Rant about how the change from NES to SNES button layout could’be been better and how it is now affecting modern day gamers who play on multiple consoles

So the SNES button layout, I’ve always liked it, and was glad when they brought it back with the DS and the wii classic controllers. I’m talking about the ABXY positions.

 X

Y  A

 B

Now when the SNES first came out it was a bit of a change from the NES. Obviously the shape and the extra buttons were the biggest changes. But one of the most important changes was how the A and B buttons were used. On the NES it was pretty much a given that B was always run/shoot/cancel, and A was always jump/select. Now a couple of games differed or had some other kind of control scheme, but generally this was the rule. Now onto the SNES, B became the main jumping button with Y being run. Of course you could still use A as spin jump in mario, but then you had to use X as run.

So this wasn’t really too big of a deal back then, it was easy to adjust since you could still use your thumb the same way, it was just the button names that changed. And of course most RPGs still used A to select and B to cancel, so it worked out great.

Fast forward to the PS1, when it came out it copied the SNES layout replacing letters with symbols (even though x and o can be seen as letters too). But for the most part RPGs kept o as select and x as cancel, at least for now. Over time they shifted that to x being select and o being cancel. I’m not sure exactly when or how this happened, but I think it had a lot to do with the XBOX. Microsoft couldn’t be bothered to come up with something new, so they just used the same letters and re arranged them. So now XBOX A was were SNES B was, and XBOX B was were SNES A was.

  X       Y        ^
Y  A    X  B    []  O
  B       A       X
SNES  XBOX  Playstation

Of course, Gamecube came out at this time too and introduced a whole new style that some people didnt like while others absolutely loved it. I personaly think it was quite brilliant. A was now a big green button in the center, with B being small and red and off to the side a bit. This was fine because B now wasnt really a run button since you can run/walk using the analog stick. X and Y, the utility type buttons, were grey and above the A button. So with your thumb on A you could get to any of the other buttons fairly easy.

Y    X
   A
B

Unfortunately Nintendo didn’t keep this layout around when the Wii came out, trying something different with the wii remote layout, but they did go back to SNES style for the classic controllers and have since kept that with the Wii U Pro and now the Switch Joycons and Pro Controllers.

So now why do I bring all this up? Well I’ve never had a problem with this until recently. With modern day control layouts, everyone is just about the same now, with xbox360 and up style being the defacto standard. This creates the problem where on SNES A is select and B is cancel, which is swapped from xbox A/b and playstatio x/o. If you try to play on a different console your arent used to your always hitting the wrong buttons by accident.

tl;dr

Looking back, I kind of wish Nintendo would have kept b and a as run and jump respectively on snes, with a layout similar to this

  X
B  Y
  A

Either that or they should have just kept the gamecube layout but just shift the buttons a bit to make it more like other controllers, which probably would’ve ended up close to this anyways.

TL;DR SNES style layout change from b/a on NES to y/b as run/jump makes it too different from the other consoles nowadays and leads to confusion when changing between them.

 

Posted on reddit:

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About mkoetse

Computer Nerd Extraordinaire
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