The eject button is an integral part of most game consoles. Without the eject button we wouldn't be able to get games back out of the machine again. So it's pretty important. Whenever I acquire a new console, I don't check the specs to see how many multi-flexing quadrapongs of processing power are buried inside. That's stuff I don't understand. And as long as the games are good, I don't really care. What I do care about is the eject button and the action of ejection.
In celebration of this often neglected console operation, here are the 5 console ejections that have satisfied me the most over the years.
Pressing this used to make me feel like a macho cybernetic humanoid popping robot toast. It absolutely dominates the console with its muscular camber and gratuitous proportions. But it's not just the size of the beast I love. The unmistakeable cartridge 'clunk' as it's forcibly ejected is one of *the* defining sounds of 16-bit gaming. Ejection doesn't come much more primitive or satisfying than this.
And the best thing is, it's completely unnecessary. Simply pulling the cartridge out by hand was just as effective. Sadly, such indulgent excess didn't transfer to Nintendo's next console - the N64 was noticeably minus an eject button.
You'll probably notice from this list that I'm not a huge fan of disc-tray based ejection systems. I'd say that of the current generation, Xbox 360 is by far the least satisfying simply because it utilizes the horizontal in-and-out disc transference technique. Also, the faux-chrome button feels cheap and nasty to my fingers.
The PS2's disc-placement shelf may rattle rather inelegantly, but after years suffering crude flip-top lids and uninspired buttons, when the console arrived it heralded a leap forward in ejection aesthetic and technology. The delicate gradient and calming blue light 'dot' made it irresistibly tactile. I'd happily press it even if I didn't have a disc to discharge or insert. A classic.
In today's flash card world, this method of ejection is ubiquitous and certainly not exclusive to Nintendo's handheld. But that doesn't make it any less satisfying. I love the delicate click and the subsequent springy persuasiveness as the exiting game card pushes gently against the playful resistance of my index finger. Sometimes I push it back in, just so I can click it back out again.
As a rival to Nintendo DS, I feel compelled to mention Sony's PSP. When it comes to eject buttons and the process of ejection, I admire Sony immensely. But I have to say that I take absolutely no pleasure purging UMDs from my PSP. I dislike a slider doing a job meant for a button, but primarily I hate the ejecting sound. To my ears it’s the sound something makes when it's falling apart.
The GameCube's eject button may have had a surface indentation specifically designed for accommodating finger tips, but the prospect of pressing eject was never particularly enticing, thanks to the console's plastic feel and the kinetically awkward motion of the diminutive flip lid. The Wii, then, represents a long overdue return to the SNES glory days of game ejecting for Nintendo.
Wii ejection is a beautiful experience for three reasons. The small but solid, glossy Stormtrooper white and unconventionally angular plastic button. The seductive pulse of Jedi-blue lightsabre light around the disc-hole's mouth. And the friendly 'weeeeoooop' noise from the inner whirrings as the disc is politely returned. Unfortunately I can't think of anything Star Wars related for the 'weeeeoooop' noise. Maybe R2-D2 being fingered by C3PO.
The touch-sensitive eject of the original PS3 was never tangible enough for me. But the less fat version of Sony's console is the real high-roller of console disc ejection. Stylish. Cool. Flush. Back-lit. And the way the disc lazily spins upon insertion and discharge is pure poetry in motion. This is nothing less than the pinnacle of ejection satisfaction.
Do you guys have a particular favourite console eject button, or some other aspect of the ejection process that you've found to be particularly satisfying? Join in this rare celebration of ejection by telling everyone about it in the comments.
May 20, 2010