Remember When?: You Had to Have Memory Cards

I can think back to the first time I played Final Fantasy VII. It was glorious. The graphics and the combat were so cool and I was completely invested in the then fledgling story. The train sequence was awesome and so was the first boss.

Then after I had been playing it for hours I was ready to take a break. So I pranced right up to one of the blue impressions that were called save points to save my game and imagine my terror when I learned that I wouldn’t be able to do so without a memory card.

Memory cards can be considered a glaring evil of the PS1/PS2 era and their absence in the new console generation is truly a boon. The memory cards for the original PlayStation were extremely pricey at the time, costing between thirty and forty dollars.

Alas, I didn’t spend much time with the original PlayStation. Older family members ruled the consoles around that time. The day I got a PlayStation 2 changed all of that though. I got Final Fantasy X along with it, and it was only a few days after launch too! The thing was I didn’t have a memory card.

I saw the memory card slots along the front of it, but I thought those were additional. I was just convinced that Sony had decided to implement some sort of internal memory option to avoid making people buy additional accessories just so that they could pick up their games where they left off.

I mean after all, the Game Boy was much less advanced than the PS2 and you didn’t need a memory card to save with it. How terribly wrong I was. After watching the umpteenth of the greatest cut scenes of that time, I strolled similarly up to one of the glowing orbs. Low and behold, they asked me, yet again for a memory card. This time was different though.

My parents and I shopped around and were shocked to learn that retailers like Wal-Mart were pricing the little hunks of gold at between fifty and sixty dollars. That was more than most video games at the time! Apparently, not many retailers in our area (Pine Bluff, AK) had them and so the few that did could charge these astronomical prices for them, and we had to pay those prices to save our games.

After discovering the ridiculous pricing for the memory cards, I had to wait indefinitely for my parents to finally agree to splurge on such a thing. To make matters worse, whenever I got enough for one there was always some awesome new must-have game coming out. What’s more is there was simply no way I was going to not play Final Fantasy X while I waited to obtain a memory card.

So, each day I would put in the game and play through the opening sequences and then see how far I could make it before I got tired and had to turn the game off. It was absolutely dreadful. Each time I got a little further and discovered something different, I was getting faster as well.

But every time something really cool happened, I had this snarling fear in the bottom of my stomach. I knew that I’d have to turn the game off and all my progress would be lost yet again. The need for memory cards created a mental scar that I find to be synonymous with the PlayStation brand in general.

Whenever I hear PlayStation 2, I think of memory cards and that’s just a bit sad considering all the other good reasons to think about the PS2. Honestly, I was fully prepared to buy another one when I got my PS3, but thankfully Sony had shown mercy.

I know that the PSP uses them, but at least that came with a memory card. I sometimes think that the absence of memory cards this console generation is a bigger improvement than even the games. While that might be taking things a bit far, I’m glad they’re behind us and I certainly don’t miss them.

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Kenneth Richardson

Kenneth is a Graphics and Game Design student who's worked as an author for since June of 2010. His favorite gaming genres are Fighting, Role Playing and Sadistic Action games like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. In addition to gaming, he is also strongly interested in music, fashion, art, culture, literature, education, religion, cuisine, photography, architecture, philosophy, film, dance, and most forms of creative expression.

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