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Portables (Games) Entertainment Games

Nintendo DSi Software Will Be Region Locked 148

aliquis writes with news that software made for the recently announced Nintendo DSi will be region-locked. Nintendo's reasoning is that the DSi "embeds net communication functionality within itself and we are intending to provide net services specifically tailored for each region." It's also been discovered that accounts with the DSi's online store won't be linked with the Wii store, so points for one won't work with the other. Nintendo has stated that they don't intend for digital distribution to replace retail sales. We discussed the DSi's announcement last week.
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Nintendo DSi Software Will Be Region Locked

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  • by Sparton ( 1358159 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @08:56PM (#25294323)
    Wrong. From the Gamasutra article that also reported on this (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20525):

    The DSi, however, will be able to play standard Nintendo software from any region, similar to the original Nintendo DS model and the Nintendo DS Lite.

    The article is only partly right; the region-free aspect is only going to happen for games. Whatever new shenanigans they come up with for the DSi is what will be region locked.

  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:11PM (#25294431) Homepage

    It also sounds a lot like something Nintendo would do:

    The Nintendo Wii has region locking, and many games (such as Zelda) use it.
    The Nintendo Gamecube and SNES also had region locking, though more primitive.
    The Sony PSP supports region locking of UMD movies and games, but no games are locked.
    The Sony PS3 supports some degree of region locking for games, but no games are locked.

    (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong about any of these)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:44PM (#25294701)

    It was a /b/ copy pasta from years and years ago. This is nowhere near new

  • by aliquis ( 678370 ) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:58PM (#25294809) Homepage

    Except the flashcarts uses the NDS-slot now adays. so this won't stop them. And if it would be as easy as just blocking a key or something such it would probably have been done by now. So I don't see how removing the GBA slot will stop the current piracy alternatives. It will also break a few utilities.

    I think it was an issue with size.

    Built in ram, bigger screens, SD-card reader, smaller size, something had to go, GBA-slot did.

    Also maybe they want to sell GBA games as downloads to SD-card, which don't seem all that weird.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @10:06PM (#25294865)
    Correct. All of Nintendo's home consoles (NES, SNES, N64, GCN, Wii) have had region locking. Only their Gameboy line and the DS have lacked it.
  • by pizzach ( 1011925 ) <pizzach.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @10:25PM (#25294989) Homepage

    Your right in that Nintendo seems to be on a general path to region locking and Sony seems to be doing the opposite. Regardless, the DSi issue especially is a shock to many because the time to pull a switch like that would have been when the original DS was released. Changing their policies mid-game feels a bit cheap.

    One thing that I want to point out is that in a few spots the region locking was differing hardware/features. Usually the actually region locking was ridiculously light otherwise. There was no game of making modchips that had to use stealth modes not to get caught.

    • The Famicon had some extra pins in the cartriges that some developers used to develop better sound in their games, making them incompatible in the US. Also, the Famicon, much like the Wii, had speakers in the controllers. The two systems in many ways were totally different consoles.
    • Japanese games would fit into a SNES console and work with no problems whatsoever. The reverse was not possible because SNES cartridges are much larger than SFC cartridges.
    • The N64 employed slightly different tab placement that the notches on the bottom of the cartridges fit into. Break the tabs, and you have a non region locked console. This struck me as the first obvious attempt at enforcing regioning.
    • The region on the GameCube was determined by a single wire being grounded on the circuit board. No need for any special chips like other consoles. What was a huge annoyance as the memory cards using different formats. This would mean Japanese games would attempt to format American formatted memory cards and vice-versa. Was this also a form of region locking? Maybe...
    • I know nothing about the Wii as I don't own one.

    I don't own a PSX either, but I do have one PSX-J game. I play it on an emulator because I would rather not have to buy a Japanese PSX. It'll be the same for the PS2 when I get fast enough of a computer. The PS3 was pleasant a surprise after those two. But still, Sony isn't too innocent with their PSP firmware race and blu-ray video regions. They are just the good guys right now. Are PSP movies regioned too?

    In the end, most games are licensed for sale and usage in their specific regions. Until the big three stop putting that ridiculous label on everything, I will stay weary of all three. (If I was wrong somewhere in this post, someone please correct me.)

  • by pizzach ( 1011925 ) <pizzach.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @10:57PM (#25295225) Homepage

    I actually don't think the NES and SNES were region locked per say. At least not intentionally.

    The hardware between the FC and the NES was very different. The cartriges had a different amount of pins, meaning games had to literally be ported. The lock out chip (famous for creating the blinking power light and yellow screen) wasn't made to create separate regions, it was created to keep cheap/pirated games off of the market. The last revision of the NES removed the lock out chip functionality from the console itself.

    If you noticed the totally different designs between the SNES and the SFC, this was because Nintendo was pretty damn sure a system with the SFC design wouldn't sell in the US. With the cool image that the Genesis was letting off, I don't think they would have been wrong with how toyish the SFC looked and it's multi-colored controllers. This was also after the NES, which revived the game market. The NES originally had a much slicker design for the US market but it sold horrible. Nintendo didn't want to repeat the same mistake that way either. Thus, Nintendo released a new, boxy system with boxy cartridges that was fairly large and used muted colors much like the NES, but fairly different from the FC and the SFC. The boxy, large designs were also employed in the cartridge shapes.

    Another words, the cartridges being different sizes was not for region locking. If they were trying to create regioned cartridges, Japanese cartridges would not simply fit in and work in a SNES.

    The first Nintendo system to have actual intentional region locking was the N64. Up until that time, I don't think any one had ever thought of doing that. It just wasn't in people's minds. Thankfully, there was a popular system that came out before the N64 known as the PSX that had shown Nintendo there was another way. ;-)

  • by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <(hector) (at) (marcansoft.com)> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @01:26AM (#25296221) Homepage

    The Wii is not only region locked - it's technically mandatory. There is no "unlock" bit on games. You can pick a region or have the game not play at all.

    For VC games / channels this is different - there's a code for "region free".

    Of course, if they ever decide to release region free games, they could release a firmware update. But you'd have to install that update via the internet, because the game itself wouldn't even load to the point of installing its bundled updates.

  • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @08:46AM (#25298221) Homepage

    And even the N64 wasn't much of a region lock. You could either:

    a) Buy the adapter for $10

    b) Be cheap and get a needlenose pliers and/or a soldering iron to pull out the notch next to the connector in the console (or modify the case of the game itself if you really wanted to).

    I know it only took me about 5 minutes and I was playing my import copy of Goemon 64 :)

  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:54AM (#25298913)

    It's technically neither and both - of course they didn't just get some leftover Gamecubes and up the clock speeds in them, but it's closer to being an "Overclocked gamecube" than simply being compatible with the Gamecube. It's not literally overclocked, but the processors inside are of the same type as in the Gamecube, just clocked slightly higher. Go have a read here [newsweek.com] if you don't believe me:

    Hollywood, the Wii's GPU, also contains the southbridge and a DSP for audio processing. It is based on the GameCube's GPU, Flipper, and has no notable increases in programmability. However, it is clocked 50 percent higher (243Mhz versus 162Mhz). Most of the chip remains unchanged; for example, it still sports the same 3.1MB of embedded memory, distributed into separate pools for the frame buffer and textures. Similar to Flipper, Hollywood still sports a fixed-function pipeline, with no programmable vertex shaders. However, like in the GameCube, it is possible to emulate some pixel shaders by using "texture environment stages (TEVs)."

    I've worked with the Wii on a professional level, Nintendo's OWN programming guidelines literally say something like "Develop your game as if it were a Gamecube game, then add in some nicer effects for polish". I'll dig out the manual if you still don't believe me.

  • Nintendo said that "it would require more than a firmware upgrade to play DVD's", and that they'd sell a Wii that could play DVD's for more money. However, some hackers found out that the Wii disc drive CAN actually play DVD's and made some homebrew to get it working.

    Does the hackers' method license the CSS trade secrets, Macrovision patents, MPEG-2 decoder patents, Dolby Digital decoder patents, and other patents or trade secrets involved in DVD-Video playback? If not, then it isn't an authorized DVD player.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#25301997)

    Well, the world is divided into three territories for game marketing purposes, US, Japan, PAL. You won't import PAL games anyway since they always get released last, cost the most and get the fewest games anyway (most importers carry almost no PAL games). Importing from Japan or the US is more likely and those both use NTSC, if you're in the PAL region (which gives the most incentive to import) that doesn't matter either since most PAL TVs do NTSC too (the PS2 can even output NTSC with most PAL games to get a higher refresh rate).

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