Bayonetta (PS3) Review

Bayonetta (PS3) Review 4

A word of warning about Hideki Kamiya‘s Bayonetta – unless you have extensive experience with
Japanese humour, and gaming humour in particular, promises to be one of the most incomprehensible games on the market today.

Even with the proper background information, Bayonetta boasts a collection of over-the-top antics that are second to none. Simply put, Bayonetta is the rare type of game that comes out once in a console generation. But once it arrives, it forces all other titles to tread water in its wacky wake.

Oh yes, and ridiculous It is also ridiculous.

A Witch in Time Saves Nine

Bayonetta’s framework is shaky at best. The eponymous heroine is an amnesiac witch with an impressive array of anime-style powers who also happens to be an expert in gunplay and martial arts. On a quest to regain her memory, Bayonetta stumbles through a series of events that slowly explain why she was stuffed into a coffin and buried at the bottom of a lake for nearly two decades. Other than that, the narrative is little more than a loose arrangement of dots on which to hang some of the most colossal boss battles and combat sequences ever put into play.

Bayonetta (PS3)

Without a doubt, Kamiya intends Bayonetta to be a bolder, sexier, and even more, psychotic version of an earlier character, Dante, from his now-classic game Devil May Cry. In short, the breathtaking scale of Bayonetta’s calculated absurdity is a brazen dose of sexy, adrenaline-fueled combat.

The game is a unique experience that is not afraid to take risks at the risk of alienating large segments of the market. On the other hand, Bayonetta is clearly influenced by many more accessible aspects of Western popular culture. The main enemies resemble highly stylized angels, equally inspired by ethereal Renaissance cherubs and bestial nightmare mutations.

As for Bayonetta herself, she is clad in a bold mishmash of fetish aesthetics and couture runway glamour. Her delicate frame is draped in what appears to be a leather catsuit, but upon closer inspection is actually a shimmering curtain of luxurious and magically charged hair. To complete the ensemble, she is accessorized with a fashionable pair of butterfly-shaped glasses that only enhance the “Naughty Librarian” motif.

“Bayonetta has been polished to a fine sheen.”

Much like the visuals, the audio tracks take their share of chances, eschewing the traditional hard guitar riffs that helped define Devil May Cry in favour of a bouncy mix of upbeat J-pop, jazzy tunes, and a remixed ballad. The voice acting, like everything else, is off the charts, none more so than Bayonetta’s crisp British accent, which is conveniently almost dripping with sexual innuendo.

Then again, almost everything about the game seems somehow sexual. It’s almost as if Kamiya, aware of some of the Western criticism of Japanese slant on Western culture, has parodied that criticism by pulling a “Spinal Tap.” Oh yeah, he turns it up to 11.

An Exercise in Discipline

Bayonetta (Ps3) Review

For all the excessive flash incorporated into the game’s visuals, there’s still a meaty and merciless action game to be played. This is truly Japanese game design at its best. Bayonetta is fluid, dynamic, and precise while stubbornly refusing to pander to a casual audience. As a Kamiya game would suggest, Bayonetta’s combat engine is a thing of marvellously tuned efficiency. While a plethora of audio and visual cues alert the attentive player to the mechanics, timing, and positioning of the battle sequence

For the record, button mashing does reward players with some ridiculously spectacular attack moves, but the meticulous will discover a system of highly adaptive combo moves that are well worth experimenting with.

Although the third-person, arena-style formula is well established, Bayonetta has been polished to a fine shine. Not only that but it is interspersed with numerous mini-game levels reminiscent of SEGA classics like Space Harrier and Hang On. In fact, the game is so riddled with in-jokes and self-referential humor that much of it will likely escape all but the most ardent gamer. Occasionally, some of these segments may run a bit long or repetitive, but these are minor blemishes on an otherwise stellar effort.

The only caveat with the game is a strong recommendation for the XBOX 360 version. The PS3 version is plagued by minor technical glitches, frame rate drops, and excessive loading times that make it a functional but less-than-ideal version. Version flaws aside, Bayonetta is a must-own title for fans of Japanese game design.

Final Thoughts

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