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Bayonetta (Xbox 360) artwork

Bayonetta (Xbox 360) review


"The nimble and unusual lead character perfectly matches the fast-paced, responsive combat. Bayonetta features a blend of third-person melee and gunplay similar to Devil May Cry; sword slices are followed by pistol shots, although you're free to personalize your fighting style by attaching different weapons to each appendage. If you don't care for the sword-and-pistol combination, then use the whip to toss angels into the air, and blow them away with the Kilgore cannon!"




Bayonetta is not the first witch to appear in a video game, but she stands out from the rest. With her devil-may-care attitude, sexy British accent, family-unfriendly penchant for near nudity, twin shotguns strapped to her feet, and secret hidden chainsaw, Bayonetta is an unpredictable and enthralling vessel for PlatinumGames' outrageous creativity. She shoots gabby angels in the forehead to shut them up. Her clothing -- formed from her long long hair -- unravels and takes the shape of demonic entities to swallow foes whole. Bayonetta even breakdances, releasing volleys of artillery with each spin.

This nimble and unusual character perfectly matches the fast-paced, responsive combat. Bayonetta features a blend of third-person melee and gunplay similar to Devil May Cry; sword slices are followed by pistol shots, although you're free to personalize your fighting style by attaching different weapons to each appendage. If you don't care for the sword-and-pistol combination, then use the whip to toss angels into the air, and blow them away with the Kilgore cannon! All sixteen levels are divided into several enclosed arenas, similar to Chaos Legion, with a medal awarded at each checkpoint based on combat speed and performance. Mere survival isn't particularly difficult, but earning one of the coveted "pure platinum" awards requires effort. Achieving a platinum rank across an entire level requires absolute mastery of Bayonetta's many combination attacks. This game is as challenging as players choose to make it.

The action's all strung together with an intentionally stupid story that could have easily been cut entirely, but then we'd miss out on amazing scenes like Bayonetta surfing atop a fallen angel's body across a gushing wave of lava.

Bayonetta clearly revels in silliness. Upon encountering female angels who represent the concept of Joy, a techno version of "Fly Me to the Moon" plays. Fans of Frank Sinatra will recognize the song; fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion will chuckle at the sly reference. As Bayonetta whips the joyous angels or fires shotgun blasts into their faces, her magic meter fills up. Once full, she can unleash a torture attack . . . in this case, Bayonetta ties the lady angels to a wooden horse until they orgasm and explode, releasing a cloud of Sonic the Hedgehog rings. It's supernatural snuff, but you're supposed to laugh at it instead of being disgusted.

Whether due to such scenes, foul language, sexual overtones, or its anti-Catholic subtext, Bayonetta will briefly offend most players at some point. Naysayers have been quick to leap on such elements (no doubt to protect the children who shouldn't be playing M-rated games), but Bayonetta isn't really "about" any of those things even though it includes all of them. Instead of lingering on any particular point, Bayonetta leaps from one crazy scene to the next without establishing any meaningful message; the clever -- and satisfyingly non-cliffhanger -- finale makes it clear that Bayonetta's ultimate message is:

"HEY, WHY SO SERIOUS? LET'S HAVE FUN, BABY!"

This is not an epic, a legend, or a sweeping adventure; Bayonetta is a game. More than that, it's a Sega game, and the developers pay homage to past classics in a number of ways. First and foremost, Bayonetta delivers a magical sound shower of Sega goodness; snippets from Zillion's theme song occasionally play before the Angel Attack shooting mini-game, and the Highway 666 level is accompanied by After Burner's adrenaline-pumping music. Although the Bayonetta version is instrumental, here are lyrics from the vocal version for karaoke fans who want to sing along:

When we touch I want you so much my heart is on fire
Make it so I can't let go, you're all I desiiiiiire
Burning Love! After Burner! Burning Love!
After Burner! After your burnin' love!


Bayonetta can also perform Akira's coolest move (the body thrust he shows off in the Virtua Fighter 2 demo), shoot things with upgraded versions of the Zillion guns, and speed through an entire level of Space Harrier, as recreated with Bayonetta graphics. Fans of Clover Studio will also recognize some choice moments. Whether you loved OutRun, God Hand, Okami, or even SDI, spotting all the various references is a game in and of itself.

I don't know what Platinum intended to achieve by including these moments, but I know what they did achieve. They made me feel young again . . . and they did it in a "next-gen" way without making any concessions against Bayonetta's own identity. Despite all these nods to other games, nothing feels internally inconsistent; then again, it's hard for anything to feel out of place when the heroine rides atop ICBM missiles while flinging magical bolts at golden bats with human faces.

Swift action, sly references, sweet music, and a seductive lead who proves females can be just as daring as Dante -- Bayonetta kills angels for bloody sport, and playing Bayonetta leaves me feeling more jacked than Bolo. This game is such a breath of fresh air that minor inconveniences such as the camera, loading times, and occasional screen-tearing are easily ignored. My heart is on fire!

//Zig

Rating: 9/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (January 24, 2010)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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Feedback

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pickhut posted January 24, 2010:

I don't appreciate you stealing my review and making it better.

Joking aside, it's a good review. Though, it was scary we kinda mentioned the same things in certain areas.
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zigfried posted January 24, 2010:

I think that just proves how cool (and memorable) those things were.

EDIT: Venter bought Borderlands instead of this. Together, our reviews shall inflict a thousand stings of regret!

//Zig
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honestgamer posted January 24, 2010:

Please stop posting Bayonetta reviews that make me want to go out and buy the game, folks. Suskie already screwed me over with his excellent Borderlands review and now the wave of Bayonetta reviews is tearing my heart appppaaaaaaaaart!
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zippdementia posted January 24, 2010:

Yeah, the Bayonetta demo was enough to convince me, but truly I won't have the money to buy games until the end of February.
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zigfried posted January 24, 2010:

We are just trying to fill your dark soul with liiiiiiiiiiight!

//Zig
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radicaldreamer posted January 24, 2010:

I love the opening picture montage.
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sashanan posted January 26, 2010:

This so doesn't sound like my kind of game, although it's comforting to know that it does not necessarily share Devil May Cry's difficulty. I've long since had to admit that Devil May Cry is simply beyond me, much like the speed of my fingers was never able to match the strength of Iron Mike's fists.

Naysayers have been quick to leap on such elements (no doubt to protect the children who shouldn't be playing M-rated games),

I'd add a "to begin with" or "in the first place" or similar to the bit between parantheses (assuming that's what you mean), removing possible ambiguity.
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wolfqueen001 posted January 27, 2010:

Heh. Nice review. I think I remember seeing a trailer for this or something once and finding it potentially interesting, though I didn't really know what it fully entailed (of course, I may be thinking of a different game... like that WET one or whatever). Anyway, I like that you explain that this game can potentially offend a lot of people but that it doesn't really do that to be serious at all. I know that, in my case anyway, I'd be liable to focus on the fact that this just seems like I'd be playing as virtual eyecandy trying to kill things in the most provocative way manner (and I don't mean violence, which I don't have an issue with at all). So mentioning the fact that this sort of "controversy" is really irrelevant sort of puts me at ease with this, especially since I have a tendency to be biased towards a game with such features and therefore miss a potentially great experience because I chose to focus on something really insignificant.

Anyway, as for the rest, you really do make it sound as if it's just a game trying to go back to the roots of what a game should be - pointless fun without any deeper meaning other than to just kill stuff (or whatever else makes games fun), which is pretty cool in a way since most games don't really take that into consideration anymore. And the all the Sega references sound rather amusing, too, though I personally haven't played very many Sega games and therefore wouldn't catch very many of them, but that's hardly important.

Also, small typo (I think):

It's supernatural snuff

Do you mean "stuff"? or were you trying to be clever and I just missed it somehow?
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zigfried posted January 27, 2010:

"Snuff" is the right word for what I'm describing in that part. The film 8mm will teach you all about it.

Thanks for the comments!

//Zig
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bloomer posted January 29, 2010:

Ah but Zig... for it to technically be snuff, that lady who died thus would have had to have been killed for the sole reason that a person wished to record her death on film. It seems that Bayonetta would kill folk in such manner even if nobody was watching, just because that's the kind of person and/or game she is. If I read right.

Surprisingly, the film actually called 'Snuff' will teach you less about snuff movies than '8mm'. But it did have an awesome tagline - 'Filmed in South America - Where Life Is Cheap!'

Before any South Americans complain, this film was made in the 70's, is no good, and the hype was explicitly designed to shift units before anyone got to see the film and realise the horrible mistake they had made by renting or purchasing it.

They didn't call them 'exploitation flicks' because they weren't exploitative.
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Genj posted March 31, 2010:

I was trying to decide whether to buy Assassin's Creed 2 or Bayonetta last night. I re-read Zig's review and decided on buying Bayonetta. Thank you Zig for helping me decide.

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