B.U.T.T.O.N.

8.0 Overall Score

Written by on March 16, 2011 in

After a number of very stern, scary warnings and selecting the number of players (The game supports up to eight players on two controllers.), B.U.T.T.O.N. begins displaying instructions on the screen. Put down your controller. Take a number of steps back. Do something silly—perhaps take a ninja pose or maybe sit on the ground and hold hands with all the players. Soon, you’ll hear the tones as the game counts down 3, 2, 1. Now, you and all the other players must rush to the controller and complete some button-related action.

B.U.T.T.O.N. is a party game that could only have come out of the indie space. This would never be green-lit by anyone. In fact, there is very little game here at all. What it lacks in mechanics it makes up for by providing the tools necessary to have a good time with a group of gamers and non-gamers alike.

A common criticism of many games utilizing motion control is that you can actually play with very little motion. Min/maxers quickly discovered that, even though the game wanted them to stand and hold the Wii remote like a golf club, they could simply sit on the couch and flick their wrists back and forth. If you’re that guy, don’t even try B.U.T.T.O.N. There is nothing here for you. However, if you’re capable of getting lost in the latest Kinect release even though the control fidelity doesn’t match that of your dual analog sticks, you’ll find much to appreciate.

It’s really devious. You may need to hold the button for a number of seconds. You may need to press the button a number of times. Worse still, you may need to press the button an exact number of times… no more, no less. Your job here is to do anything within the confines of your own moral compass to make sure you complete your goal while your opponent fails. You have no game mechanics to assist you. You have only your fists.

That’s right. The game mechanics have no way to stop your opponent from completing their goals. Most of the “game” is taking place in your house not inside the GPU and CPU of your PC. If the goal is to press exactly a number of times, you’ll use the skills you have gathered in meatspace all these years to prevent your opponents from doing so. You’ll knock them down and sit on them. You’ll steal their controller before they can grab it. Maybe you will reach over at the last second and hit the button one more time.

Friendships will end. Marriages will fail. If you let yourself, you’ll have great fun as the relationships you’ve built in your life up to this point come crumbling down at your feet.

 

The beautiful simplicity of this game means that your grandmother can immediately pick it up and play assuming she’s agile enough to outmaneuver you or clever enough to outsmart you. Young children also have no trouble grasping the simple concept. If they’re really young, you may have to read the prompts aloud. This advantage may help level out the advantage afforded them by their boundless energy.

It’s not all rosy. You’re not going to find the depth here of, well… practically any other game you’ve ever played. That’s not really what this is about. It’s about having a few minutes of silly fun. Buy B.U.T.T.O.N. expecting to dump in hours exploring every nook and cranny of a highly nuanced experience, and you’re sure to be disappointed. Beyond that, you could even play something very much like this without owning B.U.T.T.O.N. You could play a similar game without owning a computer, for that matter, just as you can play pretend without Dungeons and Dragons. Like D&D, B.U.T.T.O.N merely puts a loose framework around the play, gives you some direction, and takes out a lot of the legwork.

If you have a group of friends over, or if you’re looking for something silly to do with your family or your significant other, $3 really won’t go much further than it does with this indie gem. Grab the kids, shed all pretense of being a serious adult, and prepare to look foolish as you wrestle, poke, cheat, and deceive your way to victory 30 seconds at a time.

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Author: Devon Campbell View all posts by
Devon's childhood has crept way into adulthood... and he's cool with that. He's embraced it by continuing the nerdy pursuits of his youth and indoctrinating his poor wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Ambria, thereby possibly spreading the disease to them. They don't seem to mind so much.

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