Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bayonetta | The Shit I Was Wrong About

When Bayonetta was first announced I was pretty apathetic towards it, despite it being the brainchild of Hideki Kamiya  (aka the father of Dante). I had no problem voicing this uncaring attitude either, and it even manifested itself in a few of my posts last year. Well, I'm here right now to revise a few of those concerns and criticisms before I make any more posts about the game.

The cardinal virtues in this game are what I initially called bullshit on for being too much in the same vein of what God of War makes bank off of (a kind of reverse inspiration considering what Jaffe never shuts up about concerning the Devil May Cry series). While aesthetically there's no difference between them, the callous nature of Bayonetta herself and the pacing/structure of the fights would serve to contest me here. It's one thing when God of War makes Kratos out be some generic screaming icon of masculinity, but Bayonetta's over-the-top trampling of her enemies almost severs the tie completely (both through the game's actual mechanics and the character's one-note presentation).

The downside here is more of a problem with the game in general, as it's much easier than any of its spiritual predecessors (the Devil May Cry series), even on its maximum difficulty. This is a shift that I and many of others have taken offense to in terms of how some Japanese designers are looking at how the West perceives difficulty. That Bayonetta even has a totally restrained easy mode incorporated into it just worsens the matter (and furthers my point). So, that little bit kind of rekindles the tie to God of War which me.

What I was wrong about concerning the game's music was how many people actually enjoyed the score. I expected a lot more 'lol this is stupid's flying around, but the whole Jazzy+Jpop angle worked for the game, and in some essence, I'll even go as far to say that I prefer it instead of the 'screamo' that Devil May Cry is known for. The more original and distinct ambiance/action tracks are pretty much what I expected when weighing in how it's used in the actual game (which is a very good thing in this case). I suppose it's a good thing that a lot of us (particularly guys) were able to hop so graciously on board with skewering angels to Fly me to the Moon.

I mostly described the difficulty problem above, and I even tried getting  a few people to play through the game on its easiest automatic setting, but the response was that the game was still too overwhelming for them. The difficulty downgrade became something only noticeable to someone like me anyway, one who has nigh-religiously mined through such titles for his/her enjoyment (thus it making any slight variance in the name of accessibility becomes a detriment to some extent as well).

I was only partly wrong on the whole dilemma of 'exploratory or exploitive' deal, as this line from my blog last year still rings true to me now more than ever:
"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."
I'll hold my tongue there though, as it could have a blog on its own.

So while it's most certainly a worthwhile successor to Devil May Cry, its potential is somewhat limited in the end. It's lasting power, stylistic muscle, and even ludicrous camp all have lines drawn around them, stating where and how things will go. It's kind of infuriating as well, considering the game is well-placed to do some real damage (just imagine how magnified the game's reception would have been if my quote above had more truth to it).

I also think I was pretty accurate in my concerns about how the game would sell though, as I found it in a damn Blockbuster bargain bin for nine dollars not even a year after its release. It's a shame too, because like I said---it's an exemplary Devil May Cry 5 (to be insultingly blunt that is). I am kind of surprised that Kamiya is talking so soon about doing the sequel to this game, but I think he also may be rushing to make the character 'surpass' Dante somehow, who he hasn't had any real hand in designing since the first title, and if he's doing that, it's going to eventually show in the game...

...and I'll be the first to call bullshit on it.