Introduction: what are memcards?
Memory cards are an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital information. The standard Playstation 2 memory card has an 8 MB capacity and uses Sony's MagicGate encryption, which is a copy-protection technology introduced by Sony in 1999 as part of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) which works by encrypting the content on the device and using MagicGate chips in both the storage device and the reader to enforce control over how files are copied.
The PCSX2 emulator stores memory card information in the memcards subfolder of your PCSX2 configuration folder. Following the PS2's 2-card format the emulator names both memcards Mcd001.ps2 and Mcd002.ps2, which use the emulator's native .ps2 file format. Similarly these files are also around 8 MB in size just like the physical Sony PS2 memory cards.
To confirm that these .ps2 files are being used by the emulator, start it and select "Memory cards" from the Config menu option. The configuration window which then appears will display the current memcards in use, their actual file locations, etc.
Memcards are separate and distinct from emulator savestates. They are an emulated PS2 function, not a native emulator function.
Currently most PS2 memcard functions are emulated and considered usable.
To view the contents of your memory cards, start the PCSX2 emulator and select "No disc" from the CDVD menu option, then boot the emulator. After the short animation select "browser" and you will be able to view, copy, and delete saves from the two memory cards.
It is a good idea to keep current backups of your memcards. All you need to do is simply copy the .ps2 files in the memcards folder then move the copy to a folder in your archive. This way you can create as many archive folders as you want, for example renamed per game so that you can keep your game disc ISOs together with the memcard containing their saves for easy future access.
Since memcard files are just like any other file, you can quickly create a fresh empty memcard simply by copying a memcard and storing the copy somewhere safe, then deleting all the saves from the memcard.
Occasionally you may come across other sources of memcard information not your own, for example memcard saves obtained from popular gaming-related websites like GameFAQs. Currently as of version 0.9.7 build r3878 there are no memcard plugins or converters so you will need a 3rd-party utility in order to import memcard saves.
myMC is a popular memcard utility that allows you to import various file formats such as PS3 Virtual Memory Card saves, CodeBreaker saves, Max Drive saves, Action Replay saves, etc (there is not a known list or documentation for myMC so if you have access to this information please feel free to add it here - however, myMC does support the most common ones you'll encounter).
To use it, run the mymc-gui.exe executable. By default it will automatically prompt you to select a memcard file so point it at one of your .ps2 memcards, or you can do this later by selecting "Open" to choose another memcard.
Importing saves using myMC
Once you have a memcard opened, to import save information simply click on the import button and navigate to where the save is. If the format is supported the file will be visible for selection, so all you need to do is select it and it will be imported into the memcard you opened.
Yes, it's as easy as that. You can verify that the save has been imported into your memcard by booting the emulator and browsing to the memcard.
- Memcards work most of the time, however there are still occasional problems. Make backups of your memcards, it is as simple as copy-pasting the .ps2 files.
- Some games have separate saves for the actual game saves and 'achievement' saves.
- One example is Star Ocean 3 (officially known as Star Ocean: Till the End of Time), which has a separate memcard save called the Battle Trophy save. When making memcard backups for this game make sure to copy both game saves as well as the Battle Trophy save. (The battle trophies are achievements which unlock additional features so if you don't copy the Battle Trophy save you will need to re-acquire the battle trophies all over again.)
- Occasionally for whatever reason when saving a game during any game, the memcard has been observed to get corrupted. You can confirm this by booting the emulator to the memcard browser and checking the saves on it. For this reason make sure to create backups of your memcard files.
- Since computer hard drives have exponentially larger capacity than memcards it is recommended to keep a separate memcard for each game. Even if you had 800 games this only amounts to a mere 800 MB, not even reaching 1 GB. Unlike PC games no matter how many saves you make in a game they all fit in the memcard; PC game saves will continue to increase in size the more characters and saves you create. However, PS2 games (like most console games) generally grant the player a limited number of save slots to use.
- Savestates can interfere with memcards - if you have a savestate of a game where you started from fresh with no memcard save and continue to not make any memcard saves, later if you import a memcard save the game will not be able to find it if you simply load from that savestate.
- YMMV. In general, although savestates and memcard saves are two different things, it is possible for a savestate to "remember" that you started the game with no memcard save in the slot: which explains why you can't simply swap in a memcard with a save for that game.
- You should be safe if you normally boot games from the disc and load a memcard save, then proceed playing and using savestates from there, and quit the game after making a final memcard save. Relying on savestates to continue where you left off directly instead of loading from a memcard can lead to inconsistencies. Most of the time you should be okay but occasionally you can run into situations where the savestate insists you do not have a valid memcard save.
- In case this happens, simply reboot the game and load from the memcard save normally, instead of directly loading from the savestate. Later savestates should remember that you started from a memcard save and will not repeat the problem.