Memories: Managing Your Memory Card

Memories:  Managing Your Memory Card

Sometimes I think that we as gamers are maybe a little spoiled.  Take the Mass Effect ending controversy.  I’m not taking sides on that one, but imagine if a group of fans got together and protested say, I don’t know, the ending to Sonic the Hedgehog 2…okay, maybe that’s a bad example.  Instead, I’ll use any other game ever.  Whether you like it or not, BioWare’s decision to release the Extended Cut set a precedent of allowing gamers direct say over a product.  Back in the day, we counted ourselves lucky if an ending even made sense, never mind if it was what we wanted.  In this age of high-definition graphics and internal hard drives with hundreds of gigs, it can be easy to forget that gaming wasn’t always quite as convenient as it is now.  Games weren’t as easily available as they are now.  There was no Gamefly or XBLA.  Heck, you were lucky to have a decent game rental place nearby.  Feel like playing some multiplayer?  You better find some friends with a ride, because that’s the only way you are playing together.  Want to play multiple games at once?  You’re going to have to deal with your memory card.

Some younger gamers won’t even understand what I’m talking about.  Today we have almost unlimited space to save our game data and profile information.  Entire games are available for you to download directly to your console.  My Xbox has 250GB on it and I’m not even close to filling it.  I am in no danger of losing my Skyrim save because of no space.  Besides, I can always delete my almost finished playthrough of Fracture if I need to.  I don’t think I’ll be going back to that one anytime soon.

“But I loved Fracture!”, said nobody ever.

But the point is I don’t have to.  I can keep that save practically indefinitely if I want to.  But it hasn’t always been like that.

With the glory days of the PlayStation, gamers were introduced to a few new ideas.  Discs brought CD quality music and crisp 3D graphics, expansive worlds and analog sticks.  However, amidst all these industry-changing ideas, one small grey card would be one of the most jarring.  No longer were passwords and on-game saves how you continued your progress after putting down a game.  This new invention called a memory card was the happening thing, and if you didn’t have one (or three), you had better catch up, or you’ll be stuck playing one-off games of Madden for the rest of your days.

Now, managing your game save data is a minor nuisance at worst.  Then, you sometimes had to make some serious choices about what game saves you were going to keep.  I know I had more than one mental conversation along these lines:

OK, Legend of Dragoon takes 2 blocks.  Do I have sp-…crap, nope, card’s full.  OK, no problem.  Let’s see, what can I get rid of?  I’m still playing Tactics, so that’s out…am I going to finish that game I’m making in RPG Maker?  Yes, I’ve put too much work into that.  I guess I could get rid of Symphony of the Night…nah, David told me about some Inverted Castle I need to check out……sorry Squall.  We had fun, but I’m just not going to be able to level you to 99 like I had hoped.  It’s not you….it’s me.

I’ll come back for you one day.

Clearly, I had problems.

As aggravating as it sounds (and was), there was a special magic about carefully structuring your data on a memory card.  I split mine by genre, but I made sure to keep my FFVII data on my trusty grey card.  The other one messed up once, and I refused to take that chance with Cloud and Co.’s journey.  I mean, I’m trying to save the world here, I can’t let a memory card issue derail that.

Managing your memory card was just as much a part of the gamer experience as actually playing the games.  I’m of course not saying that I want to go back to the memory card system, but it did have a special magic, and it’s a shame that our kids won’t know anything about it.

Have any special memory card related stories you’d like to share?  Leave a comment, I would love to hear them.  And while your here, why not check out the 10 Gaming Food Groups, or 4 Things That Totally Destroy The Immersion.