What if the N64 had a CD drive...?

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  • liohuffman 11 Jun 2013 19:21:24 28 posts
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    Hi all,


    In your opinion, how different would gaming history have been if the Nintendo 64 had come with a CD drive? I always considered this the decision that allowed Sony to dominate the PS1 (and then PS2) era due to securing so many exclusives not possible on the N64, but was Sony's reign at the top inevitable due to their headstart and focus on mature games?


    Obviously going ahead with the SNES/PlayStation add-on might've nipped the Sony threat in the bud, but by 1994 that boat had sailed - could Nintendo still have won?



    Incidentally, why didn't the N64 come with BOTH a cartridge slot and a disc drive? (similar to the way the Commodore 64 could run games from either cartridge, floppy disk or cassette tape)


    That way, they could've avoided load times on games that needed it and yet still supported large 3rd party games such as Final Fantasy VII which required CDs (unless they were just terrified of piracy).
  • LeoliansBro 11 Jun 2013 19:22:12 44,736 posts
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    It would have been prohibitively expensive and have hax laughable load times.

    LB, you really are a massive geek.

  • SparkyMarky81 11 Jun 2013 19:22:16 567 posts
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    It did didn't it? It was released as an add on. It was called 64DD
  • StarchildHypocrethes 11 Jun 2013 19:23:08 26,351 posts
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    It's a question I've asked myself many times.
  • liohuffman 11 Jun 2013 19:25:01 28 posts
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    LeoliansBro wrote:
    It would have been prohibitively expensive and have hax laughable load times.
    That's my point - it wouldn't have cost much to include an extra cartridge slot (similar to the Sega Saturn)


    That way, they still could've had fast loading times on games that needed it.


    Also, don't forget that it probably would've launched with a 6x CD drive (instead of the 2x drive in the PS1 / Saturn)
  • pigsy2400 11 Jun 2013 19:27:56 153 posts
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    @liohuffman the hyrule field in Oot wouldnt have been possible so i can remember reading at the time
  • OnlyMe 11 Jun 2013 19:30:02 3,104 posts
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    It would've been called Nintendo Playstation, instead of Sony Playstation.
  • neilka 11 Jun 2013 19:34:08 16,464 posts
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    WHAT IF DOGS HAD JETPACKS

    BAAANG!!!!! EXPLOTION!!!!!

  • PazJohnMitch 11 Jun 2013 19:34:40 8,612 posts
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    I also think Zelda would not have been possible on CD.

    And the Saturn is not exactly a good reference console as it was completely destroyed by the Playstation.

    There is a fair chance the disc drive + cartridge slot was expensive which is why the console was gimped in other areas to avoid making it stupidly expensive. Bit like adding a time of flight 3D camera to a next gen console...
  • Cappy 11 Jun 2013 19:38:45 12,088 posts
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    pigsy2400 wrote:
    @liohuffman the hyrule field in Oot wouldnt have been possible so i can remember reading at the time
    A quote from Miyamoto in a Nintendo magazine. Not exactly a trustworthy source. At that time they were struggling to justify their hardware.

    Hyrule Field is mostly nothing anyway, not exactly a rich and interesting overworld. Streaming from disc as in Grand Theft Auto 3 demonstrates that it's possible without cartridges
  • PazJohnMitch 11 Jun 2013 19:44:29 8,612 posts
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    Yes but isn't GTA helped somewhat by running off PS2 / Xbox. Don't those consoles have shite loads of RAM compared to the PS1 / N64.

    I admit I really do not understand this but I get the impression the N64 would have required far more memory to run something like Hyrule field off a disc than it had. And that extra memory would have made the console much more expensive.

    Even though Hyrule field looks trivally small nowadays compared to things like Just Cause 2 it was pretty big back in the day.

    Edited by PazJohnMitch at 19:45:16 11-06-2013
  • chopsen 11 Jun 2013 19:50:24 16,209 posts
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    PazJohnMitch wrote:
    I also think Zelda would not have been possible on CD.
    That was the quote at the time. Probably because the rest of the console's architecture was balls. I think the argument was that content and texture streaming would not have have been possible from CD. It's done fairly routinely these days though, and I'm sure someone did it on the PS 1
  • liohuffman 11 Jun 2013 19:56:41 28 posts
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    Aside from the technical issues, I also heard that Nintendo had alienated various third parties during the NES / SNES eras which is why Namco, Square et al were so eager to jump ship (I'm not sure how true this is though, as surely they could've gone to Sega during the MegaDrive era?)


    I read that Tomb Raider 2, Resident Evil 2 & Metal Gear Solid were all supposed to be launched on the N64 (alongside the PS1 and PC) but the lack of CD drive nixed it.


    Even if the N64 came with a higher price tag because of it, I think the allure of Nintendo's first party games (on top of the multiplatform games) would've made the purchase worthwhile for many

    Edited by liohuffman at 19:58:09 11-06-2013
  • Deleted user 11 June 2013 19:56:59
    Funnily enough Sony and Nintendo had been working together to make a CD drive for the SNES.

    [img][/img]http://www.nintendoweb.nl/images/snes_cd-rom.jpg

    But the collaboration went tits up. Sony continued with the project and the rest is history.
  • Cappy 11 Jun 2013 20:17:40 12,088 posts
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    PazJohnMitch wrote:
    Yes but isn't GTA helped somewhat by running off PS2 / Xbox. Don't those consoles have shite loads of RAM compared to the PS1 / N64.

    I admit I really do not understand this but I get the impression the N64 would have required far more memory to run something like Hyrule field off a disc than it had. And that extra memory would have made the console much more expensive.

    Even though Hyrule field looks trivally small nowadays compared to things like Just Cause 2 it was pretty big back in the day.
    Considering that there's more geometry in just a street or two of GTA 3 than the entirety of Hyrule field, it would definitely be possible on lower spec hardware to do a field that was mostly field with a walled off section in the middle for the Lon Lon Ranch, which I must note needed a separate load.

    Nintendo were telling fibs.

    *edit* I suppose I should elaborate further, N64 cartridges did not boost the amount of available RAM, it's just stored data that needs to be decompressed and moved into the system memory so it would be operating with the same limitations as a CD-ROM, the only difference being access speeds.

    Edited by Cappy at 20:22:57 11-06-2013
  • MrTomFTW Moderator 11 Jun 2013 20:24:42 39,355 posts
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    neilka wrote:
    WHAT IF DOGS HAD JETPACKS
    What do you mean "what if?"

    Follow me on Twitter: @MrTom
    Voted by the community "Best mod" 2011, 2012 and 2013.

  • TheHammerite 13 Jun 2013 10:56:43 1,511 posts
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    What if pigs could draw?

    What if hamsters ate Freddie Starr?
  • One_Vurfed_Gwrx 13 Jun 2013 12:04:24 633 posts
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    liohuffman wrote:
    Aside from the technical issues, I also heard that Nintendo had alienated various third parties during the NES / SNES eras which is why Namco, Square et al were so eager to jump ship (I'm not sure how true this is though, as surely they could've gone to Sega during the MegaDrive era?)


    I read that Tomb Raider 2, Resident Evil 2 & Metal Gear Solid were all supposed to be launched on the N64 (alongside the PS1 and PC) but the lack of CD drive nixed it.


    Even if the N64 came with a higher price tag because of it, I think the allure of Nintendo's first party games (on top of the multiplatform games) would've made the purchase worthwhile for many
    Resident Evil 2 did come out on the N64, albeit later than the Playstation version.
  • RedSparrows 13 Jun 2013 13:54:08 23,868 posts
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    Cappy wrote:
    pigsy2400 wrote:
    @liohuffman the hyrule field in Oot wouldnt have been possible so i can remember reading at the time
    Hyrule Field is mostly nothing anyway, not exactly a rich and interesting overworld. Streaming from disc as in Grand Theft Auto 3 demonstrates that it's possible without cartridges
    When I played it, it was fucking something. Roaming out on to it for the first time was thrilling. I don't care how technical it was, that wasn't the point.

    GTA3 was a generation later.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 13:55:26 13-06-2013
  • Dirtbox 13 Jun 2013 13:56:21 78,801 posts
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    Then it would have had FMV cutscenes like the PS1 and probably better music and more speech.

    Nothing more.

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  • Psiloc 14 Jun 2013 17:53:55 1,556 posts
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    The Hyrule Field thing has piqued my interest. I'm aware that textures were rarely streamed from disc on the PS1 but I assumed that was because the laser would have been busy streaming the music. Was it actually not possible for some reason?

    Regardless if Hyrule Field was not possible on PS1 I'd assume that was due to it having half the RAM rather than anything to do with the storage media.
  • mikew1985 14 Jun 2013 17:56:15 12,978 posts
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    Mario 64 would have been rubbish with huge load times.
  • drip 14 Jun 2013 18:43:01 4,596 posts
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    I liked cartridges... no load times at all.
  • Psiloc 16 Jun 2013 10:05:16 1,556 posts
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    The PS1 could stream textures. I've just proven it by opening the CD drive on the world map of FFVII, eventually the textures stop and you just see the sky bitmap. Probably works because FFVII used midi music, so the tiny music files were plonked into memory and the laser could be free to load textures on the fly.

    So Hyrule Field had nothing to do with cartridges vs CD.

    Edited by Psiloc at 10:06:18 16-06-2013
  • Dirtbox 16 Jun 2013 10:28:51 78,801 posts
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    If you can call them textures.

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  • Psiloc 16 Jun 2013 11:39:38 1,556 posts
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    True but that's more to do with FFVII running in hi-res mode which barely supported textures at all.
  • Sid-Nice 16 Jun 2013 12:15:41 15,851 posts
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    liohuffman wrote:
    Obviously going ahead with the SNES/PlayStation add-on might've nipped the Sony threat in the bud, but by 1994 that boat had sailed - could Nintendo still have won?
    Going ahead with the SNES/CD add-on would have meant that Sony would own all the copyrights to music, characters and games on the CD format. This wouldn't have nipped the "Sony threat in the bud" this would have meant "Sony owns Nintendo."

    NNID Sid-Nice

  • Psiloc 16 Jun 2013 12:54:46 1,556 posts
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    I don't think it was copyright, I think they just wanted to be the ones licensing the games on the CD format.
  • Deleted user 16 June 2013 17:27:38
    Pretty sure Soul Reaver on the PS1 streamed data from the CD.
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