Nintendo’s Mario has been the face of kid-friendly gaming for decades, but the ratings board doesn’t think his new adventure is for everybody.
Expectations are sky-high for Nintendo’s upcoming Super Mario Odyssey. Not only is it the first outing for the company’s most famous character on its new Switch hardware, it comes on the heels of the monumental critical and popular success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and promises a similar mix of classic Nintendo fundamentals with modern, open gameplay sensibilities.
Just about everyone is excited to play the game this fall, but the U.S.-based Entertainment Software Rating Board, which assigns age ratings to games sold in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, feels that one group should curb its enthusiasm, as it’s slapping an E10+ rating on Super Mario Odyssey, meaning it doesn’t recommend the game for players under 10.
▼ The trailer for Super Mario Odyssey, for all you gamers with double-digit ages to enjoy
▼ While Super Mario Odyssey is yet to be publicly listed on the ESRB’s website, on the official Nintendo website the E10+ rating is clearly shown.
The ESRB has two age ratings below E10+. The lowest is EC (“Early Childhood”), used for games with “content aimed towards young children,” which sounds like as much an evaluation of the game’s complexity as its subject material. There’s also E (“Everyone”), previously called K-A (“Kids to Adults”), which the ESRB describes as:
“Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.”
Super Mario Odyssey is the first mainline Mario game to ever receive a rating as high as E10+ (a few spin-offs featuring the character have been given the 10-and-up rating). The ESRB’S E10+ criteria are:
“Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more [in comparison to E-rating games] cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.”
Based on that description, it seems unlikely that the ESRB, in its examination of Super Mario Odyssey, has found anything so objectionable as Grand Theft Auto’s infamous “Hot Coffee” sex simulator mini game, Mortal Kombat’s gory fatalities, or Night Trap’s traumatizing singing scene (that was what all the controversy with that one was about, right?). Comparing the standards for E and E10+, it seems that the evaluators have either decided that Super Mario Odyssey either contains more violence than previous games in the series, or has some mildly suggestive content.
The ESRB hasn’t commented on its decision, but website Go Nintendo speculates the inclusion of realistically proportioned humans in the game’s New Donk City, whom Mario can jump on, might be a factor, as all previous mainline Mario games have had only obviously cartoonish characters to interact with. If violence does turn out to be the reason for the game’s E10+ rating, though, it’ll be kind of ironic, seeing as how it’s also the first mainline Mario game without permanent death.
Super Mario Odyssey is scheduled for a worldwide release on October 27, meaning all you nine-year-olds with a birthday between now and then can breathe easy.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can’t help mentally associating “New Donk City” with “New Jack City.”