The little stories told by save games on used carts.

I always find it interesting to see what save games are on the cartridges I buy. There’s a little story to be told about who played it and how far they got in the game. It’s fun to see that one that’s maxed out with all items, and 50 hours of gameplay. Was it little “Timmy” that had a good time with this, or was it “ASDFASDFASDF”?

When you buy a used cartridge and it has some save games with it, what do you tend to do with it?

Delete them?

Play them?

Preserve them, and leave them alone?

To respond to my own questions… I often like to keep them if they are far in the game, just to play around and see where they are in the game, but I rarely actually play them. Often I end up creating my personal save game in slot 3.

If they are low-hour save games, I generally delete them and use slot 1.

I’ll usually check them out. My of Pokemon red or blue, I forget, had like 14x pokemon on it and I thought to myself “man this kid was so close”

My copy of Castlevania 2 had a folded up piece of paper inside with some save codes on it. I decided to fold it Back up and keep it in the box as a keep sake.

That’s cool. I still have my little black book with a bunch of hand-written high scores from my Sega Master System. My brother and I used to compete for high scores in all the games we owned.

There’s no date on it, but I must have been 7 or 8 when I made it. 30 years ago… shit!

I love this thread! I always used to be amazed whenever I’d rent a game and there was a save from someone else on it. “How did someone get to the end of LTTP with a 3 day rental?” my young self would ask. It was always fun to see later areas in the game, especially long RPGs, considering there’s no way I played enough during a single rental period to get that far.

I also always loved whenever I rented or bought a used game, and there were notes/passwords at the back of the manual. My copy of Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis had an index card that had all the fatality inputs written on it: that blew my mind back in the day.

I’m the same way with records, which I also collect. I love when someone’s written their name on the sleeve/label, or inserted a newspaper clipping about the band into the sleeve. I like to think that “Shannon” loved this Peter Frampton album as much as I’m enjoying it now.

It’s kind of a shame that there wasn’t a feature that would allow you to save progress notes on the carts themselves. Write a little note about how you passed that dungeon, or about your brother Kevin deleted your save game.

That would be fun to see.

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3DS has that feature. I wonder how many people use it?

I’ve never found any saves because I’ve not bought that many used cartridges. But I once stumbled upon a substantial collection of big box LucasArts adventure games. Mostly PC but some Amiga. I bought them all for a steal.

The earlier games had colour magazine walk-through guides folded up in the box. The more recent titles had dot matrix USENET FAQ printouts. It was amazing to get a glimpse into the hours of enjoyment they had provided. Pre-internet!

I kept them for a few years, finally selling them just after the Grim Fandango re-release. Most were bought by one guy - a graphic designer near Nottingham. He wrote me a lovely note letting me know his collection had been completed with that purchase. Then I didn’t feel so bad making hundreds on them.

Picked this cart up yesterday. Sorry Dan, you’re gonna have to go!


I have around 300 boxed games from the Atari 400/800/XL/XE and Atari ST era. I love getting CRPGs from that era with maps on grid paper and notes about treasure locations, how to defeat bosses, etc. I recently bought one CRPG and you could tell the previous owner was probably an architect, as all his notes and maps were done on high quality paper, with the aid of drafting tools and everything was done meticulously.

That’s really cool. Would you take some photos of those and show us?

One of my good friends gave me his NES collection. Most of mine had been stolen and for some reason the instructions manuals and maps that I cherished so much disappeared when I moved out for college. My favorite part of my NES collection is his Legend of Zelda map. Like me, he scribbled little notes on it to help him know where the dungeons were and how to navigate the lost forest.

As for the OP. I tend to try to buy games off friends and I will always preserve their farthest state (if the game allows for 3 save slots). I have this copy of Final Fantasy I & II for GBA and this person destroyed the game. They were near the level cap and had shit I have never seen before. I was quite impressed with what they did. Meanwhile I dropped off after only 5 hours or so.

Having worked in a video store throughout high school, I was always fascinated by the ecosystem of save files on rental carts. All in all, I found there to be an underlying level of respect for not messing with another player’s save, and if forced to delete/overwrite an existing save, people seemed to always target the file with the least time/progress.

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For sure.

If you understand the work that was put into it, you gain a respect for the person that put that time in, even if they’re completely anonymous.

“Nice work, Billy.”

Does anyone use an Alias for games where you have to name the character or save file? I used to use my back in the day when playing Sierra adventures, plus a number to denote how recent it was. Eventually my save folder looked like “Btails, Btails2, Btails3, etc…”

Then one day when saving a game, I somehow typed “Ater”, which is a weird perversion of my actual name. From then on, my saved games and nameless protagonists were always “Ater”, and to this day my gamertag/online ID is always “AterBT”.

I wiped the carts I rented. Just wanted to experience a fresh cart :man_shrugging:t2:

Unfortunately I chucked all that stuff in the garbage. The previous owner also made a working copy of the instruction booklet and left the original instruction booklet in pristine condition. With everything in there though, the box didn’t close all the way while siting on my bookshelf and it annoyed me, so I chucked everything that wasn’t original.

I have some other examples with cool notes and maps. I’ll post a pic tomorrow.

The DS Castlevania games which I just re-grabbed are a huge one for this, as they have a hand written block as part of the save.

Some Japanese people put serious effort into their block!

Yup, I always use Rask or Raskulous.

When I was young it was Swoop.


A 100% complete copy of Questron.

Previous owner notes, maps and the Questron hint sheet that you had to order by mail from SSI. The hint sheets cost $1 + S&H. The official hint sheet was a cool find.