Old, old method of playing games. Basically, you save the game whenever you get a result you like (or before you face a risk), and restore the saved game whenever you get a result you don't like. It could be because the game demands Trial-and-Error Gameplay, or perhaps you have a limited number of tries to get the RNG to get a favorable result. Or maybe you're just not that good at the game. Although sometimes, it's the only way to even win a Luck-Based Mission, no matter how good you are, or it's the only way to get a very rare item. And woe befall you if you save a game after a non-obvious error that makes the game Unwinnable. Seasoned savescummers will make multiple saves throughout the game so they can go back to the part that they messed up on.
In a somewhat less depressing way, this might still be practiced if a game has Multiple Endings with identifiable branching points. Not all games with several endings have New Game+ as an option, and even if they do, sometimes you just don't want to run through the entire game for the sake of another ending. Saving before the branching point(s) lets you go back through from where it twisted at your convenience.
Some games modify this by giving you limited amounts of saves (similar to Video Game Lives but perhaps allowing some strategy), bonuses for low numbers of saves, or immediately erasing/saving a game whenever you die or do something important (Iron Man mode). Some games kick it Up to Eleven by actually detecting whether you cheated by Save-Swapping, trying to obfuscate the game which deletes a saved game by manually putting back a copy of said save file right after deletion by the game into its save folder. Even worse, wiser games will even call you out for actually trying to feed it an invalid saved file!
The term "Save Scumming" comes from the roguelike community, which has long frowned on the practice (most roguelike games prevent this by erasing a save file as soon as you load it; however, this puts the player's entire game at risk in the event of a crash) and thus categorized save/reload as one of the many forms of "scummy" behavior honorable players eschew. This is not to be confused with LucasArts' SCUMM game engine, when LucasArts' games are generally much more forgiving than their Sierra counterparts.
Other games, however, especially Japanese-made games designed with the "maniacs" in mind, not only validate it as a tactic, but make it utterly mandatory for 100% Completion. The Infinity+1 Sword is not only dropped only by the ultra-difficult Bonus Boss, but it only has a 1% chance of dropping it, and there is only one of that boss in the game. Beating the boss once after a theoretically infinite number of save scummings may just be a fluke, but beating a difficult boss 50 to 500 times in a row shows not only mastery of the game, but alsosuperhuman patience. Likewise, the Trophy system for the PS3 and the Achievements system for the Xbox 360 require several, sometimes many playthroughs unless you utilize this.
Much easier (and more tempting) to do with emulators, which often have save state features that allow the player to instantly backtrack anywhere, anytime, making the lives system pointless. This and other emulator features are used to put together or practice for "perfect" runs of pattern-based video games, especially 2D shooters. Platform Hell games are made with this in mind (with horrifying results), and Speed Run players use this to get the exact sequence of events required to make absolute fastest time. These are called "tool-assisted speedruns", and the divide between savescummed and classic speedruns is vast. The gamers on both sides defend their position vehemently.
Sometimes known as "Saveweaseling," using "Wand of Save/Load," or "The Mystical Quicksave/load Key." Amusingly enough, some (dubiously metaphysical) interpretations of quantum mechanics suggest that a similar phenomenon may occur in real life, through a process known as "quantum immortality."
A Sub-Trope of Not the Intended Use, See also: Save Game Limits, which attempt to curtail this, and Trial-and-Error Gameplay. If this explicitly involves Time Travel rather than reloading the game, see Reset Button. Compare Brain Uploading. Autosave may be implemented to prevent this.
open/close all folders
A lot of old school Nintendo Hard games are much more pleasant using this. A perfect example is the original Castlevania.
On the subject of Castlevania, in Portrait of Ruin, there are specific items and skills that can only be obtained in the Nest of Evil. if the player does not receive the item, they can simply suspend the game and restart, allowing them to refight the enemy without having to go through the entire floor again.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask tries to avert this by requiring you to reset time in order to save, thus undoing all the minor details you'd accomplished. However, you can also talk to an owl statue—they're supposed to only be a temporary save, but you can cheat the owls by copying your save file before you load the game.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis action game fully expects and requires you to do this. The manual mentions that the roulette tables in Monte Carlo are rigged, and hints that you need to do something to "beat the system". The solution is that for some reason the tables always go for the same numbers. Save, try betting at a table, reload, and then bet on whatever number came up on that previous attempt.
Any of the Star Wars: Jedi Knight series. Every Sith (or Jedi, occasionally) you come across can and will insta-kill you. Likewise, you might run them through just as easily, and while there are certainly ways to play smart, the smartest by far is to tap your quick save and dive screaming at the guy. At tougher difficulties, this is the ONLY way you're going to beat some of the tougher minions.
Wandering opponents, monsters, zombies, etc. could appear in two or three set unique locations in King's Quest I (but not in any other Sierra game), requiring the player to evade them using the same keyboard controls used for normal exploration. This is trivial if you keep to the edge of the screen. On the other hand, Quest for Glory has actual wandering monsters, but allows the player to fight back.
Just about any time the player is required to gamble, save scumming is the best solution.
The "Slots o' Death" in Space Quest 1, which Roger Wilco must use to earn money for a ship and pilot robot. When the machine turns up a set of three skulls, poor Roger gets reduced to vaporized ash for the cleaning robot to sweep up and dump outside in a pile. The official hint book plays this straight; it actually told players to save first, and mentions that this isn't possible in the real world. This was fortunately simplified in the Enhanced Remake, where you could use an item to rig the slot machine in your favor and earn the required money without risking Roger's life in the process.
Or the first Leisure Suit Larry, where the player is left at a casino with only enough money for a single minimum bet and must gamble until he has enough money to finish the game, making it impossible to complete without save scumming.
But not in Codename: ICEMAN. Attempting to reload a save during an entirely Luck-Based Mission of a dice game will cause the person you're playing against to accuse you of cheating and ERASE YOUR SAVE.
You could save and reload during the poker game sequence of Police Quest 1, but in the remake they disabled the save feature during said game. It's just as well, since in the remake you have the option to skip the poker game anyway.
Also required to an extent in Déjŕ Vu, where the only way to collect quarters (which you will need ~50 of to pay cab fares) is by betting on a slot machine with random results.
Many times the solution for a certain puzzle involved item(s) that could only be obtained prior to encountering the puzzle itself, often leaving the player in Unwinnable situations if they didn't realize what or where the requisite item(s) were. Measures to alleviate this varied from nonexistent to subtle hints to soup cans.
For example, if the player hasn't collected all the items to survive the upcoming labyrinth puzzle in King's Quest VI, they will be allowed a chance "to prepare" before returning to the area.
Sierra's manuals actually encouraged this behavior.
Parodied in The Secret Of Monkey Island. There's a bit where if you walk too close to a cliff you fall, and a Sierra-style save/load screen appears. The main character then rebounds back onto the cliff with two words of explanation: "Rubber tree."
The Monkey Island series as a whole is designed to avoid this, because the creators felt that frustration and wanton trial-and-error were not desirable traits in a casual adventure game. There are exactly two situations in the entire series in which it is possible for Guybrush to actually die, and in both cases the player is allowed to try again with no consequences.
Lampshaded in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: 8-Bit Is Enough. If Strong Bad is attacked by the scorpion monster in the Peasant's Quest realm, the game presents a Sierra-style game over screen, while Strong Bad simply picks himself up off the ground and remarks about how he "never reads those things".
Hitchhiker's Guide is a good poster child for the multiple-save version of this trope, since there were many occasions where if you didn't do something precise and arbitrary at the beginning of the game, a thousand moves later you would inevitably lose. Example: Near the beginning of the game, you are carrying a cheese sandwich and you pass by a dog. If you feed the sandwich to the dog, it will ignore the miniature attacking space fleet on which, several brain-warping phases of the game later, you are a passenger. Otherwise, you'll get eaten.
Saves are there to be used before trying risky stuff. Or, in the more difficult games, before anything. And there are often crazy things that will end your game, but in an entertaining manner if you try them. If you save beforehand, you get to see what they are with no risk.
This was deliberately parodied in Infocom's Planetfall; whenever you saved the game with your robot sidekick Floyd around, he would ask "Oh boy! Are we going to try something dangerous now?"
Beat Em Up
While not required to complete the game, Save Scumming is a vital method of getting Pure Platinum awards in Bayonetta. Since Pure Platinum requires you to never take damage, you'll be quitting and reloading a lot. And since the game auto-saves after every verse (and sometimes in the middle of a verse, or even the middle of a boss fight), it's very easy to take advantage of this feature for an easier chance at a perfect run.
Most of Codemasters' latest racing games (such as Race Driver: Grid, Colin McRae: DiRT 2 and their F1 games) feature a built-in savescumming system, where the player can pause the race at any moment to go into Instant Replay mode, pick any moment in time from the last ten seconds or so, and rewind time to that moment and keep racing from there. There's a limit to how many times you can do this per race, depending on the difficulty level you're playing at.
Forza Motorsport, ever since the third instalment, has also included a similar feature, which rewinds to a fixed point. The main difference is that you can use it any number of times per race, and if you don't like where you've rewound to, you can just rewind again (and again, and again, up to a certain limit) until you're happy.
The best way to get Z Points in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is to save right before you activate the Dragonballs, and if you don't get Red Shenron, you just don't save, load and try again until you do.
The first Dragon Ball Z Budokai game gives you a choice between three random Breakthrough capsules every time you collect the Dragonballs. Many players simply reset the console several times until they get the Breakthrough capsule they want or need.
First Person Shooter
Serious Sam is the game where quicksaving and quickloading on hard, serious and mental difficulty is almost essential. Often making quicksaves even in mid-fight is a good idea.
Another gambling example courtesy of Bioshock, albeit an optional one. Players who want the achievement for hitting the jackpot on a slot machine may have to resort to this.
Getting the "Brass Balls" achievement, which requires you play on Hard difficulty with the Vita-chambers disabled, pretty much necessitates frequent saving of your progress. Since you cannot respawn, you get sent back to your last save point when you die, and the game only auto-saves whenever you enter a level, so manual saves are a must, especially when coming up to major encounters like Big Daddies.
Not a necessity, but this practice certainly helps to make it through some of the harder parts of Half-Life 2 in which automatic checkpoints are spaced far apart and/or the player must endure a long and grueling battle; the battle against the swarm of Combine in the prison (the one in which the player must set up automated turrets) comes to mind.
Tron 2.0 actually encourages this practice just before a Race Against the Clock section. A character says: "Quick! Save yourself!" and "I auto save every 30 seconds. I suggest you do the same."
Wolfenstein 3D tends to require this on harder difficulties due to there being no room for error—you can die very easily to even a single enemy if caught off guard, all the enemy attacks are Hit Scan, and Wolfenstein level designers love to catch the player off guard.
In a popular Doom mod called Mega Man 8-bit Deathmatch, you could save scum in versions prior to V3A. Due to how the game works, it locks your ability to save as soon as the bots are added, and the game was very crashy in certain stages prior to V3A, thus saving as soon as a map loads was a way to save scum and prevent yourself from going through the entire chapter again. Now save scumming is not necessary, as you can start in the middle of a chapter regardless.
Special mention should go the Forest, which is only available on Trauma, consists of a giant monster scrum, has no health pickups, and has precisely one checkpoint. Have fun.
Borderlands has an odd example in "Duping" items, where one non host player will drop the item, and shut off the game manually using the task manager to bypass the autosave, then reloading, with the dropped item still existing, but when he rejoins, he'll still have that item, thus creating one out of nothing. The host cannot do this, but can drop an item to give it to someone else, who then preforms the duping procedure after saving.
A lot of single-player strategy games fall into this too. About to start a war? Not sure you'll win? Just make a save, and if you don't, go back to the save! This can get to the point of saving before every single battle or combat, because of the inherent wackiness of the Random Number Generator. The Civilization series is a prime offender — there are gifs abounding with a spearman emoticon celebrating victories over stacks of tanks for a REASON.
Some strategy games deliberately save the state of the RNG along with the game to prevent save scumming. Most of those are polite enough to allow you to turn the feature off, though. If it doesn't give the option (or you just feel like being contrary), you can also take your actions in a different order.
Including the aforementioned Civilization... The "Spearman vs. Tank" .gif comes from the multiple terrain bonuses defending units may receive, up to around 200%, where the spearman's 2 defence reaches 6, while a tank has 8 or so in attack, giving the Spearman a 3/7th chance of survival.
The Civilization II manual actually recommends save scumming before entering the villages that provide random bonuses (and sometimes unleash barbarian hordes).
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri has optional RNG state saving. (Shameless players can change the order in which they move units to allocate the random numbers differently.) It also features an "Iron Man" option that only allows roguelike save-on-quit, although you can scum around it if you're feeling pointless.
Civilization Revolution goes further and sabotages the RNG when you save. You are almost guaranteed to lose the next battle, even if you have a clear advantage.
Master of Orion II saves its pseudo RNG, but simply moving to different squares or taking a different turn order in a combat changes things to let you game whether or not you successfully capture Antaran vessels and which of their sweet, unique technologies you learn when scrapping them or when taking Orion.
Lampshaded in the instruction manual of Rome: Total War, which mentions returning to an earlier save when something goes wrong, "not that you'd ever do that, of course". Incidentally, it comes with a form of the aforementioned RNG saving, with the interesting twist that occasionally, you actually end up getting worse results when you reload.
Total War games as early as Medieval: Total War have also included a "save right now" button on the pre-battle interface. It's actually recommended you make use of it, not because you're a scumming scum (you aren't, are you?) but because the games have a nasty tendency to crash before, during or after real-time battles.
However, notice how save scumming can be a "clean" time-saver in many RTSs in both campaign mode and skirmish mode. After all, it can be aggravating to restart a mission and do these initial 5 or so minutes of base-building the EXACT SAME WAY again and again, until you don't happen to lose at the massive AI attack 10 minutes in. It is actually very common in RTSs for gamers to save just after finishing the main actions of initial basebuilding, and also after doing some advanced basebuilding as well if they know they'd act the exact same way up to that point.
Sins of a Solar Empire is even kind enough to autosave every few minutes against the AI. In a NEW save. After a lengthy game (and the games tend to be pretty lengthy) and you notice you're done for, you can experiment with your particular save library of that skirmish to look for the one that's early enough to allow you to turn the tables.
Hack And Slash
Offline players in Diablo II can save scum by manually copying the save files to other locations or just flagging them "read-only" and removing the attribute once the desired results have been achieved. Particularly useful for the otherwise expensive and unrewarding gambling.
In the first Diablo game, you could save scum the normal way.
Players of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors often do this, usually for obtaining a character's best weapon or special item, especially if the requirements involve doing something (usually defeating a certain number of enemies/officers and/or arriving in a certain area) within a certain amount of time.
The entire Masocore genre, by definition. Save scumming is intended behavior in many of these games.
New Super Mario Bros.. ... No, REALLY. If you're trying to get into World 4-7 as Mini Mario, or, well, ANY of the stages where you have to be Mini Mario from the start because they don't just give you a Mini Mushroom in the middle of the stage, you're going to do this if you have any appreciation for your sanity (or just really, really hate Level 1-4).
It doesn't help that while there are a few stages where being Mini Mario is downright necessary, there's also quite a few where it just makes everything easier (any stage where walljumping is needed, for instance, due to Mini's increased range).
And again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii: You get the Super Guide if you die too many times on a level, but not activating it earns you a Bragging Rights Reward. But if you reset every few deaths, then you can try the level as many times as you want.
This is the entire point of Platform Hell games to some extent. I Wanna Be the Guy, Kaizo Mario World, and various others will require you to basically save before doing absolutely anything and then keep going back to the save when you inevitably fail. More so in Game Mods with emulator save state features.
It's also the entire point of Tool Assisted Speedrun only games such as Pit of Despair/Death, where the whole point of the game is to be played with a constant supply of save states, frame by frame slow down and a couple of thousand retries after things go wrong.
The Xbox LIVE Arcade versions of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 both have achievements that require beating the game without dying. Fortunately, unlike in the NES days you can save your progress, thus allowing for save scumming. You simply load your last save whenever you die and keep trying until you clear the level without dying, then save again. Repeat whenever necessary. Since Mega Man games are already Nintendo Hard enough, trying to clear the game in a single go without dying can be next to impossible for many players, so save scumming can become a useful if not necessary means of getting those achievements.
Want to keep Zero in Mega Man X 5? You'll find yourself doing this, given the chance of failure for the cannon firing sequence. Unless you are smart enough to keep trying different stages until the "Hours to Crash" counter is down to 2, at which the cannon will have a high success rate and the rocket will have an EVEN HIGHER success rate. Just be sure to save before attempting. Better safe than sorry.
It is possible to complete Jumper One with 0 death-count by quitting and reloading as soon as (or before) Ogmo dies, since the game saves the progress and death-count only when the level restarts. The sequels and the remake defy this by disabling the escape key when Ogmo dies (but it's still possible to avert Ogmo's cruel fate and a rise in your death-count right before he dies).
The most common method of getting several achievements in Shovel Knight involves simply leaving to the World Map after a death, as the game does not count any progress made unless you finish the stage. This includes the achievement for no deaths; no falling into bottomless pits; and a ninety minute speed run.
Portal gets its fair share of save scumming, not from the main game but in the challenge stages. Quick-Saving really becomes your friend when going for Least Portals and Least Steps.
In the wonderful puzzle-quest game series Professor Layton, the only way to get to anything in the game is to answer hundreds of sometimes brain-squelching logic puzzles. Some of which aren't exactly logical at all. Many of which are plainly confusing and just downright sneaky. The vast majority of which can be solved by a mere brute-force attack - saving and reloading to try the puzzle again and again until you choose the right multiple-choice answer. Go figure.
Don't forget you have to use up your three hint coins and then memorize the hints. After that, you reset, and you end up with the right answer and all your hint coins. However, you don't get anything from it, except bragging rights.
Hack N Slash actually encourages this. It's justified in-game by the protagonist being given a magical amulet that enables her to travel through time, though it doesn't really need much justification given the theme of the game. In addition to being able to load old saves (which are automatically created every time a new area is entered or re-entered) the interface even keeps track of which saves came from which, enabling the player to view the branching "timelines". After experimenting a lot, this interface can quickly become cluttered.
Real Time Strategy
Several RTS games where you have a small amount of specialised units (e.g. Desperados, Commandos), save scumming is required as if anyone is killed, you lose and being seen often results in an alarm causing more enemies to spawn.
Not to mention the Scrappy levels in Command&Conquer where you only have the secret agent/commando type characters, and a light tank just wandered off into the darkness only to brake and turn around.
Starcraft follows the normal strategy/RTS pattern (see above examples) of "save when you're doing well or before taking major risks," but abusive save scumming can be used to defend against nuclear attacks. "Nuclear Launch Detected" > save > try to find cloaked Ghost > if unsuccessful, reload as necessary and search in different areas. Even if the attack can't be prevented, save scumming can give your units a chance to escape.
In the final mission (two missions, unless you are playing the Harkonnen) of the Dune II the enemy periodically launches Death Hand missiles at your base. The missile has an about 50% chance of hitting; good luck continuing your mission if it had destroyed half of your base or - even better - a single bulding, but a vital one that you can't afford (or don't have means) to rebuild.
In Warcraft, Nozdormu is the leader of the Bronze Dragonflight, responsible for overseeing time. Fighting him is a bit futile, since if even if you win against the titanic superpowerful dragon he'll just rewind time and fight you again, this time knowing exactly what you're going to do.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm you get to use the same tactic against his Evil Twin Murozond in a dungeon. You get an hourglass with 5 charges, that reset everyone and everything's status in the fight... except the damage done so far to Murozond.
In the RTS/RPG hybrid Spellforce: The Order of Dawn and its expansions, this is practically a requirement for getting a useful complement of spells for a mage character. Every new level of the same spell requires a new scroll to learn it, and most scrolls can neither be bought nor are they found at predetermined locations. Since whether or not an enemy drops a spell is determined when it is killed, but the exact spell it drops is determined when you loot the corpse (this could be hours later even after returning from a different map), a two-level save-scumming strategy was developed by players for situations where it is possible to acquire several good spells: Make a regular save before starting the battle, then a quicksave after the battle, but before looting anything. Then start checking for loot. If the number of spells you find is unsatisfactory, load the regular save and repeat the battle. If the number is satisfying, but too many scrolls are useless for your character, load the quicksave and repeat the looting.
Roguelikes will erase your save if you die. One could manually copy the saved game file to avoid this... but never, ever, claim a victory won by such trickery. Hordes will descend upon you and debone you with their teeth.
Nethack has an 'Explore mode' (Shift-X) where you can practice the game with infinite lives. You don't get a high score that way, though.
Nethack also makes it harder to savescum on UNIX platforms by storing by recording the save file's inode number (an numeric index for the file) within the save file itself. Copies of the save file will have a different inode number than the recorded one, proving them to be a copy which NetHack won't accept. Of course, one can binary-edit the files to fix it, but it makes it harder.
Given that it's open source, it's probably easier to remove the check from the game. But that would take all the fun out of it (plus exposing you to the hordes of sharp-toothed deboners mentioned above).
It will also kill you with "death by trickery" if you try to tamper with game files while it's running.
The roguelike Ancient Domains of Mystery will, under certain circumstances, detect that you've been trying to tamper with the game, and, instead of ending the game, give you a HUGE unlucky modifier. You'll miss the slowest monster with the most enchanted weapon, rats will slaughter you, and you are almost guaranteed to fail whatever you want to do. The best thing is just to die.
The original Rogue on Unix used the i-node trick described above for NetHack on Unix. It also encrypted the save file, multiple times. Each fresh save added another layer of encryption.
In Linley's Dungeon Crawl, the game is saved everytime you go up or down a set of stairs into another level. If you close the game manually, the next time you play will start at the foot of the stairs. Some people use this loophole to read scrolls of acquirement (Which gives you a random item of the type you choose) or quaff potions of mutation (Which alters your body in very different ways) over and over, forcing the RNG to give them something good.
Castle of the Winds randomly generates its levels; with the help of the Detect Objects spell, the player can reload after first entering a new dungeon level until there a favorable selection of items, like Books of Spells. One can also use this to identify items before acquiring the Identify spell (useful) and feed shops unidentified cursed items. However, the shopkeepers will only tolerate this to a certain point - do it too much and you'll be told to get items identified before selling them.
The original UNIX version of Rogue had a save file that started with a random number and could be edited with a text editor. If you ever stumbled onto a "scroll of all knowledge" you could decode all the other objects, and never make a mistake. By level 256, you could pretty much look at a dragon and kill it. Bor-ring.
The sole control scheme for Save Scummer, a game that is essentially about playing a roguelike. The only moves are backwards in time and forwards in time, with the RNG resetting to let the player influence the choice that the randomly rolled character randomly makes at each moment in time. Beat it, and the player character gets berated for save scumming on the in-game internet.
Also, Liberal Crime Squad deletes the save.dat file if you die, or succeed, or really anything that would permanently prevent your character from furthering the goals.
In Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Another Story, there are a few places where you can only take a small number of your large team with you. Depending on who you take (and how well you've leveled up), the battles to come can be much harder or easier. As well, a slight change in dialogue will happen once. It's enough to make an OCD troper save and play four or five different saves just to see which is the best team make-up.
It's hard to imagine beating the obscure Infocom title Quarterstaff without saving every time you have a round where you hit the (any) enemy, and said enemy swings and misses.
As the odds to get a Shiny Pokémon in the wild are about 1/8000, if you want a shiny of the one-off legendaries, you'll have to save next to it, camp and soft reset the system a lot.
The same can be done with the Pokémon you get at the start of the game.
Then there are legendary Pokémon in general. If you accidentally knock one out instead of capturing it, it's Lost Forever. So save right next to it, and if you KO it, reset the game.
Your approximate chance of catching nearly any legendary under ideal circumstances (Ultra Ball, while the target is asleep and at 1 HP) is about 12/256 ~ 4.7%. Chances are you'll want to Save Scum your capture attempt even if you're planning on using a mechanically reliable HP to One method like False Swipe — otherwise you may well run out of Poké Balls. Or just wait until it's night in a Gen IV or Gen V game and use Dusk Balls.
Since Platinum all legendary Pokémon will reappear after being defeated or ran from if you defeat the Elite Four again (or reenter the area/find them somewhere else for certain event and running Pokémon). And there is one plot-driving legendary in Black and White that you simply cannot skip capturing-if knocked out, it will come back indefinitely until you catch it.
Competitive battlers will also do this to get a mon with good stats.
And then there's the gambling minigames. Wasted 600 tokens at the slot machine? Just reset. Lined up three sevens? Savesavesave!
Doesn't even have to be legendaries you're after. Want to catch that female Combee that is the only way in hell you will ever get a Vespiquen for your dex? Find honey tree. Save. Check honey tree. If the result is a male Combee, reset and try again. (If it's not a male Combee, beat it, slather more honey on the tree, and go check a different tree.)
Also a nice way to get your Pokemon to like you in the second gen games, especially if you want, say, an Eevee to evolve before a certain level. The fastest, least expensive way is to camp next to the youngest haircut brother. He has a 10% chance of giving a cut worth 10 happiness points (while the expensive older brother has a better chance of a nicer cut but his highest possible points are 5). Save, get a haircut, check how your mon reacts to it, and if it isn't the extra-special cut just try again.
The Game Boy incarnation of the Trading Card Game featured an auto-save every turn in battles. This also saved the state of the RNG, so if a coin flip was tails, it would be always tails however many times you save scummed. This can be turned to your own advantage. Heads coming up? Take it! Tails coming up? Use another move (or don't attack at all) so the OPPONENT gets it.
Also a way many people get through the Elite Four. Beat one, save. Lose to the next, reset and try again.
Vagrant Story has elixirs and wine that randomly boost your stats from a range of +1 to +4. Although it takes a while to load or save a game, it takes so long just to charge up MP to teleport or to survive without wasting your items, and also to switch weapons so that they get the right type advantages, that the save scumming doesn't seem so long after all. Bosses also give out random stat boosts, but the Random Number God loves mostly-useless HP and MP boosts, and it takes a little too long to reload for the good boosts.
The first two Golden Sun games had a Random Number Generator that wasn't really all that "random", resetting to a particular point every time the game was hard reset (but not after soft resets). This meant that rare drops could easily be farmed by saving in the area where the item drops and following a specific set of actions based on what the first encounter you face is (defeating an enemy that drops the item you want with a super-effective attack on count 31 always works, and some of the slightly less rare drops also work on count 27 so if your first encounter is a mixed enemy party you might even get two rare items on the same encounter). Then save again, hard reset again, and continue.
Bioware is generally friendly towards this strategy:
Forget pazzak, the real reason for save scumming in Knights of the Old Republic is Swoop Racing. Fifty credit positioning fee? I think not.
And in the sequel...well...the fact that it dispenses items more or less at random means that a workable strategy for, say, giving HK-47 that ultrapowerful Charric disruptor rifle is to "kill all the droids in the Mandalorean cache, save, check the boxes, if it isn't there reload and try again."
It appears the game expects you to do this where lightsabres are concerned. Once you've acquired your first one, later lightsabres to recover/receive with be randomly chosen in terms of colour and design (classic, short blade or double blade). There's also the merchant on Telos who'll sell you your first sabre crystal. Save before talking to him and just keep reloading until you get the colour you want.
Can easily happen with the rather inconsistent difficulty spikes in Dragon Age: Origins. Suppose they decide to fireball and blow your party up...oops, quickload! Uh oh, templars right behind the door! Quickload! Uh oh, enemy resisted my crowd control, quickload! Not to mention all the different endings you can play—save before the Landsmeet in case you say the wrong thing! Your whole party can end up leaving you if you say or do the wrong thing in certain situations. Save often indeed!
The same could be said for Mass Effect 1, although the game disabled saving during combat. At times you were forced to relive an extra long (and unskippable!) cutscene over and over because the game threw you into combat immediately after it ended with no way of saving.
Mass Effect 2 tends to autosave for you when you're about to go into a particularly dangerous situation, like when you're about to engage a self-repairing Geth Colossus on foot.
You can also use this to unlock both of Morinth and Samara's loyalty powers, Dominate and Reave, and still be able to choose which one you want in your squad. Just kill the one you want to keep to unlock the other's power, then reload and choose normally. Shepard can then pick up either Dominate or Reave as their bonus power, regardless of who you chose.
In Nightmare of Druaga, the save file is marked "Do Not Copy." And if you close the game by any means other than a save and quit, it subjects you to a rant about mucking with the flow of time, and if you answer even ONE question the wrong way, it inflicts you with the death penalty. and the rant gets longer each time, with new questions. Heaven help you if the power goes out while playing.
The Monster Rancher series is pretty heavy on save scumming, especially if you're trying to raise a very strong monster. In Monster Rancher 2, it is possible to use a combination of save scumming and a specific item to create a monster that is immortal. (Monsters are supposed to die of old age in most Monster Rancher games, so naturally, this can be something of a Game Breaker.)
In these old D&D-based games, save scumming was an easy way to insure the characters maximum hit points. You just have to keep a close look at your experience points and save the game just before an encounter that would give enough XP for one character to pass a level. If the HP "roll" was low, you could rerun the encounter until you got the best result.
That wasn't the only way of (ab)using save scumming, of course. For example, to know for sure how many charges have a magic wand: saving, firing every shot while counting, then backtracking.
In the 2nd game, The Legend of Darkmoon, any fight against beholders make Save Scumming pretty much obligatory. Because it is completely random whether they'll use their most deadly attacks (Disintegrate or Death Spell) or more innocuous ones, there was only two possible results of such a fight: either getting away nearly unscathed (maybe with one or two PCs paralysed, which quickly wears off) or having 1 to 5 of your party members insta-killed.
The same as in EotB's first example could be done in the original Baldur's Gate. In the sequel, Shadows of Amn, most of the characters were too high-level to be rolling HP for much longer, and non-player-generated characters had predetermined results for when they did roll.
Spoofed in Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal: a party of "noobs" assaults your group while flinging insults, resulting in their complete extermination. After a fake "reload" screen, the same party of adventurers encounters you again, greets you nicely and walks away.
Throne Of Bhaal also caught some significant flak for this: some battles are just plain unwinnable without save scumming (or at least without knowing what the enemy's about to do), which makes 100% in-character role-playing impossible.
The Baldur's Gate engine does at least warn you — one of the hints on the ever-present loading screens is, "Hit Q to quicksave the game. Do this often."
You have to save before each and every pickpocketing attempt you make, otherwise you're virtually guaranteed to fail and everyone in the area will attack you. This can be anything from "inconvenient" as your reputation drops like a stone from Minsc and Keldorn helping you butcher orphans, to "lethal" as high-level wizards blast you into powder.
However, reloading in an outdoor area in the original Baldur's Gate would cause any monsters already defeated in that area to respawn. This discouraged reloading to avoid random encounters while resting.
After going trough a lengthy process when leveling up, the game shows how much you rolled to increase your HP. Point is, you can still cancel and restart the process to try a better roll. Most people retry until they get the best result. The developers however noticed the fact. On the sequel, they made the player roll the best result altogether. On the original, they placed a config option that would hide the roll result for the player until they couldn't retry. Playing on single-player mode would allow for continued save scumming. On multiplayer however the result was absolute.
And then there's the boxes after killing bosses at higher levels, which can dispense anything from small change to awesome magic items. Go on, try reloading until you get that White Robe of the Archmagi!
Container contents are randomly generated when they are opened or destroyed, allowing the player to reload until they get a valuable/useful item.
The Fallout series has the player worshiping at the altar of the Random Number God, so save scumming is rather tempting.
Fallout 2 has the above quote, and the description of the player's ear bitten off by The Masticator adds, "If you're reading this, you're probably reloading your last save."
Also, in one secret encounter, the log displays the player character thinking "I should probably save my game in a new slot before trying to cross that bridge."
In Fallout 3 the success of Speech checks depends on a percentage modified by your Speech skill, so no matter how many points you sink into your diplomacy build, you're going to want to quicksave before a conversation. New Vegas, however, evades this by having a minimum Speech skill required to pass the checks.
Some Speech checks however come up only once, making save scumming useful again since the game has multiple ways to momentarily boost your skills. Without save scumming you'd have to predict when a high skill check is coming up and risk wasting skill boosting items. It's usually just trial and error with this method, seeing how it's a trivial matter to raise a specific skill by more than 20 points (100 being the maximum).
New Vegas' casinos employ a game mechanic to obstruct save scumming. If you reload a save, you cannot play at a table or slot machine for a full minute, as the dealer is switching decks, recalibrating the wheel or somesuch. This means that if you plan to reload every time you lose a game, you're in for some tedious waiting.
The real trick to this is to boost your luck to 9 or 10 before you start gambling - that will assure that you win almost every time.
Lockpicking in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas employs a minigame where you wiggle a bobby pin in the lock, but you can also try to force it open, with a percentage chance of success vs. breaking the lock and making it unopenable. In other words, you have the choice of a tedious "find the right spot" game, or saving beforehand and scumming until you succeed. This makes a Perk that lets you retry failed "force lock" attempts absolutely pointless.
Wasteland, the precursor to Fallout, had one savegame and auto-saved each time you entered or left a map area. You also had the option to save more frequently. The game was unusual for the time in that your changes were permanently written back to disk. You could save scum by making a backup, having it save to that backup, and then going back to the original disk afterwards.
Pretty much the least frustrating way to get through the "Gold Chocobo" sequence in Final Fantasy VII, which is quite lengthy, relies heavily on luck, and is a serious case of Guide Dang It made all the more infuriating by the fact that there is a character who tells you how to get through it, but just not very well. There's a devilish catch, though, in that when you save the game, it also saves whatever value was generated that determines what sex and color (in the case of blue vs. green) of chocobo you're going to get. Therefore, if you just keep resetting because you got a result you don't like and just re-enter the ranch and go straight back to breeding, you're more likely than not going to end up just getting the same result as before. As such, upon reloading the game, one should enter the chocobo ranch and then exit to the world map a good three or four times in order to generate a new value.
Final Fantasy VIII has Triple Triad, a card game with many sidequests that all but necessitate save scumming. Changing the rules of the game in a given region is nearly impossible without it; it's nearly impossible to eradicate the Random rule if you end up passing on a different rule instead... unless you reboot your last save. If you lose a rare card in a duel, you won't be getting it back easily... unless you save scum.
Pretty much guaranteed you'll be doing this in Final Fantasy X when you play Blitzball, especially if you want to get certain items that can only be obtained by winning at Blitzball.
Item Crafting in the Star Ocean games often requires expensive or limited-supply materials, and has a high chance of failure. save scumming is practically required to create the more useful items. Similarly, in Star Ocean: The Second Story you can pickpocket from practically every NPC in the game exactly once. If you miss, that item is Lost Forever. More scum!
The Mega Man Battle Network series had the Chip Trader machines, which allowed you to insert Battle Chips you didn't want anymore and it would spit out a random chip. In the first game, save scumming was possible to make sure you'd get a good chip, but from 2 onwards, using the Chip Trader would automatically save your game.
Expect to do this a lot in the fourth game of the series if you choose to defeat the first upgraded versions of Navis for their battle chip, as doing so causes their Omega version to become an inescapable random encounter in the area, which will give you a game over if you're not prepared for it. Later games had the sense to make these encounters escapable. fortunately.
In Mega Man Star Force, the random number generator seed used for the trader appears to be saved, so loading and retrying will always yield the same sequence of received cards.
Introversion's game Uplink does similar to Nethack, where being caught immediately writes your user's save data into 'game over mode'. If you didn't get meta and make a copy/paste backup, there's not a lot you can do.
Just like the later roguelikes, the original Wizardry on the Apple attempted to avert this by overwriting your save file when a character died. Players learned that you had a fraction of a second to eject the disk before this happened. Get it a little too late, though, and you'd corrupt the disk and make the game unplayable. Apparently, many, many disks were returned to Sir-Tech in this state for a replacement.
If you want to get the highest rank during a mission while playing Valkyria Chronicles, doing this is almost completely necessary for every single turn. Not only is it possible to miss your intended shots and not kill the enemy, but the enemy can occasionally evade your attack themselves, especially enemy aces.
Devil Survivor includes a nifty mid-battle save feature - any time it's your turn, you can open up the pause menu, hit 'suspend,' and you'll be able to pick up from that point from the title screen. Against some harder bosses, this is very useful.
Also, demon lineups in the auction change each time you turn the game on. Does the demon you want keep coming up with only one or two stars? Time to soft-reset!
On the other hand, it's a branching-plot game with a bunch of ways to cut off someone's path, and ONLY ONE SAVE SLOT.
In a first for Shin Megami Tensei games with exploration, Shin Megami Tensei IV lets you save any time you have access to the pause menu. Boss demon coming up? Save. Just got that shiny new fusion demon? Save. Heading back after that long dungeon crawl and don't want to lose your hard-earned demons, relics, and EXP? Save. As a result, Terminals don't save your game anymore like they traditionally have, instead only serving as warp points now.
Most Dragon Quest games almost require Save Scumming, due to the insanely random nature of enemy attack choices. A given run through a dungeon to reach the boss at the end can be anywhere between a cakewalk and impossible with the exact same party based on how well the battles go (and how many battles you get into, also an unknown). And of course, the obligatory casinos just beg for Save Scumming.
Every time you close an Oblivion Gate in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you get a sigil stone, which can be used to enchant one item. The type of enchantment is decided when you grab the stone, so you have the option of just grabbing it and hoping for something useful, or saving before grabbing it and reloading until you get the exact stone you want. The former could give you a lot of completely useless stones, while the latter basically guarantees you a full set of ideally enchanted gear.
Also in Oblivion, the lock-picking mini game. You have a limited amount of lock-picks and every time you make a mistake you lose one. Solution? Save right before the door and if you lose too many lock-picks then reload. Simple.
This is closely related to the Fallout examaple above, as they are made by the same company. If you choose to actually try to pick the lock yourself instead of "Auto-Attempting," you can easily pick a Master level lock with a lockpicking skill of 5 while breaking only 1 or 2 lockpicks. This, however, requires good timing and a little bit of patience, which some people lack. This fact is also the reason why unpickable locks that require a key exist.
The opportunities for save scumming are plentiful: get precisely the best Haggle, always harvest the rare plants, and never break a hammer. Oddly it's debatable whether it's more realistic to have some of these benefits. Randomly being unable to pick plants, in particular, is criticized by some fans.
Speaking of The Elder Scrolls, in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, you can save in front of a randomly-generated treasure pile and continually reload until the pile contains valuable loot.
Skyrim also has the same lockpicking mini-game as Fallout 3/Fallout New Vegas described above.
In the Atronach Forge, the items you produce can come out with many different types of enchantments, for which save scumming helps get get the best armor/weapons.
If you want the trophy/achievement for getting the rare and unique flower in NieR, odds are you're going to be savescumming your garden to get the seeds you need. Fortunately this is optional.
Radiant Historia makes it a gameplay mechanic. Whenever a decision needs to be made, it's automatically saved, and can be "loaded" at a Save Point. The game is about exploiting time travel and alternate timelines to influence the present, rather like a genius cousin to Chrono Trigger or Chrono Cross.
The "random" battles in Final Fantasy I actually occur in a set order that loops, with the starting point determined each time the console powers on and the list of possible encounters determined by the party's location within the world. This can be exploited for a low-level run to manipulate the order in which enemies are encountered so that the only battles that cannot be fled are mandatory for finishing the game. More traditional savescumming is also helpful in such a run since the party will usually be fighting something far more powerful than themselves.
Action RPGMetal Walker doesn't let you save inside buildings, so saving outside them is a good tip, especially with the high encounter rate.
Might and Magic VI and VII. Notable instances include: Shop inventories are generated randomly every few days, but only when you go into the shop; so, wait outside, save, then go in, and if they don't have the item, reload and try again. This is particularly important for those must-have spell books. Monster drops are random and so is the chance of a multi-drop - with patience, a single dragon can equip your whole party with really powerful items. Enchant Item results are also random - this is part of the key to the infamous six-day win in VI. Save-scumming can get you past booby-traps far earlier in the game than any legitimate means would allow. In VI, it was also a good way to compile a potion cookbook - save, mix potion, if it blows up try another formulation. In VII there were too many combinations to make this very enjoyable, and in any case you still needed the Alchemy skill at a suitable level.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland allows you to save anywhere on the world map or in the game's synthesis workshop, which makes it very easy to rollback anytime you mess up or get unlucky. For the synthesis part, some items have only a percentage chance of being synthesized and if you get unlucky, you get a broken item. But if you saved right beforehand, you can just reset, and the game even lets you reload from the same place where you save. And reloading on the World Map is pretty practical too, since you usually don't spend more than a few minutes in most sections.
Now that Mario & Luigi: Dream Team features the option to save anywhere (unlike prior games in the series), this has become an accepted way to both complete expert challenges and beat Gold Beanies. Want to dodge ten hits in a row in one area for a challenge? Fight enemy, dodge hit, kill enemy, save. Do this constantly, and if one accidentally hits you and resets the counter, time to reset the game and try again. Similarly, with Gold Beanies, save right next to them on the overworld, then reset the game every time the damn thing runs away from battle until you eventually defeat it.
Eschalon has random containers so you can reload till you get something valuable/useful. The sequel allows you to (mostly) avert this at the highest difficulty level - the RNG has a fixed seed so opening the container will always give the same result unless you do something else to advance it first. The upside was the average quality of found items was increased.
This is the only sure way to get certain rare mine items in Harvest Moon: Friends Of Mineral Town (and its distaff version, More Friends), and is a feature of most HM games (due to multiple save slots and "save anywhere" capability) as each floor of the mine wasn't necessarily guaranteed to have a path to the floor below in it. Many players also use it to avoid destructive storms.
The Harvest Moon team has been aware of this for some time, though. As early as Back to Nature, one of the sins you could confess to the local priest was "I reset the game to win at a festival."
In A Wonderful Life and Another Wonderful Life, you can change a newborn animal's gender if you save before you go to bed the night before it is born. Often this is pretty much your only option if you get a bull when what you really needed was another milk cow.
Island Of Happiness actively fights save scumming by randomizing the location of the stairs and pitfalls every time you reload so the old trick of digging until you found the stairs, reloading the save and going straight to the stairs location no longer works.
The two most recent games, Grand Bazaar and Twin Villages avert this altogether by 1) Doing away with mining and 2) Making it so you can only save once a day when you sleep, which automatically leads you to the next day.
In addition, the past several games randomize the weather about a week in advance, making it impossible to perform the old trick of reloading as soon as you discover that a hurricane has blown in that day.
In The Sims, there's no way to choose a newborn's gender, unless saving right before the birth and reloading as often as needed to get the gender you want.
Magical Diary. Given the multiple dialogue options, multiple game paths, and random nature of magic skill gains, this is pretty much required. Given that you can literally save everywhere, to 80 slots, this is also practically a game feature.
The Idolmaster suffers poorly from save scumming because one of the stats 'personality' directly affects their tension levels. When a character uses save scumming however their tension levels are useless because you can always win Auditions and do well in Lessons. This makes characters like Chihaya look unfairly balanced compared to others like the Futami twins even though her personality stat is 0. The Japanese call it 'fair play' to play without saving and reloading for better results which is how the game originally played in the arcades.
Save scumming isn't just possible, but practically required when boarding enemy capital ships in the X-Universe series, due to the games' heavy reliance on the Random Number God and the way marines are trained. They gain combat experience by boarding ships, but they also randomly take casualties while boarding ships. Save scumming is especially required when boarding Xenon capitals, where The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: in addition to having internal defenses equivalent to several five-star marines, if you have less than eighteen marines left in the Boarding Party when they reach the computer core, the attempt fails automatically. It's to the point where in X3: Terran Conflict and Albion Preludethere's an achievement for capturing a Xenon frigate, something that players spend hours or even days training their marines for.
Save scumming is almost an essential skill to master in Dwarf Fortress, a game so complex that it's trademark slogan is, "Remember, losing is fun!" Was your fortress overrun by a legion of zombie koalas? Well, I hope you made a save scum, because that fortress is probably beyond repair.
Blasphemy. You fail, you start a new fortress. Losing is indeed fun.
In Kerbal Space Program you have the option to quicksave and revert to launch. This is essential to ensure that your Made of Explodium rockets survive to finish the mission. In version 0.25 you have the option to turn those off when starting a new game.
The six save slots in the original Backyard Baseball were probably meant for this, as on Hard, home runs made by the opposing team are extremely likely to occur.
Football Manager also suffers from this. It's easy to save before an important match like the FA Cup final or the World Cup final and replay it if you lose. This is rather looked down upon by veterans of the game since it takes away the feeling of accomplishment of winning such things. Current games include an ability for people to look in the save file to discover how often people do this to cheat at community tournaments.
Come to think about it, pretty much any football management game can be subjected to this, to ludicrous extremes. Your star player broke his leg in training? Reset the game. Embarrassing home defeat against a much weaker side? Reset the game. Your title rivals won a game you needed them to lose? Reset the...you get the idea.
This is prevented in the similar baseball management sim Out of the Park Baseball. Barring the game crashing, it's impossible to exit your current game without it saving. Just got swept in the World Series? Too bad, there's no going back now.
The My Player game mode in NBA 2k11 suffers from this. The mode employs an attributes section, with a +1 Speed stat costing 1000 skill points. However, by turning off the autosave and having enough patience players can gain a +2 Speed bonus from each practice drill (leading to more than 10,000 skill points from 6 drills); they can then take back the 10,000 points and channel them into other skill areas. Given that the game gives players the opportunity to do nearly 25 practice drills before even debuting as an NBA rookie, it is technically possible to be an All-Star calibre player before playing your first game.
Stealth Based Game
In the Tom Clancy'sSplinter Cell series, specifically the PC ports, the ability to save whenever you want was introduced. This can lead to saving right before any even slightly risky encounter.
Third Person Shooter
Max Payne tried fighting this by giving the player a limited amount of saves per level (both quicksaves and normal ones), making saving on appropriate locations a strategic element of the game.
Total Overdose averts scumming with fixed save point locations, but it has a rewind feature that allows about 5 seconds of backtracking any time, even from death. Somewhat like lives in that there are a limited number but more can be accumulated through gameplay.
Rondo of Swords lets you abuse this ad nauseam. At any time during battle, provided that you haven't been defeated yet, you can restart the battle, or go back to the setup menu (from where you can save, and edit your unit's skills). All the items you used go back to your inventory, but your units still retain any EXP and levels they gained in the battle. Doing this enough times can even get you through the Hopeless Boss Fight at the very beginning of the game, if only in a New Game+.
Prevented in the Fire Emblem series. You can save and continue within a chapter, but if you performed an attack, didn't like the result, and turned the game off (the game had a feature of bringing you to the last action that happened before you turned it off), the action would always have the same result.
Put more technically, the game uses a pseudorandom number generator: it doesn't actually generate random numbers; rather it has a long, built-in list of random values. At the beginning of a mission, it picks a semi-random entry to start from, and then selects the next value from the list each time you perform an attack. Since the only truly random event was the starting value selection at the beginning of the mission, reloading doesn't do anything. It is, however, somewhat possible to subvert the system by deciding to take a different action (such as moving to a different place or simply choosing not to attack), which changes who gets what numbers.
Hilarity Ensues in the instances where it doesn't regenerate them properly and runs off the end of the list into numbers above 100 which cause chances of 100% (and above, which are reasonably common in this one) to fail.
Techncially, any video game generates pseudorandom numbers— programs never do anything truly "random" and will always do the same thing under the same circumstances. Apparently random values are generated using data the player isn't expected to observe or control (like milliseconds on the system clock or current frame count) and Fire Emblem saves the "seed" that determines how numbers are retrieved from the generator and the position on the table as part of the game data.
This is the basis of Tool Assisted Speedruns - by precisely controlling all of the game's inputs, you make it completely deterministic and can control all "random" events.
... which leads to the wonderful practice of RNG (Random Number Generator) Manipulation. By saving, and then performing a specific sequence of movements, it is possible to determine the approximate values for the next so many random numbers; more precisely, whether they are above or below 50. By taking the values of a chain of these, then reloading the saved game, you know the approximate values of the random numbers for the next twenty, forty, or even hundred iterations. This lets you basically hack the game; say a character has a 45% chance of getting a critical hit. If you arrange matters so the "critical hit" number is one of those you know to be definitely less than fifty, that becomes a 90% chance of a critical hit. The same thing for leveling up; a character has a 60% chance to gain a point in Strength. Make sure a <50 number is in the right place, and that's a 100% chance of a strength point. The GBA versions of Fire Emblem very much play this straight, despite first impressions.
Specifically, you can force the game to use up the next number by selecting a unit and and drawing an overly complex movement (possibly in a circle around the unit. At the point where it would take more movement than the unit has to take that path, the game automatically draws a shorter path. However, if the unit has an odd number for their movement, there are at minimum two possible paths that are equally long, one that, say, move right and then down and another that moves down and then right. The game will use its RNG to determine which of these paths is created. After you cycle through the desired number of numbers, you can cancel your selection of the unit and have used nothing. Of course, this technique assumes that you have an unmoved unit with the correct movement value with no obstructions to their pathing.
Prevented in Path of Radiance, though; making a mid-battle save automatically takes you back to the title menu, and reloading that save deletes the data. Only there for taking a break mid-battle; if you screw up, you have to restart the chapter from scratch.
The Game GearShining Force game featured the same systems. Saving mid-battle was simply to allow the player to put the Game Gear down in the event of an interruption or a low battery warning (as one of the first color handhelds, its battery life was atrocious). Reloading an interrupted battle caused it to resume right where you left off.
In Radiant Dawn, although the RNG has become actually random, and not pre-fixed numbers, you can still save, try something, and restart when it goes wrong (or when you get a crappy level up). This may be to make up for the punishing difficulty. Of course, Battlesaves are disabled on Hard difficulty. Because it's, y'know, hard.
Ogre Battle has a similar, if not exactly the same, system. Emulate it, save state and reload? Same battle result every time. Do something different (change formation, buy some items), and the outcome of the battle changes.
Also in Ogre Battle, scouring the landscape for random encounters and buried treasure can be very profitable for your army. But waste too much time, and your funds (not to mention your good name will plummet. Solution? Order your units to walk a particular path, save as soon as they begin, and play the game day over and over again.
In general, savescumming back to the start of a battle (in games that allow it) because of a unit loss is common practice, due to the Final Death mechanic.
Somewhat similarly, in Advance Wars, which in modern times is sort of a cousin of Fire Emblem, the AI seems to be designed with only semi-random variance. The AI will react differently to the same tactics from match to match, but if you reload only to the beginning of your turn, you won't see any change at all. You usually have to reload back 3 or 4 days if you want a different result (or, of course, try varying your own plan). Interestingly, this only applies to AI decisions, and not to the amount of random additional damage each attack can make. If you're just trying to get that extra point of damage, you can save scum all you want.
This AI behavior is the reason why all of the day by day guides for Days Of Ruin work.
Want to shoot down that boss and get his awesome loot/secret item/secret mech/Bragging Rights Reward in many Super Robot Wars games? Prepare to save and reset a lot until you figure out the damage threshold where the coward teleports off the field, knock him down to just that, and then set up a support attack to FINISH HIM! A strategy guide and skill could accomplish this more honestly, at least in some of the easier installments, but it is still a frequently-used tactic.
One (fortunately optional) battle in Super Robot WarsOriginal Generation 2 actually requires this to win. From a plot point of view the battle is actually unwinnable, you are fighting three of the penultimate bosses 1/3 of the way through the game after all, and even if you defeat them they will simply bypass you and enter the base you are trying to protect. Each one can sink any of your units in a single hit (resulting in a game over) and you need to cast "focus" every turn to even hope to avoid their attacks. You only have four units, only one of your pilots will regain his Spirit Points so he's the only one who can attack every turn. You'll still only have about a 25% chance to hit and a 50% chance to be hit on two of the three enemies. Oh and this character's best weapon heals them. Luckily you can save at any point (even during the enemy's turn) by holding start. It's probably going to take at least 100 turns the first time you try this. However if you win you (the player) will receive praise for your tenacity and several of the games best weapons and parts for your mechs.
This technique is actually lampshaded in the PS2 remake. Upon quicksaving and quitting the game, the player will get random character messages. One message, from the ever ambiguous ally/enemy Shuu, says...
Shuu: Saving and reloading multiple times makes the game harder each time *evil laughter* ...just kidding...or am I? *evil laughter*
Can be a problem in Battle for Wesnoth campaigns, wherein it is referred to as Save/Loading. The justified version happens occasionally, too, when there are campaign branches, mostly, though, it's used because the battle system is chance based, so it's totally possible for your Arch Mage to attack with five fireballs with a 70% to hit and miss every last one of them.
In Disgaea and its sequels and cousins, Save Scumming is frequently used, especially to find high ranked items with legendary rarity and then leveling them up to the maximum power. These items have a 1/32 chance of spawning. This is also sometimes used for leveling Innocents in the Item World, because there's the rare chance that an unsubdued Innocent won't appear at all during a whole run. More likely in a Common Item, but also possible in a Legendary.
Final Fantasy Tactics practically requires this in some parts: When you first set up for a battle, there's no indication of what you'll be facing, so it's entirely possible to go in with a party that is entirely wrong for the situation. Fortunately, the game lets you save quite often, even between consecutive story-based missions. Unfortunately, there's at least one place where saving between these battles can make the game Unwinnable if you don't have the right equipment and/or abilities.
Taken to the next level in FFT 1.3, a fan made patch of Final Fantasy Tactics that considerably ups the difficulty. Among the changes are giving just about every team you face, both story and random, plenty of ways to revive themselves, making story enemies' levels static and always 5-10 levels above your best guy, and giving story enemies moves and equipment far beyond what you have, like black mages with level four spells in chapter one. Just about the only way to win is to save scum to make powerful but inaccurate attacks like charm, petrify, and invite hit.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance made it a little bit easier for the player in that you got the chance to check out what your opponents were like before selecting your team. With the introduction of the ability to save in the middle of the battle the game goes out of its way to ensure that you can't save scum during the battle. While it is possible to save and quit the game mid-battle if you want to come back to it later, when you load the file it will delete the save. This meant that you couldn't play in a trial and error manner (bearing in mind the role of chance when it comes to attack accuracy).
Luminous Arc's Intermission system allows Alph to spend time after each battle with a party member. Players would generally save before dealing the final blow and goes through the Intermission for a Best Break. If they get a Normal or Good Break, they can just reload.
Luminous Arc 2's Intermissions are chapter-based for almost all characters, but the player can still save scum for Best Breaks.
Luminous Arc 3 makes it even easier by letting you save right before you talk to a character so you can reload immediately after if you don't like the result.
While researching AI in Sword of the Stars, there is a random chance each turn of AI Rebellion, turning some of your ships and planets into a new enemy empire and permanently disabling all AI tech in yours. Of course, the game also auto-saves at the end of each turn so if you're playing single-player, it's trivially easy to just reload every time they rebel.
Persona 3 and Persona 4 pretty much require this if you're trying to max every Social Link in one playthrough, since the schedule for doing so is very strict. In Video Game/Persona3, especially, to get your Academics high enough to be able to start certain Social Links when you need to, you need to study every single night that you have the opportunity. However, there is a random chance of the Protagonist becoming Tired while studying, which means you can't study the following night, thus missing out on the Academics boost (if you try, the game says something to the effect of "You're too tired and can't focus enough to study"). The standard way around this is to save every evening before going to bed, and if you get Tired from studying, reset and try again.
Turn Based Tactics
Patient players of Jagged Alliance could very easily win battles by abusing the save system as such: save every time you manage to hit an enemy, and load everytime an enemy hits you. This lets you get through most battles practically unscathed even with mercs of low skill, although in some cases it could take an aggravatingly long time before one of your shots would hit.
Not as easy as it sounds, though - in the first game it was (almost) impossible to save during combat, and in Jagged Alliance 2 reloading and doing the same thing again will get you exactly the same result - so if your shot missed, it'll always miss. Unless you reload and do something different.
This actually led to another version of abusing this trope, namely I Will Do X And You Will Never Hit Me The Next Turn. And X could be as bad as running into a point-blank range. You will never know unless you try.
Jagged Alliance 1 requires some alt-tabbing to windows and copying/renaming some files. An extreme example is Deadly Games, because you can save anytime during a turn, even the enemy's... It's actually possible to save after hearing a shot miss and load after it hits one of your mercs, multiple times until all your mercs survived the enemy fire unscathed.
In the old X-Com games there are some bugs/alien attacks that make saving as soon as you touch down on the battlefield a very good idea. Some people save almost every turn in the battlescape, but others feel that the save button is heresy , so go figure.
One of the more charming bugs makes one of your soldiers' items into an armed proximity grenade at the start of combat. This typically results in them exploding randomly.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown also has this, however there's also "Ironman-mode" which disables save scumming (you are only allowed one save file and it autosaves after every turn.)
Of course, there's always Alt+F4, so long as it's used before the next turn begins. Aliens managed to blow up the car, or you sent a squaddie into a cluster of them on your turn? Alt+F4 and Scum away!
In the Enemy Within expansion, a "Save Scum" option exists when setting up your game. If it's enabled, the random number seed will reset upon loading a save game, allowing an...unscrupulous player to beat the odds.
It quickly becomes very tempting in Rose Guns Days, as your insignia goes down a level every time you screw up an attack (by being too slow or trying to land too many hits whithin the time limit), which is quite frustrating to see. If you want to get the maximum level insignia, you have to do an all but perfect run. And of course, you get more points the higher your level is. And since the difficulty increases with your score, the fights at the end of the game can require quite a few tries to manage them flawlessly. Careful, despite its repetitiveness, this mini-game can be surprisingly addictive.
The Grand Theft Auto games had save scumming in spades when it came to weapons. Any time you died or got busted, you lost all your guns, leading players to save after every single mission and reloading if they died or get busted on a mission. San Andreas and GTA 4 introduced ways to let the player keep their weapons after death or arrest to discourage save scumming.
San Andreas had a few missions where you would lose all of your guns at the start of a mission, pissing off players who had been save scumming to keep their guns and finding out they have to lose them anyway.
Minecraft, of all things, prevents this in single-player by auto-saving periodically, including when you die. You can easily copy and manipulate your saves though.
The Xbox edition however, allows you to disable auto-saving and opt for manual saves only. In addition to this auto-saving only saves on intervals of a certain amount of minutes, (not necessarily on death) so you can have auto-saves enabled, die, and just reload with little progress lost. This is sometimes used when trying to get certain enchantments or exploring the Nether.
The Walking Dead brutally averts the trope when it comes to making certain choices. No matter how you respond in heated arguments, someone's going to get mad at you. No matter who you choose to save, someone has to die (and the person you saved will likely just die later on).
A lot of emulators allow for using save states (lets you save and restore exactly as it was, by saving the entire game's RAM), which can easily be used for this trope to get desired results.
Games with notable branching points or easy changes to make for Multiple Endings
Cave Story has a few places where you should probably save and manually backup your save (the game has one slot), most importantly the easy/hard mode choice.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis has a super obvious branching point about halfway through the story, where the game would suggest which way to proceed based on how you handled an earlier event, but you'd be free to pick any of the three options. Once you got to Atlantis the three pathways would converge, and the rest of the game would be linear as before.
The Myst games all have multiple endings, and using this trope is the only way to see them all bar playing through the games again (which, considering their lack of replay value, is not something players are willing to do).
Uru Ages Beyond Myst is the only game in the series where save scumming won't do you any good, considering that you appear back in your Relto whenever you open the game and there's no way to royally screw up any puzzle. The game only has one ending anyway, unless you get the two expansions that add on two endings, but even then it's linear, as the two expansions are two separate-yet-somewhat-related storylines entirely.
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.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, which not only has multiple endings for each character's story depending on dialogue choices and certain victory conditions, but also forces you to go back and lose EVERY SINGLE MATCH to get 100% and unlock the True Ending.
Having to lose each fight for 100% completion was removed in the sequal. This was done specifically because people complained so much about it. An egg explaining it is found if you lose a match enough times.
In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, getting storyline rewards required having a certain number of Destiny Points at the end of a stage. These points are earned by beating opponents within certain parameters. On failure to do resetting the PSP allows the player to repeat the battle.
That said, as long as you're willing to take a Story Points penalty at the end of the stage (which only affects the treasures you can pick up on subsequent runs and can be made up for later if you'd rather), you can also restart the battle from within the game, which is much faster.
First Person Shooter
Deus Ex: The choice of which of the three endings you want can be made after clearing most of the last level since you have to go there to set up the conditions for each ending to occur anyway and not only are they unrelated conditions but completing one does not exclude the others, allowing you to easily set up all three endings and just reload a few times to see all of the ending cutscenes.
Canonically all three endings occurred, so in a way this is more accurate than only playing one of them. Not that anybody has ever played all the way through Deus Ex for the first time and not done this.
Deus Ex: Invisible War has decisions that affect the landscape of the game in subtle ways, but by the final level it basically comes down to, "who do you want to kill?" (And yes, "everyone" is an acceptable answer.)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The ending you get is determined by essentially pressing one of three buttons, so if you save before or after the final boss you can view each ending by pressing a different button each time you reload the save. And you still get the trophy/achievement for it.
Prey has an achievement on 360 for getting a certain amount of money on the blackjack machine at the start. The easiest way to do this is to just save and bet high until you win. Strangely, you don't have to do this for the similar achievement for Poker, since a machine later on is rigged to let you win.
Nintendo avoided this with its Virtual Console service on its Wii console. Saves made by exiting a game to the Wii Menu are only temporary, and saves aren't made at all with Nintendo 64 games (they were probably intended for older games that didn't originally have a way to save).
However, the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console service, in addition to making a temporary save when quitting to the system's Home Menu, allows players to make restore points, which save the current position in the game (similar to quitting a Virtual Console to the Wii Menu for the Wii's equivalent or quitting to the Home Menu on the same system) and allows them to be made at any time (ditto), with the major difference being the fact that restore points are permanent and are only deleted when making a new one. Restore points can be loaded anytime with no limit on how many times they can be used, with the only limitation being that only one per game can be stored at a time. Thus, Nintendo made save scumming quite easy even for games like Super Mario Land that didn't originally have a save feature. With games that do have a built-in save feature, however, such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's AwakeningDX, this is disabled by default because with games that already have a save feature, loading a restore point resets the save data to how it was when the restore point was made, with the Virtual Console menu and the digital manuals for Virtual Console games pointing this out due to the problems this would cause if used at the wrong time. However, Ambassador Program games do not have restore points except for the NES games that were later released to everyone. Those not rereleased and all GBA games lack restore points.
The first Tomb Raider had save crystals, so save scumming was impossible. People complained about the time between saves, so they implemented a save anywhere feature for the sequel. Unfortunately to compensate they raised the difficulty level to the point where some sections required save scumming to get through.
Role Playing Game
Mass Effect 2 only has three ending options everyone dies, some people die or everyone lives. However, given the tendency of some people to become somewhat attached to specific characters (witness the flamewars) and the real possibility Anyone Can Die, there's a temptation to mess around with saves. The game's morality system also can lead to perfectionism, which reinforces the tendency to do things over.
In Mass Effect 3, it may be tempting to save just before making the final choice, to see all possible endings. However, due to the way saving works in the final section of the game (manual saving is disabled and autosaves are eventually overwritten by the save made on the Normandy just before assaulting Cronos Station), for each ending you want to see, you will have to replay the entire painfully-slow last section past getting hit by Harbinger's beam, with all the unskippable cutscenes.
The sequel Chrono Cross has 44 characters and the most you can get in one play-through is 38. One character in particular can only be gotten in a New Game+ at a specific moment in the game. It takes three play-throughs to get all 44, but since you can only use three of them at a time what's the point? It also has multiple endings like Trigger.
An in-game example is why trying to defeat the Final Boss through conventional violence is pointless - the Time Devourer will simply yank a copy of itself from an adjacent timeline where you didn't defeat it.
Growlanser 2 has several branching points, but at least one obvious one that gets you most of the endings (assuming you didn't screw up the relationship stuff).
Fable: There being several points that give you something for being evil (and sometimes good)also altering the story; killing Whisper, killing Teresa, and wearing the mask.
The Geneforge series has multiple endings in every game (at least one for each faction you can align with). The ending-altering quests are usually easy to recognize. There's also the quicksave feature for the "reload if the battle goes sour" version of this trope.
Tales of Symphonia's main branching point for your potential Multiple Endings occurs when you go to Flanoir to get a doctor for Altessa. By saving there, you could get up to 3 slightly different endings, or, by choosing Kratos and rejecting everyone else, one very different one. Earlier in the game there is a save point just around the corner from Lucky Dip stall; which is where you can get the money boosting Sephria item earlier than in the game than otherwise but it's payout could be a much more common item instead and you can only go there once, thus reloading from said save point till you have a Sephria is a common tactic.
The Witcher attempts to avert this somewhat; at least on first playthrough it isn't always clear which decisions have which repercussions until later in the game, when the player is treated to a full-color illustration and an introspective monologue.
They had as a special feature the SOL restore and restart features, which allowed you to reload a save point to restart the game, respectively, with all of your experience and items saved in the bank. This was debatably necessary to complete the game the first time, and definitely needed to beat it the multiple times required to get 100% completion.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates. When you beat the final boss, he will try to go to another reality to defeat you, but gets trapped in a stable time loop. He's stuck Save Scumming the rest of his life!
In Fallout: New Vegas, save scumming is possible to win big at the casino games, but there are two catches. Firstly, each casino has a limit on how much you can win before they either ban you from gambling or straight up kick you out. Secondly, reloading a save from within a casino starts a countdown on all gambling games (slots, blackjack, and roulette). You can't gamble until one minute after loading the save. Obviously, Obsidian was one step ahead of us.
Blackjack in most casinos in New Vegas has a much lower house edge than most modern Vegas casinos offer (but a lot like 50's Vegas). It is also one of the very few computer blackjack games that simulate dealing from a real shoe with a cut card, not continuous shuffling. Since no one is there catching counters, it's pretty easy for a skilled gambler to win big through fair play alone. A high Luck stat tilts odds for the player automatically, providing another option for winning without save scumming.
Unfortunately, even card counting cannot save the player from the wrath of the RNG if he has a low Luck stat. The game will be heavily rigged against the player, and the game even tells you so by saying "You feel unlucky" every time you were rigged to lose. Since the maximum bet at most tables is fairly low, not even save scumming can create a worthwhile income for an unlucky player compared to other methods.
For players who really enjoy this part of the game, mods that allow for high stakes gambling and greater winnings  are easy to find or make.
The Oblivion: Shivering Isles expansion pack has one point where you need to decide which faction to support in a power struggle. It doesn't make a lot of difference to the game (a single different mission and different-looking support troops), but it's notable because you get a separate achievement for each faction, and those are the only two incompatible achievements in the entire game. All the other achievements are relatively straightforward to get on a single playthrough. If you were trying for all achievements, and didn't save before that mission, you'd be left with a single one to get, and it could take hours of gameplay to get back to that point with a powerful enough character. Fortunately, they telegraph it well enough that (if you're paying attention) you will probably realise what's happening and save if it bothers you.
The help menu for Quest Of Yipe I and II actually encourages this, since the game automatically ends when you die. But if you do die, you can always reload that game from the last point at which you saved.
Tachyon: The Fringe - you're forced to pick sides (with contrasting plot paths) round about the fourth Fringe mission. This editor copied his save just before he chose so he wouldn't have to play through the first quarter of the game again.
Most of the Wing Commander series had multiple paths one could take to victory (the addons for the first two "main" games were, however, completely linear), but in Wing Commander III and Wing Commander IV you got somewhat more control over responses to NPCs, affecting which of the several endings you saw after winning the game.
The second Oddworld game encourages this. Some levels require very precise timing in Abe's moves, and several times in rapid succession, or he ends up eaten, shot or otherwise killed. The game allows you to quicksave, so the normal way to play the game (i.e. the one that doesn't induce keyboard-mashing frustration) is to quicksave as soon as each jump, grab, escape or other phase of the level is complete. However, since things in Oddworld have a habit of turning nasty very, very quickly, it can easily result in quicksaving right before missing catching a wall, or something, causing every quickload to result in Abe plunging to his death and forcing the player to restore the level-start autosave.
Tactics Ogre and its Gaiden GameKnight Of Lodis have this, and it's rather advisable. In Tactics Ogre, you have to make some rather major choices, the first one it clearly shows that it's a very important decision, since it is after all Choosing to follow orders and slaughter an entire village vs disobeying orders and refusing to do it.Knight Of Lodis meanwhile also gives you only one important choice (Whether or not you should try catching a mermaid or not) and you don't get that big of an idea that it has a huge impact on the game. Another choice you make later on in the game has zero impact on the story, however.
This is recognized as so much as part of the required gameplay that the Updated Re Release for the PSP included it as part of the actual game in the CHARIOT and WORLD system. (You can turn back time in battles and then in the game itself in New Game+ respectively.)
The CHARIOT system (the in-battle one) subverts the main concept of save scumming, however. If you undo an action and then redo it exactly (ie. same order of move, skill, action; same location; same skill; same action, same target), the same outcome will result no matter how many times you retry.
A lot of people play the courtroom game series Ace Attorney games like this, as it allows the player to save at almost any time. Don't know what evidence to pick? Just pick 'em all through trial and error. You'll eventually pick the right one. This is especially useful when set up with a choice of something like "keep asking" or "I'm done". This completely averts the penalty system. However, they made some events difficult if not impossible to save scum, not by changing the save mechanics but by arranging the dialogue so that the first few sentences are the same, whether you got it right or wrong. Anyone using the tactic would theoretically load their save immediately after seeing the first sentence.
The Fate/stay night visual novel has the route you will take determined in the first part of the game, with one choice being able to completely alter to a different route. Also notable that one wrong choice (no matter how correct it may seem) can lead to a violent death.
The Tiger Dojo exists to Lampshade and excuse it with a wink.
Similar to the above, Tsukihime has 5 routes that are generally determined within the first day or two of the game. This visual novel is also highly notorious for creating troper paranoia, as making a choice can quite easily lead to death.
"Uh oh, Nrvnqsr is out there. I'd better wait here in the hotel room...whaddaya mean asharkate me?!"
This ending actually establishes an important rule of Type-Moon games- when in doubt, go with the * more* dangerous choice. Not investigating the dark alley or protecting the superhuman with your frail mortal self will get you killed virtually every time unless previous dialogue has explicitly established that it will. The most notable exception to this rule occurs in Fate/Stay Night when Asking Issei about Caster will trigger a brainwashing spell placed on him that causes his eyes to turn red followed by him killing you and then himself.
"Hmm, sex with Arcueid, or stop? Can't see any reason for the latter!" Four scenes later Oh hi Kohaku, why are you at school? Oh you brought Roa too, how nice *death* "Next time, less horniness and more sympathy needed."
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has this in universe. The player's ability to restart after obtaining a bad ending, while retaining information obtained in said ending, is an early indicator that young Akane (the true player character) is doing this with Junpei.
Its sequel also has this, now with a flowchart for easier decision-manipulating. Both the player character Sigma and the non-player Phi have this as a power in-universe; the majority of endings are closed off until you play through certain other paths and retain information from them. They also don't necessarily experience the jumps in the same order, as evidenced by one instance where Phi will act against Sigma due to a decision another 'save' made even if you would not have chosen to go down that path yet.
Wide Open Sandbox
Not quite conventional Save Scumming, but Saint's Row 2 lets you keep all your gear and ammo at the time of when you saved, but if it was during a mission, you start at the beginning of said mission. This can actually be abused, as during the Veteran Child mission there's always one of the Sons of Samedi in the same location wielding a K6 Krukov; Assault Rifle ammo is shared between weapons, even if they don't even use the same caliber, much less magazines. Kill, save, load, repeat until you have all the Assault Rifle ammo you want.
You can save scum to build up all the money you'll ever need by gambling, if you're willing to spend several hours. This is most easily accomplished after you purchase the casino in Los Venturas (to have a nearby save point). Simply gamble at your choice of game (video poker is a popular one) and save when you win big, or quit/reset when you lose all your money (though leave the sound off unless you want to hear the same two songs on an ENDLESS LOOP. Tell 'em, Godfather...).
Another method of doing this which can be accessed earlier in the game is to use the betting shop in Blueberry. Catalina's house on Fern Ridge has a save spot and a fast car that spawns on every load. The road down the ridge leads directly to the Shop, and only takes about 30 seconds. Betting on the longshot has a massive payout and can net you a huge income very quickly.
In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura can use her time manipulation powers to this effect. Specifically, she's been using them in hopes of finding the "perfect sequence" that will keep Madoka from making the Deal with the Devil to turn her into a Magical Girl, with all the horrible things that implies in this world. Since Gen Urobuchi, the series's script writer got his start making Visual Novels, this is probably a subtle nod to the practice.
Not to mention that slowing and stopping time is a favorite trick of Tool-Assisted Speedrunners, with the same weaknesses inherent in the ability. Too bad Homura only has one save state...
In Naruto, Izanagi effectively works this way (at the cost of eye-sight). When an undesired result occurred, reality resets back to before that result so the person initiating Izanagi can change the course of events and have things go how they want.
Gaku starts doing this in Chapter 11 of Murasakiiro No Qualia. By using her phone to link up with herself in other quantum realities, she can find out any possible outcome of any choice, and ultimately pick the best one. Even better(?), when one of her alternate lives ends, she gets all of its memories, meaning that as a 15 year old girl who has never lifted a gun, she is an expert marksman, and has multiple college degrees.
In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou uses a form of this in NT Vol 9. Othinus can't afford for him to die, but wants to break his will, so she kills him and brings him back over and over again. After over 10,000 sessions, she is shocked to find that not only is he not insane or traumatized, he has memorized her attack patterns and can now effortlessly evade her attacks despite remaining physically inferior to her in every way.
In UQ Holder, this is Kirie's form of immortality: she can set a "save point", and if she dies, she returns to that point in time.
in "The Wind of Time" the Raider, after getting his ass kicked by Paperinik, travels in time and has Paperinik's ambush sprung by Angus and the police, forcing him to run and let him steal what he wanted. Upon learning of this, Paperinik complains that the Raider is practically undefeatable, and he's arrested by the Time Police only after he's lured in the one moment he can't time travel his way out of trouble;
in a short story Trip, the son of the Raider, pulls this to perform the decisive save in an hockey match. Then he decides to do it again with his eyes closed, only for the Raider (who was watching the match) to alter probability and have him lose, teaching him to not cheat at sports;
in "Nothing Personal" Odin Eidolon performs a variant: to prevent the Bad Future that happened after the Raider's death and Trip becoming the Griffin and causing the Bad Future, he kidnapped Trip from slightly before the mission in which the Raider's died, causing the Raider to abort the mission and learn what would happen. After returning to the future with Trip, the Raider implies having performed another save scum to still perform the mission without Paperinik getting involved or him dying.
Sorkatani: Sometimes I dream of dying. Those dreams make no sense at the time but later I will find myself in a situation that I recognize. I make sure that I do not do what I did in the dream, and I live. It scared me at first but now those prophetic dreams are almost a comfort.
Roundabout happens in Groundhog Day. The main change is that the resets are forced upon Phil until he gets a "perfect day".
The movie Next essentially featured a character capable of doing this in real life. Being able to see two minutes into your future has its perks...
It seems like the third movie of the Men In Black series has Agent J use this, but a close eye or repeated watchings will show you that the pattern changed between attempts. You have to remember, Boris got to time jump too.
In the film Source Code, the protagonist lives the last 8 minutes in the life of a schoolteacher who is doomed to die in an explosion on a commuter train. However, when he dies, he gets restarted at the start of those 8 minutes. So, basically, his mission is to savescum to find out who blew up the train.
The more recent film adaptation of The Time Machine uses this as a focal point of the plot. The Protagonist invents a time machine specifically to try to prevent a past tragedy. We see him failing to prevent that event every time he travels back in time. It is implied he has tried many more times than the audience has seen.
In X-Men: Days of Future Past, this is essentially how the X-Men in the Bad Future stay ahead of the Sentinels for so long; every time they are about to be wiped out, Kitty sends one of them (usually Bishop) a few days into the past to alert them and avoid the situation that led to them being trapped in the first place.
The primary premise of Edge of Tomorrow. William Cage hijacks the Mimic's ability to start a day over, which means every time he dies he ends up at the beginning of the loop. With a little prompting from another character who went through the same thing, he uses this ability to gain months or years worth of combat experience in seemingly no time at all. At the end of the film, Cage hijacks the aliens a second time by killing the Omega Mimic, which results in all the aliens dying before the human counter attack even happens.
In the Star Trek: Voyager Novel The Escape, Torres, Kim, and Neelix are searching a seemingly deserted planet when they accidentally activate a Time Travel device, violating the laws of the aliens who inhabit the various timelines on the planet. All attempts to escape by the trio are thwarted by the seemingly omniscient aliens, who are really just rewinding the timeline to before the team makes their attempts, sometimes requiring several iterations before the aliens found a favorable outcome.
In the Discworld book Thief of Time, Yetis have learned to do this via a limited control of time. They can and will periodically save their lives before doing a dangerous task so that if they get killed, they'll go back in time and not be such a fool next time. It's mentioned that the species has gone extinct on three separate occasions. The Old Master time monk Lu-Tze later uses this trick himself to delay the Big Bad without needing to pull a Heroic Sacrifice.
In You, Simon designed the WAFFLE game engine to make this impossible. The game saves automatically when you quit, and you can't load up a previous save in-game. The idea was to make player choice more meaningful, but it was a divisive feature that apparently turned off a lot of would-be consumers.
In an episode of Being Erica, Erica is given the power to manipulate time within a single day and uses it to repeatedly hit the reset button on events that don't go her way, including a huge fight with her boyfriend: unfortunately, the boyfriend realises what she's up to and is horrified at what he sees as a violation of his free will.
In Misfits, Curtis's power to rewind time is frequently used this way.
Played relatively straight, albeit in a quite intricate manner in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Cause and Effect", when the Enterprise and her crew are trapped in a timeloop with the ship's destruction marking the loop's "reset point". Over the course of the episode the crew become aware of their fate and develop a way in which they can send information necessary to prevent the chain of event's catastrophic outcome to their (from an outside point of view) future selves.
The Charmed episode "Déjŕ Vu All Over Again" features a "Groundhog Day" Loop. The antagonist is the only one who retains his memory, so his performance against the heroes improves each time. Eventually, Phoebe's power of premonition allows her to retain the memory of the loop, allowing them to defeat the villain for good and break the loop.
The Twilight Zone 2002 episode "Rewind" features a man who gains a magic device that can rewind time up to five minutes. He uses it to make it big at the casino by correcting his mistakes when he plays poker. Unfortunately, he gets greedy and doesn't quit while he is ahead. The casino figures out what is going on (as the owner has a device as well) and confiscates his device, causing him to lose everything.
The plot of Kamen Rider Ryuki effectively centers on this. The Big Bad Shiro Kanzaki instigated the Rider Wars as part of a plan to prevent his Ill Girl sister Yui's death; every time he failed to do so, he would use his Dragon Kamen Rider Odin's TimeVent powers to reset back to an earlier point in time and try again. Eventually, Yui is able to convince her brother that she wouldn't want to live if it meant sacrificing other peoples' lives, and he makes peace with her passing, RetConning the events of the series out of existence.
Anyone used to working on memory-heavy programs, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, will soon develop the nervous tic of using the 'save' keyboard shortcut every couple of minutes, or face the possibility of losing a huge amount of work the next time Flash or Premiere crashes. And more to the point, will equally find their fingers hovering constantly over the 'undo' shortcut keys. Bonus points if this becomes so internalised you find yourself twitching to 'undo' real, non-computer errors.
Through a series of exploits, in Dungeons & Dragons's 3.5 edition, it was possible to cast a series of spells on a psicrystal which would allow you to use it as a "save crystal" of sorts; you would cast a spell that would let you roll back to the start of the round, then a second spell that suspended the crystal in time for a day. If you didn't cancel the spell when it came back, it would then reset time to the start of the round prior to putting the crystal into suspension, resulting in you "reverting" to your last save state.
In City of Reality, a character gets a device from an enemy he was fighting that allows him to rewind time a few seconds, allowing him to take advantage of this trope. He then uses this to get the high score in a videogame...
In Bob and George, Mega Man X goes berserk and starts assimilating the mind of every robot in the lab. George and Bass decide the only viable option is to wipe out his memory, but this might also wipe out the memory of the others, too. When George goes back, he tells him he's now linked into the lab's computer system, and heard their conversation, then he asks George if he's willing to risk wiping out everybody's minds. George's response: "Can I save my game before I decide?"
Specifically noted as one of the Gamemaster's powers in Captain SNES: The Game Masta, as unlike the normal characters, he remembers stuff after a reload, rather than getting intuition and deja vu from it. Also noted as having limitations- he can only reload if he's still in the same world where he saved.
In Homestuck this is the function of a "Hero of Time" player, which every session has at least one of. Their job is to preserve the Alpha timeline and basically go back and reset things if something goes wrong.
http://tasvideos.org/ is the King of Save Scumming, and trying for the best everything without actually editing the ram/rom memory. While editing ram using an external editor is grounds to have a submission disqualified, simply watching the RAM is perfectly fine (and is expected in a handful of cases) and using the game itself to manipulate RAM is also fair game. Most of these cases require specific, precise input on specific, precise frames and loads and loads of trial-and-error.
Wyoming does something like this in Red vs. Blue by rewinding time every time he dies so he can carry out his evil scheme properly. Unfortunately for him, Tucker is aware of these resets and uses his knowledge of what will happen to defeat Wyoming.
Qin Xu of Last Res0rt can rewind time short distances, represented by a row of panels to the side of the comic displaying whatever he just averted.
Jonah Yu of Skin Horse got this power while in the headquarters of Anasigma, with a fixed savepoint that he couldn't update, the reason being rather unclear at the time, as is how long it would keep working.
Coil from Worm can do something like this. His power allows him to split his perception between alternate realities decided by a single different point that he controls before selecting the preferable one, which allows him to try out a strategy in one reality and remain safe in another. He uses this to great effect in manipulating economics and taking over the city.
In one episode of The Batman, a villain with time travel superpowers defeats Batman in a fistfight by rewinding the fight every time he gets beaten, memorising Batman's attacks and adjusting his strategy each time (and trying different Bond One Liners). In the end, he triggers a massive gas leak that kills hundreds, including Batman and his own son, and the trauma makes him revert to years earlier, before he went to prison and got the power to turn time. This time, he chooses not to become a criminal, causing him to become a happy repairman with a still alive son as an apprentice.