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What Do You Mean Its For Kids / Video Games

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"Who's kiddy now?"
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  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Dream Land 3 has the infamous boss fight against the True Final Boss, 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 Kirby is reputed as Surprise Creepy.
    • It's practically a Running Gag for the Kirby series that it will feature pretty dark elements and Surprise Creepy moments. Kirby: Planet Robobot is probably one of the darkest games in the entire franchise, only to still be rated E for Everyone!
    • Kirby Star Allies takes it a step further, actually being rated E10+, which serves as a clue that it's going to be darker than most outings. And sure enough, it's revealed that the main villains are essentially a psychotic cult dedicated to reviving a dark lord of destruction (who in the Japanese version they refer to instead as God), led by an absolutely insane priest who, at one point, drains his generals' life force to restore his own, then uses their husks as bludgeons, before sacrificing both them and himself to revive said dark lord. Then you get to the Final Boss, which resembles Sachiel and has a segment where you go inside and attack its heart, complete with realistic veins, blood dripping from the ceiling, and each of the four cultists tied up in fleshy cocoons. To make matters worse, the lore implies the Final Boss, Dark Matter, and Kirby himself are all connected somehow.
  • The Legend of Zelda has several examples of this:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 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.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has recurring themes of death, apocalypse and corruption, yet it was rated E for Everyone. Later re-releases would bump up the rating to a more appropriate E10+.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 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 biblical style, then you get to see the Re-Deads, then there's the climax where Link impales Ganondorf through the head and he turns to stone. Given these elements, saying this game is "kiddie" is something fans won't take kindly to. The game would later be bumped up to an E10+ for its 10th anniversary rerelease on Wii U.
    • To this day, the only games in the series to be rated higher than E10+ are Twilight Princess, Link's Crossbow Training (which are both intentionally Darker and Edgier than most other games in the series), and the Hyrule Warriors spinoffs (which justify the rating with their heavy emphasis on combat).
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid is a creepy, dark and atmospheric game where the very first area has corpses littered across the ground, there's a level with ghosts that look like clusters of skulls melded together and perhaps most infamously, the game features one boss 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+.
    • Metroid Fusion. 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 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 Samus bursts into the shaft. 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 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 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 fight it. It has 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.
  • Mother 3 may have very cutesy cartoony-looking graphics like the first two games, and with a predecessor as lighthearted as EarthBound, and how kid-oriented it looks on the surface, most people don't expect a game like this to have things such as multiple incidents of Family-Unfriendly Death, most enemies featuring serious amounts of Body Horror, 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 go on a terrifying hallucinogenic drug trip, a villain who represents 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.
  • Paper Mario:
  • The Pokémon 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 Pokémon have dark backstories. Some games, however, fall under this trope more than others:
    • Pokémon Black and White feature many moral questions, a grieving, disillusioned champion, and a little girl literally killed in her sleep by nightmares, as well as 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 Big Bad Ghetsis, with said Big Bad being quite possibly the most vile villain the main series has ever seen.
    • The Orre 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 Crapsack World of a region and a deadly practical, vile, ruthless evil team that would give Ghetsis a run for his money. It shows that Colosseum's protagonist, Wes, being 17, is practically ancient by Pokémon protagonist standards back then, and even now is still quite old.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, 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 Pokémon. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Darkness, the plot is that you have to change the future because, as it is, it is a world of complete and utter darkness, where the sun never rises and the wind never blows. Besides that, innocent Pokémon get kidnapped, you have extremely freaky visions and, above all else, this whole game is a 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 suck your soul out of your body (think dementors), possess you, and go to the past in your body to convince people he is you. In the post-credits story, the Big Bad 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.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity appears to be Lighter and Softer... until you get betrayed by a fake damsel in distress, learn that the Big Bad 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-Pokémon Eldritch Abomination composed of hopelessness, mistrust and despair. Definitely kid-friendly.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon 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, the Big Bad 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 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 a jaded man who is heavily implied to have been physically abused by his parents.
  • Wii Karaoke U. It's rated E10+, and its graphics make it look just like Wii Sports and other family-friendly Nintendo titles. Oh, and there is absolutely zero censorship for any of the songs, leading to Cluster F-Bombs and Intercourse with You songs having their lyrics printed on-screen for you to sing along to. So if parents want to have a karaoke night with the kids, they should probably be careful about which songs they pick.
  • Yoshi's Crafted World is a rare example of a children's video game that fits the Our Slashers Are Different trope generally found in works intended for mature audiences, thereby serving as a Parental Bonus with one Surprise Creepy late-game level containing murderous demonic invincible axe-wielding ragdoll clowns who make loud annoying screeching sounds chasing after the player character Yoshi, despite the game being otherwise bright and cheery.

  • Blam! Machine Head was inexplicably rated K-Anote  despite its cutscenes featuring a beavy of violent and sexual content (the first 20 seconds of the opening feature a 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 Tomb Raider, which was released a month later, was rated T.
  • Brain Dead 13 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 vampiress and her titillating appearance, figures and Male Gaze, and one suggestive magazine in the Freeze-Frame Bonus 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 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.
  • Cave Story is known for its accessible and engaging gameplay and cutesy visuals. It also features slavery and war themes, four nightmarish final bosses (The Doctor, who loses control and mutates, then him possessing the Core, Sue, and Misery, then the Heavy Press which attacks out of nowhere and is a Kaizo Trap if you don't realize what it is quickly enough, then finally Ballos, who has a horrific backstory and red, dripping, tortured faces in his head), a level with zombie dragons crying blood and most of the cast dying before your eyes at regular intervals. And still goes with a rating of E10+.
  • Cookie Run Kingdom: While not the most graphic example, the story's spotlight on warfare, religion, corruption, and the fact that cookies are "made to be eaten" is kind of heavy for a colorful, cutesy game rated E10+.
  • Cuphead:
  • Dawn of the Dragons 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.
  • The Dog Island is a 2008 action-adventure game for the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 2, based on Artist Collection: The Dog and Friends. For a licensed game based on cute, goofy pictures of dogs taken with a Fish-Eye Lens, it has a surprisingly deep and dark plot-line involving the main character having to get a rare flower to cure their sick sibling, helping a town full of talking dogs with their personal demons, and having to avert The End of the World as We Know It by fighting with a reanimated dinosaur skeleton to get a magic artifact.
  • Drawn to Life:
    • The first game has a rather dark plot, and some references to the Bible. It also has some rather imposing bosses such as the Angler King. And when the boss Frostwind literally turns red, it looks like he's spitting blood when he opens his mouth. And it still got away with an E rating!
    • The DS sequel has the infamous ending, a woman nearly committing suicide so her son could be Mayor, and the main villain's reasons behind his scheme to seemingly end the world.
  • Though Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is about a cute Kid Hero going on adventures, it also has dark Coming-of-Age Story symbolism behind it and also has a fair chunk of Nightmare Fuel. The world-switching mechanic alludes to how adolescence feels. Owltimate Edition reveals that Giana has an abusive dad who her sister protects her from, which adds some more symbolism in how she's powerful in the Dream World but not-so in real life.
  • A Hat in Time.
    • While most of the game is fairly cheery, it has an exceptionally dark sense of humor that permeates the entire game. The game also shows a rather startling amount of casual violence (for example, Moustache Girl's seminar shows a jar full of blood and other organs), and things like the "Queen Vanessa's Manor" level are legitimately frightening.
    • The various nooses you can hookshot in the forest are ESPECIALLY bad for this. They cheerily talk about how you can use them to get a lift whenever you'd like! And that it's been so, so long since they've been wrapped around a nice neck... and Hat Kid sure has a smooth, slender one... there's even a Subcon villager HANGING from a noose of his own and TWITCHING nonstop near one of them.
    • The Switch port subverts this by re-rating the game from E10+ to T.
  • The Kingdom Hearts 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 Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. There are also themes of depression and some depictions of blood. Word of God via Tetsuya Nomura has stated that Kingdom Hearts was 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+.
  • In Australia, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals was rated G (that country's equivalent to E), despite being one of the most mature games on the system.
  • Magical Starsign 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: 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.
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man X4 was when the Mega Man X series started to get dark. In Zero's opening cutscene, Zero is having a Nightmare in which there is blood on his hands. And don't get us started on Double. Mega Man X4 had an E rating at the time of its original release.note 
    • Mega Man Zero 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 series an E rating. From the bloody intro of Mega Man Zero to Elpizo's ear-grating scream, it's baffling on why was rated E at the time of its original release.note  And then there's Omega and Dr. Weil.
  • Nightmare Ned is a dark, hauntingly beautiful PC game released by Disney in 1997, at a time when Disney was most known for their more child-friendly PC games such as The Lion King and 101 Dalmatians. Unfortunately, this game is somewhat infamous for its Family-Unfriendly Violence and its many examples of Nightmare Fuel, obviously.
  • Ni no Kuni is in a similar boat to Wind Waker in that it uses colourful anime-style graphics (specifically, it was animated by Studio Ghibli) 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 Crapsaccharine World with everyone living in fear of an Evil Sorceror who can effortlessly Mind Rape 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. And Drippy drops G-rated equivalents of Cluster F-Bomb all over the place.
  • PETA is known for controversially marketing graphic content involving animal cruelty to children. Their parody games Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals, Pokémon Black and Blue, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, 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 generally cute looking.
  • The Professor Layton 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 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 which turn out to be fake, an Omnicidal Maniac who used an Humongous Mecha to destroy and kill people, surreal and paranormal events, a connnection with the devil which turns out to be just the Herzen family heraldic shield, and HIGH amounts of Nightmare Fuel.
  • R-Type Delta is rated E. The final stage features depictions of fetuses as enemies to shoot. The ending for the R-13 is a Downer Ending and features it becoming captured by the Bydo, with the final shot after the credits being of the ship enveloped by Bydo matter. R-Type Final later pulled it again, featuring such elements as a final level which shows two people engaging in sexual behavior (albeit in silhouette) and another Downer Ending where your now-biomechanical fighter is corrupted by the Bydo and kills his former comrades.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has all sorts of sexual innuendos, Globox getting drunk, and the swamp hag using the word "pervert".
  • Rayman Origins is also well known for making the fairy girls (all of them) absolutely blatant sex-objects, complete with Hartman Hips, Jiggle Physics, 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 his MOM. Just to top it off, the manual describes Betilla as a badASS.
  • Silhouette Mirage has plenty of biblical references, minor swearing, alcohol use, and takes place in a post-apocalyptic world caused by a biological holocaust. Its rating? E for Everyone.
  • Some attribute the commercial failure of Shantae to this, among other factors. Shantae's cutesy, colorful graphics, goofy humor, E rating, and being on the kid-friendly Game Boy Color lead to the assumption that it's a kid's game. The problem is, it's also strangely... sexy for something aimed at kids, and also more difficult than your average kid's game. Later games avert this more and more by adding some darker humor, among other content, to the point that Half-Genie Hero (and later Shantae and the Seven Sirens as well) is given the ESRB of T for Teen in North America.
  • The Sly Cooper series has you play as a raccoon thief who witnessed his parents' murder at age eight and seeks to avenge their death in the first game. In addition, the series contains suggestive humor, depictions of tobacco use, and references to alcohol. 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+.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog sometimes has content that you wouldn't expect from a colorful video game series with cartoon Funny Animals:
  • The two Tales of Xillia 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 are jokes about bondage kinks) and the second game being Bloodier and Gorier, 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 murder his brother to save the world.)
  • Practically too many bootleg (and sometimes original) Browser Games 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 "")
  • 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 Video Game Cruelty Potential 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.
  • Crash Fever has alcohol usage (New Year's Celebration) cursing (Black Ground's story quests, as Ophiuchus swears a lot, comparatively) death, and much, MUCH fanservice. The rating? Solid E, folks. And to add more insult to injury is that a few CHARACTERS can swear, but in the chatrooms of multiplayer, YOU can't.
  • Fortnite's Battle Royal mode often gets hit with this. Sure, it looks like an afternoon cartoon, but behind the facade it's still a shooter where the only goal is to murder everyone else until only one player is left standing, leaving many people (parents in particular) wondering how it managed to get a comparatively kid-friendly rating of Teen despite its premise.
  • The Snack World was meant to be a toyetic kids franchise like a lot of other Level-5 games, and got an all ages rating in Japan, but the sexual innuendo in some of the dialog was enough to get it a T rating in the states.
  • Bugsnax is a game all about catching and feeding bugs made of food to cute characters that wouldn't look out of place on a puppet show for kids. However, during the climax, it's revealed that Bugsnax are actually parasites that change the body. Furthermore, If a player doesn't do all of a character's sidequests and completely transforms them, a single Bugsnak will be able to kill them. The quotes they say before they crumble into food and their responses if their companion dies can be disheartening, too.

  • Parodied in Grand Theft Auto V with the in-universe animated series Kung Fu Rainbow Lazer Force. It's a Christian version of Power Rangers made by fundamentalists with an ax to grind against modern society, presenting their bigotry against everyone from LGBT people to non-Christians to public school students to evolutionary biologists as "family values" and everybody who doesn't follow their narrow interpretation of Christianity as an evil sinner, to be violently splattered by the morally pure heroes. In short, Rockstar Games' parody of the double standards of American Moral Guardians, presented as way too prudish about sex but not nearly prudish enough (or even outright celebratory) about violence, especially when it comes to children's entertainment.