When news emerged that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D featured save files that could not be erased, the community was a little upset. Capcom claimed it was nothing to do with combating preowned game sales but also backed up its argument with unconvincing technical explanations that smelled suspiciously like the aftermath of some sort of bovine-laxative interaction. They did, however, follow up the controversy by noting that the company probably wouldn't be trying that approach again.
However, that doesn't stop other companies incorporating the same permanent, non-erasable save system. Namco's recent Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions for 3DS is the latest title to take this approach. The game saves your most recent high score for each of the component games in the package, as well as a set of Achievement-like awards for completing certain goals, but despite the best efforts of Chris Kohler over at Wired and various other community members, no-one's found a way to reset the save data.
In a game based entirely around high scores, this has the potential to be immensely frustrating for those who purchase a preowned copy. Imagine being stuck with a copy featuring high scores so unreasonably high that you can never hope to beat them -- since the package only records the most recent and highest score achieved on each component game, you'd then have no way of tracking your own progress besides using a pen and paper or a camera. The achievement system also gives a sense of "progression" that you'd miss out on with a preowned copy that had been played to death.
There's no good technical reason for save data to be unerasable on the 3DS -- the system's game cards use EEPROM or flash memory to store information, both of which are rewritable. And data which is saved directly to the 3DS' own system memory must be erasable by design. Therefore, the only conclusion we can really reach is that adoption of this "permasave" system is a means to combat used game sales.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions Features Non-Erasable Permasaves