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Save Scumming is when a player saves excessively so as to be able to undo mistakes by loading an earlier save. This is when a player pauses excessively to slow down or otherwise lower the difficulty of a game. This kind of gameplay is perfectly legal and, in fact, absolutely essential for micromanagement during difficult boss battles in games that feature Real Time with Pause. Some games try to avert this by having the pause menu cover the entire screen, or by not allowing the player to issue commands while pausing; however, some examples where even that can be abused springs to mind.

Examples of Pause Scumming include:

  • In Lemmings Revolution, when you blow up a lemming with the "bomber" command, just before exploding, the lemming in question crouches. If you pause while he's crouching, you can give him another command (like "build") and thus save him from exploding. This trick is absolutely necessary on some of the later levels in which you must save every single lemming.
  • In the first Mega Man game there were two pause buttons, Start and Select. Pausing with Select did not pause Mercy Invincibility (which almost every boss had), thus if you repeatedly pause and unpause with good timing you can deal massive damage with a single Thunder Beam.
    • In fact, this was the easiest way to beat various late-game bosses in the original Nintendo Hard game, particularly Yellow Devil.
    • In the earlier Megaman games, it's also possible to go to your weapons menu just as you're about to be hit by an attack, and when you resume, the projectile will pass right through Mega Man. Pausing and unpausing also allows Mega Man to stay airborne longer, allowing you to make longer jumps than usual. These little bugs were fixed in later games, however.
  • In Rock Band 3, when the player pauses and unpauses in the middle of a song, the track scrolls back a few bars to help the player catch up after a pause, which can be abused to split up a really hard track into smaller, manageable sections. While this has never been outright fixed, the game was eventually patched so that players who pause often will have their scores nullified.
  • There is a very easy way to beat a rather difficult but initially non-hostile boss Firkraag in Baldur's Gate II, which consists of right-clicking on him as if to talk, pausing the game, and manually ordering your party to attack him instead. Since the game locks him in dialogue mode, he will not aggro and fight back until you are about half-way through his HP.
    • In all Baldur's Gate games, when fighting a mage or wizard near a doorway to another screen, pausing right as they start their spell and clicking the door would cause your character to run out the door leaving the area just before getting hit by the spell. By repeatedly abusing this trick, you could make spellcasters run out of spells and thus force them to attack you hand to hand, which could turn even the most powerful wizard into a pathetically easy fight.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles and its sequel, the unit you are controlling, (and only the unit you are controlling) will be exposed to suppression fire, whether he or she is stationary, behind cover, or moving. However, enemies will mysteriously cease fire the moment you take aim. This leads to one or two different playstyles. The player will usually either run fast, shoot, and stop controlling the character; or walk, aim, walk, aim, walk, aim....
  • Battling the Pop-pup enemy from Mega Man Battle Network plays like a game of whack-a-mole, so pausing lets you spot him without the need for lightning fast reflexes. The fight with Drillman.exe is similar.
    • Also Chaos Unisons in 5. They let you use darkchips without lowering your max HP, but as a charge attack that constantly shifts between being safe and very dangerous to use. So, pause the game. If the charge orb is purple, take your finger off the button.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III, IV, and V, you can enter the game menu, which pauses the game, at any time. In this menu, you can drink an unlimited number of potions or change armor in a nick of time, even in the middle of combat.
    • In the background fluff, this (and save-scumming, among other things) is a canon ability of certain individuals in the world. Notably player characters and some kings.
  • The Final Fantasy games have several examples:
    • Many of the games with the "Active Time Battle" system (4 thru 9, and X-2) have an option to pause the ATB clock when a player accesses an in-battle submenu (magic, items, etc.), but any in-progress attack animations will continue to execute. As a result, the player can gain a slight speed advantage by opening the menu whenever a party member executes an action, to prevent enemy turns from coming up while the attack animation takes place.
      • Final Fantasy V had a low-level Time spell called "Speed" which, while not providing an actual speed boost, paused the ATB timer whenever a character's turn came up so that the player can decide on an action without enemy turns occuring in the process.
      • In the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, the ATB timer automatically pauses when any combatant starts executing their action, making the system impossible to exploit.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, pressing and holding the Square button during combat hides the user interface until you release the button. This can be used to abuse a couple of mechanics that use slot reels, because the reels don't move while the interface is hidden. For example, this makes it easy to force a specific outcome off the slots that dole out handicaps in the game's Monster Arena.
      • Playing this game on the PSP makes it ridiculously easy to control the slots. Pressing the Home button completely pauses the game, Slots included. If you line up the slot as you want it, press and hold Circle. It both exits the Home menu and instantly stops the slot.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the player can enter the party menu any time, during combat or otherwise. This enables such things as removing equipment from characters who are under Confusion ailment and about to murder a party member, or switching accesories and armour to nullify the effect of a status ailment or elemental spell the enemy is readying.
  • In Jak II, it really helps to pause during the seer's minigame and during the whack-a-Metalhead machine minigame.
  • Here's how to beat anything in Divine Divinity: drop a teleport stone in a safe place nearby, walk into an area with dangerous enemies, pause, drop a scorpion trap or three (unleashing a ridiculously strong scorpion that attacks any hostiles nearby), pause, click the other teleport stone to teleport away, rest for a few hours, and return to the area to find everything dead.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time you can use a variant of this when racing the ghost of Dampe. Since his tomb is one of the few locations that warp songs won't work in, you can abuse the error message playing one generates. You are free to move during the textbox, and it won't deduct time from the countdown. Watch this in action in this video.
  • There were controllers made for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System that was designed with a button that constantly turned the pause button on and off, giving the player more time to react.
  • This is one of the only ways to get past Blockhead Grande in Okami. He has eight weak points to remember, which must be struck precisely and in order (and change randomly after each try), many players considered the best way to do it to pause and write them down as each one is revealed (or record it on a camera).
  • In Blaster Master, it's possible to beat some of the bosses by hitting them with grenades and pausing at the right moment. If you do it right, the boss will keep taking damage while paused.
  • In the first Super Smash Bros game, if you pause after every frame of movement, then the on-screen timer won't clock forward. This makes it possible to complete the Break the Targets and Board the Platforms challenges with a time of 0:00.
  • Defied on Starcraft, as each player can pause the game only 3 times.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, it was discovered that the charge-up time between selecting a skill or spell and its actual execution continues to elapse even when the player accesses a menu; thus the player can select a spell then switch to their menu so the character doesn't take damage before the spell executes. However, this also works on enemies preparing spells to attack you with....
  • In the special stages in the Sonic Rush Series series (and the DS version of Sonic Colors), you control Sonic using the touchscreen. By moving the stylus across the screen, you move Sonic around to the left and right. The thing is, Sonic doesn't actually move towards where you're touching, he just instantly appears at any spot you touch. So if you're having trouble, you can pause the game, touch the area you want Sonic to be at, and unpause to have him appear there much faster than you would normally be able to move your hand.
  • Twisted Metal 2 implemented the pause feature in an odd way. Your car and the enemy cars would stop dead as expected, but projectiles would continue as normal, the sole exception being the ricochet bomb. With timely use of the pause button you could land every single Roadkill boomerang, every single Sweet Tooth ice cream cone, every single freeze missile, break out of a Mr. Slam infinite freeze missile loop, blow up opponents with their own mines (because the delay before they arm didn't stop when the game was paused, of course) and avoid running into projectiles fired in front of you. The list goes on. Conversely, you could also die during the pause screen.
  • BioWare's games (most notably Neverwinter Nights 2, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age) actively encourage pause-scumming to set up party tactics.
  • In Ninja Saga (A Facebook game), you are allowed to change weapons in the pause screen during battle. Different weapons give different bonuses to dodging, criticals, and some other boosts, but the most powerful weapons (at least, the most powerful you can get without paying in real world money) have no bonuses. So a cheap advantage you can get is to equip the weapons that have bonuses while you're using moves, and go back to using the strong weapons when you run out of chakra.
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