Welcome to the Nintendo Buyer's Guide! This area of our website is dedicated to making sure you select the best games to suit your family's entertainment needs.

In this section you will find detailed information about:

 

How do I use game ratings to determine if the content is appropriate for my family?

To help ensure you are informed about the content of our titles, Nintendo and its licensees submit their games to an industry ratings board called the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

About the ESRB
Established in 1994, the ESRB is an independent organization responsible for reviewing and rating video games for content. Every game that appears on a Nintendo system is rated by the ESRB. Leading members of Congress, child advocacy groups, retailers, and developers have all given praise to the ESRB rating system.

People who rate the games
The ESRB uses highly-trained raters, from all walks of life, to review games and determine what a game's rating will be. The raters are not affiliated with any company or publisher in the video game industry.

What information the ratings provide
Once a game has been reviewed, it is assigned a rating and, at times, one or more content descriptors. These are designed to provide information on the type of content the game contains, and what age level the content is appropriate for. A game's rating is found on the front of the game's packaging, and game content descriptors, where applicable, are found on the back.

The ratings a game can receive are:

EC (Early Childhood) - may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
E (Everyone) -may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) - may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
T (Teen) - may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
M (Mature) - may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.
AO (Adults Only) - should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.*
RP (Rating Pending) - title has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.).

 

Kids to Adult (No Longer Used)
Although this rating category was phased out in 1998, you may see it on some older games. Titles rated "Kids to Adult (K-A)" have content that may be suitable for persons ages six and older. They may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief (for example, slapstick comedy), or some crude language.

*Please note that Nintendo does not sell or license games that carry the ESRB rating "AO" (Adults Only).

Content Descriptors: In addition to the rating found on the front of game boxes, the ESRB provides additional information in the form of "content descriptors," which can be found on the back of the package.

Example of a Content Descriptor

Content descriptors give more detail about content if the Rating Board believes there may be concern to some buyers. For instance, if a game features violent content, the content descriptor can help describe the severity of the violence (cartoon, mild, etc.). If there is no content descriptor on the back of the package, the Rating Board believes that the product does not include content that must be highlighted.

Are you curious about a specific game on a Nintendo system? Try our Games List for ratings, reviews, screen shots, and more.

The ESRB has a website at www.esrb.org that offers rating information on individual games as well as information about both the ESRB age rating categories and content descriptors. The site also offers a powerful search feature that allows you to search by rating, title, platform, publisher, and even by specific content descriptor(s). Using the search function you can, for example, select your platform (i.e. Nintendo Wii) as well as the rating categories you deem appropriate for your household, and the website will return a listing of titles that match your criteria along with their complete rating information. In addition to the search function, the ESRB website also offers a helpful Parent Resources section (http://www.esrb.org/about/resources.jsp) that provides tips about video games as well as links to websites that provide additional help to parents in choosing games for their children and families.


How can I preview the game and see more about its content before I make a purchase?

There are many ways to preview a game before you decide to buy:

  • Research a title at Nintendo.com (See Below)
  • Use reviews in Nintendo Gaming Magazines
  • Rent before you buy
  • Research a title at Nintendo.com. Our site provides detailed information on the majority of games for Wii and Nintendo DS. To access this information, click "Games" from the top area of the website. If the game you are interested in isn't shown, or if you would like to narrow your search by such categories such as ESRB rating, number of players, and type of game, then select the Game Guide.
Key
 Game Profile - View the game box art, download the manual (if available) and find a retailer.
 Game Info - Read an overview of the game, see what features it has, view screenshots (if available) and access any available downloads (if available).
 Description - Read the game's description to help determine if it's a good fit for you and your family. This area will often describe the gameplay and the game's objectives. Using this info can help provide a clearer idea of what to expect from the game.
 Game Details - Learn what type of game it is, how many players it supports, when it comes out, and more.
 ESRB Rating - All of our games are rated by the ESRB for age appropriateness.
  • Research a title from reviews in Nintendo Gaming Magazines. There are various monthly publications in Latin America focused on Nintendo games and systems. The magazines will often feature codes, tips, and game reviews. Game reviews highlight the content, graphics, game play control, replay value, game ratings and much more for many titles released on our systems. The magazines will often have an online website that mirrors their publication. A couple of examples of such sites are Club Nintendo magazine (Mexico) and Nintendo World (Brazil).
  • Research a game by renting the game first. Many video rental stores, from Blockbuster to your local grocery store, now rent video games for our systems. Renting and playing a title is a sure way to ensure the game is a good fit for your family.


 

How can I determine what kinds of games (action, adventure, sports) are best for the age and skill level of my child?

You should consider the following information when determining what games may be good for your child:

It is important to note that by ages eight or nine, most children have the necessary reading level, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination (or skill-level) to play just about any game. After this age, the main things you'll need to determine are what kinds of games your child likes to play and what kind of game content is appropriate for your family. For help determining the appropriate content, link to our section on selecting the right games for your family.

For children under the ages of eight or nine, you may want to take a closer look at their reading level, their problem-solving skills and their hand-eye coordination in determining the best kind of game to purchase.

There are many categories of video games, such as: action, adventure, sports, racing, role playing, puzzle, etc. For a quick rundown of skill-levels required for different game categories, refer to the following table:

Category Minimum Skill Level Main Skills Required Examples of Games
Puzzle Beginner Problem solving, Hand-eye coordination Picross DS, Tetris series
Fighting Average Hand-eye Coordination Super Smash Bros. Melee, Soul Calibur II
Racing Beginner Hand-eye Coordination Excite Truck, Mario Kart series
Role Playing Game (RPG) Average Reading, Problem solving Final Fantasy series, Pokémon series
Action Beginner Hand-eye Coordination, Reading Metroid series, Wario World
Sports Beginner Hand-eye Coordination Wii Sports, Mario Tennis
Adventure Average Reading, Problem solving The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy
First Person Average Hand-eye Coordination Metroid Prime, Red Steel
Strategy/Simulation Beginner - Expert Reading, Problem solving Animal Crossing, Nintendogs
Arcade Beginner Hand-eye Coordination Namco Museum, Midway's Arcade Hits
Other (Board Games, Rythm games, Card/Casino Games, etc.) Average Hand-eye Coordination, Familiarity With Game Rules Mario Party series, WarioWare series

What is the child's reading level?

If a child is not able to read more complicated sentences and vocabulary, you may want to avoid role playing games (RPG's), strategy games, and adventure titles. Typically, these games have a large amount of written text. Because completion of the game depends upon understanding the text, many children who cannot read will become lost. Puzzle, Action and Racing games are the best types of games for those still early in learning reading.

What is the child's problem-solving skill level?

When a child is given a puzzle to solve, do they tend to give up quickly or do they stick with it? Players who enjoy mind challenges tend to favor games like Puzzle, Adventure, Role Playing and certain Action titles. Some of these games, however, will occasionally require stronger reading skills. For Adventure games, specifically, additional research is advised. Researching articles in Nintendo Power and on our website can provide a better overview of a game, or renting the game first to see if the child can understand and enjoy the title. Link here for more information about researching games.

How is the player's hand-eye coordination?

Does your child enjoy working with their hands? Do they tend to do well in activities that require fine motor skills, such as coloring between the lines and lettering? The better a child's hand-eye coordination, the better they will enjoy Action, Sports, and Racing games. These games also work very well to help develop these skills and often offer different difficulty settings to suit a player's level of skill. If a child is still developing these skills, Edutainment titles are a good place to begin. These titles tend to feature popular childhood figures, and serve to ease younger players into game play.