I was surprised to see that a feature of the 3DS Virtual Console is the ability to save your game mid way through a session; the 3DS does “saved states” or "restore points" as they are labelled on the 3DS. Considering how protective Nintendo traditionally are over their back catalogue I was surprised the feature is now included as they undoubtedly change the game playing experience, in both good and bad ways.
Obviously, Save States have their benefits. They exist for you to leave a game at any point; saving at your convenience rather than when the game dictates. Being able to save at any point in any game makes even the longest game accessible to those with limited time and it doesn't even matter if the game originally included a way of recording your progress or not. With a game that offers Save States you only ever have to start on the first level once and as a result many older games suddenly become much more enjoyable.
However coupled with this ability to start and end a game in the way you wish comes the opportunity to abuse the feature and save states make any game significantly easier. Saving frequently allows you to avoid making mistakes in a game, as errors can be undone by simply returning to a saved state before the mistake occurred. I can't pretend I'm not guilty of this and have been trying to curb it simply because I think it ruins a game. My love of the 'Mega Man' series is well documented on this blog and these are games infamous for their difficulty. When I got my 3DS the first games in the series were amongst the things I bought straight away from the online eShop. However when playing I found myself using the 'restore point' far more frequently than was healthy. I started by just saving after every boss, to avoid having to write a password down. Then I found myself saving in the middle of a level before a spot I know I'll die several times at and then I started saving after individual tricky jumps just so I wouldn't have to do each one more than once. I like 'Mega Man' games because they are hard and overcoming a difficult section is satisfying. My save state dependency was robbing me of the challenge and was consequently diluting any sense of satisfaction.
It’s one thing to artificially save your progress if you need to put the game down and wish to come back to it at a later time. It's however another thing entirely to save after every successful attack or once you land the prefect jump. The temptation to reload if your next action doesn't go quite the way you'd have hoped becomes far too great to resist. Therein lays the central debate surround Save States. Do they make a game accessible or do they ruin it?
For me I try to forget the feature exists and enjoy the games as they were always intended to be played. It's a noble goal, but it won't last. I need all the help I can get fighting yellow devil.