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You Should Pirate Nintendo Games – A Controversial Look at Nintendo’s Shoddy DRM and User Account Systems


Question: Is it too late for a Jack Sparrow reference? Answer: It is never too late for a Jack Sparrow reference.

I haven’t gone crazy, stay with me till the end.

You should pirate Nintendo games. There’s no reason not to. Let’s examine what happens if you buy games digitally and your non-hacked 3DS breaks:

  1. All of your saves and downloads are gone.
  2. You have to start every single game over again.
  3. You have to call Nintendo and sit on hold for a very, very long time.
  4. You have to wait several days for Nintendo to unlink your useless Nintendo ID.
  5. You have to re-download…every…single…game…you own…
  6. Say goodbye to your bandwidth and progress and free time!
  7. You can only download ten things at a time. The 3DS/Wii U have crap network cards. This will take a fortnight. It took me three days the last time I had to do this.

Now, let us conversely look at what would happen if your 3DS was hacked:

  1. Your saves are decrypted, or else you can decrypt your saves, which means it does not matter what 3DS you play on, your saves will always work.
  2. Your games are decrypted. You can decrypt and dump games you buy from the eShop as well, but the point is you can back up your memory card. I know you’re saying you can do that anyways, but that backup will not work on any other 3DS if it is not hacked. If it’s hacked however it will work on other 3DS’s that you hack.
  3. In essence, something happens to your 3DS, you can just grab another modified system, use a decrypted game, load your saves and keep playing.
  4. Did I mention it is ludicrously easy to hack your 3DS? Additionally, on a hacked 3DS you can still play online and access the eShop if you so desire.

Before I get to the part where I explain that I haven’t lost my mind, and explain that I am not an advocate of piracy, rather an advocate of taking care of your consumers, let’s examine a few other pros to a modified system. Also, run on sentence, because y’all get one per article!


I’m not crazy you’re crazy DON’T TOUCH MY TOAST!!!

Do you like Virtual Console games? Of course you do! YAY NOSTALGIA! Do you like being able to actually see your screen? Better hack your 3DS! On a non-hacked 3Ds virtual console games occupy tiny boxes because Nintendo is too lazy to upscale graphics. Hack your 3DS and get you some roms! Stretch and smooth and play your games full screen! Plus play all the games Nintendo won’t pay the licensing for you to purchase!

Do you like import games? Whether you’re bilingual or not, there’s a good chance those neato torpedo games you want from Japan aren’t coming to America! That’s a whole separate article calling out Namco Bandai and Sega, I’ll get more in depth in the sequel. But the point is, if you like import games you’re screwed. Nintendo is the only company that still region locks their hardware.



If you don’t hack your system, give Nintendo 300 more dollars to import a Japanese 3DS. If you do hack your system, PLAY YOUR IMPORTS WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS.




So now for the part where I show I’m still sane. I’m not advocating piracy, even though I spent half this article doing just that. What I am advocating however is Nintendo:


Yes, I just cursed. And yes, I almost never do. Here’s the bottom line: I travel, like, a lot. I travel like, an insane amount. And, for me I much prefer to game on portable systems. Additionally, I only buy my games digital unless I’m wary as to whether or not I’ll like them, whether or not I’ll find them religiously offensive (because there are no game developers, America, Japan or otherwise that care about my faith) or whether they’re rare and neat and I want a physical copy (Shiren the Wanderer, Strange of Sword City, etcetera).

So yes, I have a library of around 200 digital 3DS games. I’ve had the same Nintendo account from the first time digital content came to exist. The fact that my library is badonkers should prove I’m not advocating piracy. The point I’m trying to make however, is that there’s no reason not to pirate Nintendo games. Everything I said for the 3DS applies to the Wii U as well, but it’s even worse since Wii U games are so much bigger.


Now let’s look at the Playstation Vita. My purchases and my saves are tied to my account. With a Nintendo system, your data is tied to your hardware. What that means is I could throw my Vita in a river, my Vita could get run over by a car, it could brick during a system update, and none of that matters.

My saves are in the cloud. My saves and my games are backed up to my computer. And, at any point in time all I have to do is deactivate the old system, activate the new system, and keep right on playing with no issues what so ever.


Nintendo is well aware of these concerns. Fans, reviewers and critics alike have voiced them over and over and over again. In spite of this however, in spite of the concerns raised for years and years, Nintendo doesn’t care. Nintendo doesn’t care that you have to re-download every single game in the advent of a hardware failure. Nintendo doesn’t care that you have to restart every game, including fifty to a hundred hour ones like Dragon Quest VII, Legend of Legacy and Bravely Default, in the advent of a hardware failure.

Nintendo doesn’t care that you don’t get to play import games or fan translations. Nintendo doesn’t care that many states still have a bandwidth cap for downloads. Nintendo, in essence, doesn’t care about you.

And, that’s an issue. And every company has them. Sony has ludicrous restrictions on switching accounts and using multiple memory cards with your Vita. Microsoft has dreadful PC ports and horrendous practices for game updates that block you from playing a single one of them until the update is completed.

However, none of those issues make me lose all of my data and half of my monthly bandwidth anytime something goes wrong. How often has these happened to me? Let’s count, shall we?


How many times have you lost your data? Too friggin’ many times! AH AH AH!!!!

  1. I was hit by two cars. A guy was playing on his phone and hit me, and shoved my car into oncoming traffic. My 3DS was in my pocket. I blacked out. I don’t remember much of that month; it was a blur. I was looking forward to continuing playing Fire Emblem Awakening, but, when the cars hit me my 3Ds broke. Nintendo told me I was piss out of luck. I had to buy a new one and redownload everything all over again.
  2. System errored out during a system update. Had to buy a new one and start over again.
  3. L trigger gave out. Sent it for repairs. I could have taken it apart and fixed it myself, but it was under warranty and I hate dealing with Nintendo hardware. Nintendo wiped the system for some stupid reason.
  4. No idea. System stopped turning on. Nintendo wanted to charge more than the system was worth for the repair.
  5. System errored out during a system update. My 3DS didn’t break this time, but I did still have to redownload everything.

Yeah. There’s a reason I play Vita  more than 3DS.

I say all of this to say, that as tempting as it is, I have not given in to the urge to pirate my games. Even still, I could legally make backups of every game that I personally own and still not have to deal with Nintendo’s ludicrous digital architecture. I choose not to.

But, the casual consumer who is willing to spend fifteen minutes hacking their system? They have no reason not to pirate Nintendo games. And, Nintendo simply doesn’t care enough about their fans to do anything different or better. Nintendo is, in essence, begging and inviting their fans to pirate rather than buy. And, if I lacked the beliefs that I have, I would have no reason not to do just that.

Food for thought Nintendo. Food for thought.


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