The USS Quad Damage

Time to drop that zero and get yourself a hero

If you think about her as a happy emo, it really changes the whole experience: "Welcome to my life... It's a pretty good life. Enjoy your time and call me if you need anything."

While on the surface the game looks like just like every other game which is a little exploitative of women, Bayonetta is deceptively empowering.

Gabe’s assessment of Bayonetta hits the mark, or more specifically, Leigh Alexander really does the hitting of the mark and Gabe simply makes good reference to it while stating opinions very similar to my own. This was a good thing to see considering Jae from Australian Gamer pretty frankly accuses you of thinking with your dick if you like this game (note that Matt from AG re-reviews this game, so this is not an indictment of AG as a whole). In short, Jae would’ve been more correct if he accused you of thinking with your vagina.

If you’re a man reviewing this game as a man, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, for me this was only possible because Bayonetta is, as Gabe mentions, not exactly human looking. She’s like the pure embodiment of femininity, just like Markus Fenix is the pure emobiment of masculinity, even though I don’t think either of them really "do it" for the opposite sex... even though they sort of do. Bayonetta’s sexuality, which is overt, is almost allegorical for a kind of power trip for women. You can see it in the excessive love hearts, flower petals, and butterflies in the game that is something that a woman desires to be, not something a man desires from a woman.

As a counter-weight, consider Lara Croft — A chick with big tits and short shorts. That’s about as far as a man gets in his thinking (I’m saying this as a man, so it’s certainly not meant in offense). As an afterthought, there’s an “oh, and she's smart, etc.” The construct of Lara Croft is utilitarian. Contrast it with the excessive, fantastic and ornate Bayonetta, and it should be obvious that this is a character designed for women.

Her “power”, and where it comes from, is also telling. Where Bayonetta’s demo really hooked me in was when she landed on a patch of grass, and immediately flowers started growing there. She then adjusted her glasses and the flowers practically ejaculate, leaving her surrounded with flower petals in the air. Not only hilarious, but it shows that this is really her strength. In fact, to some extent, the very fact that men who play her think she’s hot is all about her having that effect. Where in Tomb Raider a girl gamer might complain about guy gamers objectifying women, in Bayonetta they might look at the salivating saps and want to high-five Bayonetta instead with a "You go home-girl!"

In short, while on the surface, the game looks like just like every other game which is a little exploitative of women, and some which don’t look all that exploitative but are, Bayonetta is deceptively empowering.

OK, onto the game itself. I’ve only played the demo thus far, so my review of the game is fairly limited. This is a game which, again, at the surface looks like God of War or Heavenly Sword, but underneath is more of a technical brawler. One thing that Japanese games do well is taking implicit things and making them explicit. The combos aren’t just given to you, but you can also practise them while the game is loading. The game will also tell you how often you’ve done certain combos. Similarly, when someone is going to attack you, in GOW or HS you have to watch for their attack animations. Bayonetta will instead give you a large arrow with “WARNING” written on it. You also get like a minute of bullet time if you dodge sucessfully.

Let me say this again: You get like a friggin minute of bullet time if you simply dodge someone who’s getting stabby in your face.

This turns dodging from something you have to do to stay alive like in other brawlers, to something that’s pleasurable and you really want to do. In return for all of this, the game is also fairly hard (although the demo wasn’t that bad, but I believe other people when they say it isn’t easy). I believe the difficulty is necessary because otherwise people really could button mash their way through the game. While you can still do this to some extent, I believe you can’t say something like “It's all button mashing” and “I kept on dying over and over” and have me take you seriously.

So, broadly, the game mechanics are good. However, there are quick-time events, and I hate quick time events. This would immediately put the game in the fail bucket for me, right? Well there’s only the one quick time event in the demo, and it tells you to press left and jump when you want to jump in that direction. The first time I played it, I didn’t even realise there was a quick time event because I was actually pressing those exact buttons, because I was thinking “Quick, jump over there!” It wasn’t until the third time playing when I died doing that that I realised that there was actually a QTE there. If all of the QTEs are handled as well as that, I won’t mind so much.

There is a big problem with the game, though. When I played the demo there was a part where I was supposed to run up some stairs (or you die). I didn’t know that so I kept on dying and wondering what the hell I’m meant to do. So that in itself is bad, but worse is the fact that I needed to watch the damn cut-scenes every time I restarted.

Other than that, a top notch game.