GAME NAME: Bayonetta
DEVELOPER(S): Platinum Games
PLATFORM(S): PS3/XBox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): January 5th, 2010
In honor of the impending Wii U release of Bayonetta 2, we here at Gamegravy have decided to review the 2010 release of the original Bayonetta. And before this reviewer gets started, let me just say that I’m reviewing the Playstation 3 version, which is by far the inferior version. Platinum Games was responsible for the X-Box 360 version with the PS3 version being converted by Sega. The results are less than satisfactory. Sharp textures on the 360 are replaced with slightly muddier ones on the PS3. The PS3 version has some serious slowdown during some of the most hectic moments, while the 360 performs without a hitch. So why the high score then? Simple. Even an inferior port of Bayonetta is still superior to any action game, ever. Some may argue that God of War or Devil May Cry is king. They are wrong. Dead wrong. Bayonetta is the queen of the action genre- no contest, and I’ll tell you why.
Story-wise, Bayonetta may not be as strong as the other two series that I previously mentioned. There’s two Eyes of the World and yadda, yadda, yadda. The only saving grace is that it never takes itself too seriously. For example, after the end credits role there’s a choreographed dance number with Bayonetta dancing with angels, the series villains. Now before you scream, “Sacrilege!”, these aren’t anywhere near the Judeo-Christian depictions. They’re more like giant bipedal birds that carry weapons and squawk when they attack. And then there’s the character Enzo, the poor man’s Joe Pesci. His character grates on your nerves every time he speaks, which thankfully is only during the beginning and ending moments of the game. Sure, Bayonetta is considered to be an overly sexualized female, but I think it’s meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than hand-in-crotch, if you know what I mean. At least she’s a strong character and not just some damsel in distress. I don’t see any essays on the objectification of Princess Peach when her only role is to get captured and be rescued by strange Italian men.
Anyone who’s ever seen an episode of the Lupin the Third anime will have a general idea of what Bayonetta’s soundtrack is like: light and jazzy. Just the way I like them, as a matter of fact, unless there’s copious amounts of blood and gore (in which case requires death metal and nothing but), which Bayonetta is surprising light on. There’s certainly blood, but it’s only on-screen for half a second before it disappears. And boy, do the Japanese sure love the 1954 song “Fly Me to the Moon”. It’s used several times throughout the game, and I’ve also heard it during the end credits of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. The voice acting is pretty solid, except for Enzo. And the actors make the best of the sometimes hammy script. Overall, Bayonetta is a solid aural experience.
It’s the butter-smooth gameplay that is the real star of Bayonetta. Controls are as tight and responsive as they can ever be in a third dimensional action game. When you want to dodge during a combo string, just tap the shoulder button and she’ll dodge. Every action is interruptible, and it leads to some of the most fluid combat ever seen, anywhere. Our heroine starts out with many combos at her disposal, with many more that can be purchased from shops, along with gameplay enhancing accessories, boosts to health and magic, as well as (after completing the game) new costumes to unlock. During normal play you’ll also gain access to new weapons ranging from a Japanese katana to a pair of magical ice-skates. I stuck with the katana since it basically turns you into a more responsive Dante from Devil May Cry- complete with stinger attack and ground launcher. The only thing missing is the dual pistols. Actually, it’s not missing- it’s just different. You see, Bayonetta wields 4 guns: 2 on the hands, 2 on the feet. And if you find yourself asking how she can shoot guns with her feet, this is not the game for you, my friend. This is truly one of those games that takes it to 11. Over-the –top doesn’t even begin to describe it. Little touches like a being able to practice combos during the loading screens are just icing on top of an already refined cake.
I can’t imagine any fan of action games not having tried this game out by now. For those PS3-only owners who read about the lengthy load times and passed- fear not! It has since been patched and fixed, even though the environment textures are still not as sharp. So if you have an X-Box, I’d go with that version instead, even after the PS3 patch. But if you’ve been thinking about dabbling into this genre and want to see the best it has to offer, pick this game up now. It can be easily found for under $20 and at that price I can’t help but scream, “Buy, buy, BUY!” Bayonetta 2 will be the main reason I eventually pick up a Wii U. Hail to the queen, baby.