Posted by : Wendy B Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bayonetta by Trisha Cezair
I broke my Sunday "There is no gaming, only reads" rule late this morning because I was up until stupid o'clock trying to beat Jubileus, the Creator. My family joined me for encouragement or in the case of my youngest, her somber conclusion that I was just not going to win so I should just die and let her play the loading screen. Bless her and her reverse psychology because I won on my next attempt. Which means I am finally finished with Bayonetta. Or rather, after the longest and most entertaining closing sequence ever, I am done with Bayonetta. Well, mostly done. I might need to go back for more trophies or, just because I simply love this game.

My friend told me about it years ago, describing the main character as a sexy librarian-type who gets naked when she uses her powers (because her power is in her hair, see, and her clothes are actually made of her hair. It's a witch thing). That description amused me, but didn't strongly appeal to me, even though he did say that the actual gameplay was amazing. I just wasn't into action games back then and I wasn't interested in a game that seemed to exist just to titillate the typical target audience. The article quoted below along with further praise from friends convinced me to try it out (and apparently started me on my path of gaming obsession). Now it is firmly on the top of my list of favourite action games (forgive me, Bruce).

Bayonetta could easily be written off as sexist. Anita Sarkeesian does, but I tend to discount opinions from people who haven't done their full research (e.g. she identifies Bayonetta's single mom status as the only redeeming factor. Being called "mummy" does not a mother make). Not that there aren't overt elements about Bayonetta's sexuality that don't prove Anita's points, but frankly, I loved every stylized, tongue-in-cheek moment and I loved my husband's shocked reactions to it all as he watched me play. Bayonetta is the epitome of female unattainable perfection and does not take herself and her sexuality any more seriously than you should. She is a commentary on the games that set about sexualizing their female characters as purely eye candy, mocking the typical target gaming audience.
Bayonetta takes the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject, and it's tremendously empowering. The title character uses the mantle of her sexuality as a power source. Between Bayonetta and her equally fierce rival, Jeane, it's a women's world -- the boys just play in it. The Umbra Witches aren't to be messed with. With this unique theme, the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon. This stylized love letter to femininity is signed and sealed with all of the game's tiny details, from the kiss-shaped aiming targets to the subtle grace of Bayonetta's butterfly-shaped shadow. [X]

But I'm not here to argue that point. I loved the game. If you don't like the sexuality, we can still be friends.

I also loved the gameplay. My original enabler friend was not wrong. There are a myriad of moves to master, and as a button masher extraordinaire, I happily managed to punch the crap out of things 795 times (it tracks your combos for you). Not that simply punching things in the face is going to get you by. Timing is of the essence and failing to dodge an attack can have you dead in two hits. Failing to pay attention to the millisecond prompts will result in frustration, too. This is an incredibly challenging game, even on Normal mode and I had to break my gameplay into chapter-based doses sometimes to avoid potential tableflip controllerthrow ragequit. My husband watched me a lot of the time and was impressed by my mad skillz. Appreciating just how intense the game could be, he would sometimes forego his usual mocking commentary to offer encouraging shoulder rubs during the more difficult battles, including the final boss battle this morning.

By now you should know that lore and characters are important to me and this does not let me down. Bayonetta has been asleep for 500 years and now must regain her memories and her skills to figure out why she is at the centre of the broken alliance and ultimate destruction of the Umbran Witches and the Lumen Sages, all while trying to figure out why the angels are so pleased to be defeated by her.

Angels by *oOFipsOo

The Angels, the main enemies of the game, are magnificent. Each one is unique in form and function and are the source of that challenging gameplay I spoke of. As expected, each new enemy is more difficult than the last.

Finally, add the wonderful soundtrack, excellent voice acting and the beautiful artwork and cinematics, and I am almost convinced that I need a WiiU just so I can play Bayonetta 2.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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