Playing Japanese Exclusive Nintendo 3DS Video Games

The Nintendo 3DS is the premiere handheld gaming console for Nintendos classic library of games. While Nintendos previous handheld device, the DS, did not enable region restrictions on games and content, the 3DS has once again region locked its software. So if you are hoping to explore the vast library of Japanese 3DS games, you will need to make sure to purchase a Japanese Nintendo 3DS system.

Why are Nintendo 3DS consoles region locked?

The specifics of why Nintendo chose to region lock its consoles to markets such as Japan and the United States, especially after releasing the DS in a region free format, are varied. One of the most commonly cited responses to region locking the 3DS has to do with different hardware specifications in the Nintendo consoles released in regions such as Japan, to account for different languages, consumer ratings, and parental controls across regions.

Is there another way to play a Japanese 3DS software?

There are no official ways to run a Nintendo 3DS game from Japan on your United States or European coded console. While there are several software patches that claim to unlock a Nintendo 3DS region, effectively making it region free, the use of such software may permanently damage your system and void your warranty with Nintendo. Furthermore, because there are established hardware differences between varying 3DS models, it is possible that if you remove the software restriction, your United States 3DS console may lack the proper hardware to properly play Nintendo software from another region.

How many 3DS regions are there?

There are four potential regions that a Nintendo 3DS system or game may be a part of. While there may be crossover between titles offered in these regions, you will be limited to only playing games keyed to a systems specific region. These regions include:

  • North America and South America (NTSC-U)
  • Europe, New Zealand and Australia (PAL region)
  • Japan and Asia (NTSC-J)
  • China (NTSC-C)
What happens after inserting the wrong regional software?

Attempting to run out-of-region software on a United States Nintendo 3DS will have one of two outcomes. One will simply be that your Nintendo system will fail to recognize that a game has been inserted into it at all. The second outcome involves turning on your Nintendo system while the out-of-region game is inserted into it. In this case, you will receive an error message instructing you to power off the system and remove your game cartridge.

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