The Legend of Zelda series has always dabbled in alternate realities - mirror worlds, sunken pasts, waking dreams, futures that might have been. This is the story of one such lost future, a dream originally dreamt by the developers of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, kept alive by a fervent underground community of fans, modders and artists. It's the tale of a version of Ocarina of Time which is, somehow, both a tangible fact and an eternally deferred Holy Grail, always quested for, never quite grasped - the reworked "Ura" edition that was once planned for release alongside the Nintendo 64's ill-fated 64DD peripheral, tantalising elements of which can still be uncovered on a Zelda 64 cartridge today.
For its age, the 64DD was a fairly magical piece of kit, armed with internet connectivity backed up by a rudimentary gaming network, a real-time clock and support for rewriteable 64MB magnetic discs. Besides giving developers vastly more storage to play with at a fraction of the cost of the N64's existing cartridge format, it would have allowed players to craft their own textures, characters and levels into games like F-Zero and share them over the internet - years before user-generated content became an industry buzzword.
For a while, the 64DD was Nintendo's favourite son: in a December 1997 interview, Shigeru Miyamoto claimed that almost every new N64 game in production was designed to make use of it. But the add-on was a troubled project from inception, pegged for a 1996 launch only to wallow in development hell till 1999, when it saw a limited release in Japan as part of a game subscription package. By the time the 64DD was fit for public consumption Nintendo was eager to be rid of it, and the combination of an eye-watering price and N64's relatively modest installed base led to an early retirement in February 2001.