Aging Gamer: Memory Cards

Memory Card, Sony

If you can believe it, there was a time when about ninety percent of consoles needed memory cards for you to save your game. Preceding that was an even more antiquated system of logging back into your save file, but that’s a tale for another time. Gather round youngling’s, it’s about time you heard a tale of games from yesteryear, when not everything was easy and you had to put in some elbow grease to save your game. Hard to believe, right? How did we ever get out of the Stone Age of gaming when everything wasn’t all “auto-save?” Well, to do it we had to walk uphill. In the snow. Twice. Both times to the local GameStop in order to have enough memory. Scared yet?

Starting with the original PlayStation, Sony decided to make memory cards a thing, they went with a disc based game system and you couldn’t save on a disc like you could with some cartridges, emphasis on ‘SOME!’ It was a new concept to buy a little card to insert into the console and hope that it would contain your game. Instead of saving at the completion of levels like on some prior consoles you’d have to find a ‘save point’ in most games. This was challenging at the best of time times and downright infuriating when Mom was yelling that supper was ready and you needed to find a ‘save point’ so you wouldn’t lose two hours of progress. This happened countless times while playing through my favorite survival horror game. Nearing twenty years on, my Sony memory cards still contain all my Resident Evil saves, which are priceless to me.

(Resident Evil 2 – Capcom)

I don’t know if I actually MISS memory cards, the ‘save points’ were cumbersome and infrequent, which led to loss of progress and some angry suppers. In today’s games you can usually manually save whenever you want, or schedule an auto-save after five minutes pass. It’s rare now for a game to make you use ‘save points.’ I remember firing up Final Fantasy XIII and being surprised that I have to get to a ‘save point’ in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation . It was refreshing and brought back some great memories of having to hunt down those glowing save orbs, but it wasn’t as much of a bother as I had remembered. Maybe Square Enix decided to put more of the save orbs in there just to make it a less tiresome game, but they didn’t really annoy me as much as some older ‘save point’ games.

This is one of those little mechanics that we all take for granted now. I’ll be honest, it takes me awhile to get use to playing older games due to the fact we are babied now by developers. I set up a nice chunk of time if I’m playing an older title, I make sure that I have space on my memory card, and I have to remember to actually save. You can’t just play some PS1 for a few minutes and log off like you can in Skyrim or Resident Evil VII, you find that save point or lose your progress. I generally dislike the hand-holding in gaming today, but the auto-save is an awesome mechanic and I’m thankful it’s here now. As a child, it didn’t matter when I saved my game, unless of course supper time was approaching. an adult with too many responsibilities and too little time, I would loose so much progress in my games if ‘save points’ were still the norm.

So now comes the time for me to thank the developers for auto-save and manual saving. A lot’s changed in the gaming industry these last few decades and not all of it for the better, but it’s safe to say i’m glad save points are a thing of the past.

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