A working US version of the Nintendo 64 Disk-Drive, or the N64DD, has been discovered in Seattle, Washington.
The Nintendo 64 Disk-Drive was a planned add-on to the Nintendo 64, which would have played 64MB Magnetic Disks over cartridges on the machine. Originally announced in 1995, the N64DD was delayed until 1999- and only released in Japan, selling roughly 15,000 units in its short run.
No English versions of the N64DD were known to have existed, until yesterday when a man named Jason Lindsay, also known as “MetalJesusRocks” uncovered the machine. Lindsay posted his discovery on his Youtube show, which can be seen below.
Lindsay discovered some interesting things about this Nintendo 64 Disk Drive. The machine boots up without the aid of a “partner cartridge”, which were used for developer kits at the time. The machine includes an English menu screen, a feature not found in official development units or the Japanese retail model. Finally, the N64DD is region-locked, meaning only US cartridges and disks can be played on it.
All of these findings seem to suggest that the Nintendo 64 DD Lindsay found was a close to market retail prototype. Ars Technica reached out to former Nintendo support specialist Mark Deloura, current editor of the Level Up Report games newsletter. Deloura stated that “You couldn’t boot into the DD units hooked up for development. That is a sign of it being a retail unit, or at least ‘retail-ish.’ My recollection is that the development DD wouldn’t boot at all.”
Lindsay himself still has more questions about the unit, as it came with an unreadable, blue game disk. Currently, Lindsay has not been able to crack what is on the disk to make it readable, but speculation from Deloura suggests it may be a full retail game, or a N64DD demo disk, which Deloura used to show the unit to developers when working at Nintendo.
Currently, Lindsey is turning to the gaming community for help in cracking the final mystery behind the N64DD.
To me, stuff like this, the discovery and preservation of old games and consoles, is one of the most important things about video game culture. Who knew a US Nintendo 64 Disk-Drive existed? I am kind of glad it did now, it gives us a window into what the add-on might have been like in North America at the very least. Good historical value and if Lindsay can get it working, a record of preservation none of us were supposed to see.
What do you think about all this? Is this a valuable find? Leave your comments below.