All consoles with memory cards (including Nintendo 64) kept reminding you that it's very important to not turn off the power while it's saving, because this would corrupt the save file.

But for the Nintendo 64 games which had the save feature built into the cartridge, such as Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask (both using different in-cartridge storage technologies, BTW), there is never any mention that you need to be careful to not turn off the console while saving. It seems to either (former) save instantly, with zero waiting whatsoever, or (latter) it's unclear when exactly it actually does save, especially when playing the Song of Time which plays a long animation where you travel back through time.

What if somebody were to stand next to the console and, while pressing the final button to save in the game, immediately switch off the console's power? Would not this inevitably corrupt the save file? And if so, why isn't there any kind of warning about this, when consoles made before and after the aforementioned games consistently mention how bad it is to turn off the power while saving?

Also, if the save feature in the cartridge is so superior, why didn't they use the same technology for the memory cards as well?

  • Just a guess, but if these cartridges used battery-backed RAM, then perhaps a save file isn't actually stored permanently as such, but is simply an area of RAM that's powered on all the time. This of course would still need copying to, but it would be fast enough such that the idea of cutting the power mid-write would be minimal.
    – Matt Lacey
    Dec 20, 2022 at 15:03
  • Corruption is certainly not inevitable. For instance, if the cartridge has enough space, they can write the new file to some available region of storage, and then have a "valid" flag which is atomically set when finished. Under such a scheme, if you switched off the power, you might get the new file or not, but in any case the old files would remain intact (other than perhaps whichever one had to be deleted to free up space). Modern databases and filesystems do similar but fancier things. Dec 20, 2022 at 22:36
  • Have you looked in the games' manuals for the warning you're looking for?
    – knol
    Dec 21, 2022 at 13:42


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