Published on April 29th, 2015 | by Luke Turpeinen2
Bashing All The Buttons
Button Bashers Turbo isn’t the first 2D fighting game emulator for the “board & card crowd” that I’ve seen. Especially with the resurgence of 80s and 90s nostalgia and it accompanying 8- and 16-bit graphics, board games that recreate the feeling of old consoles or arcade machines are really popular right now. Button Bashers Turbo is a fun, fast paced and light-hearted game that does one thing better than any other 2D Fighting Video Game Simulator I’ve seen yet: the obvious.
That is not meant to be an insult or a dig in the slightest. As I said earlier this week, innovation is not always necessary when designing games, and in fact can lead to designers getting distracted from their goal. A game’s theme is largely a metaphor that you extend to the players to help them understand the mechanics that you’ve put together- but how closely should your mechanics reflect the theme you are using?
I’m used to advising designers to abstract their ideas a little more- you don’t have to be so literal, cut back on the detail, think elegant mechanics first, etc. But sometimes that causes designers go in a direction that is counter-intuitive to the theme they are leveraging. Sometimes the obvious choice is the right one. That’s how I feel about Button Bashers Turbo by Multi-Bit Games.
Button Bashers Turbo is a set collection game where your ability to fight effectively comes from being able to string together combos with the cards in your hand. As in fighting games, each character has a unique set of special abilities that they can use to better dominate their opponents. To perform those abilities you will be searching the deck for direction cards and button cards that will allow you to execute your combo.
It’s all rather straight forward, just like in a fighting game where “Forward, Forward, X” might be a teleporting drop kick. It was actually a refreshing surprise to find that the mechanics worked so intuitively for the theme. With other card games meant to simulate fighting games (like Yomi) I found that while the games were fun, they never really felt like a fighting game. Yomi may have a great Rock/Paper/Scissors set up, but it doesn’t remind me at all of playing Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.
Button Bashers Turbo, on the other hand feels just like playing a 2D fighter. When you get your character, the first thing you do is scour their ability list for cool things that you could combo into each other. Each character has 7 attacks, so there are a lot to look at. I could have done with less options for the characters, to be honest. I think that 4-5 abilities should be more than enough, as the whole set was overwhelming at times- especially when you are considering swapping a character out and have to go over all of their powers too.
All of the characters are rated as to their difficulty (read: how fussy they are to play as), which ranges from 1-4 in the base set. The “difficulty 1” characters all have some really solid strikes, but not much in the way of great combos. I found that I enjoyed the “difficulty 3” characters the best because they had a high degree of interaction between powers within their move set but weren’t overly complicated or hard to understand.
How much you like the art will really depend on your preferences. While I think that the character design is wonderful, the implementation of a lot of the art is very hit-or-miss. I can accept the character portraits, but the direction and button design on the cards you’ll be looking at most frequently isn’t too exciting. I know that it’s supposed to retro and pixelated, but I wish they were up to the level of quality that the character portraits are.
Button Basher Turbo does a lot for itself in the jokes and references it tosses into the game. One of the characters, Slamu the Slammin’ Salmon is a Luchador who one day woke up in a salmon costume with no memory of his past and now fights injustice as a costumed crusader. Mrs Soft Serve is part Queen Frostine from Candyland and part Elsa from Frozen. Catbeard the Pirate (whose nemesis is a samurai cat- not quite a ninja) looks like Don Karnage from Talespin. The humor in Button Basher Turbo is kid-friendly, adult approved.
Button Bashers Turbo is on Kickstarter as of today! If you were wanting a little more detail on how to play, check out this video: