The 64DD Was One Of Nintendo’s Oddest Experiments

Switch Online is Nintendo’s first paid online gaming service, right? Nope. In 1999, Nintendo added the Internet to its Nintendo 64 hardware, by way of a disk drive add-on called the 64DD. It’s one of the company’s most interesting failures.

Yes, it’s time once again for Complete In Box, our show that takes a look back at classic games by examining not only the software, but all the physical stuff that came with it. Today’s a special episode—we’re not just looking at one game, but a piece of hardware and its entire library.

By using magnetic disks that stored 64 MB of writeable data, the 64DD was supposed to usher in a new era of creative play, with games like Mario Artist and SimCity 64.

It could also connect to the Internet so you could share your creations and compete with others. But even though Nintendo hyped it up for years, it only ended up releasing in Japan, sold only about 15,000 units, and was quickly discontinued.

It’s now a sought-after collectible and a unique piece of the company’s long, long history of bold experimentation.


    • The SNES had Satellaview, which was a system that used satellite broadcasting to send games to your SNES. Games would be broadcast over certain timeslots and you would download them. There was also stuff like the ability to play along with a developer commentary if you played at certain times of the day.

      It wasn’t an online service in the way RANDnet was though.

      • One of the most notable things to come for it was what basically amounted to the first draft for a Chrono Trigger sequel (Radical Dreamers), a text-based game.

    • yep and so did the original Famicom. pretty sure that had a modem addon that let you do banking and gamble on horse racing and stuff.

    • This kind of content and in-depth reporting, etc come out every so often. The thing is that they take lots of time to create, days, when not weeks. In the meantime, Kotaku needs to keep the lights on, so the fluff articles serve to pad content. It’s a normal and necessary scheme for internet-based niche blogs. (Also note that there are some people that enjoy that kind of content).

      • I don’t think this would’ve taken long to write, it’s pretty short. Not that that’s a complaint. And as for keeping the lights on, the non-gaming gossipy stuff keeps me away for months at a time. And I’m not alone in that.

        I like this Kotaku, keep it up

        • The long part was the video. Researching, collating, writing the script, etc. It’s all time-consuming. It may not look like much until you try it.

          • Yeah fair enough re: video. I didn’t actually realise it was there and just read the article. I absolutely get that the video would take a lot more time and resources. But even if it was just a short article I’d been keen to come back for more like it, rather than the mind boggling one I just read about people misunderstanding tidying suggestions on Twitter.

  • Such a shame it died harder than the Virtual Boy. The F-Zero Expansion Kit is amazing, would have loved to see what could have come of other games using the idea.

  • I can remember looking forward to the 64DD for ages, getting more and more hyped from reading and re-reading every magazine article released on the topic. Given the small size of n64 cartridges, this really would have allowed new features that simply weren’t possible on a 2mb cart (like quality voice acting, larger levels, more varied textures, maybe even fmv / prerendered cutscenes to name but a few). Not to mention the possibilities of proper internet connectivity – online multiplayer to increase the player limit over 4 person splitscreen would have been amazing.

    Ive always been quite dissapointed at the failure of the 64DD. Not that it was really that surprising in hindsight – expensive add-ons have historically never done that well for a console (just look at all the sega megadrive stuff). But the potential here to improve on all the main drawbacks of the n64 could have really allowed for some outstanding games.

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