YouTuber Metal Jesus Rocks posted a 12 minute video talking about and breaking down the ultra rare Nintendo 64 add-on called the 64DD. It was heavily promoted in the game magazines but never made it to U.S. retail shelves. But you can take a gander at the prototype in the video below.
The Mary Sue picked up on Metal Jesus Rocks' video after it started spreading far and wide across the interwebs, giving gamers a look at one of the more obscure designs to come out of the house of Nintendo.
As you can see in the video above, the N64 64DD was an add-on system that used a special cart slot in the front. You stacked your original N64 on top of it. It was similar Sega's failed Sega 32X experiment the generation before that.
The 64DD was known as the 64 Disk Drive. It was utilizing floppy disk, similar to zip drive disks, and would allow the 64 to play new types of games. As pointed out in the article and video above, the expansion system flopped so bad in Japan that they decided to pull its release from the U.S.
It's weird because I remember seeing this in some gaming magazines way back in the day and always wondered what happened to it. It was similar to all the promotion that the Panasonic M2 console received with its amazing graphics and everything only to end up getting canned right before release. The graphics on the M2 were super amazing back then and seeing those PR bullshots in the gaming magazines always made me excited to see how the system would do on the open market, but alas it was not meant to be... much in the same way that the 64DD in America was not meant to be.
In the 64DD's case, Nintendo had 10 games that came out for it between 1999 and 2000, including an F-Zero X Expansion Kit and SimCity 64, but it just couldn't cut the custard on the Japanese market. In Nintendo's eyes, if it sold horribly in Japan then it was not going to sell well in America.
It's interesting because the international markets are very different, and even though the 64DD may have died in Japan it doesn't necessitate that it would have done horribly in America. For instance, the Xbox game consoles always do horribly when launching in Japan, but they sell quite well in America and Europe.
The video details how the particular unit he came across is not a dev unit but a retail U.S., unit. It's region-locked, which is typical for most Nintendo hardware. He tried playing the Japanese version of F-Zero X for the 64DD and it wouldn't boot. It did, however, boot up normally without a disk inside and it booted to a standard U.S., N64 splash screen.
The particular unit that Metal Jesus Rocks managed to get his hands on also came with a blue 64DD disk that had mysterious contents on it but he was unable to read it due to lacking a devkit card for the 64DD.
The whole video is fairly fascinating and also slightly disappointing just because we don't get to see it play any games. Hopefully there's a follow-up video where we get to see what kind of contents are on the disk. Speculation is already running rampant about it possibly being something Legend of Zelda oriented or maybe even something from Earthbound...who knows?