Some people are in the grip of despair, and if you meet them, you can help by giving them perspective". It's so indefinite it takes reading the end credits to make sense of it, as you realize the text (and sound effects)-only flashbacks were written by a different person than the main plot writer.
  • Metal Gear Solid had a character in it whose primary purpose was to lecture the player about how nuclear weapons were bad with her endless list of statistics and Wangsty backstory. Even after beating the game, you'd see a screen giving the number of ICBMs in the world as of the version's release. The player is never forced to talk with her, however, and the anti-nuclear and "science is corrupted by war" messages remain relegated to lengthy cutscenes (that also include character development). The sequel featured a lot of messages about society and the information age, but whether this message was received is up to debate.
    • Solid Snake smokes in many of the Metal Gear games, and it's frequently observed (by other characters as well as by in-game text) that this is bad and harmful to him. Even in Metal Gear Solid, where you can't advance through the game at one point if you don't smoke your cigarettes, you can watch your Stamina slowly decreasing the longer you keep smoking. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Snake gives young agent Raiden cigars but tells him he should not smoke. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake persists in his habit in spite of having obvious breathing difficulties; this culminates in a child snatching his cigarette away and lecturing him on how very bad his habit is.
    • The Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty might seem like an overly anvilicious comment on American foreign and domestic politics, given that the game was released in November 2001, not too long after the announcement of the PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001. Obviously, it's not an intentional commentary, given the time frame presented.
    • An alternate title of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain could well be The Crapsack World of the Doomed Brigade, as it pulls out all the stops in regards to war atrocities and just how far into hell the protagonists go, willingly, to say nothing of what they are subjected to.
  • A Mind Forever Voyaging: Enacting the villain's agenda (which consists largely, though not exclusively, of Reagan-era policies) will result in the country entering a steady decline ultimately leading to it turning into a wasteland where you are devoured by ravenous bands of roaming dogs moments after entering the simulation.
  • The Pajama Sam series has a very clear Aesop for each one, such as the healthy eating Aesop in You Are What You Eat From Your Head To Your Feet. At least they didn't say that eating sugary things was bad, it just had to be done in moderation.
  • Persona 3 already gives you the message about three times in the game's first minutes: Memento Mori. Find a reason to live and value your life because you are mortal.
  • Persona 4:
    • To recruit party members, they must confront their Shadows. A person's Shadow is the physical manifestation of his/her Id and all of his/her dark and hidden thoughts. Party member in question listens to his/her Shadow spill all their secrets, party member says, "You're not me", and then the boss fight ensues. Then, the party member gains his/her Persona once they accept that the Shadow is a part of himself/herself. So don't lie to yourself, kids.
    • While it never outright says it, the game also has the message to be what society expects of you in its actions. Aside from a couple instances, such as Naoto not giving up on being a detective, the majority of actions characters take when presented with a crossroads are the ones that go towards what society expects of them, rather than doing something else. One character says it's selfish to even consider going against what's expected of them instead of doing what they want.
  • While the theme of strong bonds equals power (itself tied to the very Japanese notion of the collective being better and more important than the individual) has always been a theme of the Persona series, it's taken to new levels with Persona 4: Arena Ultimax, with the cast almost constantly mentioning it to the Big Bad Wannabe, a psychotic loner who genuinely had a bad go of it, even for all of his whining and immaturity.
  • Unsurprisingly, most of PETA's parody video games are about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. Super Chick Sisters preaches the evils of KFC and McDonald's, Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals wants you to become vegan, Super Tanooki Skin 2D makes its point about how skinning animals is wrong (even if the skin isn't even from a real animal), and Pokémon Black and Blue hates on animal cagefighting (also running into issues with canon, much like Skin). Super Tofu Boy became a victim of this when the creators of Super Meat Boy created an Anvilicious patch introducing Tofu Boy as an extremely weak Joke Character.
  • The Outer Worlds: Out-of-control capitalism and corporate greed are bad. Corporations should never be allowed to control every facet of society, especially utilities that are vital for the survival and safety of the public.
  • RuneScape:
    • There's a particularly ludicrous quest about global warming, which exaggerates the consequences to a positively ridiculous level; one character says that Gielinor will be ravaged by climate change because of one coal power plant.
    • They have a slightly more subdued example in "Quiet Before the Swarm" where a pacifistic researcher studying "pests" decides it'd be a good idea to release them into a civilian population. Could have just as easily been taken the other way with a heroic adventurer saving the noble pests from an evil researcher, though.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited, the whole "plot" turns out to be something like: "Bad things are bad. Good things are good. Now, in order to teach you to do good things, I will turn your little sister into stone and only free her when you have done enough good things."
  • Earlier in the SMT/Persona series, we have the "rescue the Japanese gods" sidequest from Shin Megami Tensei II, which is really an extended beating-over-the-head with "Shinto good, Abrahamic religions bad." At least the freed gods join your party for putting up with it.
  • Silent Hill: Downpour would like to remind you that revenge is bad. Even if you want it for something as heinous as the rape and murder of your child.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Rush really shoves the The Power of Friendship down your throat in the cutscene in the Last Story preceding the fight with the Eggmen.
    • Speaking of the Sonic franchise, it has a bit of an issue with this sort of thing. Both Sonic Heroes and especially Sonic Forces preach to the choir about how friendship and having a partner by your side can make you better than any evil that dares try to stop you. Heroes gets off the hook for the most part because, well, you do work in multiple groups of different heroes and manage to save the day. Forces, however? No-one outside of Modern Sonic and your custom character does anythingnote , so the whole message kinda-sorta breaks cleanly in two.
  • Spate: The game is extremely blunt about the dangers of alcoholism and the degradation of long-time drunks.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: War is bad! Players who like war games are also bad! Games like Call of Duty are racist and EVIL! The New York Times specifically criticized the game for its lack of subtlety and borderline-gratuitous content. The fact that it totally misses that FPS games are popular for their multiplayer content rather than their singleplayer politics makes it something of a Clueless Aesop, more so for the war stuff since it fails to understand that an accident, no matter how tragic, is not a war crimenote . Then there's the fact that it mocks generic army shooters… while being a generic army shooter itself.
  • Stardew Valley: Capitalism Is Bad. It ruins the environment by pillaging the resources of the world and by discarding what is no longer profitable back into it. It ruins people by filling them with toxic junk, by working them into depression, and by trampling the community spirit they all share. It ruins itself by encouraging unfair Predatory Business tactics. This is why you should do everything you can to support local farms and mom-and-pop businesses over big-brand chains, and preserve the beauty and magic of the natural world so it can be enjoyed.
  • Tales Series
  • Unlike most racing games, Konami's Thrill Drive (not to mention its sequels) always reminds its players to drive safely in real life, from its marquees to even its loading screens and attract modes, over and over again. Granted, the Attract Mode is pure Nightmare Fuel, but still.
  • Undertale, being a Genre Deconstruction of RPGs, does this in droves: Killing is bad. Doing bad things makes people either run away from you or lash out. The best solution is to talk things out peacefully, and it is best to satisfy everyone, because everyone has a sliver of good in them, unless they embrace their dark side to the point where it controls them. Everyone has a multi-sided personality, with their own issues, wants, needs, etc; nobody's limited to a certain archetype. Also, actions are irreversible, and doing bad things will taint your image and sense of self forever. So be a good person.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has a number of Aesops, the most Anvilicious being 'Racism is Bad' and 'Nuclear Weapons are Evil'. However, it tries to stuff so many moral lessons into itself that it ends up contradicting most of them.
  • Watch_Dogs: Surveillance is bad, everything is grim, and everyone is either overtly an asshole or secretly an asshole.
  • We Become What We Behold doesn't just drop its anvil, but shoots it from orbit out of a railgun station with the force of ten nukes. The media (played by you) and the populace are little more than an Ouroboros, as the media is interested in nothing but generating scandal and outrage for profit as it takes small negative occurrences and blows them out of proportion. At the same time, the populace don't make anything better, by blindly believing in the morally bankrupt news media and perpetuating its false message while the Devil in Plain Sight get away with it all. In the end, only the media wins while the people lose; survivors of the tragedy, the genuinely good people who tried to counter the corrupt media, can only mourn for the lives that were pointlessly lost.
  • Zone of the Enders fits the bill: Leo constantly whines about his never-explained pacifist beliefs that are so extreme he isn't prepared to kill anyone in an army perpetrating genocide against his colony and who fully intend to blow up the entire colony and kill everyone that was left, this after they deliberately attacked civilian structures on multiple occasions and used the power system to microwave an entire section of the colony. He even gets weepy about killing unmanned drones (saying he "won't kill again" when he never killed anyone in the first place), and overall seems to preach the bizarre message that trying to kill people who are trying to kill you is wrong.

Alternative Title(s): Grand Theft Auto, Persona