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Is The Super Nintendo (SNES) Region Locked?

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Do you have a Nintendo game system, and you wondered if you could play games from other countries? Maybe you are looking to buy your own Nintendo and wanted to see if you could play different region games on the system. No matter what you are looking for, we have the answer for you. 

So is the Super Nintendo region locked? 

Surprisingly, the Super Nintendo (SNES) is not region locked. Unlike many other gaming consoles, this one is actually region free, so you can play any region games you want to in it. 

If you still have questions about region locks and the Super Nintendo, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also watch this video to see how to play your cartridges in your unlocked Super Nintendo. 

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Why are video games region-locked? 

There are several reasons why video games are region-locked. Let’s explore some of these reasons

1. Price discrimination

Price discrimination is one of the major reasons video games are region-locked. A good example of this is Steam, which used to have no region-locked games and all its prices in USD.

The problem was that price discrimination pushed them to switch to regional currencies. A game that cost $60 is way too much for a user in the Philippines.

This $60 game will normally cost about $40 when you convert from the Philippine price. This meant that there was a better chance of selling it. 

People soon began to realize that you could have someone buy the game you wanted from a cheaper country and send them to you through Steam’s in-client trading feature. This resulted in a whole emergency of frantic trading, and almost everyone was buying the cheapest copy they could get.

This situation led to a huge loss of money for the developers and Valve. 

It was at this point that cross-region trading was banned, and the new arrangement was such that you could only play most games if you had bought them in your region. 

2. Feasibility of international release 

One of the easiest arguments in favor of region-locking is that it is just not feasible to release some games in each country. This is the case because, depending on the region, it is possible for licenses to be held by a different company.

The most recent game of the Jump Super Stars game series needs 13 distinct companies to agree to share their licenses in the English market as well as agree to deal with the 9 properties it consists of that presently do not have English licensing.

This situation only considers the game distributors and not even the property holders. 

3. The case for localization

There are also ethical as well as economic reasons why region-locking was enforced. Being able to play a game from a different country may be such a nice idea, but region-locking and localization are the things that have built the gaming industry as we know it today.

Every single thing starting from the translation of a game to its cultural adaptation is dealt with by a localization team who help to make sure that you get the best experience from every game you purchase. 

Typically, the game is released in your language and country while being played in an industry that may not necessarily be financially strong. Not having a game launched in your region can be a frustrating thing, but localization efforts help to make sure that more obscure games are brought to the mainstream for everyone to play.

It also makes sense to say that not internationally supplying a game, in the beginning, may lead to increased interest and therefore, increased demand. If we look at games like Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, for example. If these games were not region-locked, they possibly would have never been localized, and this could have had the capacity to estrange fans who speak a different language.

Plus, it could also have had the capacity to strip a number of industry professionals of their jobs. Revenue does not move in the video game market in the absence of localization, and there will be less income for publishers and studios. What this sadly means is that there will be fewer games for us to play.

4. Cultural reasons

Now, more than just understanding the legal restrictions for each region and how they may cause problems, there are the cultural issues to consider. This may even play a greater role in the institution of region-locking and international licensing.

For a very long time, video games have been altered to accommodate cultural differences and avoid sensitive subjects or anything that may be culturally offending to others.

The original Ice Climbers game includes seals as an enemy. However, seal clubbing is a taboo thing in Japan. For this reason, all seal enemies were turned to the iconic yetis in the international versions of the game. 

America’s Nintendo has been known for editing American releases of games, with simple changes like eliminating any Red Cross symbols on hospitals in Earthbound because it’s a registered trademark in some countries, removing Nazi references, removing blood, and removing swastikas from Wolfenstein 3D.

Currently, even consoles like the PS3 (which is mostly hailed for being very region free) have been confirmed to edit content in spite of the game updates and region using the system so as to obey the legal age ratings. 

In Japan, blood and violence were removed in Resistance: Fall of Man and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and in Europe, The Last of Us and Beyond Two Souls have also been edited. Even though these examples are not strict cases of region-locking, don’t forget that you cannot play any of the games on a console that lacks the requisite updates in those countries. Essentially, therefore, this creates a censoring issue regardless of the fact that it is different.  

How was region-locking started?

Nintendo was the first gaming company to carry out region-locking, and additionally, they were the first company to gain international success. Before NES and the Famicom, there were really no internationalized video games.

Also, because Nintendo was one of the few companies to successfully emerge from the novice gaming industry of the 1980s, they were forerunners for international policy. This easily meant that Nintendo was responsible for creating solutions to copyright and localization issues by themselves.


So now that you know the Super Nintendo isn’t region locked, you can go and play all of your games from different countries. Although not everyone likes to play games from different countries, it is something that is nice to know you have the ability to do if you so choose. 

Although not all the games work with the SNES right off the bat, you can use the fix of removing the tabs as a quick fix to make the cartridges fit. Once the tabs are removed you should have to problem with the console recognizing or playing any game from any region you put in. 

If you are worried about removing the tab to make your different region cartridges work, you are not alone. There is no need to worry though as your original games will still work in the console the exact same as they did before the pieces were removed.