Sunday, 20 February 2011

F-Zero Series - Part 4

F-Zero X Expansion Kit by Nintendo EAD (2000) - Nintendo 64DD

Nintendo certainly do their best to get the most out of their hardware don't they? The Famicom had its Disk System, the SNES had the SuperFX chip and also had a CD-ROM in the final stages of development before being cancelled (which went on to become the PlayStation, of course), there was a million Game Boy variants, something paralleled more recently with the multiple DS releases, and then there's the N64. Already heavily criticised for making the console cartridge based, did Nintendo try to rectify this by releasing a CD system for it? No, they decided the best way to boost flagging N64 sales was... another Disk System. Released only in Japan, the 64DD (Disk Drive) sat beneath the N64 and allowed it an additional 64MB (coincidence?) of optical disk storage. Long delayed and, unsurprisingly, a commercial failure, only nine games were released for the 64DD. Today the system is almost solely sought out by collectors and enthusiasts for just one of these games - F-Zero X Expansion Kit.

The Cup Select screen showing the two new ones...
The Expansion Kit is used in conjunction with the original game cartridge and allows access to all of its standard features, but adds a whole host of new ones too. For starters there's two new cup contests - the creatively-named DD1 Cup and DD2 Cup - and each is comprised of six new courses. In typical F-Zero fashion, some of these are variations on existing courses and some are entirely new, but more interesting than that is the inclusion here of a track creation tool. Not dissimilar to the software the actual designers of the game used to create all the original tracks, this amazing feature allows you to create and save up to a hundred tracks every bit as complex and feature-packed as any of the existing courses, and you can even create your own tournaments with them. You can also save up to three ghost racers per course and to top it all off, there's a car editor too, allowing you to create your own 'machines'.

As some Red Parsley readers may know, F-Zero X is one of my all-time favourite games of any kind, and arguably my favourite racing game of all time, so it remains one of my biggest gaming frustrations that I don't have access to its Expansion Kit. Yes, I could buy a 64DD and a copy of the game, but they're not cheap, and I would presumably also need a Japanese N64 itself. Plus, there's the fact that everything is written in Japanese too, so my quest for F-Zero X nirvana remains unquenched for now. Just imagine it though - near limitless potential for the creation of courses and machines including any of the features from the original game. Bah! Maybe one day, 64DD emulation will reach realisation. Maybe I'll even risk angering the wife and buy the whole set-up (and learn Japanese). Maybe someone knows something I don't and it's really not that hard to play if after all. For now though, all I can do is wonder...

RKS Score: 5/5


  1. Ah, I'm with you here. Not only do I love the F-Zero series, but I absolutely *adore* F-Zero X (it's my favorite game in the series). As such, I've always wanted this expansion pack, too. Hopefully we'll all gain access to it in some way...

  2. This kind of thing will be emulated sooner or later, I'm sure. It's just a matter of time.

    F-Zero Expansion Kit looks seriously cool. Reminds me of Super Sprint Championship Edition's track editor - I spent ages making tracks on my uncle's Amstrad.

  3. I like the F-Zero X game as well. I've never come across the Disk Drive for the N64 in my travels to game shops here, its quite a rarity. This post does make me want to find one though...