Before beating up a towering boss, Sega's new hard-bodied heroine told the monstrosity to save the pillow talk for later. The games reporter sitting next to me, watching this cutscene, then said something.
"She's a bitch!" the reporter exclaimed.
Then he paused and re-phrased that: "A sexy bitch."
I've been to two demos of the Sega-published, Platinum Games-developed Bayonetta in the past year, each in New York at the top floor of the same hotel. And each has elicited a verbal response from a journalistic peer of... let's call it "attraction."
The last time, I had a reporter sit next to me, watch Bayonetta high-kick and unwrap her skin-tight (made of hair!) outfit so she could turn it into a giant boot weapon, and he said: "I really like the glasses." She's got the sexy librarian glasses, you see.
After that last demo, a Sega public relations person asked me if I thought Bayonetta had potential as a crossover character. Maybe, I said, though her game might make her too weird a persona to bring her to that Lara Croft virtual celebrity status. Croft's Indiana Jones in a porn star's body and short shorts. Bayonetta fights angels to a jazzy soundtrack while colorful butterfly imagery springs off her body.
What's Bayonetta's potential? There is no other female game character that I've observed elicit such a reaction from my reporting peers, and it's not like she's been the only one of such gender, measurements and posture to possibly draw such comments.
Maybe she'll be the next gaming sex symbol. Sega could hope for worse. When I got my chance to play the game, for just a few minutes last week, I found myself button-mashing an Xbox 360 controller in my best amateur Devil May Cry-player impression. After watching Bayonetta run across the facades of buildings in a village flooding with lava — and surfing across some of that lava on the back of one of her foes — I had her battling a person-sized boss while walking on walls. I could also practice her moves during loading screens, learning as many displayed punch-kick-button combos as I could quickly absorb.
Then I relinquished control to watch a mid-game boss battle set beyond a tornado of cars, against a tendril-handed boss so large that to fit it into the screen completely for one camera angle reduced Bayonetta to little more than the height of the game's standard-sized score counter. The conflict I saw was wonderfully shot, with that faraway shot mixed in with close-up combat, all of which looked interactive.
At one point in the bits of the game I witnessed, a Sega rep got her to pull off (intentional verb choice, Kotaku readers) one of her super moves. The more aggressively she attacks, the less she wears. So as she fired a big hand made of hair to tangle with the boss, she wound up naked, though covered up by a few strands of her hair-suit that lingered.
A reporter who witnessed liked what he saw. He said he'd seen what he showed up to see and joked he could leave now.
Bayonetta's creators at Platinum Games appear to have figured out what at least some game reporters like. Her adventure is out in Japan in October and in the U.S. early next year.
Whether she's the next Lara Croft is unclear. But she certainly has a way of getting a reaction.