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An ode to a fallen memory card

posted on February 9th, 2009 by jay

In a spontaneous fit of impatience and retardation, I recently reformatted my GameCube memory card. Tales of Symphonia, which I picked up after not having played in two years, insisted the card was corrupt and needed to be wiped clean first by the GameCube’s internal mechanism, then by being throw into a wall. Instead of thinking it through and realizing I’d just been playing Metroid Prime and it saved fine and fearing I’d lose my 30 hours of Symphonia-ing, I hit “Sure, erase all of my saved games, it’s not like I put any time or effort into them” then practiced my pitching for 15 minutes.

The bad news is it was for naught as I had no clue what I needed to do next in Symphonia. After reading all of the back story (nice feature by the way) and then wandering and sailing and giant monster riding around the map for an hour I gave up knowing it was just as well. My plan of finishing it so I could play the awesome sequel was ruined by the sequel being not awesome, and so now Symphonia will join the growing legion of games I have not and never plan on finishing but refuse to let any one borrow because having material possessions enriches my life.

The horrendous news is I lost hours upon hours of saved games. Finished save files of Baten Kaitos, Fire Emblem, Resident Evil 4, and Eternal Darkness; some scatterting of hours invested in Paper Mario, Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, Wind Waker, Cubivore; and even effort wasted in crap I never planned on playing again like Geist, Phantasy Star Online and Second Sight – all of these lost in a split second decision. Losing my Metroid Prime save probably hurts the most. I had been actively playing it and it was as good as everyone said. I also happened to be on the final boss, though I can’t remember it’s name.

This horrible experience has elucidated some important things. Most significantly, I hate Namco and all of my problems in life are somehow their fault. Secondly, and immensely less profound, is that I now value time over money. Growing up it seemed like all we had was time and no money to buy new games, but these days I have a backlog that could fulfill my gaming desires for multiple lifetimes. It’s a shame this lifetime allows for so little time to enjoy our hobby.

If someone held a pointy stick to your face and demanded, “Your memory cards or you games,” which would you choose? (I’d wrestle the stick from him, place him under citizens arrest, be rewarded by the police and use the money to buy more games and memory cards, but assume you are less awesome and can only choose one or the other.)


  1. ECM said on February 9, 2009:

    Hmm, yes, I share your pain. Back when F-Zero GX came out on import, I grabbed it. Fast forward several months…

    A friend, visiting from out of town, got up before me and, since he was sleeping on the couch and near the Cube, decided to fire the game up.

    Now, since this game is, quite obviously, all in Japanese, when the screen that popped up saying “your memory card needs to be formatted” (because it was currently set for North America) he didn’t know any better and agreed because, for all he knew, it said “you’ve won a prize! Press ‘A’ to claim it!”

    Needless to say, I lost hundreds of hours of complete games on everything from Cubivore to PSO to Mario Sunshine to Luigi’s Mansion and so on–to put it mildly, I was most displeased and let out a torrent of profanity that no one, within a five mile radius, could ever mistake for Japanese.

  2. Matt said on February 10, 2009:

    That’s so cute you can’t remember the final boss’s name in Metroid Prime. Ironically, his name is Metroid Prime:)

    And I’m loving the Cubivore appreciation from both you and ECM.

    I recently went through the same situation with my PSP Memory Stick. I basically lost the actual 4GB card, with my 100+ hour save for Lumines 2, all the medals in WipEout Pure, 15 hours into Puzzle Quest, etc. I was inconsolable for days. But, one thing I can say is that it got me to try those games again, in an effort to reclaim my lost saves. But, alas, it did not last for very long.

  3. Mark B said on February 10, 2009:

    I just had a fear of this yesterday after putting around 20 hours into (don’t laugh) P.N. 03. I use Nyko (or is it Nyco?) cards and I need to back my current one up.

    I once ordered one via Amazon marketplace and the guy sent me some $3 no name card. I let my daughter have her Animal Crossing on that. I can’t lose my saves.

    I fear it even moreso on my PS2 cart. All my GTAs and Ratchet and Clanks.

    Not like I don’t restart the games and erase the data when want to play them again.

  4. GJ said on February 10, 2009:

    I fried my old roommates NCAA(insert irrelevant year here) football franchise once. I still feel bad about it.

    They need some sort of server-side backup option for the online systems. I’d pay a few bucks a month for that. I really should be in business development for one of the big three.

  5. jay said on February 10, 2009:

    That reminds me, I lost my F Zero saves. I was on the fourth race or so and it took me about 50,000 tries to pass each of the previous ones.

    I picked up PN03 recently and still haven’t tried it. I should go play so I can return and laugh at you, Mark.

    I had a Memory Card Plus for my PS1 and that thing was a piece of crap and didn’t hold saves at all (I think Nyko made it). Thinking about PS1 makes me nervous about my ancient memory cards with complete Wild Arms, Suikoden, FF7, FFT, Deception, etc saves. Maybe I should check on them tonight.

    And Matt, I was joking about the boss 😉

  6. ECM said on February 10, 2009:

    Geez, I thought PN03 was one of the Cube’s unsung (read: cult) heroes :'(

  7. pat said on February 10, 2009:

    geez, where to begin… well, for starters, welcome back matt!

    what jay failed to mention is that we were playing wind waker together, and i think the cubivore save was mine.

    in high school i lost a memory card. i brought it to school to give someone (possibly jay or another friend) to play my persona 1 save for some reason (high school memories get fuzzy when you are as old as i am) and it disappeared. i suspect foul play, but in any event i never recovered it. i restarted the game (i was maybe halfway in) but i dont think i ever got back there, and certainly never finished the game. fortunately i dont think there was much else on the card.

    its really one of my biggest fears, losing a memory card (and jay is right, i should go check my psx cards since talking about this is making me paranoid). unfortunately, my girlfriend knows this, and i have a suspicion that should i be caught cheating or doing anything equally heinous she would figure out how to destroy them.

    i completely support any service that would back them up for me, so GJ, i think you have a good idea for a startup on your hands.

  8. Matt said on February 10, 2009:

    Damn, I fell into your trap, Jay:)

    Also, PN03 is quite possibly the only game that truly deserves a sequel, as it has a lot of potential to be an action game that’s centered on stylish dodging rather than melee combat, like DMC. Unfortunately, Capcom couldn’t pull it out the first go around. I would easily suggest playing the game, but don’t expect the world. Expect what the world could have been.

  9. christian said on February 11, 2009:

    PN 03 is the shit. Its a shmup with techno music and a human spacecraft. I need to finish it.

    The only game where I have lost saves in is Smash Bros. Melee. I don’t remember what I did exactly – I think I swapped in the card with our save data while it was loading. Suffice to say that Melee’s “do you want to start a new save” prompt has “yes” as the default option, which I quickly scrolled through. Then it starts to autosave, and you’re screwed before you can power down. I promised my little brother that I would regain all the content, and I sure did.

    The same problem occured again years later when I was in college and my friends enjoyed playing while not in the right state of mind. They gained back all the characters in record time.

    I have to say, this fear makes me somewhat pleased with Sony’s two current consoles. Backing up saves for PSP games onto your PC is nice, and it is also nice to be able to download 100% saves for PS3 games off of websites without needing an Action Replay or the like.

    Of course, this situation has two sides. Losing progress based saves in unavoidable, but when you get mad because you just lost gobs of unlockables, it makes you wonder why you should have to re-earn them all when you know the score.

  10. Alex said on February 14, 2009:

    I hate memory because of that because that has happened to me 16 times T.T all I have to say I would stare at the stick and say I would rather die then loose either ^-^

  11. Dave said on February 17, 2009:

    This reminds me of my Final Fantasy 8 and Grandia 1 data. It was contained on one of those no-name double density cards (with the L.E.D s) so of course destined to be wiped for no reason. I was at the last boss in FF8 but couldn’t seal the deal so it did sting. A while later on Gamefaqs I learned I had played the ‘wrong’ way (teh grind) and probably wouldn’t have been able to finish it – that helped. Grandia, I had completed so took it in a Zen fashion.
    All my battery backed Genesis carts including Sword of Vermilion (91/92) still function; I must finish this deeply boring game.
    Not strictly on topic but I also lost my Harvest Moon GBA and Animal Crossing DS cartridges. Both had a hell of a lot of time put in to them and seeing as those carts have the potential to keep their saves for decades I’ll miss putting a few minutes in to them every year or so.

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