Synyster Graves

Multiple Functions, One F***ing Button

by on Apr.25, 2012, under Gamer Rages

SEGA Master System Control Pad...simples

Back in the late eighties/early nineties, round about the time I first started playing video games on a regular basis, video game controllers were very simple. My first console was the SEGA Master System II, with the built in Alex Kidd in Miracle World and all, and one controller. This was a simple controller, it had a relatively good D-Pad and two buttons; 1 and 2. It was amazing how many permutations of moves you could do with only two buttons. Take Double Dragon for example, 1 was punch, 2 was kick, but 1+2 was a leaping vertical reverse kick and Direction+1+2 was the trademark flying kick. There was also an elbow attack too but I can’t remember how to do it.

SEGA Mega Drive 3-button and 6-button pads, best pads ever in my opinion

With limited buttons to press you could perform a multitude of functions with different functions. Fast forward to the SEGA Mega Drive we had now 3 buttons (A, B, C) and later with the introduction of Street Fighter style fighting games, extended to the 6 button controller (X, Y, Z, A, B, C). Next for me was the Sony Playstation. This had four buttons at the top (R1, R2, L1, L2) and four to the right (circle, square, triangle, X), and then brought out the analog sticked pad which could also click in the sticks (L3, R3) taking us up to 10 buttons now. This carried on through to the Playstation 2, before I switched allegiance to Microsoft for the Xbox 360, also with 10 buttons, well 12 if you consider the analog sticks can be clicked in.

PSX Dual Shock: innovative and set the trend for analog sticks

Evolution of games has also come along way with so many more things you can do to control characters such as strafing, aiming, searching through inventories, etc which brings me to my whole point of this post…why oh why do most games have to have multiple different actions applicable by the same f**king button? You have ten buttons alone on the pad yet you must insist on having stupid functions like revive team-mate and pick up ammo on the same button press, meaning you could try and help your co-op partner out, but instead grab some bullets? It’s nuts, absolutely f**king nuts. Some games at least prioritise the need to revive a downed partner, like in Gears of War, or Call of Duty and for this there is a dedicated button.

XBOX360: more buttons, more commands per button

Other games are just lazy, and seem to attribute any interaction below the eyeline under one button, meaning there is always the opportunity for doing the wrong command. But this is inexcusable. Considering that modern consoles have 10 buttons available (12 if you count the sticks), there is literally no excuse for having several functions under one button. I don’t accept the excuse for this as a “use” button. “Interact” button is also a bit of a cop out unless it is being specific. I suppose of games like CSI, a generic use button is ok, because you’re ambient, and going around using the gadgets in crime lab. Other games whereby you’re in a bloody great warzone, having a “use” button is total crap. The XBOX 360 is also touch sensitive on certain buttons, so grouping “similar” functions, is complete nonsense.

But consider this.

There are 12 buttons on a modern joypad.

Back on the Master System the combination of the buttons was considered a separate command.

Apply this mathematically as the number of possible combinations of buttons, which in this instance is 12!/12

12!/12 = (12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1) / 12 = 39,916,800 possible combinations

Therefore having several different functions attributed to the same button is just lazy. Even pressing two buttons close together, like the throws in Tekken 6, the guard breaker in Street Fighter is totally acceptable. Personally I find it a fiddle to click down the analog sticks at the best of times, but if you consider how many combinations you can have, one button, five functions is lazy and bad programming. I liked the days when you could properly customise what button did what, but lots of modern games these days don’t give the option, then again they’re trying to phase out the controller entirely in favour of movement sensors in all this Kinect lunacy.

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