Monday, October 13, 2008

Samus was right

Like the wheel, some things, once invented, don’t require any fundamental changes. A has always been jump, and B has always been attack. Just like A has always been "confirm," and B has always been "negate" or "go back" in menu screens. These are Nintendo staples, going back to the 80s. (Arcade games of the time were fond of designating their buttons with names of moves, rather than letters or numbers.)

It was only during the Sony Playstation era that it became fashionable to switch the venerable identities of A and B (or what in Sony parlance is circle and cross, or some such folderol). This travesty has gained much traction throughout the gaming world, but not a whiff can be found in the world of Nintendo, Jebus be praised.

I am gratified that Nintendo’s current DS ports of old Super NES games faithfully retain the classic control schemes. One might argue that it would be nice for them to have included an option to customize controls. Granted. It would also be nice for them to have included instant replay, an unlockable library of cutscenes, and language options for French, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Tagalog. Hey, why not free t-shirts, too?

One might say that the times being what they are, Nintendo might have accommodated younger players, or older players who have fully conformed to the Sony paradigm. But I know at least one younger player who grew up during Sony’s period of hegemony, and she has no trouble rocking it Nintendo-style. And I personally go between the two with nary a hitch (though my sense of logic winces at the falsity of pressing B to confirm).

Though my preference is clear, I’m not contrasting “what’s right” and “what’s wrong,” but only “what is” and “what once was and can still be.” Though I have no problems with the Sony style, I’ve never heard a practical argument about why this change was necessary. It seems like its true raison d’être was to differentiate Sony from its predecessors.

I may be biased. After all, even as I play Playstation 1/2/3 games, I still refer to the buttons as “A, B, X, and Y,” and am bemused and befuddled any time someone growls at me, “Press Triangle!” NEStalgia is a beautiful thing.


Henry said...

Fool, try playing the damn thing and then tell me it's right! And I don't mean on some spacious DS Phat. On DS Lite, A becomes the most worthless of all buttons. More sensible games take this into consideration.

And the Sony mandate ONLY concerns the "confirm" and "cancel" functions (and only in North America).

Czardoz said...

Large American hands. They can enlarge.

Riyuu said...

...Well I guess I agree with you.
At least, I don't think people should be complaining so much about changes in controls or whatever. Obviously it just means they're too incompetent to adapt to a different style, even if it's only for what, 3 - 5 short dungeons that last a few 15 minutes or so total?

Henry said...

Adapting is probably easier for people who don't play many games.