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Video: Short Film Extols The Virtues Of Buttons, Features Nintendo Quite Heavily

Posted by Damien McFerran

Can you spot R.O.B. the Robot?

Gaming used to be exclusively about buttons, but with the rise of touch-screen gaming — pioneered by the Nintendo DS and taken to the next level by the proliferation of smartphones and tablets — we've got an entire generation of players growing up in a world where buttons aren't necessarily the default gaming interface.

For Nicolas Magnier, that's just not good enough. He's created a short video which keenly illustrates the gloriously tactile nature of buttons — and also showcases a lot of Nintendo gear to boot. The SNES, Game Boy, Wii Remote and even R.O.B. the Robot all make appearances in this short-but-sweet 27 second clip, which seems to suggest that Magnier is something of a Nintendo fan.

Let us know your thoughts on the merits of buttons over touch-screens (and vice versa) by posting a comment below.

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User Comments (27)



uncha1n3d said:

I feel like touchscreens are horrible for most genres of games. Even though phones/tables are fast and they look cool, nothing will beat the convenience of buttons like on a handheld gaming console. Countless times have I see controller peripherals but then the phone loses its portability.



Nintenjoe64 said:

Buttons are brilliant. The buttons from my NES and SNES controllers still work despite playing games designed to wear them out for years. I doubt my phone touch screen will work in 30 years time. Touchscreens are good but only for certain control inputs. Buttons can create a complex array of commands that can be used almost in less than a second while a touchscreen requires you to move your arm and use your eyes. I can't understand why people want them on laptops when the keyboard a mouse are already at their fingertips.



Phantom_R said:

The main problem with using a touch screen for controls, such as with virtual buttons, is the difficulty in seeing what we're actually inputting. We can feel buttons--that physical feedback is how we know what we're doing--but touch controls are simply blind.

It seems that only Nintendo really understands where and how touch controls should and shouldn't be used. Long live the buttons!



Haywired said:

Yes. I love this. Buttons are amazing. I can't believe that even has to be said, but I do remember having some arguments with other Nintendo fans (during the height of Nintendo's "new ways to play" touch-screen/motion control push) actually having to stick up for button controls... (Though now that touch-screens have become more synonymous with non-Nintendo devices like phones/tablets these very people conveniently now say the opposite, which just shows that, as I suspected all along, they were talking out of their butts, as is their way).

Touch screens and motion controls are all fine and dandy of course and can achieve great things, but the idea (once touted by those people) that they've made buttons archaic and redundant is ridiculous. Button controls are great because they are extremely simple and tactile and reliable and responsive and effecient and convenient and satisfying.

One of the main problems with these more organic ways to play like motion controls and touch screens is that they are inherently vague, ambigious and inconsistent and can be interpreted in different ways, this is the antithesis of what good control is all about. My best example would be in one of those touch-screen puzzles in the DS Zeldas where you have to draw a shape on the door to unlock it. Well I must have drawn the shape like a million times, trying every single possible variation of the shape, getting ever more exasperated. Eventually I managed to somehow draw the shape in the exact way that the game recognized, but I have no idea how or why.

Regarding motion controls, if you believe that video game controls have to be a literal interpretation of the actions on screen, then fair enough. But the beauty of buttons controls is that they've always been more free and abstract than that. So despite talk of the "unlimited possibilities" of the Wii remote, buttons are actually more versatile because they're a completely blank canvas to do anything you want regardless of realism. As long as you have an imagination you can do anything with buttons because they're not desperately trying to mimic real-life objects or actions.

So err, yeah, hooray for buttons!



GuSolarFlare said:

Touchscreens are an amazing SUPPORT to buttons there are times we don't have enough buttons or we could use another analog stick those are the best uses for touchscreens support they help making what's good even better. you can't get rid of the buttons and expect things to work better look at smartphones it's horrible to type with them even the classic "use the + button to mave the cursor and the A to select" every gamer knows works better unless there's a "pen" to use on the touchscreen(what was scrapped for the new touchscreen technologies)



unrandomsam said:

@Phantom_R They don't understand it. Touch controls should be used never. You end up with smudges on the screen. Anything you can do could be replaced by a button combo. It is disjointed as well the way it works.



Phantom_R said:

@unrandomsam No no, I was careful not to rule out things like Kirby: Canvas Curse, which made perfect use of the touch screen where buttons couldn't go.

And even when it comes to something that should have used buttons, such as the DS Zelda games, Nintendo still came up with an innovative control scheme that at least did work. Like, imagine if iOS games with virtual buttons had used a system like the DS Zelda games. Not better than buttons, but at least not trying and failing to copy buttons where touch clearly fails.



GuSolarFlare said:

@Phantom_R yeah I fogot Canvas Curse that was the proof Touchscreens can actually have perfectly great uses!(though it needs a Stylus, something Smartphones and other touch devices insist on not adding, without buttons and without stylus that's the case when touchscreens become kind of a problem, for gaming)



Shambo said:

@Phantom_R Also, fps's on DS like Dementium, Moon, and Metroid Prime Hunters had great aiming controls. There are more games that use touch controls well, like Lost Magic. And while the Zelda games could've given the option of button controls, they're great as they are.

Motion controls are a complete mixed bag. After swinging swords in Red Steel 2 and Skyward Sword, aiming guns or flashlights in -again- Red Steel 2, HOTD Overkill, and Silent Hill Shattered Memories, beating up mobsters in The Godfather Blackhand Edition, playing plain fun games like Zack and Wiki and Wario Ware Twisted/Smooth Moves, and controlling vehicles in Excite Truck and Blazing Angels, I'd say it's the way to go. Sadly, for every time they get it right, someone shows up with a game that doesn't work or overuses them.



sleepinglion said:

Buttons are the way to go and tactile responses can connect us to games in a way that nothing else really can.
A few years ago I purchased several older controllers that had been modded to function as 'classic controllers' when plugged into a Wiimote. I use them on VC titles. The original NES pad, when used with NES games on the VC, just FEELS right. It's what the game was designed to work with in the first place... not the teeny tiny 1 and 2 buttons on a Wiimote when held sideways.
My SNES and Genesis pads also instantly take me back to the countless hours I spent with them as a child... reconnecting me with VC titles in a way the standard classic controller just can't.
Why Nintendo never put out replicas of these attachments is beyond me, but if you can get your hands on them 'literally' it makes a world of difference for anyone who grew up using the original controllers.



JimLad said:

Like Phantom_R said, you can feel buttons under your thumbs/fingers.
Touchscreens can't give that physical feedback, hence why real buttons will always be superior to virtual buttons.



unrandomsam said:

@Phantom_R Actually yes. There are good examples of when it has been used. However the vast majority of the time it is of no benefit at all. (Or if there are button combinations there are not made easily available). Using it for inventory is pretty awful and actually ends up slower unless you hold the stylus in a hand which ends up less comfortable or don't use one which smudges the screen. It is different when it uses all the time but when it is a combination of the face buttons and the touchscreen its awful and it is used for the sake of it.



unrandomsam said:

Quick Equip on a Link Between Worlds is an obvious example. That would be useful if it could be used without using the touchscreen at all as an alternative.



Phantom_R said:

@unrandomsam I love combining touch and buttons. If smudging is a problem for you then use your nails instead of your finger. (This is also one area where Nintendo crushes other touch screens, which these days tend to be heat-sensitive or something and won't work with nails.)

Like with Kid Icarus: Uprising, it's all about posture. If you've got the right posture then everything will come together.



GuSolarFlare said:

@Phantom_R touchscreens nowadays are electromagnetic sensitive so only magnets(that will break the device), some special kinds of metal and human skin will work on them(well there are also electric wires and some electric powered things but it would be a joke to use an electric powered Stylus )



unrandomsam said:

@Phantom_R Using nails will scratch the screen which is even worse than smudging in that it is permanent.

Touchscreens are good for certain things (When the downsides can be worked around).

But like glossy screens which are awful in anything other than pitch black or perfect lighting they are using for everything even when they introduce problems that otherwise wouldn't have existed.



michaelshellman said:

buttons definitely provide a more insured feeling then touch screen, you can hear see and feel the action you made. when i flip a switch i know the current has been blocked or cut off but if i touch a screen im thinking did i touch it to soft is the signal going to communicate correctly or did i even touch the right area. technology is great enough to provide the insurance but doing it manually give you the benefit of knowing you have done what you have done.



sdelfin said:

Buttons and touch screens are tools. Like all tools, some are better designed for some applications more than others. Too often, companies are so quick to capitalize on trends that they fail to consider the application. Touch screens have been such a great success for navigating phone and tablet user interfaces and for web browsing while allowing a relatively large amount of screen area. Touch screens can't compete with buttons in areas where tactile feedback is essential, like in most gaming. Even if people can get used to virtual buttons, such a control method will never be as easy to use or as reliable as buttons. I always cringe when I see a commercial for some luxury car in which they talk about the obsolescence of buttons and how said luxury vehicle has a completely touch-based interface for things like radio, music or climate control. I think that is an application where buttons are clearly superior, especially when laid out so well that it's easy to know which button is which without looking.



unrandomsam said:

@Giygas_95 Screen Protectors involve taking something designed to work a certain way and adding an extra layer on to it. Nintendo would provide one if they thought it would be a good idea to use one.



Giygas_95 said:

@unrandomsam It is a good idea. It's kept my screens from getting scratches and fingerprints, and when they get too scratched up, I can replace them. At least there won't be any permanent damage to the system right?

For me, it's sort of like insurance because I don't want permanent scratches on my screens.

I don't know why Nintendo wouldn't think it's a good idea to use protectors, but in my opinion it's a good idea to use them with any hand-held devices like smartphones, iPads, or of course the 3DS. I mean sure Nintendo doesn't include them, but the few dollars you spend on them is well worth it to keep your screens from getting damaged. That's my opinion anyway.

Plus, in my experience, even the stylus eventually causes some scratching, and I'm not rough with the screens at all so a screen protector is definitely a good idea even though Nintendo doesn't provide them.



unrandomsam said:

@Giygas_95 I don't even use the manufacture provide applied ones on smartphones. (They are to make it less likely to smash not to stop it getting scratched). It is pretty hard to scratch glass other than with a key (Which is hardened).

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