Despite their young audience, kids’ games can be surprisingly inappropriate. Developers sometimes include secret, sexual Easter eggs to amuse older audiences — or they add offensive material without the courtesy to disguise their inappropriateness. Some moments on this list are only recognized by adults, but the rest are clearly visible for all players.
If developers choose to include inappropriate moments, their games really ought to have higher age restrictions. As it is, we have no idea how so many inappropriate games are labeled as kids’ games. Nearly every game on this list was given an E (Everyone) rating by the ESRB, an organization established in 1994 after the public criticized video games’ inappropriate content. Some of the games below are rated E10+ and thus are designed for slightly older audiences, but even ten-year-olds are too young for extremely inappropriate content. Every moment on this list belongs in a T-rated or M-rated game, yet the games have family friendly ratings.
Because of their ratings, these games influence children across the world. While some of the moments on this list are simply dirty pictures, others support sexist and racist stereotypes. No game should positively portray stereotypes, particularly not games designed for children. Companies nonetheless include stereotypes for humor and marketing, leading to inappropriate attitudes and cultural insensitivity. Here are 15 very inappropriate moments in kids’ games — all produced by the leading companies of the gaming world.
15 Nudity Cheat Code — Rings of Power
Because it was released in 1991 before games required ratings, Rings of Power lacks an ESRB rating. However, the game is pretty clearly designed for all ages as a fantasy roleplaying game. The gameplay is family-friendly — but the menu can be completely inappropriate if you input a cheat code. The menu normally features a clothed woman or a dog with sunglasses next to “Naughty Dog.” However, you can remove the woman’s clothes by plugging a second controller into the Sega Genesis and holding down the start, A, B, and C buttons as well as right and down on the d-pad. If you turn on the game while holding all these buttons at the same time, you’ll see an uncensored version of the above picture.
14 Valentina — Super Mario RPG
With a K-A (“Kids to Adults,” which ESRB later changed to E for “Everyone”) rating, Super Mario RPG should theoretically be a completely appropriate game. Even though K-A excludes children under 6, you wouldn’t expect crude or sexual moments within the kids’ game. Super Mario RPG is mostly appropriate, but Queen Valentina is the massive exception.
Before you fight her, Valentina is completely normal. She’s as tall as Mario, and her chest is a completely realistic shape. In battle, however, Valentina is enormous — and so are her breasts. Her head-sized breasts violently shake every time she attacks or takes damage. In between actions, Valentina moves her chest forward and back to emphasize her chest. Characters in time-based battles often use repetitive movements like jumping in place, but no character has repeatedly stuck out their chest like Valentina.
13 Racist Stereotypes — Punch-Out!! Series
Many kids’ games effectively use one-dimensional characters for jokes and simplistic storytelling, but the Punch-Out!! franchise inappropriately uses stereotypes to create one-dimensional characters. Characters do little other than fight in Punch-Out!!, but their moves, visual designs, voices, and names advance terrible stereotypes. When you defeat a French boxer in Punch-Out!! (2009), croissants and baguettes magically fall out of his body. Great Tiger —a recurring character in the series— comes from Bombay, wears a tiger hide and turban, and uses magic (which causes the ruby on his turban to glow).
Video games have generally improved in regards to racism and sexism, but Punch-Out!! hasn’t changed a bit. We thought the stereotypes couldn’t get worse after the first game (there’s an Italian character who’s actually named “Pizza Pasta”), yet Punch-Out!! continues to be one of the most racist franchises designed for children.
12 Nabooru’s Promise — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Almost every female character in Ocarina of Time loves Link, but none are as creepy and inappropriate as Nabooru. You first meet Nabooru as a child, when Nabooru is clearly much older than Link. When you choose to help her, she promises she’ll “do something great for you.” Nabooru’s kidnapped before you receive your reward, but she hints again at her promise when you rescue her as “Adult Link” (he’s technically still a teenager). After noting how handsome you’ve become, Nabooru concludes: “I should have kept the promise I made back then.” By referring to Link as “a handsome man” beforehand, Nabooru heavily implies that she would have given you a romantic or sexual award. Most of the romances in Ocarina of Time are creepy, but only Nabooru is pedophilic.
11 Last Stage In Red Canyon — Kirby’s Dream Land 2
You need to complete five levels in Red Canyon before you can fight the boss. At the end of the fifth stage, you drop into a series of platforms. As you make your way past the platforms, you’ll notice a strange formation. A smiley face sits at the top of the stage, followed by two U-shaped platforms, a lone block, and a V-shaped platform that trails downward. When pieced together, the platforms form the shape of a naked woman: you see her face, her breasts, her belly button, and her private parts at the bottom.
HAL Laboratory made the stage as inappropriate as possible while successfully hiding it in an E-rated children’s game. You don’t simply pass by the blocky picture of a naked lady: you must move down the woman’s body to a door. When you enter the door, you complete the stage: thus the naked lady is the stage’s climax.
10 Walking In On Roll’s Bath — Mega Man Legends 2
Many video games include moments where players can “accidentally” walk in on undressed women. This is always inappropriate; however, kids’ games get away with it through censorship and naïve protagonists. Even though players inappropriately pursue naked women, the playable protagonists never realize they’re intruding.
In Mega Man Legends 2, the protagonist knows exactly what he’s doing. Data informs Mega Man that Roll is taking a bath. Mega Man may then enter the bathroom, when Roll yells at him to get out. As if this intentional intrusion wasn’t bad enough, Mega Man proceeds to pump his fist while triumphant music plays. Capcom actually rewards players for violating Roll. Mega Man and Roll may have a great romance during the rest of the game, but Mega Man’s invasion of privacy is extremely inappropriate and creepy.
9 Kazooie’s Sexual Innuendos — Banjo-Kazooie
Kazooie insults characters throughout Banjo-Kazooie, but she’s usually appropriate within the E-rated game. However, she throws in some sexual innuendos that are inappropriate for all ages. Even though children are too young to understand the jokes, the game draws so much attention to Kazooie’s comments that children instantly recognize her vulgarity.
Kazooie’s most explicitly sexual joke appears in Gobi’s Valley. After Trunker (a tree that grows coconuts) explains that it’s “shriveling up,” Kazooie asks: “How’s your nuts?” That question would be sexual no matter what but is particularly inappropriate when combined with “shriveling.”
In the game’s bonus ending, Mumbo shows us a picture of the Ice Key. Banjo describes it as “a giant ice key,” and Kazooie replies: “I know where I’d like to stick that.” While she might want to stick the key up Mumbo’s rear, Kazooie’s probably referring to personal pleasure.
8 Great Fairies — The Legend of Zelda Series
If you’re looking at the picture above, you know one thing: that Great Fairy is naked. Nintendo might try to technically cover her breasts and privates with leaves, but those leaves are tiny, widespread, and almost translucent. It doesn’t help that most of the leaves are designed as part of her skin rather than clothing which covers her skin.
The Great Fairies in both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask share the design in the above picture. With nothing but tall boots and leaves, the Great Fairies are designed to be outrageously sexy in two E-rated games — both visually and audibly. The Fairies orgasmically cry out and groan whenever you encounter them. Perhaps the Fairies always act that way, but Nintendo clearly designed them to arouse players.
Breath of the Wild, despite having a higher rating of E10+, fortunately, has more appropriate Great Fairies. The Great Fairies in Twilight Princess and Hyrule Warriors are worse, but those games protect children’s eyes through T ratings.
7 Every Female Animal Character — Sonic the Hedgehog Series
Female video game characters are oversexualized far too often. Whether they unapologetically appeal to male players or give women little clothing for a ridiculous “reason,” companies design women to be sexy. Sega designs the female animal characters of Sonic the Hedgehog in this way, which would be inappropriate in any context but is particularly strange in children’s games about animals.
When video games use anthropomorphic animals, they either include clothing or design innocently naked characters. Sonic overthrows this essential formula by dressing their female characters and making their male characters naked. This simultaneously desexualizes the males and sexualizes the females: by concealing characters with clothes, Sega emphasizes their hidden sexual parts. With shots under Amy’s skirt and outfits that emphasize Rouge’s curves and cleavage, Sega oversexualizes characters who shouldn’t be sexual at all.
6 Madame Flurrie — Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Usually, ghosts without clothing are innocent or barely sexualized, but Madame Flurrie scars the screen with inappropriate nudity. Like Valentina, Flurrie’s breasts bounce whenever she moves. Even though she hovers over the ground, Flurrie moves up and down as if walking, and her breasts shake accordingly.
Nintendo not only includes Flurrie’s oversexualized nudity but also highlights it. When you first meet Flurrie, she obsesses over a necklace, stating she can’t be seen without it. She steps out of her bedroom wearing only the necklace. Nintendo jokes that Flurry knows nothing about appropriate clothing; by including the joke, Nintendo shows they similarly understand nothing about appropriateness in kids’ games. Flurrie ruins her game through terrible visual design and lewd behavior in an E-rated title.
5 Rock Formation In Terrydactyland — Banjo-Tooie
Every game in the Banjo-Kazooie trilogy includes sexual references via dialogue, as well as some visually inappropriate characters (Mrs. Boggy is almost as bad as Valentina and Madame Flurrie when it comes to constantly bouncing breasts). However, the series only includes one sexual Easter egg in its stage design — and it’s a big one. The peninsula in Terrydactyland seems like an average platforming challenge when you’re traversing it. If you fly over the rock formation, however, you’ll immediately notice its similarity to a man’s privates.
Since Rare has so much fun with inappropriate Easter eggs, we’re surprised Terrydactyland is the only stage with sexual secrets. Perhaps we simply haven’t found hidden Easter eggs; after all, most people don’t expect such atrocities in E-rated games.
4 Elise Kisses Sonic — Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Bringing dead characters back to life with a kiss has always been inappropriate, disturbing, and weirdly popular in fairy tales. Some fairy tales justify these kisses through mutual love. Others disguise their necrophilia with the label of “a true love’s kiss,” and the happy ending that follows ends up indirectly (and incompletely) validating the necrophilia.
In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), nothing justifies Elise’s kiss. Most fans feel uncomfortable because Elise kisses an animal, but that’s not what makes this moment inappropriate — after all, the animals in Sonic the Hedgehog live alongside humans as anthropomorphic beings. Elise makes her game inappropriate through a necrophilic violation of Sonic’s body. Even though Elise loves Sonic, Sonic never returns her romantic affections. Elise only succeeds in kissing Sonic because he’s dead.
3 Inbreeding — Pokémon Series
Breeding in Pokémon has always seemed odd. If you view Pokémon as animals, breeding makes sense, but many players —especially children— view Pokémon as dear pets. Would you really put two of your pets together to try and create a better-looking pet? No, you wouldn’t — but Pokémon sucks players in through attacks and stats. Since Pokémon centers on combat, players view breeding as a simple gameplay mechanic that improves your chances of victory.
Treating Pokémon as statistical objects is inappropriate, but breeding becomes especially inappropriate with inbred Pokémon. Pokémon gives you the option to breed related Pokémon — an option many players take for higher stats. Since kids focus on numbers instead of logic, they don’t realize how culturally inappropriate inbreeding is. In order to preserve children’s innocence and morals, Nintendo shouldn’t allow inbreeding in Pokémon.
2 TEC-XX Watches You Shower — Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Some players think TEC-XX’s love for Peach is cute, but most recognize just how creepy TEC-XX is. Designed to guard Peach within her prison cell, TEC-XX ends up loving and helping Peach.
TEC-XX falls in love by watching Peach — more specifically, by watching Peach shower. You can’t progress in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door until you jump in the shower, at which point TEC-XX opens a new path. The computer unlocks doors that lead you to it (if that doesn’t terrify you, you obviously haven’t played System Shock). TEC-XX explains its attraction to Peach in terribly inappropriate words, saying that its circuitry “nearly overheated at your image” and that it desires “to observe you.” Peach concludes that TEC-XX loves her, but that’s not love — that’s voyeurism.
1 Starlene’s Growing Breasts — Ratchet & Clank
If you side-jump in front of Starlene, the woman who runs the hoverboard races in Blackwater City, her breasts will grow. They enlarge every time you jump, making her breasts as large as her torso.
It’s unclear if Insomniac Games intentionally included this mechanic. Whether we’re witnessing a glitch or a developer’s joke, Starlene’s growing breasts are extremely bizarre and inappropriate. The Ratchet & Clank franchise isn’t particularly subtle about its crudity, using titles like Up Your Arsenal and Size Matters. Every game in the series has an E10+ rating to protect young viewers, but even E10+ is too low for something like Starlene’s growing breasts. Any player who discovers this mechanic will manipulate it, turning Starlene into an objectified joke.