I have a friend in South Africa who is thinking about buying a Nintendo DS. It's hard to find games in her city, though, so I was thinking I'd buy several in the USA and mail them to her.

Would this work or are Nintendo DS games region locked?

  • 2
    I live in South Africa and have imported DS games from overseas. I haven't had run into a region problem yet. – Stephan Mar 28 '14 at 19:19

It would appear that the games are not region locked according this this Wiki article that states:

"The Game Boy and Nintendo DS product lines do not use regional lockouts for physically distributed games; however, software specific to the Nintendo DSi are region-locked, and cartridges released by iQue in China can only be played on DS models produced by iQue (although they remain compatible with other DS cartridges). The Nintendo 3DS line however, does enforce region locking for 3DS-specific software,1 with the exception of Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre, which is region-free."

  • Yep, I know firsthand that they're not region locked. I have a few games from Japan that I play on my North America bought DS. – Ataraxia Mar 28 '14 at 12:45
  • I can certainly understand why the Louvre app is region free. – flarn2006 Nov 29 '20 at 0:36

As in Ryan's answer, Nintendo DS games aren't region locked. I can confirm this myself as I'm in the UK and I regularly import US/Japanese games that don't make it over here.

However, the Wiki quote raises this small caveat that I feel needs explaining more:

software specific to the Nintendo DSi are region-locked

What this means is that, if you use a DSi (and by extension, a DSi XL/XXL), any games/software that use DSi specific features become region locked. This is worth remembering because there are some popular games (Such as Pokémon Black/White and their sequels) that make minor use of these features and therefore become region locked on a DSi.

This only affects DSi consoles, however - they can still be played on the regular DS with no issues.

  • 3
    Can confirm - I have a US DS Lite, and a Japanese version of Pokemon White. It works fine on my DS Lite, but will not play on a DSi or 3DS. – Will F Mar 28 '14 at 15:47
  • What do Pokemon Black and White use that's specific to the DSi? Will it detract from them at all to play them on a DS / DS Lite instead? – Panzercrisis Jan 12 '16 at 18:45
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    @Panzercrisis According to Bulbapedia, it "can connect to WPA and WPA2 protected wireless networks and utilize the camera when using the Xtransceiver". So, nothing too major lost if you play it on a normal DS. I added the link to the answer to help people in future. – BiscuitBaker Jan 13 '16 at 9:08

I have plenty of experience here, having stuff from all three regions!

Basically, everything up to Nintendo DS is not region-locked.

Any software that is DSi-exclusive is region-locked.

As of the 3DS, everything is region-locked.

South Africa is located in the PAL region, so you could buy games in Europe and send them, but not in the US.


Pokemon Black and White aren't Region Locked if played on a original DS or DS Lite. (You can buy a cheap DS Lite from Japan on eBay)

You will only miss out on the Cam features that where added and useable on the DSi/3DS/2DS. Tho, the features was mostly used as a Online Video Chat system via the Xtransiver. But, The Nintendo Wifi Connection was Discontinued, so that makes such features worthless anyways. It won't impact gameplay at all. (The Games work with the Action Replay DSi as well, as long as you add the needed Codes manually via PC)

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