Is Match The Button Gameplay A Cop Out In Game Designing?

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Alright folks, ya boy E_Stone is at it again with some serious criticisms thrown at a particular style of game play that I feel is somewhat lacking and quite frankly a step in the wrong direction for next gen video game interaction.

For lack of a better term let’s call it the ‘Match The Button’ game play. It’s when the game prompts you with an icon that matches the buttons on the game controller. If you fail to press the corresponding button in a certain amount of time the game will progress accordingly, usually in a negative way. A couple of games which incorporate this type of game play are God of War and the up and coming Sony exclusive Heavy Rain.

Okay folks here is my beef with this type of game play. The whole purpose of playing a video game is to interact with or within the game in such a manner that enables the player to choose and perform a variety of amazing feats or to simulate real world actions. A given player is challenged to progress through the game and gain the necessary skills to perform these varied feats of amazement which are usually executed by learning unique move sets, gaining character attributes, utilizing power ups, operating weaponry, etc. It is these abilities that separates the scrubs from the skilled players in any given game. When game designers decide to utilize the ‘Match The Button’ game play style as the primary method of interaction in their video games, it might be consider a design cop out, non innovative, and lazy!

Here’s my reason:

Why would you spend $65 on a game when all it basically asks the gamer to do is press a particular button on time? Is it not the year 2009 and systems like the Wii have created video game interaction on a whole new level, which have resulted in the Wii’s great success, but a game like Heavy Rain takes you a step back and ask the gamer to press buttons instead of trying to immerse the player and have him or her perform exciting moves to evade, defend, and attack. Instead, you are regulated to matching icons. Wow! As a paying customer who has spent over $350 on a video game system is this the type of game play innovation we should accept?

Another example is the great God of War. This game is perfect, right? Not really. Why? Again, matching on-screen icons with buttons on my controller is a cheap form of interaction. For example, you are engaged in one of the many amazing boss fights (from a graphical standpoint), you run around jumping, ducking, and dodging trying to get yourself into position for a well placed strike. Here lies the problem- to execute this strike you have to match and press the buttons that appear on screen to pull off the move. Huh? Wait a minute here, users want to pull of THIER OWN MOVE! users want to execute punishment on the menacing creature in THEIR OWN WAY! But this is not possible with ‘Match The Button’ game play. What ends up happening is the same thing over and over and over. You, your best friend, your little 3rd grade brother, even your mom could play this game and the same outcome will result, as long as they match and press the buttons on time. There is no uniqueness associated to whoever is playing the game which, to this writer, lends to less immersion.
Some may disagree with this topic but a lot of you will agree and understand that is not innovation. As gamer do you want to invest a lot of time into a game and all it requires you to do is match on screen icons to perform a predetermined set of moves that you have no control of? As a gamer, it is great when you are able to destroy an enemy in your own way and then watch your friend play the same level and create their own way of handling the same situation based on their skill sets and thinking. Match the button game play robs the gamer of this important experience and basically turns a next gen game into a glorified form of Simon Says. What do you think?

Power to the Players!!!!

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  • eman3d

    This is a big let down with games like Heavy Rain.

  • It depends on the interaction. From the looks of Heavy Rain there appears to be multiple options the user could take which allows for multiple outcomes depending on the choices a user makes. This could add tons of replay incentive into the mix. Heavy Rain looks incredibly promising.

  • eman3d

    It’s basically like watching a movie but to see the next part you have to hit the button on time. Is that next gen interaction? From a design since this is so 80’s. What if Resident Evil was like this, it would not have been great.

  • QTE is not primitive. Depending on how it is executed, QTE can add more character and personality to a game. For ex, God War utilizes QTE in scenarios that would be otherwise impossible to perform. Heavy Rain doesn’t give you one or two scenarios but 4 to 5 scenario options that allows the player to manipulate their experience in different ways which add replay value to game. God of War used QTE and won GOTY in ’05, QTE if used properly can creates incredible gaming experiences. But it all depends on the user.

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