In the mid 1990s, Nintendo announced the 64DD disk drive add-on for the N64 for the US market ….but it never came out. Instead the Japanese version of the drive crashed and burned upon release and it took all the hopes of US gamers ever buying one along with it. For almost 20 years it was consider a myth that an actual US retail version exists… until now. I have found a working prototype of the 64DD for the US market AND it contains a developer blue diskette inside of its drive. This unit is unique in many ways and in this video I tell you all the things that make it special…and what happens next…
This is the front of the Nintendo prototype 64DD for the U.S. market. I explain what those labels mean in the video.
The Prototype 64DD boots up in English without a Partner N64 cartridge!
This is everything that came from the Craigslist pickup including some cool Japanese released games.
This is the serial number and label on the bottom of the 64DD prototype. There are several things unusual about it.
This is the mysterious blue developer floppy disk found in the prototype 64DD. I hope to discover it’s contents soon!
♪ [music] ♪ Hey, guys. I’m the Metal Jesus. Now, I’ve been very fortunate here on my YouTube channel to be able to share with you some amazing game finds in the past. Specifically what comes to mind is when Emilio found that one-of-a kind, ultra-rare, orange halo Xbox at a garage sale. How amazing is that? Now, the thing to know about my area here is that I live in Seattle, specifically the Puget Sound. And in our area, we have a bunch of game development places, like Nintendo of America is here, Microsoft, Valve. We actually have 300 game developers, both big and small, in our area. So, there’s a lot of game development that’s happening. And so, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you might find something kind of interesting or rare around here. It does happen. Well in this video, I’m going to share with you something that I have recently acquired that is pretty dang rare. Now, that is a Nintendo prototype that they made for our market that never came out. It’s actually for the Nintendo 64 and most people, including me, didn’t even know this thing existed until this week. And, it came with a disk on the inside. And I’m going to have more information about that because that’s also kind of interesting and exciting. So what is the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive, the 64DD, as it was called? A lot of you are kind of wondering what that is. Well, that’s because it never came out here. It only came out in Japan. Now the history of it was that, around 1995 or 96, Nintendo announced that they were going to make a disk drive that would fit on the bottom of the N64 and basically expand that console quite a bit. And what was really cool about it is that they were going to use basically floppy disks that were specific to this machine. And I’m going to show you those in a second. So, it was actually kind of exciting at the time because here is this add on that hopefully will take off, and they had big plans for it. They actually did announce that this thing would come out in the U.S. However, it flopped terribly in Japan. It came out in December 1,1999, so it took awhile to develop, and it just tanked. They only made 10 titles for it, I have a couple of them here I’m going to show you, and it just bombed. And nobody heard anything of a U.S. version at that point. It was pretty much assumed that they never made one, or if they did, it was only developer units. So, along comes this machine right here. So initially, I just assumed this was a development unit because the development units were, while rare, they do exist. They’re out there. And Nintendo created them for a bunch of partners to potentially make games for this device. But when I got home, and I started searching, I couldn’t find any matches to this. And there’s a couple things that are very unique about this. For one, it did not come with a partner cartridge. That’s a development cartridge that you would put in the top of your N64 that would then boot up the drive. What’s really interesting about this one, it doesn’t need it. It actually…you just turn on the N64 with it attached to the bottom, and the screen comes up. So, it’s like it’s ready for retail. It’s really interesting, right? So I was like, “Well that doesn’t sound right” and then I noticed something kind of peculiar about it. Well, it was in English. See, I didn’t know that I had an American disk drive yet. And so it comes up, and it actually is asking you to put in a disk. And I knew that was kind of unusual because again, all of the retail units that came out were only in Japan. They only have Japanese on the actual splash screen. There are some other unique features about it as well. Let’s take a look at the front here. So you’ll notice it says, “NUD No.1 USA, Lot Check.” Now, I don’t know necessarily what that means, I don’t work at Nintendo. I can probably guess what some of it means, but I went out to a website for research called assemblergames.com. Now these are the guys who authenticated the orange Xbox, so I knew them. I trusted them. And they did not disappoint because they reached out to the actual guy who supported this at Nintendo for their partners. Now, his name is Mark DeLaura, and when he first heard about this, he flipped out. He was super excited because he basically was like, “Yeah, that’s the retail unit.” He hadn’t seen it in almost 20 years, and his job was to support this for the partners. He wrote code for it, and he demoed it back in the day. And he hadn’t seen it in all this time, so he was really excited. So, what this actually means is, Nintendo Ultra 64 Disk Drive Number One for the USA market, and then the lot check. And I asked him, I’m like, “What does the lot check mean?” Well, this is cool. Lot check is actually the part of Nintendo that tests hardware and software, right before it goes to market. So, think of it as QA people, who would take an N64, and there’s multiple versions of the N64, and they would put it on top of there, and then plug it into a television, and make sure everything works. Or they would plug it into different types of television, again, to make sure that it works. Now, what’s really interesting about this, and we’re going to get to it, it came with a disk in here that could be pretty interesting. So, some other unique things about it. Well, let’s flip it over here. For one, you’ll notice this label says, “Nintendo 64 Disk Drive.” That’s kind of odd because actually, when it came out in Japan, it was called the 64DD. Also the copyright is “1996, 1997.” The retail version in Japan came out in 1999, so this is clearly a couple years before the Japanese version even came out. Also, the serial number on the back here says, “NDJ,” and then it has a number, basically. All of the ones that came out, do not have that N there. They actually start with just D. Now again, I don’t work at Nintendo, so I don’t know what the whole plan was there, but clearly, this is kind of unique. Also, another thing to…you know I mentioned originally, I thought it might be a dev unit. If you look on the web, you’ll notice that all of the dev units actually have blue drives here, and this one, again, looks like a retail ready version because it’s black. It matches the case. However, the most telling thing about it is that it boots up in English with no disk in there, and again, no one had ever seen that before. Now I’d love to tell you it does, you know, something more than that, but really, it’s just booting up ready for a disk. Mario comes out, he runs around the N, the N changes a little bit, and that’s pretty much it. Now, okay so, what about games for this? Well, this model was designed for the U.S. market. I didn’t know that when I first got this, and so the first thing I did was, I tried to play F-Zero X. So, this is the Japanese release of F-Zero X. And I was like, “Well let’s see if it’ll play a Japanese game.” ♪ [music] ♪ It doesn’t. Then I was like, “Well that’s weird. Is the drive defective? I mean, it shouldn’t do that right?” Well, Mark quickly corrected me with that. See, Nintendo cares about region locking, and therefore, this is region locked to the U.S. It’s designed to only play U.S. games. And so I was like, “Ah! That makes total sense. It’s not broken. Okay, cool. It just won’t play Japanese games because it assumes you’ve imported them.” It doesn’t want to support that, right? So, what about that blue disk that was in it? So, here it is. This is the mysterious blue disk that was in the drive, and it’s got a serial number here on the back, so for those of you who have been on eBay, and buying these, and keeping track of what serial numbers have already been sold, that’s the serial number. As far as I can tell, this has never been sold before. No one has ever seen the contents of this. Now, when I was talking to Mark, he was very excited about this because, remember how I said that Nintendo would be testing games for the U.S.market? This most likely contains software for the U.S.market. Now, I’d love to tell you it would boot up. It doesn’t. And again, he wasn’t surprised. Again, this is a developer release of a game. This is technically unfinished. It’s probably very close to being finished. But the way that they would have tested this is they would have had one of those N64 partner cartridges. Now they’re very long. They pop in the top, and so the testers would have had one of those because you need that to boot this up, and that’s probably what I’m missing. I don’t know for sure. Now, I asked him, I was like, “You know, speculate, like, what do you think is on here, right?” See the thing is, is that there were a lot of games planned for this, and a lot of games that gamers were very excited about. And they actually demoed and showed some of this stuff in Nintendo Power magazine. A lot of people were very excited to see…well they were basically going to release a Zelda on here, also an expansion to Zelda, I think it was like, Zelda Ocarina of Time. They were also going to…probably one of the holy grails is that they were going to release Mother 3 on the disk drive. That was going to be sort of it’s killer app. There’s actually a bunch of stuff that was originally planned for this. Conquer, there was a Fire Emblem game planned for this. There’s all sorts of stuff. I don’t know what’s on here. Mark suspects it’s one of two things. It’s either a U.S. retail-ready version of a game, or it is potentially some of his demo code that he used to show people what this thing could do. We don’t know. He doesn’t know for sure. I can’t read the disk. So, I would love to know what is on this disk. There’s got to be somebody out there who has the know-how, the hardware, the means to read the contents of this, and also maybe copy off the firmware of the U.S.version of the operating system. Wouldn’t that be interesting for [inaudible 00:11:09] games? The possibility is kind of interesting. So please post on the comments below if you know somebody who can help me do that. I’d love to do a follow-up video after I know what’s going on with this. It’d be really cool if it was EarthBound 64, or Zelda, or whatever. It could be anything. It’d be pretty cool. Alright guys, thank you very much for watching my channel, thank you for subscribing, and take care. I want to give a huge shout out and thanks to Mark DeLaura, who talked to me on the phone for probably half an hour, 45 minutes, just to help me figure out exactly what I’ve got here. Such a cool guy, so nice. I actually want to have him on my channel at some point because the guy is a fountain of knowledge, and it extends actually beyond Nintendo, so that’d be very cool. Also a huge shout out and thanks to assemblergames.com. That is a really awesome site. It has some of the smartest people in probably all of game collecting. If you want to have your mind blown, go over to that site, and check out some of the things that get posted there. It’s amazing! Alright guys, thanks for watching.