Thursday, July 10, 2014

Game Functions: Punch Button

The good old approach to anything that gets in your way in a game. What is the first action that we think about using for our controlled characters? What is the action that we mostly desire to use especially if the heat of gameplay gets a bit ridiculous and frustrating? The term that is used for come combat games is called "Beat 'Em Up" brawling games, the kinds of games where you just dig in and wallop the stuffing out of your enemies.

Mario is once again a good example of this, at least in the context of Super Mario 64. A classic game that many gamers refer to as revolutionizing gameplay styles, Super Mario 64 featured one ability that was appropriate for our beloved pasta-eating plumber. Mario knows how to punch his enemies and he could do it so easily in this game. Of course, Mario is also allowed to punch opponents in the Super Smash Bros. series as well and that is a platform that is absolutely appropriate for punching.

The gameplay function of punching is very basic and very rarely is it made out to be a complex process. You just push a button and watch your character throw a punch. Some games may introduce a combination of buttons that need to be pressed in order to throw different kinds of punching, and this clearly adds a different dynamic to the style of play. There isn't just a straightforward punch to account for in some games. You may be able to perform a backhand kind of punch. You may be able to slip the jab, as one famous boxing manager in the movies said. You may be able to land a sucker punch, and excuse the pun on the actual game developing company Sucker Punch Studios.

What game designers need to consider when it comes to simplicity is that punching fits the mood of a simplistic game. It's nearly impossible to misrepresent the act of punching in a game. Many gamers know the main purpose of a punch in games. You have an obstacle to break down or you have a stubborn enemy that won't get out of your way, so what is the practical thing to do? Punch the snot out of it!

The interesting thing about video game characters punching is that they have different ways of throwing their punches. Some characters like Mario, Viewtiful Joe or Guile from Street Fighter appear to be theatrical when they deliver their punches. They like to put a little oomph behind their aggressive attacks but in the most decorated ways possible. Mario is the typical cartoony puncher, defeating a misled Koopa Troopa with a jumping punch right to its chin. Viewtiful Joe is obviously connected to the cinematic feel as if he were in a movie as his games suggest. Guile is in a competition when he fights and he knows that his punches need to be firm and to the point, and this is aside from his signature "Sonic Boom" move.

In most templates, the B button in configuration is used to represent the act of punching and this is good since you won't be left wondering which button is which for punching. There have even been a few games where the Control Sticks (Playstation) were used to represent the act of punching and while I do admit that it was a fresh take on how to punch in a game, and I applaud that these games tried to be innovative, I believe this tactic missed the mark. When I played Nintendo games all the time as a kid, I looked to the B button first and foremost to see if I could punch my enemies down. I was completely familiar with the concept of "Wanna punch? Just press the B button over there and you're good!'

Oh... and I can't forget one guy who is very well known for the act of punching in a video game. You may know him well, but then again since his Racing Game series seems to be over and done with, you may have forgotten about him. I will refresh your memory right now.

Captain Falcon: "I can beat raw meat AND cook it!"
There hasn't been any character who has become more relatable to the act of punching in video games than Captain Falcon, the main hero in the F-Zero Racing Game series. The fact that Captain Falcon himself yells out his own moves and dares others to show him their moves defines the character and personality of the tough racer. When he yells out "FALCON PUNCH!", you know it's a big deal and something is about to go down. If anything, this quote has carried over to parody videos on YouTube that have been very funny to say the least, featuring random people and characters and allowing them to yell out Falcon Punch instead.

There isn't much more to add when it comes to punching in video games. Pretty much every gamer knows how important punching is in a game that calls for the act to be present. A punch to an enemy is all you need to know when it comes to certain objectives in some games. Beat up your arch rival with punches and clear the stage. You can't really get more simple than that.

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