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N64 Regarding the rumored "play once, then delete" function on N64 Dev Carts

SmilingMango

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I have been doing some research on N64 dev carts and keep reading how these carts apparently could wipe themselves after a single boot. Some even claim they can corrupt upon boot with a N64, while using a dumper once is fine.

Now I understand the importance of being careful with this kind of material, and I don't doubt the recommendation to dump before trying to boot in a N64.

But with that out of the way, is there actually evidence of this happening? I find the whole rumor a bit weird.

Some claim this feature was introduced so that reviewers could only play once. They apparently would get the instruction, don't power off your N64 until you are done playing. I find this a very weird way of working. That would mean that if the reviewer encounters a bug during gameplay, they are screwed and have to get a new cartridge shipped?

Is there evidence in the wild that this has happened which cannot be blamed on a general hardware failure?

If this mechanism actually exists, has reverse engineering showed the mechanism in play?
 

hermesconrad

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Just spitballing because I'm not too familiar with n64 carts but if the cartridge uses an eeprom or battery backed ram for saves, it could be possible the developer has effectively a key stored in either and potentially wipe that memory rendering the game unable to boot, only way I can think of it happening, the game itself might not be corrupted but the game itself won't run without the data in that temporary storage being present

In this scenario a dumper wouldn't be running game code, so no instructions present to wipe any specific memory address, but if thr game ran for thr first time then in theory after it successfully loads it could wipe that eeprom or ram data
 

Trimesh

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The other possibility is that it was a RAM based cart like the KMC Partner-64 or the IS -Viewer, since they will only hold the code while the power is on.
 
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