I usually reserve this space on TAY for informative news articles and opinion pieces, all of which I pour a great deal of professionalism and love into, but today I'm just grumpy and sleep-deprived, so let's talk about region restrictions... And how they damn near almost ruined my life forever for a day.
I recently turned 21, and please hold your applause. It was mostly uneventful due to my rather lonesome lifestyle. I'm an introvert in many ways, a stark contrast to the me of 2008. Time has a funny way of eroding your spirit and morphing your very being, and it's because of this that I spend a great deal of my time and money on games.
For my 21st it was mostly me and my girlfriend celebrating it low-key style with a cheapo dinner and a night of games. Being the woman she is, I can't stop her from reading my mind and on this particular day she had used that skill to knock my 21st birthday present out of the park. She had handed me a package of approximate PS3 game height and width but of unusual depth. I tore open the gift wrapping to find a copy of the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection staring me in the face.
And I damn near EXPLODED with gratitude. HOLY FUCK DARLING HOW DID YOU GET THIS?
She explained to me that she had bought it months prior and had got it right before a price hike. She'd heard me mention it maybe twice before over a year ago but I'd never gotten round to treating myself.
(My abundance of Metal Gear articles may lead you to believe I'm somewhat a fan. And you'd be correct.)
I popped in the disks ready to give the dog tag achievement another go around on another difficulty, as this achievement requires you play the game 5 times to completion on each of its difficulty settings... Only to find my save games were either seemingly missing from my PlayStation or were being read as corrupt.
I looked at the game case again and immediately noticed the ESRB rating on it. 17+ Mature. Obviously the rating will have no affect on my saves, duh, but the REGION that the rating is used in, for some reason, most certainly does. My girlfriend had unknowingly imported a copy from the US, and after months of excitement and waiting she had to watch as I told her that my number one gift was incompatible with my previous save data and couldn't be used. As an added bonus the download code for MGS1 and it's VR Missions expansion included within, of course, didn't work either.
What I needed to see was this little rating symbol for the British Board of Film Classification:
I don't need to make the joke about how Metal Gear is so cutscene heavy that it needs to be rated by a film classification board.
Anyway, I was mortified. My girlfriend was positively depressed (and suffers from depression so this was a serious issue.) My 21st very quickly became an upsetting time and almost ruined the course of my entire future. Here in the UK it's typically said by complete dickbags that if your 21st is bad your life will be bad. Yikes.
What I don't understand is how two identical pieces of software can
1. Require completely different update packages and mandatory installs (this was the first sign that something was wrong.)
2. Require save data from that region in order to be compatible, and most importantly
3. Why is this even a God damned thing in the first place??
Needless to say I did all that I could in order to seek a refund for this package and the seller was very pleasant and helpful, and agreed to refund my girlfriend on the grounds that they had not listed it correctly as an import. This money then went towards a used copy on eBay that is suitable and I'm basically just very lucky to have found a UK version at all.
It turns out the eBay seller was getting rid of his PS3 and all of its games too. As a goodwill gesture for using the code on the Legacy Collection that I'd bought from him, he added the PlayStation Platinum edition of Metal Gear Solid 1! Woohoo! Retro as all hell!
It did however put a horrible twist on what was supposed to be a happy day, even if it does signify that I'm now no longer a special little child and that I'm beginning my transition into the jaded portion of my short and rather mediocre life. I just wanted to play some Metal Gear, yo. Needing to scout eBay due to a clerical error is not my idea of a good 21st. That's like having a good time on The Sims by meticulously planning what groceries your make-believe Lannister family will live on, i.e. you don't.
I think the thing I'd like to stress the most is that, Darling, I'm so sorry if my reaction was sub par once I'd discovered the issue. I love you endlessly and now that everything is right with the world, we can both enjoy confusing narratives and a pleasant balance of crazy humour mixed with some seriously mind-blowing deep shit. Metal Gear Solid is something that I am so glad to be able to cherish with you again and again for many years to come... Just please, mind your imports.
And you dear reader, as you're probably reading this from the USA you might not have much to worry about. Being an International Superpower you naturally also have the upper hand in stocking limited release titles, such as this Zone Of The Enders Limited Edition HD Collection that I'm now eyeing.
Yes, another fudging IMPORT. At least I don't have any previous save data or DLC to worry about. This is a game from a much simpler time.
Basically just mind your imports if you have previous save data from another region. That is all.