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You're walking down a narrow corridor and everything looks normal. Nothing growing on the walls, no pool of blood on the floor, you move on when BAM! A huge monster glomps you from behind and is tearing you to pieces. How do you break free?

Cue the Smashing Survival.

Smashing Survival is where in order to break free of an enemy's grip or shake loose from a trap you fell into, you have to either smash the buttons, frantically spin the analog stick, or a combo of both. This element can be OK when used sparingly, but if used for every enemy or simply used too much, say hello to broken controller buttons/sticks and finger cramps. Wrist cramps can occur as well if this trope is used for the waggling effect on the Wii or PS3 controllers.

Unless the AI programmers were tasteful, expect computer players to be ridiculously good at this.

Not to be confused with Button Mashing, where the entire game is like this.

Subtrope of Press X to Not Die.

Examples of Smashing Survival include:


  • Black Rock Shooter has this after every single boss fight. You get TWO for the final boss!
  • Eternal Darkness had one enemy who would latch onto you and try to bore its way into your body. Players had to rotate the control stick quickly to live.
    • Star Wars: Republic Commando has a similar enemy, a small drone that latches on to your helmet and starts to drill through your visor. You have to mash the melee attack button until you manage to shake it off.
  • Dino Crisis forced you to mash the X button when a quick time event played out that put Regina in danger.
  • The Legend of Zelda games on the N64 and Gamecube had ReDeads that would freeze Link in place if they saw him and if they got to him, they would cling and bite multiple times. Both cases had you mashing buttons and wiggling the stick to break free.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had some enemies and a trap that would latch onto Samus and players had to waggle the remote and nunchuck to break loose.
  • Super Mario Bros.. 3 had Micro Goombas that could cling to Mario and make his jumps extremely short. The only way to shake them off was to keep jumping until they fell off.
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom and D&D 2: Shadow Over Mystara had players wiggle the joystick in order to "make a saving throw" if they get hit with a spell.
  • If you lock weapons with an opponent in No More Heroes, you can rotate the Wiimote in order to overpower the opponent and get a free death blow. If you fail to do so, they overpower you instead.
  • Super Smash Bros has a "break free" mechanic, where anything immobilizing you(Yoshi Egg, Donkey's grip, master hand grabbing you) is cured faster by mashing every single button on the controller(or messing with the control stick). The computer takes advantage of this, and puts in commands faster than is humanly possible.
  • 1080°: Avalanche requires you to spin your control stick in an effort to avoid falling over from moderately flubbed landings.
  • While you're supposed to use your fingers for this sort of thing, the temptation to spin a control stick for this with the palm of your hand is so strong that Nintendo was forced to give special gloves to the litigious parents of Mario Party players.
  • Aversion: When opponents (including you) lock lightsabers in the Dark Forces Saga, the result of the contest is decided statistically depending on the two combatants' "Saber Offense" skill levels.
    • However, it is supplemented by button mashing nonetheless. And, paradoxically, that actually helps some of the time.
  • Also averted in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, in the Wii version at least. Any situation that would usually fall under this trope is resolved by quickly yet calmly rotating the remote or nunchuck into a specific position and thrusting it forward, repeated with more controller positions for more difficult and thus more awesome tasks.
  • The Plasma Wisp power in Kirby Superstar builds up power this way.
  • Players in Bomberman 64 could "pump up bombs" by tapping a button. Hudson sold their own controller with autofire, advertised in Japan as especially well suited for the game.
  • Enemies in Silent Hill Origins can latch onto you, requiring you to either use Action Commands, or this, depending on the enemy, to break free.
  • Shows up in Resident Evil 4, sometimes being a quickdraw press, and sometimes being Smashing Survival. Other games had reaction commands of a different sort, like Resident Evil 3 Nemesis's dodge (which was a crapshoot), and the REmake's defensive items, which could be either done automatically or through a button press when attacked.
    • Resident Evil 5 is equally guilty with the executioner majini among others. The executioner majini even does both smashing survival and Press X to Not Die within the same attack sequence!
  • Mousers in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game and its ports latch onto your arm and have to be shaken off in this manner. Also, most Foot Soldiers would grab you from behind, requiring the same solution.
  • Enemies in The Simpsons arcade game took a hint from the Foot Soldiers mentioned above.
  • Incredibly Crisis features this frequently. A compilation of minigames from the PSX era, the first mission suckered people in with a simple DDR timed button entry clone. The second level was just a simple Quick Time Event level. The third level is where many players would destroy their tendons, as it required mashing the circle button, building up a gauge to slow a falling elevator. However, you'd also have to stop sometimes to avoid falling objects (don't ask), which made the level of the gauge decrease and you'd have to mash more. And once the elevator is stopped, you'd have to do it again in the same level, within the remaining distance. Good luck if you stopped it at 100 feet....
  • God of War uses these extensively. Bosses will try to crush or eat Kratos, medusas try to turn him to stone, sirens will try to disorient him, climbing enemies will try to make him lose his grip and so on.
  • Metal Slug 3 had yeti enemies that spewed out homing ice balls. If you got hit by one, you wouldn't die, but you would turn into an immobile snowman. To get out of the snow you would have to repeatedly mash the buttons before the yeti killed you with its bone club.
  • Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty both have their torture sequences wherein you must smash a button to keep from dying if you refuse to submit to it, which affects your ending. Auto-fire is explicitly not allowed during them.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots has the Microwave Corridor, though you'll be very aware that it's coming.
    • It also has the "Scarabs." Waggle analog stick to break free.
  • Capcom's Street Fighter games have several grab moves which use this trope. For example, if you get caught in Zangief's head bite, you can mash the buttons to escape faster. Interestingly, the attacker can also mash the buttons to increase the damage done by his grab, so this is kind of a double trope. A bystander passing an arcade Street Fighter machine would often see both players frantically wailing on the buttons at the same time.
  • Shaking the remote and mashing buttons is the quickest way to escape Holly Summer's holes in No More Heroes , and also is your only hope of escaping Harvey's dissappearing box.
  • Wiggling the analog stick will free you from being frozen in Sonic Unleashed.
  • In Call of Duty 3, there are certain sections in which the player is required to do this to defeat a Nazi trying to grab your rifle.
  • To recover from Down and start matches in Custom Robo more quickly, do this.
  • Monster Hunter has this for when certain monsters pin you in order to escape with minimal damage, and there are abilities (like Felyne Slider) that make this easier. The alternative is to pack Dung Bombs.
  • The fight with Crystal Snail in Megaman X2 uses this; you have to button mash to escape his Crystal Hunter.
  • Fatal Frame has it that if you smash the Confirm button X for Play Station 2 and A for X Box on II, hit R1 for III, and waggle the Wii-mote on IV at the right moment, you can shake off the attacking ghost without taking damage. However, all three games require the Evade function equipped to do so. The first game? Good luck with those shots!
  • The Freeware Game Survivor: The Living Dead, you have to hit the sprint button repeatedly if Amber runs out of stamina and trips.
  • In Sky Gunner, when your aircraft's engine/balance stalls you have to mash the face buttons to avoid crashing. When Dog Missiles and Poulets latch onto your plane, you have to mash the directional buttons instead.
  • In Super Mario Kart, moles would jump out of holes onto to front of your kart, slowing you down and blocking your vision. You had to hop quickly and repeatedly to shake them off.
  • Bayonetta has this with some mooks and bosses.
  • Dead Space has this as a component of his gameplay whenever Necromorphs jump on you to attempt face-rape.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, you need to smash a button to free yourself when the insane inmates jump on your back or when Poison Ivy manages to grab you in her respective boss battle.
  • All over the place in Uncharted games, usually involving Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • As part of its Darker and Edgier tricks, the main character Jack in Need for Speed: The Run must do this either to break free from the car about to be crushed in a compactor, or avoiding a police car about to smash his person, or even an out-of-control container truck sliding his way.
  • Hammering the "use" key is how you shake off Choking Hands in Blood and Bone Leeches in the sequel.
  • Prototype 2 now features this in order to shake off a Super Soldier grapple.
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