Nintendo 64 Controller Pak (1997 – 2003)

The Nintendo 64 Controller Pak was a memory card for the Nintendo 64 game console. Like the PlayStation Memory Card, it was used to save game data and this could be shared with other Nintendo 64 owners.

The Controller Pak plugged into the controller rather than the console itself, and held 256 KB, split into 123 pages with a limitation of 16 save files. Data was not saved on flash memory, but on battery backed SRAM. Bigger memory cards were made by third parties and ranged from around 1-4 MB in size.

Many first-party games typically used on-cartridge storage to store game data. It was mostly third-party games that used the Controller Pak, to save the expense of including memory in the Game Pak itself.

Sources / Resources

Sega Visual Memory Unit (VMU) (1999 – 2001)

The Sega Visual Memory Unit or VMU was used in the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast was the first sixth-generation video game console, preceding the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, and was initially successful in the US. However, interest declined as hype around the launch of the PlayStation 2 increased, and Sega suffered significant losses, discontinuing the Dreamcast in 2001 and withdrawing from the video game console market.

The Visual Memory Unit was a 128 KB memory card that plugged into the controller. Unlike other memory cards for game consoles, the Visual Memory Unit contained a small LCD screen, speaker and control buttons so it could be used as a minimal handheld console separately from the Dreamcast. It could also convey secret gameplay information to the player via the controller.

The Visual Memory Unit also had file manager capabilities, a clock and calendar. They could be connected to another Visual Memory Unit for multiplayer gaming or transfer of files.

The standard Visual Memory Unit colour was white, but many other colours were released, and some branded Visual Memory Units were released in Japan, such as Sonic Team and Hello Kitty.

Sources / Resources

Sony PlayStation Vita memory card (2012 – )

The PlayStation Vita (or PS Vita) is an eighth-generation handheld video game console introduced by Sony in 2011 (reaching Europe in 2012).

The PS Vita has a 5-inch touchscreen, and supports Bluetooth, WiFi and optional 3G. A redesigned thinner and lighter version (PS Vita Slim) was introduced in 2013, and became available in the UK in 2014.

Both versions have slots for PS Vita game cards, and for the proprietary PlayStation Vita memory cards, available with capacities of 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. Some media applications and games require a proprietary PlayStation Vita memory card inserted to be used.

Although very similar in size to Sony’s own Memory Stick Micro, the PlayStation Vita memory card is not compatible and will only work in the PlayStation Vita.

The PlayStation Vita succeeded the PlayStation Portable (which used the Universal Media Disc) that was discontinued in late 2014, and it competes with the Nintendo 3DS.

Sources / Resources

Nintendo GameCube Memory Card (2002 – 2007)

The Nintendo GameCube was a sixth-generation video game console introduced in 2001 in Japan and the US (it became available in Europe in 2002) and was the successor to the Nintendo 64.

It featured two memory card ports for saving game data and Nintendo released three official memory cards: Memory Card 59, which was grey and had a capacity of 512 KB (59 save blocks), Memory Card 251, which was black and had a capacity 2 MB (251 save blocks) and Memory Card 1019, which was white and had a capacity of 8 MB (1019 save blocks).

A few games were known to have compatibility issues with the 8 MB memory card, and at least two games have save issues with any size.

Reception of the GameCube was mixed, but it sold approximately 22 million units and more than 600 games were released for the GameCube before it was discontinued in 2007.

Sources / Resources

Sony PlayStation Memory Card (1995 – 2006)

The PlayStation Memory Card was a proprietary flash memory cartridge for the Sony PlayStation game console, released in 1995 in Europe.

Used for saving game play progress, the capacity of the official Sony Memory Card was 1 MB in fifteen blocks of memory. Some unofficial cards were made with higher capacities, but some games will not save to these. PlayStation Memory Cards could be used in the PlayStation 2.

Its successor, the PlayStation 2, was launched in 2000 with it’s own range of Memory Cards and the PlayStation (by then in redesigned form as the PSOne) was discontinued in 2006.

Sources / Resources

Xbox 360 Memory Unit (2005 – 2010)

The Xbox 360 Memory Unit was a flash-based memory card for the first series of the Xbox 360, a sixth generation game console introduced in 2005.

The memory card was available in three capacities – 64, 256 and 512 MB – and allowed the transfer of saved games, unique gamer profiles, and content downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace to other Xbox 360 consoles. Some game saves and downloaded content could not be copied to memory cards, and what content could be moved was up to the discretion of the individual video game developer.

The Xbox 360 Memory Card was phased out in 2010 with the release of the Xbox 360 S.

Sources / Resources

Sony PlayStation 2 Memory Card (2000 – 2013)

The PlayStation 2 Memory Card was a proprietory flash memory cartridge for the Sony PlayStation 2 game console, released in 2000.

Used for saving game play progress, the capacity of the official Sony Memory Card was 8 MB but some third party manufacturers made unofficial cards with higher capacities.

The PlayStation 2 was backward-compatible with the original PlayStation Memory Card, which had a capacity of 1MB and more rounded corners.

The PlayStation 2 was discontinued in 2013.

Sources / Resources