North American Nintendo Switch consoles have access to the Japanese eshop

Nintendo Switch review
Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch is upon us and although many users will be too preoccupied with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to care about the relatively slim launch lineup, others may feel as if there aren’t enough games to play. Since the Switch is region-free, unrestrained by the pesky digital rights management, users who own a North American Switch console can import Japanese games and vice versa. Now, according to Eurogamer, you might not even need to wait for an import to ship, as the Japanese and European eshops are accessible directly on your Switch.

You will need an additional Switch profile and a Nintendo account set to the desired region. After that, you can link your two accounts on your Switch and each time you open the eshop, you to pick which profile (region) you want to browse.

Right off the bat, there are a plethora of potentially good reasons to create a Japanese Nintendo account for your Switch. The North American store will have just nine titles at launch, whereas the Japanese eshop already has 20. However, a credit or debit card cannot be used to purchase games from other regions. It seems likely that purchasing a Japanese Nintendo eshop card would solve this problem and let you take full advantage of the Switch’s global library. This would fall in line with the process of buying games on the PlayStation Store from different regions.

You can download demos, like Puyo Puyo Tetris, from other regions when the Switch launches, though. The full game is already available in Japan but won’t come to the North American eshop until April 25.

There is also the matter of translation. Some imports only support Japanese subtitles and text, which can certainly complicate games that require substantial reading. NeoGAF user ArcaneFreeze broke down the supported languages for the Japanese launch games. Twelve of the titles that won’t be available on the North American eshop at launch support English, including Disgaea 5Puyo Puyo Tetris only supports Japanese, but it’s a puzzle game so it shouldn’t be a big issue if you download the demo.

We’ll have to test out the prepaid card solution to confirm, but it appears that waiting for localized versions of Nintendo games may be a thing of the past in many cases.