09 September 2006

Push! Struggle! Assist! against confusing UIs!

I've been playing Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (Push! Fight! Support!) which is a totally awesome rhythm game where you control a three-man male cheerleading squad attempting to cheer on people in the course of their everyday lives in Tokyo (elementary school kid in a dodgeball game; office lady trying to win the eye of the rising young executive; or my favorite, a violinist fighting stomach flu). A bit wacky for American tastes, don't expect to see this in BestBuy anytime soon.

This game has the a flagrant example of bad UI purely through layout (certainly this is exacerbated because I'm playing it in Japanese). After the startup screens, you're presented with the choice at right, with the top choice highlighted.

It turns out this is the game difficulty screen, which you might have guessed. What you probably wouldn't guess is that the difficult choice is on top, and is the default! The top button says "kakan ni ouen" ("to boldly support") and the bottom button says "kigaru ni ouen" ("to cheerfully support"). Several people I've talked to about this game -- and myself, before I looked up the ideographic characters in a Japanese dictionary -- commented on how hard the game was. That's because we were playing it on the "hard" setting, misled by the default and the ordering of the buttons on this screen! Like most games, you're better off learning the rules via the "cheerfully support" setting before tacking the harder "boldly support" option.

UI lesson of the day: always put the "easy" choice at the top, and make it the default!

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