Recap: Nintendo in the 90s came up with what it thought was the perfect balance between cartridges and optical discs. The N64 DD used proprietary magnetic disks to expand the storage of the cart-based Nintendo 64, but it flopped so hard in Japan that it was discontinued before ever arriving in the US.
Nintendo in the late 80s was faced with a dilemma. Its partnership with Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on for the upcoming SNES had floundered, eventually paving the way for Sony to enter the market on its own with the PlayStation.
Nintendo forged ahead with the SNES, but the company knew that the limitations of cartridges would eventually have to be addressed. With Project Reality, the codename for the Nintendo 64, they attempted to do just that.
In an effort to keep costs down (the N64 launched at $199.99 in the US), Nintendo stuck with the cartridge format but came up with an add-on accessory called the Nintendo 64 DD. Short for disk drive, the accessory used proprietary 64MB magnetic rewritable disks to greatly expand the capabilities of the console.
After multiple delays, it did finally launch in Japan in late 1999 but flopped hard and was discontinued less than a year later. Only a handful of software titles were ever released for it, and the add-on never made its way to the US.
Recently, YouTuber Shane Luis was asked to photograph a rare piece of Nintendo history for a private video game collector - a new-in-box Nintendo 64 Disk Drive Development Kit. Luis was kind enough to share the entire process with the world, and even put the images up on the Internet Archive for all to enjoy.
The dev kit is a bit different than the US prototype that Metal Jesus found back in 2016. For example, it has a blue lip around the disk slot rather than a black lip to match the rest of the chassis. The kit also comes with adapters that let you plug in two N64 cartridges at once.