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Button Mashing

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"Dude, you're not even doing it right. You're just smashing buttons."
"Press the circle button repeatedly to regain your strength. And don't even think of using auto-fire, I'll know."
Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid

In a Fighting Game, the idea is that random button-pressing will somehow unlock a super-powerful attack or result in a series of attacks that will overwhelm your opponent. As you may presume, this is the act of an amateur, and is derided by serious players. There are many reasons someone may resort to this tactic, such as unfamiliarity with the game, desperation when on the disadvantage, or raw anger, but most of the time it results from the complex button inputs required to play competently in traditional fighting games. Of course, it can be a bit infuriating when a more "skillful" opponent loses to someone who does this.

There is also a second type of "mashing": certain characters have moves that can be performed via pressing something over and over. Examples include Chun Li, Blanka, and E. Honda from Street Fighter. Most of the time, this is considered a more legitimate use. With the advent of motion control in video games, the term "waggle" has been used describing a similar practice in which one simply shakes the controller frantically. Some games will have streak breaker code in place to make button mashing less effective, as well as to make it harder for someone to simply spam the same cheap attack repeatedly. Often this works by making the attack miss automatically if used too many times in a row.

Many third-party controllers for video game consoles will have some sort of "auto-fire"/"turbo-fire" functionality to simulate mashing the same button repeatedly simply by holding down the desired button, so that the player does not have to wear out their fingers trying to wail on the button. Some first-party controllers, like the stock TurboGrafx-16 controller and the NES Advantage arcade-style stick, have auto-fire functionality as well. Whether auto-fire is fair play or cheating can be a source of hot debate depending on the game or genre.

Television shows that employ Pac Man Fever will often show the characters playing the video game doing nothing but Button Mashing, regardless of what KIND of video game is being played; more often than not, the screen will show a character walking slowly or merely jumping, while the person "playing" will be frantically mashing buttons.

Smashing Survival is when you need to do this to break free of Harmless Freezing, shake off a Personal Space Invader, or free yourself from some other trap. If Button Mashing proves more advantageous than reasonably foreseeable, it can fall under Not the Intended Use. Compare Pressure-Sensitive Interface, when pushing the interface's buttons harder actually makes it work better.

Unrelated to Rapid-Fire Typing.

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Video game examples:

    Action Game 
  • The final boss battle of Assassin Blue ends with this. As do the Marvel vs. Capcom games.
  • Asura's Wrath will use these for many of its Quick Time Events. This fits the overall theme of the game being about mindless rage rather than skill.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has "Crazy Combos" that are activated by button mashing during the execution of certain moves. All of them are variations of hitting the button repeatedly as fast as possible. This isn't so much the "spray-and-pray" button mashing as it is just hitting one button rapidly to execute a secret move. Exactly how fast you need to mash to trigger the move is determined by your current Style ranking.
  • Devil May Cry 4:
    • Depending on the grappled enemy, Nero's Buster and Devil Buster deal more damage if the player mashes the grab button.
    • Dante's Dance Macabre requires the player to mash the Style button quickly in order to execute the full combo sequence; letting go for a while prematurely ends the combo.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail lampshades this trope; when you first encounter monsters, Fidget encourages you to mash the buttons. TOM had a very sore thumb after that.
  • Enter the Matrix for PS2. Toggle Bullet Time and mash to your heart's content. It usually ended up looking pretty cool though.
  • God of War, but only in Easy Mode. Using moves with defined button sequences and stringing together elaborate combos become increasingly crucial at the higher difficulty settings. Played straight however, during the Quick Time Events, where you sometimes must frantically mash a button to either kill or avoid being killed.
  • Despite what some critics have said, this only works in Bayonetta on Very Easy ... and up to a point. However, both games in the series do offer a sort of button mashing mini-game, which gets used for Torture Attacks and summons of Infernal Demons to finish off enemies to earn extra Halo currency, as well as the occasional Pummel Duel. In Bayonetta 2, button mashing replaces the Press X to Not Die mechanic from the first game.
  • In The Wonderful 101, certain quick time events require you to mash the A button as fast as you can. This is also parodied during the Final Boss: your team, piloting a robot, fire a laser, and mash buttons along with you!
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo as with Enter The Matrix above on console uses a combination of button-mashing and focus.

    Action Adventure 
  • In many of the 2D The Legend of Zelda games, low-level enemy Mooks can be defeated by simply hammering on the "attack" button and clinking away at their swords until you randomly knock them into a position in which you can score an actual hit.
  • Star Fox Adventures has two tests of strength where the objective is to mash the ever-loving crap out of the A button. The first takes place in Lightfoot Village, and the second in a Krazoa palace some time after it. Hope you have fast fingers or a turbo controller for the Lightfoot test, as it is hard.

    Adventure Game 

    Fighting Game 
  • Arcana Heart brings us Akane, and one of her super moves which requires massive amounts of Button Mashing in order to get the best result. How massive? Successfully performing this move once in Arcana Heart 3 is enough to earn an achievement, and it is widely considered to be the most difficult (if not the most time consuming) achievement in the game. Most turbo controllers are not fast enough to perform this attack correctly.
  • BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger has a few characters that use this, most notably Nu-13, the sword-spamming cyborg loli who can hit you with thrown swords from clear across the screen. The trick is that these swords aren't a combo move, they're her basic Drive attack, and mashing the Drive button and playing keep-away is a cheap but viable tactic for Nu players, making her a High-Tier Scrappy for those who care about such things. This is rectified in Continuum Shift when she's replaced by Lambda-11 and gets the range on her Drive attacks cut back significantly, but Unlimited Nu makes up for it by spamming two swords instead of one with every button press and doing more hits with her Distortion Drives.
    • Its sequel Continuum Shift actually has a beginner mode where you can pull basic combos by mashing. If anything it does disable more advanced techniques and abilities, and the tutor for the tutorial mode is Rachel Alucard, who will mock your "hollow cavernous void you call your mind" when you go through the tutorial.
    • Continuum Shift II onwards rename it Stylish control (as opposed to Technical, the standard), though keep it much the same. Central Fiction turns it into a teaching tool by making specials and supers launched with one-button inputs weaker, but using the Technical input resulted in the full-strength version.
  • The gameplay of Dissidia Final Fantasy and its sequel Dissidia 012 largely avoids this trope. However, the EX Burst Action Commands for Garland, Kain, Terra, Cloud, Sephiroth, Zidane, and Kuja require button mashing.
    • To specify, the Action Commands for Kain and Terra are different from the 5 other characters, which only requires you to tap the circle button rapidly until the Charge Meter is full. For the former, you must alternate between different buttons (up to 3 timesnote ) and for the latter, you'll have to mash the circle and left D-Pad buttons simultaneously.
  • The various Dragon Ball Z: Budokai games are often accused of encouraging this practice.
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 made many multi-Supers deal extra damage if you mashed buttons during the attack.
  • Melty Blood: Actress Again added a mechanic where you took very slightly less damage if you pressed an attack button on the exact frame as when you get hit. Mashing buttons is a decent way to activate it, especially if you don't know what exact combo they're doing.
  • The Auto-Combo feature in Persona 4: Arena is accused of being this as if your Special Gauge is filled, you can finish a one button combo with a special attack. However, there's a drawback to this as the special attacks activated by an Auto-Combo are a weaker version compared to one you can input yourself.
  • Sonic the Fighters falls afoul of this, especially the GameCube version as seen on Sonic Gems Collection. Button Mashing is a lot easier when the buttons are labeled, like on an arcade game.
  • Maxi of the SoulCalibur series seems to have been built with this strategy in mind.
    • On the other hand, characters such as Ivy and Voldo are so far away on the opposite side, that either you are awesome playing with them or you suck. Hard.
    • While it's true that Maxi is a Button-Masher's dream in II, by the third game (at least on the PS2 version), he frequently poses for seemingly no reason, allowing the opponent an easy opening to strike.
      • Maxi's predecessor Li Long was slower than Maxi and so could be seen as more balanced.
    • Raphael also has his share of quick, light rapier combos activated by button-mashing that can interrupt other players' attempts at combos.
  • Super Smash Bros. averts this trope completely. Most fighting games use only the control stick/pad and 4-6 attack buttons, but Smash Bros. is more elaborate, making diverse use of its buttons. Instead of pressing back to guard, you have a guard button. Instead of grabbing being something you automatically do when you're really close to an enemy, you have a grab button. You can tap up to jump if that's what you're used to, but since jumping is something you MUST have as much control over as possible if you want to survive, it's better to assign that action to a separate button too. As a consequence, button-mashing only gets you killed.
    • In fact, due to the large, expansive stages that often shift around and/or have environmental hazards (which add a platforming element to the fights), button-mashing can get you killed without your opponent ever even having to lift a finger!
    • Even if you do try to spam an easy attack, they are programmed to get weaker after extreme consecutive use meaning using a variety of moves pays off.
    • The paper fan is basically made of this. Especially in Brawl where escaping its reach once you're caught is damn near impossible.
    • Melee actually awards a player a special end-of-match bonus for button mashing during a match (then again, it does the same thing for damn near everything you can think to do.)
    • There is an example of the second type of button mashing however; for Guest Fighter Bayonetta's Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U she can summon her Infernal Demon pet Gomorrah to attack enemies, and just like in her own games the player can button mash during Gomorrah's 'chewing' to wrack up extra damage.
    • Another example of the second type of button mashing is Luigi's down special, Luigi Cyclone. Mashing the special button while he's spinning will give him some upwards momentum, which can aid in his recovery or control his height while hitting an opponent with the move. How well it works depends on the game.
  • Eddy Gordo, the capoeirista from Tekken 3, is one example of the single-character version of button-masher. However, randomly mashing buttons with any character other than Eddy (and sometimes even with) will result in a swift and merciless beating by anyone even vaguely decent with the Counter system.
    • And in later games, his functional clone Christie Monteiro takes up the role.
      • Lili eventually took the role from Eddy & Christie in 6.
  • In the Virtua Fighter series, characters like Pai Chan, Jacky Bryant and Lion Rafale can punch fast enough while mashing it can stop most of the opponents' attempts at attack (unless the opponents block, duck, reverse, or evade). The arcade AI (around Level 4 or 5), and any decent player will bring a world of hurt if you try this.
    • Pai Chan is especially notable in her ability to grab opponents attacks, by pressing punch+back. A number of people rather quickly figured out that if you just kept pressing punch and back repeatedly, you could advance towards your opponent and fairly often counter their attacks, ala Geese Howard from Fatal Fury. Any decent player will of course spank you if you try this, but it will get you through the first few rounds against the cpu quite handily, especially in the first one.
      • That only worked in the first two games. From the third onwards, you get a reversal miss animation if you try a reversal without the opponent preforming a matching attack (and the move was changed to Back+P+K).

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Pistols in first-person shooters often have no maximum rate of fire, so clicking as fast as possible will fire as many bullets as possible. Since pistols are usually weak, this is not in and of itself a Game-Breaker, but changing the controls so that you fire by spinning the mouse wheel tends to result in overkill.
  • In the Borderlands series, "fires as fast as you pull the trigger" is a property that can occur in the game's randomly-generated guns, particularly if they're Jakobs. Naturally, this tends to be more useful in guns with large magazines than, say, a double-chambered shotgun whose ability to fire rounds quickly has much more to do with reload speed than rate of fire per se.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy: Each installment of the series has at least one semi-automatic beam, which fires as rapidly as the player can hit the fire button. So when that beam is used, the players tap the button as rapidly as they can (while still dodging and weaving). The first game (Metroid Prime) makes it necessary at the beginning, as you lose nearly everything except the Power Beam when your suit gets damaged, meaning the only reliable way to cause damage is to just spam. And it's invoked in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, as Button Mashing is how to keep from being fully corrupted when Hypermode goes corrupt itself.
  • In PlanetSide 2, the Beamer and Inquisitor pistols are almost universally reviled Scrappy Weapons because to maximize their DPS/equalize it with the Commissioner, you have to manage a carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing 9 clicks per second. The best evasive maneuvers for infantry is to wildly fling the mouse across your desk and mash the strafe keys, as infantry have negligible inertia, allowing them to turn their movement direction the instant you turn.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • The games are known for this mechanic, with the sixth installment actually requiring incredibly long chains in order to build up to your very best attacks (the much-reviled renbu system). Or as one fan introduced a You Tube video: "Are you ready to press square three times and roll?" It didn't help that this actually increased the physical toll on the controller's Normal Attack button (X on Xbox 360, Square on PlayStation 2 or 3) even more than previous games did, while the first Charge Attack would have a charge-up time even if comboing into it, making Charge Attack chains an unviable alternative. Probably because of the negative fan reactions, the seventh main game returned to the traditional four-attacks-long Normal attack chains, with fifth and sixth Normal attacks being unlocked by skill points. You're still button mashing, but at least it's different buttons (from ''DW6]).
    • This was averted as the combat systems became more elaborate for Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, and especially Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage. You simply cannot win by trying to mash your way through Ken's Rage; each boss battle demands a rapid series of quick, accurate button presses to defeat, and messing up just once gives them some health back, so you have to wear them back down all over again.
    • Most of the button mashing stems from people not knowing how to use Charge Attacks to better dispatch enemies without heavy mashing, as mashing can only carry you through Normal Mode at most, and Hard Mode and above heavily punishes mindless mashing.
  • For Honor: This is a very bad idea - repeatedly mashing the attack button will result in attacks that can be easily blocked, which will rapidly wind your character, leaving them open to attacks from a (presumably) smarter opponent. Additionally, certain combos will fail if you just button mash, as you need to delay certain attacks for them to work properly. Here, timing is key to victory.
  • This is true of many early Beat 'em Up-type games due to only having one attack button. The more recent God Hand is a notable exception; unlike many of its predecessors in the genre, such as Golden Axe, you can't just mash your way to victory against even the first enemy you meet. Failing to time your attacks and your dodging will get you ass kicked by even the lowliest Mook in short order. Interestingly, it does encourage button mashing at times, but only during 'pummel' events, where the victim can't respond to or avoid your blows.
  • Basically the point of Gauntlet. Most levels have only the objective of killing enemies through mashing buttons about thirty times.
  • Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman has these as part and parcel of the gameplay, known as "All Button Events". Finishing off bosses also requires you to do this to get more Finishing Move time.

  • In Ikenie No Yoru, this is required to get your character to run, if you're not using the Balance Board.

    Light Gun Game 
  • Point Blank (1994) has several time-limited stages with the objective of "Shoot the (target) (number) times to destroy it." In many of these stages, the target will have parts of it fall off as it takes damage, forcing the player to redirect their trigger-mashing fire to other parts of the target.

  • World of Warcraft is sometimes accused of this, probably due to its emphasis on leveling and getting high-power items, especially in comparison to games like Guild Wars, where the emphasis is on using the right skills at the right time on the right enemy.
    • On the other hand, many people complained that Paladin class was no fun due to having far too little buttons to press in a battle.
      • In response, Blizzard adds tons of new skills in pre-WOTLK patch that both Retribution and Protection spec (DPS and tank respectively) are going to have a lot more buttons to mash starting with Divine Storm and Hammer of The Righteous and more spammable Judgements then adding it up even more as you level up. The healing spec also given several new ones.
    • There is actually a difference between fast button pressing and button mashing. Melee classes are expected to hit a button about once a second, because waiting longer to act than the global cooldown requires means they're using nothing but their auto-attack. This isn't the same as pressing buttons at random; classes have a rotation of several different abilities they use in a set order to maximize damage, and/or a priority system based on semi-random that makes certain abilities you wouldn't normally use over another more effective. For most classes good dps is based on hitting the correct buttons very quickly, and it's usually obvious to anyone watching the damage done whether someone's doing it right or just mashing their hotkeys.
    • The newer Cataclysm expansion takes further steps to remove any button mashing. Prior to Cataclysm most classes had an ability rotation, which required hitting buttons in a certain order. Once one knew the order of their rotation a fight that involved standing still was a simple mater of hitting the buttons in the right order, with expert players squeezing out relatively minor increases to their maximum damage vs moderately skilled players. The new Cataclysm game replaced spell rotations with spell priorities. This involves a heavier emphasis on randomized effects and special abilities which can change the strength and importance of a characters abilities. Thus a skilled gamer has to constantly watch for these effects to ensure he is using the best ability at the best time. The game also introduced some minor dead time into most rotations. Occasionally the best option in the game is to not press any button so you can wait for the more powerful ability that will be available in another half second.
    • Of course, none of the above has prevented the introduction of the term "faceroll", which derides classes deemed overly easy to play or overpowered by suggesting one could successfully use said class by doing nothing but binding a couple abilities that are commonly viewed as overpowered to every button on their keyboard and then hitting it with their face throughout every fight they encounter.

    Party Game 
  • The Bishi Bashi series has you do this in several minigames. Good thing the buttons are pretty big.
  • Non-Fighting Game examples include several activities from the Mario Party and WarioWare series. In some of the minigames, the scores are directly tied to how fast players can mash the buttons.
  • Many Mario Party games have extensive button mashing, usually involving hammering the A or B button as fast as possible with said control as the only control in the mini game.
    • Mario Party: There's the infamous 'rotate the control stick as fast as possible' variation from the minigames Pedal Power, Paddle Battle and Tug o' War, which were removed from later games because the rapid rotation damages the analogue stick, causing its full range detection to unalign (effectively meaning that even if you fully tilt the stick, the system reads it as a 3/4 tilt). The pain it caused on gamers' hands helped the decision.
    • Mario Party 5 has a minigame called Button Mashers, which has two dueling characters press repeatedly a different button for each falling block to hold them with their hands and avoid getting crushed by them, and each button that is indicated has to be pressed at the same time. Whoever fails to keep the pace will lose the minigame, rendering the other victorious.
    • Mario Party 9:
      • Launch Break is a mini-game where the players mash the buttons on the controller to power up a rocket as much as possible. The rocket is divided into three segments, with the timer having three segments to match, forcing players to switch which button they are mashing at a moment's notice. First they mash the 1 button, then the 2 button, and finally, they shake the Wii Remote sideways as fast as possible. The player who does the best job at mashing the correct buttons will launch their rocket higher than anyone else to win the minigame.
      • DK's Jungle Ruins has a Lucky Space event where one player is placed in the hands of a large Donkey Kong statue with a trail of Bananas floating above them. The player is given five seconds to mash the A button as fast as possible to build up power before the statue throws them up at the Bananas. The more power they build up, the higher they will be launched, and the more Bananas they will get.
    • Mario Party: Star Rush:
      • In Toad Scramble, any players who didn't make it to the Boss space before a Boss Minigame can mash the A button to join the battle sooner.
      • The boss minigame Bowser's Hit or Missile Mania requires the players to mash the A button to charge up power to fire missiles at Bowser.
    • Mario Party: The Top 100: Certain minigames from previous games that involved players pressing certain buttons as quickly as possible return, and are grouped within the Action category. They even have a dedicated minigame pack, the Masher Pack.
    • Super Mario Party: Pull It Together is a tug-of-war minigame where players pull their side of the rope by mashing the rightmost button on their Joy-Con as quickly as they can. As this is a Team minigame, any ally characters will join the game as well, giving a noticeable advantage to players who have more.
    • Mario Party Superstars: Some of the minigames that rely on pressing repeatedly a button (usually A) are brought back for this game: Piranha's Pursuit (1, solo player only), Baloon Burst (2), Cheep Cheep Chase (3), Eatsa Pizza (3), Pokey Pummel (7), etc.

    Platform Game 
  • In the N64 game Banjo-Tooie, in Glitter Gulch Mine and Cloud Cuckooland, you race an annoying bird named "Canary Mary"; both instances require button mashing to beat her. In particular, the 2nd time you race her in Cloud Cuckooland, it is nigh impossible to beat her without some sort of turbo controller, and even then, you have to utilize the Rubberband AI aspect of the race to win.
  • Kao The Kangaroo: Round 2 has unlockable minigames, all of which require you to do exactly that.
  • The Legendary Starfy series:
    • In Densetsu no Stafy 4, this is required for the boss battle against Owlrun: He spawns a tornado you are required to shoot with projectiles by pressing the Y button very quickly (you are in a propeller suit during this battle), or you'll lose a big chunk of your HP-meter.
    • In the fifth game, after beating the final boss's two forms, he launches a meteor at you which you must button mash to repel; not doing this quickly enough kills you and sends you back to the boss's first form, making it something of a ''Press X to Not Die" as well. As the game is rather easy and not really hardcore, the game's target audience seems to find this quite difficult. A common method of beating this is taking a long, somewhat thin object like a pencil or the DS stylus and rub it against the edge of the button.
  • At the end of every level in Marsupilami: Hoobadventure, a giant fruit is located. Once you grab it, if you mash the attack button, the Marsupilami you're currently playing as will take more and more bites out of it, every bite being worth one fruit. A similar thing happens at the end of the various boss fights with the game's Big Bad. Once he stops to catch a breath, if you mash the attack button, the Marsupilami will attack him more and more until he gets knocked out.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:

    Puzzle Game 
  • One question of The Impossible Quiz requires you to "CHARGE UR LAZER" by rapidly clicking on the lazer, and one in The Impossible Quiz 2 requires you to mash your keyboard. One in the second quiz is a subversion, though - it asks you to hit Tab fifty times in a short time period. Hitting Tab is instant death. But if you wait, just as the clock is about to run out, the game tells you "Wait, don't, you'll die!" and moves to the next question.
  • Meteos has "scribble-fu," the act of, when in a pinch, randomly scribbling on the touch screen until a bunch of rockets go off. The sequel curbs this by allowing side-to-side movement (the original only allows movement in columns, so random scribbling would scramble a ton of meteors quickly). Its next sequel could only be played with analog sticks, so no scribbling there.
  • Tetris:
    • In the games that utilize the Super Rotation System, mashing a rotation button while pushing the current piece (assuming it's not the 2x2 "O" piece) in the direction of a sufficiently step-ridden stack of blocks will allow your block to climb up the stack. As a result, SRS is regarded by some players as a Game-Breaker.
    • Sometimes even the "O" piece lets you do this. Just keep hitting a rotate button and you can keep the piece in play, even though it's not changing at all.
    • In the Game Boy Colour version, you didn't even need stepped stacks, you could rotate the piece against the right or left side of the screen (depending on the orientation of the block). If you mashed fast enough, you could actually get the block to gain height, letting you stall for as much time as needed.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Wii's motion controls for DanceDanceRevolution are very subject to random 'waggle'. Practically every hand indicator can be satisfied with a punch in any direction, and the time frame is rather forgiving so it doesn't necessarily need to be in rhythm.
  • Thanks to the DJMAX series's timing judgment system (in which the only "bad" judgment triggers when you not hit a note at all), it's fairly easy to button mash even the hardest songs in the game for a full combo, even moreso in games with the "auto correct" feature (which gives you credit for a note even if you hit the wrong key). It's not very good for your accuracy, however.
    • Some charts in DJMAX Technika have repeat notes that are very quick and require you to mash not a button, but the touchscreen. Thankfully the touchscreen on a Technika machine is very durable.
  • Rock Band has the Big Rock Ending at the end of some songs, which represents the tendency for bands during live concerts to finish songs by whaling on their instruments for about 10 or 15 seconds (or minutes). However, this is actually a subversion, as the mechanics for scoring these Big Rock Endings means if you hit notes quickly, each note is worth fewer points, so you get the same amount of points regardless of how much you're actually mashing the buttons. Basically, as long as you hit a note in each lane for guitar or bass every 1.5 seconds, or any note for drums every 1.5 seconds, you'll get about the same amount of points.
  • Groove Coaster has Beat notes, which are similar to "hold" notes, except you repeatedly press the touchscreen (iOS) or the Boosters (arcade) until the note ends.
  • In the Groove 2 has Roll notes which act similar to hold notes, but instead require stepping on the corresponding panel repeatedly—specifically, the note will break if more than 0.3 seconds passes without stepping on the panel while the note is in effect. Roll notes often come in pairs to make the player run in place.
  • In PriPara, this is used during Cyalume Change and during the bonus rounds in the game. note 
  • Super Beat Sports: At the end of a round of Gobble Golf, all the unused balls are fed to an extra-hungry Nibbz for bonus points by mashing the buttons. The faster they're fed, the more bonus points that are earned.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • .hack//G.U. has this feature in Avatar battles to reduce the damage taken from Data Drains.
  • Afterimage: Encouraged by the "Anemoslash" gameplay mechanic of the Anemogrim blade weapon. One tap of the attack button simply creates a few slash arcs, but the lack of an actual attack animation from Renee makes it a Spam Attack that's more reliable if the attack button is repeatedly tapped.
  • The console versions of Dragon Age II have the player constantly pressing the attack button during combat with the player-controlled character rather than the automatic fighting of the computer version, although an auto-attack toggle was meant to be in the console versions and was only omitted due to a manufacturing error. The second patch adds it back in.
  • When you summon a GF with the Boost ability in Final Fantasy VIII, you can mash the square button during the summoning sequence to increase the GF's power. In order to prevent players from making the GF do too much damage too easily, the button mashing sequence has a few breaks in between, where you have to stop mashing until you can go again. Trying to button mash when you are told to stop will reset the GF's power level.
  • The Kingdom Hearts games, especially the sequel, are frequently accused of being button mashy, because most enemies can be defeated by simply using physical attacks repeatedly (tapping the X button), rendering magic and special attacks largely unnecessary. However, this is only true in the easier modes of the games, while the harder modes make magic and special attacks a must if you want to win.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, however, this attack strategy will quickly lead to your demise, even in the early stages. Thanks, card system.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, this is subverted somewhat — though in Story mode Roxas can still benefit from non-stop button mashing, several enemies exist to ruin this strategy, such as the Armors, Sapphire Elegies, and Emerald Serenades. Also, most of the boss battles have attack patterns that discourage button-mashing in favor of specific magics or timed blocks. Combine this with the fact that magic was improved GREATLY since the second game, and some of the missions are actually easier to beat without using physical attacks at all. And if you think Zexion, Demyx, Vexen, Xigbar, and Donald are just going to button-mash their way through Mission Mode levels, you're in for a rude awakening.
    • Averted in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep which is the series' equivalent of a Wake-Up Call Boss; if you try to spam X, you will die. For example, Ven's first boss easily qualifies as That One Boss and he and Aqua face Vanitas early on in their stories (Terra, on the other hand, instead gets to deal with Braig, but all three storylines are quite notorious). Almost every strategy that you may have utilized to systematically wipe out your foes in the previous games can and will be a liability here.
    • There's also the fact that even typically useless spells like Stop are here incredibly useful and almost guaranteed to work on mooks.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] is somewhat of a mix. On one hand, it is possible to defeat Sora's version ofthe first boss of Traverse Town by literally bouncing off the walls by mashing the Flowmotion command until it dies, and basic physical attacks are still the most important method of dealing damage in the game. However, Dream Eaters are much tougher than Heartless, and getting tunnel vision while fighting some of the later ones is a good way to get killed. Spells like Zero Graviza can turn vast hordes of superpowered Dream Eaters into immobile piles of floating enemies, and the silly looking Baloonga is one of the most effective ways of defeating the Optional Boss. If you just load up your ability deck with Cure spells and Drop Me Nots, you're not going to last long.
    • The Final Boss battle in Kingdom Hearts II has a section involving lasers that requires you to do this or die.
  • The Mattock Battle Rifle that can be bought as part of a weapon expansion for Mass Effect 2 fires as fast as you can push your mouse button. It also does this during Adrenaline Rush as a Soldier (whereas every other weapon slows down), turning it into a Game-Breaker.
  • Pokémon: This is the method of catching fish. It's also a widely used but apocryphal technique for catching Pokémon, especially in the Safari Zone.
  • Subverted in Secret of Mana: every player attack required a set amount of time to recharge to full strength afterwards. Mashing the attack button would result in a flurry of weak attacks that rarely inflicted more than Scratch Damage, and higher-level enemies would simply block/evade them outright.
  • In Super Mario RPG, some of the magic attacks were powered by mashing the buttons or rotating the control pad. The same is true for its Spiritual Successor, Paper Mario.
  • The Star Ocean uses button mashing quite a bit. In fact, the control sticks are rarely needed (unless you just want to get out of the way or change your range). Take Star Ocean: Till the End of Time for example, you'll be pressing O and X... a lot. In fact, they give you battle trophies for up to 5 million button presses. On the other hand, you can't just keep mashing buttons forever, because you'll run out of Fury. You have to stop every so often and let the gauge fill back up.
  • Multiple characters throughout the Tales Series have skills that either add hits to combos while button mashing or reduce casting time to spells when doing so.
  • The battle system in The World Ends with You practically revolves around spamming. To attack with your own character, you'll poke, slash, circle and rub the touch screen at a ridiculous rate (not to mention blowing into the mic). To attack with your partner, you'll spam a button. You could let the computer do that, but nobody does.
  • Certain offensive items in The Legend of Dragoon will have you hammer away at the X button to increase their effectiveness.
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom: Battles tend to be frantic affairs against multiple enemies, so you may find yourself ignoring the subtleties of the combat system in favour of this loop:
    1. Hammer quick melee button to build up MP.
    2. Spend MP on favourite skill attacks.
    3. Repeat from 1.
  • In Persona 5, during one scene, the MC, Ryuji, Ann and Morgana are on a train. Unfortunately, they haven't paid the pet fare, so in order to make sure that they don't get thrown off, when a passerby comes up to the group, they play Morgana off as a stuffed animal that makes a meowing sound when its head is pressed. One of the prompts (which itself became a meme), both mentions this trope by name, and then promptly invokes it, much to Morgana's dismay.
    Time to button mash.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Prevalent in many older Shoot Em Ups, to the point where some arcade operators will hack in buttons to provide external autofire and manufacturers of third-party controllers will add autofire functionality so that players don't have to wear themselves out trying to continously pound on the fire button.
  • Darius Gaiden: if you mash the fire button really fast (or use a turbo controller), you can achieve a firing rate much faster than the autofiring rate you get by holding it down. This makes the game go from extremely Nintendo Hard to somewhat manageable but still annoying. There's even a cheat in the Saturn port that grants this kind of autofire without the need to mash the fire button, and the official ROM Hack Darius Gaiden Extra has it as the default autofire. The Darius Gaiden high score thread on Shmups Forum permits scores achieved with the super fast autofire. Sadly, the Taito Legends 2 version of the game prevents you from firing this fast, even with a turbo controller. Fortunately, the Darius Cozmic Collection version adds autofire back in, with multiple frequency options available.
  • Lethal Thunder is all about this. Continuously mashing the fire button allows you to attack and builds up your attack gauge, which powers up your main weapon (as well as giving you a Smart Bomb). Furthermore, you have to do this constantly or else your attack gauge will drain.
  • In Star Soldier R, there's a mode called "Quick Shot" mode, and the objective is to mash the fire button for 10 seconds, after which your button pressing rate is shown.
  • In Hellsinker, some characters have alternate fire modes when the fire button is pressed very rapidly. For example, Deadliar gains an Armor-Piercing Attack and Kagura in her Infernal Sabbath configuration fires out a heavier density of bullets.
  • Battle Garegga has a standard auto-fire attack, but mashing the attack button allowed you to increase the firing rate and speed of your bullets. Due to the way the game's Dynamic Difficulty works, this generally isn't recommended until the later stages as it can drive your Rank up much faster if you shoot a lot without regards to hitting anything.
  • Star Gagnant has two types of shot: A regular shot fired by holding down the shot button, and a special shot fired by rapidly tapping the fire button and which is simply the normal shot but with more powerful ammo. The special shot gets stronger the faster you press the button. However, this isn't completely abusable, as special shots will drain the special gauge, which recharges over time or by picking up yellow "SP" items.note 

    Sports Game 
  • Averted in Punch-Out!!. If you randomly spam punches, the enemy will eventually do nothing but block until you get tired. Once tired, you're very easy to defeat, and chances are, if you try this tactic, you'll have no idea how to counteract tiredness.
  • A deliberate use of Button Mashing was used for Track & Field, where the primary may of winning is to hit the buttons as fast as possible. (At least some console versions came with their own button-only controllers.) Some gamers have created unconventional methods to press the buttons - stuff like putting a sheet of hard plastic and moving a pen over the buttons, or hitting the buttons with a vibrating ruler - while others have created mechanical button pressing devices to help their progress through the game.
    • Track & Field actually combines button mashing and Press X to Not Die for disciplines like Long Jump - after button-mashing up to running speed, the player has to press the Jump button at the precise moment for a precise duration to jump off the line at the best angle.
    • Alternating buttons or thrashing the joystick to run / build power / whatever was pretty much de rigeur for every damn sports game released on anything in the 1980s; Track & Field, Hyper Sports, The Activision Decathlon, Daley Thompson's Decathlon (and Daley Thompson's Super Test) and even the Viz sports game used it, to name but a very select few. Let us have a minute of silence for all the poor joysticks that fell (apart) in the track-and-field of battle.
    • The skeet shooting event in Hyper Sports (and the NES version of Track and Field) is one of the few events in the game to defy this. The objective is to shoot down clay pigeons which get faster as you shoot down more of them consecutively. Shooting rapidly and missing will cause your gun to jam, locking your inputs for a second and resetting the speed of the clay pigeons, costing you precious time and potential points.
  • Waggling the Wii Remote and Nunchuk randomly and as fast and hard as humanly possible in Wii Sports: Wii Boxing is more effective than any other strategy.

    Stealth-Based Game 

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In P.N.03, many of the early suits required you to bash fire as quickly as possible. Eventually you had the ability to upgrade to a suit with autofire and the ability to add autofire to the early suits.
  • Vanquish makes you tap a single button (Or spin the analog) until Sam moves at full speed. And that's the speed of a man with rockets on his legs and back.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • [PROTOTYPE] features many powers, but unarmed style fighting gives the player plenty of options regarding offensive maneuvers. The most button-mashy moves are simply chaining normal attacks as well as the notable Air Combo with a complimentary Spike Driver finisher for it.

    Wrestling Game 
  • In 3 Count Bout for the Neo Geo, winning grapples is a matter of mashing the A button; the Attract Mode tutorial gives fair warning of this.
  • This is a fairly common practice in wrestling games that feature a dynamic submission system, like the WWE Video Games. Whether you force your opponent to tap out or they break free of your hold usually comes down to how rapidly you can hit the button[s]. Many games that implement a different system by default often give you an option to switch back to the classic Button Mashing, and some will rapidly change which button to mash during the struggle, just to keep quicker-thumbed players on their toes.

  • Covetous: after a whole game of feeding on your brother's life energy and growing inside his body, the final level consists of a prompt to mash the left and right arrow keys to fill up a bar before your health bar empties. If you mash enough times, you pull a Chest Burster on your brother. If you fail (or, more likely, decide to lose on purpose, given how lenient the mashing is), you wither and die, sparing your brother's life at the cost of your own.
  • Crush Crush: Atoning to Mio at Adversary level has her say:
    Oh, that's okay. It's not your fault that you button mashed 1500 hours of my life down the drain...
  • Doofus Drop: To start the bike and make it hit the object/ramp fast, you need to mash the pedal button as fast as possible.
  • Progressbar 95: The scanning minigame. You have to mash the "Scan" button to reach 100% before the errors do.

Non-video-game examples:

  • A Nintendo Power ad shows button mashing on the NES Advantage controller without syncing to gameplay footage.
  • An ad for the original Game Boy shows a teenager and a man in a metal suit button mashing on two Game Boys connecting to a link cable while playing Tetris.
  • An ad for Tetris on the NES shows a player pushing very fast on the controller even when the piece on the screen is rotating normally or moving downward at a steady rate of speed.
  • The "Witch Doctor" commercial for Dr. Mario has some intense button mashing for two old Game Boys hooked up to a link cable.
  • The "Zelda Rap" ad for The Legend of Zelda has button mashing that isn't too far from actual gameplay.

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: The video game F-Mega requires its players to button mash at the start of a race in order to give their car a speed boost before crossing the starting line. Telence T. D'Arby abuses this mechanic by using his Stand, Atum, to press the gas button as quickly as possible, going beyond average human speeds.
  • In Lucky Star, Konata claims that her skill in running comes from visualizing herself playing Track & Field while using the typical button mashing, including the famous coin and ruler tricks. She demonstrates this while she runs a real footrace during the sports festival, and the scene immediately cuts to the style of the game.
  • Parodied in Niea_7, when the final round of a video game tournament features Track and Field. The winner? An old lady with the shakes.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: This is Attenborough's only job. Most of the time, the buttons cause something to be fired from the mecha he's sitting in.

    Board Games 
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos is the mechanical version of this.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Happens in two stories.
    • In "The Autobiography," first Mittens and then Penny are shown frantically pushing keys and clicking the mouse on the latter's computer. The cat manages to ruin Penny's computer while doing so, and the girl's later such actions prove ineffective when it acts up.
    • In "The Spaceship," the aliens frantically press buttons on the translating console in front of them trying to figure out what language Rhino is speaking. They unsuccessfully guess Croatian and Filipino before finally choosing English.
  • One resurrected king of a magical land + highly-advanced wormhole technology = this trope when said king (Leoric) is given instructions on sabotaging said tech in Heroes of the Desk: Repercussions. A scientist later lampshades it by pointing out the resulting screwup looked like someone just pushed buttons to cause it.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In general, people not familiar with pinball will mash the start button in an attempt to start a game. If the player has put in 2 or more credits (or they're at a machine set to free play), this will result in a multiplayer game. Some beginners and small children will also attempt to mash the flippers when they play (which experienced players jokingly but affectionately call "seals"), though they learn very quickly not to do it.
  • One of Black Rose's Video Modes requires you to mash the Fire button to outswim a shark. Doing this when Polly shows also prompts an Easter Egg, killing her and awarding 2 million points.
  • Cheating in Jack*Bot requires mashing the Extra Ball buy-in button several times.
  • This is what you need to do to win the "Run From Spike" Video Mode in Junk Yard.
  • In the DOS version of Psycho Pinball, the "Strong Arm" Mini-Game requires the player to rapidly mash buttons to win.
  • One mode in Star Wars (Stern) has the player mash the action button repeatedly to destroy TIE fighters - made more difficult by the fact that the ball is still in play.
  • Mashing the action button is the only way to collect gold whenever it's available in Pirates of the Caribbean (Jersey Jack).
  • "Pizza Party" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern) requires mashing the action button repeatedly to eat 40 pieces of pizza in 6 seconds.

  • In Ice Hockey, some fighters adopt a simple tactic known as "going for it" where the player puts their head down (to avoid face blows) and in the words of The Other Wiki, "just throws as many punches as he can, as fast as he can".


    Web Original 
  • Pat of Two Best Friends Play is a professional button masher. And it shows.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Nerd has scathingly said that every time you see someone in a movie mashing buttons on a console controller, clearly pretending to play a video game, they're not pretending, they're playing Winter Games.
  • Strong Bad of Homestar Runner tends to use "mash" as a synonym for "push", and is clearly fond of old, button-mashing video games himself.
  • The Irate Gamer always seems to be just hammering on the controller when we see him "playing" whatever game he's reviewing in the current episode. In videos mocking him, expect cries of "Winter Games" (a la the aforementioned AVGN comment).

    Western Animation 
  • In Regular Show, this is Rigby's default way of playing arcade games, as seen above. It doesn't really work that well. Except against the Destroyer of Worlds.
  • In Wander over Yonder, Lord Hater button mashed the fire buttons on his ship by placing a pencil between his fingers like a seesaw and tapping as fast as he could.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Name" starts with Gumball getting an arcade game's high score when he realizes all the combos are useless against Button Mashing. And so is Gumball's Enemy Within.
  • Toonami's review of Dust: An Elysian Tail ends with TOM complaining about how much his thumb hurts.
    TOM: Man... my thumb hurts...
  • One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the Cutie Mark Crusaders attempting to get their cutie marks with a psychic card game. Apple Bloom becomes so fed up that she pushes all six buttons to the machine at once. It retaliates by spitting cards at Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

    Real Life 
  • Takahashi Meijin, who became famous in the 80's for being able to pull the light gun's trigger as fast as 16 times per second.
  • There's a story that the original hazard perception test in the UK Driving Test only checked that the candidate pressed the button when a danger was on screen.
  • The phenomena, noted by observational comedians, of the user of a TV remote-control frenziedly hammering the buttons harder and harder to get a response, should the batteries fail. Even bringing it right up to the sensor on the TV set and hammering the buttons to encourage it to work. At which point you might as well manually change channels on the TV itself.
  • Dominoes are a game where the less one tries to strategize, the better one fares at the game. However, there are places in the world (like the Caribbean or Cuba) where dominoes are treated like a card game, requiring strategizing and careful planning, which prolongs the game. If you're playing there, or with people from there, then you can win easily by getting rid of your dominoes as fast as you can, but that will make the game not quite as fun for the people playing against you.

Alternative Title(s): Button Masher, Button Mash