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Nitpick: No saving grace

Saving games are a necessity considering that most games require more than five hours at a time. After all, there’s no way for people to sit down and play an entire game in one sitting. Some games require an extensive amount of time from you. Take for example Skyrim. There’s no way that I can play through the entirety of the game without saving - if you could even complete the game then I applaud you. It’s mostly RPGs that succumb to the prerequisite of needing an excellently implemented save system. This week in Nitpick, I want to talk about games that have save systems that not only ruin the fun of games but absolutely shatters conventional play as a whole. 

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There are various types of save systems common in RPGs. There are those that require us to manually access menus to save or the ones that automatically saves after certain conditions are met. Regardless of the reason, these save systems are like extended pauses. Rather than keeping our consoles or portable systems on for long durations, we can save, turn the game off and resume whenever we want. I have played Final Fantasy VII on my PSP when I have the time and often times I save and turn off my system for my next available session. In simpler terms, save systems are user friendly features that helps us to manage games and our lives together. 

Why is it then that some games have save systems that drive to completely destroy that philosophy altogether? While it may not be prevalent today, there was a time when saving wasn’t just a simple concept. There was no auto-saving, you couldn’t save anytime you wanted, and often times you had to find or reach a certain point to even save. It’s frustrating when you know that you have to go do something but you can’t because you can’t find a save point or you’re at a point in the game where you can’t exactly save. I’m not talking about being stuck in a long battle either. I’m talking about being in a dungeon and you’re forced to either backtrack to the very beginning or to the end until you come across a save point. 

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It’s a very limiting system that some games still utilize to this day. While not exactly an RPG, God of War III was a game that requires you to save at specific points in the game. It’s an extremely limiting system that takes the fun out of a game. Often times I’m enjoying a game but something suddenly comes up and I have to leave immediately. Sadly I’m nowhere near a save point and I don’t have the option to save anywhere either. Of course, I can leave my PlayStation 3 on until I come back but that’s a waste of power and it’s not something that’s ideal too. Now I have to leave the game unsaved, be late to my emergency and hurry and drudge through until I find a save point, or just turn the console off and redo all that I’ve done - obviously I would do the first choice. 

There is something particularly jarring when a game doesn’t allow you to save anywhere. It’s also odd considering that video games are a media form just like movie DVDs and music CDs. The latter two have the ability to pause at any point and resume from where you left off. Not only that but you can also go to any point you want and start from there - but that’s for another time. Why is it that some video games still opt to use the archaic game design of restricting players from saving anywhere and anytime. To me, it’s more of a punishment rather than a luxury that the developer offers. 

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Simon Chun
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