Gamers today are often wrapped in the cotton wool blanket of auto-saving and liberal checkpoints. Some games consider the most minute achievement worthy of a progress save and as a result we are rarely pushed into laborious repetition. Yet in the early days of gaming saving was a rare beast, games like Sonic The Hedgehog and Streets of Rage required a mammoth gaming session to complete as well as a great deal of skill.
In between these two extremes is a mechanic that is becoming increasingly rare in the games of today, the save point. Save points have always broken the verisimilitude of gaming, reminding you that you are indeed still playing a game. Some developers have come up with logical or at least sensible save points. Harry’s notebook in Silent Hill is an excellent way of getting around the idea of saving, he writes down the things he has done. It is simple and elegant. However, here are the 10 weirdest save points in gaming history.
10. Floppy Disk – GTA San Andreas
Saving in GTA games is as simple as going home, or to one of your many houses. Now you just sleep off any bullet wounds or police attention but in the second generation you had to interact with a little floating icon. In San Andreas this was a floppy disk. Of course it is set in the 90s so a floppy disk is perfectly logical right? Well yes, but not when it is bigger than your head and hovering in your kitchen. Still it is a nice touch and serves as a reminder of how far things have come. Perhaps they will bring it back for GTA 5 and have a floating USB pen or maybe cloud storage.
9. Glowing Light – God Of War
We all know Spartans are tough. Kratos is probably the most double hard of double hard Greek bastards. So after ripping the head off a Cerberus or pulling out the eye of a Cyclops what could offer such a man a moment of respite? Why an 8 foot tall column of light of course! Ahh sweet refreshing column of light. Well you could probably argue that it is some sort of godly energy, except that he is killing gods like flies so perhaps not. Regardless of what it is, they are conveniently placed so we will forgive them this time.
8. Water Fountains – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
It is logical that water would play an important role in a Prince of Persia game. They are after all set in Persia which is a pretty sandy place. It isn’t quite so sensible that having a drink would save your progress. Restore some strength sure, but record for all time your achievements in this world….no. But at least you can incorporate them into the level design to a degree so there are certainly weirder save points out there.
7. Red Paper – Silent Hill 2
Now it gets really weird. For all of those who have been lucky enough to play Silent Hill 2 you will forever remember keeping your eye out for a red square of paper. Be it on a noticeboard, in a desk draw or down a well, those squares of paper are all over the place. For some odd reason they give James a funny turn so there is obviously more to it than random littering. Still, what really confuses me is why they got rid of the notebook from Silent Hill. The red paper is just weird, but then the Japanese are well known for being obscure at times. Let’s chalk this one up to childhood trauma.
6. Priests – Dragon Quest 8
Speaking of childhood trauma….the clergy. Yes in Dragon Quest 8 you save by having a chat with a priest. It makes sense to a degree, you confess what you have done and they write it down for you. Well I still find this one of the weirdest ideas in gaming. They can revive your party as well which leads me to wonder why hospitals weren’t used instead, especially considering how bloody hard the game is. On the plus side the churches are easy to find in towns which makes life easier I suppose.
5. Codec – Metal Gear Solid
One of my fondest memories of playing Metal Gear Solid was when I died for the first time in the demo. The demo was in English but they hadn’t redubbed the game over screen so you were treated to Mei Ling screaming “Snaaaaakuuuuuu”. I love how the Japanese pronounce English words. Anyway. The codec is a major plot device in MGS, allowing Snake to talk to a range of people privately while in the most precarious of situations. This works really well when discussing say Metal Gear or your twin brother, but when you are casually chatting about saving your progress things get a little weird. The Metal Gear franchise has always played with the 4th wall and kept its tongue firmly in its cheek. There are some great moments involving the codec but casually being told how to save your progress as if that is just an every day part of being a soldier, well that was just plain weird.
4. Moogles – Final Fantasy 9
Moogles or Mogs as they are sometimes called are a long running theme in the Final Fantasy series. Like Chocobos and people called Cid, Mogs often appear in one form or another. However, in Final Fantasy 9 they have a much more active role by serving as your own personal save points. If you ask nicely a Mog will get out his or her big leather bound book and note down your progress. Bless them. They will also ask you to deliver letters and sometimes sell you things which all fine too as Mogs are very cute and the letters are fun to read. Of course, it is freaking weird to say the least but if nothing else you do have a tail and it is called Final FANTASY so pretty much anything goes I guess.
3. Candy Kong – Donkey Kong Country
Ever thought about dressing an ape up as a prostitute? Well save yourself the prison time and meet Candy Kong. Yes Donkey Kong’s faithful girlfriend acts as a bastion for game progress in Donkey Kong Country and she is eight shades of 16 Bit weird. For one thing she is always ahead of you in the story so you wonder why she doesn’t just get the bloody bananas back. You also wonder why she stands up right, is it to make her breasts more prominent? So weird.
2. Type Writers – Resident Evil
Ok, so you are stuck in a house full of zombies. You have a limited amount of pocket space. Do you pick up the extra gun or the ink ribbon? The gun right? WRONG! Without the ink ribbon you can’t use a typewriter and save your game you idiot. God, no common sense at all. As everyone knows, without typewriters, zombies would rule the word. If not the weirdest save point in gaming history it is by far the most annoying. Limiting game saves is just plain mean, especially in a game like Resident Evil. Resident Evil is an exercise restraint, you can’t do anything too much otherwise you’ll never complete the game. Save ammo, save herbs but most of all save the freaking ribbons. The only saving grace is the magic chests by each typewriter meaning that you can store excess ink ribbons for a later date. God I love realism.
1. Toilets – No More Heroes
I don’t know what is weirder, the fact that you take a dump to save your game or the fact that he’s wearing his pants in this picture. Well we all do it, just never in computer games. Goichi Suda changed that forever by introducing us to the toiletry habits of Travis Touchdown. Is laying a cable such a weird way to save your game? YES! Dropping the kids off at the pool might be a moment of privacy and I dare say that in the world of assassins they are few and far between, but really. It’s not big and it’s not clever but it is bloody weird. But then, that is No More Heroes, one of the weirdest games to come out in a long time. You’re an Otaku geek who happens to be awesome with a lightsaber…I mean Beam Katana. You kill the top ten assassins in the world and become number one. On the way, you go through a lot of shit. Pun intended.
Well that was weird. Did I miss anything out? I haven’t played every game ever made so if I have missed a classic save point out let us all know about it in the comments bellow.