Nintendo’s Unearthed Magazine Reveals the Roots of the Switch: Pokemon Stadium and an Unsuccessful N64 Add-On 27 Years Ago

Pokemon Stadium Charizard
(Image credit: Nintendo)

It seems that Nintendo’s original plan for Pokemon Stadium was even wilder than what we got, according to a recently unearthed speech from the late Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Pokemon Stadium was originally intended for the 64DD, an N64 add-on that gave the console a number of new features, including a floppy disk drive, a real-time clock, and additional creative capabilities. The peripheral was delayed multiple times, ended up receiving only a handful of games, and sold just a few thousand units before it was discontinued without ever being released outside of Japan.

But before the 64DD launched, Nintendo had big plans for it, as evidenced by a talk given by Yamauchi at the Space World trade show in 1997, excerpts from which which have recently been translated by Elizabeth Bushouse out of an old Japanese magazine and published by Time Extension.

“The initial proposal for Pokémon Stadium, which is planned for simultaneous release on the 64DD,” Yamauchi said, “was to transform a home console only game into a portable game with the Game Boy, so that you can play it anywhere you want. And then once you return home, you can connect it to the 64DD for another form of fun.”

That sounds a whole lot like what the company would end up doing with Switch decades later, so you can mark this down as one idea that was well ahead of its time. Ironically, the Pokemon Stadium we got in the end worked as an opposite to what Yamauchi described here – instead of letting you take a home console game on the road, it served as a new way to interact with the creatures you’d captured and trained on Game Boy while at home.

Even with Pokemon Stadium changing shapes, however, there were still plans for other games to make use of similar connectivity, including a popular horse racing sim from a third-party studio. “That kind of software is currently in development,” Yamauchi said. “Sonobe, the creator of the Derby Stallion series, is currently working to release a Derby Stallion game with Gameboy and 64DD connectivity. I think this is a great example of software that creates new contrivances for new forms of fun, like I previously called for.”

Nintendo would keep experimenting with the idea of console-to-handheld connectivity for years, notably with the GameCube-to-GBA link cable, but it wasn’t until the Switch arrived in 2017 that the combination really came together.

It’s 2024 and there’s never been a better time to play the best N64 games.



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