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B.U.T.T.O.N

B.U.T.T.O.N. is a physical party game for 2-8 players. Race to your controller through physical space, and do whatever it takes to win (or to avoid losing). Act like a monkey, jump up and down, wrestle over the controllers, strip off some clothing, cheat your competitors, and above all, expect the unexpected. Brutally unfair tactics are, after all, totally OK now!

Panic Park is the most fun I've ever had playing a game in an arcade. The little known Namco machine invited two players to attempt a series of mini games, all controlled by clutching a heavy duty swivel stick and sliding it left and right. The gimmick is that both player's sticks occupied the same plane, allowing them to ram into each other and block and influence the other player's character. Thus, Panic Park became a digital shoving match with the players jostling for position to win the various quick games. Bracing myself against neighboring arcade cabinets, neglecting my joystick in favor of pushing the other player's, and anything and everything was game. Everyone goes home sore and with hurting, bruised knuckles and elbows -- it's that kind of game. Although structurally different from Panic Park, Copenhagen Game Collective's B.U.T.T.O.N still feels quite similar, an Xbox Live Indie Game which brings that kind of physical multi-player video game home.

B.U.T.T.O.N (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now) boots with a series of CYA warning screens instructing players to play responsibly, consider clearing the area of furniture, and other safety precautions. This is because B.U.T.T.O.N, much like Panic Park, is more a physical competition than a competitive video game -- a sort of tackle Mother May I? Players are given requests from the screen, three per set, with the final being the scoring and interactive round. First, all players are told to take some number of steps back away from the controller(s). Then, players are told to do push-ups, swap places based on odd criteria, make noises, or any of a group of silly things to distract the group. Finally, something must be done with a button, either not pressing it, pressing it a lot, holding it down, and so forth. Winning a round awards that player a medal with the clear goal to get more medals than the other players. B.U.T.T.O.N is obviously designed as a party game, and the game notes that it is for two to eight players for a reason. Without any local competition, the game cannot be enjoyed as intended.

Appreciating a game such as B.U.T.T.O.N also requires some willing participants as well who are comfortable being silly and playing along. When the game demands players to act like a zombie, there's only the group to police itself and ensure everyone is doing just that. There's no gameplay penalty for not taking steps back nor following directions, and B.U.T.T.O.N can be treated as a sort of hybrid board game in that regard. If the group isn't willing to play along, then the sticks in the mud will likely find the game less enjoyable as a result. The game can be played with one controller or multiple ones, and the style of playing/fighting is sure to change depending upon the choice. Wireless controllers, while not mandatory, are ideal for this kind of game as tossing and running with the controller to prevent others from hitting their button is a great tactic, and no one would want to fell their console by yanking on an attached pad during play. People should remember that this is a game built around wrestling for control of the controller, so the unimaginative or dainty will likely not be satisfied by the game. Likewise, as fun as B.U.T.T.O.N looks to me, my days of being able to gather enough people together willing to play are unfortunately over, so I can only base this on what I've seen playing through the trial alone a few times. There is no AI possible for this physical party game to allow for some weak CPU opponents for a single player to play against, so B.U.T.T.O.N is a pass for those in a similar predicament.

The graphics are extremely simple with randomly chosen, barely animated avatars and large, bright text. While innovation is wonderful, I'm disappointed that Copenhagen Game Collective could not bother with implementing avatar support. Avatars would not only have put B.U.T.T.O.N in better position to sell to the avatar crazy Game Marketplace, but it'd also make it easier to track which bizarre looking animal creature a player is playing as during the game. In a game which asks players to come up with most of the enjoyment and gameplay, it would have been nice to have seen the developer spend more time fashioning a more presentable product given how little there is to B.U.T.T.O.N's graphics. I was also disappointed to see some winning conditions still resulting in losing ending sequences (ie., my on screen avatar crying when I've clearly won), and while the options screens allow players to customize the maximum starting distance everyone needs to stand away from the controller(s) -- seven feet at most -- the game could really use a timer setting as well to increase the length of the very short rounds.

Thankfully, the trial mode should provide enough content to let people see if B.U.T.T.O.N is something they would be interested in playing. The full version of B.U.T.T.O.N offers a "naughty" mode as well, presumably tied into asking players to remove a piece of clothing as noted in the game's marketplace description. B.U.T.T.O.N is definitely an innovative and welcomed experience for those capable of playing it right, and it fills its niche well. I just wish there was more to it, but at just 80 points for what may be the highlight of a party, it's difficult to complain much about the lacking presentation.

★★★★☆
February 27, 2011
December 23, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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