If there is one thing modern gamers very rarely experience, it is the need for a save point. The introduction of auto-save features to pretty much every AAA game has largely made the save point a redundant game design feature.
Bar the odd game like Resident Evil 7, they just don’t bother putting them in anymore. Whilst this is a great thing from the point of not having to worry about losing your progress, it means that some of the creativity has been lost.
That’s why, today, I’m going to look at my top 7 favourite save points. These incredible examples of unique design and creativity deserve recognition, so let’s take a look!
The Question Mark – Final Fantasy VIII
We’ll start with the save point that is instantly recognisable, but to this day I don’t fully understand the design; Final Fantasy 7.
Resembling what I can only call a question mark with a glowing foot, this design has stuck with me for years. The spinning hook at the top drew your attention, meaning that you never missed it, which is imperative in a huge game like Final Fantasy 7.
It is this ability to stand out whilst generally not looking out of place (most of the time) that really makes the simplistic yet memorable design of the FF7 save point a piece of gaming history.
The Typewriter – Resident Evil
What is the single most important combination of items you could possibly have when stuck in a zombie apocalypse? If you answered anything to do with weapons or survival gear, you would be wrong! At least, in terms of the original Resident Evil games.
No, what you need is a typewriter and a whole bunch of ink ribbons! That’s because, without them, you won’t be able to save your progress. Therefore, you’d end up dying and having to start everything all over again.
The great thing about the typewriter as a save point, especially in the first Resident Evil game, is that it just sort of fit with the setting. You wouldn’t think twice about a typewriter sitting on a table in an old mansion.
And whilst it may have seemed out of place within the metropolitan city of Raccoon City, for some reason, it still seemed normal. So if you ever see zombies on the street, find a typewriter and some ink ribbons before you do anything else!
The Moogles – Final Fantasy IX
Now, whilst Final Fantasy 7 went for a save point design that stood out and was incredibly easy to spot, FF9 went for a design that perfectly suited the world of the game. Rather than odd symbols, the save points in Final Fantasy 9 were moogles, the insanely cute mascots of the Final Fantasy series.
These delightful little creatures would jump in the air, flip over and magically summon huge books to record your save data in. Within the world of Gaia, with its magic and airships, this felt entirely normal and didn’t break the immersion of the game for one second!
It is this connection to the overall design of the world that really makes the moogle save points a work of art in terms of game design. That and the fact that they even play a part in one of the longest side quests in the game as well!
The Caskets – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The Castlevania series is known for its dark themes and even darker storylines. Bit did you know that this overall design idea also found a way into the concept for the save points of the original PlayStation classic?
Despite already being a true bad-ass of a protagonist, Alucard actually saves the progress of his adventure by sleeping in a coffin! As with the moogles in Final Fantasy 9, this was perfectly designed to suit the game world.
With that in mind, the fact that the developers put enough thought into the design of Caatlevania’s save points is a credit to their devotion to the game. And that is something sorely missing from a lot of modern games.
Holy Water Fountains – Koudelka
Any of you who have been reading this blog for a while now will know how much I utterly adore the oft-forgotten PlayStation classic Tactical Horror RPG that is Koudelka. But it’s not just the storyline, graphics and gameplay that I think were put together in a wonderful mix of gaming design; the save points are just as brilliant.
In a game set within a Gothic monastery in 1898 Wales, which also deals with religion and broken faith, the fact that the save points are fountains of holy water was a stroke of game design genius! The idea of the safest place in a monster infested monastery being the sacred fountains was a brilliant idea that adds so much to the atmosphere of the game itself.
On top of this, because the save points were not specific styles that were set in stone, like giant question marks or typewriters, it meant that the developers could create different aesthetics for the save points every now and then as well. This meant that, not only did they add to the atmosphere and meld with the story, but they also looked astounding as well!
The Toilet – No More Heroes
Naturally, in a list of memorable save points, there is no way you can leave out No More Heroes. This is a game with quite possibly the single most unique save point in the history of gaming! Rather than seeking out a cute like moogle or finding a sacred holy place (depending on how you view it), No More Heroes had you scouring for the toilet like a man at a nightclub who has had too many shots!
The idea of having to go to the toilet to save your game is beyond unique, and definitely sticks in your mind long after the game has finished. In fact, the first time you do it, you’ll be left scratching your head, wondering what on Earth was going through the developers minds.
However, after you’ve come to accept the outright weirdness of the toilet save point, it quickly becomes incredibly comical for the next few saves. Whilst the novelty will soon wear off, the sheer thought of the developers sitting down in a meeting to determine the save point design, and one of them shouting out “the toilet”, is enough to bring a smile to your face at almost any moment!
The Codec – Metal Gear Solid
Thus, we come to the last in this list of my 7 favourite save points, and what list could be complete without mentioning the mammoth of a game that is Metal Gear Solid? The use of the codec communication system in game to save ticked so many boxes; it fit the game world, formed part of the story and was quick and easy to use.
It also meant that you could save your game at pretty much any time, making the perfect middle ground between classic save points and the modern auto-save feature.
In fact, the developers even managed to throw in a comical aspect to the codec saving system, by having rather entertaining conversations take place between Mei Ling and Solid Snake when you call her to save the game. All in all, using the codec as the way to save your game was ingenious, and is definitely one of the most memorable save point systems I have ever seen!
And That’s All Folks
Those were my 7 favourite save points in gaming history. The ability to create save points that either suit the game world or fit in with the story was a true testament to the game developers and their creativity. This has largely been lost due to the improvements in technology, but is still something I remember very fondly.
Do you have any stories about shouting “just need to find a place to save” down to someone? Do you miss save points or do you prefer auto-saves? Let me know in the comments below!