Donkey Kong 64 Not For Resale cartridge

Not For Resale carts, were special N64 game cartridges meant to be used in stores to demo Nintendo 64 games. These carts were marked "Not For Resale!" on their label and usually had a sticker on the back meant to be filled out by the store. The majority of all Not For Resale carts were the same as the retail version. The Donkey Kong 64 NFR cart was very different though.

Let's begin by looking at the actual cartridges.


Well you can see how different this is right off the bat. All North American copies of Donkey Kong 64 came in a unique yellow game cartridge. The demo breaks this rule. The "Not For Resale" text is also clearly marked. Now the thing I find the strangest is the ESRB Rating. Usually when you see the Rating Pending logo, it's for a game that you read about in a magazine or see a commercial for on TV. I can't recall any other time a Rating Pending rating was ever on the actual released media. Yes this is a demo, but this demo was made only slightly before the game came out. You'd think it was rated by then. Other changes on the front label are DK's head being in front of the DK text on the retail, a product code with a one letter difference, and a slightly different Registered Trademark sign.

Now let's flip the cartridge over.

You'll notice a huge sticker on the back of the DK 64 NFR cart. This sticker was usually put on NFR carts, but some never got it. The store that got the cartridge was supposed to fill out their store name and store number but very few actually bothered. Besides the huge NFR sticker and obvious colour difference there really isn't much else to see. The typical sticker you see on the back of all N64 carts is the exact same.

Let's have a look at the boards.

I'm not an expert at this so I'll keep it short. There's one less chip on the NFR and also the board is a different colour. The chip that's absent in the demo is responsible for saving. Other then that, the layout and components seems to be the same.


Let's get into playing the game. In order to play the DK 64 NFR cart you'll need an expansion pak. If you try to play the retail DK 64 cart without one, then you'll get a screen telling you it's required. The DK NFR cart still needs this expansion pak, but doesn't have the screen telling you it's required. Nothing will happen if you try to boot the demo with a jumper pak. Seems ironic the retail version included one. The gray DK 64 cartridge has 3 levels on it and I'll go through each one and note any changes/beta.

But before we get to the actual levels, I first need to mention the intro. The N64 logo at beginning lasts much longer. It jumps all over the place and we hear more Monkeys'. Once it ends we get the DK rap as usual. The DK rap is the exact same as the retail version. Once the rap finishes, the game takes us to an unfinished title screen. It's a little blank isn't it? Normally this title screen is displayed, but has game footage covering the black part of the screen. You can press start much earlier on the demo as the retail has a bit of a delay. That's all for the intro. Let's hit that start button and begin those levels.

Level 1: Boss fight against Dogadon

This is the second time you'd face Dogadon in the retail. Our first bit of beta appears, and it's the white balloon. This balloon is absent in the retail and is used to indicate how many lives you have. Dogadon looks the exact same but his spitting noise is different. It's much more annoying, but it is more fitting as it does sound like he's really horking them up. There really are no differences with the boss fight itself. Once you defeat him you'll get the key as usual, but if you stand around and don't collect it, you're supposed to hear different music then what's played on the retail. I say supposed to, because sometimes the game glitches and the boss fight music just continues instead. Weird. Onto level 2!

Level 2: Mine-Cart Mini-Game

This is the mine-cart mini-game that was seen in the first level Jungle Japes. You'll begin as usual with Squawk explaining how to play. His instructions are much more brief, as he pretty much just explains the controls. Then you're off. You need to collect 70 coins instead of the retail version's 50. Also the placement of the coin counter has changed. In the retail version the number is in the top right corner of the screen, with the amount of coins you have to the left. On the demo, the counter and coin have switched places and are more to the left. I haven't spotted any differences to the actual track itself. Once you finish the track you'll find Squawk again has much less to say. He'll give you a banana which is the only banana you'll get in the demo. Now normally in the retail version it'll show how many bananas each character has. In the demo it would only show how many your current character has. Also your amount of bananas at the bottom is a group of bananas not just a single one. If you fail to get enough coins then it's off to the next level on this demo. On the retail you'd get an option to try again. Also if you fail, Squawk would again have something different to say. Here's Squawk's text:

Squawk's text Demo Retail
Instructions Hey Diddy, collect 70 coins to win a golden banana. Use control stick to speed up, slow down, and lean left or right. Press A to jump. Ready, then off we go! Squawk! Listen up, Diddy. Collect 50 coins on this plesant, scenic ride to win a golden banana. Use control stick to speed up, slow down, and lean left or right. Press A to jump. Watch out for the other carts and the chasing TNT barrel. See you at the other end! Bwark!
Completed the course with enough coins Well done Diddy have a banana Squawk! Great ride huh? You've won a banana Diddy! Bwark!
Completed the course without enough coins You'll have to be a tad more nimble to earn the big gold one, Diddy! Squawk! Less than 50 coins means no banana for you this time, Diddy. I recommend more practice. Bwark!

One more level!

Level 3: Boss fight against Army Dillo

This is the second boss fight against Army Dillo. One enormous difference is you're in Jungle Japes instead of Crystal Caves! When Rare was making this game, the boss arena in Jungle Japes was the spot where they tested things. It's likely the Crystal Caves boss arena wasn't created yet. That or they purposely had Army Dillo like this, deemed him too hard for the first level, moved him to a different level, then made him easier for the first level. Now another major change is Army Dillo actually speaks in the demo. He has a rather evil sounding voice that taunts you throughout the fight. His normal voice that's used in the retail version's cut scenes is also different and sounds rather, mechanical. You again see that white balloon indicating your amount of lives. The actual fight is the exact same and once defeating him you'll get a key as usual. The music that's played after defeating the boss is the same as the other boss fight against Dogadon, which is different from the retail cart.


Rareware has always been rather secretive when they developed their games, so getting to see and actually play this demo of DK 64 was a real treat. One thing you might be asking after reading this is, "where can I get this cart?!" It's out there, but you'll need some patience as this cart is ultra rare. It usually pops up for sale once every year on eBay or on forums. This cart will likely run you over $300. If you want something really special in your collection then go for it. If you'd like to see this cart in action then we have a complete play through uploaded on Youtube.

I've taken some screenshots of old eBay auctions if you're interested:
Auction 1
Auction 2
Auction 3

Written by Kevin Ames
May 12 2012