Video Games often place rules on when and how the player can save their progress in-game. Some of these were originally due to technological limitations of the hardware the games ran on, but with modern consoles having vast reserves of memory and storage space, these limitations are more because of tradition than anything else.
On the flipside, an unrestricted ability to save one's game literally anywhere can (as players using ROM emulators can attest) leave the player stranded in an Unwinnable condition should they choose to save at the wrong time, and placing limits on the player's ability to save can prevent this, making it a two-sided coin. Properly spaced Save Points can also serve as useful hints about when the player should save.
There are a wide variety of ways these can occur. Variations include:
Placing restrictions on when/where the player is allowed to access the savegame function, such as inbetween stages/missions, on the world map or the Hub Level, or at a Trauma Inn or explicit Save Point.
Saving the gamestate only in Broad Strokes - e.g. recording the player's status (e.g. Experience Points, Plot Coupons, general story chapter), but not their actual position and/or progress within a given level or mission. Thus, while the player may be able to save their data at any time, they always start from a designated location (e.g. see above point) when reloading it.
Requiring a certain (usually consumable) Save Token to access the save-game function, thus limiting how often the player can save.
Only allowing a limited number of save files (especially if that limit is one). Or, alternately, requiring that subsequent saves always overwrite the same file, thus preventing the player from keeping multiple active saves. In games where a decision early in the game can have repercussions (including unwinnability) much later, this can become a challenge for the player. In most games, however, the effective result of this is just that only a finite number of players can track their progress on a single installation at one time.
In some games, such as Roguelikes, this may be the only save system present: Quitting the game saves your progress, and winding up in any Unwinnable situation means the save file is effectively unusable and the player must restart the game from scratch.
The Resident Evil series, wherein you must find typewriter tapes in order to save your game. Though most typewriters have tape next to them, they are a finite-use item. And you will frequently want to save more often than merely once or twice per typewriter. When Resident Evil 4 did away with this altogether, the fans hailed it as a breath of fresh air. Resident Evil 5 just saves automatically at every checkpoint.
In the second Donkey Kong Country game, you had to purchase your saves with Banana Coins after the first usage of any save point. This was thrown out for the third game and the second game's GBA remake. Fortunately, banana coins were very easy to find, and the player could always go back and get some from a previously completed level.
It has a quicksave option that is deleted after loading. Unless you're playing the butchered PAL version.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul had special rings you had to find. You could use them either to save or to get a suggestion.
Saving in Daikatana could be done at any time provided that you had a Save Gem in your inventory which, upon saving, was used up. You could only carry three at any given time however, which, when you consider that they were often in secret areas and became increasingly difficult to find the further you progressed (they were practically nonexistent in the last few stages), made things even harder than they had any right to be. Mercifully, a patch was soon released that made this rule optional.
In the NES game Magician you have exactly 15 saves for the whole game. As in, you can only save 15 times without starting the whole thing over. Thankfully, you have four slots to choose from (allowing at least some degree of Save Scumming) and the game only has nine levels, so it is not as restrictive as it could have been.
The manga Gamerz Heaven has a Fictional Video Game of the same name in which the number of times you can save your game is limited to 3 due to it being a Beta Release. Unfortunately, the game automatically saves every time you exit, and it can only be played by transferring your physical body to Cyberspace. This means if you start up the game more than 3 times, you can't get home, and you're stuck. Ironically, the characters, after inadvertently saving twice, decide to conserve their last save until they really, really need it. That ends up never happening (or at least to our current knowledge) as they fail epically and lose for good before using it.
In the later X-Universe games, you are limited to saving in space stations until you buy Salvage Insurance. Salvage Insurance lets you save anywhere at any time, but each unit of insurance can only be used once - so you need to periodically buy some more. The player is also limited to ten save slots (with 3 autosave slots, made when you dock at stations).
In the first ObsCure game, you find CDs that allow you to save in any room provided it's been cleared of enemies, but which are limited in number. The second game tightens the restrictions and combines Save Tokens with Save Points by way of the mortifilia flowers, which are save points that can only be used once.
Other Resource Cost to Save
In the American version of Lunar: Eternal Blue, Working Designs added a constraint to the save system. Whenever you save, it costs a certain amount of Skill Points, with the amount scaling every time you save. These are the same points that you use to, well, learn new skills so you can defeat many of the very difficult bosses and such. This became especially troublesome if you didn't have the sort of time or skill to go without saving for large stretches of time. It also wasn't uncommon to end up short on Skill Points, especially since the cost becomes prohibitively high over the course of the game.
Enemy Zero has the player save and load their game using a handheld recorder. Using the recorder to do anything consumes battery life, meaning that too much saving or loading could force you to start over.
One Save File Per Campaign/Character
In Dead Island, not only is there only 1 save file and the game saves automatically every time you do something, but the game makes it impossible to back up your save game, and destroys your save file if you're sneaky and try to do so.
The RuneFactory series was getting infamous because of this, Rune Factory, Rune Factory 2 and Rune Factory Frontier not only give you a small number of save files (two on the first two, three in Frontier) but they also required that every subsequent save always overwrote your file with no way to keep multiple active saves for a single campaign. This was an particularly big problem for Frontier, since it basically forced you to complete the game more than 10 times from the very beginning (around 50 hours each, at least) if you wanted 100% completion. The latter games thankfully averted this, Rune Factory 3 reverted back to 2 save files but you could overwrite both at any time, and Rune Factory Tides of destiny not only discarded the restriction but also gives you around a dozen of save files to use.
Pokémon as a whole, even more so for the first few generations has this system where you can have only one file, and at least in the first few games, you didn't need to delete it to overwrite it with a new save file. Cue the arguments if anyone's sharing one copy of the game with anyone else, the lost data when you accidentally save on a new file over a completed one, and not at all helped by the first few games and the technical limits of their save system in the first place (the original games often lost data if you turned them off at the wrong time, or just after saving, and the save data could certainly get corrupted by various events).
As of Diamond/Pearl and on, the game now flat out tells you that you can't save when starting a new game. In order to actually start a new game (as opposed for playing however much you could manage in a single sitting and being unable to do anything that requires you to save first, like online play), you have to enter a secret combination of buttons (listed in the manual) to first erase the saved game.
At least you can save whenever, wherever, and as often as you want, though, even if you are limited to one save file.
Roguelike games save your progress when you quit, and erase the savefile when you return.
However, in most cases (including mainstream games like Diablo and Borderlands) this can be beaten by simply making a copy of the save file when outside the game (though this is generally frowned upon amongst the fan community).
Dwarf Fortress, in both Fortress Mode and Adventure Mode, uses a save system that is under normal condition effectively the same as most roguelikes: saves are not deleted when you load them, but you can't stop the game without saving it (or finishing it, if you lose) and selecting "quit" from the main menu. Save Scumming is still possible by forcing the computer to close the program or manually copying the same file, but is considered cheating.
Diablo II does not allow you to save in any way except by quitting the game. Doing so respawns all monsters and teleports you to the town of the act you're in.
Hellgate: London goes one further and saves at regular intervals, and after doing something you'd rather undo, like spending 75k on an equipment augment and getting + ranks in a skill you can't even use. One save slot per character.
Torchlight I and II save files are mostly on the Diablo model, but a little more permissive of Save Scumming. They allow you to save at any time and continue playing.
Antichamber has only one save. You can't really let a friend try it fresh without losing your own progress. As this is a PC game, you can of course manually keep multiple copies of the save file; in fact, this is what the creator recommends doing, shrugging it off as a Do It Yourself Plumbing Project.note (your Steam installation directory)''\steamapps\common\Antichamber\Binaries\Win32\SavedGame.bin
The portable remake of Final Fantasy III retains the Early-Installment Weirdness of the original's inability to save inside any cave, town, or dungeon; just the overworld. Fortunately, it did bring in a quicksave system, but this is of little use when you die to the Final Boss and have to redo an hour or two's worth of dungeoneering.
In Tales of Symphonia, you can save freely on the overworld, but must use a save point anywhere else. Furthermore, about half the save points not in towns are not activated; you need to use up a "Memory Gem" to activate it, which is a drop from an enemy in the area. Mercifully, they stay activated forever and for unlimited uses, the Gems are interchangeable between all areas, they will always drop from the same specific enemy the first time you beat them, and on a New Game+ for a trivial amount of GRADE you can have it so any previously activated spots remain activated on the new playthrough.
In Final Fantasy I, the only way to save outside of a town is to use a Tent, Cottage, or House, which can only be used in the overworld map. This makes for a particularly frustrating experience in the later dungeons, where you must traverse them for lengthy periods of time and then face a very difficult boss. And, like most NES games, there was only one save slot, so only one person could be playing through the game at a time.
Nightmare of Druaga. You can only save your character's stats and items, not your dungeon progress (every time you go into a dungeon, you have to start from scratch). What's more, each save can only be loaded once - if you reset the console and reload, the game will assume that you're trying to get around its (very harsh) penalty for dying in a dungeon, and treat you as if that had in fact happened, stripping your character of most or all of his equipment (and items lost this way are indeed Lost Forever). Even if what actually happened was, say, a power outage suddenly switching off the PS2.
Fable has a twist: you can save at any time, but if you do it during a quest, your progress as a hero (items, spells, experience points and the like) is saved, but your progress in the world (current quest status(es)) is not, meaning you have to start over. This is particularly irritating in the Bargate Prison quest, which is not really difficult, but very long, containing several cutscenes, some of them un-skippable. This double saving system was also notable in that you could abuse the hell out of it.
For example, two temples allowed you to make your hero a few years younger - but only once each. By doing this during a quest, "hero" saving, then reloading the game, you'd be able to repeat the process however many times you desired. Likewise, the hidden silver keys required to open special chests could be duped infinitely via a similar method. And perhaps most abusive: there are potions found on paths of certain quests that raise your XP. it is very easy to find one, drink, save hero data, restart, find, drink, save, etc.
Other examples: infinite silver keys (but don't go above 30...I heard that too many will cause a glitch) and doing the Arena multiple times.
However, Bargate Prison has Rescue the Archeologist quest in Fable, which has pretty a lot of potions that give XP, more precisely 1000 * multiplier. Guess what happens if you save at last area and fail to rescue the guy? Yep, you go through the mission again with all the exp you had at save moment, but potions respawn. Rinse, repeat.
Fable II chose to go with having only one possible save. Which is really annoying if you're the kind of person who likes to try out various quest endings or such, because you can't, for example, finish the game and then reload specific points.
The game actually forces you to save automatically. The creator was alarmed at some of the save scumming taking place, such as players reloading to avoid a scar or an unintended bad result. It's even worse if you run into some of the game's glitches, sometimes resulting in an unwinnable situation if the game forces you to automatically save shortly after glitching, and your only hope is to get the game to glitch back to a playable state. An example is that at some point, your child is kidnapped. During the mission to rescue the child, the child can become a normal NPC through a random glitch. If the game autosaves, you're stuck with the normal NPC version of your child, who doesn't trigger the rescue cutscene. The only solutions are to abandon your child, if the game is willing to let you, or kill every single thing in the entire dungeon and then hope that your child respawns as the quest NPC.
You can actually use hero save to your advantage if you have a second controller. This is probably well known already, but what you do is start up a multiplayer game with your sufficiently advanced character, press start on the second controller and create a new character save with the menu, have the high level character drink an experience potion, then have the second character collect all of it. Proceed to save the new character with massive experience that they should not be able to get so quickly and simply quit without saving the first character (or load it again to repeat this whole process) so your items are not gone. You can now start the game up with your super powered rookie, who knows more than your grizzled veteran!
Whenever you saved in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, you'd start out all the way back at where you started the game, though you'd keep all your progress in every other way. Also, saving added a death to your death count. Since you can already save whenever you die, the save function (which you need a second controller to use) is essentially a suicide code.
The one exception is the last dungeon, because it is so far from the start. It is also behind a stretch of some of the most Nintendo Hard terrain there is, filled with invisible Demonic Spiders hovering over pits of death and so forth. So if you die in the last dungeon, you'll restart at its entrance.
River City Ransom EX has a weird save system, in that your character's stats are preserved, but his progress through the game isn't. That mirrors how the passwords worked in the original, and it isn't that terrible, as the game isn't very long.
Other / Multiple / Not Yet Sorted
Hitman series. The first game has no in-mission saves whatsoever. Bad in a shooter, absolutely inexcusable in a stealth game. The other three have saves, but they are limited and there's often a catch (the fourth game, for example, allows saves but they are deleted when you quit as they are intended to be on demand checkpoints rather than actual saves). One of the biggest differences between the difficulty levels in Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money is the number of saves allowed — which, at the highest difficulty, is zero.
To add to the dilemma in the first game. If you did happen to get yourself killed, you had two extra "lives" in which you were respawned away from the action. However this doesn't reset the enemies awareness, thus the moment you stick your head out, everyone starts shooting at you again and defeats the entire purpose of having the safety net in the first place.
Absolution continues the series' trend, limiting saves to a single checkpoint midway through larger levels - and those available only at lower difficulty levels. The saves are erased if the player exits the level, and seems to keep track solely of the player's position and inventory - any enemies the player has already engaged will respawn when the save is reloaded. Oh, and if you're lucky, the save point might not be in an insanely out-of-the-way location.
The first Alien vs. Predator game had no saves either. A patch enabled saving, but only with a limited amount of available saves.
This was a deliberate design choice, of course, to preserve the pants-wetting terror of the Marine campaign.
In Grand Theft Auto II, you could only save by walking into a church (there's only one in each level). This would cost $50000 (which could be hard to come by at the beginning of the game), and it wasn't possible to save during a mission. In GTA III and its sequels, you could save at specific "safe houses" for free instead.
Although saving was free in terms of money and can be done at any time in the Grand Theft Auto III era games, it would also advance the time by about eight hours, both decreasing your Bragging Rights for completion time and making it trickier to save right before time-based quests.
Mostly fixed in Grand Theft Auto IV; it transparently saves your progress automatically after every mission, without advancing time. Manual saving, however, still advances time, and you still can't save during missions.
The original Grand Theft Auto was even worse - you could only save between levels. This wouldn't be so bad, but the easy first level took about an hour to complete. The last level took about 6 hours, which is a long time to go without a break...
Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja only lets you save at the inn, and once a player saves, the game quits automatically, returning to the title screen, possibly as an Anti-Poop Socking measure. If the player turns the game off mid-play, the next time is game is continued, it treats the player as if having wiping out in a dungeon and all inventory and money that hasn't been stored away is lost (Ouch!).
Which is still much, much more benevolent than most Roguelike games.
The Tomb Raider series use of saves changes a lot between games and even versions; all of the PC versions of the original Core Design games let you save anywhere you want (and in Tomb Raider 3's case even kept the former save crystals and made them give a health boost instead). On the console versions:
Tomb Raider 1 had a type of checkpoint system with stationary crystals that could be used whenever you want, but only once.
Tomb Raider 2 got rid of this and used a save anywhere system.
Due to complaints of the TR2 system being "too easy" from various people (perhaps in a rare proof of Viewers Are Morons). Tomb Raider 3 took the save system of Tomb Raider 1 and expanded it by letting you carry the crystals and save them up for use at any time. This backfired, as the "checkpoint" feel of the original game's was gone, leaving many players wondering when to use them, resulting in a case of Too Awesome to Use, combined with the fact that the game was much harder than Tomb Raider 1 and that the save crystals were very rare (with there only being around sixty in the whole game, with a lot of them being hidden in secret areas).
The later games wisely went back to the save anywhere approach. After the Crystal Dynamics Continuity Reboot the series now uses a checkpoint system, with them being regular enough that it amounts to saving after every room... Most of the time
Dead Rising: One save per profile per storage device; you can only save in the security room or a washroom. This can be particularly frustrating at certain parts of the game, notably when you're escorting survivors through another god-awful infestation of zombies and cultists, and you "accidentally" crush the head of one of your protectees with a sledgehammer because he just wouldn't get out of the way. Cue the reload...again. Veterans of the game know to save at pretty much every opportunity.
Which is really a small problem compared to Infinity Mode which has no saves at all.
Also try getting the '7 Day Survivor' achievement which basically means you have to play on Infinity Mode for 14 real life hours without saving or stopping, pausing is allowed but very much not recommended as you're already risking your Xbox overheating as it is. This is made worse by the fact that your life is constantly draining so you can't even leave the game running. You have to be there the whole time using the malls limited supply of food to stop yourself from dying.
Saving requires the most strategy of anything in the game. If you go too long without saving, you'll have a lot of progress to make up. But if you save too often, you could end up leaving yourself with too little time to complete a case. Saving at the wrong time can leave you stuck past a point of no return in an unfavorable condition. According to interviews with the developers, this was their intention from the start.
The first Donkey Kong Land for the Game Boy had one of the worst save systems in history - every time you want to save the game, you must collect the four hidden K-O-N-G letters in a level. This would be bad enough on a console game; on a portable system, where a player may have to abandon the game at a moment's notice (or the batteries might run out), it's inexcusable.
In Pokémon Colosseum, you could only save at computers that you'd usually find in Pokemon Centers, though there was at least one in every dungeon. Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness removed this concept and let you save anywhere. In both cases, since the games save to memory cards, you can have multiple save files, unlike the handheld games.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has a quicksave option to save anywhere in a dungeon, but once you resume the game, it gets deleted, and counts as a loss if you turn it off before quicksaving again.
EarthBound let you save by calling the lead character's father. Free phones were usually found in hotels (though the cheapskate city of Summers has a pay phone), although for some reason he could call you anywhere to remind you to take a break. Quite annoying in the pyramid.
Your cell phone is explicitly designed only to receive calls, which is just fine and dandy (unless you're, say, in the pyramid, when you might start really wishing that asshole fruit kid who invented it gave it buttons to dial with). Incidentally, Summers isn't the only city with a payphone. It's just the only one without a free one (the game even cautions you that green phones cost money, so be careful about using them so you don't fritter away all your money).
Metroid has designated rooms to save in (and Samus' ship) and in certain, albeit rare, occasions you didn't get a save point for a long time with a difficult segment or boss in between. In the Prime series, these rooms double as Recharge rooms as well and will restore Health.
Prime 3 averts this by respawning you right at the last major cutscene you experienced. This was sometimes slightly annoying as you respawned with the same amount of HP and ammo you had at the moment. But the most annoying part was when this happened in the final battle: you had to start back at Dark Samus even if you were in AU313's final stage.
However, those are only checkpoints, if you reloaded the game you'd still end up at the last save room (or Samus' ship, which also serves as one).
Navigation Rooms in Other M serve as Save Stations as well, and are the only way, besides Samus' ship, to fully replenish her energy reserves.
You can also restore all life and missiles with the Concentrate feature, but the life-restoration bit is only usable when you are about one hit away from death though.
Saving in the GBA Metroids also advance the clock by 7 seconds, which can become significant.
In La-Mulana, you can only save in the village where you start the game. In addition, you have to buy your first save slot (save slots 2-5 can be found much, much later in the game). This might not be so bad, except that there are several "mess up and you'll never get that fancy whip upgrade!" puzzles. However, this problem is alleviated when you acquire a teleportation item that allows you to flip back to the starting village anytime, effectively creating on-demand saving (which is in fact much better than in most games). The remake relaxes this by allowing you to save at any Grail point and providing multiple save slots from the start, but your health and coin pots are no longer restored upon reloading.
In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, a game for the Game Boy Advance, save points are particularly far away from each other, and you have no way of quicksaving, making the game very un-portable.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance attempted to correct this with a "Quick Save" feature, but all that did was save any changes since you last used a savepoint, so you still have to restart from a savepoint. This is both borderline useless for it's intended purpose of letting people take breaks, and highly abusable as a way to escape danger or quickly get back from one of the game's many dead ends.
Aria of Sorrow finally gets this right; its quick save feature "suspends" your game and restarts you at the room you were in when you load up your file again.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask allows saving at owl statues, but the resulting save disappears once restored. More permanent saves only occur when returning to the Dawn of the First Day, losing all disposable items, undeposited Rupees, and unfinished quests.
This could actually be averted if you copied your owl statue file over to the other file. This almost has to be done on the GCN version, which suffers from freezing.
A less-annoying problem: even in the newer, disc-based Zelda games, only 3 save slots are allotted. Rough times if the game is shared by a large family or in a dorm.
Fortunately, since the GCN versions saved to memory cards, as long as you had your own this could be avoided. Or some creative work with an SD card for the Wii.
The last FPS to use the Doom engine, Strife, had only one save slot. You could save as often as you wanted, but good luck if you saved next to a boss while being low on health or ammo and with no suitable powerups in sight. Even the producers found this to be too harsh, and removed the limit in a later patch.
In the original Crash Bandicoot (1996), the only way to save your game (or collect a password) was to go from the overworld map into a level, collect a series of hidden bonus tokens and beat the ensuing bonus level, or collecting a gem by beating a level without dying while breaking all the crates in the area. And when you restored the game, you snapped back to just three lives. Fortunately, the sequels made it easy to save your progress in-between levels and keep your lives.
In the Harry Potter game series, there are completely made up "save books" in games one through three. In the first game, there was the annoying limit that generally there were only two to three save books on a level, and none throughout the extremely difficult, tedious, and easy-to-die endless-pit jumping puzzle. On another note, the jumping puzzle has lethal pits in it, despite the fact that it was made by a teacher to train you how to use spells. You'd think that the SPCC would start suing Hogwarts. Oh, and the level was completely silent, except every few minutes, at which point an evil laugh would sound.
Also, in the first game, save books could only be used once. They would never reappear. This wasn't normally a problem since you couldn't return to previous levels, but the last save point in the game is a few feet in front of a treasure chest containing a few chocolate frogs (this game's healing items). And every single time you die at the final boss, you have to open the treasure chest again (which takes about 5 seconds of animation, plus actually collecting the chocolate frogs, which move around randomly).
Unless you go for debug mode, you also have to watch the cutscene before fighting the boss again, which takes 30-40 seconds. The two subsequent games replenished the saving books after a short while, and they auto-saved your progress before most battles.
The original NES platformers have no saving whatsoever.Super Mario Bros. 3, without Warp Whistles, takes the average player several hours to complete. In theory, SMB3 tells you the location of one of the warp whistles so you can skip almost half of the game with it next time. In practice, it doesn't, as the whistle is said to be at "the end of the third world". It's actually the end of the third level of the first world, and even knowing that, outside information is needed to know how to get to it.
The Super Mario All-Stars remake isn't much better. Aside from saving the current world, the only completed levels saved are fortresses, so only some levels can be skipped (via shortcuts opened after completing said fortresses) after restarting after a game over. (As with Super Mario World, this is averted in the GBA version.)
This SNES cart is the first Mario game with a save system, but one can only save after beating specific levels. Some save points work only once. A switch palace, castle or fortress has a save point when first clearing it, but not when replaying it. A ghost house is better; one can replay a ghost house to save again. Many players walk the long way back to Donut Ghost House, the easiest save point. One can also save again at Sunken Ghost Ship or in half the Special Zone. This save system is a form of Fake Difficulty, because there is no technical limitation for why the other levels are not save points.
SMW does not save extra lives. You say you have 99 lives on that file? Say goodbye to 94 of them if you save and quit! Of course, you can always just go get more (and many people saved at Donut Ghost House because of the Top Secret Area), but still!
This is averted in the GBA port, which allows saving anywhere, and does save extra lives.
New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS has once of the worst save systems ever to disgrace a portable system. You can save only after beating a boss or mini-boss, or collecting and spending 5 star coins to open a bonus area. The game's supply of star coins and bonus areas is finite. There's no temporary save system like that other DS offender Final Fantasy III. (As with any DS game, you can suspend New Super Mario Bros. by simply closing the DS to put the game in Sleep Mode, and plugging the DS into an AC adapter.) Your "reward" for finishing the game is the ability to save after every level, proving that this save system was not a technical limitation.
Its successors, starting with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, added a Suspend Save system, so players can make a temporary save after any level. The limits on permanent saves, and the reward for finishing the game, are the same as in the DS game. The Wii game has no bonus areas where one can save, but the 3DS game has them again.
Paper Mario has only save points, which means you have to continue from the last place where you saved. You better save frequently, as not only is this game long, it also has many side-missions that could require you to battle lots of enemies, and seeing as Mario's stats stay very small (Maximum 50 HP) for the whole game, it's easy to get a Game Over. Luckily, there is a save pint just before all "dungeons", just before all rooms where a boss is fought (optional bosses not included), and in all towns.
The sequels also have save points. Paper Mario: Sticker Star has a better save system because it saves automatically after every level.
In the original GBA titles, it was a suspend save, making the games a fair bit more difficult.
In Silent Hill games, you can only save at notepads (first game), red "squares" (second game), red symbols (third game), and Henry's diary/journal (fourth game).
In Cadaver, you have to pay the gods to save your game, requiring an exponentially larger sacrifice each time. Thus, save too often and you won't be able to save on the last level.
Viewtiful Joe. Besides being able to save in-between each chapter, you can only do so once in the middle of each one, even if there are more checkpoints. So, those endless swarms of ultra-strong enemies? Those bosses that you can't seem to get any good hits in? Those time-consuming puzzles? And god forbid, the dreaded boss rush near the end of the game? Yeah, you'll be seeing them again in the same levels. A lot.
Dragon Quest games will only let you get saved at church (or a king in the first three games), and make you read through long repetitive dialogues when you do so. The portable remakes of III and IV offer a suspend save you can use outside of dungeons, but III's erases itself when you reload. IV's DS remake (possibly due to a Good Bad Bug) does not, and the remake of V on the same system works the same way with its quick-save feature. (On the other hand, IX has the typical one-time quick-save feature.) On the plus side, if your party gets wiped out, you go back to the last save point with half your gold and all your exp and items, making this less annoying than FF III.
Dragon Warrior/Quest 2 had a 'Dragon Potion' which allowed you to save anywhere... but only once. However, a player can replay this game for years and possibly NEVER get one, with the item being a rare drop from a specific kind of Babble. In fact, one would only know of their existence if they read about it form a guide.
Dragon Quest Monsters lets you save any time you are in town (although it auto-saves when you breed a monster, something which was thankfully removed from the sequel). In order to keep the feel and tension of other D Ws, saving is mostly disabled in dungeons however. Luckily, there are certain randomly generated rooms you can save in that may spawn every 3 floors, and in longer dungeons you will definitely run into them at least once. Additionally there is an single-use item called a 'Bookmark' that allows saving in the middle of a dungeon, you can buy as many of them as needed once you get about halfway through the main game.
Dragon Warrior Monsters: Joker pointlessly changed the dungeon system, and only allows you to save at checkpoints on the island. Fortunately these are usually fairly easy to reach. Dragon Warrior Monsters: Joker 2 then turns around and allows you to save at almost any location in the game.
The Android / iOS port of Dragon Quest VIII mercifully adds a quick-save system that allows you to save anywhere in dungeons and the overworld.
Dragon Quest IX has only one main save slot, however, making separate adventuring files impossible.
Mega Man: the first game has no saves. Subsequent games give you a password after every level, except these passwords don't record progress through the endgame stages. After Capcom started overusing the fake-new-Big-Bad story starting with 4, these endgame levels grew to be half the game.
The Mega Man X series let you save between end-game levels, though they never grew to the absurd lengths the original series' did.
While Mega Man 9 uses saves instead of passwords, it has the same artificial limit as all original series games, throwing you back to the first endgame stage if you dare to save and quit during them.
Turok 2 features long maze-like worlds that can take hours to finish. Which wouldn't be entirely horrible if there were more than 3 save points in the entire level! Nothing like being ready to quit but either having to backtrack 15 minutes to the last save point first or forcing yourself to press on for another half hour instead.
Kuon had a stipulation that you could only save at certain points near a river, and even then only by collecting 'vessels'; every save consumed one of these vessels.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver had an interesting savegame system: You could save anywhere in the world and the game would store the entire game world as it is when you do, but restoring the game throws you back into the starting room, requiring players to use the many teleport gates spread across Nosgoth to get back to where they were.
Farcry uses a checkpoint system of saving with check points scattered around the levels. However since the levels are fairly big and can't account for every path taken, it's quite possible to miss checkpoints, or go stumbling around an area trying to find the arbitrary threshold that enables the checkpoint. Furthermore, some checkpoints are spaced far enough apart that you have to go through several tough fights before reaching the next checkpoint, making these sequences examples of Trial-and-Error Gameplay. Patches added a save anywhere system, but this is done through the console, resulting in a Guide Dang It moment.
Persona 3 allows you to save at Tartarus' foyer, which you can access at any time (provided you find the teleporter back to the first floor.) Sensible enough. However, outside Tartarus, you can only save at the dorm; exiting the dorm and reentering it immediately (even in daylight) will make it nighttime immediately. This forces you to play a whole day of choices, Social Links, and shopping, without saving. In extreme cases (such as weekdays) making a bad choice during an afternoon quest will force the player to replay the entire schoolday, plus the previous night - or worse, if it's an exam week (which runs uninterrupted from Monday to Saturday), the entire week. The PSP version mitigates this somewhat by adding a save point in the classroom, providing a more convenient opportunity to save during the day.
Time Crisis, Pick one. Any one. While in the arcade it makes sense not to allow saving all of the home versions also have ridiculous saving systems. You can save after each section, but that only allows you to play that section. You have to play the entire game through in one if you want to unlock every stage.
Disgaea has a fairly reasonable save limit in that you can as many times as you like, but only outside of battle. The only place where this gets tricky are the Item Worlds where you have to make your way through at least 10 battles in a row (Assuming you don't use your Mr. Gency's Exit item to exit early, which also saved your progress in the item). No continues, so you quickly learn to save often and before every battle.
Though, the point of the item world levels is that you have to go through them without a chance to heal. The place you can heal is in the spot you can save, so saving is a required sacrifice.
I Wanna Be the Guy: While this notoriously hardPlatform Hell game has four difficulty modes, the gameplay doesn't actually change at all between the modes. The only thing that does change is how many save points you'll come across. Harder difficulty modes have fewer points, which just means that you'll have to traverse through more areas without dying in order to be able to save your progress and avoid having to redo the areas that you've just finished. Culminates in the "Impossible" difficulty mode, in which there are no save points at all and you are therefore expected to beat the whole game in one life. In a game where you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder and Everything's Trying To Kill You.Have fun with that.
And the one save point in Hard Mode, right before the final boss, actually attacks you.
Aversion: All games on the Wii's Virtual Console (with the exception of N64 and Neo Geo games) have a built-in quicksave—just quit the game through the Home menu. On the other hand, the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS allows permanent (unless overwritten with a new one, at least) save files (called restore points) to be made at any time in addition to borrowing the Wii's quicksave feature, which makes Save Scumming quite easy even for games that didn't originally have a save feature.
Much like other emulation software, which generally allows an infinite number of saved virtual machine states (sometimes called "images" or "freezes") to be created and restored at any time.
For the 3DS ones, if you got the twenty games from the Ambassador Program, the restore points are absent. Some of the NES games were given a proper release for the Virtual Console, and Ambassadors upgrading to that version (no extra cost) would get the restore points. Sadly, this upgrade will only apply to the NES games; the GBA games were stated to be Ambassador exclusive.
Gran Turismo 4 has Endurance races, including one that runs for 24 hours. If you screw up on the last lap and get passed, tough luck, it'll take another day to beat the race and win the awesome F1 car.
Only maniacs race those races themselves. Most people ran them in B-Spec Mode (a sort of race director strategy mode) with "B-Spec Bob" in the most powerful car available and Level Ground enough to beat even the strongest AI, turned off the TV, and came back the next day to pick up their new car.
The Japanese version was released without B-Spec mode. 24 hour races, you damn well raced them.
SimCity for the SNES limited you to two savefiles; if you really liked two of your cities and wanted to start another, tough luck!
X-COM: Terror From The Deep completely disables saving in the endgame levels, which are inside the alien city of T'Leth. Mind you, we are talking about a game so incredibly difficult and frustrating that cheating has become common and acceptable practice there.
TFTD has a couple of notorious bugs. One is in the research tree, where researching the wrong type of alien commander leaves the game unwinnable.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin - With respect to the PC versions, the original F.E.A.R. game and its two non-canon expansions allowed the player to save (and quicksave) at any time. However, the Project Origin sequel irritatingly only allows for automatic saves at set checkpoints. The game is broken up into several missions which can be selected at will, but if the player wants to see a specific game event or explore an certain area, they have to play through the entire mission to get to that point.
FEAR 3 doesn't let you save manually whenever no matter if you're playing P.C. or console.
Not so much in the later Wing Commander games, but there were only a limited number of save slots. In Wing Commander IV and Prophecy, however, there were two-stage missions, and you weren't allowed to save between the stages, resulting in an annoyingly long stretch of gameplay if you were pressed for time.
The original Makai Toshi SaGa (The Final Fantasy Legend to us American folk) allows you to save anywhere. You get exactly one save slot, however, and God (er, the Creator) help you if you wind up saving in an Unwinnable situation. Death in that game was anything but a slap on the wrist.
Soldier of Fortune gives you a limited number of manual saves per level depending on the difficulty. On the first game's Unfair difficulty, you cannot manually save at all, and on Soldier of Fortune difficulty in the second game, you can only save once per level.
MegaMan BattleChip Challenge. While the game is pretty simple and you can set the game to run "Automatically" with slight chance of failure (once you get the hang of it), the 100-battle arena at the near end of the game (granting the optional super navi of doom that wasn't so super anyway), where if you mess up once or find someone that trumps your strategy you have to start all over again makes things a pain, since you can't save, and even automated, the battles take a bit. Time to run through: over 10 hours. For a GBA GAME.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has a quicksave function that let's you save mid-dungeon. However, if you try Save Scumming, the game treats it as a defeat - even if the gamecard was removed, or the game crashed - In other words, if it was an accident that you shut the game off after a quicksave restart, The game still treats it as a loss. Worse still, the game Took all your items away,(Except for your Bow - Which, considering the thing can never be obtained more then once is a small merit on their part) Making the quick save feature a risk if you were taking the DS anywhere where the card might be knocked out - Which, for some people, is ANYWHERE. Thanks a lot for that.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, you can't save in the middle of a stage, mostly because the game saves just about any time you do anything. Including turning off the game. This means that if you die for the first time and immediately turn the game off in an attempt to save scum and avoid a painful continue, when you get back to the menu, the first thing you see is the achievement for dying! So the trope is inverted — instead of you being unable to save when you want, the game saves when you don't want it to, leading to anger on your part.
All racing games with a betting system automatically saves your game the moment you put something on the line. You got one chance, mate, don't blow it.
Although, this can be twisted slightly in the Need for Speed games; players can simply disable the autosave and save the game before racing, so that if they don't win their rivals car which they need, they can simply reset the system and do it again until they get the reward.
The Fire Emblem series is a mixed gab of different forms of this.
Geneaology of the Holy War lets you permanently save at the beginning of your turn... until you make one of your units do something. Then you must wait until next turn to save. While it lets you Save Scum, considering the complex and grandiose scale of the game, that's not such a bad thing.
In the GBA games, the game autosaves EVERYWHERE in a chapter, at every significant action. If say, a character is killed or any otherwise unpleasant scenario occurs, turning the game off does nothing, because resuming that file will instantly put you in the same battle, with the same result (even if the attack had low accuracy), though you can make a permanent save before every chapter and choose to restart the chapter from there.
Sacred Stones includes two optional multi-level dungeons with NO chance to save between levels.
Path of Radiance removed the constant auto saving (understandable considering it's a console release that relies on memory cards), meaning that you could ONLY save at the beginning of the chapter, though you could suspend data in the middle. This can become frustrating as the chapters increase in length, as one bad move could force you to restart an hour of gameplay. In addition, the fight against TheBlackKnight took place after a long chapter, and if you failed that fight you had to restart the chapter all over again.
Radiant Dawn gave you the option to save whenever you pleased during your turn, which invited Save Scumming, but also made the chapters a lot less frustrating as you could continue from wherever you last saved. If you hope to scrape your way through Hard mode though, you don't get that luxury (only PoR's options).
Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem introduced permanent save spots in most of the chapters, where any character could save your progress for that chapter by stepping on them, but the spots disappeared once used.
One of the worst examples of this trope comes from the soul-crushingly terrible 2000 action-adventure game, The New Adventures Of The Time Machine. Saving your game cost you half of an in-game magic point- magic which was essential to progress and which could only be restored by incredibly rare items. Oh, and did I mention that you only had six points at the beginning of the game?
The original Red Faction had the ability to save anywhere; this was replaced by autosaves starting with the second game.
Maximo, while already Nintendo Hard in some areas, requires you to pay 100 coins every time you use a Save Point. Of course, you can always go back and do the first level of the first world a few times in a row, which isn't really that hard and nets you a sizable amount of coin each time, but it does get tedious.
Etrian Odyssey, taking its inspiration from 8-bit RPGs, only allows for saving in the town. The third installment adds a suspend save feature.
LEGO Racers for the Nintendo 64 required you to have a nearly-empty Memory Pak in your controller to save your data. Children left consoles on for days just so they can beat it on a more lenient schedule.
Wario: Master of Disguise autosaves whenever you exit a level. If you needed to take a break while in a level, you'd either have to find a Save Point or use a suspend-save from the pause menu. However, if you have a suspend in play, you can't play a different save slot without losing it.
You can get extra saves by beating certain levels.
Operation Flashpoint limits the player to one save per mission. Some missions can be more than an hour long, and all the missions are Nintendo Hard, which makes the game brutal. Fortunately, there is a cheat code that saves the game, overwriting any previous save. This cheat is almost required for especially long and/or difficult missions.
Resonance of Fate has a Save Point-based normal saving system and a separate "suspend" save that's available at any time except during battle, that quits the game when you use it and deletes the save after loading it.
The early Ultima games would only allow you to save on the world map. One of the upgrades of Ultima V was the ability to save in towns, dungeons, etc.
Ultima III would save automatically when you returned to the overworld from a towne, castle or dungeon - or, more devastatingly, when any character's status changes (when anyone gets poisonned, dead, or turned to ash). Fortunately, you could always disband the current party and form a new one from your ranks of backups - or even just reselect your current party - and start again outside Lord British's castle.
Dead Space 2 introduces 'Hardcore Mode' which, while being about as difficult as the 'Veteran' setting, only allows three saves. There's one 'gimme' save that triggers when swapping discs about halfway through, and it doesn't count towards your three allotted. This wouldn't be too bad, if Hardcore Mode didn't also completely remove checkpoints. If you die against That One Boss? Prepare to lose those three or four hours since you last saved!
Inazuma Eleven lets you save everywhere except in the middle of a training center course, likely because of their nature as Randomly Generated Levels where you have to win multiple battles in a row without losing a single one. Also, from the second game onward, there's only one save slot. The EU version of the first game also reduces the default 3 save slots into one.
Powerful Pro Baseball Advance series's save system in the success mode is a pain. There's only one save slot each, the file will erase itself when you either clear the story or get a game over, and those games themselves heavily rely on luck, making some of the games' bad ends possible in every corner. Also, every time you load a data, you lose some of your stats.
O.D.T. : Or Die Trying, an obscure Nintendo HardPS1 game, had a particularly brutal save system: you could only save your progress at specific saving spots, which are not only rare and often located in secret areas, but also only allowed you one single save per saving spot.
The Mitsumete Knight games have a save system needing only 1 block (2 for the RPG game), but allowing you only three saves per Memory Card.
The PSP versions of Project Diva is limited to 3 save files. Not that it's much of a hassle with this kind of game.
In Glider, you can save anywhere but resumed games are ineligible for high scores.
Epic Mickey deliberately invoked this—the player is never allowed to choose when to save the game; the game saves itself automatically after the player completes major decisions. The developers said that they set it up this way to force the player to deal with the implications of their actions.
The Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade computer game features a particularly fourth-wall-breaking example. Throughout most of the game, you can save whenever you want, but once you get to the final area, the save function is disabled for no discernible reason. This means that if you fail any of the challenges in the cave after that point (one of which is a Pixel Hunt and another of which is a Luck-Based Mission if you happened to miss a vital clue earlier in the game), you have to start the whole thing over again. There's even a sign right outside that tells you you can't save.
Eternal Darkness will let you save only if there are no enemies nearby. Weakly justified in-universe by the fact that said enemies are basically mini cthulhus and it's not safe to save around them, still annoying when this means frequently you cannot save for over half of a level and have to start the whole thing over if you die.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has an interesting variant, in that you can't COPY the save files. You can save three of them, continue at any time, save after any mission and delete them, but for whatever reason the copy functionality doesn't exist.
D not only has no saving, but no pausing, and a two-hour time limit. Fortunately, that last part means that the game is relatively short.
Escape Velocity series combines One Save File Per Campaign (pilot in this case) with only having auto-save — every time you leave a planet or station, the pilot-file updates to take into account any changes that have occurred since the last time you left a planet/station. This renders Save Scumming (which you might want to do, since all the games have at least two mutually exclusive storylines, which can only be begun once you've got some experience) possible only by manually backing up a pilot-file.
This is the difference between Unrest's two difficulty settings. "Myth" allow the player to maintain multiple save files of that playthrough, while "Mortal" is an in-game Iron Man Mode. A "Mortal" playthrough means you only have one save file, and have to live with the consequences of your decisions.