Nintendo 64, with 64DD installed
|Developer||Nintendo, Alps Electric|
|Type||Video game console peripheral|
|Generation||Fifth generation (32-bit/64-bit era)|
|Units shipped||15,000 (estimated)|
|Media||Magnetic disk (64 MB)|
|Storage||36 megabit ROM (audio/font)|
|Camera||Game Boy Camera|
|Connectivity||28.8 kbps dialup modem|
|Dimensions||10.2" x 7.5" x 3.1" (260mm x 190mm x 78.7mm)|
|Mass||3.53 lbs (1.6kg)|
|Related articles||Nintendo 64|
The 64DD is a magnetic disk drive peripheral for the Nintendo 64 game console developed by Nintendo. It was originally announced in 1995, prior to the Nintendo 64's 1996 launch, and after numerous delays was finally released only in Japan on December 1, 1999. The "64" references both the Nintendo 64 console and the 64 MB storage capacity of the disks, and "DD" is short for "disk drive" or "dynamic drive".
Plugging into the extension port on the underside of the console, it allows the Nintendo 64 to use proprietary 64 MB magnetic disks for expanded and rewritable data storage, a real-time clock for persistent game world design, and a standard font and audio library for further storage efficiency. Furthermore, the 64DD's software titles and hardware accessories let the user create movies, characters, and animations to be used within various games and shared online. The system could connect to the Internet through a now-defunct dedicated online service called Randnet for e-commerce, online gaming, and media sharing. Calling it "the first writable bulk data storage device for a modern video game console", Nintendo designed the 64DD as an enabling technology platform for the development of new genres of games and applications, dozens of which were in development for several years.
Only ten software titles were released until the unit was discontinued in February 2001. It was a commercial failure, with at least 15,000 total units sold and another 85,000 units unsold. Upon the decline of the 64DD's commercial viability, most such software titles were either ultimately delivered on Nintendo 64 cartridges alone, ported to other consoles like the GameCube, or canceled altogether.
IGN summarized the 64DD as "an appealing creativity package" "targeted at a certain type of user" "that delivered a well-designed user-driven experience"—and a "limited online experiment at the same time", which partially fulfilled Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi's "longtime dream of a network that connects Nintendo consoles all across the nation".
With the 1993 announcement of its new Project Reality console, Nintendo explored options for data storage. A Nintendo spokesperson said in 1993 that "it could be a cartridge system, a CD system, or both, or something not ever used before." In 1994, Howard Lincoln, chairman of Nintendo of America said, "Right now, cartridges offer faster access time and more speed of movement and characters than CDs. So, we'll introduce our new hardware with cartridges. But eventually, these problems with CDs will be overcome. When that happens, you'll see Nintendo using CD as the software storage medium for our 64-bit system.":77
In consideration of the 64DD's actual launch price equivalent of about US$90, Nintendo software engineering manager Jim Merrick warned, "We're very sensitive to the cost of the console. We could get an eight-speed CD-ROM mechanism in the unit, but in the under-$200 console market, it would be hard to pull that off.":66 Describing the final choice of proprietary floppy disks instead of CD-ROM, Nintendo game designer Shigesato Itoi explained, "CD holds a lot of data, DD holds a moderate amount of data and backs the data up, and [cartridge] ROMs hold the least data and process the fastest. By attaching a DD to the game console, we can drastically increase the number of possible genres."
The company also explored the forging of an early online strategy with Netscape, whose founding management had recently come directly from SGI, the company which had designed the core Nintendo 64 hardware. Within its budding online strategy, Nintendo reportedly considered multiplayer online gaming to be of the highest priority, even above that of web browsing. Several third party game developers were developing prominent online gaming features based on 64DD, including Ocean's Mission: Impossible deathmatches and Seta's four-player war simulation. Nintendo would ultimately retain the core impetus of these ideas, but would drastically alter both plans over the following years, in favor of a floppy-based storage technology and the Randnet online software and service partner—although with no online multiplayer gaming support whatsoever.
The 64DD was first announced at Nintendo's 1995 Shoshinkai trade show, at which time Nintendo said it would launch by the end of 1996, although giving virtually no technical specifications yet.
However, its first public appearance wasn't until Nintendo's 8th Shoshinkai show of November 22—24, 1996, where IGN reported that the device nicknamed "Bulky Drive" was one of the biggest items of the show. There, Nintendo of America Chairman Howard Lincoln stated that the device had received its finalized hardware specifications and sported its own show booth. Nintendo's Director of Corporate Communications, Perrin Kaplan, made the company's first official launch window announcement for the peripheral, scheduled for late 1997 in Japan.
Reportedly several developers attended the show to learn how to develop for 64DD, some having traveled from the US for the 64DD presentation and some having received 64DD development kits. The demonstration included an improvised disk conversion of the familiar Super Mario 64 game to demonstrate the drive's operation and performance, and a graphics application mapping the audience's photographical portraits onto live 3D animated avatars—a feature which was ultimately incorporated and released in 2000 as Mario Artist: Talent Studio and the Capture Cassette. Included along with Enix in the early roster of committed 64DD developers, Rare officially discounted any rumors of the peripheral's impending pre-release cancellation.
The event featured Creator, a music and animation game by Software Creations, the same UK company that had made Sound Tool for the Nintendo Ultra 64 development kit. They touted the game's ability to be integrated into other games, allowing a player to replace any such game's textures and possibly create new levels and characters. There was no playable version of Creator available at this show, but the project was later absorbed into Mario Artist: Paint Studio. Nintendo also announced their plans to bundle the 64DD with a RAM expansion cartridge at the show.
Much of the gaming press said the Shoshinkai show did not make as significant a 64DD reveal as Nintendo had promised, leaving the public still in the dark as far as the system's software lineup, practical capabilities, and release date. Zelda 64 (eventually released as the cartridge game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) was seen as the 64DD's potential killer app in the months following the system's unveiling.
On April 3–4, 1997, Nintendo of America hosted a Developer's Conference in Seattle, Washington where a surprise overview was delivered by Nintendo Developer Support staff Mark DeLoura about the 64DD.
The 64DD is notable in part for its multi-year period of many repeated launch delays, which created an interdependent cascade of delays and complications of many other business processes and product launches for Nintendo and its partners.
On May 30, 1997, Nintendo issued a press conference announcing the first in what would become a series of the product's launch delays, saying it had been rescheduled to March 1998, with no comment on an American release schedule. At that time, the delays were reportedly attributed to the protracted development of both the disks and the drive technologies. On June 9, 1997, Nintendo and Alps Electric announced their manufacturing partnership for the still tentatively titled 64DD.
Don't worry. Feel easy about the 64DD.
—Miyamoto, July 29, 1997
At the pre-E3 press conference on June 18, 1997, the company lacked even a prototype unit to display while Howard Lincoln stated that the company wouldn't release the device until sufficient numbers of software titles support it. Reportedly featuring at least twenty game titles in development including Donkey Kong 64, the device still retained its projected Japanese launch window of March 1998, and received its first American launch window of early 1998. Also at the show, Nintendo's main game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, speculated that the first games to be released for the new system would be SimCity 64, Mario Artist, Pocket Monsters, and Mother 3.
—George Harrison, VP of Nintendo of America, April 1997
In a December 1997 interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi, Miyamoto confessed the inherent difficulty in repeatedly attempting to describe and justify the long-promised potential of the mysterious peripheral to a curious public. He said that it "would have been easier to understand if the DD was already included when the N64 first came out. It’s getting harder to explain after the fact. (laughs)" To illustrate the fundamental significance of the 64DD to all game development at Nintendo, Itoi said, "I came up with a lot of ideas because of the 64DD. All things start with the 64DD. There are so many ideas I wouldn’t have been allowed to come up with if we didn’t have the 64DD." Miyamoto concluded, "Almost every new project for the N64 is based on the 64DD. ... we’ll make the game on a cartridge first, then add the technology we’ve cultivated to finish it up as a full-out 64DD game." By 1998, IGN optimistically expected all major Nintendo 64 cartridge titles to have software support for an impending expansion disk. Known third-party 64DD developers included Konami, Culture Brain, Seta, Japan System Supply, Titus, Infogrames, Rare, Paradigm Entertainment, Ocean, and Factor 5.
—IGN, April 8, 1999
More delays were subsequently announced. The American launch was delayed to late 1998. The Japanese launch was delayed to June 1998, later adjusted by the apologetic announcement on April 3, 1998, that it would launch "within the year". The 64DD was notably absent from E3 1998, having been briefly described the day prior as "definitely not" launching in 1998 and "questionable" in 1999, which Next Generation magazine interpreted as being "as close to 'dead' as we can imagine". IGN pessimistically explained that the peripheral's launch delays were so significant, and Nintendo's software library was so dependent upon the 64DD, that this lack of launchable software titles also caused Nintendo to entirely skip its annual Space World trade show in 1998.
On April 8, 1999, IGN announced Nintendo's latest delayed 64DD launch date as being June 1999. Demonstrated at the May 1999 E3 as what IGN called an "almost forgotten visitor", there were no longer any plans for release outside Japan.
By May 1999, the 64DD's launch was still withheld by the lack of completed launch software.
As of August 1999's Space World event, Nintendo had set Randnet's launch date at December 1, 1999, but reportedly had not yet set a launch date for the 64DD.
The 64DD was launched on December 1, 1999, in Japan, as a package called the Randnet Starter Kit which includes six games bimonthly through the mail, and a year of Internet service.
Anticipating that its long-planned peripheral would become a commercial failure, Nintendo initially sold the Randnet Starter Kit via mail order. Later, very limited quantities of the standalone 64DD and games were made available through stores.
The discontinuation of the 64DD and Randnet was announced in October 2000, at a time when there were reportedly 15,000 subscribers. The hardware and online platforms were both discontinued in February 2001. Only nine official disks, including three third-party games and one Internet application suite, were released for it. Most planned 64DD games were either released as cartridge-based Nintendo 64 games as cartridge storage sizes had increased, ported to other consoles such as Nintendo's next-generation GameCube console, or canceled entirely.
|easier production||easiest production,|
75 ms avg
300 kB/s peak
200+ ms avg
Nintendo designed the 64DD as an enabling technology for the development of new genres of games, which was principally accomplished by its three main design features: its dual storage strategy of cartridges and disks; its new real-time clock (RTC); and its Internet connectivity. The dual storage strategy of the Nintendo 64 plus the 64DD combines the traditional high speed cartridges, which are low-capacity, non-writable, and expensive but very fast along with the introduction of proprietary mass storage disks, which are large-capacity, rewritable, and cheap but only moderately fast.
Though incompatible in every way with any other consumer electronics product, the 64DD's magnetic storage technology resembles the generic floppy disk, and the large and sturdy shell of the proprietary Zip disk for personal computers. Though various prominent sources have mistakenly referred to the medium as being magneto-optical technology, Nintendo's own developer documentation refers to it in detail as being magnetic.:5 Complementing their proprietary and copy-protected cartridge strategy, the proprietary 64 MB disk format was Nintendo's faster, more flexible, and copy-protected answer to the commodity Compact Disc format, which is cheaper to produce but is much slower, read-only, and easier to copy on personal computers. The most advanced CD technology delivered by the contemporaneous Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation game consoles can hold at least 650 megabytes (MB) of information with a peak 300 kB/s throughput and more than 200 ms seek speed. This compares to the Nintendo 64's cartridge's 4 to 64 MB size and 5 to 50 MB/s of low latency and instantaneous load times, and the 64DD's 64 MB disk size and 1 MB/s peak throughput with 75 ms average seek latency. The high seek latency and low maximum throughput of a 2x CD-ROM drive contribute to stuttering and to very long loading times throughout a gameplay session in many titles, in addition to a much higher production cost, testing cycle, and potential development time for all the potential extra content.
As an example of variable storage strategies, Nintendo determined that the development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time would be retargeted from 64DD disk format alone, to the much faster cartridge format, for performance reasons.:5
Similar in proportion of the historical comparison of Famicom Disk System floppy disks to early Famicom cartridges, this disk format's initial design specifications had been set during a time frame when the initial Nintendo 64 cartridge size was 4 MB as with Super Mario 64, and a 32 MB size eventually became popular over the years. Nonetheless, the 64DD disk format would serve as significant storage size expansion upon its 1999 launch when 32 MB cartridges were the norm and on into future years when only three 64 MB cartridges would ever be released for Nintendo 64. The medium's writability, up to 38 MB per disk, would yield enduring benefits to game genre and social gaming like that of the Famicom Disk System.
Many released Nintendo 64 cartridge games have been programmed to detect the presence of a 64DD drive and the game's corresponding optional expansion disk, most of which were never fully developed or ever released. Without an expansion disk present, such a standalone game carries on. Depending on the game's specific capabilities, these expansions can provide extra levels, minigames, and can store personal and user-generated content. Any Nintendo 64 game which doesn't actively utilize the 64DD drive has potential access to only the few kilobytes of writable storage on the standard issue Nintendo 64 Controller Pak and on some cartridges' internal battery backed storage, for storing only the player's basic progress and preferences.
In addition to writable storage, the real-time clock enables the existence of persistent game worlds according to a real-world clock and calendar, backed by a battery even when the system's main power is shut off. Nintendo's lead game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, said this of the four-year development of the ultimately unreleased pet breeding game Cabbage: "We're doing it on the 64DD because I wanted to make a clock function, such that even if the power is cut, can still raise the creature."
A modem cartridge is packaged with the system, allowing Internet connectivity through Randnet, in addition to the service's members-only portal sites.
The 64DD has a chip containing an enhanced font and audio library for all software to share, further saving the potential available space of mass storage on cartridges and disks. The 64DD has a 32-bit coprocessor to help it read disks and to transfer data to the main console. The main Nintendo 64 deck uses its RCP and NEC VR4300 to process data from the top cartridge slot and the I/O devices. Like nearly all disc-based consoles, the 64DD can boot up without a cartridge on the top deck, because it has a boot menu. The 64DD is packaged with the 4 MB RAM Expansion Pak, yielding a total of 8 MB. The 64DD has its own software development kit that works in conjunction with the Nintendo 64 development kit.
The 64DD Randnet bundle includes a modem for connecting to the Randnet network and the 4MB RAM Expansion Pak. Other accessories include a keyboard, a mouse, and an audio-video capture port (female RCA jack, and line in) called the Capture Cassette (or cartridge).
The CPU-powered 28.8 kbps software modem cartridge was developed in partnership between Nexus Telocation Systems, Ltd. and Surf Technology. It is housed on a special cartridge with a port for the included modular cable, which then connects to the network. It is the Nintendo 64's only official Internet connectivity product, because the early discussions between Surf and Nintendo to have built one directly into the console did not materialize.
Coincidentally, an unlicensed third party alternative was produced by InterAct for America in the form of the SharkWire Online system.
has [sic] established a joint venture "RandnetDD Co., Ltd.," which provides a membership network service through Nintendo 64 and its newly released peripheral device, 64DD in Japan. The joint venture offers several network-based services: web browsing; e-mail services; and publication of digital newspapers and magazines.
— Recruit web site, June 30, 1999
In April 1999, Nintendo ended their partnership with St.GIGA which had created the Super Famicom's proprietary Satellaview online service in Japan, broadcasting from April 23, 1995, to June 30, 2000. The company then partnered with Japanese media company Recruit to develop the 64DD's completely new proprietary online service called Randnet (from "Recruit and Nintendo network"). The resulting equity-owned:1 joint Japanese corporation was announced on June 30, 1999, as RandnetDD Co., Ltd. Active only ever in Japan, from December 1, 1999 to February 28, 2001, the Randnet service allowed gamers to surf the Internet including a members-only portal, and to share user-generated game data. The subscription fee included the dialup Internet service, 64DD system hardware, and a delivery schedule of game disks by mail. Reportedly, Nintendo and several third party game developers had originally planned multiplayer online gaming as being more important than even a web browser.
The Randnet Starter Kit comes packaged with the 64DD peripheral and everything needed to have accessed the service.
- 64DD: The writable 64 MB disk drive system.
- Nintendo 64 Modem
- Expansion Pak: This 4 MB RAM expansion brings the Nintendo 64's system RAM to a total 8 MB.
- Randnet Browser Disk: This let users of the former online service access the "members only" information exchange page as well as the Internet. Once logged on to the service, players could choose from the following options:
- Editing Tool: Create custom avatars to interact with other users.
- Information Exchange: Use online message boards and share email with other users.
- Community: Swap messages with the game programmers and producers.
- Internet Surfing: Surf the Internet with the custom web browser, formatted for viewing on a television set.
- Battle Mode: Play against other gamers and swap scores.
- Observation Mode: Watch other players' game sessions.
- Beta Test: Play sample levels from upcoming games.
- Digital Magazine: Check online sports scores, weather, and news.
- Music Distribution: Listen to music, some of which was yet to be released in stores.
- Postcards: Mario Artist was intended to allow the design and printing of postcards to be sent via postal mail.
- E-commerce: Online shopping.
Beginning on November 11, 1999, membership registration for Randnet opened to a maximum of 100,000 subscribers on a "first come, first served" basis. The Randnet service was accessible only via a Nintendo 64 and 64DD setup, and the 64DD hardware was only purchasable by Randnet subscribers — the peripheral was not stocked in any retail stores. The Randnet subscription service came bundled with the 64DD hardware and several games, purchased by filling out a mail order request form at select retail stores in Japan.
The plan was available in two tiers: a purchase plan for users who want to buy only the 64DD to add to their existing Nintendo 64 system, and a rent-to-own plan for those who want both the 64DD and a special edition translucent black Nintendo 64 console. Randnet was launched with monthly payment plans for the service and hardware bundle: ¥2,500 (approximately US$23.50) per month for the purchase plan and ¥3,300 (US$31) per month for rent-to-own for the first year and ¥1,500 per month for Randnet service thereafter. The service later eliminated the monthly payment model in favor of an annual prepaid model, at ¥30,000 (US$290) for one year for outright purchase and ¥39,600 (US$380) for the first year of rent-to-own. The 64DD and some later games eventually became available for purchase directly at retail.
As part of the subscription, the game disks were delivered not in the initial package but by mail on a schedule: December 1999 had Doshin the Giant and Mario Artist: Paint Studio; February 2000 had Randnet Disk, SimCity 64, and Mario Artist: Talent Studio; and April 2000 had F-Zero X Expansion Kit and Mario Artist: Polygon Studio. The final Starter Kit subscription title Polygon Studio was suddenly delayed and then released on August 29, 2000.
One of the most substantial series of games to include Randnet support is the Mario Artist series, which allowed online users to swap their artwork creations with others. Contests and other special events occurred periodically. Papercraft was implemented by way of modelling the characters in Mario Artist: Polygon Studio and utilizing Mario Artist: Communication Kit to upload the model data to Randnet's online printing service. The user can then cut, fold, and adhere the resulting colored paper into a full-bodied 3D papercraft figure.
Because the 64DD hardware package was primarily sold with a mandatory subscription to Randnet, the service was fairly popular amongst the limited 64DD user base. Overall, the service didn't garner enough subscribers to justify its continued existence, and in October 2000, the service's impending closure was announced. The 64 Dream magazine reported a Nintendo public relations statement, which said that there had been approximately 15,000 Randnet subscribers at the time of this announcement, indicating that there had been at least that many hardware units sold to customers. Nintendo offered to buy back all the Randnet related consumer hardware and to give free service to all users from the announcement of closure, until the day it actually went offline. The Randnet service closed on February 28, 2001 and Nintendo's equity partnership with RandnetDD Co., Ltd. was liquidated from June 30, 2001:9 to January 31, 2002.:10
|Mario Artist: Paint Studio
|December 1, 1999|
|Doshin the Giant|
(巨人のドシン1 Kyojin no Doshin 1)
|February 23, 2000|
|Mario Artist: Talent Studio|
|F-Zero X Expansion Kit
(エフゼロ エックス エクスパンション キット)
|April 21, 2000|
|Japan Pro Golf Tour 64
(日本プロゴルフツアー64 Nippon Puro Gorufu Tsua 64)
|May 2, 2000|
|Doshin the Giant:
Tinkling Toddler Liberation Front! Assemble!
Kyojin no Doshin Kaihō Sensen Chibikko Chikko Daishūgō)
|May 17, 2000|
|Mario Artist: Communication Kit
|June 29, 2000|
|Mario Artist: Polygon Studio
|August 29, 2000|
More than 60 titles were announced for the 64DD that ended up either being released on Nintendo 64 cartridge format only, being totally canceled due to the system's delays or commercial failure, or being ported to another console such as Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, or Microsoft Xbox.
- 7th Legion
- Automobili Lamborghini Add-On
- Cabbage (unreleased, influencing Nintendogs and others)
- Communication Game (online game by the development team of PostPet, a famous Japanese email application)
- Creator (later integrated into the Mario Artist series)
- DD Sequencer
- Derby Stallion 64
- Desert Island: No Man's Island
- Dezaemon 3D Expansion Kit
- Digital Horse Racing Newspaper
- Digital Sports Newspaper (canceled)
- Doubutsu Banchou (Animal Leader, released on Nintendo GameCube as Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest)
- Dōbutsu no Mori (Animal Forest, released as a cartridge with an embedded RTC in Japan, and later as Animal Crossing on the Nintendo GameCube)
- Dragon Ball Z: Block Butouden (by SETA Corporation in 2000)
- Dragon Warrior VII (ported and released on the Sony PlayStation instead)
- DT Bloodmasters
- Famicom Classics Vol. 1
- Far East of Eden: Oriental Blue (canceled, becoming a Game Boy Advance title of the same name)
- Fire Emblem 64 (canceled, with some elements of the plot later used on the first Fire Emblem for Game Boy Advance, Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi)
- Gendai Dai-Senryaku: Ultimate War
- Hiryu no Ken Stadium DD Real Version
- Hiryu no Ken Stadium DD SD Version
- Hybrid Heaven (released on cartridge)
- Jungle Emperor Leo (Kimba the White Lion)
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (released on cartridge)
- Mario Artist: Game Maker (canceled)
- Mario Artist: Graphical Message Maker (canceled)
- Mario Artist: Sound Maker (split out from Paint Studio and then canceled)
- Mario Artist: Video Jockey Maker (canceled)
- Mario Party 2 (released on cartridge)
- Mission: Impossible (released on cartridge)
- Mission: Impossible 64DD
- Morita Shogi 64 (released on cartridge)
- Mother 3 ("EarthBound 64") (canceled, becoming a Game Boy Advance title of the same name in Japan)
- Mother 3.5 (EarthBound 64 expansion)
- Mysterious Dungeon
- Namco RPG
- Ogre Battle Saga (released on cartridge)
- Pokémon Snap
- Pokémon 64/Pokémon RPG
- Pokémon Stadium (released on cartridge)
- Pokémon Stadium Expansion Disk
- Pokémon Stadium 2 (released on cartridge)
- Project Cairo
- Quest 64 Add-On
- Resident Evil Zero (released on Nintendo GameCube)
- Rev Limit (canceled)
- Seaman (released on Sega Dreamcast)
- SimCopter 64
- SnowSpeeder (released on cartridge)
- Super Mario 64 2
- Super Mario RPG 2 or Super Mario Adventure (released on cartridge as Mario Story in Japan and Paper Mario in the rest of the world)
- Tetris Attack (テトリスアタック) (by Data East for December 1, 1999)
- Tetris Wars (announced by Data East in 2000, but eventually canceled)
- Tonic Trouble Add-On
- Toukon Road: Brave Spirits Add-On
- Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (released on cartridge as Conker's Bad Fur Day)
- Unreal (canceled)
- Wall Street
- Ultra Donkey Kong (released on cartridge as Donkey Kong 64)
- Ura Zelda (Expansion disk to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
- Yoshi's Island 64 (released on cartridge as Yoshi's Story)
- Yousuke Ide's Mah-jongg School
- Zelda 64:5 (released on cartridge as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
- Zelda Gaiden (released on cartridge as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask)
Rating the overall system at 6.0 out of 10.0, IGN's Peer Schneider finds the industrial design language of the 64DD and its accessories to perfectly match and integrate with that of the Nintendo 64, with no user-accessible moving parts, a single mechanical eject button, sharing the N64's power button, and child-friendly usability. Installation is said to be "quick and painless", operation is "even simpler", and the whole system "couldn't be easier to use". Software load times are described as "minimal", where the most complex possible point of the system's library reaches about five seconds. The site says that the 64DD popularity was inherently limited, due in part to its limited release in Japan, a country which had a limited adoption of the Nintendo 64 and of dialup Internet connectivity.
Schneider found the combination of the Randnet's web browser and the mouse to provide a "passable surfing experience". He described the portal's private content as "much too limited", where "[a]nyone who has used the Internet would snicker at the lack of up-to-date contents or tools offered on Randnet". He was disappointed in the companies' failure to have ever delivered certain promised online features, such as game beta testing and music distribution. But it provides new users with a "simple network [which] functions as first baby steps into the vast world of the Internet".
Schneider liked the overall product value provided by the Randnet Starter Kit, including hardware, games, accessories, and Internet subscription. However, the platform's abrupt discontinuation proved to limit the appeal to a per item basis rather than as a whole. Because these items were sold only as a soon-discontinued bundle, all with such ultimately limited application, he found the disks' cheaper prices to be aggregated back up to the level of cartridges.
He found the Mario Artist series (especially the 64DD's "killer app", Talent Studio) to be uniquely compelling in creative ways that "couldn't be done on any other gaming console on the market", utilizing the disks' writability and "[leaving] CD systems behind". As a flagship title for the platform, IGN found Paint Studio's well-made art creation functionality to be both a low-cost paint program, and edutainment akin to an Adobe Photoshop for kids. He noted that If the platform hadn't been abruptly canceled, Nintendo supposedly would have utilized Paint Studio as a source of user-generated art content throughout a notable library of 64DD-compatible games.
Schneider acknowledges Nintendo's vision, attributing the system's downfall generally upon the drastically changing marketplace during the several years of delays until the system's release. He summarized the 64DD as "an appealing creativity package" "targeted at a certain type of user" "that delivered a well-designed user-driven experience"—and a "limited online experiment at the same time", which partially fulfilled Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi's "longtime dream of a network that connects Nintendo consoles all across the nation".
Nintendo reported that there were 15,000 Randnet subscribers as of the October 2000 announcement of the service's impending closure, with at least as many requisite 64DD units having been deployed.
New genres of games were developed due to the advent of 64DD's rewritable mass storage, real-time clock (RTC), and Internet appliance functionality. However, the system's commercial failure required many 64DD games to be released on traditional Nintendo 64 cartridges alone, ported to other consoles, or canceled.
Some of these standalone Nintendo 64 cartridge releases include the equivalent of the 64DD's RTC chip directly on board the cartridge, as with Japan's Animal Forest. The 4 MB RAM Expansion Pak became a sometimes mandatory staple of Nintendo 64 game development, being packaged along with a few cartridge games. All subsequent Nintendo consoles would directly include RTC functionality.
The concept of the popular multiplatform Animal Crossing series originated with the 64DD's rewritable storage and RTC. The eventual initial release of the series was adapted to utilize only the Nintendo 64 cartridge format with an embedded RTC, in the form of Japan's Animal Forest. That game was cosmetically adapted for GameCube (with the console's built-in RTC and its removable and rewritable memory cards) with the new name of Animal Crossing. All games in the series are played in real time persistent game world, with the passage of time being recorded on writable media. The realtime effect reflects real seasons, real holidays, virtual plant growth, development of virtual relationships, and other events. Interactivity between real human players on different subsequent console generations has been enabled through the swapping of various Nintendo consoles' writable mass storage cards or through online communications.
The legacy of what is now the Nintendogs series originated because of 64DD, in the form of a pet creature breeding prototype called Cabbage. Never released, it had been codeveloped by Shigesato Itoi (designer of EarthBound), Tsunekazu Ishihara (designer of Pokémon), and Shigeru Miyamoto. Its publicized four-year development was fundamentally enabled by the realtime clock and mass writability, where Miyamoto explained, "We're doing it on the 64DD because I wanted to make a clock function, such that even if the power is cut, [the game] can still raise the creature" and with optionally purchasable enhancement data. A subset of creature maintenance functionality is made portable on the Game Boy via the Transfer Pak, to be synchronized back to the 64DD disk. In 2006, Miyamoto concluded that "the conversations and design techniques that popped up when we were making Cabbage are, of course, connected to Nintendogs and other things that we're doing now."
The concept of a personal avatar creator app which had begun with prototypes for the Famicom was solidified in Mario Artist: Talent Studio and then has been seen on all subsequent Nintendo consoles. Those Talent Studio avatars can be imported into select 64DD titles including the SimCity 64 game. Nintendo designer Yamashita Takayuki credits his work on Talent Studio as having been foundational to his conception and development of the entire Mii component of the Wii platform a decade later.:2 The game's concepts were reportedly specifically foundational to the characters in Wii Tennis.
The user-creation of graphics, animations, levels, and minigames which are seen in the Mario Artist series and F-Zero X Expansion Kit are revisited in later console generations. The idea of minigames was popularized generally during the Nintendo 64's fifth generation of video game consoles. Some early minigames can be actually created in Mario Artist: Polygon Studio in the style that would later be used in the WarioWare series of games. Certain minigames literally originated there, as explained by Goro Abe of Nintendo R&D1's so-called Wario Ware All-Star Team: "In Polygon Studio you could create 3D models and animate them in the game, but there was also a side game included inside. In this game, you would have to play short games that came one after another. This is where the idea for Wario Ware came from.":2
- Famicom Data Recorder
- Famicom Modem
- Nintendo 64 accessories
- Nintendo 64 Game Pak
- Camp Hyrule, an Internet community event for Nintendo players and employees from 1995 to 2007
- PlayCable online service for Intellivision
- Sega Channel online service for Sega Genesis
- XBAND, a game network for Super NES and Sega Genesis, created and run by Catapult
- Teleplay Modem, a third party modem made for NES, Super NES, and Sega Genesis
- GameLine online service for Atari 2600
- SharkWire Online third party online service and Mosaic web browser for Nintendo 64 in America in late 1999
- Zip disk
- Schneider, Peer (February 9, 2001). "Everything About the 64DD". IGN. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
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