Memory cards have been rendered obsolete by the seventh generation of gaming, and as we move forward, they will be forgotten for things like The Cloud. It is kind of sad really. Memory cards were a staple for many generations and they oddly enough added challenge to the game. Today’s gamers have it easy with auto-save and the save-whenever-you-want feature, but many moons ago that was not the case. Back in the day of the PS1, gamers had to find Save Points that were placed throughout the level. Some games tried to incorporate the save points into the theme of the game (Resident Evil typewriters anyone?), but they usually stuck out like a sore thumb. So if Mom was calling you to the dinner table, you had to find your way to that save point or you would lose your progress.
The first two generations of gaming had very interesting save mechanisms. The cartridge either had a small battery inside and would allow you some save space. Alternatively, some games generated a password every time you died or beat a level that you had to write that down and punch in the next time you fired up your console. Sadly most of the cartridges from this generation are losing their battery charge. Thankfully the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console are there to save these games and introduce them to younger gamers.
Nintendo was one of last companies to move to the memory card option. The N64 had it, but a majority of the cartridges had their built in battery for saves. Only third party companies used the memory card option due to the cost incurred in adding a battery and memory to a cartridge. The PS1 however had to have a memory card due to the fact that all their games were disc-based. This created new opportunities for game design. Capcom used how many times you saved to rate how well you did in the game with Resident Evil. They also made it harder by not having an auto save to make sure you lost no progress when you died. When you died in that game, you went back the “save room” you found hours ago in a different part of the mansion. Some current generation games have done away with save points, Resident Evil being one of them. Yet some developers have kept certain save points. In Final Fantasy XIII, you have to find a Save Station so that you don’t lose your progress. The game’s sequel did away the with the Save Station, and went with the auto save and save-when-you-want options, yet another death of classic gaming.
Memory cards could also save your bacon if you happened to have an accident with your save. If you deleted an important save file, and your buddy has the same game and is just as far, you could transfer that information onto your memory card and continue with pretty much the same game that you lost. If that happens on your Xbox 360, you have to restart the game over again. You can’t go to your friends with a USB Flash Drive and take his save due to the fact that all saves are tagged to your XboxLive account. So if you try to transfer your friends save over to your console you will lose the ability to earn the achievements because the system thinks you are cheating. So a word to the wise, keep your save data safe. Dark Sector may never be finished in this household now due to that problem.
The swan song has begun for many of gaming’s past staples and it is quite sad. No longer can a buddy bring over his card with a fully unlocked roster for Power Stone, nor can you jump a boss that you can’t beat with the help of a friend’s card. It seems that person to person contact is becoming less and less an option in gaming, no more huge Street Fighter II parties, or Mario Parties. We’re into the generation of reclusive and smack talking via the internet gamers, and that’s heartbreaking.
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