Up Up Down Down: Bayonetta
Bayonetta is a sexy, sexy game. It's not just sexy because its star is a sexually fueled witch with an almost cartoonishly amazing body. No, it's sexy because of its sleek action, crazy adult humor, and hellish themes. When Bayonetta launched in 2009 in Japan and 2010 in North America, it surprised a lot of people, and Sega and Platinum Games were able to deliver a largely unique beat 'em up that stood tall alongside franchises like Devil May Cry and God of War.
Even though it's been about three years since its release, the game still stands tall as a shining example of what brawlers can achieve. On this edition of Up Up Down Down, we're going to enter the dark and devilish world of Bayonetta and dissect its wonderful little intricacies, as well as its unfortunate minor setbacks.
Up Up: Encourages you to master it
Brawlers are often mindless affairs that require you to mash away on buttons. There's no science or art to it, and ultimately, these games live and die by their depth, or lack thereof. That's not so in the case of Bayonetta. Unlike so many other beat 'em ups, this game has plenty of great gameplay systems built into it. Combos are fun to master, and the titular Bayonetta has a bunch of slick moves at her disposal. It's important to learn different moves as some are better than others when combating the multiple enemy types that stand in your way, and the game encourages you to do so by keeping things interesting.
Down Down: Frustrating difficulty spikes
One thing Bayonetta has in common with plenty of other beat 'em ups and hack-and-slash titles is the occurrence of difficulty spikes. Fun fact: No one likes difficulty spikes, because they're sh*t. There are plenty of memorable moments when the challenge escalates gradually and gracefully, which makes it especially infuriating whenever you encounter a large enemy or horde of bad guys that make it damn near impossible to proceed. Bayonetta is such a great, free-flowing game that every time you encounter an out-of-place increase in difficulty it's hard not to want to fling your controller on the ground.
Up Up: Funny characters, dialogue, and interactions
Platinum Games does a good job of creating entertaining characters and injecting them with humor. The cast of Bayonetta is made up of blissfully over-the-top personalities and absolutely ridiculous themes. The rotund Enzo is especially endearing thanks to his goofy nature, and Luka (or Cheshire, as Bayonetta refers to him) is quite the lovable oaf despite his heroic look and charm. Additionally, hearing the characters trade insults and berate each other makes for a number of pleasant story sequences.
Down Down: Maybe a bit too sexually charged
Personally, I have no issue with the hyper-sexual nature of Bayonetta. I'm neither an easily offended jerk nor a lonely, horny loser, so I don't exactly get pissed or turned on by the game's antics. For some, though, the striptease-themed gameplay and overly sexy style on hand may be a bit much. If you're easily put off by a little half-nakedness, this game may not exactly bring a ton of joy to your heart. Oh, there's also the whole "kill demonic angels" thing, which offended a few religious players as evidenced by a handful of blog and forum posts that can be found on the Internet.
Up Up: Awesome steampunk setting and stylish look
Aside from all of the quasi-nudity, Bayonetta is also filled with unique style. The game is set in this lovely steampunk world that's just exciting to run around and beat dudes up in. It's a sight to see, too, as the heavenly environments you explore are just bursting with great art, architecture, and personality. Adding to the game's atmosphere is a constant “heaven versus hell” vibe that's ever present — it's stunning seeing the wondrous sunlight flow through the dreary clouds in the sky and bounce off walls decorated with pretty patterns and statues of creepy angels.
Down Down: PlayStation 3 version suffers from quality-breaking issues
While this flaw doesn't exactly pertain to all Bayonetta players, it does affect a rather large population of potential fans. Sadly, the PlayStation 3 version of the game suffers from nasty bugs, horrid frame rate issues, and ugly screen tearing. These are the kinds of issues that make it hard to enjoy the game, and if all you've got access to is a PlayStation 3, the argument could be made that you should just skip Bayonetta entirely. On the plus side, the Xbox 360 version runs great. Yay!
Left Right Left Right: Bayonetta is one of the best pure action games of the last several years
Platinum proved a few things with Bayonetta. First, it showed that it could create a new franchise with great characters, a lovingly built world, and awesome style. Second, it proved that brawlers can be deep and intricate, with gameplay that's inviting despite not being overly simplistic. Lame difficulty spikes do offset the rather enjoyable experience, and some may not take too kindly to all of the sexiness. That said, Bayonetta is easily one of the most unique beat 'em ups to come along in recent memory, and its freshness makes it worth playing by almost anyone who loves solid action.
Just, uh, don't play it on the PlayStation 3.
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