Most gamers will be familiar with the Nintendo 64DD, the disk drive attachment for the Nintendo 64 that promised larger games and enhanced functionality. Sadly, the 64DD never saw the light of day outside of Japan, and even then the add-on only received a handful of exclusive disk games. It appears that Nintendo of America could also have been secretly working on an expansion device for the Nintendo 64 though, as documented by Assember Games forum member DS2 who recently discovered a collection of long forgotten patent documents.
As detailed in the original forum thread, DS2 speculates that the abstract and patents (USD419199, USD6599194 and USD6468160) discovered at the United States Patent Office website point to a device that would have enabled the Nintendo 64 to connect to the internet and download games from an online service and that could then be stored on an internal hard drive. There are several patents all filed within days of each other, along with a series of concept images. These images are not overly detailed, but they do depict a fairly sizeable device on which the base Nintendo 64 unit sits, and would most likely be connected via the expansion port on the bottom of the console. The rear of the proposed ‘multimedia expansion device’ shows several interesting ports including various audio and video outputs, alongside what looks like a standard dial up modem port. The documents also hint at picture-in-picture TV ability (most likely through a coaxial cable input as opposed to over the internet streaming), along with an infra-red remote control unit.
There are no further details on when this add-on was planned for production, and it’s highly likely that the device never got past this early concept stage. Still, it’s an interesting glimpse at what Nintendo were planning for the Nintendo 64 beyond its pure gaming abilities.