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Bayonetta is an action game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, directed by Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe creator Hideki Kamiya at Platinum Games in cooperation with publisher Sega. Set in a fictional city in Europe, the game centers on its title character Bayonetta, who uses pistols and magical attacks to defeat enemies. The game has five difficulty settings; its two easiest settings contain a game mode playable with only one button, similar to a mode used in Devil May Cry. Its developers designed its characters with modern style and fashion in mind, and composed for it a largely upbeat and feminine soundtrack.
Development of the game started around January 2007, and it was released in Japan in late October 2009. It has been promoted through a television commercial with music by Japanese pop singer MiChi, look-alike searches, a theme for the Google Chrome Web browser, a photo book, and soundtracks. Critical reviews have praised its easily learned moves, fast pace, boss battles, "Witch Time" slowdown mechanic, and character and stage designs.
Bayonetta is a single-player, third-person 3D action game. Its combat system is similar to that of director Hideki Kamiya's previous title, Devil May Cry. The player controls a witch named Bayonetta, and using both melee and long ranged attacks, complex combo strings, and multiple weapons, is encouraged to explore ways to dispatch angelic enemies with as much flair as possible. Special commands or actions are woven into events, finishes, executions, and unique "Torture combos" in which Bayonetta summons a variety of devices to deal devastating blows to her enemies. Such devices range from guillotines to iron maidens. Bayonetta also has unique but limited abilities that her enemies do not possess, such as "Witch Time", which activates when the player makes a well-timed dodge to an attack. This temporarily slows time to allow Bayonetta to inflict massive amounts of counter damage before the enemies can react.
The player can double jump for extra height, perform evasive backflips, and destroy background objects and doors. Camera views can be rotated, enemy targets can be locked on, and weapons can be switched during play. With unlockable transformations, the player can make Bayonetta become a panther or one of various other living creatures to enhance her abilities. Lollipops can be used to heal her. Many enemies and objects drop halos, which resemble the rings from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog games, when destroyed; the player can collect the halos to buy upgrades and weapons. The player can also use enemy weapons, either to directly attack or as props for movement. Bayonetta's strongest attacks transform her hair into giant boots, fists or monsters that assault the enemy.
The game includes five difficulty modes: "Very Easy", "Easy", "Normal", "Hard", and "Non-Stop Climax". On Easy and Very Easy, a "Very Easy Automatic" mode is made available that can be played with only one hand: the game positions Bayonetta to perform attacks on enemies, and the player only needs to press one button at certain points unless they wish to perform their own choice of movements or attacks. Kamiya, who first added such a mode to Devil May Cry, posted a video on the game's official website in which character designer Mari Shimazaki demonstrated the mode (which Kamiya "jokingly called 'Mummy Mode") in Bayonetta. He expects players to first complete the game in 10 to 12 hours, but believes that its rating system (similar to that of Viewtiful Joe, which he directed) and the pursuit of high scores will provide replay value. The game has a fixed button configuration; Kamiya said "we found that there wasn't really a point to changing" it.
Kamiya directed development of Bayonetta at Platinum Games since January 2007, and the game was "more-or-less complete" by October 21, 2009. The group developed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console, while Sega—with Platinum Games's original data and support—ported the game to Sony's PlayStation 3. Shimazaki designed the game's characters to be "fashionable", with "subdued" features. She designed the titular character to fulfill Kamiya's request for a modern, female witch that wears glasses and wields four guns, and the two settled on her original concept for the character despite her work "over a year" on other concepts. Bayonetta emerged as a long-haired, black-clothed witch with a beehive hairdo (in place of the traditional pointy hat) and glasses (which Kamiya "really pushed for ... to differentiate Bayonetta from other female characters and give her a sense of mystery and intelligence"). Conversely, Shimazaki "didn't require a huge amount of effort" to design Bayonetta's short-haired, red-clothed rival Jeanne, who merely wears her glasses on her head above her eyes. She added plumes to Jeanne's handguns to add movement to the design, and thick makeup to Jeanne's face to "make [her] feel like something out of the 1960s". Though Shimazaki preferred Bayonetta, Jeanne turned out to be the more popular of the two witches among Kamiya and the development team. Still, in an April 2009 interview, Kamiya called the former "in many ways ... my ideal woman".Though the game's director "deliberately created Bayonetta from scratch" and has called its story "completely original", he has admitted using "some names from Scandinavian mythology" and playing "about half of" Devil May Cry 4 for research. As a fan of folk music, he also named Bayonetta's set of four handguns after the old English ballad "Scarborough Fair", and its individual guns Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Hiroshi Yamaguchi focused on composing music for the game that has a "nice up-tempo beat" and expresses femininity through female choirs, pianos, and other 'beautiful' instruments"—though some tracks also use pure orchestra or folk instruments—while Kenichiro Yoshimura transformed Shimazaki's Bayonetta design into a game model and used the digital sculpting tool ZBrush to create normal maps for its details. He worked with Shimazaki on the model's makeup, referred to foreign models with similar bodies, and said "I really wanted to get Bayonetta's backside perfect. I guess I am into that sort of thing..."
To Kamiya, the core theme of the game and its protagonist's attacks is "sexiness". He said Bayonetta's ability to transform into a panther reflected the developers' desire to "make her a sexy witch". To emphasize "her femininity and sexuality", the developers made Bayonetta lose rose petals instead of blood when hit, and used a butterfly motif that manifests in her wings (which appear in her shadow and during double jumps), her giant fist attack (a butterfly appears on the back of the fist), and the arms of her glasses. Her giant boot, fist, and monster attacks reveal some of her body—her clothing is composed mainly of her hair—and when the player targets an enemy, red lips mark the enemy's chest; this led IGN to call the developing game a mix of "action and a great big helping of fan service". The game's sexual tone is reflected in its age rating in the United States: the Entertainment Software Rating Board rated the developing game "Mature" ("M", for ages 17 and older) for containing "Partial Nudity" and "Suggestive Themes", as well as "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence," and "Strong Language". (By comparison, Japan's Computer Entertainment Rating Organization rated the game "D", also for those ages; the British Board of Film Classification rated the game "15" for "strong language and bloody violence"; and it is rated "18" under the PEGI system used in the United Kingdom and other European countries for its use of violence and language.)
Versions and merchandise
Demos of Bayonetta were released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network in Japan on October 8, 2009, and internationally on December 3, 2009. The full game was released on October 29, 2009 in Japan, and is scheduled for release in other regions in 2010: January 5 in North America, January 7 in Australia, and January 8 in Europe. Sega announced on August 26, 2009 that Japanese pop singer MiChi would perform "Something Missing", written for a Bayonetta commercial. The commercial, which has since been shown on the game's official Japanese website, touts the game as "non-stop climax action " and features a model dressed as Bayonetta with a lollipop.
A 150-song, five-CD soundtrack for the game was scheduled for a November 4 release. Another soundtrack CD, Rodin's Collection, was created for inclusion with pre-ordered copies of the game. It comes packaged in a brown jacket styled as a menu from Rodin's bar "The Gates of Hell". Sega of Europe plans to release a ∞ Climax Edition (or simply Climax Edition) of the game in the UK, France, Spain, and Australia, which will include the game, the Rodin's Collection tracks packaged in a black-and-red jacket with the game logo, and an artbook. Pre-orders in Australia and "most European territories" will come with a replica of one of Bayonetta's "Scarborough Fair" guns.
Bayonetta Witch of Vigrid, a book with pictures of the title character and an "interview" with her, was released on October 22, 2009. By then, a Bayonetta theme had been made available for the Google Chrome browser. At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega chose Penny Drake to model as Bayonetta after auditioning 100 women. The company then joined men's lifestyle website Maxim.com to run a contest to find women who looked like Bayonetta. The grand prize winner, announced on November 23, 2009, received an Xbox 360, a 50-inch plasma television, and a copy of the 360 version of the game