Button Mashing

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"I've never liked most fighting games because I argue there's got to be something wrong with a game in which you can spend fifteen years practicing and learning every slightest nuance and still lose to someone randomly smashing buttons."

The act of frantically hammering at the buttons on a controller or arcade console.

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. Only someone completely unfamiliar with the game or their chosen character has to resort to this tactic. Of course, it can be a bit infuriating for these "serious" players when, due to some poor design decisions, their skillful finesse on the joypad leads to them getting walloped by someone who just taps the "punch" button so fast they can never get a move in.[1]

Certain characters, those with simple moves that can be performed via Button Mashing, are often dismissed as "only for button mashers". Note that many Fighting Game characters have moves that are performed by repeatedly hitting one button. Examples include Chun Li, Blanka, and E. Honda from Street Fighter. This does not mean the character is only for button mashers, although someone who abuses the move may be accused of such.

Button Mashing is also prevalent in games of other genres, usually indicative of shallow or easy gameplay, though in the Fighting Game genre it is sometimes associated with overly complicated control schemes, in which massive amounts of Button Mashing are actually required in order to see anything at all happen. On the other hand, fighting games with botched control schemes that favor Ye Olde Buttone Mashe will be very likely reviled greatly by gamers and reviewers alike.

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.

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.

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. (Compare Slow Left Hand for a similar trope applied to musical instruments instead of gaming controls.)

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 forseeable, it can fall under Fake Skill.

Unrelated to Rapid-Fire Typing.

Examples of Button Mashing include:

Anime and Manga

  • Konata of Lucky Star explains that the way she wins track races is by imagining them as video games... and then button mashing.
  • 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.


  • Pick a movie that shows a game or two. Any movie. Odds are the actors' fingers will be rattling at the controllers like nervous little crabs.
    • Parodied in The 41-year-old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall And Felt Superbad About It, where the gamers in question do this while holding the controllers in various absurd positions.

Tabletop Games

  • Hungry Hungry Hippos is the mechanical version of this.

Video Games

Action Game

  • The final boss battle of the indie game Assassin Blue ends with this. As do the Marvel vs. Capcom games.
  • 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.
  • Devil May Cry 3 has "crazy combos" activated by button mashing during execution of certain moves. All of them are variations of "hit it two dozen times per second"
    • This isn't so much the "spray-and-pray" button mashing as it is just hitting one button rapidly, as stated above, to execute a secret move. Exactly how fast you need to mash to trigger the move is determined by your current style ranking.
  • Despite what some critics have said, this only works in Bayonetta on Very Easy ... and up to a point.
  • Enter the Matrix for PlayStation 2. Toggle Bullet Time and mash to your heart's content. It usually ended up looking pretty cool though.
  • 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.

Arcade Games

  • Some pinball games' video modes make you do this.
  • Bishi Bashi

Fighting Game

  • The various Dragonball Z: Budokai games are often accused of encouraging this practice.
  • 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.
  • Maxi of the Soul Calibur 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 PlayStation 2 version), he frequently poses for seemingly no reason, allowing the opponent an easy opening to strike.
    • Raphael also has his share of quick, light rapier combos activated by button-mashing that can interrupt other players' attempts at combos.
  • 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).
  • In many Fighting Games, such as those in the Street Fighter series and the Marvel VS Capcom series, it's possible to increase the number of hits certain attacks do by button mashing, increasing the damage dealt. Inversely, in Street Fighter Alpha 3, you can mash buttons while being attacked in order to reduce the damage you receive.
  • 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 Tier-Induced 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.
  • 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.
  • Sonic the Fighters falls afoul of this, especially the Game Cube version as seen on Sonic Gems Collection. Button Mashing is a lot easier when the buttons are labeled, like on an arcade game.
  • Super Smash Brothers 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. (Tragically, the quote on top of this page was said about this game.)

First Person Shooter

  • Each installment of the Metroid Prime series has at least one semi-automatic beam, which fires as rapidly as the player can hit the fire button. Naturally, when that beam is used, the players tap the button as rapidly as they can (while still dodging and weaving, mind you)
    • The first one practically required it at the beginning, as you lost literally everything except the Power Beam when your suit got damaged, meaning the only reliable way to cause damage was to just spam.
    • Invoked in the third game, as Button Mashing is how to keep from being fully corrupted while in corrupt hypermode.
  • 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. Partially averted in that really, it's more fun to kill your opponents with a rocket launcher.

Hack and Slash

  • Basically the point of Gauntlet (1985 video game). Most levels have only the objective of killing enemies through mashing buttons about thirty times.
  • Dynasty Warriors is possibly the reigning champion of this trope, with the sixth installment actually requiring incredibly long chains of Button Mashing 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).
  • 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.


  • 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 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 avilible in another half second.

Party Game

  • Non-Fighting Game examples include several activities from the Mario Party and Wario Ware series. In some of the minigames, the scores are directly tied to how fast players can mash the buttons. Also 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.
  • Pretty much every game in the Mario Party series has 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. There's also the kinda derided 'rotate the control stick as fast as possible' from the first game which was 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.

Platform Game

  • In the game The Legendary Starfy, 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.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, how difficult the Test Of Strength is is inversely proportional to how good you are at Button Mashing, to the point where if Button Mashing's not your thing, it can easily become That One Level.
  • In the N64 game Banjo Tooie, in Glitter Gulch Mine and Cloud Cuckooland, you race an annoying bird name "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 Rubber Band AI aspect of the race to win.
    • It is still possible to beat her without a turbo controller if you vibrate your hand rapidly. Just be prepared to pause the game often during the race to take rests.

Puzzle Game

  • 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.
  • In Tetris 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.
  • 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.

Rhythm Game

  • 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. 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.
  • Wii's motion controls for Dance Dance Revolution 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.

Role Playing Game

  • 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.
    • In the GBA game, Chain of Memories, however, this attack strategy will quickly lead to your demise, even in the early stages. Thanks, card system.
    • In 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.
    • Sadistically averted in 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.
    • The Final Boss battle in Kingdom Hearts II has a section involving lasers that requires you to do this or die.
  • 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 3 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. Mash away!
    • On the other hand, in SO3 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.
  • In the SNES Secret of Mana, every player attack incurred a set amount of time to recharge 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.
  • .hack//GU has this feature in Avatar battles to reduce the damage taken from Data Drains.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Even with the patch, you still have to constantly press the attack button to engage your next target due to the speed of the game.
  • 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. Final Fantasy IX has a similar mechanic.
  • 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.

Shoot'Em Up

  • 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.
  • Prevalent in many older Shoot'Em Ups, as autofire was not something every gamer had, and not every game would let you continuously fire by holding down a button. Also, to be honest, quite a few could press fire more rapidly than the controller could register. When you can do that, who needs autofire?
  • 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.
  • The game Lethal Thunder is all about this. Continuously mashing the button allows you to attack and builds up your attack gauge, which powers up your weapon (as well as giving you a Smart Bomb). Furthermore, you have to do this constantly or else your attack gauge will drain.

Sports Game

  • A deliberate use of Button Mashing was used for Track and Field, where the primary may of winning is to hit the fire button as fast as possible. 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 other have actually created mechanical button pressing devices to help their progress through the game.
    • In Lucky Star, Konata imagined herself playing this game while running a real footrace, using the ruler method.
    • Parodied in NieA 7, when the final round of a video game tournament uses this game. The winner? An old lady with the shakes.
    • Alternating buttons 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, Daley Thompsons Decathlon (and Daley Thompsons Super Test) and even the Viz sports game used it, to name but a very select few.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In probably one of the earliest examples, Decathalon for the Atari 2600 required you to waggle the joystick back and forth as quickly as possible to run.

Stealth Based Game

"Don't even think of using autofire. I'll know."

This is a Shout-Out to Metal Gear Solid 1 where you have to mash a button to resist torture, and Revolver Ocelot says the same thing. And he won't know if you're using autofire, incidentally.

Third Person Shooter

  • In P.N. 03 for the Game Cube, 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. Oh boy, Vanquish. It 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.
    • The effects are awesome, though. For example one of them makes you drill a hole through a giant transforming mecha.

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.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • 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, 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.

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.

Real Life

  • Takahashi Meijin, who became famous in the 1980s 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 — so if the candidate constantly pressed the button, he was guaranteed to hit the check window every time it opened.


  • 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".
  1. Same "serious" players would never cut a newbie a moment's slack to get oriented with the controls, and take it as a personal shame when they get trashed by a random neophyte as a result. What a pity.