Bayonetta: The Sexiest Videogames of All Time (02)

Chris Kennedy's picture

In Armchair Arcade's fun new series, we ask the provocative question, "What makes a particular videogame sexy?" Each week's feature will explore some of the many intriguing approaches game designers have taken over the years to make their games more sensual, not just with increasingly detailed graphics, but also with romantic and seductive gameplay. While some of the games we'll be looking at are unabashedly low brow, displaying their raw sexuality like a badge of honor, other games in contrast are remarkably subtle, often downplaying their suggestive themes.

This week's entry, written by Chris Kennedy, is on Sega's over-the-top hack and slash action game, Bayonetta. Enjoy, help spread the word, and of course, let us know what you think:

Bayonetta

Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 2010
Platforms: Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3
Game Type: Action

Bayonetta is a third-person perspective action game packed full of button-mashing, combos, colorful visuals, and an odd soundtrack, as well as a lead character that is a bizarre combination of action heroine, librarian, witch, and a pinch of "little girl" mixed in for good measure. She is Bayonetta - a witch who has just woken up from a 500 year sleep. She is involved in the struggle between the Umbra Witches and the Lumen Sages, but who really cares? The game’s focus is adrenaline-pumping combat. During battle, players enter various button combinations at furious speeds to easily dispatch enemy angels on the screen. You’ll be delivering punishment from guns, kicks, and torture attacks involving iron maidens and guillotines. If the guns in your hands aren’t enough, you also have a pair strapped to your feet. Sound interesting? That isn’t the only thing that will hold your attention.

She isn't wearing any clothes.

01 - Bayonetta
The trick is finding a conditioner that is just right.

For Bayonetta, it’s all about the hair. It serves as clothing, weaponry, or your own personal infernal demon. The stronger the attack, the more hair required. The more hair required for attack, the less she is wearing. With long, slender legs, a beehive hairdo, black glasses and this hair-based outfit of sorts, she is certainly nothing short of intriguing. She doesn’t walk; she sashays. She doesn’t talk; she bites off words. She has an attitude that does nothing to hold back her sexuality. In fact, that sexuality might need a restraining order.

02 - Bayonetta
What do you mean “unladylike?”

The gameplay has been referred to as “infinity climax action” by director Hideki Kamiya. The extremely high speed combat certainly pushes the player to keep going at the fastest pace he can maintain, but Kamiya’s term also carries a bit of an obvious wink and nudge aimed at other high speed endeavors. The torture attacks, the catsuit made out of her own hair, and her overall attitude of always being in charge give her that dominatrix feel. Here comes the pain.

03 - Bayonetta
How does my hair look, mmm?

Throughout the game, players are treated to various cutscenes. While typical videogame cutscenes are intended to further the plot, these particular scenes also reveal more of Bayonetta to the fans. Rolling over the top of a bar during combat isn’t enough. She has to spread her legs wide open with the camera pointed at her crotch. Did that just happen? It happened. It happened just like enemy weapons tore through her robe exposing her legs, buns, and boobs before she ripped that robe right off her body and let her hair transform into a costume. Is anyone sitting in the room with you? They are going to ask just what sort of game you are playing when they see moves like these.
Perhaps her style and appearance isn’t one that all gamers will find appealing, but Bayonetta was intended to be sexy from the start. Kamiya told his design team to emphasize her femininity and sexuality. While some of Bayonetta is illustrated as a strong, punishing type, other aspects such as the butterfly wings that appear on her back when she does a double jump or the rose pedals that fall from her body when she takes damage seem like an attempt to counterbalance her dominating personality with peaceful beauty. Add to this the kinky power-up and healing system—health and magic boosts are delivered via lollipops of various colors. It is so sweet and innocent.

Then again, maybe not.

04 - Bayonetta
You suck.

It could be just another action game, but let there be no doubting the fact that this game was designed starting with the titular character rather than the gameplay itself. Bayonetta gives female gamers a powerhouse of pain to deliver via this witch dressed in black. Male gamers get more than they bargained for as they find themselves controlling a playful and bossy lead character that would send them running home to their mothers if she existed in real life. She is certainly sexy. If one sexy girl wasn’t enough, there is always Jeanne, her rival. With a lead character like Bayonetta, though, two girls just might be too much for you to handle.

Comments

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I've never played this one,

I've never played this one, but it does obvious that it depends heavily on sexiness for its appeal. Good job, Chris! It's too bad I had nothing like this back when I was 15 or 16. I probably would have played it six times a day. 8)

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
6 i raise you 8
Matt Barton wrote:

It's too bad I had nothing like this back when I was 15 or 16. I probably would have played it six times a day. 8)

when you whre young youmust have had enouhg stamina to play to more than six times a day didnt you :)

This game is actually quite good, funny and yes.. Sexy for sure.. i would recomend it (its bargin bin prices nowdays) if you like Devil May Cry/God Of War type gameplay ( i do). This game as Chris says was designed from the top to bottom to have a character like her. The best part, the game doesnt suffer for it, in fact it almost "fits" with the witch, devils, etc.. stuff. many of her attacks are even "fetish" releated in some small way. The game basicly walks that fine line where its still a game you can sell to kids (though im pretty sure its rated for adults) who wont notice the inundo (the constant cuzzing is another thing) and adults will catch the 'adult" parts..

Shawn Delahunty
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Does this one cross "The Line"?

I'm not for a minute suggesting that the goofy American hang-ups about sex and nudity and expression of sexuality be applied everywhere. But I can't for one second imagine that there are many female gamers who would enjoy playing this. Chris's statement about "female gamers" was really jarring to read for that reason.

I've not done any research, but I'm curious if Chris has--are there any stats available on the number of female gamers who played this, or really got into it?

While I understand that the game designers tried to "counterbalance" the hyper-sexualized nature of the character and action, by making her "a powerful bad-ass", it seems hokey and disingenuous to me. Do women really want to be tough bad-asses? Is that fulfilling to them? Or is that a male-centric projection, offered as a concession or a slightly embarrassed apology for all the "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" sexual innuendo? "Here? See? We're not being total denigrating sexual pigs! You can mow down 15 GUYS! You're not some helpless princess 'needing rescued' here!"

As I read that back, I bet some folks are going to roll their eyes at it. It's not that I'm a closet feminist; I think that a lot of the American hangups about nudity and sexuality are stupid. It's naive and ignorant and frankly damaging to pretend that, "..kids and teens shouldn't be interested in that kind of thing." Of COURSE they should--it's a fundamental part of who and what we ARE as humans. But I can't help but wonder how many of the "girl gamers" who might play this game, are trying to fit in to a male-dominated scene.

Maybe it's my own hangups over-riding here, I'm not sure. One big problem I have is the "believability" of the main character. She seems like a calendar pin-up girl, with some cool animation and combo-moves thrown on top--so that she's fun to play with as well as look at. She doesn't strike me as a bad-ass though. (As a contrast, I will point you to what I consider the archetype for a believable, truly female, unforgettable bad-ass: Ripley from Aliens.)

That said, I'm tempted to pick up the game on bargain-bin as advised by Clok. Although I must admit to more than a prurient bit of interest concerning multiple-attacks. (As a teenager, I would've been on this game like white on rice. Though I probably would've hidden it under my mattress, along with my "porn stash" of 1/3 of a water-logged Playboy, found at the side of the road.)

Some of this confusion on my part must also come from the cultural difference; Japan is a weird place in some ways. Just go on YouTube. Even their game-shows are absolutely whacked. I'm partial aware of how the social norms concerning sex and identity are different as well..

-Shawn

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Bayonetta

Hey guys - Thanks for the feedback!

bitsweep wrote:

I've not done any research, but I'm curious if Chris has--are there any stats available on the number of female gamers who played this, or really got into it?

I don't really have a large sample size girl crowd to use for reference, but I did make an effort to poll several gaming girls I know for each of the entries I wrote. I was actually surprised that feedback I received was mostly based on her abilities more than her feminine traits.

Perhaps this example leads to the following question - Are gamer girls simply used to the portrayal of females in games such as these (and many others to be featured here on Armchair Arcade), that they brush it aside and pay attention to what their character can do?

I tried really hard to not ask any leading questions. I would just ask, "What do you think of Bayonetta?" and see what they said.

Quote:

While I understand that the game designers tried to "counterbalance" the hyper-sexualized nature of the character and action, by making her "a powerful bad-ass", it seems hokey and disingenuous to me. Do women really want to be tough bad-asses? Is that fulfilling to them? Or is that a male-centric projection, offered as a concession or a slightly embarrassed apology for all the "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" sexual innuendo? "Here? See? We're not being total denigrating sexual pigs! You can mow down 15 GUYS! You're not some helpless princess 'needing rescued' here!"

As I read that back, I bet some folks are going to roll their eyes at it. It's not that I'm a closet feminist; I think that a lot of the American hangups about nudity and sexuality are stupid. It's naive and ignorant and frankly damaging to pretend that, "..kids and teens shouldn't be interested in that kind of thing." Of COURSE they should--it's a fundamental part of who and what we ARE as humans. But I can't help but wonder how many of the "girl gamers" who might play this game, are trying to fit in to a male-dominated scene.

I like how you used the phrase "roll their eyes at it" when reflecting on your previous paragraph. I get the feeling that that is standard response to games like this (not to your counterbalance paragraph) simply because there are so many sexual aspects that are so extreme and ridiculous that they are simply swept under the rug and passed over.

Some guys see a character like this as a "fantasy girl." Perhaps girls see these girls as an eye-rolling, quite laughable reality check of sorts?

Maybe I need to ask some of these girls some general thoughts about female characters in games?

Matt Barton wrote:

I've never played this one, but it does obvious that it depends heavily on sexiness for its appeal. Good job, Chris! It's too bad I had nothing like this back when I was 15 or 16. I probably would have played it six times a day. 8)

Haha. Yeah. I suppose it is also one of those instances where you could argue that the improvement in graphics is a necessity. How much sex appeal can some of the 8-bit stuff from our youth really have?

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Shawn- While i wont ever even

Shawn- While i wont ever even think I can understand a woman... I know what your saying .. but the stereotypes work ways...

I play alot of LFd2 online, while girls are not the majority, in fact are a minority. But the ones who do play pretty much spout as much crude crap as the guys and while I have heard many a guy cross the line, the Standard inuendo and such pretty much rolls off um and they roll with. Now, do they do it to play, or becuase they enjoy it or? I think its more in the .. cant beat um join um area.. I doubt they look forward to it.. but it think they look at it like guys calling each other rude names.. give as good as you get and its not an insult but banter.

Think of it this way.. every game with a guy (ok not every) is a DUKE NUKEUM buff wise cracking., or just wise character.. No fat slob with a brain, no geeky 90lb weaklings.. all stud boys.. the "ideal male".. shirt off or torn, all muscle, etc.. Why wouldnt a female cahracter follow the same way? AGAIN.. women are far more sexualized then men in games.. in fact I would nver think of a guy sexy in a game.. but then again, im not a woman. If females are alwasy going to have hte cain mail bra.. and you are feamle and have to play one... I would suspect the butt kicking one would be the best bet.. heck Laura croft was considerd "good girl gaming" Strong Female lead.. A Big boobed, tight shirted mini shorts, gun toteing .....um sexy girl...

I think we think to much in the past.. we played games the girls dressed up and shopped.. I find it sad all the guys i know who are in there early 20's ahve GF who game with them.. and im not talking "girl freindly games' but all the standards.. where where these girls when i was growing up?

I do understand the doubt that Bayonetta is a "girls" idea of a game, and i honestly agree with it.. but its about as strong a female lead as any game has nowdays.. Not ideal but hten again, im not a girl.. so who knows.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I think it's safe to say most

I think it's safe to say most women are a lot less homophobic than men...can you imagine playing a game with the male version of this character? I don't even want to picture it.

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Shawn Delahunty
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Joined: 08/01/2011
Aaarrrgh!

*shaking head violently*
Can't...
...erase..
...image...
...from...
...brain....

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