Video Game & Entertainment News

Parents need to know that Mario Tennis Aces is a tennis simulation game that sends Mario on an adventure around an island where he must complete tennis-themed challenges. There’s no violence or scariness beyond the occasional body shot that makes characters wince with a sting. The overall vibe is one of friendly competitive play and — if playing with friends locally or online — a sense of cooperation and teamwork. Each character emotes in his or her own way, with traditional heroes like Mario and Peach cheering and frowning in appropriate situations while villains like Bowser and Wario express anger and gloat with victory. Parents should note, too, that while much of the game isn’t terribly challenging, there are sections — especially puzzle challenges and boss fights — that can be frustrating, and could force players to search online for strategies and solutions.

Parents need to know that “Detroit: Become Human” is an interactive sci-fi adventure for the PlayStation 4. The game is set in a near future in which artificially intelligent androids are created and sold as pseudo-appliances to fill certain roles in society. There are some heavy themes, including domestic violence, the struggle for equality, social disorder, drug use, and more. Over the course of the story, players will see/experience a fair amount of realistic violence: People are shot, stabbed, beaten, and otherwise injured. There’s also sexually suggestive content, partially nude androids, and discussion of androids as sexual partners. Profanity-laced dialogue includes frequent use of “f--k” and “s--t,” and frequent drug use and drinking are shown as the stories unfold.

Parents need to know that “Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido” is an action/puzzle game available for the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS game systems. Players set out on a quest to save their land from oppression through the mastery of the lost art of “Sushido.” Players battle by throwing stacks of empty sushi plates at their opponents, using various magic powers to boost their abilities. The game has a simple premise, but the controls can take quite a bit of time to get used to, especially when using a controller as opposed to a touchscreen. The game does feature some scenes of mild, cartoonish violence over the course of the story, with some characters shown visibly hurt, but never showing any blood or graphic injury.

Parents need to know that “BattleTech” is a turn-based sci-fi strategy game available for download on Windows and Mac. The game is based on the popular “BattleTech” series of tabletop and role-playing games and will feature additional downloadable content in the future. Players control a small squad (or “lance”) of pilots in their large robotic vehicles as they battle against each other using a variety of futuristic weapons. The controls and management of the units is somewhat complex, with players needing to constantly monitor things like heat output, structural integrity, and even positioning and orientation of their units. While there’s plenty of action — complete with lots of huge explosions and massive destruction — there’s very little in the way of blood and no graphic violence. Some of the campaign story elements might be thematically heavy for young players, and there’s occasional profanity in the dialogue, including “s--t.”

Parents need to know that “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” is a cartoonish platformer on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. Donkey Kong and his cronies hop on enemies’ heads or barrel through them with monkey rolls, knocking them out and making them fall off the screen or disappear. The game difficulty could lead to some frustration in less experienced players. Girls may appreciate that they can play as a female character in the form of Dixie Kong, something that hasn’t been possible in a new “Donkey Kong Country” game since 1996’s “Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble.”

Parents need to know that “Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit” combines real world crafting with video games and digital activities for the Nintendo Switch. Kids work with cardboard cutouts to create complex models and insert the Switch screen and Joy-Con controllers to turn their constructs into interactive objects. There’s a constant sense of creativity and discovery associated with the making and programming modules. The games and activities associated with each cardboard model are simple and innocuous, containing nothing more mature than some cartoonish exploding bombs.

Parents need to know that “God of War” is a violent and bloody action game for the PS4. Using sharp weapons, his fists and feet, and his son’s bow and arrow, the main character kills numerous people, monsters, and animals, sometimes in brutal fashion, resulting in bloodshed, gore, and dismemberment. Profanity in the game includes “s--t,” “f--k,” and “a--hole.” One character constantly uses crude language when interacting with other characters, mainly in a store setting. This is the latest installment in the popular franchise, and the first one on the PS4. While controls are different than previous games, they’re easy to learn, and there are multiple difficulty levels to reduce frustration for players.

Parents need to know that “MLB The Show 18” is a baseball simulation that’s the latest installment in the popular sports franchise. Players will have options for multiple control settings, as well as options to tweak player settings to fit personal game preferences. There’s no objectionable content, although there’s heavy product promotion throughout. Unlike previous years, players can’t upgrade player stats directly by paying for enhancements; instead, purchased baseball packs with either earned in-game tokens or real money frequently include new baseball players and stadium cards. Players can also be exposed to inappropriate content in online games, because these matches are unmoderated.

Parents need to know that Danger Mouse: The Danger Games (TDG) is a free-to-play racing game based on the popular 2015 reboot of the 1980s “Danger Mouse” cartoon series. Though it’s a multiplayer game, it contains no chat, friending, or other social aspects, and players choose from randomly-generated, G-rated user names. Optional purchases are truly optional, thanks to a generous freemium game model. While there’s some violence, it’s cartoonish in nature, and is no worse than characters getting bonked on the head. The app’s easy-to-ready privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared. To read the privacy policy in its entirety, visit the developer’s official website.

Everyone who’s tried it agrees: Virtual reality is mind-blowing. Once you strap on that headset, you truly believe you’re strolling on a Parisian street, careening on a roller coaster, or immersed in the human body exploring the inner workings of the esophagus. But for all its coolness — and its potential uses, from education to medicine — not a lot is known about how VR affects kids. Common Sense Media’s new report, Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR, co-authored by the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, offers a first-of-its-kind overview of the expanding uses for the technology and its potential effects on kids. Now that VR devices from inexpensive viewers to game consoles to full-scale gaming arcades are finally here — with lots more coming soon — it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to manage VR when it comes knocking at your door.

Parents need to know that Far Cry 5 is a violent first-person shooter for the PS4, Xbox One and Windows. Using guns, explosives, a bow & arrow, and other weapons, players have to kill a ton of human enemies, as well as some animals, and it often results in bloodshed. There’s also scenes in which characters are tortured, mutilated, and commit suicide. Players use drugs and alcohol, which impairs their vision, while using homeopathic medicines will improve their skills. The dialog includes numerous references to sex, alcohol, and drugs, as well as some extreme curse words. While in-game money is used to buy new weapons and supplies, players can also use real money to buy special guns and outfits, as well as future downloadable content (DLC).