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The 64DD is an add-on peripheral for the Nintendo 64 video game console.  The add-on accessory was designed to extend the functionality of the Nintendo 64 and address many problems that third-party developers and publishers were complaining about developing for the Nintendo 64 console.

The device allowed the Nintendo 64 base unit the ability to play magnetic floppy disk that were capable of storing much more data than the Nintendo 64 cartridges that were available when the Nintendo 64 launched in 1996.  At the time Nintendo was being criticized by developers and publishers for not manufacturing a console capable of playing optical disc and the storage capability of the Nintendo 64’s cartridge-based media paled in comparison to the Sony PlayStation’s CD based media.

The development of the 64DD and the very early announcement of the add-on’s existence was an attempt to try and address developers concerns.  During the development of the Nintendo 64 console, Nintendo reported that the maximum storage capability of the cartridges for the console was 12MB.   This was met with much criticism as Sony’s PlayStation was capable of storing up to 650MB of data on the Compact-Disc (CD) media.

Nintendo’s main reason for not embracing optical media was a fear of piracy and slow read speeds.  Their choice to continue to utilize cartridges put a strain on third party developers as the smaller storage capability limited what the developer could implement, and the cartridge-based media was much more costly to manufacture.  In an effort to address these concerns Nintendo began development of a magnetic floppy disk add-on which would provide more storage capability than the cartridge-based media and was able to be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of cartridges.

In order to keep developers and publishers interested in creating games for their platform, Nintendo announced their intent to replace an add-on magnetic floppy disk drive peripheral for the Nintendo 64 even before the Nintendo 64 base unit was released.  The early announcement was made as a necessity to assure developers that they were going to address their concerns in the near future however the announcement was made before the hardware solution was fully vetted out.

Alps Electric
ManufacturerAlps Electric
Required Base UnitNintendo 64
Hardware TypeAdd-on
GenerationFifth Generation
Media TypeMagnetic Disk
ReleaseJP: December 13, 1999
DiscontinuedJP: February 28, 2001
Launch Price¥ 30,000 JP (1 Year Subscription)

Included: 64DD unit, 12-months of Randnet service, modem, a modular cable, 4MB Expansion Pak and games delivered every few months
Game Library10 Total Disk
8 Games
2 Communication Kits

The “64” in the name 64DD referenced both the Nintendo 64 console and the 64MB storage capacity of the magnetic floppy disk, while the “DD” was simply short for “Disk Drive” or “Dynamic Disk”.  Even though 64MB of storage was still a fraction of the 650MB storage capability of a CD-ROM, it was much larger than the 4MB to 12MB cartridge that were available during the Nintendo 64’s launch.

Nintendo announced the complementary add-on to their upcoming Nintendo 64 console at the 1995 Shoshinkai trade show.  They provided no technical specifications but said that the unit would launch before the end of 1996.  The system made its first public appearance at the following Shoshinkai trade show in November of 1996 but was now slated for a late 1997 release in Japan with no mention of a North American release date.

At the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show, Shigeru Miyamoto speculated that the first games to be released for the 64DD would be SimCity 64, Mario Artist, Pocket Monsters and EarthBound 64.   Later it was revealed that the next game in the Legend of Zelda series would be released for the 64DD.   The system was starting to build up quite the library of highly anticipated games however as time when on the add-on peripheral continued to face numerous delays.

Development of the add-on seemed to drag on and while the system was in development cartridge-based media started to advance.  When the Nintendo 64 first launched game cartridges were available between 4MB and 8MB.  Super Mario 64 was released on an 8MB (64Mbit) cartridge which was very impressive due to the game’s large scope.  The capability of Nintendo 64’s cartridge-based media would improve over the course of the console’s lifespan and would ultimately reach a maximum storage capability of 64MB, matching that of the 64DD’s magnetic floppy disk media.

As the cartridge-based media increased in size games slated for release on the 64DD started to move development over to the Nintendo 64 base unit.   The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was moved from the 64DD to the Nintendo 64 when 32MB cartridge became available and Mother 3 announced that it would be also releasing for the Nintendo 64 instead of the 64DD, however the game was ultimately cancelled then the project restarted from scratch for the Game Boy Advance.

The add-on started to lose all the highly anticipated games that were in development for the system as it faced an abundance of delays.  Before long there was no longer a need for the add-on device however Nintendo moved forward with the release of the device exclusively in Japan.  The system launched on December 13, 1999, via mail order in Japan as a subscription service with two different offerings.   The system was heavily focused on an internet experience and consumers had the option to sign up for a ¥2,500 a month plan for the 64DD unit with access to the Randnet service or ¥3,300 per month for a 64DD unit and a special black translucent Nintendo 64 with access to the Randnet service.

Both options included the 64DD Starter Kit which included a modem, a modular cable, the 4MB Memory Expansion Pak for the Nintendo 64 base unit and games that would be delivered every few months upon their release.  Shortly after the launch of the unit Nintendo offered consumers the option to purchase a 12-month flat-rate plan at retail locations across Japan for ¥30,000.  After the 12-month period consumers were able to purchase the Randnet service to extend support for ¥1,500 a month.

Only eight game releases and two communication kits were released for the system before it was discontinued in February 2001.   Nintendo only managed to sell approximately 15,000 units and the system was never released outside of Japan.

Space world 1997 Trailer & launch commercial

December 13, 1999Mario Artist Paint StudioMario Artist: Paint StudioSoftware Creations LtdNintendoEducational
December 13, 1999Doshin The Gaint 1ParamNintendoSimulation
February 23, 2000Randnet DDRandnetRandnetCommunication Kit
February 23, 2000Mario Artist Talent StudioMario Artist: Talent StudioNintendo EADNintendoEducational
February 23, 2000Sim City 64HAL LaboratoryNintendoSimulation
April 21, 2000F-Zero X Expansion Kit BoxF-Zero X Expansion KitNintendo EADNintendoRacing
May 2, 2000Japan Pro Golf Tour 64Media FactoryMedia FactorySports
May 17, 2000Doshin The Gaint: Tinkling Toddler Liberation Front! AssembleParamNintendoSimulation
June 29, 2000Mario Artist Communication KitMario Artist: Communication KitNintendoNintendoEducational
August 29, 2000Mario Artist Polygon Studio BoxMario Artist: Polygon StudioNichimen GraphicsNintendoEducational

Media & Promotional Material