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E3 2009: Bayonetta hands-on

E3 2009

Bayonetta stars a British witch with guns on her feet and the ability to turn her hair into a giant Angel-devouring canine. She magically summons guillotines and iron maidens to dispatch foes in the midst of battle and seems to have no problem showing off her curvaceous body. J-Pop songs occasionally play in the background, but producer Yusuku Hashimoto, of Platinum Games, doesn’t think Americans will mind the strangeness of it all.

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“Because it’s so original and different, we want Americans to see something so new that they want to experience it and they want to try it out,” he said through an interpreter.

After playing a lengthy demo and having a couple different stages demonstrated by Hashimoto, he might be right. Despite the oddness of it all, straight-laced Americans could just fall in love with this unconventional action game.

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Hashimoto worked on the Devil May Cry, and I guess that’s a good starting reference for the game. However, everything here is ramped up to the max and doesn’t take itself as seriously as Dante and company. The show floor demo begins with Bayonetta walking through a gorgeous European castle of some sort. Everything is tranquil, and flowers bloomed all around her when she entered the courtyard.

While most of the game appears to be gruesome, there are moments of beauty. The witch can double jump, and translucent butterfly wings appear to guide her through the air. Of course, the chaotic combat is beautiful in a whole other way. The action moves quickly as she kicks, shoots and guillotines her foes. One huge angel appeared, and as it took damage, his body started falling apart accordingly. Most of the time I found myself button-mashing, but this tactic worked well. Some of the angels dropped their swords, axes, and in one case, a trumpet. These heavenly tools cut down the competition in a gory manner.

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There are three attack buttons and another for jumping, but using the right trigger to dodge attacks is sometimes cooler than simply being on the offensive. When an attack is dodged at the last moment, which isn’t too difficult because an obvious “danger” icon appears over enemies about to strike, the game slows down into bullet time. The action moves so fast that this is sometimes the only way to appreciate everything that’s happening.

Judging from what was shown, the boss battles promise to over the top like the rest of the game. In the demonstration, one of the boss battles was a three-headed dragon with its head stuck inside a cathedral. That’s enough for most games, but in Bayonetta the dragon was flying in the sky with the church attached to it. An unconventional level for sure, but that’s how all of these levels seem to be.

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Take, for example, the stage where lava is flowing through an old village. As if enough wasn’t happening at once, the titular protagonist could run on walls in a dizzying fashion. The demo on the show floor also featured a section like this where a boss battle against another witch took place on the floor, wall and ceiling. Bayonetta comes out later this year for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the ridiculousness of it all demands attention. Of course, so does the occasionally naked lead character.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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