Nintendo's 3DS Apparently Region Locked

If you've been thinking about paying the premium to import Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld when it launches in Japan next month, this might give you pause. According to a translated email from Nintendo support in Japan (seen over on NeoGAF), the hardware and its games will be region encoded--meaning you'd be locked to playing Japanese games.

Here's the summary of the translation:

There are no region codes in the DS and DSlite but DSi, DSiLL, and 3DS have region codes. The region codes are installed in each game and the 3DS itself. If the codes don't match, you can't play. If the region codes are different, for example if you play a Korean 3DS game with a Japanese 3DS system (or vice versa) you won't be able to play at all.

This decision could pester non-Japanese speaking gamers in the West well past launch. Nintendo has something of a reputation for delays between when some of their best games come out in Japan and the rest of the world. In other cases interesting, but niche, games may not be exported at all.

Shacknews will be attending a Nintendo event in New York next week at which we expect to learn pricing and other specifics for the 3DS's planned March arrival outside of Japan.