First Exams
bay1
Bayonetta Demo Impressions

Most notable for starring Sarah Palin *not really*, the brainchild of Devil May Cry and Okami director Hideki Kamiya debuted on the Japanese Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Store with a playable demo. With an aggressive gameplay style that stresses both substance and style, Bayonetta is arguably one of the most adaptive action/combat titles in a genre dominated by characters that claimed their fame nearly a decade or more ago.

I’ve played God of War, Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, and a crap load of lesser variations on the genre. I came into this expecting to be met with staunchly archaic principles mixed in with boobs and pantie shots. I was half right, quarter right maybe. Surprisingly the game is not flashing the main character’s assets at you 100% of the time unlike the Tecmo games. 70% of the time max.

Try to take away her guns and you'll be met with more than whitty campaign slogan.

The first thing I noticed while playing the demo was that everything was in English except for the controls. Character dialogue is spoken in English as well as the writing of some context sensitive menu items, but as for the combat you’re all on your own. Luckily it was easy to grasp once the tutorial mode rolled on. The game is fairly simple. One button allows you to kick, one dedicated to shooting and another delivers heavier sword based attacks. If anything the combat is deceptively simple. Anyone who has played Devil May Cry understands how interesting combat can be when you only have one main attack. Like that game you’re minus a block button, but Bayonetta is able to dodge most attacks with a click of a shoulder button.

Faced with my first batch of opponents the style of this game shown through. The most simplest attacks are made fresh again in this game. Shooting is handled by either targeting one opponent, or you can cycle through them quick in a over the shoulder type view that allows you to decimate multiple opponents. This allows you to distance yourself easily in a bind. I was relieved to finally find a game where projectile attacks didn’t feel completely useless. Bayonetta is capable of staying in the air far longer than you would expect, even if you’re used to Dante blasting off an unlimited supply of rounds from his twin guns.

bay3

One thing that sticks out is the ability to pick up and use the weapons of fallen enemies. At one point I equipped a spear of a fallen angel and began a combo. To my amazement Bayonetta began to…dance on the pole. Not only did she have the skills to pay the bills, but all the surrounding enemies were devastated. I can expect this to be just one of many signature touches that will be a staple of the character in the full game. This game knows how to sell to a crowd.

The demo features two mini-bosses and one end boss. They aren’t too deep or complex but they are completely fun. For the first boss it is essential to attack a glowing red spot on the giant’s back (give this game a break, the guy worked for Capcom). Sticking to aerial attacks and finishing it off with Bayonetta’s pistols earned me a miniature version of the monster’s axe. However the weapons don’t last indefinitely, I used up the item upon dispatching some enemies in the next room. The final boss in the demo was a bit more challenging. The character you are fighting is a woman similar to Bayonetta who is capable blocking your attacks. The best approach is to get behind her and knock her down without eating her stilettos. This was probably the more enjoyable of the fights as it required more creative execution of the attacks than simply wailing on it for a few minutes.

bay1

The set pieces in Bayonetta aren’t unexpected for a game in this genre but the touches added to them are very unique. The camera has a very different positioning for certain attacks and signature moves are impossible to miss. In order to defeat the two level bosses, Bayonetta removes her entire outfit and transforms it into a sort of dragon, eating the enemies alive. Yes, you will say holy crap when you do that the first time. Even the second.

I’m not quite sure exactly what is going on in the story, and I’m not altogether positive that it was because it was partly Japanese. Devil May Cry 4 didn’t make a whole lot of sense, Ninja Gaiden didn’t make a whole lot of sense, nothing in this genre makes a whole lot of sense. Bayonetta’s style carries the story more than anything, plus that fact that it is pure fun. It’s very hard to get bored when you’re attacking enemies, mainly because she’s constantly doing something new to switch things up. Every encounter feels fresh, every battle engaging. You couldn’t ask for much more to try out this game than that.

Solidly convinced that this game is more than just She-Devil May Cry, I’m looking forward to its release in early January. If you don’t have access to a Japanese PSN or XBL account I suggest checking the signs for word on a US demo release. It’s definitely something you do not want to miss.

Don’t forget to check out the demo gameplay videos in HD over at Gamersyde.

1 comments
Chris
Chris

Well-written piece; I'm looking forward to Bayonetta. Btw, I removed the no-follow on my site sidemission.com (and on your link) Phaethon!