With the recent announcement that the Umbra Witch, Bayonetta would be coming to Super Smash Bros 4 via DLC, it got me wanting to play through the first Bayonetta game again. There is so much about her that I just adore, be it her sexual nature, her fun-loving personality, or even her fighting style; it all just screams whimsy. I played through the game again fairly recently, but after I finished it this time I decided to do a bit more research on it and I discovered that some additional products were made to further promote it that I had unintentionally overlooked. In addition to the game (and some figurines that were only in Japan), Platinum Games also released a rather large artwork book (with a behind the scenes DVD) and even an animated film called Bayonetta: Bloody Fate. So, I'm going to review each of these three and see whether or not if it is worth getting each one.
Since the video game was the first of these three that I had experienced, I will of course be covering it first here as well. Released on January 5, 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and again on October 24, 2014 for the Wii U, Bayonetta is an over the top, combo-heavy, action packed brawler with some light platforming and minor puzzle elements. In it, you play as Bayonetta, a rather tall, voluptuous, and long-legged witch with the ability to travel to and from Earth and Purgatorio as she hunts down and slays angels to keep the demons she has contracts with at bay. However, as she fights these angels, she also needs to recover the memory of her past which was lost from being sealed in a deep sleep at the bottom of a lake for 500 years. As well as recovering bits and pieces of her past, she also frequently runs into a bumbling investigative reporter named Luka, who blames her for the death of his father; a lost little girl name Cereza, who mistakenly confuses Bayonetta for her mother and tags along with her for most of the game; and an opposing witch named Jeanne, who wants nothing more than to stop Bayonetta dead in her tracks. To help her fight the more powerful angels, Bayonetta can also temporarily obtain their weapons when they are slain, or as a better option, collect pieces of golden LP's of angelic hymns to bring to a weapons manufacturer named Rodin at a bar called "The Gates of Hell." He will use these records as bait to call forth powerful demons which he will then turn into a permanent weapon for Bayonetta to use for the rest of her quest. Confused yet? Well the plot just gets more outlandish later on and is explained in pieces by the angels that Bayonetta kills.
The gameplay, as I've said before, is a combo-heavy action brawler. Bayonetta fights with punches, kicks, and with the various weapons that she obtains throughout her adventure. She can also punish her foes with BDSM-styled finishers or by summoning her contracted demons to more easily finish off her larger targets. If you are having trouble hitting faster or airborne enemies, Bayonetta also has four guns she can use that help with her reach, and the ability to dramatically slow down time when she successfully dodges an attack at the last moment. However, as fun and action packed as the battles are, the rewards that you gain from them are dependent entirely on skill. The rewards get better depending on how fast you finish it, how often you got hurt, how many items you used, and how high your combo was for the entire fight. This scoring style determines how many halos (the game's currency) you get after you win and what kind of medal (from Stone to Pure Platinum) you will receive. These medals actually affect your final score at the end of each chapter, and getting the best score is not easy.
This game is fantastically good and a helluva lot of fun, even if the difficulty on the Normal setting is a little unforgiving. The music is fantastic as well and the character and enemy designs are extremely creative and fit the theme of the game superbly. The story can be a little confusing at times, but it all comes together nicely in the end. However, depending on which version of the game you get, it can be either an extraordinary experience, or torture for the eyes. If you decide to get the game, go for the Xbox 360 or Wii U version of the game as the PS3 version is plagued by terrible frame-rate issues making it look awful to watch, let alone play. Plus as a bonus to those that get the Wii U version, Nintendo themed costumes for Bayonetta are also available which alter some minor aspects about the game without affecting the gameplay. All in all though, just avoid the PS3 version.
"The Eyes of Bayonetta" Artwork Book and DVD
Now this is usually outside my area of expertise, but before I decided to play through Bayonetta again, I decided to learn more about the game outside of what Hideki Kamiya's Twitter and Platinum Games' blog can provide. Luckily, I found an artwork book on Amazon called The Eyes of Bayonetta that had a lot of cool concept art and production notes that had been omitted from the blogs and wiki for the game. The book had a ton of really interesting tidbits and information about the game that also went unused as well. Some stuff did manage to find its way into the game's sequel though, but I'll cover that another time.
Now despite how interesting and informative the artwork books was, the "Making of" DVD actually was what I more interested in. The development process was quite a sight to behold. As it turns out, the main character, Bayonetta, was designed by Mari Shimazaki with the only instruction that she should look feminine. Needless to say that this gave her a lot of freedom and she rolled with it. She wasn't the only one that was given a lot of freedom in her work, just about everyone involved in the game's creative process was allowed to let their imaginative juices flow freely. The way everything meshes together really shows that love and care was put into the game's creation. The DVD is definitely well worth the watch; the dev's personalities show in both their commentary and their work.
Now out of all of the things that could've been produced from the success of Bayonetta, I don't think an animated film was expected at all. Released in the US on February 14, 2014, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is an adaptation of the video game, with some minor changes to the plot in order to fit time constraints. The animation is is really good and music from the game is used at times where it fits really well. Some other extra details that were shown in The Eyes of Bayonetta also managed to find their way into the film as well. A really good example would be Bayonetta's guns which actually aren't Scarborough Fair as they are in the game. Instead, she has a set of guns based on some concept art for a prototype design called The Elfin Knight. Now while the plot is designed to follow the story of the game, there are some changes in order to make it flow more smoothly and to make it easier to understand. Some enemies from the game are noticeably absent from the film and certain scenes have been changed in order to better fit the lines they had in the game. Overall, I liked the changes they made because the plot was indeed a bit easier to understand. Definitely worth the watch if you enjoyed the game.
No matter what medium you enjoy Bayonetta in, this first entry in the series definitely had a very strong impact. Bayonetta as a character is probably my favorite female protagonists of all time as well. She is strong, independent, knows that she's sexy and casually exploits that fact in her work, which she also enjoys. If you can get any of these things, definitely go for it, just remember to avoid the PS3 version of the game due to a very shoddy porting process. But until then, I'll be seeing you.