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Which Nintendo Consoles Are Region Free?

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Nintendo has, for a long time, been known to do regional lockouts on their handhelds and consoles. A good number of their games have not afforded users the luxury of region-free gaming. This is why when some Nintendo consoles began being region free, everyone wanted to know which ones they were. Well, in this article we will go over exactly which ones are region free, and which ones are not. 

So which Nintendo Consoles are Region Free?

Here is a list of Nintendo consoles and which ones are region locked and which ones are region free. 

  • Nintendo NES: Region-locked (bypassable by clipping a portion of the chip.
  • Super Nintendo: Region-locked but can be bypassed by cutting or using an adapter.
  • GameCube: Region-locked (bypassable if you’re using a Freeloader disc)
  • Wii U: Region locked
  • Wii U Lite:  Region locked (bypassable if you’re using a Softmod)
  • Nintendo 2DS/3DS/3DS XL/New 3DS/New 3DS XL:  Region locked
  • Nintendo DS/DSi/DSi XL: Region free (DSi-only games are not region free though)
  • Nintendo Switch: Region Free

If you would like to know more about which Nintendo Consoles are Region Free, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also check out this video to see why Nintendo consoles are region locked and why region locking works. 

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What does region free mean?

To better understand which Nintendo Consoles are region free, you must understand what a regional lock is. A regional lockout, also known as region coding, is a kind of digital rights management that prevents the use of a particular product or service, such as a hardware device or multimedia, outside a particular country or region.

Technological means or physical means may be used to enforce regional lockout. Detecting the IP address of the user or making use of an identifying code are examples of technological means that could be used. Also, unintentional means enabled by devices that support only specific regional technologies (such as NTSC and PAL video formats) can also be used to enforce regional lockout.

There are many reasons why a regional lockout could be enforced.

Reasons include staggering the release of a particular product to prevent the loss of sales to the foreign publisher of the product, maximizing the impact of the product in a particular country through localization, enforcing price bias by hindering grey market imports, or preventing users from having access to specific content in their region based on legal motives.

These legal reasons could include censorship laws, or the fact that a distributor has no rights to sell some specific intellectual properties outside the confines of their specified regions.

A region-free device, on the other hand, is one that does not come with any of these restrictions and actually lets users across different regions and countries make use of them. Region free devices have no legal restrictions or any other reasons why they may not be used in other countries.

Nintendo’s region locked and region free consoles

In spite of Nintendo’s long history of region-locking, the approach was different from their most recent console, the Switch. The Nintendo Switch is a region free console, which is certainly good news for importers and developers alike.

The problem is that a region free console typically has a lot of questions attached to it. Below we will discuss the things you should know about the Nintendo Switch, how it works, and what you can or cannot do with this region free console.

Can I play games that I purchased overseas?

The cartridges of physical Nintendo Switch games are region-free. You can actually buy a game in Norway, buy a Nintendo Switch in Germany, and come all the way to America to play the game you purchased.

You should also know though, that just because you can come to America and play the game, it does not mean that the language will be automatically translated. Normally, it will stick to the language of the country it was developed for. Unless it is a game that was developed with many language options.  

Can you buy games from the eShops of other regions?

If you are like me, and you are searching for the best deals, a lot of gamers have changed their Switch’s eShop to that of another region. Doing this can allow you to buy a game cheaper in a different country and still play it here in the United States.

This particular issue comes with quite a lot of controversy, as some users actually believe that doing this hurts the developers. However, we can also rightly say that there are no written terms and conditions aimed at making sure that users do not take advantage of cheaper priced digital products from other parts of the world.

Is the content that you can download region free?

Die hard gamers know that content is not often released at the same time all over the world. If you are looking to get that brand new DLC a number of hours before it is released in your region, you can buy it from a different territory and play it before a lot of other people have it.

However, this is not always the case. If a particular content or game is only endorsed in some countries, it will not work for a game outside of the countries or territories it is supported in.

Do EShop cards only work in the region where they are purchased? 

Even though the Nintendo Switch is region free, EShop currency cards do not come with the same privilege. A currency card bought in New Zealand, for example, will not work outside of the New Zealand eShop.

This is because of the exchange rate and Nintendo does not want you buying gift cards and reselling them here for a profit. 

Will accessories that come from other countries work? 

Even though an accessory may have been designed for the Nintendo Switch, there’s still a possibility that it will not work with Nintendo Switch consoles that were developed for other countries. Differences in the requirements for global voltage may result in issues when trying to use the accessories on the Switch.

Nintendo approves of using only accessories that were designed in the same country where your Switch was purchased.

If you want to check support regions, you will need to go to the software menu of the game and find support information under software information. From there you can see what regions will be able to be supported. 

Are the warranties on Nintendo Switches specific to a certain region?

If anything goes wrong with your Nintendo Switch, you will have to get the repairs done in the area where you originally purchased it. Nintendo’s Regional Compatibility Frequently Asked Questions says that “the limited warranty is applicable only within the country/region where the system was intended to be sold.”

The portability of the Nintendo Switch makes it such an excellent choice if you want to game on the go. Nothing makes a very long and tiring journey as easy and short as a Nintendo game can. Many people want a region-free console they can access and use it from anywhere in the world.

Finally, after a long wait, you can have that with the Nintendo Switch. Plus, you can easily purchase a new game from the eShop no matter where you are. It’s definitely good to know that after so long, there’s actually a region free Nintendo console. 


Now that you know the Nintendo Switch is the only actual region free console, you can see all of the complications that come with a region free console. There are also some other Nintendo models out there that can be bypassed if you use systems like Freeloader or Softmod. 

The problem is that if you use these, you always take the risk of being banned by Nintendo as modding is against their terms and conditions.