If you happened to be passing the Indie Game Arcade at this year's Eurogamer Expo, you'd might have witnessed some truly bizarre shenanigans. You'd have seen gaggles of gamers holding hands, touching each other's thighs and running around the room. You'd have pondered the significance of a seemingly unattended screen that had lines of bystanders standing six paces away and eyeing others suspiciously. And you'd have laughed heartily at the hilarious spectacle of two overweight journalists doing pressups in the middle of the show floor- and then breathlessly sprinting over to their controllers only to be ruthlessly tricked out of a victory.
That was us... courtesy of B.U.T.T.O.N. from the Copenhagen Games Collective.
The premise is very simple. Each player is designated a button on a controller, and simply has to follow the onscreen commands to succeed. It's basically a selection of QuickTime Events (such as hammering or holding down the button) that boot players out if they make a mistake. The last player standing is the winner. So far, so reminiscent of every terrible shovelware minigame collection out there. So far.
If this was the whole story, I'd have walked away within seconds (despite the endearing presentaion and visual style), but the acronym stands for Brutally Unfair Tactics, Totally Okay Now. The game doesn't just command players to interact with the controller- rather, it merrily breaks the fourth wall at every opportunity. Players have to start each game by taking several steps away from their controllers and are then bade to engage in a series of crazy (and demeaning) physical challenges. Holding hands? Touching thighs? Star jumps? Press ups? Absolutely everything is fair game, and the unexpected physicality is a new and exciting experience.
Not only that, but the unfair tactics carry over into the quicktime events. After doing ten pressups, the screen directed us towards the buttons... and quickly told everyone NOT to touch them! Two of us were instantly eliminated for jabbing at the controller without paying close enough attention. The Copenhagen Game Collective may be marketing it as a "one button game", but trust me, this simply doesn't do it justice.
B.U.T.T.O.N. requires gamers to get into the party spirit. If you're the kind of snivelling wretch who sits on the sofa and limply flicks his wrist while playing WarioWare, this game simply isn't for you. Naturally, the game can't keep track of whether you really obey the commands- so its up to the players to throw themselves into it and have a good time. The company of close friends will help... as will drinking. Up to a point. With all the running, press ups and dirty tactics, B.U.T.T.O.N. will need to ship with a hefty safety disclaimer!
Move over Warioware. Stand aside, Singstar. Hell, you can even shove Twister to the back of the cupboard. B.U.T.T.O.N. is set to become the best party game ever... so long as people are willing to lose their inhibitions and get involved. I'd heartily recommend putting down some carpeting and covering sharp corners with bubblewrap first, mind.
Note: B.U.T.T.O.N. was demonstrated on Xbox 360 controllers, so we assume that an XBLA or (more likely) Xbox Live Indie release is on the cards. We'll keep you updated as we find out more.