alphazero's Bayonetta (Xbox 360) review

Hair Punch!

 Leggy Superasskicker
Bayonetta, at normal difficulty, is hard as hell. When you're doing poorly, the game's advice to you is to play the game better. Maybe if you hit the correct buttons, you'd have more success. Seems hard to argue the point. This game pulls no punches, but offers some clever upgrades to help you in a pinch. It also offers an "easy" and "very easy" mode, which at certain points in my play through I was pining for.
Bayonetta's story, at any difficulty, is totally batshit crazy. You are Bayonetta, a seven foot tall Umbran Witch, with pistols in both hands and attached to both feet. Bayonetta wears no clothes, other than some silver decorations, but instead is covered in her magical hair. Her most powerful attacks summon giant hair demons, which have the side effect of removing some of her clothes when deployed. The harder she fights the more naked she gets, and man, you should see how she pulls a lever. 
Bayonetta is sexualized one-hundred-per-cent. It's so far over the top it wraps around again and goes from being exploitative to very exploitative to being straight up hilarious. The fact that she's such a bad-ass doesn't hurt. She has a long standing feud with another witch named Jeann, who is (almost) equally bad-ass, and who shows up multiple times in the game to beat the living crap out of Bayonetta.
The depth of the fighting system astounds me. Combos are triggered with punch and kick buttons, mixed in with carefully timed pauses. The rhythm of it can be difficult to find at first, but once found you start feeling powerful. This is where the "get better at the game" comes in to play. You can get by for a while mashing buttons, but to really succeed, learn the combos, and most of all master the dodge move. Dodging at the last possible moment invokes "witch time", where everyone but Bayonetta dramatically slows down, allowing you to line up the more impressive and complicated attack combos.
I was by no means any good at this. When a Street Fighter fan says something like, "dash cancel into focus attack," all I hear are pops and whistles, but the combo system in Bayonetta is designed so well that even I could begin to appreciate the complexity
 Ivory to Bayonetta's Ebony
and depth of it.  Dodging at the last second invokes witch time, but you can also purchase an upgrade where if you dodge right as you take damage you turn into a flock of bats and avoid the pain. It's cleverly set up so you either dodge the attack, or you get another chance to take no damage. It's fun to pull it off at my medium-low skill level. Watching high level play is a thing of beauty.
There are a number of references to Sega games of yore, including an extended session riding a missile while listening to the After Burner theme music. It's fun for a while, and a nice change of pace, but like the rest of Bayonetta it can be hard as hell and started to wear out its welcome. The boss fights can be pretty cheap, at least until you learn the patterns and trick to each one. These are minor quibbles, as the fighting itself continues to entertain.
If you have the time or the inclination to master the fighting system, this game has incredible depth to reward it.
Also, Jeann, call me.
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