Christmas Memory, Meg Pelliccio: Memory Card Not Included

By the time 2002 rolled around, I was firmly in the Final Fantasy camp. I had game magazine clippings on my bedroom walls, figures on my shelves, and I replayed every PlayStation Final Fantasy game I owned religiously. I didn’t have a PlayStation 2 at the time, but when Final Fantasy 10 launched in May, I knew I had to get one. Only one kid in my class had it, and he used to bring the manual into school so all of us nerds could gather around in the library to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the pictures of the characters and the boring details we’d never usually read so much .

I begged my parents to get me a PlayStation 2 and Final Fantasy 10. I don’t think I stopped talking about it all year, and eventually, I wore them down. They agreed it could be a joint birthday and Christmas present. My birthday is in November, but understandably, I had to wait until Christmas before I could get my hands on it.

I don’t know about you, but we were never allowed to open our main Christmas presents straight away on Christmas day. We could open our stocking fillers as we pleased, then we had to do the whole thing of ensuring everyone was awake and take turns opening gifts, though the biggest presents always came last. It was easy to single out my large console box with a separate slim gift on top, and I can’t even remember what else I received that year. I had tunnel vision. All I wanted was that console.

I won’t forget the feeling of ripping off that foil paper and seeing that PS2 logo emblazoned across the bright blue box. It took some additional nagging to convince my parents to let me run into the spare room and set it up, as it’s a pretty anti-social thing to do on Christmas Day, but they eventually relented.

Back then, I thought Final Fantasy was the pinnacle of games. As I sat and watched the opening scene of Tidus playing Blitzball, I truly believed graphics could never get any better than what was in front of me at that very moment. Everything amazed me. Voiced dialogue, impressive visuals, an exciting new story and characters to fall in love with, and it felt like I had all the time in the world to enjoy it during the holidays.

When I was called away from the world of Spira for Christmas dinner, my heart dropped. I couldn’t save. I didn’t have a memory card. My parents weren’t tech-savvy, so they had no idea I needed one. Stores weren’t open on Christmas Day, of course, nor were they open on Boxing Day back then. I was screwed.

I spent the next two days living in fear that one of my older siblings (who loved to wind me up) would switch off the console just to torment me and make me lose all my hard-earned progress. On the morning of December 27, I dragged my Dad into town the moment the stores were open, so I could get an 8MB memory card (at an extortionate price, mind you) and then quickly raced back home to save.

Somewhere between the Final Fantasy Christmas and my current Christmas as a games journalist, I worked for a few years at a Game store. The memory of that missing memory card always stayed with me. Many friends and relatives purchasing for gamers at Christmas often don’t realise what they need, so I always tried to ensure they had everything for that perfect Christmas. Memory cards were a thing of the past by that point, but most parents ran afoul of not getting PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold for an online-only game, or not realising they needed that damn wireless dongle for the original Xbox 360. You’d also be surprised how many customers bought a Kinect game without realising they needed the Kinect to go with it.

I sometimes wonder if whoever my parents bought the console from had tried to explain about the memory card, but my parents had declined, believing they were being upsold on some optional junk. Perhaps the sales assistant didn’t even try. Whenever I buy my kid things for Christmas, I make sure I find out what he needs so I don’t get nagged for two days straight over the holidays. I must have been an absolute brat about it, and I don’t want to deal with that myself. Sorry mum and dad.

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