Originally starting life as "Project Reality" the Nintendo 64 was the follow up to the SNES. The press went wild over the new console, with articles claiming it could generate graphics on a par with high end Silicon Graphics workstations.
Two arcade games (Cruis'n USA and Killer Instinct) were made in 1994 to show the public what the Ultra 64, as it was now known, would be capable of. The announcement on the Killer Instinct intro "available for your home in 1995, own a Nintendo Ultra 64!" may have seemed like good publicity, but was a bit misleading. The N64 wasn't released until 1996, and the change of name to Nintendo 64 meant nobody could buy an Ultra 64 even if they wanted one. To make matters worse, both games used different hardware, not only from that of the N64 but each other as well!
By the time the N64 launched it could only ever be a victim of its own hype. The CD-ROM was rapidly becoming the favoured format for consoles, mainly due to the increased storage space and lower production costs, and Nintendo's decision to stick with cartridges would prove costly. The limited storage size of cartridges, coupled with a tiny 4 KB limit on texture size, meant the N64 could never live up to the stunning rendered images that had been printed in the press.
The machine received a number of great games, most notably GoldenEye and the classic launch title Super Mario 64, but this simply wasn't enough. Third party publishers abandoned the N64 in favour of the PlayStation and the releases started to dry up, with very few games being released towards the end of the console's lifespan.
In December 1999 the 64DD was released in Japan. First announced in 1995, before the N64 was even launched, most people were expecting a CD based add-on. Instead it used magnetic disks, similar to those used in Zip drives. Although the disks were cheaper to produce they had the same 64 MB maximum size as the cartridges, rendering the whole idea somewhat pointless. Like most console add-ons of this type, the 64DD was largely considered to be a failure. Only nine pieces of software were ever released for the 64DD and the machine's world-wide launch was cancelled.
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1996 (Japan & USA), 1997 (Europe)
END OF PRODUCTION
BUILT IN SOFTWARE / GAMES
8-way d-pad, analog stick, 9 buttons + Start
64 bit MIPS R4300i
64 bit RCP (Reality Co-Processor) @ 62.5 MHz
4 MB RDRAM, upgradable to 8 MB with the Expansion Pak
256x224 to 640x480
16.7 million, 32,768 on screen
SIZE / WEIGHT
Cartridge, EXT port, 4 controller ports
Cartridge (64 MB max)
NUMBER OF GAMES
AC power adapter
Controller Pak, Rumble Pak, 4 MB Expansion Pak, 64DD