BAYONETTA IS A GRAPHICALLY IMPRESSIVE ACTION TITLE in which a stoic badass uses oversized weaponry, martial arts, and the occasional magic spell to slay hordes of supernatural foes in dozens of exotic locations. Sounds generic, no? That's the weird quirk of the "pure action" genre: Every game, from Ninja Gaiden to God of War, can be described using that same sentence, and yet each one makes bags of cash as long as it contains one crucial element—spectacle.
The latest effort from Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta almost seems like a new entry in that series, if Capcom had replaced protagonist Dante with a look-alike of 2008's favorite political punchline. A mockup for a game called Palin May Cry leaps to mind every time I see Bayonetta's titular heroine, and it speaks to the game's addictive fun that I don't get completely distracted by the idea of an "invent bullshit names for your illegitimate grandkids" mini-game.
That fun hinges almost entirely on Bayonetta's combat system. The deceptively simple punch/kick/dodge/shoot control scheme is perfectly matched to the game's hyperkinetic combat—once you get the hang of it, you'll find yourself spending huge blocks of time fighting unnecessary battles just to enjoy both the elegance of the game's controls and the ridiculous amount of onscreen spectacle that's automatically generated by the game's combat.
Given how well it succeeds at what it sets out to do, it should come as no surprise that I can widely recommend Bayonetta, even though its storytelling is shit. (It does have a plot, but it seems more like an excuse to pepper the game's 12-hour runtime with an occasional gorgeously rendered cutscene than to actually tell a tale.) Still, action fans should know better than to expect Oscar Wilde. There hasn't been a more solid and pure action game since the genre's debut nearly a decade ago, and when weighed against everything Bayonetta does so very well, a weak plot is no reason to miss this one.