Nintendo has confirmed that the New 3DS and New 3DS XL will be region locked, just like the Wii, Wii U, and previous 3DS consoles.
The News 3DS and New 3DS XL have a more powerful processor, second analog control and better 3D. Otherwise, they’re largely identical to the existing systems, including their inability to play games purchased in other territories.
Nintendo confirmed with Gamespot that both new hardware variants will utilise region locking. No importing Shin Megami Tensei games ahead of their European release for you.
I didn’t realise anybody held out any shred of hope that Nintendo would change its policy in this regard, but apparently they did. I’m probably going to have to explain about the Easter Bunny, too. If only Nintendo would follow Sony’s example; the PS3, PS4 and Vita all ditched region locking except where publishers enforce it – a very rare occurrence.
The new 3DS variants will support all existing games, but new games made to harness their increased power will not be compatible with the older 3DS models. It’s all getting a wee bit iPhone up in here, except hardly anybody wants to cry because they can’t use the latest mobile app without upgrading. The same is hardly true of Mario Kart et al.