Super-rare N64DD dev kit surfaces in pristine condition

(Image credit: Nintendo)

A super-rare and unboxed Nintendo 64 Disk Drive development kit has surfaced via a Twitter thread from @ReresTV. The kit, sent to Shane Luis for verification by a private video game collector, is in mint condition, and the thread is a genuinely satisfying unboxing of all the components. 

Take a look:

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The N64DD, which the kit was designed to supplement, actually sits beneath and locks onto your standard N64. The software runs off 64MB magnetic disks, similar to floppy disks—though they're more akin to Zip Drives than your standard 3.5-inch floppy. According to Looper, the N64DD included features that "allowed you to capture images from your TV, create 3D models and animation, and make your own tracks for games like F-Zero X." 

The article notes you were even able to access the internet and share your creations for a small monthly fee to an online subscription service named 'Randnet' (amazing). It continues, "unfortunately, the experiment did not turn out well."

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The N64DD's failure—and ultimate rarity of the dev kits—came as a result of a couple of key factors. 

First off, the N64DD was only sold in Japan, and only after a major delay in the planned release date—it was supposed to surface in 1997, but didn't come out until 1999. That's going to be a huge reason for it not taking off. 

By that point, the 1996 release of the N64 had lost a lot of momentum, where "many of the games meant to bolster its sales had either launched previously, been cancelled, or moved to a different platform." In the time it took to release, the Sega Genesis, Dreamcast and Super Nintendo 2 had all joined the party, resulting in the N64DD being a total flop.

In total only 15,000 of the N64DD machines were sold, and only then in Japan. In the end, all of nine games were released for it, as well as a single utility disk. 

Safe to say that this super-rare development kit for the N64DD is something to behold then, especially considering the packaging is in English when the add-on itself was only sold in Japan. The instruction manual is being deciphered as we speak by helpful people on Twitter so, if you're interested, go have a trawl through the thread.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.