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Bayonetta Criticism Essay

02/12/2010


Here is an essay I wrote on Bayonetta to give insight on how I felt about the game.

Let me put this in the most direct way possible, my life is filled with constant disappointment. This is a direct cause from hype; hype leads to false expectations in my mind, which ultimately leads to disappointment. My most recent feeling of disappointment was this past January. The video game Bayonetta was released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 on January 5, 2010. Not only was this a game I was looking forward to, but it was the first major video game release of the new year, which is always exciting. You may be thinking, why is he so disappointed about some video game? Well in a very brief explanation about myself, I have a passion for computers and video games. I am going to school next year for Game Programming, and I spend most of my free time playing video games. This is why 3the cause of most of my disappointment is video game related.
In order to be disappointed by something, a person must have some sort of expectations for that something. In order to fully understand my disappointment with the game Bayonetta, you must first understand my expectations for the game. My expectations for this game were among the highest in recent history. The game was produced by Platinum Games and directed by Hideki Kamiya. I am sure you have no idea who this fellow is, but understanding who he is is the basis to my expectations. Hideki Kamiya is a Japanese video game designer who worked on the critically acclaimed games Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Viewtiful Joe 2, Okami, and most recently Bayonetta. Now the previous games he directed are all personal favorites of mine. They all have unique styles that brought something completely new to world of video games. This is what originally got me excited for this game to be released when it was first announced.
Over the year following the game’s announcement, all of 2009 essentially, things only seemed to get sweeter. A few trailers were released here and there and as more information was released it only got better. Here is what was known, it is a third person hack and slash 3D action game and the main character is a female named Bayonetta. Bayonetta is tall and slender witch with black hair. She uses four pistols, one in each hand and one on each leg. At first this idea seemed absurd, but when I saw the first trailer with her using all four pistols in action it flowed really nicely and looked awesome. Another big factor of this game was the fact it was multi-platform, being released on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. This meant that owners of either console could enjoy the game.
With concept art released here and there, and the occasional blog post it seemed like the game couldn’t come soon enough. Well my personal expectations only grew larger due to one coincidence. When I attended New York Anime Festival 2009 last year in September, there was a playable demo of the Japanese demo in English! This totally took me by surprise, and I immediately played the demo and took some videos of the game in action. The demo played smoothly, it reminded me a lot of Devil May Cry, which wasn’t a bad thing. The game’s music sounded fantastic, it fit the gameplay style, the enemies seemed varied in both design and attacks, and the boss battle at the end of the demo was epic. Not only was this the weekend of my birthday, but it was among the best weekends in recent memory. I thought to myself, I must have this game as soon as possible.
The game was released on October 29, 2009 in Japan. I had the option to import the game, but decided not to due to the fact it would cost me nearly double what the game will retail for in the U.S. As with most Japanese developed video games, once it is released in Japan you can find all sorts of content on the game through YouTube and online blogs. Well it seemed like all this new content made the wait for the game even worse. The game received a perfect scoring in the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, but with one catch. The Xbox 360 version received the perfect 40/40 score, the PS3 version scored a 39/40. My immediate thought when I read the headline to this article was, why would this happen? Is the Xbox 360 version superior to the PS3 version? According to what the four critics in Famitsu had to say, the Xbox 360 version had a much higher frame rate, quicker loading times, and less screen tearing. I figured that it was only a one point difference, what could the big deal be? I figured this because I was trying to be optimistic because I am a PS3 owner. In Japan the PS3 version of the game still doubled the sales of the Xbox 360 version, I realize now that I blinded myself to the fact that I knew this didn’t matter, PS3 versions of games always sell better than Xbox 360 in Japan, regardless of which version is superior.
Once November rolled around, I pre-ordered the game at my local video game store. As some time passed, I was excited to play the game and for its release, but I was content with waiting once again. Then in December I watched the Japanese commercials for the game on YouTube and thought, wow less than a month of waiting left. Then came the pinnacle of my expectations. I knew that there was a U.S. commercial that would premier at the end of December before the game released. It just so happened that one day in late December I was on my break at work and the TV was on in the break room. I can’t remember what the channel was, but a commercial came on with the Sega logo appearing across the screen. At the time I wasn’t aware of what it was a commercial for, I didn’t think Sega had any major titles being released soon. Then the main character, Bayonetta, dropped onto the screen and chills ran down my arms. It was just one of those moments were you weren’t expecting something, then it comes from no where. While the commercial did not feature the theme song from the Japanese commercials, which I loved. This wasn’t even a problem though, it was classy and that was all that mattered. It suited the game perfectly. This commercial signified that the game was only less than a few weeks away. The week before the game was released, people who pre-ordered the game could pick up a collection of five posters, featuring the main character Bayonetta on them. I immediately picked up the posters and hung them on my wall. Tuesday, January 5, couldn’t come any sooner.
Finally the day of the release of the game had arrived. I stopped by the mall on my way home from school that Tuesday. I purchased the game, sped home, and put the game in my PS3. What awaited me was a nice long load screen. I figured this was just because of the upcoming opening cinematic. It was only a simple taste of what was to come. The opening cinematic was over the top with action, blood, violence, sexuality, and profanity. I played the game for around five hours that night, and I definitely did enjoy it for what it was, but something didn’t quite feel right. The game just came off as over the top. I don’t believe the game was meant to be taken too seriously, as most of it seems like a joke from the developers at how serious the game and its characters are taking themselves. At that point I was around one third of the way complete with the game. The gameplay was extremely solid, the game was fun to play and to this day remains fun to play. The main character controlled exactly how you would want her too. The weapon choices were varied and all fun to use. The music was excellent. It flowed with the game and was catchy. My favorite song being the remixed version of the classic song Fly Me to the Moon. The song would play whenever the action got really intense, the lyrics and style of the song just contrasted the action going on so much that it seemed to fit beautifully. The voice acting was acceptable and the sound effects were appropriate.
My praise for the game does not mean there weren’t problems. These problems that constantly presented themselves were game crippling. Remember that long loading screen before the opening to the game? Long loading screens were a constant throughout the entire game. Whether it be pausing the game and waiting five seconds for the pause menu to come up, picking up an item and waiting three seconds for the item information to come up, or waiting twenty to thirty seconds for the next chapter of the game to load. All of these times were unacceptable in my mind and detracted from the experience. What really got me was that the Xbox 360 version didn’t experience such long load times. It really upset me that I paid full price for a less superior version of a game. I had no other options, but that isn’t fair to the consumer. The major problem with the PS3 version is that Platinum Games did not develop the PS3 verision. The PS3 version was a mediocre attempt at a port by Sega, the publisher of the game, of the Xbox 360 version. Essentially a port of a game is taking the base coding and engine of the game and using it to run on a different system instead of building the game from the ground up for that system specifically. What happens is there are hiccups with how the coding is processed. These hiccups can cause longer loading times, reduced frame rate, and screen tearing, all present in the PS3 port. These problems would not be present if Sega took the time fix these hiccups and make sure the game ran smoothly. However, the video game industry is a business, and I am sure they did the best they could with the time alloted. My big issue is that this is rarely ever the case with games released simultaneously on multiple platforms. Ports usually only occur when a game is remade or released later on a different console. This idea seemed so strange to me, why would they not just develop the game for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 together? The answer is simple, it would take more time to do this. The more time it takes, the more money it costs to make the game. The biggest and worst thing Sega did to try and fix their failure of a port was to last week release a patch for the game which allows PS3 owners to install the game to the PS3 hard drive. Installing the game to the hard drive allows the game to load of the hard drive instead of the disc the game is on. The speed at which a game can load from the hard drive is much faster than that of the disc and it also creates less wear and tear on the disc drive of the system. Sega should have included this feature in the U.S. release of the game, if not the Japanese release. This feature is present in most Sega games released on the PS3, why would they not include this feature on a game they know could use such an option? While Sega may not have been left with any other options, don’t try to fix your failure by side stepping the problem a month after the game is released by allowing users to install the game to the hard drive. In the end it is better late than never as they say, and it does successfully reduce the load times of the game.
Other issues with the game is the feeling of enemy repetitiveness and lack of cohesive story. Every single level of the game seemed to follow the same formula. Progress by defeating the enemies, which all the minor ones seem to be the same, then fight a boss. Once you defeat this boss, it appears along with the minor enemy charters throughout the following levels., and you fight a new boss. This ended up getting repetitive and frustrating in time. My last complaint is the story of the game. It is utterly ridiculous, incoherent, and makes no sense. Now I am sure this goes hand-in-hand with the entire game taking itself too seriously as to be a joke, but being left scratching my head, wondering what is going on, after a majority of the cutscenes is never a good thing.
Through the positive and negative aspects of the game, I can say as I did in the beginning, I was disappointed with Bayonetta. Once I played through the game and all way said and done, it didn’t live up to the extremely high expectations that I had for it. This is the case with most games though, as publishers want people to be excited for their games, raise the hype level, and have people buy the game. In no way am I saying that it is a form of false advertising, but it is merely my own fault. It is my fault for letting myself get so excited for something that is merely just a game. I personally play video games for enjoyment and relaxation, but I spend so much time building up false expectations for a game before it is released. This creates a feeling of disappointment when all is said and done and the game is finally released. As I’ve grown older, this disappointment only grows larger and happens more often. In a way it seems pathetic, my biggest disappointment of recent memory is that a game, that I enjoyed playing and would rank among my favorites, did not live up the clear false expectations I had set for it.

It is quite a long essay, but the game is still very much enjoyable. While I may have been disappointed with the game, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. goothedawdler permalink
    02/12/2010 6:52 PM

    Nice essay. I do agree with you that the unforgivable loading times in recent games are unacceptable, especially at an industry standard. I haven’t had the liberty of playing Bayonetta yet, but despite your main disappoint with the game me with I’m still going to give the game a go seen as thought I am also a Hideki Kamiya fan. Thanks for the insight.

    • Brett permalink*
      02/12/2010 6:54 PM

      Thing is, I still really like the game and would recommend it. It is fun to play regardless of some downfalls. Go for, Hideki Kamiya’s games are fantastic and this follows suite.

  2. goothedawdler permalink
    02/12/2010 7:32 PM

    I most definitely will. : ) Apparently there was a similar issue with the Wii port of Okami, where the loading times had increased and they hadn’t changed a thing apart from the obvious control scheme. I suppose that’s different considering it was a re-release of a Ps2 game on a next-gen console and not released simultaneously. I Okami was such an underrated game in the UK and the release for the Wii version wasn’t aimed at gamers who bought and enjoyed the original Okami, it was aimed at the millions of casual-idiot gamers who didn’t, therefore the developers started to slack-off for the ports and multi-platform ports in general. I guess you’re right that it won’t take away from the enjoyment though, especially if you like the innovative style. Sorry for the excessive ranting.

    • Brett permalink*
      02/12/2010 7:55 PM

      No it is fine, no need to be sorry. While there were some longer load times in the Okami Wii port it wasn’t anything game shattering. I thought both version of Okami were fabulous and the new DS game looks pretty nice too!

  3. 02/13/2010 12:02 AM

    I still need to pick this up. Long load times are unacceptable these days.

    In White Knight Chronicles, saving your game seems to take ages. Or I could just be impatient, but I demand speed and efficiently from everything!

    • Brett permalink*
      02/13/2010 8:10 AM

      The thing is, it isn’t the long load times into the chapters that bother me, it is that in the PS3 version every time you pick up an item, pause the game, or go to the item screen it took around 5 seconds of a “Now Loading” screen in order to get to it. When pausing the game or picking up an item it should be instantaneous almost, and I don’t blame Platinum Games for it because they developed the 360 version which worked fine, it was Sega’s poor port job. Thankfully Sega released a patch allowing PS3 users the option to install the game to their HDD to reduce load times.

      • goothedawdler permalink
        02/13/2010 6:16 PM

        Yeah : ) just heard about the Ps3 patch and the hard drive install, which can be done on both consoles. So I guess I will buy it after all : ?. What has happened to Sega? They used to make and produce good games. The loading times was acceptable for the PS2, because it was the generic stereotype for the console, but with the processing power of the next-gen consoles and technology in general, they should of taken that into account, especially the game TESTERS.

        • Brett permalink*
          02/13/2010 10:49 PM

          I agree, Sega’s only few redeemable moves have been the announcement of Valkyria Chronicle 2 and Sonic 4, Yakuza 3 localization, and Resonance of Fate’s relatively quick U.S. release. I’m not pleased with the lack of a Phantasy Star Potable 2 Announcement, no Phantasy Star Portable 1 on the PSN, Yakuza 3 being released on the same day as Final Fantasy XIII, and then Resonance of Fate being released on the day God of War III is released, let alone the same month as Final Fantasy XIII. I really want to support both games but they aren’t as high on the list as some of the others. :/

          • goothedawdler permalink
            02/14/2010 12:18 PM

            Your right. Could be worse : ), at least there not Activation. :] the 3rd-party game publisher who’re on a layoff spree because it’s apparently apart of their ‘BIG’ strategy, which is what?, making enough money to stuff an elephant with. (And everyone at Activision has 2). It’s unfair for the (creative) developers and unnecessary, especially after the success of Modern Warfare 2.

  4. 02/18/2010 9:32 AM

    Outstanding words…clap clap clap.

    My thoughts are likewise…we are INTERACTIVE DEVS period. We will use the technology we think that best fits the project needs…enough said!!
    Great post Grant.

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