Donkey Kong 64 Was Almost Derailed by Game Crashing Bug

Donkey Kong 64 Was Almost Derailed by Game Crashing Bug

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Rare had to bundle to the N64 Expansion Pak to get the game to work.

Gamers who chose the Nintendo 64 over the PlayStation, back in their day, might recall upgrading the N64 Expansion Pak. Released in 1998, it was essentially a memory upgrade that doubled the N64's main memory from four to eight megabytes. Some developers would use the extra oomph to do things like improve a game's visuals. Others classic titles like The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask actually required the expansion pack to run.

The first game to rely on the presence of an Expansion Pak was Donkey Kong 64, released in 1999. The game came bundled with the upgrade, and while advertising would insist it was simply too big (and presumably awesome) to operate without the upgraded memory it has now been revealed that wasn't quite the case. "There was a bug that caused the game to randomly crash, and only occurred in the 4MB only version," said Chris Marlowe, a programmer for Donkey Kong 64, speaking on a Conker's Bad Fur Day commentary. "They couldn't find out what it was so they had to ship with the [Expansion Pak] in it."

The inclusion of the Expansion Pak had less to do with the game's size or complexity, and was rather the easiest fix its developers at Rare could devise to stop the game-crashing bug. Easy fix or not, the inclusion of the Expansion Pak, according to Marlow, would "cost [Rare] a fortune." That being the case, it might have been a bit of serendipity for Rare who would go on to release Perfect Dark, another N64 classic that required the Expansion Pak, the next year. Because of the Donkey Kong 64 bundle, there was a decent consumer base already possessing the handy little upgrade.

Source: GameXplain

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I love when really old stories like this surfaces. I imagine a lot of the reason for this is because there's no longer any kind of blow-back to worry about.

Come to think of it, I never owned the expansion. I think my sister has one for Majora's Mask though.

I still have the expansion pack for DK64. Pretty fun game, except that I remember the collectathon becoming tedious if you tried to 100% it.

Interesting. This could be why we have yet to see DK64 on the Virtual Console - the emulator can't run it without crashing.

I never had the memory expansion pack for the N64, didn't grow up with one, but then one day my aunt gave me a bunch of her old video game stuff and in the duffel bag was a factory sealed, brand new N64 memory expansion pack. I wanna play this game, and now I can. Well good thing they managed to fix it in time.
Ah I miss the old Rare. MS, please give Rare back to Nintendo, you're obviously not doing anything with them at all as you kept cancelling the games they were gonna make.

Dk64 remains to this day, my favourite platformer ever. The variety in the levels, the characters, boss fights and abilities are exemplary. I wish I still had an N64... And an expansion pack of course.

Neronium:
I never had the memory expansion pack for the N64, didn't grow up with one, but then one day my aunt gave me a bunch of her old video game stuff and in the duffel bag was a factory sealed, brand new N64 memory expansion pack. I wanna play this game, and now I can. Well good thing they managed to fix it in time.
Ah I miss the old Rare. MS, please give Rare back to Nintendo, you're obviously not doing anything with them at all as you kept cancelling the games they were gonna make.

Rare still gets plenty of business, they have made both Kinectimals and Kinectimals 2!

Yeah, I'm going to lay down and cry a little over this now. Such a great company laid to waste.I'd love to see Rare return to Nintendo since they own parts of the rights to the Donkey Kong series and hopefully get a new Banjo Kazooie game at some point. It wont happen, but I have to keep dreaming.

I really wish Donkey Kong 64 would make it to Virtual console, but it might be hard given the memory problem. Not sure how their emulation work, but it could offer enough problems to keep this from happening. Well, never give up hope, we ARE getting Earthbound.

I wonder how many Xbone games will crash like this without a cloud connection?

Yopaz:
snip

*pats on back*
There there, things will be made right some day I'm sure.
Also, took forever to get it from Nintendo too, it was like trying to pull teeth out of a screaming child who we didn't put under.
While I didn't grow up with Nintendo or the N64, I was a Sega kid who also dabbled with a PSone, I still wish to see Rare make the games they used to and not be forced to make little petting zoo games for kiddies (I don't own it because I'm never buying a Kinect).
Plus I can never look at Kinectimals the same after watching this:

Easy fix or not, I don't really care as long as it worked. Back in those days, there were no patches or downloads for console games. Whatever shipped was the final version, so all the bugs had to be ironed out before then. I'm glad they did, though, because that was one of my favorite games growing up. I later found out that my parents only bought it because it came bundled with a memory upgrade, and my dad, who worked with computers, saw the value in that.

Still, though, it was a very fun platformer, even though I never did get to 100% completion. There were still around four or five golden bananas that I just couldn't get.

are there any other N64 games on VC that required the expansion pack?

i remember Majora's Mask, DK64, Perfect Dark (but of course now M$ owns it), and Rogue Squadron used it but didn't require it. now that i've looked on wikipedia, i don't think any game that needed it has come out on VC, probably for that very reason.

ultrabiome:
are there any other N64 games on VC that required the expansion pack?

i remember Majora's Mask, DK64, Perfect Dark (but of course now M$ owns it), and Rogue Squadron used it but didn't require it. now that i've looked on wikipedia, i don't think any game that needed it has come out on VC, probably for that very reason.

Majora's Mask is on the Wii VC, and required the Expansion Pak.

Emulation is a tricky thing though, and the existence of this bug could easily prevent it working properly even if everything else was optimal.

I wonder if a pirated version has been successfully emulated on PC?

Every single person I knew that had an N64 had that Expansion Pack and Donkey Kong 64 (I actually had a buddy who didn't had DK64, but bought the expansion pack for Majora's Mask and Perfect Dark).

Either way, great (accidental) move from Rare, they single handedly sold the expansion pack to every single N64 owner and I thank them for it, without it, I wouldn't have enjoyed Majora's Mask and Perfect Dark.

Scribblesense:

ultrabiome:
are there any other N64 games on VC that required the expansion pack?

i remember Majora's Mask, DK64, Perfect Dark (but of course now M$ owns it), and Rogue Squadron used it but didn't require it. now that i've looked on wikipedia, i don't think any game that needed it has come out on VC, probably for that very reason.

Majora's Mask is on the Wii VC, and required the Expansion Pak.

Emulation is a tricky thing though, and the existence of this bug could easily prevent it working properly even if everything else was optimal.

I wonder if a pirated version has been successfully emulated on PC?

As far as I know, every single game that required or used the expansion pack (except Resident Evil 2 and Rogue Squadron) works flawlessly on an emulator, you name it, Turok 2/3, DK64, Majora's Mask, Perfect Dark, Hybrid Heaven, Duke Nukem Zero Hour and some more.

Although Majora's Mask VC version runs much better than the GameCube version (had some loading and sound skipping issues due to it being loaded from a disc) and I think that the VC version is much better than the original N64 version overall, but it's pretty much the only expansion pack game available for VC right now.

No mention that Super Smash Bros suffered severe slowdowns and occasional crashes with the Expansion Pack inside? Or did nobody notice?

Originality:
No mention that Super Smash Bros suffered severe slowdowns and occasional crashes with the Expansion Pack inside? Or did nobody notice?

I must have lucked out; that never happened to me and I played a bunch.

Originality:
No mention that Super Smash Bros suffered severe slowdowns and occasional crashes with the Expansion Pack inside? Or did nobody notice?

Sounds like that was just you. I've never experienced, nor even heard about Smash Bros randomly crashing under any circumstances; let-alone tied to a specific cause.

Huh. I never knew about an expansion. Of course, I got my N64 back when DK64 first came out. So maybe I just didn't notice.

This takes me back. I remember getting this for Majora's mask and Perfect Dark. I particularly liked the Gold cartridge that games like Majora's mask came in.

Makes me wonder what the bug was (from a technical aspect). Do have to say never had a N64 for myself, was a playstation kid myself.

SupahGamuh:

Scribblesense:

ultrabiome:
are there any other N64 games on VC that required the expansion pack?

i remember Majora's Mask, DK64, Perfect Dark (but of course now M$ owns it), and Rogue Squadron used it but didn't require it. now that i've looked on wikipedia, i don't think any game that needed it has come out on VC, probably for that very reason.

Majora's Mask is on the Wii VC, and required the Expansion Pak.

Emulation is a tricky thing though, and the existence of this bug could easily prevent it working properly even if everything else was optimal.

I wonder if a pirated version has been successfully emulated on PC?

As far as I know, every single game that required or used the expansion pack (except Resident Evil 2 and Rogue Squadron) works flawlessly on an emulator, you name it, Turok 2/3, DK64, Majora's Mask, Perfect Dark, Hybrid Heaven, Duke Nukem Zero Hour and some more.

Although Majora's Mask VC version runs much better than the GameCube version (had some loading and sound skipping issues due to it being loaded from a disc) and I think that the VC version is much better than the original N64 version overall, but it's pretty much the only expansion pack game available for VC right now.

It doesn't seem very likely that an emulator, even one running on a console, would struggle much with emulating a game just because it uses a memory expansion.

All the RAM pack changes is that there's now 8 mb or RAM instead of 4... To an emulator, that's a change involving only a handful of minor changes. - As long as the system running the emulation has enough RAM to cope with it (and any emulation related overhead), it's hardly a major change. (The Wii has 96 mb of RAM, so it's unlikely to be a problem in that regard.)

In terms of emulation, Star Fox on the Snes, (or Megaman X-2 for instance) represent a much bigger challenge, because they had game cartridges with added processors. - The SuperFX chip that allows Star Fox to even run for instance is a 20 mhz cpu optimised for running vector calculations that has to do some complicated things just to run alongside the main system CPU.

Compared to that, increasing the amount of RAM in an emulated system is fairly trivial.

...So if it wasn't for that one game breaking bug, DK64, one of the biggest games ever, would work on a 4 meg N64?

Mind. Blown.

Rareware had some really heavily skilled programmers. I still respect them for what they could pull off with so little. They are what I strive to be as a programmer.

Interesting that I remember getting the game with the expansion thingy, I was only 7 or 8 at the time.
About the game, it was great, I'm still missing 4 gold Bananas, if I'm not mistaken I have 196 out of 200. One of them is a bonus stage where we have to push the beavers with the crocodile, hard as hell.
The final boss was awesome, original and challenging, hard to see those nowadays.

Reading this amazes me at how far technology has grown.

R.Nevermore:
Dk64 remains to this day, my favourite platformer ever. The variety in the levels, the characters, boss fights and abilities are exemplary. I wish I still had an N64... And an expansion pack of course.

It is one of my favorites of all time as well such a great game. I really wish rare would make a come back I would be gitty as a school girl.

Holy shit this is scary. I mean seriously, imagine if they just said 'FUCK IT!' and canceled the game... I literally spent a vast amount of my young life playing this game, its one of my favorite games of all time... I think its time to go play some Donkey Kong 64...

 

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