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Thread: Saving on N64

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    Default Saving on N64

    I haven't played N64 in years. So I hooked it up today and started playing castlevania 64. I beat the first level and then wanted to stop playing. So I hit quit assuming it would save. But then I turned it back on and nothing had been saved. I guess I'm use to the gamecube days when it will automatically save for you. So how the hell do I save the game with the game pak?

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    You save at the white gems, access them to save. The US/European versions require a memory card (controller pak) to save, as do most third-party N64 games. Yes, the Japanese version has on-cart saving, as did all of Konami's Japanese N64 titles... all of which had their on-cart saving removed for the Western versions of the games. Cheap.

    (Still though, even in that version you need to save at the white gems.)

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    I thought one of the advantages of a cartridge based system was that it allowed for you to save directly on the cart, as opposed to having to use a memory card for CD based systems.

    I kinda skipped on the N64 so I don't know too much about it, but what was the reason behind it using memory cards instead of saving directly to the cart? Was it more cost effective or were the save game files just too big for the cart?

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    ah, the days before auto saving to hard drive.. i cant say i miss them.
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    Atleast when saving to a memory card you could go to a friends house and bring your save data with you. To do that now you have to go through the trouble of hooking the system up to a PC transfering the data, transfering the data to some sortof device, going to your friends house, transfering it there, etc.

    It sucks not being able to bring a game you own over to someone elses house and play your character in some of your spare time over there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ro-J View Post
    I thought one of the advantages of a cartridge based system was that it allowed for you to save directly on the cart, as opposed to having to use a memory card for CD based systems.

    I kinda skipped on the N64 so I don't know too much about it, but what was the reason behind it using memory cards instead of saving directly to the cart? Was it more cost effective or were the save game files just too big for the cart?
    N64 wasn't the first cartridge system with memory cards. Neo Geo had them as well, although in that case it was probably because Neo Geo games really don't have much data to save, so it would be silly to include a battery and save memory in every game. Turbografx also kind of had it, in that you could save games to the Turbo Booster accessory.

    The main reason in the N64's case was cost, I suppose. N64 games were already more expensive, both in terms of game development and the cost of the final product, so for third-party developers especially, adding in game save memory to the cart was yet another discouraging expense. Allowing them to simply give the game memory card support took some of the edge off. Notice how first-party games typically have game saving on the cartridge, whereas third-party games don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ro-J View Post
    I thought one of the advantages of a cartridge based system was that it allowed for you to save directly on the cart, as opposed to having to use a memory card for CD based systems.

    I kinda skipped on the N64 so I don't know too much about it, but what was the reason behind it using memory cards instead of saving directly to the cart? Was it more cost effective or were the save game files just too big for the cart?
    As has been said, the N64 wasn't the first cart-based system to use memory cards. And hey, it's better than requiring passwords in all those games or something! Before the N64, the way most companies dealt with it was just by not having saving, or using passwords. At least on N64 all those games do have a hard-save option... though the system definitely would have been better if all games had on-cart saving, and the controller paks were just used for supplemental saves and files and stuff like that, as they should have been. Oh well...

    Really though, there are three systems I think of when I think of systems where you need a lot of memory cards to save a large game collection, and they are the N64, PSX, and Dreamcast. Some older systems have issues as well, with tiny internal saves that quickly fill up, but for them, their memory cards were often large -- the Sega CD's internal memory was 8KB for instance, but the memory card a huge 128KB; the TG16+Turbo Booster Plus/TGCD had a minuscule internal save and no memory card released in the US, but in Japan they released a variety of much larger memory storage options which were big enough so that you could save a decent number of games on just one... still though, it was an issue with the system. The Saturn had just 32KB internal, but saves are mostly not too big and the memory card is a big 512KB, so no problems there for anything that supports the card. CD-i had a small internal memory with no backup unit I know of. 3DO had one, but Japan-only. Still, the unit is big, I believe. The Jaguar CD had a good-sized one, and there were only a few games for the system...

    Neo-Geo... yeah, that one is small. However, the system just uses a standard format for its cards, not a proprietary one, so you can actually buy new ones that are much bigger (and given that the things are battery-backed, that might be a good idea...). But with the N64, PSX, and DC, the only "solutions" offered were X4 cards, and those always require switching to the proper bank, which requires you to remember what is saved where, and are also often extremely unreliable (everything except for Sega's first-party X4 DC card is that). Also, even that is often not enough and you need a bunch of other memory cards too anyway.

    Overall though, at least with those systems you can get more memory cards and just plug them in and use them! With systems like the Sega CD, Saturn, CD-i, 3DO, TGCD, etc, you sometimes or often need to deal with either deleting files to make room for saves, or constantly transferring files back and forth between the system and the memory backup unit... not exactly fun.

    So yeah, really, until hard drives became standard in consoles, save storage was always a big problem. The more you get into getting old (post-crash, pre-HDD) consoles, the bigger a hassle it gets.

    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    N64 wasn't the first cartridge system with memory cards. Neo Geo had them as well, although in that case it was probably because Neo Geo games really don't have much data to save, so it would be silly to include a battery and save memory in every game. Turbografx also kind of had it, in that you could save games to the Turbo Booster accessory.

    The main reason in the N64's case was cost, I suppose. N64 games were already more expensive, both in terms of game development and the cost of the final product, so for third-party developers especially, adding in game save memory to the cart was yet another discouraging expense. Allowing them to simply give the game memory card support took some of the edge off. Notice how first-party games typically have game saving on the cartridge, whereas third-party games don't.
    Yeah, the memory cards were really designed for things like Mario Kart ghost saves and such, but as Nintendo didn't require on-cart saving and carts were expensive to make, third parties immediately seized on requiring controller paks for saving as a way to save a bit of money. And it did save them money... at the cost of annoying N64 fans everywhere. I mean, those stupid controller paks may say "256KB" on them, but they feel like they hold even fewer saves than 128KB PSX or Dreamcast memory cards much do! It's kind of ridiculous how many games there are that pretty much require a dedicated card all to their own...


    Anyway, every game published by Nintendo on the N64 has on-cart saving, mostly via EEPROM or Flash RAM; only a dozen US-released titles use on-cart batteries, though many of those are good games (as the point of using it was to get 32KB of save space instead of the 8Kb you got with the default EEPROM). Controller Paks are battery-backed SRAM, though, and those batteries are getting older, so I definitely recommend using something like a DexDrive to back up your memory card saves... how long do you trust aging CR2032s? I've had a couple of controller paks fail on me, including an X4 one, so now I'd need like four or five more cards just to be able to save all of the games I own... darn games like Turok 2 (80-something blocks, so obviously necessary when the save points are like two hours apart...), Penny Racers (it even has on-cart saving, but requires half of a controller pak as well anyway just to save your game!), Shadow Man, most sports titles, etc, they use so much space...

    Anyway, as for third parties, I'm always pretty happy when I find one with on-cart saving, and definitely think of it as a mark over other titles that do not have it. For instance, Snowboard Kids 2 is way better than the first one because while the first one requires a controller pak and uses pretty much the entire card for its save file, the second game has on-cart saving. Much better!

    Also, there's a complete list of which US-released N64 games use which type of saving available here: http://n64.icequake.net/mirror/www.e...ve_faq.html#s2 (The link sends you to the Controller Pak listing; on-cart saving types 4Kb EEPROM, 8Kb EEPROM, 32KB SRAM, and 128KB Flash RAM are listed in turn after it. Note how long that first list is, but that nothing published by Nintendo was on it (apart from games that support it for extra features of course, like saving extra Excitebike 64 tracks, Mario Kart ghosts, etc), because they didn't want people to have to buy piles of controller paks for their games, at least.
    Last edited by A Black Falcon; 07-10-2009 at 10:14 PM.

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    I seem to remember a trick using a gameshark to copy a save file from a cart to put it on a memory card. I'm sure i used this to backup my Goldeneye save after my first cart was destroyed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgrammingAce View Post
    I seem to remember a trick using a gameshark to copy a save file from a cart to put it on a memory card. I'm sure i used this to backup my Goldeneye save after my first cart was destroyed.
    Yeah, I've heard of that as well, but as I don't have a working Gameshark (so many of them are broken...), I can't test it... it definitely would be interesting to try though, for sure. Great way to get save files off those battery-backed carts if you wanted to replace the battery!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kupomogli View Post
    Atleast when saving to a memory card you could go to a friends house and bring your save data with you. To do that now you have to go through the trouble of hooking the system up to a PC transfering the data, transfering the data to some sortof device, going to your friends house, transfering it there, etc.
    The problem you describe really only affects the PS3; Xbox 360 has various sizes of memory card and an easily detachable hard drive, Wii allows you to copy most saves to an SD card.
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    Doesn't the PS3 let you copy save files to SD cards as well? I've never tried it, but it would seem possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alxbly View Post
    The problem you describe really only affects the PS3; Xbox 360 has various sizes of memory card and an easily detachable hard drive, Wii allows you to copy most saves to an SD card.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxbly View Post
    The problem you describe really only affects the PS3; Xbox 360 has various sizes of memory card and an easily detachable hard drive, Wii allows you to copy most saves to an SD card.
    It definitely affects any Wii games that don't allow you to copy the save file, at least... at least with the PS3 the hard drive is removable, but with the Wii you're just stuck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    It definitely affects any Wii games that don't allow you to copy the save file, at least... at least with the PS3 the hard drive is removable, but with the Wii you're just stuck.
    Yeah, that's why I said "most saves". Some of the first party games (Mario Kart Wii for example) don't allow you to copy them, maybe because of the online play (I'm only guessing though). At least some saves are transferrable...

    Sadly, the PS3's hard drive isn't the most convenient thing to remove, not is it meant for portability. Can you copy saves to an SD card on the PS3? I've got the 80Gb model (without the card reader slots) so I've never tried it, but it would be nice to be able to back up my saves without having to remove the hard drive.

    The N64 Gameshark and Action Replay do let you copy some saves from carts to memory cards but if I remember rightly there are some cart saves that are too big to be transferred to N64 memory cards.
    Last edited by alxbly; 07-12-2009 at 08:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxbly View Post
    Yeah, that's why I said "most saves". Some of the first party games (Mario Kart Wii for example) don't allow you to copy them, maybe because of the online play (I'm only guessing though). At least some saves are transferrable...

    But it's obvious that the PS3's hard drive isn't the most convenient thing to remove, not is it meant for portability. Can you copy saves to an SD card on the PS3? I've got the 80Gb model (without the card reader slots) so I've never tried it, but it would be nice to be able to back up my saves without having to remove the hard drive.

    The N64 Gameshark and Action Replay do let you copy some saves from carts to memory cards but if I remember rightly there are some cart saves that are too big to be transferred to N64 memory cards.
    You can copy saves to anything via your USB port (another HDD, USB Flash Drive, USB multi card reader, etc.) if it's a media storage device the PS3 will recognize it.

    However, there ARE some copy-protected saves on PS3 (Street Fighter 4 for example) ... which sucks IMO, they shouldn't be copy protected they should be tied to your PSN account so at least if you wanted to move them to a new, bigger HDD you can!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    You can copy saves to anything via your USB port (another HDD, USB Flash Drive, USB multi card reader, etc.) if it's a media storage device the PS3 will recognize it.

    However, there ARE some copy-protected saves on PS3 (Street Fighter 4 for example) ... which sucks IMO, they shouldn't be copy protected they should be tied to your PSN account so at least if you wanted to move them to a new, bigger HDD you can!
    That feature is pretty useful too. It's nice to just use 1 of many USB drives lying around my house to copy some saved data from my PS3 to carry around. Plus it works for internal PS2/1 Memory cards. Would be nice if the 360 did this, but removing the hard drive isn't too much of a chore. Putting it back on is another story for me at least....

    Anyway, while we are on the subject of saving to memory cards to the N64, I'm going to recommend to get a 1st party memory card. The 3rd party ones only held data for a short time before erasing it. Plus the ones with buttons to erase all data may cause some accidental erasing, especially if you are stupid and put it in your back pocket. I believe you can tell the difference as 1st party memory cards are smaller in size.
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