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Pressure-Sensitive Interface

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Whenever someone in fiction presses a button, how hard they press always determines the effect. For some reason, you can make something work better just by pressing the appropriate button harder, or by pressing it multiple times, even though there's absolutely no reason this would work in real life.

This uses similar logic to Tim Taylor Technology and is the buttony version of Percussive Maintenance.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In one episode of Battle of the Planets the guy pounds the firing button with his fist, full strength. The missile practically explodes its way out of the launcher.
  • Subverted in the filler Bount arc for Bleach. During a fight in a hospital, one of the characters does the elevator button variation. The mod souls point out that that's not going to make it go any faster, but Kurodo cheerfully tells him to keep pressing if it makes him happy.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a kind of psycho Gonk called Attenborough who appears to be in charge of using the giant mechs' cannons. He never does any aiming or anything, mind you. And he often acts so rash that he puts the whole team in danger. Presumably he's only in this position because he pushes those buttons very enthusiastically, and really damn hard.

    Comic Books 
  • In Gold Digger, defunct 1970's super hero team the Wonder Friends had a base full of hi-tech vehicles based on the Thunderbirds. The old members, now part of Agency Zero, still have access to them, and they still work... but the on-board A.I.s will only oblige to work if they are approached dramatically. Just pushing the launch button won't do. You have to SLAM it down while saying a battle cry!

    Film — Animated 
  • WALL•E
    • The Big Bad pushes a button to turn off the Holo-Detector and lower it back into the floor, but WALL•E holds it up. So, the Big Bad takes out an electric prod and pushes the button with that, and the Holo-Detector lowers faster and overpowers WALL•E.
    • Also averted earlier in the movie, when WALL•E, trapped in an escape pod about to blow up, presses the button for self-destruct to try and turn it off, then repeatedly presses it.

  • Averted in the Isaac Asimov short story Risk, in which an experimental hyperdrive failed to work because the robot at the controls, having been ordered to pull the activation lever "firmly", pulled it so hard that it bent out of shape.
  • Early on in Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, after Rei detonates a missile at close range to destroy an unidentified aircraft, the canopy is shredded, the Guy in Back bails out, and Yukikaze goes into an out-of-control spiral that he cannot recover from. It takes several harrowing seconds before Rei realizes the cause of the spiral is because he has lost all feeling in his right arm due to shrapnel from the explosion, and he was unconsciously pressing down way too hard on the pressure-sensitive touchpad flight controls.

    Live Action TV 
  • From the old HBO Not Necessarily The News, "Sniglets" section:
    Elecceleration: The mistaken belief that repeatedly pressing the elevator button will make it go faster.
  • From Stargate Atlantis, the last season, where an abandoned ship that autonomously travels through parallel universes carrying the heroes meets a universe full of hostile aliens, facing them to attack. Needless to say, Ronan is jamming on the rail gun button, then Sheppard says,"Take it easy, Chewy."

    Video Games 
  • Every button on the PS2 controller worked like this. Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 were practically the only games that did anything with it, though. If you push the fire button and let go, you shoot, but if you push the button and lightly let go, you'll holster your gun without firing a shot. It was tricky as hell.
    • When the first game was remade for the Gamecube with mostly PS2 controls, they got around the Gamecube controller not having pressure sensitive buttons by having you press Y, then A, in succession to holster your weapon.
    • Also, another Kojima game, Zone of the Enders, had a weapon that made use of the pressure-sensitive PS2 buttons. A light push would result in a wide-angle, point-blank spray, while a hard one would increase the range from "melee" to merely "short" with a narrower spread.
    • Gran Turismo IV had the cars go faster the harder you push the X button.
      • Throttle is modulated by the X button, and main brakes are modulated via square. Handbrake and reverse (circle and triangle, respectively) are not pressure-sensitive. Same story for all shoulder buttons.
      • Likewise for some other racing/driving games (eg GTA).
    • Want to talk tricky? Squaresoft's 3D beat-em-up The Bouncer differentiated between light and heavy presses of the four attack buttons, and this was a critical part of the fighting system. Good luck to you if you're the kind of player who mashes buttons—or even just presses down hard—when things get intense.
    • The rhythm game Mad Maestro relies on this. Notes are color-coded based on how lightly or hardly you have to jam on the button, which also affects the volume of the music.
      • The original Japanese version, Bravo Music, had a special baton peripheral that made this much easier.
    • All in all, the idea was Awesome, but Impractical due to being so difficult to get the hang of, and the feature was eventually dropped for the Playstation 4.
    • The Namco NeGcon features pressure-sensitive "I" and "II" buttons where the Square and X buttons would be on a conventional PS1 controllernote , as well as a pressure-sensitive L button.
  • The Nintendo Gamecube had touch sensitive shoulder buttons, with another button at the very bottom of each the buttons.
    • Luigi's Mansion used this function to control the Poltergust, pressing the button hard increased suction power, and pressing it all the way down makes Luigi stationary.
      • The same functionality was used in Super Mario Sunshine with the water pack F.L.U.D.D., where a light press will have the nozzle spray directly in front of Mario and he can move around, and a hard press will make him stationary but allow him to maneuver the nozzle freely.
    • Super Smash Bros. Melee also used this function. The shoulder buttons were used for shielding: lightly pushing the button made a larger but more translucent, and likely weaker, shield; pushing the button harder made the shield more compact as well as more durable and opaque.
    • The Nintendo GameCube installments of the Rogue Squadron series mapped the accelerator to the right trigger. Clicking the button underneath would (depending on your craft) either trigger a rechargeable booster, or close your S-foils (giving you increased speed but disabling your weapons). To accelerate to max speed normally, you would need to hold down the trigger without pressing the button underneath.
  • And of course, the Xbox controllers (both original and 360) are loaded with pressure sensitive buttons. Not many games use them though, as the large shoulder triggers are more intuitive for that sort of thing.
    • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, when using the white/black buttons to raise/lower price offers with vendors, how hard you push them determines how fast the figure changes.
    • Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball made good use of the face buttons's pressure sensitivity if enabled by the player. The harder you press, the stronger the girls spiked/served the ball. (If the feature was disabled, the A and B buttons were the "strong" buttons while the X and Y buttons were the "weak" buttons, similar to a fighting game's button layout).
  • Likewise, the Nintendo DS touch screen can tell between a light and a hard press.
    • In the Metroid Prime: Hunters demo (First Hunt), light presses on the menu screen options would give tooltips, while harder presses would actually select things.
    • Some games don't register light presses at all, forcing you to stab the screen with the stylus and pray you're not damaging it.
    • Rhythm Heaven deserves a special mention here, as it can have you hold the stylus on the screen and flick. It also tells the difference between light and hard taps. Moai Doo Wop especially. It has you using light and hard taps within the same game.
  • The earliest incarnation of the Street Fighter 1 arcade cabinets used giant pressure sensitive buttons for Punch and Kick rather than the traditional six-button setup used today. After kids and angry/enthusiastic patrons destroyed the hydraulic pumps that operated the buttons via furious mashing did Capcom realize this setup was not a very good idea.
    • Interestingly enough, the idea was reused for the EO versions of Capcom vs. SNK 2. The strengths of punches and kicks are determined by the pressure exerted on the L and R buttons in an attempt to simplify the controls for the Nintendo GameCube and Xbox.
  • The difficult-but-rewarding "Second-Stage Quickboost" tactic in Armored Core 4/for Answer relies on the 360/PS3's pressure sensitive buttons. Specifically, pressing the quickboost button ordinarily will unleash the ordinary burst. However, by pressing the button to the point such that it almost activates, and then activating it with a light pressure will trigger this. Quick Boost is intended to be an emergency get-out-of-the-way burst of speed; properly applied, Second Stage boosting can and will outrun enemies using their supposedly faster Overed Boost.
  • In Nostalgia (BEMANI), Recital mode features sections that mandate that you hit the keys lighter or harder than usual.

    Web Comics 
  • In Bob and George the time travel suit is controlled by one button on the belt buckle. You have to practically type out a command in Morse Code with it to actually do anything. The duration and pressure of the press is important.
    • Exaggerated in the April 19, 2005 strip, by way of a character's prank. "Then maybe if I turn the button another 47.5 degrees, caress the button and tell it what a good little button I think it is... Then I'll turn the button 63.2 degrees with my left hand, sneeze on it lightly, and push it all the way down again." It works.
      • Immediately lampshaded. "Sheesh Dr. Light, It's only one button."

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television. A common way of expressing frustration. Say you're in a hurry and you're trying to cross the street, and you pushed the button to cross, but the crosswalk light isn't changing. It's not uncommon in this circumstance to futilely press the button over and over. Similarly, if you click/double-click something on a computer and nothing happens, you'll be sorely tempted to do it again, even though this may just slow the action down further. People playing fighting games start mashing the buttons harder as they get more desperate, even when it's just an ordinary digital button and they're only destroying the controller.
  • Sometimes, buttons that have become worn or dirty do need a second attempt with a bit more force in order to close the contact, which is why elevator controls and the like usually light up and/or sound a tone to signal the fact that they've been activated.
  • All British pedestrian crossings have an indicator which lights when the button is pressed (on older versions, it's an illuminated WAIT sign, and on newer versions a red light). People still press the button repeatedly.
    • Irish crossings have the light too. But sometimes no light means "no signal" and a light means "signal received"; sometimes it's dim light: no signal, bright light: signal received; and sometimes it's permanently a dim light. So people press it over anyway.
  • Some crosswalks at intersections that have been converted back to pure timer operation have their buttons disconnected, and pressing does nothing. People are already used to waiting, so nobody notices any difference.
  • On at least one computer system, pressing buttons repeatedly will make it realize that you're impatient, and it will speed up. The system was designed to give programs that interacted with the user a higher priority than background processes that didn't. Pressing random keys during a long calculation would make it treat the task as interactive, so the calculation finished sooner.
    • A lot of PC GUI applications scroll this way. If you drag to select text or pixels, and your pointer leaves the scrollable part of the window, the will slowly start to scroll. Some apps scroll faster if the user moves the mouse because they scroll one unit per "event", and the mouse sends an event every time it has moved one or more pixels since the display was last updated.
    • Some poorly-written applications on old cooperative multi-tasked computers would do their processing only in response to OS messages. Meaning, the processing would go faster if you wiggled the mouse, or slammed on the keyboard, or otherwise did something to make the OS send more messages than usual. This could happen in Mac Classic applications, and 16-bit Windows applications.
  • Some car remotes do react to multiple presses, for instance 3 presses of "lock" will start the engine.
  • "Close door" lift buttons are a special case.
    • If the lift is not in operator mode, the button has no effect. The lift doors don't close any quicker, but you feel as if you're in control.
    • If the lift is in operator mode (which requires a key), the buttons give you total control. The doors remain open until you select a floor or close them. You can even override the doors and leave them open as you travel.
  • This is actually a function in many graphics programs (like Photoshop) when using a tablet: The stylus is pressure sensitive, and the mark you create is either bigger or more opaque —or both— depending on how hard you press down (and the "brush" you're using). You can even adjust your pressure on the fly, so you can make a thick-to-thin line, or a transparent-to-opaque brush stroke.
  • Notes played on the piano are louder when the keys are pressed hard, and quieter when they are pressed more lightly. This is a great improvement over earlier instruments such as the harpsichord. This sensitivity is also built in to modern electric keyboards.
  • The 6th through 7th generations of iPhones have 3D Touch, in which lightly holding or firmly pressing on the touchscreen can access alternate functions. Later iPhones would ditch this in favor of going back to simple binary touch.
  • The Keystone keyboard is an effort at this, featuring customizable analog keys. For example, one can configure the keyboard to send lower-case letters when tapping lightly and upper-case letters when pressing firmly.
  • In firearms, "progressive" or "staged" triggers allow different rates of fire depending on how hard the trigger is pulled. A light pull fires a single shot, while a heavier pull fires full-auto.
  • The PlayStation 2 features pressure-sensitive buttons for its Dualshock 2 controllers. In theory this allowed a single button press to be either light or heavy, and for games to react accordingly. In practice, it turns out most players just press the button to full-contact and call it a day.
    • As a demonstration of this problem, Metal Gear Solid 3 used the pressure sensitive button for only one function: the threaten command on captured enemies, which has Snake put a knife to their neck. A light button press would interrogate the captive. A full button press would slit their throat. This resulted in a lot of dead guards and scientists and complaints about the interrogate command not working.