Lost Consoles Surface: The SNES PlayStation & The Nintendo 64DD

This past week, prototypes of two Nintendo consoles that we never had the pleasure of enjoying surfaced: the Nintendo PlayStation and the Nintendo 64DD.

The Nintendo PlayStation is a CD add-on to the SNES (think Sega CD) that represents a collaboration that could have born amazing results.

As the story goes, Nintendo entered into a partnership with Sony to develop a CD_ROM add-on for the SNES, as well as a Sony console that would play both SNES games and new SNES-CD games. Development for the console began in 1988 and continued for several years, progressing as far as introducing a working console at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show dubbed the, “Play Station.”

Progress came to a halt, however when it was announced that Nintendo would enter into a partnership with Sony’s rival, Philips, to produce the SNES-CD add-on. Essentially, Sony and Nintendo conflicted over control of Play Station licensing. Because Nintendo executives felt Sony had too much development control over the new system, they negotiated a more favorable contract with Philips. This issue was compounded by Nintendo announcing its partnership with Philips at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show the day after Sony debuted the Play Station. This announcement came as a huge surprise to Sony.

Over the next few years, Sony had refocused its efforts on developing their own console to compete with Nintendo in the next generation of consoles. Sony released the PlayStation in 1994, which out-sold the Nintendo 64 by displaying the superiority of disc-based gaming over the traditional cartridge technology. The broken partnership with Sony has been cited as an error on Nintendo’s part, as it effectively created their chief rival in the video game market.

Last week, Benjamin Heckendorn, aka gaming-tech genius Ben Heck, got his hands on a SNES-CD and published a video on his youtube channel of a complete product teardown. This process would not only allow Heck to repair the console so it can play games again, but also reveal the specs of the console. What Heck discovered was the SNES-CD would have been as powerful as a regular SNES, and about half as powerful as the Sega Genesis Sega CD add-on.

Check out the video below.

The Nintendo 64DD is a disc drive extension for the Nintendo 64 console. Attaching to the bottom of the unit, the N64DD would allow the N64 to use 64 MB magnetic disks for expanded data storage, real-time clock for game worlds, and increase storage efficiency. Potential software development for the N64DD also promised to let uses create movies and animations that could be shared with friends online.

The N64DD was released in Japan in December 1999. It was considered a commercial failure, as only an estimated 15,000 units sold. Upon the console being discontinued in early 2001, only ten software titles had been released. The released games were:

Mario Artist: Paint Studio
Doshin the Giant
Radnet Disk
Mario Artist: Talent Studio
SimCity 64
F-Zero X Expansion Kit
Japan Pro Golf Tour 64
Doshin the Giant: Liberation Front!
Mario Artists: Communication Kit
Mario Artist: Polygon Studio

Several more games were announced for the N64DD that were either cancelled or ported to another console such as the Sony PlayStation or Sega Dreamcast. Some of those games were:

Dragon Ball Z: Block Butouden
Dragon Warrior VII
Fire Emblem 64
Ogre Battle Saga
Mother 3
Multiple Pokemon games
Quest 64 add-on
Resident Evil 0
SimCopter 64
Super Mario 64 2
Super Mario RPG 2
Tetris Attack
Tetris Wars
Ultra Donkey Kong
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Expansion titled “Ura Zelda”
Zelda Gaiden

Just this past weekend, youtuber/gamer MetalJesusRocks got his hands on a working English N64DD. Since the console add-on was never released in the United States, it was assumed that only developer units and prototypes really existed for the US version. In the video you can watch below, the console looks like a fully complete retail unit.


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