If you’re not jumping, punching or shooting in video games, then chances are, you’re running. Running to beat the arbitrary timer, running to catch the bad guy, running to catch that elusive power-up that’s bouncing out of reach, or just running because GOSH DARN IT! I’M IMPATIENT!! MUST END LEVEL NAO!! Seemingly at odds with this near-constant running, many games, particularly platformers, require very precise movements and jumping. Sometimes you need to be fast to avoid the collapsing cave and other times slow and steady makes it out alive when the floor is lava. So with all this running that we do in games, you’d think that all games would have some kind of run button or at the very least make the default movement speed a swift jog. Well if you think that, then you’d be wrong. You’d be oh, so very wrong. Not only do some games lack a dedicated run button, but they still try to give you the ability to run or “dash” without this crucial button.
Let’s take a look a look at everyone’s favorite pink fluffball, Kirby. Kirby doesn’t have a run button, frell, Kirby barely runs. In Kirby’s Adventure on the NES (and pretty much every subsequent Kirby game) to make Kirby move any faster than a Waddle-Dee, you have to double-tap the d-pad. Stop pressing the direction you’re moving in and then press it down again to go faster. Suuuure.
Then you have games like Castle of Illusion, Chuck Rock, Comix Zone and even Mega Man that completely lack a “run” option and instead stick you with the character’s default speed, which can sometimes be painfully slow. At least some games like Mega Man X and Normy’s Beach-Babe-O-Rama (yes, that’s a real game) give you a “dash” button that propels you forward for a split second. Still, I’d be much happier if I just had a freakin run button. How cool would it be to get the dash boots in Mega Man X and be able to constantly glide across the ground at that speed? I can tell you one thing; it would look totally bad-ass.
Of course once consoles got analog sticks and developers figured out how to use them, run buttons became all but irrelevant. When you can program your game to adjust your character’s speed based on how far you title the stick, who needs a separate button to move faster? Retro games, that’s who.