The Wrong Controls

I like games with awkward and unusual controls; controls that never quite feel 'mastered'. It seems to me to be a common feature of games of a certain era (roughly the 80s), perhaps due to the infancy of the medium (so a lack of codification), but perhaps also due to the arcade environment, where points of difference must be bold and obvious. Many games of that era have their own take on how best to move an object around a screen (to be simplistic), and this variety of approaches helps establish each game as a separate world apart from the others.

Contemporary games that seem to sympathise with that old approach often push it to an extreme aimed at frustrating the player (but in a fun way!), and feel particularly 'unmasterable', in fact any sense of control feels like an achievement. Some popular examples being: QWOP (and most other things by its author Bennett Foddy), Sumotori Dreams, Sexy Hiking, and Octodad.

The series of games on this page fit, perhaps, somewhere in between. The method of control in each is surprising because though each presents as a game of a particular established genre it takes it's control scheme from another established genre. These control schemes are dictated by those built in to the program Klik & Play:

  • Race Car assumes a birds-eye view, and uses the up and down keys for acceleration and reverse and left and right to turn;
  • Platform behaves like a typical, Mario-like game;
  • Path Movement restricts the player to moving forward or backward along a defined path;
  • Bouncing Ball removes player control and has the object bouncing around the board;
  • Eight Direction allows the player to move around freely with the arrow keys; and
  • Mouse Movement allows the player to move around freely attached to the mouse cursor.

You may also be interested in the following links:

Platform RC


Platform RC appears as a typical 'platformer', though instead of having walking and jumping as verbs the character is controlled 'race car' style, and is able to move anywhere on screen.

Inspired by this Dattorz made the game Pretend You're Platforming, where the player is given the freedom to move their character is whichever direction they please, though will meet a fail condition if they do not accurately mimic proper platforming behaviour.

Racing Eightway


The idea here was to make a racing game where the control scheme would switch (randomly, between platform, 8-way, and race car) at the beginning of each new lap. It's a multiplayer-only game, and it never really worked right, but maybe that doesn't matter: it's supposed to be messy and unfair anyway.
Of course the track had to be designed to accommodate completion of a lap with any given control scheme.

Breakanoid RC


I'm quite fond of ball-and-paddle type games (I call them breakanoids), and have made a few experiments within that structure. In Breakanoid RC the paddle is not restricted to X axis movement and is free to wader the board, the catch being that it uses Klik & Play's Race Car control scheme. I think it works really well! I later built on this idea (and memories of the terrific multiplayer soccer mode in Excite Bike 64) to make the versus game Pololo Shodown, which I think is a lot of fun with two equally skilled players.

Glorious Trainwrecks user jonbro made a tribute to this game: breakanoid rc II: tribute edition

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Last edited by Blueberry Soft, on 23/6/2018.