Nintendo Portable Region

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Nintendo Portables

With the notable exception of 3DS, Nintendo portable consoles are way less restricted.

Game Boy (Original to GBA)

Similar cart sizes? Yes
Modifications required to play imports None, it's really simple.
Method As simple as playing an import copy into your native system. There is no region lock for all Game Boy related portables from the Black & White original to the colourful Game Boy Advance.


Similar cart sizes? Yes
Modifications required to play imports None, it's really simple
Method As simple as playing an import copy into your native system. Generally there is no region lock but there are a few limitations for both DSi enhanced games (Pokémon Black/White games) and DSiware games.
DSi related restrictions A DSi enhanced game is region free when playing the game on a DS Phat/Lite but it is region locked when playing it on a DSi (XL) and 3DS.
DSiware games are download only titles that can be bought from DSi Shop and 3DS eShop.

As of 2016, there is a way to play pirated DSiware files including imported versions by abusing a Arm9LoaderHax (A9LH) which works on old 3DS models ranging from 1.0 to 11.2 and New3DS models ranging from 9.0 to 11.2

List of DS games with DSi enhanced features.


This is the first notable Nintendo portable system that isn't region free by default.
The Regular 3DS, XL and 2DS are listed as OLD 3DS
The new 3DS, new 3DS XL and upcoming new 2DS XL are listed as NEW 3DS

Similar cart sizes? Yes.
Modifications required to play imports Yes, both of them are software related exploits but even with the exploits, there are some games that will not function properly. See 3DS Notes below.
Method 1 RegionTHREE The internet browser exploit called RegionTHREE supporting firmwares 4.0 to 9.5.0-22. Only OLD 3DS systems can use this exploit as the NEW 3DS uses a different internet browser
Method 2 RegionFOUR using Cubic Ninja
Obsoleted thanks to Soundhax
Cubic Ninja's infamous QR code exploit has a new use recently and it enables to bypass region lock, this method is compatible to both OLD and NEW 3DS models and it is called RegionFOUR or Ninjhax2.0
which works on the range of firmware 9.0 to 11.2 Click here
Method 3 Soundhax (fixed in V11.4) A new late 2016 method was found as a primary entrypoint which requires a certain m4a sound file along with the homebrew starter kit files inserted into the SD card
which is found going to the website, selecting the region and type of 3DS model Click here and then go to Nintendo 3DS Sound for soundhax
Method 4 A9LH+Luma or Boot9strap+Luma
Warning Piracy
A Wii tier homebrew exploit which not only allows the system to play cart imports from the 3DS homemenu but also supports DSiware and DL-only 3DS imports too. The exploit can be done as low as 1.0 to as high as 11.3.xx
11.4 requires either hardmodding or a transfer from a custom firmware 3DS with 1 of the 4 legally purchased DSiware games for injection.
The main difference is that Boot9Strap is unpatchable and therefore, uneffected when getting official firmware updates.
There is a controversial freeshop file which allows easy access to obtain imported versions of 3DS games including Download Only titles along with its DLC and Update files.
Method 5 Buy an imported 3DS, try and get a NEW 3DS model if you can. If not get one of the oldest models as they are becoming really cheap now, UK can get a (near) New condition original 3DS for ~£60

3DS notes

Nintendo's 3DS firmware updates and new exploit methods tends to update overtime, so maybe by the end of 2017 there is a chance of a major exploit which can be done very easily on FW 11.0+ builds.

Newer carts (late 2015) have an extra layer of security and will fail to load if run through homebrew programs like RegionFour and Hans, a common solution is to find the game's .XML file and load a more recent homebrew launcher to launch newer games outside the native region.
Online patches are also a pain because some are required to be played online and as of May 2015, 3DS eShop is region locked so it is impossible to download patches of physically imported games.
Region free exploit compatibility list.

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