The IVG 30-second Bayonetta compatibility test:
- Did you enjoy Devil May Cry 1 and 3?
- Do you like anime/manga?epi
- Can you NOT blink for a long, long time?
It is absolutely essential that you nod your head vigorously to all three of those questions before you even think of exchanging your hard earned money for this game. Still with me? Alright then.
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Bayonetta is the logical culmination of the stylized-action genre that a nice man named Hideki Kamiya revolutionised with the first Devil May Cry nearly a decade ago. This was however, before Capcom realised that betting their cash on games that just don’t sell despite all the goodwill and critical acclaim was a bad idea. Post epiphany, and after Clover was shown the pointy end of the stick as just reward for creating gems like Okami, God Hand and Viewtiful Joe, Kamiya left Capcom and created Platinum Games with fellow brainiacs Atsushi Inaba, Shinji Mikami and the rest of the Clover team.
This association is pretty darned significant because in Bayonetta, you can cherry pick references to almost every game Clover and the above mentioned holy trinity ever made. I won’t point most of these out, especially since Platinum makes no attempt to hide the fan service. Classic Sega titles also get a shout-out. Everything from Sonic to Outrun is in there if you know where to look.
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It is also worth pointing out that the Japanese gaming industry is just not what it used to be. The time and cost pressures of developing in HD, the heart-breaking decline of public interest in any gaming that isn’t handheld, and the need to cater to a growing western market has led to smaller developers shutting shop, switching to smaller, less-demanding platforms or cutting output altogether.
This aversion to risk is especially tough on those of us who have, until now (in the glory days of the PS1 and PS2), been used to unique content and variety from Japanese developers; the kind that Bayonetta delivers in spades. This is reason enough, as much as anything else I can possibly tell you in the ensuing paragraphs, to buy and bear-hug this game. It pays to know and have more than just a passing interest and love for videogames to genuinely enjoy what is on offer here.
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And enjoy you will, because what Platinum have delivered is a 15-20 hour epic that takes lesser knock-offs to school and then makes them walk back home in the rain. I remember reading something about David Jaffe admitting way back when to how the Devil May Cry combat system was better than what God of War ended up shipping with. The gravity of this admission is amplified tenfold in Bayonetta’s case, as it blends beginner-friendly button mashing with the kind of intricate combos you would normally associate with a fighting game. What really sells the combat however, is the ease with which the animations blend together. Combine that with the ability to shift forms (there’s one Okami reference), and you could be flying through the air and running around in big-cat form the next, all while being able to seamlessly launch into a brutal series of combos anywhere in between. The R2/RT button is used to dodge attacks and also engages Witch Time if you manage to squeeze the button just before an attack hits you.
Combat is nothing without style, and Bayonetta knows it. With firearms attached to all four appendages, every encounter has the potential of being highlight reel worthy. Torture attacks unique to different enemies add to the fun and the GIGATON count as you button mash like mad to power up your attack never gets old. The detail that went into each frame of animation really shows through, with each taunt, idle animation and analog stick nudge getting you exaggerated movement that will have you grinning like an idiot.
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You also earn halos as enemy-drops, which can be used to unlock new techniques, weapons and jewellery knick-knacks that add even more crazy moves and abilities to your already chock full list. Another nice touch is the loading screen that lets you practice moves, complete with a list of combos that you can toggle on or off. You can also toggle the practice mode, stopping the next level from loading in and letting you practice all you want. The levels are divided into different verses and each verse is scored based on a medal system that takes into account your combo count, style and damage taken. Each level also nets you an award (be prepared to see a lot of stone if you aren’t very good) based on your performance in each of the verses.
Next page: IVG Verdict