August 27, 2006

[OPINION] Top 10 Buttons

Oh crap, it’s summer and there are like no games coming out. But we have to write something or else people will stop visiting our site and go surfing for porn or, worse, IGN. Crap! We need a really easy feature story that we can crank out like RIGHT NOW. Kyle, can you write up some sort of top ten list or something to fill out our features for the month? Something like “top ten controller buttons” but not so stupid. Just make up some stuff… it doesn’t matter what you pick, as long as it fits our word minimum.

I need a drink.


(Pasted here to remind me of the assignment. Editor: cut out the above)

1. Start (NES): Where would we be without the start button? Probably still watching the attract mode in Super Mario Bros., that’s where! Sure, hitting A or X or, um, any other button will often function just as well to start a game, but there’s something about following that “Press Start” instruction to the letter that makes beginning your gameplay experience that much richer. As if that wasn’t enough, the start button lets you pause your game so you can go get a cheeseburger (except in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! where trying to pause makes you do an uppercut when you were JUST ABOUT THE FINALLY BEAT SODA POPINSKI BUT NOW YOU WASTED YOUR STAR AND DAMNIT! GET UP! GET UP DAMNIT! CRAP!)

2. A (NES): Pop quiz: What button has allowed players to jump, fire weapons, um… hit things… um… talk to people… OK, the answer is A. I was going to write about how multifunctional this button is, but man, most of the time it does like one of three or four things. And the one on the GameCube is so big it might as well be the whole controller. GOD! Well, I’ve already written this whole thing out, so I guess I’ll leave it at No. 2.

3. Z (N64): While other buttons have their merits, the Z button beats them all in one key area… resembling a gun trigger (EDIT: The trigger on the zapper actually resembles a trigger better, but who the hell cares? Thanks, Killstopher007!) The Z trigger inspired an entire generation of kids to point their controller at each other and yell “BANG!” and then throw the controller at their siblings like a batarang when they realized pretend violence is much less effective than real violence when you want your sister to just give you a bite of her freaking cheeseburger.

4. R (SNES): Back when I was in elementary school, some friends and I had a club called the “Hyper Nintendo Fan Club” (“HNFC”) (later renamed as the “Hyper Nintendo Fan Club That Hates Matt (Because He’s Dumb)” (“HNFCTHM(BHD)”)). We had lots of fun gathering behind the backstop at lunch discussing the finer points of Zelda strategy and throwing bags of dirt at girls (and Matt, because he’s dumb). We also discussed what would be on our dream controller. The number one feature of our dream controller was a dispenser that spit out cheeseburgers, but number 2 or 3 was “something to do with my right index finger.” I’m convinced that there was a spy working for Nintendo in our group, because the R button was introduced in the SNES and, as your probably know, the cheeseburger dispenser is being planned for the upcoming Wii console.

5. R (Dreamcast): You might be wondering why there are no L buttons on this list, while the R button is thrice represented. Just the fact that you’re asking this question shows your ignorance. There is a natural order to the design of a controller. The left hand is used to move your character (with a directional pad or analog stick), while the right hand is used to hit buttons. It worked for the NES. It worked for the Atari 2600 (if you held it the right way). Things were good. Then the L button came along on the SNES and broke the natural, god-given balance of the controller. Suddenly, players had to used their left hand to hit buttons AND move the player. Controllers were forever changed for the worse. And while the concept of left-handed buttons has brought us benefits like the Z trigger, (see No. 3) the downsides painfully outweigh the upsides of this introduction. Anyway, the Dreamcast R button is on here beause it’s analog.

6. Black (Xbox): Darker-colored buttons have suffered a lot in the past, relegated mainly to the ghetto of the shoulder buttons or the rarely used “select” and “start” just to fit in with their brighter colored neighbors like “A” and “X”. The Xbox’s black button was tired of it! Though it still is relegated to an out-of-the-way corner of the smaller Xbox controller, it isn’t afraid to say “I’m here, I’m black, and I’m PROUD!” While black’s brave example has yet to be taken up by other controller buttons, this button will no doubt be remembered by future generations as the button that broke the controller color barrier for other colored buttons like Chartreuse and Plaid.

7. R2 (PlayStation): Some consider R2 to be a pale shadow of R (or R1), but I feel R2 shines in its own unique way. The “2” in its name, for instance. Plus it fast-forwards on PlayStation 2 DVDs, so you can get through those stupid FBI warnings while R1 skips you all the way to the second scene. (EDIT: I’ve been told you can use the R1 button to skip to the next scene, getting through the FBI warning even faster! Thanks Killstopher007!)

8. Button (Atari 2600): This button is so important it doesn’t even have a name. While future controllers would insist that more than one button was necessary for doing more than one function, the Atari 2600 button knew that any game with more than one function was utter crap! This single, vibrant red button was completely at peace with it’s singular nature, in perfect harmony with its system and its controller. The button is truth. The button is love. The button is the button!

9. Eject (SNES): This button gets a bad rap from people who say it’s easier and quicker to just pull the cartdirge out of an SNES without hitting the eject button. What they don’t know is that the Eject button actually discharges all the built-up electricity that has gathered on the cartridge while you were playing the game, making it safe to remove. Want proof? Read this letter for Electronic Gaming Monthly issue #46 (the one with Street Fighter 2 on the cover. No, the other one. No… the other one. Yeah, that one.)

Like, this one time, my friend Tim, right? He tried to yank out Super Mario Kart without hitting eject, right? Because he wanted to play Final Fight, right? But I told him that if he didn’t hit the eject button he could get hurt and mess up the game and himself (and that Final Fight was stupid and so was he), right? And then he TOTALLY got zapped with, like, a ZILLION volts of electricity ‘cuz we had been playing Mario Kart for 54 hours straight, right? Anyway, just thought you should know.

Moral: use the eject button.

10. Eject (Steel Battalion): Name me another button that has its own protective plastic shield? I rest my case!

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