January 14, 2010

Bayonetta – Taking My Sweet Time

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 5:02 pm

Given the number of times I’ve thrown words to Bayonetta during the game’s development, I fully expected to have joined the conversation she’s stirred about sex, audience reactions, sex, female identity, and more sex by now. The reason I haven’t is straightforward enough, and provides a chance for you to say I’m biased.

If I am indeed biased, it’s because I love videogames, and Bayonetta loves being a videogame – enough that we’re a good match and someone should go book the chapel by the time I write a proper review.

As for avoiding the extensive conversations going around the net, my problem is simple – talking extensively about any of those aspects would mean that I’d have to stop playing the game long enough to do so.

My first climax hit with the opening, not that overwhelming bit of clock tower intro, rather the part that comes after where I’m blowing angels into meaty chunks in a graveyard while that intoxicating j-pop rendition of Fly Me To The Moon drowns out the dialogue. It’s safe to say there were more than enough hooks into me at that early stage to keep me playing – and plenty more to follow, along with those immense boss encounters everyone keeps talking about.

We’ll get back to all of that I’m certain, but I’m far more interested in the way Bayonetta has nudged the gamer within me. By nudged I mean kicked in the pants, and by gamer within me I mean the part of me that’s gotten lazy and indifferent and ready to write about the narrative flow of a game, not detached from the play, but somehow as if it were the play, or at least the primary reason for playing a game.

Bayonetta puts an end to a lot of that chatter for me via an action game that means to provide an ever escalating climax. But like every good climax, there are a lot of little gasps and heated breaths to enjoy in turn as the pressure builds, and that’s what has the hooks into me the deepest right now.

Bayonetta isn’t a gamer’s game because it’s hard – though it is hard as coffin nails to walk into. In fact, it’s a little bit like walking into a room and being told to get the hell out just after you’re handed a cup of tea. But it isn’t soul-crushingly hard, because there’s always a visible strategy at work, one which stresses that Bayonetta helps those who help themselves.

I admittedly started off abusing the evade button to trigger witch time, scoring as many hits as I could before enemies started moving again. Problem is that doing so is no fun whatsoever, the way I imagine automatic mode would make me sigh heavily for watching actions I had no real part in. At present evade is better saved for pulling me out of the break-dancing bulletdance – seriously, break-dancing bullet dance – which I also have a bad habit of using excessively.

It has taken me the better part of this week to not simply mash the buttons. Some of this has required angels to beat me down mercilessly again and again, and the rest owes motivation to the way Bayonetta makes me want to be better at it.

I can’t readily think of another game in recent memory that made me truly want to burn combination’s into my brain. There’s always God Hand – yes we could go there because it’s a good place to go – but I’ve been known to lazily limp my way through that game as well, and I love me some God Hand.

So what’s coaxing more motivation out of me?

You could say it’s the little things, those small accentuation’s that make life worth living, or at least a game worth the added attention. The way Bayonetta flows, twirls her guns, arches her leg to follow through on a kick by firing shots – Bayonetta is sexy as code, in a way that doesn’t come around often enough and has entirely nothing to do with how cinematic a game might be named.

Think of the way a character in another game this year punches someone as a functional act of code. Bayonetta would take the same punch and put a wrist flip into it that some might never notice, but it’s there.

Is it greater for being there? Or is it a gamer’s game because there’s the chance to appreciate something within the game, something that we as player’s actively play with, something that every move we learn extends naturally out of before launching into another?

Plenty of gamers are going to absorb these little accents as they play, and plenty probably won’t, but it’s going to require talking about the game a bit differently, in a way that sorta got lost at some point and is going to make it very hard for those that are more words than play – I suppose we’ll find out if I’m one of them at no extra charge.

The short story is that it’s more than enough reason for me to take my sweet time soaking it up this week.


  1. Mmm… Bayonetta. It is everything I hoped it would be and more! I’m really enjoying it. Coming from a fellow God Hand buff, Bayonetta is fun times indeed!

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — January 15, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  2. I loved the demo and will reaaaally enjoyed playing the game from start to finish. Feels like a more polished Devil May Cry 4, with the added benefit of trophies (Hi, my name is EdEN and it seems I’m a trophy whore) and a better soundtrack than the former.

    Comment by EdEN — January 15, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  3. I tried the demo and I did enjoy it, but I don’t know if I enjoyed it enough to actually purchase the game. Every time I walk into an EB Games (at least once or twice a week) I pick it up, read the back, and put it back down. Perhaps next time I should just buy it.

    Comment by Orenda Wolfe — January 19, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

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