The secret PS1 feature that saved my childhood

It’s the late 90’s, the rugged beginnings of polygonal gaming, and you’re playing a game on your PS1. You save your progress because you’re a kid and have to get up early for school, or you’re an adult and have to go to work. You think everything is fine, but suddenly the worst happens: you want to free up space on your memory card and You accidentally deleted the wrong file. It’s a sinking feeling I know all too well, but thankfully there was a feature on console to fix this horrible bug. They just had to be quick on the trigger (or, well, four of them).


See, by pressing all four trigger buttons on the PS1 controller simultaneously twice, your deleted file save would come back. It was a very cool feature, especially for its time. While memory cards were the norm back then and games weren’t the monstrosities they are today, they still required a lot of maintenance. Either that or you went out and stacked memory cards like old VHS tapes; I’ve had two during my time as a PlayStation 2 owner.

While you could recover deleted PS2 files, it wasn’t as easy as its predecessor. You had to have access to a computer and also third-party software like Recoverit. It was a huge pain. One thing I’ll never understand about console manufacturers, especially back then, is their need to ditch helpful features that save consumers like us time and money. The feature on the PS1 has really eliminated a lot of anxiety about our fragile little backup files.

Although I didn’t own a PS1, I used my cousins’s a lot and even saved files to their memory card. One morning I was over there and woke up to continue my playthrough of Spyro the Dragon, but the memory card I was using was almost full (they had two and one was more of a common). I wanted to delete my Crash Bandicoot data since we beat the game the day before and accidentally deleted our save file for Crash 3 Warped instead!

I panicked, vigorously practiced my best Shia LaBeouf impression, and whispered “No no no no,” while everyone else in the room slept. I then did what everyone does in excitement with a controller in hand, mashing all the buttons at once. Suddenly the saved file came back and everything was, well, saved! In the midst of my puree I stumbled upon the precious combination of L1, R1, L2, R2 and all was well. Of course I never said anything to my cousin so they wouldn’t ban me from using their PS1 again.

This feature really should have carried over to the PlayStation 2, and Sony should have done more to let people know about this save game trick. Remember, this was the mid-90s – a world of dial-up, AOL test discs, and a general lack of readily available information. Also, I wasn’t the smartest 10 year old and could only activate this feature in a panic, nor did I read gaming magazines back then.

Nowadays we don’t have to worry about deleting the wrong files or even the wrong games as technology has advanced and external hard drives have made tracking game data and games themselves much easier and less stressful. Now all we have to do is back up the files and that’s it. The PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling video game console of all time, with over 157 million units sold worldwide. While it’s possible that Sony wanted to make sure their memory cards sold, given the number of games sold, to date I’ve never had a library as large as my PS2 library, as they take up an entire dresser drawer in mine entertainment system.

But there are probably other reasons why Sony hasn’t brought the feature to the PlayStation 2 – time constraints being the most important among them. This was a very important feature and for Sony not to include it feels like an oversight that we may never get to the bottom of. Anyhow, I’m glad it exists and who knows, chances are it helped make storage technology what it is today. All I know is that I am the 10 year old me very thankful for. The secret PS1 feature that saved my childhood

Lindsay Lowe

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