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Feeling Bayonetta in Advance

Touch it once, and you'll know that Sega and Platinum Games have a hit on their hands.

 

I got a chance to feel Bayonetta over the weekend. I'm glad I took the opportunity.

I've actually been waiting to get my hands on the game since Microsoft's Spring Xbox 360 press conference, where we got to first see main character Bayonetta slicing up angels while riding the face of a clock tower as it plummeted through the sky. I couldn't believe my eyes then. Even more impressive is that the sequence is totally playable despite taking place on a screen full of movement.

The demo of Bayonetta that I sampled was just the game's E3 build. Following the clock sequence -- the prologue of the game -- I viewed a brief introduction, then guided Bayonetta through a stone building and out into a garden. The sequence closed off with a battle against a boss. It was a massive boss, but I was able to kill him off with just a couple of hits and a powerful finishing move.

You've probably read plenty about the demo by now. I'll briefly add my own personal take on it. The thing that strikes me most about Bayonetta is the variety to the action. It seems that there are so many different ways to kill your foes. You can go at it Devil May Cry style, slashing away then leaping back with finishing gun fire. You can use a last minute dodge move to send the game into Witch Time, where enemies slow down and you're able to slash away at will. You can switch Bayonetta between multiple fighting stances. You can pay close attention to on-screen button prompts for some stylish finishing moves. During my brief demo session, I'm pretty sure that I didn't kill any two enemies the same way.

In the above, I said "feel Bayonetta" instead of "try Bayonetta," by the way, because "Feel Bayonetta" is the name of the event where I sampled the game. As promised last month, Feel Bayonetta was held on Saturday at an event space called A.I. Tokyo in Tokyo's Roppongi district. Over the course of the day, 300 lucky gamers who'd won a drawing were given a chance to sample the game for about 15 minutes well in advance of its October 29 domestic (Japanese) release date.

Attendees sampled the same demo that I played in the press room. There was a slight difference for the general players, though. The single press demo unit was on the Xbox 360. The public units were a mix of 360 and PS3. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the PS3 demo units until I was reviewing my pics following the event, so I can't provide any visual comparisons. Wait until TGS!

As players sampled Bayonetta, director Hideki Kamiya and producer Yusuke Hashimoto spoke about the game. Topics included the Witch Time combat mode as well as the recently announced Automatic Mode.

During my play session, I found Witch Time to be indispensable to not getting killed. A Sega rep said that it would become even more important in the latter areas of the game.

Automatic Mode allows you to achieve complex moves with simple button presses and is only selectable in very easy and easy mode. It's also known as "Okan Mode," with Okan being Kansai speak for "Mommy." As Kamiya explained, the mode was added so that his mother would be able to play the game.

The two brought a few video clips with them. Attendees were given a chance to see Kamiya playing his own game, along with a making-of clip for the game's commercial, which is scheduled to hit the air waves in October. See Famitsu.com for an eerily spot-on Bayonetta look-alike.

Outside of the demo chance, attendees were given a chance to browse an art gallery showing character and enemy artwork. Missing from this was my new favorite piece of Bayonetta artwork. Shown in this week's Famitsu, it depicts Bayonetta standing back against a wall beside Theresa, a mysterious little girl who pulls on Bayonetta's red ribbons and calls her "Mommy." Bayonetta is four times the height of the girl, and the reason I like the image is that it contrasts the two, giving a good feeling for how much stature the Bayonetta character has. I'll let you know once Sega has posted an Online version of the image.

Following the first play session of the day, Kamiya and Hashimoto met with the media for a Q&A session. I wasn't able to sit in on this, but Famitsu.com provided a transcript.

As reported earlier, the two said to expect a Bayonetta demo at some point. I presume this will come after TGS, as Sega told me that the TGS demo would be the same as the E3 demo. The downloadable demo will offer new experiences, said the two, and those who already own the game will be able to make new discoveries. Kamiya also said that he wants to include "mini play experiences" in the demo. You're going to have to figure that one out on your own.

Hashimoto also said that Sega is looking into the possibility of holding retail demo events for the game. This will all hopefully be part of a big promo campaign as Bayonetta's October 29 domestic release nears.

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