Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bayonetta for PS3: Final Review

Perhaps if I were to unleash some temporal witch power on it, my situation would suddenly improve. - Bayonetta

I've tried that trick before, Bayonetta, and it has been known to work. I refer to my “temporal witch power” as PMS, though, and my husband is on to the excuse, so it's not as effective as it used to be. are every woman, like Oprah, only you shoot angels rather than talk about them.

No, I take that back. Bayonetta is more than every woman. She's the woman who walks into a party and makes everybody stare. She's the woman with the inappropriate outfit on – the kind of outfit that makes other women whisper and makes men stupidly gawk. She's the mysterious, bitchy woman other women secretly want to be like, but also fear. She's smarter, stronger, and sexier than anyone else; she's manipulative, powerful, fearless, feisty, witty, and bold. She makes men look pitifully immature and idiotic, especially that Luka guy, the one that looks like Viggo Mortenson with the unfortunate looking homecoming-queen up-do hairstyle.

Bayonetta is a witch who fights angels. Such fodder for feminist analysis!

But, really, Bayonetta is the reason to play Bayonetta, despite the fact that she represents a cocktail of potentially offensive female stereotypes based on myriad male sexual fantasies. This is the first character-driven game I've played....a game with a character that's intriguing when the plotline isn't. Bayonetta's special abilities make the game interesting when most of the game mechanics seem typical; run around, find objects to smash, and fight things. The game becomes fun when you make her run on walls and ceilings and realize you no longer know which way is up. The game becomes satisfying when you learn the dozens of fighting moves she can perform using her hair and her shoes and all those fancy weapons Rodin dives into the inferno to obtain for her. The game becomes compelling when she can slow time to kick angel butt or cross bridges before they crumble. The game becomes beautiful when Bayonetta shapeshifts into a butterfly with every double jump. The game becomes goofy when she blows kisses at doors to make then open or when she catwalks like Giselle while shooting angel heads out of the sky.

While playing Bayonetta I've also been reading Y The Last Man, a graphic novel written by Brian K. Vaughan which is about how women carry on after all males on the Earth die....except for the one spared man and his male monkey pet. Between Bayonetta and Y The Last Man I've had women on the brain and, geesh, we're a complicated bunch. We want to be so many things simultaneously. While I bristle at Bayonetta's overt sexuality mixed with her brazen attitude, she makes me think about the tightrope women walk between the realm of angels and witches. We want to be both and we want to be neither and we don't really know which one men prefer, either. Is Bayonetta the ideal woman? Someone not afraid to fight, who wears nothing but her own flowing hair, who wants to hang out with Rodin in the bar but still has those quirky glasses to show she's not just street smart, but book smart, too? Can you take Bayonetta home to Mom?

Love her or hate her, she's interesting, and it's a good thing because the rest of the game really isn't. I had to read the plot on Wikipedia to actually understand what was happening and I'm still not sure I get it. From Wikipedia, if you're curious:

The title character is a witch who shapeshifts and uses various firearms, along with magical attacks she performs with her own hair, to dispatch her foes. She awakens after a 500 year sleeps and finds herself in an unfamiliar area with no memories of who or what she is. Over time, she begins to remember what caused her current predicament. 500 years before the incident that caused Bayonetta's memory loss, there were two factions preserving the balance between darkness and light in the world—the Umbra Witches, who are followers of darkness and their counterparts, the Lumen Sages, are followers of light. The factions shared two distinct treasures, the 'Eyes of the World' that were separately named the 'Left Eye' and the 'Right Eye', which they used to oversee the just passage of time. Both factions mysteriously disappeared from Vigrid under unknown circumstances. Bayonetta still has an ornate piece of jewelry which contains a small red gem, and believes this gem is the 'Left Eye' of the 'Eyes of the World'. While searching for the "Right Eye", she often receives flashbacks that make her remember what caused her current predicament.

She fights a bunch of virtues (bosses) only to discover that her Dad is the ultimate bad guy...another interesting Freudian choice.

All of this leaves me with one question. Where is my chick flick video game? If Bayonetta is Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, where is my Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy? If you equate movies to video games, where's the romance? Where's the historical drama? Where are the romantic comedies? (Maybe Monkey Island counts?)

I want Pride and Prejudice in video game form. I'm not sure what the game play mechanics of Pride and Prejudice: the Videogame would be quite yet, but as soon as I figure it out, I demand that someone make it. I'm tired of heaven and hell, elves and dwarves, slimes and amulets. Stereotypes be damned! I need a good chick flick game. Any suggestions?

Alas, Ben describes my next game, Final Fight (arcade), as a "Bro-op," which sounds like the opposite of a Chick Flick game. We will be playing the whole game together, though, so that should be fun. We're going to count how many quarters it would take for me to beat the game in an actual arcade. How much money, do you think?


  1. Ah... Bayonetta. Now I have a Feminist reference point for gamers... no more "Madonna-Whore Complex"! Long live the "Bayonetta Botheration"!

    Also, if you like "Y", you should try the short series "Girls" by the Luna Bros. Similar themes and tone but totally different story and art, really neat and contained in four easy trade paperback installments.

  2. Okay, so I was trying to figure out what would be the best way to have a romantic comedy video game, and I think the Scribblenauts format could totally fit the bill perfectly.


    Level goal: Get back together with your ex.

    Your solution to the puzzle can include: incorrectly repairing her toilet and spraying you both with sewage, getting mauled by dogs and convincing her to nurse you back to health, getting your kids to accidentally tell their mom that you still love her, etc.


    Or, more Pride & Prejuicey:

    Level goal: Find out who is coming to town.

    Your solution to the puzzle could include:
    chatting with Mrs. Sampleton to learn what's going on with her daughter in London, gossiping with the farmer's children to find out who's ridden past them, or steal letters from your father's desk to get the juicy details.


    It'd be totally awesome.