Thursday, January 7, 2010

I’d Just Rather Look at Dante’s Ass is All

I seem to keep flying off on different tangents in regards to Bayonetta. On one hand, it’s Kamiya & crew’s next title. He has a knack for upping the potency in the titles he works on, that or he establishes some formula for himself that remains to be matched. On the other hand, it’s a game that’s visually designed for me to like, yet somehow --- I just don’t. The epic (i.e. really really big) boss encounters have too much in common with God of War for me (and the only title I’ve liked in that series is Chains of Olympus). Bayonetta’s distinctly disproportionate and hypersexualized figure is something I thought I would like as well (especially the function/visage of her legs), yet once again --- nothing clicks for me. Luckily, the mechanics themselves showcase that these are the same people that made Devil May Cry, but at the same time, that’s part of the problem as well.

The hype train for the game is something I still find rather confusing, as I’m worried how the game will sell. This isn’t because I necessarily care about the game itself, but what people will react to in terms of what’s actually meant to drive the appeal in the first place. I could easily turn out to be wrong of course, but there are distinctly colored flavors in this game that have been proven to turn many a gamer away. Not necessarily myself --- but well, let's just consider for a few seconds:

1 - The game has a musical collaboration between some awesome artists, yet still folds a J-Pop wrapper around it in the end.

2 - Though this game is more accessible than its brother (Devil May Cry), it’s also got that same aura of ‘kickass-fuck-you-player’ tone to it.

3 - The main character is a woman…enough said.

Point 1 is probably the game’s most exercised muscle in terms of giving the title its own atmosphere. The music in these games always serve as a barrier for Kamiya-slash titles though (e.g. think about the ‘screamo’ in the DMC series). It’s always something most players will have to grit their teeth through or intertwine into the image of the game; this time the flavor will be a very upbeat and pseudo-jazzy J-Pop. If you think the majority of gaming’s unmatured males haven’t jumped ship already at this point, then I don’t really know what to tell you. If it does however, gather itself a large and distinct female audience then good, but I’m more prone to think that an insular audience picking up the majority of a minority gender is a bit of wishful thinking in the end (this coming from someone who knows quite a few girls who love grit-your-teeth hack n’ slashers).




Point 2 is mainly this game having to stand amongst its peers. To be fair, it does already stand far above the majority of b-grade ‘hackies’ that don’t have the Kamiya pedigree behind them, but it still falls into sucking on the buxom teat provided by God of War and Devil May Cry (there’s no way to avoid it either). I personally never liked the God of War series, so the way the demo had me taking down a very large statue instantly caused me to loop the Umbran witch into a relationship with a certain bald Greek guy covered in ashes. Having a more cinematic flair and a distinct tendency to exercise QTE muscles helps this correlation even more. For my tastes, Bayonetta is a God of War game that I actually like, but it’s also a DMC game I’d rather pick up out of a bargain bin two years from now.

“Bayonetta redefines over the top”
[Only in the sense of adding a ‘b. clause’ to the already efficient definition]

Yes, point 3 is a factor, I don't care what you say. Whether it’s making a run at ‘hot chick with gun’ or trying to separate exemplary mechanics from everything else (because it's silly), the game is given to everyone on the pretext that this is the female successor to Dante. Cool, hypersexualized, and extremely deadly are the ‘image fortes’ here, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Bayonetta ironically censors her own potential. Plenty of her attacks are conveyed as making her partially nude so that ‘everything worthwhile’ is still covered. This is what makes the game exploitive to me. I don’t mean that in the sense that Bayonetta is a icon damaging to the appearance of women in games, but rather the self-aware and intentional turn she makes in terms of screaming:

“Hey fourteen-year old boys! Point your penises over here!”

Perhaps it's problematic for some people, but every time I did a combo that required her hair-clothes to come off, I always ended up feeling that I would love this game 100% more if they just went ahead and showed the character model totally nude when such sequences were triggered. Having them zip across her private areas is just so abashedly titillating, it cancels itself out for me.

In Bayonetta, the model (while walking) sashays while distinctly popping her rear back and forth. In Devil May Cry 4, Dante’s swagger comes off as a overdone strut meant to convey the character’s arrogance and devil-may-care attitude (you can even hear the zippers on his pants bumping against his leg). Coming from guy as straight as an ironing board, I like looking at Dante’s ass more.

~sLs~