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The PS5 is changing the controller buttons a bit in Japan

Sony is changing the way the Circle and Cross buttons work in Japan. (And some people are a bit cross about it.)

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PlayStation 5 Circle Cross swapped
Sony / Thumbsticks

Sony is changing the way the Circle and Cross buttons work in Japan. (And some people are a bit cross about it.)

If you’ve played classic J-RPGs of the PS1 era – or any other Japanese ports on Sony’s first console – you’ll know that the Circle button meant ‘OK’ and the X/Cross button meant ‘cancel’. It’s just the way it always was.

English-language ports of PlayStation games have gradually dropped this convention over the years. In the Western world, X/Cross means ‘confirm’ while the Circle button means ‘cancel’. Take the Final Fantasy VII Remake as a sign of the times, a cross-generational yardstick. It’s a game that features the Western convention, while the original Final Fantasy VII, released in English in 1997, used the traditional Japanse scheme.

Why? Well, we don’t know, to be fair. The Japanese version – where a circle traditionally represents a positive selection, while a big ‘X’ is negative – always made more sense to us. The Circle, with it’s soft, O-shape, makes sense as an ‘OK’ button, while the X/Cross is such an obvious choice as the ‘cancel’ button.

Why, in anyone’s estimation, is the X/Cross button the positive selection? What are we, pirates? (Yar! X marks the spot, matey!)

Apparently, Sony has decided that X/Cross is the canonical option, however. It has opted to homogenise its console the stupid, nonsensical Western way on the PS5. In an article on Famitsu, with the venerable Japanese magazine having spent time hands-on with the PlayStation 5, it’s confirmed that Sony Interactive Entertainment plans to “globally unify” the control schema.

It’s a good job backwards compatibility support looks so rubbish on PlayStation 5, otherwise playing all those classic J-RPGs (with the classic button configuration) would be really confusing. It would also make Heavy Rain really weird (“Press X to Jason!“) if, you know, anybody wanted to play Quantic Dream games ever again.


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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.