Donkey Kong 64 is well-known by Nintendo fans for a variety of reasons, not all of which are positive. And one of those reasons is the game's dubious distinction of being the first Nintendo 64 game to require the use of the Expansion Pak, an accessory that increased the system's memory from 4MB to 8MB. Presumably, this was to allow for better graphics and larger environments, or so we were lead to believe by Donkey Kong 64's TV commercial, which claimed the game was "so big, we had to include the expansion pack to fit it all in."
But the real reason for the Expansion Pak's inclusion might actually be a little less glamorous.
In a recent Director's Commentary video for Conker's Bad Fur Day (embedded below, at 2:40), Chris Marlow, one of the game's programmers, let slip some behind-the-scenes details that reveal the true reason for the Expansion Pak's inclusion with Donkey Kong 64. According to Chris, there was a glitch in the game that caused it to "randomly crash...in the 4 meg only version," which apparently didn't occur with the Expansion Pak installed. Unable to track down the cause, Rare was forced to include the memory expansion for free "which cost [Rare] a fortune." Though as fellow Rare colleague Chris Seaver pointed out in that same video, it actually worked out in Perfect Dark's favor (released the following year), as that game "definitely needed it" in order to run most of its modes, which helped avoid most customers from having to purchase the accessory separately.
Who would have guessed that the first required use of the Expansion Pak wasn't actually to improve graphics, but simply to squash a bug in order to make the game playable? You can view the commentary yourself in the video below.
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