I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on the demo of Bayonetta which hit the Japanese XBLA and PSN this week and from what I’ve played, the game is wonderfully nuts. I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge about the game only that the female lead – suitably called Bayonetta – is essentially naked yet covered in a suit which appears to also be her hair. Yep, unsurprisingly she’s a sexy lass with the moves of a super model, covering herself in just the exceptionally long hair on her head. What is a tad different is the stylish glasses Bayonetta wears. Think not sun glasses but reading glasses on this lady. A possible attempt to make her look a bit more ‘real’? More like developers PlatinumGames thought girls in glasses look hot…(read on to find out the whole story!)
The demo itself is completely in English which is puzzling since it’s only available for Japanese Xbox 360 and PS3 owners right now but made the experience for me a little easier to understand. I say a little easier because the game is utterly Japanese with all kinds of oddities going on from the faux nudity of Bayonetta herself to the strangely provocative dance moves she does by either tapping or holding LB (I played the 360 version). Supposedly taunts, such moves didn’t seem to do an awful lot in battle but did make me chuckle.
Bayonetta, the woman, is a member of an ancient witch clan who possesses powers “beyond the comprehension of mere mortals” and uses them to beat down numerous angelic enemies. That’s about all I got from the demo. I’ve no doubt the full game will explain in more detail what exactly is going on but for now, I’ll focus at the graphics while the cut scenes are rolling. I don’t mind that at all because the visual of Bayonetta are great – despite what others are saying on the internet – though the art style is fast becoming the norm for these types of action games – the Devil May Cry/God of War style with classical stone architecture and fanciful enemies. Sure the graphics aren’t amazing but they really aren’t as bad as they’re being made out to be.
To say the game itself if just another clone however doesn’t do it justice. Bayonetta may be directed by Devil May Cry creator, Hideki Kamiya and there’s no doubt about it sharing the fundamental gameplay and puzzle solving but it does enough to be different and engaging for newbies and veterans of similar action games. Weapon and control-wise, has the usual left analog stick controlling movement with the right working the camera. A is jump (twice makes Ms B double jump with butterfly wings), X is action or shoot, Y uses your melee weapon and B kicks or shoots depending on if you tap it or hold it down. Pressing LT switches your weapons to only guns where the same layout applies except for the melee attack. RT will evade enemy strikes and has Bayonetta cartwheeling around the screen like a happy yet deadly school girl. Done at just the right time, this evasion can cause a slow motion effect for all but Ms B. It’s temporary but helps when disposing of foes. Combos can be chained together leading to bigger and more eye-pleasing effects with things like fists shooting up from the ground and an over-sized high heeled leg stamping on enemies – both of which are made from Bayonetta‘s hair. Combining movements of the left analog stick with certain button presses makes Bayonetta do comically eccentric movements such as standing on her head, wildly flailing her legs around whilst shooting enemies with the heels of her shoes – which are also hefty guns.
The video below shows another such eccentricity (but please don’t judge the framerate or graphics as it was filmed off my tv with my phone!). When fighting a hulking great miniboss I entered Climax Mode where the hair once again unwrapped from Ms B’s body but this time turned into a gigantic monster who chewed on the boss till he pretty much exploded leaving his axe behind. Nice! It’s techniques like these that add an extra sparkle to Bayonetta, helping it stand out when it could so easily get lost. The main protagonist too makes things a bit more interesting than what could have been. So far we still have much to learn about the lady that is Bayonetta, other than her sultry English accent and long wavy locks, but she has a cool ‘mess with me and I’ll destroy you’ swagger that makes her so easily playable.
As a package, the demo is highly entertaining and gives me great hope for the final game. I’m baffled by all the criticism it’s receiving online especially when it comes to the games graphics. True the PS3 version is a bit shabby at the moment but the developers still have over 2 months to get it right. I have no issue with the graphics on the 360 version other than the art style being less than original. I feel If the game can keep up the pace of comfortably frantic and allows more and more enjoyable combos, Bayonetta could be a big hit come January when it’s scheduled for release on Xbox 360 and PS3.
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