What a shame. Up until now, games released for some of the Nintendo systems were region free. This means that you can play any game intended for another country on some of the Nintendo systems. The DS and the Gameboy Advance are prime examples. Yet, Nintendo is taking a step back and now, will be region locking their games for their respective countries.
In other words, don't bother trying to import that new hotness from Japan as you will now be sold out of luck. While Japan usually has the newest games first, the U.S. possibly other countries, will receive those games months after the Japanese release; which usually results in an inferior port, botched translation or shovelware.
It's kind of sad to see Nintendo do this. There are treasures of games released in Japan that will either never see the light of day, or will take many years for that game to be released in some form in another country
For example, Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Ronda is the rarest and one of the best games in the Castlevania series. It was released on the PC-Engine (aka Turbo Grafx 16 CD) only in Japan in 1993. It never saw the light of day in the United States until 2007; when it came as a packaged game in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP. Then, the game was released on the Wii Virtual Console in the states in 2010. Japan have had the game on the Wii's Virtual Console since 2008.
It's a discouraging factor but that's how it is. Games like Jump Ultimate Stars and the latest Fatal Frame for the Wii will never make it to the states due to licensing and the publisher/developer not wanting to do the translations.
Nintendo did say that different countries have different laws, rules and regulations. So, they have to modify the content of the games that is appropriate for the country it's being released in. I can understand that. But, come on Nintendo.
I personally bought some imported games for my Wii, which has been released in the U.S. as inferior ports with crappy translations. Particularly, Naruto Shippuden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX 3. I don't want to wait for a year to get my hands on something so fun to play; only to be disappointed with the whiny voices on the localized version.
Step your game up Nintendo.
IGN - 3DS Region Locking