Batman: In Defense Of Button Mashing

Just a quick intro from me (Peter)… We stated that we were looking for a few new writers for the site and whilst waiting for a response we decided to go to a couple of our trusted TSA stalwarts. As such we’ve asked Tuffcub to write for us (his news round-ups in the forums have always been a quality read) and we’re also in the process of getting CaptainMurdo back on board. This is in addition to Gastos84 who joined staff recently. All in all I think we’re making the team even stronger and I look forward to their work. Now, over to Tuffcub…

Batman – the man with indestructible underpants and a fetish for rubber clad nipples. A mere mortal performing super human feats of endurance and strength. Plummeting off skyscrapers only to be saved at the last moment by his trusty Batarang, taking more punches and throws than an entire season of W.W.E., and on the recent console game, performing stunning acrobatic fight combos from just a press of a button. Whilst reading some of the comments on TSA’s readers review section this seems to have annoyed a few people.

Not me. If I’m playing a game, I want my Super Robo-Ninja to be able to back flip over the enemy giving him a nice short back and sides as he does so, land precisely on a nearby tree branch before neatly slicing off each of the enemies limbs, packaging them in nice gift wrap and then summoning the mystic DHL van to send them off to the Big Boss as a taunt of my superior fighting skills. I want to do all of that by frantically mashing the triangle key. I do not have patience to learn up, down, square, square, triangle, up, rotate stick clockwise, triangle, do the hokey-cokey, circle and square JUST so I can punch someone in the face. Can I pull off a triple fireball combo in Streetfighter IV? No. Can I make Dante perform some ridiculous wall climb before grabbing a devil and smashing his head in to the ground, finishing off by slicing his innards open so I can make balloon animals from his intestines? Yes, I can.

Now, you could argue I am just rather crap. You might have a point. You might argue that I am just lazy. You might have an even better point. However, which method of fighting is more realistic?

Picture the scene: You are in Bradford. It is very early Sunday morning and the clubs are bars are closing disgorging punters in various states of stupor including numerous young ladies in skirts that barely count as belts let alone actual clothing. Unfortunately as your eye lands on one of these nymphs her bruiser of a boyfriend steps in front of you, growls “OI! STOP LOOKING AT MY WOMAN!” and swings a punch. You have milliseconds to react, so what happens? Do you enter a trance like state and judge the brutes stance, his centre of gravity, the speed and angle of the fist that is flying in slow motion towards you face, consider the numerous options of counter attack, select the optimum result and then perform sweeping leg kick that knocks him to floor and renders him unconscious?

No, that is not what happens. You scream abuse (mostly questioning the validity of his parentage) and fling punches in his general direction hoping one will hit him hard enough so you can knee him in the groin and then make a run for it. Frantically mashing triangle is the Playstation equivalent; there is no time to consider anything, its pure animal instinct. Smash those buttons! Hurl obscenities at the on screen foes! I am not stopping to remember the correct sequence to summon a giant, flame covered tiger to rip my enemy apart as a finishing move, it should happen anyway if I whack triangle hard enough!

Nevertheless, let us not dismiss the “twelve button press and twirl of the stick” method of fighting altogether, it has its place. Consider the Bradford scenario again, except this time you happen to be Ninja, one who has studied the ancient art of.. er.. Ninja-ing.. for twenty years. You can deduce an enemy’s centre of balance in milliseconds; your fighting style is controlled and efficient, no girly hair pulling for you! For martial arts games on consoles, learning horrendous button combos does in a small way reflect the skills needed to pull of an upper cut/leg sweep combo. If the player is meant to be a skilled fighter then skilled button pressing seems logical.

But what of Batman? He is not a Ninja by any means, but has had lots of martial art and combat training. He can take down an enemy with a precise Floating Dragon Chop – or smash their face in the nearest concrete pillar. Frantic button masher or multi-button combo sequence? The game developers decided on button mashing and I for one am grateful. Despite the “Detective Mode” and all that swooping about from pillars malarkey, Batman can trace its gaming heritage back the days of Renegade and Double Dragon. It is a brawler, albeit a brawler that would prefer to sneak up behind you and disable you with a silent karate chop rather than jump in front of you and jam a snooker cue in your face (ahh, Renegade 2.. memories).

Brawlers do not have specific combo sequences. Spend a Saturday night in Bradford if you don’t believe me.