The No Button Game

The No Button Game is a fast paced button-free platform game that does not require the use of buttons or sticks to be played. Place your wireless controller on a box then tap with your fingers and it is done! Don't you have a wireless controller or a box handy? No worries, there's the one button mode.

About a year ago Yuji Naka's company Prope released Let's Tap for the Wii, a game which had Wii owners taking off the strap and laying their controllers down on a surface to tap their way through races and mini-games. The No Button Game makes a bold claim to bring that sort of detached gameplay to the Xbox 360, allowing players to tap through a series of single player run-and-jump levels and competing for the best time. The game notes that the tapping gameplay requires a box and a wireless controller, and it includes a one button mode for those who cannot tap their way to victory for whatever reason. Of course, when a game is called The No Button Game, having to resort to pressing a button to play would seem to be a failure.

Unfortunately, that's just what happened during my test of The No Button Game. After placing my wireless 360 controller upside-down as instructed, I found the game rarely registered movements with any accuracy. Seeing as The No Button Game requires precise jumping and double jumping controls to clear the hurdles in its paths, I quickly found myself not getting anywhere by tapping. I tried playing with the controller on top an Amazon shipping box, a shoe box, an end table, and my floor, and none of these provided for a satisfying means of control. The best results I achieved was accomplished by placing the controller midway on the shoebox, but this still was unsatisfactory for this sort of game. I suspect the tapping method is accomplished in theory by minute vibrations registering on the analog triggers, and sure enough I found pressing them to move and jump my character a bit albeit rather haphazardly. While I was able to barely complete the first race in the no button mode, I quickly made my way over to the single button mode with no intention of ever looking back.

The single button mode fared better as expected, but the control still felt a bit jerky and the collision detection is noticeably poor. Sometimes I was able to land on a lime spike and run right off it without incident. Other times I died despite jumping over and clearing a neon platform as though I had run straight into it. Any time the runner in The No Button Game lands makes contact with an obstacle, the player is sent back to the last checkpoint, stars spread out across the route. Unfortunately, some of these stars can be tricky to grab in one button mode let alone via tapping, and a missed star makes for an awfully long trip back to the last checkpoint reached. The game doesn't just place the runner there but rewinds play from the time of impact all the way back to the last star touched, and as seen on stage two after missing the second star marker there, this can be quite annoying when having to wait 10-15 seconds for the rewind to complete itself. It's still not as bad as the game crashing on me three times while playing, something I find especially bad considering that the demo is limited to a full course and about half of the second stage before throwing up its nag screen and preventing further play.

The No Button Game absolutely fails to deliver as far as its gimmick is concerned. As much as I love that the game supports on-line leaderboards, I can't see myself investing time in playing when the game feels so unreliable whether taping or using the button. I don't understand why the game is limited to single-player as well when Let's Play excels as a party game and the game certainly must be simple enough to accommodate more players. The animation is choppy and the backgrounds are ambitious, but in the end The No Button Game just feels like the slower, handicapped brother to Let's Play without that game's style, control, and fun. I would like to see developer Running Pixel patch the game because even if the tapping scheme still fails to deliver, the one button obstacle course could be a fair consolation prize if the problems plaguing its current form were addressed.

August 1, 2010
July 31, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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