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Xbox Games You Should Never Play Around Your Parents

While there are plenty of fantastic video games marketed towards children, the industry is full of games that are decidedly not family-friendly at all, In fact, there are whole franchises built around showcasing more mature and graphic content. This distinction carries over to Microsoft's successful line of Xbox consoles, beginning with the original Xbox in 2001 and continuing through with the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. From first-person shooters with unflinching depictions of violence to cheeky adventure titles filled with suggestive themes and content, the Xbox has been host to plenty of titles that are geared for adult gamers looking to veer into more M-rated fare.


Here are some of the most notable Xbox games that discerning parents might want to keep from their kids for a few years, as well as a few that older gamers should perhaps not play with their own parents nearby — at least to avoid supremely awkward situations. From frank depictions of sex and dirty humor to games that revel in bloody violence, you just might want to save playing the following Xbox games for after dark.

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball provides an scantily clad departure

One of the biggest launch titles for the original Xbox was the fighting game "Dead or Alive 3," bringing the Tecmo franchise to a new generation of gamers. Instead of following up with another fighting game, the next installment in the fan-favorite series was the sports title "Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball," which brought the female cast emembers together for a swimsuit-clad volleyball tournament. And while this premise may seem innocuous on the surface, "Xtreme Beach Volleyball" became the first Mature-rated game in the "Dead or Alive" franchise.


As noted by IGN, its focus on eye candy, unlockable swimwear, suggestive cut scenes, and meticulously programmed jiggle physics for its buxom characters made "Xtreme Beach Volleyball" a departure for "Dead or Alive." The 2003 game would also lead to a 2006 sequel on the Xbox 360 and an Asia-only sequel in 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, each featuring even more suggestive minigames to play. While perhaps the best beach volleyball game series on the Xbox, "Xtreme Beach Volleyball" leans more into the male gaze than some parents may prefer.

Grand Theft Auto brings the unflinching crime action

While the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise may have given the PlayStation 2 its bestselling launch title in 2001, the franchise proved to be just as effective when it arrived on the original Xbox in 2003. "Grand Theft Auto 3" and its follow-up "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" were bundled together on the Xbox, bringing a double dose of open-world mayhem to the Microsoft console. The franchise's subsequent installment, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was launched for the Xbox in 2005 after a period of timed exclusivity on the PS2.


Ever since the "GTA" series transformed its art style for the 3D era, the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise has earned its fair share of controversy for its unflinching depictions of sex, violence, and rampant drug use. One particularly notorious incident saw a mod developed for "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," allowing uncensored sex scenes to be displayed in the game from its original source code. The series' mature reputation did not diminish on Xbox consoles, with the games just as gleefully graphic as they had been on the PS2. The adult themes and rampant crime in the "Grand Theft Auto" series has always made it tough to play around parents.

Conker: Live & Reloaded is definitely not for kids

One of the most infamous games ever released on the Nintendo 64 was "Conker's Bad Fur Day," a Mature-rated adventure starring an innocent-looking squirrel Conker, returning after his cutesier appearance in "Diddy Kong Racing." After Microsoft acquired developer Rare, the studio remastered "Bad Fur Day" in 2005 for the Xbox as "Conker: Live & Reloaded." And just like the 2001 original game, "Live & Reloaded" quickly reminds players that not all anamorphic cartoon characters are intended for family-friendly audiences.


After a rough night out at his local pub, Conker wakes up the next morning having been drafted to serve in a war as he searches for his girlfriend Berri. Updated to take advantage of the Xbox's hardware capabilities, "Live & Reloaded" features the same raucously suggestive humor and occasionally bloody action as the original game, complete with singing piles of poo and graphically bloody gunfights. Interestingly, "Live & Reloaded" is actually tamer than "Bad Fur Day," with some censored dialogue (per IGN), though the game is still decidedly not for impressionable children by any stretch of the imagination.

Scarface: The World Is Yours is even wilder than the movie

The 1983 film "Scarface" has become something of a cultural touchstone, thanks largely to Al Pacino's memorable portrayal of Cuban drug lord Tony Montana. The movie was adapted into the 2006 open-world game "Scarface: The World Is Yours," released on the Xbox and multiple other platforms. The game retold and expanded upon the cinematic story, adding its own unique gameplay mechanics to make it distinct from the similar formula established by the "Grand Theft Auto" series.


With its depiction of the illicit drug trade in 1980s Miami, "Scarface" retains all the mature subject matter of the film, right down to Tony's foul-mouthed tirades and unflinching depictions of violence and drug use. Fight sequences in the game are almost cartoonish at times, with Tony able to target his enemy's private areas before stomping them into the pavement. Just like the 1983 film, "Scarface" brings the visceral thrills and indulges the excesses of Tony's lifestyle in full. Your folks probably don't want to see how quickly you take to it.

Gears of War brings the blood and fury

One of the biggest Xbox-exclusive franchises is "Gears of War," which launched on the Xbox 360 in 2006 and has been a prominent fixture on Xbox consoles ever since. Set on the planet Sera, humanity is already divided by a vicious war for resources when it is overwhelmed by a subterranean race of monsters known as the Locust Horde. With humanity pushed to the brink of extinction by these relentless attacks, only a ragtag squad of hardened soldiers stand as civilization's best chance to survive.


One of the most defining elements of the "Gears of War" franchise is the characters' primary weapon – an assault rifle with a functional chainsaw attached on the barrel. This brutal firearm sets the tone for the entire "Gears of War" series, with players gruesomely dismembering any enemies in their path with a variety of similarly lethal weaponry. Five main installments and a number of spinoffs have been released since the 2006 original game, each maintaining the series' reputation for unflinching sci-fi violence and bleakly post-apocalyptic stakes. 

Saints Row introduces a gang-ridden open-world

With open-world action games all the rage in the gaming industry in the wake of the successes of "GTA," THQ launched the "Saints Row" franchise in 2006. The inaugural game in the series was an Xbox 360 exclusive and took place in Stillwater, a fictional city was divided among several vicious gangs. In "Saints Row," the player character is recruited by one of the smaller gangs and tasked with eliminating each of the rival gangs in a hostile takeover.


Just like "Grand Theft Auto," "Saints Row" gives players free rein to carry out as much explosive carnage as they desire in the open-world environment. More nonsensical in its tone than many of its contemporaries, "Saints Row" still brought plenty of R-rated fun to the proceedings as players made a name for themselves amidst the gangland fights. If "Grand Theft Auto" celebrates the legacy of classic crime movies, "Saints Row" veers into the excess of gang culture in its own offbeat, violent way — which might be a bit uncomfortable for mom to see.

Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust updates a sleazy relic

One adult-themed video game franchise that has surprisingly endured for decades is "Leisure Suit Larry," a series starring a shameless womanizer who embarks on many misadventures to pick up women. The franchise made its first foray onto the Xbox with 2004's "Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude" and continued onto the Xbox 360 with 2009's "Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust." 


"Box Office Bust" had the distinction of being a timed exclusive for the 360, debuting on the console a month before other platforms and giving 360 users the first opportunity to get in on the action. Lucky them? Maybe not, since it's also known as one of the worst-rated games of all time.

"Box Office Bust" follows the adventures of decided chauvinist Larry Lovage as he searches for someone sabotaging operations at his uncle Larry Laffer's adult film studio. While "Box Office Bust" doesn't have the graphic nudity of its predecessors, the game still relies on deeply misogynistic humor as Larry gets into all manner of mischief and tries to get lucky. "Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust" is a reminder that not all franchises need to stand the passage of time.


Bayonetta is empowering, but racy

Industry veteran Hideki Kamiya, who previously created the acclaimed hack-and-slash franchise "Devil May Cry," introduced a very different kind of hero with the "Bayonetta" game series. Launched in 2009, the game followed the eponymous witch as she moved to stop the forces of Heaven and Hell from overtaking the Earth. And if "Devil May Cry" is a franchise that emphasizes coolness through the lens of machismo, "Bayonetta" presents it with a sense of feminine style and sexuality.


Bayonetta is cloaked primarily by her enchanted black hair, but the game definitely leans into the sex appeal of its protagonist by having her draw from portions of her hair to perform her magic, leading to some revealing shots. Bayonetta constantly poses suggestively and laces her dialogue with constant innuendo as she dispatches her enemies. "Bayonetta" would spawn two direct sequels, though both titles were exclusive to Nintendo consoles, making the original 360 game the franchise's sole appearance on an Xbox console. Bayonetta is super cool, but probably pretty difficult to explain to your parents.

Rogue Warrior is a foul-mouthed failure

One game that has quietly garnered notoriety for its all-around poor quality over the years is 2009's "Rogue Warrior," published by Bethesda Softworks for the Xbox 360. The game follows the adventures of U.S. Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko as he infiltrates North Korea to disrupt its ballistic missile program. Apart from all the game's technical flaws — and it is certainly abundant in those — "Rogue Warrior" is laughably bad for its questionable presentation and content.


From Marcinko's unintentionally hilarious penchant for constantly swearing while on the job (including when his superior officers attempt to give him orders) to the absurdly gory violence, "Rogue Warrior" is a mess. The game is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed, but in all the worst ways. Some games feature heroes that your parents would love to see you looking up to, but "Rogue Warrior" is not that game. Mean-spirited and borderline unplayable at multiple points, the biggest redeeming factor for "Rogue Warrior" is how mercifully short it is.

Catherine dives into erotic psychological surrealism

One of the most decidedly unique puzzle games ever released on an Xbox console is 2011's "Catherine," developed and published by Atlus for the Xbox 360. Featuring both narrative-driven gameplay sections and sequences with puzzle-solving and platforming, "Catherine" is a game that pushes against conventional genre boundaries to provide its own blended experience. The title follows a young man named Vincent who cheats on his longtime girlfriend Katherine with an ingenue named Catherine, only to find himself in a surreal, psychological nightmare.


With its darkly erotic premise, "Catherine" was a conscious effort by Atlus to make a game that featured much more mature themes and subject matter than its successful "Persona" series. Though perhaps not as risque as its premise makes it seem, "Catherine" still runs rife with overt sexual innuendo and frank, adult commentary on love and lust. 

An expanded edition, "Catherine: Full Body," was released in 2019, which aimed to clean up some of the more problematic elements of the original version (per IGN). However, that updated version never made it to an Xbox console.

Lollipop Chainsaw blends '80s horror with self-aware sleaze

Fan-favorite game director and designer Suda51 and acclaimed filmmaker James Gunn teamed up to bring their eccentric storytelling sensibilities to 2012 Xbox 360 game "Lollipop Chainsaw." Combining hack-and-slash action gameplay with a punk rock zombie-smashing story, the game revels in crude humor and bloody thrills. And with protagonist Juliet Starling having just turned 18 at the start of the game, the way she's presented throughout the story can occasionally feel uncomfortably sleazy to say the least.


With her boyfriend Nick's still-living decapitated head by her side, Juliet cuts through hordes of enemies as she sets out to save her world from a zombie apocalypse, using her chainsaw to predictably gruesome effect. A gory rollercoaster ride of a game, "Lollipop Chainsaw" takes cues from '80s horror with its own offbeat and darkly self-aware sense of humor. A "Lollipop Chainsaw" remake is currently in the works for a 2023 release, though planned platforms have not yet been announced.

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad revels in horror-fueled cheesecake

The "Onechanbara" franchise predates "Lollipop Chainsaw" by almost a decade, but it still operates around the same basic sensibilities: buxom protagonists taking down enemies with a variety of weapons. "Onechanbara" follows the adventures of Aya, a cowgirl armed with a katana who battles against the forces of darkness. The franchise made its debut on Xbox consoles in 2006 with "Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad," bringing all the bloody mayhem and skimpily dressed heroes to the Xbox 360.


The first "Onechanbara" game released in North America, "Bikini Samurai Squad" gives players three heroes to choose from and rewards them with a wardrobe of risqué costumesfor their characters. Over the course of the game, characters are powered up by how much blood they spill, but excessive gore can also dull their blades if they go unattended. A hack-and-slash horror game that lives up to the gruesome expectations of the genre, "Bikini Samurai Squad" would also be the very last "Onechanbara" title released in North America on an Xbox console — so far, at least.

South Park maintains the show's raunchy sensibilities

While there had certainly been video games based on the long-running animated series "South Park" before, series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took a more direct developmental role starting with 2014's "South Park: The Stick of Truth." Released on a variety of platforms, including the Xbox 360, "The Stick of Truth" was much more faithful to the tone and presentation of the show and contained plenty of easter eggs for fans of a show that has frequently been challenged by parent groups. This, of course, includes the usual "South Park" penchant for outrageous sense of humor and cartoonishly graphic violence.


"The Stick of Truth" sees gamers play as a new kid moving to the town of South Park and befriending Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, just before their role-playing fantasy game plunges the town into chaos. With its raunchy humor and presentation, fans praised "The Stick of Truth" for its fidelity to the animated series and immersive look at the show's world. "The Stick of Truth" was remastered for the Xbox One in 2018 and received a sequel in 2017's "South Park: The Fractured but Whole," which likewise pushed the limits of good taste.

Sunset Overdrive brings the irreverent chaos

Developer Insomniac Games went chaotically cyberpunk with "Sunset Overdrive," blending an irreverent sense of humor with a horrific premise. Set in the year 2027, mega-conglomerate FizzCo's latest energy drink causes anyone who drinks it to monstrously mutate into ravenously violent creatures. Players take on the role of FizzCo employees attempting to survive their monster-filled city as they set out to dismantle the sinister corporation for good.


From its decidedly mature sense of humor to its post-apocalyptic sensibilities, "Sunset Overdrive" embraces dark comedy to great effect. Players can team up with others online to take back their city, navigating quickly with movements reminiscent of "Jet Set Radio" and "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater," though, all while blood and gore run plentifully. Even though it is genuinely a blast, "Sunset Overdrive" is definitely not for younger players due to its abrasively punk rock tone and decidedly adult jokes.

Mortal Kombat 11 delivers what the franchise does best

If there is any video game franchise that has dominated headlines with parental concerns over its graphic content, it's "Mortal Kombat." Spilling liberal amounts of blood with each major blow and featuring famously gory finishing moves, "Mortal Kombat" has been upsetting moms and dads for decades. This distinction remains true for 2019's "Mortal Kombat 11," which released for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and leaned into the time-bending premise that began with 2011's "Mortal Kombat."


As the villainous Kronika attempts to rewrite the timeline, heroes from across the series' history unite to try to stop her, with battles raging from military bases on Earth to raging oceans of pure blood. "Mortal Kombat 11" doubles down on the franchise's gruesome reputation with some truly savage fatalities and moments that slow the action down and offer x-ray shots of bones being broken. "Mortal Kombat 11" wants you to know the full extent of the bloody damage. The appearances of guest fighters ranging from Robocop to John Rambo, each of whom boast their own painful fighting techniques, ensures that "Mortal Kombat 11" catapults the franchise to unflinchingly brutal heights.