By dankempster 14 Comments
If I've been reminded of one thing this weekend, it's that video game treasure doesn't always have to be in-game. Sometimes being a gamer results in me rediscovering treasure troves of my own. I last experienced this just over a year ago, when I stumbled across a box containing all my old Game Boy games. Something similar happened to me yesterday, although just saying that doesn't really do it justice - what I found was much older, and therefore much more exciting for me...
As some of you may know, I recently moved away from my University flat and back home with my parents. Obviously, that's resulted in my room becoming a little... cluttered with stuff. So now that my bedroom looks like the last three years of my life condensed into a jumble sale, I've got a lot of work to do - going through all the stuff I accumulated at Uni, deciding what I want to keep and what I want to get rid of. The situation is aggravated further by the fact that while I've been away, the rest of my family has used my room as a dumping ground for all the things they can't find space for - a sort of halfway house for their boxes of miscellaneous tat. The result is a bedroom that just barely serves its main purpose. So over the couple of weeks I've vowed to re-organise not just all my University stuff, but everything in my room. Whatever isn't mine will get moved out, and whatever is mine I'll have to decide whether to hold on to or throw away.
I began this process yesterday evening, by going through a couple of very dusty cardboard boxes that must have been sitting under my computer desk for the best part of five years. Most of the stuff in there was the kind of things you'd expect a sixteen-year-old to have boxed up in an attempt to forget about - mainly old school exercise books, failed half-penned writing projects, and hand-written copies of sections from online FAQs (my family could just about afford internet five years ago, but a printer was considered too much of a luxury). I had a lot of fun digging through all this stuff, flicking through my old exercise books and reading some of my misguided teenage writings. When I came to the bottom of the box, though, I froze. Sitting in a corner of the box was an old PlayStation memory card. I recognised it immediately as mine - one of those unofficial ones that could hold more than the standard fifteen save blocks, a cool translucent red in colour, complete which a digital display to illustrate which 'section' of the memory card you were using.
I was astounded. I hadn't seen this little piece of plastic in around seven years, and now here it was, staring up at me from the bottom of this dusty old box of school stuff. I fished it out, dusted it off, and then began to wonder... No. There's no way this thing would work. There's a crack in the display, and besides, it's unoffical - it probably has some kind of cheap internal battery that died years ago. Even despite these protests from the logical side of my brain, I couldn't resist. My PlayStation 2 is currently set up for playing Dark Chronicle, but I remembered that this card, being unofficial, isn't recognised by PS2s. So I headed over to my writing desk (which for reasons unknown has doubled up as a console retirement home for as long as I can remember) and picked up a dusty old original PlayStation. I dusted it off, switched cables with the PS2, popped in the memory card and powered up the ancient machine. It sluggishly roared into life, showing the Sony Computer Entertainment logo before giving way to a funky-looking dashboard interface. The memory card's cracked display momentarily showed a 'J', then a simple '1'. It was working. I opened up the Memory Card Viewer. Section 1 of the card was blank, but when I flipped over to Section 2, several icons flashed up onto the screen. Not only was it working - there were game saves on it.
I spent the next couple of hours glued to the PS1, exploring all the old saves that this memory card still stored, searching through my collection for the respective games, and loading up these long-forgotten episodes of my early gaming life for the first time in almost eight years. Among the most interesting of these saves was a tentative foray into the original Gran Turismo's Career mode, featuring a garage loaded with what I must have thought at the time were incredible cars, significant progression in classic platformers such as Spyro: Year of the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, and a number of Final Fantasy save games, each with varying degrees of progression. Most of these were little more than a few hours from the start of their respective games, but one in particular stood out for me - a Final Fantasy IX save, time-stamped at nearly 72 hours of play-time. Curious, I fished out the final disc of FFIX and slipped it into the PS1. Loading up the save put me on the cusp of the game's final moments. I scrolled through the menu screens in disbelief. All of the characters had been named after old schoolmates, many of whom I've since lost touch with. My primary party (Zidane, Vivi, Dagger and Steiner) all had their levels in the mid-70s, and they had all learned almost all their abilities. Looking at all the equipment I'd amassed, all the effort I'd put in, brought back vivid memories of all the time I spent with the game and how much fun I had with it. It wasn't just an old game save - it was a sort of personal history lesson.
It's things like this that have me actually looking forward to the prospect of re-organising my bedroom. It's going to be a lengthy process, but if every day is going to turn up little treasures in the way that yesterday did, it's going to be a joy to do. That being said, though, I think anything else is going to have a hard time beating that rush I got from finding my old game saves. Thanks very much for reading, guys. I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Dark Chronicle (PS2)