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Bayonetta Series

2022.11.08 I'm a fake fan who loves Bayonetta the character but never even beat the first game (I was kinda close). Now with a new game out, I've watched all the cutscenes from Bayonetta 1 through 3, so that you may witness my descent into madness... Let's dance, boys.

Bayonetta

Synopsis Eggman is dead, and only the power of the two chaos emeralds can save the world... Bayonetta's adventures in babysitting herself. They really do fly to the moon.

Bayonetta
Ay Bay Bay! Nun by daylight, witch by moonlight. Flashy and fabulous. Her entire premise is delightfully ridiculous -- her clothes are hair and her shoes are guns. Sometimes she is an animorph. Just wants to dance. I love her.
Cereza
Little Bayo that got sent into the future. "Mummy!"
Luka
I have mixed feelings about him, but he has some cute scenes with little Cereza. Was not expecting this kind of voice direction honestly. Spiderman.
Jeanne
Your best friend is brainwashed. Influenced my choice of glasses at some point in my life. Missiles.
Balder
It's Bayo's evil dad. He is not even bald.

The Good Stuff

  • It's over the top and silly and a fun time.
  • I'm a sucker for games that end in space.
  • Most iconic music of the three games. Empowering stuff.

Critiques

  • The opening cutscene once tricked me into thinking Rodin and Enzo would be consistently relevant, but you won't see them in the story again 'til the end. I want more of them. The two with Bayonetta are a fun, chaotic group.
  • Some of the cutscenes are more like freeze-framey animatics, which is jarring when placed right before or after fully moving in-game models. I'm not sure how to describe it. Since there's not so much motion, it's hard to follow at times.

Bayonetta 2

Synopsis It's Christmas, and your girlfriend goes to hell. The most intense card game duel of all time.

Bayonetta
Still her confident, sassy self. Maybe my favorite design for her. Her face certainly looks best here, with sharp features and short, striking hair.
Jeanne
I love the long hair for her... goals. But I do miss her red glasses. This time she is in hell.
Loki
Amnesia and babysitting part 2. Wears the millennium puzzle and fights with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. Despite the plot centering around him, he's a bit forgettable... Calls out Luka for being horny on main.
Luka
Still the most pathetic man you'll ever meet, but now he has become a lore-dumping cowboy.
Rodin
Perhaps a little more relevant this time, and living his weeaboo dreams.
Enzo
Loves his kids, Ed, Edd, & Eddy. Forgotten on the plane. Badabing!
Balder
The dad is back from the past, and the events which transpire put some of game 1 into perspective... It's a nice storyline.
Aesir
Remove his rhombus and he's just some guy in a thong you punt into space.

The Good Stuff

  • This probably applies to all the games, but at this point I realized that I like the ornateness of the enemy design. There's something very NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams about it.

Critiques

  • Even though I just watched this, I don't even remember what happened lmao. So not as memorable a story as Bayonetta 1.
  • The animatic cutscenes become a little easier to follow, but I still don't think they are utilized right.
  • Why was this game a Wii U exclusive anyway.

Bayonetta 3

Synopsis Crash Bandicoot Warped, but with multiverses, and also It's-About-Time Tawna is there but she is your awkward AU daughter.

I'm baffled. Really.

Here I attempt to turn a text file of distress into something half literate. If this were a video essay, I'd be clipping the mic by now. (Side note: Fun drinking game -- watch a video essay and take a shot every time someone says often or oftentimes. Good luck!)

Now, let us step into... the Bayoverse.

Bayonetta
She looks sooo cute. Improvises a fabulous outfit using some Sims 1 curtains. Doesn't always seem herself -- def more somber and hesitant. I'm OK with exploring this, however...
  • Part of her troubles is because, for SOME REASON, she has decided she is in love with LUKA??? Apropos of fuck all??? Gurl, what!!! The whiplash...
  • Does a neat Balan Wonderworld interpretive dance to My Heart Will Go On and then is dead and in hell forever.
Luka
Now he is a werewolf that is hearing voices. His AU self is empoleon. Still has his goofy moments, but juxtaposed with the same awkward distantness that plagues Bayonetta. For the role he was given in this game, I think he is a good guy after all, and he has earned my respect. But I think they can still do better with him.
Viola
This girl sent me through most stages of grief and circles of hell.
  • Trailer thoughts Her design doesn't seem to completely match the setting of this series (though I do like her Persona 5 pants), but I'm ready for this game to prove me wrong and make her a fun addition to the squad. (I later excuse her outta place design once I figure out this one's about multiverses as opposed to time travel -- this is VERY forgiving of me.) Bless my naiveté.
  • Opening scene thoughts She is Luka's daughter from the future, maybe? Now she is talking about anime...
  • Bar cutscene thoughts Wait... if she's Luka's daughter with Bayonetta specifically, I'm going to be furious. (It became quickly obvious this was indeed the case.)
  • When we get to AU China I think If all the AUs are happening in the same time period, and Viola is probably a teen, then... it's a good thing I'm allergic to math because when could have AU Luka and Bayonetta banged? BEFORE their game 1?! How old is anyone and how much time has passed?!
  • Halfway through the game I bet everyone is going to die but her...
  • Post-credits I believe that Viola should wear as many non-matching accessories as possible.
  • Final thoughts She is, regrettably, the daughter of AU LukaBayo. She is not Homura. Did not expect her personality which is kind of like Luka but instead of endearingly awkward she comes off annoying. Does get a Paramore-esque battle theme which suits her, and her anime con sword is also cool. But overall I didn't like her and I'm bummed out about it.
Jeanne
First of all, congrats on the top surgery to match the original concept art. Love that for her. The classic Sonic sections of the game. Sure is wearing patterns this time around -- watch out Terra Final Fantasy. Gets a cute retro spy movie Cowboy Bebop montage. MVP honestly. She may have been my favorite character in this game.
Rodin
Has become the pizza man.
Enzo
Baseball.
Sigurd
Microsoft Sam is evil.

The Good Stuff

Despite my sorrows with whatever the fuck just happened in this abysmal story, there are plenty of things I did enjoy.

  • They finally get the animatic cutscenes right. Reserving them to catch you up on whatever was going on in each AU was a good move. If they had done the same for flashbacks only in the first two games, it would have worked nicely too.
  • We get to fight in space again and I was literally-not-literally screaming when Jeanne showed up again.
  • AU France was awesome?! Thriller reference! France Bayo is silly! AU Enzo is there! You summon Baal Zebul and she kills the homunculi with the power of opera!
  • My favorite AU Bayonetta was China Bayo. Great design and she summons a demon train. Sick.
  • Endgame you get to GATTAI! with the Bayonettas from games 1 and 2. It is ridiculous.
  • Obsessed with any and all dancing segments. Next time bring the boys out too.
  • The story was more engaging than Bayonetta 2, perhaps because it was a train wreck I couldn't look away from.

Critiques

  • This is such a minor thing, but perhaps is an example of how, broadly, there is much repetition in this game -- the scenes of Bayonetta ripping out her heart to summon demons is such a powerful image that I wish it was reserved only for the end instead of like every boss fight.
  • The kaiju-style battles seem clunky, but then again, I wasn't playing...
  • There's this almost dissonant dithering effect you'll occasionally see on enemies, Bayonetta's wings, environment smoke effects, wherever... to the point where I couldn't tell if it was a bold design choice tangentially referencing Sigurd's computery motifs, or a literal hardware issue. I don't necessarily hate it, I'm just confused by it. Would have looked rad as fuck in a pixel art game though.

So how do we fix this story?

  • We don't ಠ﹏ಠ; We would have to do away with the entire thing. Personally I would have preferred a game focused on the Rodin-lore. Like apparently he's got this whole fallen angel thing going on and I want to know more about that.
  • If we REALLY have to keep the Bayo-Luka-Vio family situation, then prove to me that Bayonetta and Luka are serious about each other, and aren't just suddenly in love to allow for some melodramatic Hollywood plot at the detriment of characterization. Because truly the biggest suspension of disbelief here (said dismissively) is that BayoLuka real tho. Game 3 still seems too quick for them to be together... Let 'em cook 'til game 8 or something, eh. (IDK where to put this so just take it: Though I'm pretty sure this game is implying that the Bayonettas from each game are from different timelines, since we don't get the context of Bayonetta 3's past (other than she's gotta be the little Cereza from game 1 right), BayoLuka seems like it was pulled outta Kamiya's ass OK...)
  • Viola... You poor thing. I haven't a clue what to do with "kitty" to make her likable. Just utterly stumped and this plot does her no favors. A punky witch is a concept with potential. Maybe make her act the punk part, not just dress it, and build a plot from that where she can rebel against some sort of Umbran/Luman/Chaotic authority for example. Visually, there's gotta be a better way to meld the punk attire into the game's setting, and make the witch aspect more apparent. And lastly I would not make her the lovechild of two characters that lack romantic chemistry. She can be her own truth. That's all I got for now. I'll come back to this one day... if I want.

BONUS

Anime break! There's a movie of the first game, a retelling using mostly new content and retaining some iconic quotes but in new situations. The animation itself isn't really for me (not amazing quality or detail, and definitely has a specific audience in mind) but has some moments of cool, exaggerated poses. I write this in the midst of watching it though, so I might update later if anything else happens. (Shishka from the future: I watched the rest. Aside from some weak acting from side characters and the weird way Bayonetta's chest was drawn, it was enjoyable. But imagine if this was made in the early 2000's...)

FINAL THOTS

  • The Bayonetta series is at its best when it's not taking itself too seriously. It shines when it's flamboyant, flirtatious, and fantastical.
  • I still love Bayonetta the character.
  • I hope Kamiya-san blocks me on Tw*tter for this review.
  • AVOCADOOOO!!!

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