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Posted on Jun 21st 2022 at 10:36:57 PM by (koola6)
Posted under A Documentary, controls, controllers, gamepads, gaming

A while ago I received Paper Mario: the Origami King as a gift from my parents. I have played the game a bit, but as I was getting used to the controls, I noticed something. The D-Pad has no functions at all! This is the type of game you would expect the D-Pad to fully work with. Ever since then, I've been noticing the same problem in various other games.

The D-Pad issue has two sides to it: either a) the D-Pad just isn't connected to any keybind at all, or b) it's connected to a set of inputs that makes little to no sense for it to go to. It seems many new games fall into category "a", while games from 2-4 years ago fall into category "b".

I have a theory that this is part of the "technology evolution" we all have been just getting used to lately. Sometimes, things that you don't notice but function perfectly fine are removed. And then, when you actually want to use those things, you realize what happened. (Apple users know this all too well.)

I said that I first noticed this with Paper Mario: the Origami King, but I also noticed it in Scribblenauts Mega Pack before I started really thinking about it. (For reference, in the original PC and Wii U build these versions seem to be based off, the D-Pad will function as expected. It moves you.) But in Scribblenauts Mega Pack, the D-Pad is assigned to a group of buttons that used to be on the top of the screen at all times as part of the HUD. (The originals were touchscreen games.)

My point being that the D-Pad in Scribblenauts Mega Pack is assigned to a menu that makes no sense to me. It's not even explained how the D-Pad functions in-game. I just kinda figured it out myself. What is explained in-game is the ability of pausing the game to get to these actions.

The original "b" case I brought up can be useful at times. I just wish that they would assign it to some other but ton that doesn't get used very often, like Select.

And it is for this very reason that modern controllers (like the DualSense and Xbox Series controllers) still keep the D-Pad in the first place.

In most modern games, however, you will usually get nothing for seemingly no reason. There might be some people who are disabled in a way that they can't use the control stick and use the D-Pad instead; but modern games not accepting any movement options other than stick or even having a way to rebind your controls really makes me worry about accessibility.

I've been koola, and it's called a Directional Pad, not a "Directions Pad".

(What even is the Xbox 360 controller's D-Pad anyway?)

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Interesting insights.  I'm often disappointed when, for example, a side-scrolling game that doesn't utilize analog features for control still has the D-pad disabled and forces the player to use an analog stick.  Of course l'm also a big proponent for complete button-remapping in all games, so we have a long way to go...

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Welcome to my little side of the internet! This is where I post game reviews, video-game related things, and stuff about MY game, OMNIFATE. Expect a new article about every month; sometimes I post more than once in a month or take five-month long breaks.

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