The Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita have a miracle feature: Sleep Mode. With the 3DS, I close the clamshell; with the Vita, I quickly press the power button.
The system goes into a power-saver mode. I open up the clamshell or tap the power button again, and I’m right back to where I was.
Why is this a miracle?
I have a newborn. He cries, as babies are wont to do. And babies can’t be placated with the “Let me find a save point” argument that I used to pull with my wife. And sometimes he can be calmed down and asleep in five minutes; sometimes I may not get back to the game until the next day.
Before my son was born, I derived a lot of anxiety from trying to find a place to save my game. And once I found a save point, knowing where my next one will come from. Can I find another save point before I need to stop? Every road trip and every gaming session would end 30 minutes early, because I didn’t want to lose progress because I was unable to find a save point.
This was especially troublesome with portables. With consoles, I could leave my system on for days and come back to it. With a portable, I may only have a few hours before the system dies.
I never played Turok 2 because I heard stories that save points were two hours apart and really hard to find. I have no idea of if these stories are true, but I believed them.
The first few Resident Evil games gave the player a finite amount of saves, in the form of ink ribbons. I could not waste one of my ink ribbons just because the baby is crying. On top of not knowing where the next typewriter was, I also was contending with limited opportunities to save.
But now, it’s easy. Just play until the last possible second, then pop the system into Sleep Mode.
 “Oh no! Push the power button?” There’s no way to accidentally shutting the Vita off. To turn the Vita off, a player must hold the Power button for a few seconds. At that point, the Vita brings up a prompt on the touch screen to turn the system off or cancel. So if you press the Power button and the screen goes dark without seeing that prompt, then the system’s in Sleep mode. I mention this PSP-3000 had a power slider – moving it to one point turned the system off, another point put it into Sleep mode, which wasn’t well communicated. To be perfectly honest, the PSP’s Power Button was the bane of my existence for many years, but we’ll get to that subject another day.