Bayonetta (ベヨネッタ, Beyonetta?) is an action game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3) game consoles, directed by Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe series creator Hideki Kamiya at Platinum Games in cooperation with publisher Sega. Set in a fictional city in Europe, Vigrid, the game centers on its title character Bayonetta, who can wield four handguns—among other weapons—and perform magical attacks to defeat various enemies. The game has five difficulty settings; its two easiest ones contain a game mode playable with only one button, similar to a mode Kamiya used in Devil May Cry. Its characters were designed with modern style and fashion in mind, while its music is largely upbeat and feminine.
The game was developed since around January 2007, and 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, and an upcoming photo book and soundtracks. Critical reviews of pre-release versions have praised its easily learned moves, fast pace, boss battles, "Witch Mode" slowdown mechanic, and character and stage designs. However, they lamented inconsistent frame rates, duller graphics, and technical issues in its PS3 port, as well as its use of camera angles in both versions.
Kamiya directed Bayonetta at Platinum Games since around 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, she "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". 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.)
In the present day, an informant named Enzo has joined up with Bayonetta, a witch who was revived twenty years ago from the bottom of a lake and has little or no memories of her past. When Enzo informs her of the possible whereabouts of the person that owns the 'Right Eye', an artifact that's linked to her past, she sets out to find this person, hoping that it may help her regain her lost memories.
Bayonetta follow Enzo's information to a city called Vigrid, and once there she's often forced to fight Angels in order to progress. She eventually meets a lost child named Cereza, who wears glasses and carries around a stuffed cat. Much to Bayonetta's frustration, the child believes she's her mother and follows her around. Continuing her search for the "Right Eye", she heads for an island known as Isla Del Sol together with Cereza.
When they reach the island, Bayonetta encounters another Umbra witch named Jeanne, who explains that Bayonetta was a child born from an Umbra witch and a Lumen sage. This was strictly forbidden by the clans' ancient commandments, as it was foretold that this would bring calamity to the world. Jeanne says that for that reason, allowing Bayonetta to exist is a danger that cannot be accepted. In a decisive battle Bayonetta defeats Jeanne, only to remember that her real name is Cereza and that Jeanne was once her friend. Their reunion is short lived however, as Jeanne sacrifices her own life to save Bayonetta from a missile attack. When Bayonetta and Cereza enter a tower complex, Cereza begins to hear a familiar voice and claims that it is her "Daddy". Bayonetta follows her and meets Father Balder, the supposed last of the Lumen Sages who has taken up residence in what is presumably the 'highest point of Lumen hierarchy and society'.
Balder reveals to Bayonetta that he's her father, and that he plans to reunite the three universes by resurrecting Jubileus, the Creator. To accomplish that he needs the Eyes of the World, and one of those eyes - the Left Eye - is Bayonetta herself. Balder explains that due to her memory loss Bayonetta could not awaken the Left eye, and the only way for her to realize her true potential was for her to regain those lost memories. When Bayonetta asks him where he got the girl, he reveals that Cereza is in fact her younger self and was part of the plan to make Bayonetta remember her past. Balder further angers Bayonetta by revealing he used a form of mind control over Jeanne to get her to obey him, at which point Bayonetta attacks him. A battle ensues between Balder and Bayonetta, causing the destruction of the top of the tower. Fighting amidst the falling rubble, Bayonetta ultimately manages to defeat Balder.
After the battle Bayonetta retrieves Cereza and, using her clock watch, she manages to open a time portal to bring the child, her younger self, back to her original timeline. However, this causes her to regain all her memories upon returning to the present time, causing her to collapse. A seemingly unharmed Balder then reappears, stating that the Left Eye had now been awakened. He then levitates himself and Bayonetta towards the statue on top of the tower in order for them to begin the resurrection of Jubileus, and take their place as the Right and Left Eye who would oversee a new reality for all eternity. As they both enter into the eyes of the statue, the tower's outer structure crumbles to reveal a missile which launches into space.
With Bayonetta imprisoned, Jeanne suddenly makes her reappearance. It is revealed that a gem she got from Bayonetta managed to remove Balder's mind control and allowed her to shield from the incoming missiles in the nick of time. She ascends the statue on her magically enhanced motorcycle by riding along the surface of the missile used to launch Jubileus into orbit. Arriving just in time to save Bayonetta, she pulls her out of the statue's left eye, causing Jubileus to go berserk and consume Balder in the process. Bayonetta and Jeanne manage to defeat the deity, but end up in a free fall towards Earth. Both Bayonetta and Jeanne manage to survive the descent, and the epilogue shows them continuing their battles with the Angels.
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 Attacks" in which Bayonetta summons a variety of devices to deal devastating blows to her enemies. Such devices range from chainsaws 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, replenish her magic or increase her strength, although using these items, as well as dying, lowers the score for that chapter. By finding various component items, the player can combine them into new items. 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 items, techniques and weapon upgrades. 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. Bayonetta starts the game with four guns, two in her hands, two on her feet. By finding golden LP albums, some of which are in multiple pieces, players can earn new weapons, such as shotguns, a katana and a whip. These can be customised to Bayonetta's arms and legs in various combinations, and upgraded in Rodin's shop.
The game consists of multiple chapters, each consisting of several verses. Depending on how well the player performs, they are given one of the following medals at the end of the verse; Stone, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Pure Platinum, similar to the rating system of Viewtiful Joe. There are some medals that are earned off the beaten path, such as special areas with set challenges. At the end of the chapter, a final score and an award is given depending on the type of medals achieved, with the score being deducted for any items used and deaths occurred. In between chapters there is a minigame called 'Angel Attack', in which players use Arcade Bullets found in the main levels to shoot at angels and earn points. These points can be traded in for items, with any leftover points exhanged for halos.
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]"
Sinobi, a Japanese blog known for its early sales data, reported Bayonetta sold 138,000 copies—93,000 for the PS3 and 45,000 for the 360—on its day of release in the country. Media Create reported the PS3 version sold 135,242 copies and was the top-selling game during its week of release there, while the 360 version sold 64,325 copies and charted at number seven. Phil Elliott of GamesIndustry.biz called the 360 version's lower sales figures "a very strong performance for the Microsoft platform, relative to installed base". The two releases fell to number eight and number 15 respectively the following week. On February 5, 2010, Sega Sammy reported that Bayonetta has sold 1.1 million units worldwide.
A few days before Bayonetta's release, Japanese gaming publication Famitsu awarded the Xbox 360 version a perfect 40 out of 40. The PlayStation 3 version received a slightly lower 38 out of 40, due to scores of nine from two of its four reviewers. As others did pre-release, the two reviewers criticized the PS3 port's frame rate problems; one thought the difference from the 360 version was slight. One was quoted as saying, "the fun is the same, but the controls and overall look [on the PS3] feel a bit more unwieldy than the Xbox 360 one, which is a shame." UK magazine Edge awarded the eleventh 10 out of 10 score in its 16 year history to Bayonetta a month later, and called it "a beautiful and graceful fighting game that lets imagination loose, and winks before slapping Dante, Kratos and every other hero back to the drawing board". Andy Robinson of ComputerAndVideoGames.com, affiliated with Edge through Future plc, said, "We can't say we were expecting that."