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Nintendo 3DS Region Locked

Is the Nintendo 3DS Region Locked?

Being able to play retro games on old gaming consoles, like Nintendo 3DS is fun and gamers like to enjoy their favorite games wherever they go in the world. But is the Nintendo 3DS region free or locked?

Some gaming consoles face a geographically restriction to a particular country and region. It means we cannot play video games outside their region on these consoles. Is Nintendo 3DS one of these consoles? Let’s find out!

In this guide, we will see:

  • the difference between region free and region lock,
  • is 3ds region locked,
  • can we remove the region lock from Nintendo 3DS,
  • and lastly, we will answer some FAQs about this subject.

Region Free vs. Region Locked

In simple terms, a console, DVD, or Blu-Ray having a region lock means it will only work in a particular region, i.e., the region of its purchase. On the other hand, a region-free video gaming console is free from such restrictions, and it will operate successfully anywhere in the world.

Sounds confusing? Let’s try understanding it with the help of an example.

Suppose you purchase a Nintendo 3DS in Europe; the Nintendo 3DS region lock will not allow you to download games from Japanese or American eShops. Since you cannot purchase video games from other marketplaces, you won’t be able to play them on your European Nintendo 3DS. Similarly, if you buy a Nintendo 3DS in Japan, it will only work with video games downloaded from the Japanese eShop. It will not play the games downloaded from the US market or European market.

So, remember it like this: if a Nintendo console is region free, you can freely use it to download and play games from any of the regions. However, if the console faces a lock, you can only download and play games from a specific region.

Now, it brings us to our core question: are 3ds games region locked? Let’s find out!

Is the Nintendo 3DS Region Free or Locked?

Nintendo has divided the 3DS hardware into 3 regions, including:

  • Japanese
  • American
  • European/Australian

It doesn’t matter where you buy your Nintendo 3DS because it faces a region lock in every region. It means some Nintendo 3DS features do not work outside of the console’s purchasing region. So, you can only purchase games from the same geographical region where you bought your Nintendo 3DS; otherwise, they won’t work.

According to Nintendo, most members of the 3DS family face a region lock, including:

  • Nintendo DSi
  • Nintendo DSi XL
  • Nintendo 2DS
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Nintendo 3DS XL
  • New Nintendo 3DS
  • New Nintendo 2DS XL
  • New Nintendo 3DS XL

It leaves the older DS consoles, including the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite to be region free. So, if someone has any of these consoles, they can easily purchase and play games from different regions without any technical issues.

Why Is the Nintendo 3DS Region Locked?

Well, now we know that the entire Nintendo 3DS family has a region lock, but do you ever wonder why is my Nintendo 3DS region locked?

Let’s dig a little more into the 3DS region lock concept.

The primary reason why the creators don’t keep the Nintendo 3DS region free is the user experience. Nintendo’s priority is ensuring the best possible gaming experience for all its users across the globe. They believe if the software is sold in one region its functionality will be disrupted on the hardware sold in another region.

With the help of their region locking policies, Nintendo can be more efficient in delivering their region-specific updates to users. Moreover, it also helps include parental controls according to each region. Each Nintendo 3DS package also has region-specific guidelines for the software and hardware. But they prefer users to buy their software and hardware in the same region.

As far as 3DS region lock removal is concerned, it can be done but has a learning curve. Moreover, it may not be permanent; since Nintendo always keeps shutting down such loopholes. But, let’s see how to make 3DS region-free.

How To Unlock Nintendo 3DS

Some retro gamers who want to explore different territories and play Nintendo 3DS region free games look for loopholes and find exploits to bypass the region lock. Since Nintendo does not appreciate these methods, they keep shutting such hackers down.

The right or wrong debate isn’t for us to handle, but you can bypass the Nintendo 3DS region lock restriction through some hacks.

A step-by-step tutorial for bypassing the 3DS region lock is as follows:

  • Compile or download the Launcher.dat from the repo.
  • Copy and paste the Lancher.dat to your SD card’s root.
  • Put your favorite game into the 3DS and turn it on.
  • Open the Download Play application.
  • Click on the home menu button, but keep the Download Play application running in the background.
  • Open the web browser and browse to
  • The screen will get black for a few seconds, and the game will boot up in a few seconds.

This method works smoothly on the most recent versions of the Nintendo 3DS except for the New Nintendo 3DS. However, you will need an active internet connection every time you use this method to play your favorite Nintendo games. Moreover, it is not illegal and completely safe.

Should you bypass the region lock?

The exploits, hacks, and bypass methods for getting rid of the Nintendo 3Ds region lock are usually met with criticism. It is mainly because Nintendo does not approve of such methods to play imported games.

Most of these methods are unstable and not 100% secure which can affect your gaming consoles. But if you use legal methods like the one explained above and follow the guidelines thoroughly, the risk is much less.

However, you should not try to play illegal games via such means as it can lead to a permanent ban from Nintendo.

FAQs About Nintendo 3DS Region Free

Although we have thoroughly discussed if the Nintendo 3DS faces a region lock or not. However, if you still have any queries or confusions, please refer to answers to the FAQs below:

What does region lock mean?

The phrase region lock or region locked is often used for video games and gaming consoles, like Nintendo 3DS. When a console is region-locked, it means it will only play video games that are released in a specified region. For instance, if your Nintendo 3DS is region locked for Europe, it will only play games released in Europe.

Why does the 3DS have region locking?

All devices of the 3DS family have region locks. The reason is that it allows Nintendo to deliver region-specific updates for the system and menu. Moreover, it also helps them include parental controls. Nintendo has defined different regions; for instance, Europe is one region. They deliver updates and features according to each region. So, users can enjoy content that is in line with their regional guidelines.

Does region lock apply to downloadable games?

Region lock is also applied to downloadable games because we can only access the eShop of our 3DS’ region. It means if you have a Japanese 3DS, you can only access the Japanese eShop. Similarly, an American 3DS will only access the American eShop.

Is the new 3DS XL region locked?

Yes, the Nintendo 3DS family has several region-locked consoles, including the Nintendo 2DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, New Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS XL, and New Nintendo 2DS XL.

Is there any way to remove region locking from a 3DS right now?

We can change the Nintendo device’s system settings for the country and region. However, we cannot change the country to the one outside the region of its purchase. So, if you bought your Nintendo 3DS in Europe, you cannot choose a region from Japan. You can find the region settings in the profile where you can select the country and region of your choice.


Playing retro games is fun but being able to play the restricted ones is a lot more fun for retro gamers. But due to Nintendo’s region lock policy on the 3DS consoles, players are not able to enjoy the games. Luckily, it is not impossible to make the Nintendo 3DS region free but you must be careful what you mess with online. In addition, you can find a lot of these games at discounted rates on our Retro vGames Store.

There are a number of ways available to make your retro console be able to play all your favorite games from different regions. These methods can help you play games from the European or Japanese markets even if your console’s purchasing region is the US.


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