Games That Talk About Their Own Buttons
February 17, 2011 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I know that some fairly recent video games, at least as recent as Ocarina of Time, have moments where characters (or physical signposts) inside of the game talk about the buttons that the player has to hit. I have a vague memory of this occurring in much older games, maybe characters in NES games saying "make sure you equip your weapon on the start menu" or things like that , but I can't locate them. Can anyone verify times where this happens?
posted by pacmanides to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a scene in the SNES game Chrono Trigger where the password to a locked door is referenced as "XABY", which was the button sequence you had to key in to unlock it. I believe it's the first time you end up in the future time period, in the robot factory, after the bike race.
posted by mrgoat at 4:30 PM on February 17, 2011


He Knows About Timed Hits (warning: TVTropes sinkhole-of-free-time link)
posted by Paragon at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2011


Both's Abe's Oddysee and Exodus have instructions embedded on sign posts or LED signs in the game.
posted by plinth at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2011


This is definitely a very common occurrence in many games. Here is an example from A Link to the Past(released for the SNES in 1991), and here is another also from A Link to the Past.
posted by Funky Claude at 4:37 PM on February 17, 2011


Any games in the Metal Gear Solid series.
posted by pravit at 4:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty much every substantial (time-wise, RPGs, etc) game I've played in the last decade has had some sort of tutorial mode built into the early part of the game. Are you looking for the earliest occurance?
posted by tremspeed at 4:59 PM on February 17, 2011


This is incredibly common for Japanese games, seemingly since the dawn of video games themselves. It's difficult to pinpoint down down a first time this was done. Japanese developers don't have a problem "breaking the fourth wall" like this, with characters directly referencing the game interface.

I could regale you with theories as to why this is ... but it's everywhere. If I had to give an example to answer this question ... the Pokemon series does this all the time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2011


So, if I understand correctly, you want examples of games from the 8-bit era or earlier which feature either characters or physical signposts that describe the controls?
posted by box at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2011


Do a barrel roll! (Z or R twice)! In every Star Fox game.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, if you want the earliest example: almost all arcade games have 'attract mode' screens that say things like 'Insert Coin' or 'Press Player 1 to Start.' Would something like that qualify?
posted by box at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2011


I'm pretty sure the OP is referring to 'in-game' instructions - as in, characters that are part of the game breaking the fourth wall and referring to buttons etc. - not all "here's how to play the game" instruction screens or popups. The link in my previous reply has a list of several dozen such occurrences.
posted by Paragon at 5:14 PM on February 17, 2011


Metal Gear Solid's fight against Psycho Mantis: "Use the second controller!"
posted by jozxyqk at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2011


...TCELES B HSUP
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:42 PM on February 17, 2011


Most NES games with the ability to save used to warn you to "hold reset while turning the power off". For example, the inns in Final Fantasy told you this (and I'm pretty sure they typo'd the button as "rest").
posted by knave at 6:00 PM on February 17, 2011


Found a screenshot. I must be remembering the "rest" typo from another game.
posted by knave at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2011


GameFAQs has TXT Dumps for many older games (I've linked to the game boy "Link's Awakening" (1993)) -- for example
Hey, man!  When 
you want to save
just push all   
the Buttons at  
once!  Uhh...   
Don't ask me    
what that means,
I'm just a kid!

I heard that you
can press SELECT
to look at the  
island map...   
But, I don't    
understand what 
they mean by    
that...

posted by neustile at 6:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This might be a stretch but Adventure definitely has some weird interaction prompts to the user. It hints to type certain things. It's from 1975, so if it fits your criteria is certainly the oldest thing I can think of.
posted by tremspeed at 8:59 PM on February 17, 2011


Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) had em too...ugh, could never beat that stupid Judge Doom.
posted by acorn1515 at 7:41 AM on February 18, 2011


A recent(ly translated) game 'Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale' has a character in it who mostly functions as your tutor and she often makes references to button call-outs. Which elicits a confused response from the main character who you control as she isn't aware of the fourth wall being broken.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:05 AM on February 18, 2011


Paragon: "I'm pretty sure the OP is referring to 'in-game' instructions - as in, characters that are part of the game breaking the fourth wall and referring to buttons etc. - not all "here's how to play the game" instruction screens or popups. The link in my previous reply has a list of several dozen such occurrences."

If this is so, Super Paper Mario does this. "What is this A button you speak of?" "Oh, it's not for you to know but some wise person watching us will understand."

It's been a REALLY long time since I played Final Fantasy IX, but I think maybe some of the moogles gave you instructions on buttons to press.

Differently - Tomb Raider Legend has a series of cutscenes where you don't really control the action like normal, but you have to press the buttons that show up on the screen (and quickly!) or Lara will die and you'll have to go back.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:34 AM on February 19, 2011


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