What If Games Didn’t Have Checkpoints?

Nowadays having a console without some sort of hard drive or inbuilt memory is unheard of as it is a requirement for most modern games to be able to run. I would like to cast your mind back to a time not that long ago, perhaps a simpler time in gaming. That time is the 8bit/16 bit eras. This was a time where the cartridge reigned supreme and 3d graphics were almost unheard of! Many a classic title from this era is still enjoyable today via PSN remakes or perhaps a collection disc such as “Sega Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection” however, even these releases, be it HD remakes or faithful emulations, simply cannot recapture what it was like to be a gamer at that time, a time of worrying your parents would tell you to switch your console off at that all important boss level, a time where one slip up or mistake would send you directly back to the title screen frustrated but ready to start again.

It was a time in gaming that simply forced the player to become better at a game in order to succeed, unless of course you had a “cheat code” something that used to be a playground legend, the likes of the mysterious “blood code” in Mortal Kombat that no matter what is said I did randomly figure it out with some wild hammering of my control pad! In these days only a level select could record progress and even then it wouldn’t hold your lives, score or continues! And then it all changed……

Christmas 1997, this was the year Final Fantasy VII arrived on the original Playstation, 3 discs of adventure, computer-generated imagery cut scenes and CD quality music… It was fantastic, such a title had not arrived in the UK up till this point and was a groundbreaking success for the genre on these shores. I also got from Mr.Claus, Time Crisis with the G – Con 45, now while Santa done a great job no doubt I was biding my time till my friend finished his Final Fantasy. Eventually, we swapped the titles and I fell in love with the game, the genre and the series, a love that has lasted till today!

However, playing this title was more frustrating than previous games I had been stuck at as it was much larger and grander in scale than anything I had played before! I recall I actually played right through to the part where Cloud falls through the church many times before my allotted Playstation time was over, never complaining till my friend asked me how I was getting on and whether or not I had reached the second disc! Second disc? In my rush to play the game I hadn’t initially noticed the other two game discs, so I was sent back home with a new wonderment as my friend had loaned me his Playstation 1MB memory card and gaming changed for me (and plenty others) forever.

Gone were the days of re starting from the beginning, you could now pick up right where you left off! For the most part the hallowed cheat codes were no longer being passed around friends to help you in a game, game trade-ins must of increased as no longer was a game kept for years at a time till that one glorious play through that got you right to the last level. Yes, nowadays memory is required for loading superb looking games with close to lifelike graphics, their cutscenes and voice acting, however with all the advances made, something at least for this gamer had disappeared forever. The palm sweat and tension inducing moments of the last life on the last level were gone forever with saves, alongside this, a simplicity and more naive time in gaming was lost.