Japanese PS4s can now use the X button to select, but why couldn’t they do that already?

The outstanding feature of the latest firmware update on the PS4 was Remote Play for iOS devices, but buried in the changelog was another seemingly minor addition: as of version 6.50 of the console firmware on the PS4, You can reassign the "enter" button on the console from "O" to "X" on Japanese consoles.

If you're a PS4 owner who lives outside of Japan, you probably have never considered which button is the default confirmation button on the console. In the West, we use the X button to confirm, and the O button takes care of the exit and cancellation tasks. But Japan has the opposite convention, creating a minor inconvenience but surprisingly annoying for any Japanese non-Japanese PS4 owner.

Version 6.50 of the console's firmware update finally fixes this hassle, allowing owners of Japanese PS4s to manually configure the way they want Two buttons to work within system menus. But the most interesting part of this story is why Japan and the rest of the world ended up deciding on opposite control schemes for one of the most basic pieces of console functionality in the first place.

I first encountered this phenomenon when I tried to play Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on PS2. The game was the second one I had for my PS2, which was my first console. I loaded the console, put the disk in the unit, pressed the "Start" button to move from the title screen to the main menu and then tried to start a new game.

To my intense surprise, the game instantly returned me to the title screen. I blinked, confused by what had happened, and tried to do the same thing again. They threw me one more time. And again. And again. Eventually, and I promise I'm not making it up, I went back to the store where I bought the game and exchanged it for a new copy. I literally thought that my disk was defective.

Of course, all that happened was that I was pressing the button that we commonly think of in the West as the confirmation button (X) in a Game Japanese that uses the opposite (O). They were returning me to the title screen of the game because I was continuously pressing the cancel button.

It's not just the series Metal Gear Solid that used the Japanese control scheme in its western releases. Numerous Japanese games over the years have used O instead of X for their confirmation button, including entries in Final Fantasy Dragon Quest and Zone of the Enders series. However, over the years, many have switched to using X in their Western releases (sometimes in a controversial way, such as in the fourth entry of Metal Gear Solid ).

Version 6.50 of the PS4 software no. Solve this problem completely. Many games have their controls encoded rigidly, therefore, if you use X or O to confirm, it will be reduced to the region in which the games were produced instead of the console.

However, what the new software does is allow you to change the button that is used to select from the menus of the console system, which means that if you are playing a Western game on a Japanese PS4, you will not have to change Between two different control schemes.

Until all developers start using the same control scheme for all PlayStation games, the problem will not go away. But what is less clear is how exactly this difference occurred in the first place. There is very little conclusive evidence, but there are some different theories.

japanese ps4s can now use the x button to select but why couldnt they do that already

The NES driver was the first of the Nintendo consoles to place the main button on the right.
Image: Nintendo

The first is that they derive from the differences that arose between the consoles of Sega and Nintendo in the 80s and 90s. The first Nintendo console, the NES, had its confirmation button to the right (A), and its cancellation button on the left (B) when it was launched in 1983. But when Sega launched the Master System in 1985, it adopted the opposite design, with its primary button "1" on the left and the button "2" on the right.

This does not explain how Sony's PlayStation managed to use both, despite having the same driver design all over the world. Why would PlayStation developers follow Sega's leadership in some parts of the world and Nintendo's in others?

The original PlayStation controller was very different from the previous Sega and Nintendo controllers. Instead of using letters or numbers that had a clearly defined order, Sony used its four now iconic forms, which means that developers, in theory, had more options on how to organize their controls.

So, it may have simply been a case of cultural differences between Japan and the West that determined which symbol made sense be used as the confirmation button and that makes sense as the cancel button.

In Japan, the O button made more sense as a confirmation button. The shape of the cross in "X" is known as "batsu" in Japanese, and has connotations similar to those of the West; Nobody wants a lot of X in the results of their exams, but the shape of the circle "Maru" has a similar meaning to the check mark in Western culture. For example, game programs will show a circle each time the participant gets a correct answer.

japanese ps4s can now use the x button to select but why couldnt they do that already

The Sega Master System established the company's convention of ordering its buttons from left to right.
Image: Evan Amos / Wikimedia Commons

It does not have those same positive connotations in the West. Therefore, when it came to choosing the confirmation button of a controller, there was no culturally obvious option. In its absence, one theory is that the developers decided on X because it seems to be an objective (for example, "X marks the place"), while the culturally neutral O could be used as a cancellation. Alternatively, they could have used the X button because of its location, which is central and easier to move while pressing other buttons.

Whatever the reason, the practice seemed to continue with Western developers, and it was even more prevalent when Microsoft launched the original Xbox with its A selection button located in the same place as the X button on the Sony console.

Sony is happy with every generation of consoles that pass, allowing their Japanese software to work in one way and for their Western software to work in another way. Even if we are not closer to discovering exactly where these differences come from, at least the system software of the PS4 can now be adapted to both styles, at least for Japanese hardware.

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