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"How the little piglets would grunt if they knew how the old boar suffered."

Some say that button mashing is the ability to play a game like a pro without having any real knowledge of what you are doing. It's all about how fast your thumbs can move and how long they can last in a duel.

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Whatever you want to say, some of my favorite were those that required some pretty hefty doses of button mashing. They were hack and slash gone wild. But, I must say, I do miss them dearly.

What Makes A Good Button Mashing Game?

The combo counter was epic. [Credits: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/EA]
The combo counter was epic. [Credits: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/EA]

It’s an interesting question, because if you were to ask many a gamer they would reply that actually button mashing games can never be good. If a button mashing game is good, then it’s not the button mashing that made it so.

I want to argue the contrary. Yes, the rise of games that have slowed the pace of combat down to something a bit more realistic and added in some patience and strategy are no doubt important as an evolution of the genre, but, to me, they are not any better than their 'primitive' predecessors.

 Notice the KO Count. [Credits: Dynasty Warriors 4/Omega Force]
Notice the KO Count. [Credits: Dynasty Warriors 4/Omega Force]

Button mashing games are great because the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Sure, beating away at the O button is fantastic, but that is not the only element in a button mashing game. For me, button mashing games have always been a highly engaging affair.

They slam you down smack bang in the middle of a battle and ask you to take on every enemy on the battlefield. They make you feel like a true hero as you engage with the endless waves of enemies, mowing the poor sods down with untold ease. Essentially, it’s a matter of scale.

Story was everything. [Credits: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/EA]
Story was everything. [Credits: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/EA]

On top of that, the best button mashing games will give you a list of combos you can use if you button mash in the right order. These combos are essential to the gameplay as they break it up, switch things around and let the heroics shine through.

Best Button Mashing Games

At the end of a great button mashing game or level you should feel like you’re King Leonidas of the Spartans, not just because you took down hundreds, or possibly thousands of Persians, but because you also did it with speed and grace and without mercy. So let's celebrate the best of the best, and the longevity of the button masher!

'Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers'

This game combined all of the elements I talked about above into one beautiful orc and uruk-hai killing field. Despite being the button mashing king, nothing here felt repetitive. The game used different characters from the films, which you could level up on a sort of tech tree, to make every level feel uniquely badass.

Each character had their own individual weapons, feel and combos. Legolas moved at lightning speed, could kill an orc with one of his arrows and used two blades in normal combat. On the other hand, Gimli was slow and cumbersome, but his axe felt tangible and real enough to split open the heads of his enemies.

Lastly, the game’s levels were dynamic. It managed to find the right balance between the endless waves of orcs and fulfilling all of the plot points. It did this with much help from the films it was based on. My favorite level, for example, was Helms Deep. This level progressed just like it did in the movie, but felt so cool and new to play. Kicking down those ladders was especially satisfying.

'Dynasty Warriors 4'

Essentially, Dynasty Warriors does a lot of the above but takes away any real sense of a plot. What you do have, at least in this game, is Musou mode, which will allow you to fight in a series of battles in a larger campaign across Ancient China.

Without a plot, Lord of the Rings would suffer terribly. But Dynasty Warriors is all the better for it. Each battle is in itself a Total War event except that you are in the middle of it. Never before had I seen this amount of enemies on one screen. You have missions to accomplish and generals to kill, and to do this you will need your best button mashing skills at your side.

Probably the best thing about this game were the combos, which if you managed to get right would freeze time before repeatedly knocking twenty or thirty enemies to the floor. Dynasty Warriors 5 was incredibly fast paced and never let up in terms of action.

Button Mashing Re-imagined: 'For Honor'

I am seriously looking forward to For Honor, a game of massive button mashing battles that is set to be released on 14th February. This game doesn't just look absolutely gorgeous, but it seems to be taking the art of button mashing to a whole new level.

As you can see above, the game's battles are charged full with an exciting story and endless waves of enemy warriors. There is an overarching plotline, but each individual battle will include specific objectives and enemies that could make it feel like your last.

Button mashing taken to the next level. [Credits: For Honor/Ubisoft Montreal]
Button mashing taken to the next level. [Credits: For Honor/Ubisoft Montreal]

The gameplay itself is also something that has got the industry in a state of excitement. The developers behind For Honor are selling this game on its new combat system called The Art of Battle—making it feel like you actually have an axe or a sword in your hands.

You will play as a leader, or at least as a special character, which means your main task will be to push through the hordes of enemies using combat systems like we have seen before in games. But what is unique here is how the game changes when you are faced with another special character. You'll have to carefully lock onto your enemy, block and parry from their attacks, take them on their weak side and use the environment to your advantage.

The Future Of Button Mashing Games

What more could you want? [Credits: For Honor/Ubisoft Montreal]
What more could you want? [Credits: For Honor/Ubisoft Montreal]

The Devil May Cry and God of War games are also great examples of button mashing done well. Series's such as these have managed to intelligently incorporate mayhem into their combat systems, but is there hope for future franchises? I really do hope that For Honor does as well as predicted in 2017. Because if Ubisoft succeeds and its risk pays off, I can see a clear future for button mashing games, and you know that's all I'm after!

What do you love about button mashing games? If you have a favorite then let us know in the comments section below!

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