HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewOne Button Games 5-in-1 Review

One Button Games 5-in-1 Review


You can’t do a lot with one button. Turn on a light switch, yes. Make some toast, debatably. Use an elevator? Probably not. One button doesn’t give you a lot of wiggle room. You might be able to get some functionality out of holding it, rather than just pressing it, but one button is most definitely a limitation. 

Now imagine making not one, but five games with that limitation. And try making those games good. It’s a gauntlet that ABA Games and Xitilon have taken up (one button-hold to pick up, release to put on). Are they up to it?

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Thunder – the best of the 5-in-1

Full credit to the development team, as the five games in One Button Games 5-in-1 are very different. There’s been no cheating, making the same Flappy Bird clone but with five different skins. What we have are five different games from different genres, all unified by a single button input and vague feelings of retro familiarity. 

We’ll work from best to worst. Thunder is our favourite, with a kind of reverse Missile Command feel to it. You’re a tiny dude on the bottom of the screen, moving side-to-side with a touch of the A button (the button-press is to change direction, as little thunder-guy moves automatically). Arcs of lightning move down the screen, and they could concentrate in any one area. It might seem like the lightning is arcing more to the right, but a branch might create a cluster of bolts over to the left. You have to keep on your feet and react, moving where the lightning bolt isn’t. That’s when you get the big bucks, as the lightning explodes into pixels that you can collect. Surviving and collecting these will generate the best scores. 

We’ve not played anything quite like it. It demands forethought as well as reactions. It’s also got some lovely touches, as the pixels disappear quickly, so there’s every chance that they will disappear by the time you get to them. That means that near-misses are rewarded: you need to be close to the lightning strike to get maximum moolah, but that leaves you open to death. It’s finely balanced, as all things should be. Ultimately shallow, but rather neat. 3.5 out of 5.

Next up is UD Cave (no idea what the UD stands for). It’s reminiscent of Flappy Bird, but is wise enough to tighten things up and bring in some ideas. You are a spaceship, moving through a narrow sequence of tunnels. A single graze of the sides and you’re doomed, so you are looking to keep away. That’s done with the Flappy Bird-technique, as you hold or tap the A button to ‘flap’ to the right, and release the button to glide to the left. 

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UD Cave is pretty decent too

The neatness comes from a second ship on the right-hand side of the screen. This, as it happens, is you too. It’s a mirror of your left-hand ship, and everything you do on the left is mirrored on the right. The shape of the tunnels on both sides is the same, too. So, what’s the point? Well, collectible dollar signs are in different placements on both the left and right, so you have to keep an eye out to collect them all. That requires clever cognitive switching, as you’re moving from side-to-side with the subtly mirrored controls. It’s the lightest of light touches, but it’s just enough from sending UD Cave into Flappy Bird hell. 3 out of 5. 

Now we’re into dregs, and we’ve only covered two of the five. B Cannon is a riff on Asteroids, but with the kink that you’re a spaceman walking on the frame of the game screen. Like Thunder, you are pressing A to switch from moving left to right or vice versa, but B Cannon also uses the ‘hold’ of the A button. Hold and you will fire at the nearest asteroid, splintering it into two halves or destroying it if it’s small enough. 

The issues are baked into that hold-to-fire mechanic. You don’t have any control over what is being aimed at, so you have to press and hope that the target is on the asteroid you want, not one that’s hurtling far away from you. Often, and inexplicably, your space-warrior will miss. If the asteroid is moving towards you or away from you, it’s more likely to hit, while a laterally moving rock will be a crapshoot. We understand the thinking behind it, but it’s unsatisfying and robbed us of even more control. When you add that to the lack of feedback over which way our player-character is facing (would it have been hard to add a ‘this way up’ arrow?), B Cannon can be more frustrating than fascinating. 2.5 out of 5.

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S-Lanes isn’t the best of the One Button Games

Ooh, let’s pick S Lanes next. This is a horizontal Space Invaders with the enemy ships mapped to five different lanes. Your ship automatically cycles through the lanes, and you press and hold A to stop and fire. The longer you fire, the further you travel along the lane, bringing you dangerously close to the enemies that you’re blowing up. The task is to keep up with encroaching ships, killing them so that they never reach your safe area on the left-hand side of the screen.

It’s mostly ruined by the introduction of speed-up arrows. Certain lanes at certain times have their speed increased, so you have to prioritise them. But it mostly just feels arbitrary and unfair. Five ships suddenly ramped up to x5 speed are hard enough to keep up with, but you are then at the whims of the slow speed of lane-changing. You can’t swap quickly to another lane, you have to wait to cycle round to it. The result is a punitive, unfair game where you fail suddenly because the game decides it’s time. 2.5 out of 5.

Last of all is Cate P which is – in our view – borderline unplayable. It’s Snake with a dash of Robotron mixed in. You play a Pac-Man-looking doofus who auto-moves around the screen until you press A to move him ninety degrees in a clockwise direction. With every turn, Pac-Man fires a bullet, and that bullet absolutely carves through the enemies. If there’s a chain of ten enemies moving towards you, you can turn them all into spacedust with a single volley. The only other thing to keep in mind is that you are eminently killable. A single touch from an opponent will send you into spacedust too. 

It’s the game where the one-button limitation truly hurts it. Tying movement to firing never feels intuitive. If I’m moving, I am looking to get away; if I am firing, I am looking to engage. Those are very different, and some would say opposing, intentions. The result is a clumsy game where we were stumbling over the dissonance between the two, all while trying to find enough room to four-point-turn back to where the enemies were. Add to this that the bullets don’t always fire (if you tap quickly, they often won’t release, which is likely to avoid exploits), and you have a big befuddling mess of a game. 1.5 out of 5. 

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Cate P – borderline unplayable

The result is One Button Games 5-in-1: something of a mixed bag that averages out in the 2.5 out of 5 range. As an experiment – something that scratches the itch of whether games can work with one button – One Button Games 5-in-1 might be worth £4.19 to find out for yourself. As an exercise in accessibility, it’s noble and that price tag will have appeal. 

But as games, the five on offer here are at best disposable (we felt done within an hour, achievement-chasing notwithstanding) and at worst unwieldy. There are certainly better things that you can do with one button, like flip on the kettle.


  • Strikes up the curiosity
  • ‘Thunder’ is pretty good
  • Plenty of achievements to hunt
  • Only one game really makes a case for itself
  • Cate P is verging on the unplayable
  • No single game will keep you interested for more than ten minutes
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 26 July 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Strikes up the curiosity</li> <li>‘Thunder’ is pretty good</li> <li>Plenty of achievements to hunt</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Only one game really makes a case for itself</li> <li>Cate P is verging on the unplayable</li> <li>No single game will keep you interested for more than ten minutes</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 26 July 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>One Button Games 5-in-1 Review
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