Sawbuck Gamer

Freeze Frame

Pause Ahead pays tribute to gaming’s least appreciated button.

By Danny Gallagher • September 3, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

The pause button is probably the most under-appreciated input on the controller. Other buttons—the ones that create action on the screen—are pounded into submission while the “start” button, a staple since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the ’80s, is only needed for bathroom breaks, phone calls, and answering the door once the pizza guy shows up.

The new Adult Swim game Pause Ahead turns this lowly input into a key part of the action. Your cat-hat-wearing character is trapped in a series of crumbling dungeons and must traverse the dangerous landscape of spikes and buzzsaws by breaking the laws of video game time and space. When you pause the game, your character continues to gently glide in the direction you were moving, carrying you over chasms and deadly obstacles. It gets difficult quickly, but the satisfaction of completing each challenge provides enough momentum to carry the game. Pause Ahead is a clever way to give the pause button something important to do—other than hold your place while you shovel another slice of pepperoni into your mouth.

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5 Responses to “Freeze Frame”

  1. stepped_pyramids says:

    So you can’t actually pause the game?

  2. Sa3ad says:

    I must say, those Thwomps look positively terrifying. And also quite happy. Terrifyingly happy.

  3. O Superman says:

    What about “Select”? That button was useless and I was actively aggravated when it actually was used.