The Best Buttons of All Time
Press "A" to be awesome.
Press A to jump, press X to hit, press RT to shoot, press B to put me to sleep, am I right? So many games use buttons all the time and they just do the most boring things you can imagine. You have to use them to finish levels and beat opponents and whatever, but what about using them for the really important stuff? Very few games use buttons to do things that are truly unique and appeal to our darker, immature inner selves, but when they do it can be excellent, sophomoric fun. So, turn on that middle school brain of yours and revel with me in the best uses for game buttons of all time.
Army of Two Series
So many games put you in the shoes of bros, douche bags, tools, and meatheads, but only the Army of Two games have taken the experience of inhabiting a duder to its pinnacle. Strutting around and flashing your big guns (flesh and steel types, natch) while growling out witty catch phrases can be pretty satisfying, but lots of games do that stuff. Sometimes you need to show your partner-in-destruction that you appreciate him being there and helping out. Army of Two provides this necessity with the integration of a camaraderie (a.k.a. fist-bump) button.
After a job well done, nothing shows your pal that you care about him more than an elaborate fist-bump routine or some other two-man celebration involving air guitars and devil horn hand gestures. Army of Two games are the only ones out there that give you the means of sharing a tender moment like this, and since it’s so easy to perform, there’s no reason not to get in touch with your bud over and over again.
Smoking was the activity of bad boys and rebels until we all realized those tubes of paper were actually tubes of cancer. Now that states and cities are outlawing the practice of lighting up all across the U.S.A., catching someone smoking in a movie or TV show is a downright rarity. Not in Vanquish, though. In fact, smoking becomes an actual useful part of the game.
When you’re hiding behind cover trying to pick off the Russians, a quick click of a button will make the hero, Sam, fire up a cig. He takes a few puffs of pure enjoyment and then tosses it out from behind his hideaway. What good is this? Well, the enemy mooks that have him pinned down are distracted by the flying ash and will temporarily blast away at the cigarette butt as it arcs through the air, buying Sam precious seconds to poke his head out and pick off a few unaware Russkies.
Don’t let its usefulness confuse you, though. More often than not it’s fun to just let Sam lean back and have a smoke in the middle of a bunch of chaos. If smoking was the activity for twentieth century tough guys, in Vanquish’s future timeline, only the biggest bruiser who doesn’t fear death would light up as often as Sam does.
Mario Kart Double Dash
Opinion is pretty split on whether or not the Mario Kart franchise has run its course and is just a repetitive annoyance at this point. Everyone can agree, however, that it was immediately annoying to have someone you were racing against start spamming Daisy’s taunt button and unleash an endless stream of “Hi! I’m Daisy!” right into your ears. Yeah, anything from any of these characters over and over again can get irritating, but Daisy is in a separate, super echelon that nobody else can touch.
The only thing that makes this button-pressing annoyance enjoyable to anyone is if you’re the one doing the pressing. And press you should, as terrorizing an entire living room full of good-natured kart racers is beyond compare to any sort of online tea-bagging and griefing you can unleash in an M-rated game. You can actually see your friends getting pissed off and feel them punch you in the arm – features not yet available through online multiplayer. It’s a great way to prove that every video game ever made can cause violence by goading a roomful of chums with “Hi! I’m Daisy! Hi! I’m Daisy! Hi! I’m Daisy! Hi! I’m Daisy!”
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
The ‘80s vision of the future was filled with badassery and backtalk, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon brings this vision to life. Yeah, a great way to prove your machismo in an imagined timeline was with cheeseball one-liners about how you’re blowing stuff up. Even better though, is to unleash a truly classic gesture: the middle finger.
The makers of Blood Dragon packed their game with gags and jokes, but throwing in the ability to flip the bird at will was the pinnacle of game that was already pretty funny. You could milk the game of every bit of content and never even realize that pushing down on the left stick would unleash Rex Power Colt’s one-finger-salute to a dispatched foe or an irritating boar, but the gesture is there for you to enjoy. So, push that stick whenever you get a free moment. It’s what Rex would want you to do.
Age of Empires II
Playing online multiplayer over a dial-up modem was a bit iffy. Add in playing a game over MSN and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. This could lead to massive bouts of impatience while Age of Empires II players waited for everyone to queue up and click all the correct options in the multiplayer lobby. Make sure you’re on the right team, have the right race, have all the options set right and somewhere in the middle of that, a pre-recorded “START THE GAME ALREADY!” starts to bust into your pre-game Zen state. Then it happens again, and again, and again, overlapping itself into an irritating “STA-STA-STA-STA-STA-START THE GAME ALREADY!” chant that is sure to irritate even the most stoic of RTS players.
One of a series of pre-programmed voice commands, typing 14 into the lobby or in-game chat window makes the pre-recorded crowd unleash this chant. It becomes a round-robin, mutually assured destruction onslaught of this single taunt as the final moments tick down in the lobby before the game even begins and everyone frantically types those two keys over and over. An especially annoying player might also 14-14-14 the other players in the middle of the match to truly annoy his competitors and teammates.
Instead of worrying about your favorite character’s reimagined hairstyle or games with always-online requirement, maybe we should be harassing developers to give us more buttons as wonderful as these. I suppose we still need to jump and shoot and stuff, but they should also try to squeeze in the occasional taunt, celebration, middle finger, or something else entirely new and clever. This hobby is supposed to be fun, so devs should try to pack a bit more enjoyment into every button available. Let me know which great buttons I missed and I’ll do my best not to go all “Hi! I’m Daisy!” on you.