Gaming Consoles & PCs 25 25 people found this article helpful Is the Nintendo 3DS XL Region Free or Locked? Nintendo tailors the 3DS XL and its games to specific regions By Nadia Oxford Writer Nadia Oxford is a former Lifewire writer with 10+ years' experience. Her articles have appeared in Pocket Games Magazine, Play Magazine, Game Pro, IGN and others. our editorial process Twitter Nadia Oxford Updated March 11, 2020 Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images Consoles & PCs Xbox Buyer's Guide Tweet Share Email Like the original Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo 3DS XL is region-locked. If you buy your Nintendo 3DS XL system in North America, you should buy your games in North American markets. The Difference Between Region Free and Region Locked All 3DS XLs are region-locked. Japanese games and European games do not work properly on a North American 3DS XL, if at all. This restriction applies to all versions of the Nintendo 3DS XL and its games. Japanese games do not work on a European Nintendo 3DS XL, North American games do not work on a Japanese Nintendo 3DS XL, and so on. Systems that are capable of communicating with compatible games regardless of the territory they're manufactured in are referred to as "region free," which the 3DS XL is not. Why Nintendo Region Locks the 3DS XL Nintendo has come under a lot of fire for region-locking its hardware, but the company defended its decision in a VG247 article published in 2011: "Nintendo has developed different versions of Nintendo 3DS hardware to take into account different languages, age rating requirements, and parental control functionality as well as to ensure compliance with local laws in each region. Nintendo 3DS also offers network services specifically tailored for each region ... we want to ensure the best possible gaming experience for our users and there is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another." There are hacks that allow you to remove Nintendo 3DS XL region-locking, but they're often quickly overridden by hardware updates. They can also be unstable, so use them at your own risk.