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 section for ratings, trailers, 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)
  • Rent before you buy
  • Research a title at Nintendo.com. Our site provides detailed information on the majority of games for our currently-available systems. To access this information, click "Games" from the top area of the website.
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 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.

 


How do I know if I have to purchase additional accessories?

Most of the games for our systems do not require the use of any accessories. At times, however, it is necessary to use or purchase extra products to enhance or make full use of the product. Nintendo puts icons on all of its packaging to indicate whether a particular game uses accessories.

 

 

 

Wii
The following icons appear on the back of Wii game disc cases, or on Virtual Console games' descriptions on the Wii Shop Channel. Scroll down to see the icons.

Wii Remote:
Memory Card 59
The Wii Remote is the unique wireless controller for the Wii console. The following icon depicts how many Wii Remotes can be used at the same time during play (up to 4).

Nunchuk
Controllers Game boxes that feature this icon require, or have modes that require, the use of the Nunchuk controller. The Nunchuk attaches to the Wii Remote to add an additional functionality for certain games.

Classic Controller:
Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable
Because the Wii Shop Channel features downloadable games from several different home consoles and publishers, a specialized controller was designed to be flexible enough to play many of them: the Classic Controller. Games that feature this icon on their Wii Shop Channel description page can be used with the Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro.

Nintendo GameCube Controller:
Along with playing Nintendo GameCube games on your Wii console, the Nintendo GameCube controller is versatile enough to play many Wii and Virtual Console games from the Wii Shop Channel. Games that feature this icon on their description or on their packaging can use the Nintendo GameCube controller.

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection:
Games that display this icon on their packaging are supported by the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which lets players connect and play with other Wii players across the globe. It's simple to use and free - no hidden service fees, no extra equipment necessary. All you need is a Wii, a compatible game, and a home network using just about any wireless router. For more information on connecting or playing, including alternative connection methods, please click here.

Wii Speak microphone:
The Wii Speak microphone gives you the ability to chat with friends near and far when playing compatible games such as Animal Crossing: City Folk and the Wii Speak Channel. A broadband internet connection is required to use the Wii Speak accessory.

Wii Zapper:
The Wii Zapper unites your Wii Remote and Nunchuk (each sold separately) and brings you an experience like no other. Steer your character's movement using the Control Stick on your Nunchuk as you zap your way to victory with your Wii Remote.

Player's Guide Available:
Stuck in a game or trying to find all the hidden items? Games that feature this icon on their packaging have a Player's Guide available (while supplies last) to help you get through the game. To find out more on Player's Guides, click here to visit or Nintendo Power and Player's Guide section.

Wii Wheel:
Hold on! Games that feature this icon are compatible with the Wii Wheel, which lets you attach a Wii Remote for a whole new level of fun and immersion. The Wii Wheel is included with Mario Kart Wii, and can also be purchased separately.

Wii Balance Board:
The Wii Balance Board accessory was created from the ground up to work with Wii Fit. The Wii Balance Board is more than just a scale - it can read your real-life movements and bring them to life on screen, just like the Wii Remote controller. Realistically snowboard down a mountain or walk a tight rope - it's just one more way to get into the game. Look for this icon on a game's packaging to determine if it uses the Wii Balance Board.

Wii MotionPlus™:
When used with compatible games, Wii MotionPlus more quickly and accurately reflects motions in a 3-D space. The Wii MotionPlus accessory attaches to the end of the Wii Remote and, combined with the accelerometer and the sensor bar, allows for more comprehensive motion sensing of the Wii Remote.


 

 


Nintendo DS (all types)
The following icons appear on Nintendo DS product packaging. These icons are generally found near the back, top section of the box.

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Games that display this icon on their packaging are supported by the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Launched in the Winter of 2005, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection lets players connect and play with other Nintendo DS players across the globe. It's simple to use and free - no hidden service fees, no extra equipment necessary. All you need is a Nintendo DS and a Wi-Fi-ready game . Play over your home wireless network using just about any wireless router or if you're on the go, head to one of thousands of free Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection hotspots to connect and play.

DS Single-Card Download Play
Only For
The DS Single-Card Download Play icon is featured on games that require only one DS Game Card in order to play multiplayer with other systems. Players without a copy of a the DS Game Card can download the game information from the player who has the copy in their system. For information on setting a single pak multiplayer game, click here.

DS Multi-Card Play
Only For
The DS Multi-Card icon is featured on multiplayer games that require each Nintendo DS to have a copy of the game. For information on setting up a multiplayer game, consult the game's instruction manual.

DS Rumble Pak
Games that display this icon on their packaging support the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak. The Rumble Pak inserts into the Game Boy Advance game pak slot of the Nintendo DS, and when used with a compatible game, will shake the Nintendo DS during game play when a "rumble" event occurs (such as firing a weapon, for example). The Rumble Pak is included with Metroid Prime Pinball and is not compatible with the Nintendo DSi nor the Nintendo DSi XL.

Only Plays On Nintendo DSi
Games with this icon on their packaging can only be played on the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL, and are not compatible with Nintendo DS (original style) or Nintendo DS Lite. These games may take advantage of the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL system's unique features, such as their cameras.

 

Nintendo GameCube
The following icons appear on the back of the Nintendo GameCube disc case in a window near the top of the page. Scroll down to see the icons.

Memory Card:
Memory Card 59
The Memory Card is an information storage device used to record information such as high scores, game progress, and more. This accessory is REQUIRED for nearly all Nintendo GameCube games that save game progress. You have the ability to save data from many different games on a single Memory Card; however, some games require more of the Memory Card's memory blocks than others. If you have a game that uses the Memory Card, please read the game's instruction manual to find out how many blocks are used with the game and what kind of data is saved. There are currently two licensed Memory Cards available: the Memory Card 59, Memory Card 251, and the Memory Card 1019. The Memory Card 59 has 59 blocks available to store game data, while the Memory Card 251 has 251 available blocks, and the Memory Card 1019 has 1019 blocks available. Games released after the launch of the system will note how many blocks are required on the packaging.

Multiple Controllers:
Controllers This icon indicates the game allows multiple players. Up to four players can play, either simultaneous or alternating, depending on the title. Use the icon to determine the number of players. The purchase of additional controllers is required to make full use of the multiple player feature in a game. Controllers with a single outline denote simultaneous play, while a dashed controller outline indicates that players must take turns.

Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable:
Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable
The Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable is a specially designed cable that allows the Game Boy Advance to be connected to the NINTENDO GAMECUBE to exchange data or provide other special functions. Please see the game's packaging for specific details about how the cable is used. Please note that the Game Boy Advance does not work with NINTENDO GAMECUBE unless the game developer has specifically integrated this feature into their game.

Nintendo GameCube Modem/Broadband Adapter compatible:
The Nintendo GameCube was designed to offer two types of connectivity to other Nintendo GameCube systems: online via the Modem and Broadband Adapters and compatible games, or over a LAN (Local Area
Connection) using the Broadband Adapter and LAN-compatible games. Please click here for additional details about these features.

Nintendo GameCube DK Bongo Controller
Games that feature this icon on their packaging are compatible with the Nintendo GameCube DK Bongo Controller. This unique controller lets players control the action by playing the drums and clapping their hands. For a list of compatible games, click here to view a pre-sorted Master Games List.

 

Game Boy Advance
The following icons appear on Game Boy Advance product packaging. These icons are generally found near the back, top section of the box.

"Only For"
Only For

The "Only For" symbol appears on games that are compatible with the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP. Games with this symbol will only play on these systems (although they will also work on Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite in single-player mode). They will not work on any other Game Boy systems.

For more Information on Game Boy game pak compatibility, link here.


Game Boy Advance Link Cable:
Game Boy Advance Link Cable

The "GBA Link Cable" appears on games that can use the Game Boy Advance Link Cable, which allows up to four players to connect their Game Boy Advances and Game Boy Advance SPs together to enjoy multiplayer features. Depending on the game, players can either play head-to-head (such as Racing, or Sports games) or exchange information (such as in the game Pokémon). In most cases, the use of the Link Cable requires all players to have a copy of the game and enough Link Cables to connect all of the units. However, games with the "Link It Up" icon (see below) require only a single game pak for some multi-player game modes. If you wish to connect two Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Advance SP systems to play older Game Boy software, you will need to use the "Universal Game Link Cable." If you have a Link Cable-compatible game, please consult your instruction manual for details of how two games can be linked."


"Link it Up" -- One game, multiple players:
Link it Up

The "Link it Up" symbol appears on games that allow multiple players to link up and play using a single game pak and one or more Game Boy Advance Link Cables. Please consult the game's manual for information on setup information and available game modes.


Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable

The Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable is a specially designed cable that allows the Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Advance SP to be connected to the NINTENDO GAMECUBE to exchange data or provide other special functions. Please see the game's packaging for specific details about how the cable is used. Please note that the Game Boy Advance/Game Boy Advance SP does not work with NINTENDO GAMECUBE unless the game developer has specifically integrated this feature into their game.


Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter:

Games that feature this icon on their packaging are compatible with the Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter, with the exception of a select few games that were released prior to the Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter's release (Mario Golf: Advance Tour, and all multiplayer Classic NES games). This product allows players to enjoy multiplayer gaming without wires -- with a recommended range of 10 feet. For a complete list of compatible games, click here to go to a pre-filtered Master Games List.


e-Reader Compatible:

The e-Reader icon appears on all trading cards compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. This accessory allows players to scan special "dot codes" into their Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Advance SP, enabling fun, new features. These can include special mini games, full-size classic NES games, and extra features in games like Animal Crossing.


Nintendo 64
The Nintendo 64 accessory icons appear on the right side of the front of each game box.

Controller Pak:
Controller Pak

The Nintendo Controller Pak is an information storage device used to record information such as high scores, game progress, and more. This accessory is optional for most games, although some require the use of the Controller Pak to save game progress. You have the ability to save data from many different games on a single Controller Pak; however, some games require more of the Controller Pak's memory than others. If you have a game that uses the Controller Pak, please read the game's instruction manual to find out how much of the Controller Pak's memory is used with the game and what kind of data is saved on the Controller Pak.


Transfer Pak:
Transfer Pak

The Nintendo Transfer Pak is a special device that allows players to move information back and forth between certain Nintendo 64 games and their corresponding Game Boy games. Only games featuring the Transfer Pak icon utilize its features. For games that feature the Transfer Pak icon, the accessory is still optional and its use is not required to enjoy the game. If you have a game that uses the Transfer Pak, please read the game's instruction manual to learn which games it can exchange information with and what kind of information is swapped.


Expansion Pak:
Expansion Pak

The Nintendo Expansion Pak is a memory upgrade for the Nintendo 64 console. The Expansion Pak adds four megabytes of Random Access Memory (RAM) to the machine. With the Expansion Pak inserted into the system, Expansion Pak games will have additional features, such as more detailed and colorful graphics, higher resolutions, longer instant replays, extra characters on screen, and more. How the Expansion Pak improves the game depends on what the programmers decided to do for that particular title. For games featuring the Expansion Pak icon at left, the Expansion Pak is an optional accessory.


Expansion Pak Required Games:
Expansion Pak Required Games

Sometimes, larger games, like Donkey Kong 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, require more memory capacity, and therefore bear the "Expansion Pak Required" icon at left. You must have an Expansion Pak in the Nintendo 64 to be able to play these games. Once you have an Expansion Pak installed in your N64 control deck, it is not necessary to remove it.


Rumble Pak:
Rumble Pak

The Nintendo Rumble Pak is a "force-feedback" device which fits into your controller. For example, when a player hits a wall in a racing game, the Rumble Pak will provide a shaking motion to give players the illusion of actually feeling the impact. For games featuring the Rumble Pak icon at left, the Rumble Pak may be used with the game. However, even though the game can use the Rumble Pak, it is an optional accessory and not required to enjoy the game.


Multiple Controllers:
Multiple Controllers

This icon indicates the game allows more than one person to play at a time (up to four). The purchase of additional controllers is required to make full use of the multiple player feature in a game.


Multiple Controllers:
Multiple Controllers

This icon indicates the game allows more than one person to play at a time (up to four). The purchase of additional controllers is required to make full use of the multiple player feature in a game.

 

Game Boy/Game Boy Color
The Game Boy and Game Boy Color icons appear on the back of the packaging in a small window, with the exception of the "Only For" symbol which appears on the front.

Only For:
Only for Game Boy Color

The "Only For" symbol on Game Boy Color game packaging lets you know that you may play this title only on the Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance systems. It will not work on any other Game Boy systems.


Game Boy Printer:
Game Boy Printer

For games featuring the Printer icon at left, the Game Boy Printer is an optional accessory that allows players to print images and text from the game. If you have a game which can use the Game Boy Printer, please consult the game's instruction manual for information on how and where to print.


Link Cable:
Link Cable

Games featuring the Link Cable icon at left can use the Universal Link Cable, which allows players to connect two Game Boys together to enjoy two-player features. Depending on the game, players can either play head-to-head (such as Racing, or Sports games) or exchange information (such as in the game Pokémon). The use of the Universal Link Cable requires both players to have a copy of the game. If you have a Link Cable-compatible game, please consult your instruction manual for details of how two games can be linked.


Infra Red Link:
Infra Red Link

The Infra Red Link (IR) is not an accessory. This is a feature of the Game Boy Color itself. Games that take advantage of the IR feature allow the transmission of certain types of information (such as trading players in a sports game) from one Game Boy Color game to another. This feature is not available on Original Game Boys, as they do not feature an Infra Red port. If you have an IR game, please consult the game manual for information on how this feature is used.

Note: This feature does not allow for two Game Boys to be linked to play games simultaneously. That feature is provided by the Link Cable.


Rumble Feature:
Rumble Feature

This is a "force-feedback" device built into the actual game pak. When you buy the game, you get the Rumble Feature in it! When a player, for example, hits a wall in a racing game, the Rumble Feature will provide a shaking motion to give the player the illusion of actually feeling the impact.


Super Game Boy:
Super Game Boy

The Super Game Boy was a product that allowed players to play their Game Boy titles through their Super NES. The Super Game Boy is no longer available.