The overseas hype was right... Bayonetta rocks! From its early release in Japan in October of 2009, to its states side journey in early January 2010, Bayonetta has been heating up game consoles worldwide, and now we know why. Bayonetta is not your typical action game, even though its been pegged as a Devil May Cry clone, Bayonetta is its own beast. Showcasing a heightened sense of creativity, Bayonetta is one bewitching package that deserves all the acclaim it has been receiving. So without further adieu, it is time unleash the beast!
When I fired up my copy of Bayonetta I didn’t know what to expect. Our review is coming in a little late, and most of the gaming community has already passed judgement on the long legged beauty. Although the game scores higher on the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 follows closely behind. The reactions are mainly positive ones with several members of the respected gaming press scoring the game with perfect 10/10 ratings, while few others try to rationalize the hype and stay near a high 8. Yet, even with all the hype and critical admiration, a few buggers have said Bayonettas' wild and pure utilization of action does not make for a great game. Well, I would have to disagree. Bayonetta lives up to the hype, even though a perfect score might be a little indulged, this is one game that shouldn't be missed.
Platinum Games, represented by SEGA has created something special in the adventures of the button mashing demon-loving witch, Bayonetta. Following other similar titles like 'Devil May Cry', and 'Ninja Gaiden', Bayonetta takes the formula of a standard button-mashing action gaming and kicks it into the stratosphere. Bayonetta is absolutely absurd, proving that surrealism and story driven narratives can coexist around the simple action of hacking up your enemies with quickly timed combos. Bayonetta is a live action illustration that rejuvenates the merger of imagination and creativity.
What is a Bayonetta?
The first question you might ask yourself is what is a Bayonetta? Well, Bayonetta is the star of the game, the glasses wearing, leather-clad beauty you see on the box front. Bayonetta is a witch, who awakens from a watery grave after being asleep for 500 years. In the beginning of the game Bayonetta does not know who she is, or what she is, or remember anything about her past, as she suffers from amnesia (surprise!). Therefore, she takes it upon to do what comes natural, destroy enchanted creatures... of course. In a signing with the darker side of life, Bayonetta accepts the application of angel slayer for the demons, and takes them down one at a time, the bigger the better.
As you progress, the plot starts unfold while Bayonetta learns about her destiny. The overall substance of the plot could be considered a little thin; However, I really enjoyed Bayonetta's world, and the unlikely set of paranormal characters within it. Bayonetta is fantasy driven tale that incorporates inter-dimensional experiences with touches of occultism, magic, and religion. If you are looking for something rooted in reality, you will have to look somewhere else.
One thing you will instantly notice about Bayonetta is the outstanding achievement in character design. Bayonetta is simply off the charts, and many of the characters including 'Paradiso' (who you meet early in the game), are like nothing you have ever seen before. Creativity Bayonetta is unmatched, and not only because of the interesting look of the characters, but the philosophies they build behind each one. All this lovely madness is from the mind of designer, 'Hideki Kamiya'. Hideki’s originality touches every game he has worked on from the original 'Resident Evil', to 'Devil May Cry', 'Viewtiful Joe', and 'Okami'. Hideki is defiantly a visionary in the world of design, and Bayonetta is his most ambitious title to date.
She’s Got the Looks That Kill
Bayonetta herself is one interesting leading lady. Dressed, and often undressed in tight leather, Bayonetta is oozing with sex appeal. Aside from her curvy physical assets, she also comes loaded with an impressive section of weapons. Bayonetta not only has guns, swords, and whips to handle in her hands, she also can equip her feet with guns and other random weapons--- oh that's not it, she also uses her hair as a weapon, along with several other magical surprises.
These magic surprises are not simple magic tricks like casting fireballs, or a lighting storm. Bayonetta is full out whacky with her use of magic. Most impressive is the quick nature of her magic that allow her to cast giant instruments of death to humiliate to crush her opponents. In one example, within a split-second she can cast a giant guillotine that you shove your opponents head into the guillotine to behead them. She can also make other life taking instruments like a Iron Maiden, or a colossal spiked wheel of stone! Aside from this, she can also transform her hair into a massive black dragon, and even call upon a magical boot to fall from the sky, crushing opponents under her heel. Bayonetta is not messing around; it is evident in her cat-like personality and precise skills of deadly overkill. Bayonetta will indubitably be a character to watch in the future. SEGA vs. Capcom anyone?!
How Does it Perform?
As you have probably already gathered the creative aspects have been nailed in Bayonetta, and so have the technical aspects. Bayonetta pulls off its big sets pieces, monstrous sized enemies, and over-the-top special effects with ease. Bayonetta is very smooth without hardly any issues of slowdown. If you were looking for flaws, I would have to point the finger at the actual texture work in the environments. It is not like they are overly bad, but they can look a little washed out and dated in some spots.
In the audio department Bayonetta falls into the typical realm of strange Japanese styled pop rock with the A-typical bad, but good voice acting. Really, it falls into a category of its own. Despite the quality not being overly produced, Bayonetta works. Like the outstanding modalities within the graphics, Bayonetta’s cast of bad accents actually seem cool. Again, looking for issues, well Bayonetta can a little monotonous with the use of its soundtrack. If you really cannot stand J-Pop, you might want to turn the volume down, or load up your own custom soundtrack.
A Simple Button Press?
Important to a game NOT failing as a combo-based button-masher are its controls. Thankfully, Bayonetta doesn't let anyone down by performing beautifully. Bayonetta has a vast amount of combos available at anytime that include all the face buttons, the triggers, and the analog stick. In comparison Bayonetta is definitely a little more in-depth than its comrades like 'Devil May Cry' or 'Dynasty Warriors'.
Bayonetta is a tough game that makes mastering the controls important to your success. Pulling off combos and magical attacks, all will dogging enemies and a shifting landscape can be tricky. In this sense, variation and interesting surroundings assist Bayonetta to avoid redundant tactics like throwing a hundred enemies the player at one. This is one game that I would not be ashamed to run through on easy, although triumphing in a higher difficulty is gratifying, plus it will score you a few extra achievement/trophy points.
Up, Down, All-Around
Adding a little more strangeness and difficulty to the normal hack n’ slash behaviour is how much Bayonetta takes the standard ground and pound and throws you on a wall. Like 'Dark Void', you will be fighting in all directions at any given time. Some levels are franticly designed that you will need to be quick on the jump button, and the usual following quick-timed button press event. The scale in Bayonetta is impressive with gigantic enemies, diversified situations, and lots of surprises. It is almost impossible to guess what, or who you will be facing section to section. Bayonetta also has a few other jolts in the way of puzzles. These aren't overly in depth and usually involve quickly dogging lighting to active a puzzle, but they are there to break up the gameplay, and explore the lore of the world a little more.
One Order of Rings, Coming Up
Bayonetta also has a minor role-playing/collecting component that is tied in with collecting vinyl records and Sonic rings... umm, sorry, I mean "Halo" rings. Collecting rings lets you purchase other materials, abilities, powers, and objects to helps build up your character. You can outfit Bayonetta payload in four areas (2 hands, 2 feet) and upgrade her magical abilities with an assortment of suckers (yes, lollipops) that have magical traits. Bayonetta might be an unconventional, but it works.
Upgrade shops appear periodically through a level, and at the end of each stage. In here, you can buy all the goodies you need. Bayonetta is a little stingy, so you will need to spend wisely. This definitely ads value to replaying Bayonetta. Not only will be able to test your skills on a higher difficulty, you can search out all the upgrades and secrets hidden within the game. Motivating gamers to replay hack-n-slash styled games isn't easy, but Bayonetta is one of those games you would want to play again after you finish it.
After experiencing Bayonetta, I am not surprised at the hype and critical claim it has received. Bayonetta is an unique title that exhales life back into the action hack-n-slash market. It has been awhile since I have felt this challenged, this in awe, and surprised while playing a game. If you are like me and play a lot of games, Bayonetta will halt up any feelings of monotony you have been feeling with the current crop of sequels and copycats. True, Bayonetta is not perfect, but it is close for an action combo-heavy game. Bayonetta is not going to be for everyone; frankly, it might be a little strange for the mainstream. However, once you are aboard the Bayonetta ‘S’trange train, you will likely fall in love with the eccentric battiness that is Bayonetta.
Gameplay:9.0, Graphics:9.0, Sound:8.0, Innovation:9.0, Mojo:10 Final: 9.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.01.10