Aside from the fact that I use the 3D function about once every 6 months, I think the 3DS is a brilliant entry into a long line of brilliant handhelds from Nintendo. But it also introduces a new issue that’s new to Nintendo handhelds (though certainly not consoles) – region locking.
Region locking is generally a pretty brilliant scheme. It allows you to segregate your markets and ensure that sales in one region aren’t lost to another by letting your games only be played on consoles from the correct region.
As a consumer, I’m a lot less impressed with the whole setup. It prevents me from playing games from Japan that never get localized – without someone deciding that a game is viable in the us market, then shelling out for the translation and localization (not synonymous processes, mind you) it never becomes a viable option for me to enjoy.
This leaves me in something of a moral dilemma – I genuinely want to buy copies of games that I love, but can’t justify the cost of a duplicate console and a game that I can’t read the text for anyways. With Monster Hunter 3rd Portable on the PSP, I had a blast – no region locking meant no problem, but with some of the titles that are unlikely to make their way this way on the 3DS, I’m stuck.
Fortunately, the homebrew scene had my back before I even knew it. Turning off the region locking was likely hardly a blip on their radar, alongside tech demos, emulators, and interesting tools. Now I’m back to where I’d like to be – able to play the games that I want to play by purchasing them legally.
I’m a big believer in the accessibility of data. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have to pay for things – just that it should be an option for me to obtain it. I’ve heard some of the concerns with having the 3DS region free natively, but come on Nintendo, I really just want to buy and play your games. I promise, should they come out here in a language I can actually read, I will happily buy them again (as I have in the past).
Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, my trip to Japan to buy said games hasn’t happened yet, so it’s all about emulating GameBoy games that I already own, but haven’t been released on the eShop (it’s all about Final Fantasy Adventure and Legend 3). I’ll put up a new post once I know the joy of working around the region lock for myself.