The 64DD in question. (Photo: Jason Lindsey)

Gather round children, and let me tell you a story: once, Nintendo 64 was the most exciting gaming system there was, and we thought the graphics were amazing.

Among those of us who remember this faraway time, there may be a few who remember a rarer wonder: the 64DD—a Nintendo 64 that came with a disk drive. Because, before the cloud, before phones could hold your entire life in their tiny memory chips, we once held our information on these flat objects we called “disks.”

Few Americans ever saw a 64DD: it was released in Japan and never on this side of the ocean. It was a squat and clunky beast, with the disk drive hunkered under the normal console. But one intrepid hunter, perhaps best known as Metal Jesus Rocks—but who also goes by Jason Lindsey and describes himself as “a big collector in the Seattle area”— has found a unique object from this distant past, a N64 64DD prototype meant for US markets.

Most 64DD models, when powered up, showed a screen in Japanese; this one asks in English that the user “Please insert disk.” There is Mario, in all his angular, 3D glory. There is a blue version of what-we-called-a-disk, ready to plunge into the dark maw of the device.

There is only one problem with this device: the console cannot read the disk. What could be on it? It seems most likely that the disk was meant for use by developers, but this unit, being a retail prototype, had no need for such disks. But who knows? The past has many secrets.

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