Finding my limits

The biggest purchase I made in Japan was an Xbox 360S, partially because my US 360 is four years old and will presumably die any day now but mostly because I wanted to play Japanese-only releases of shooters and Idolmaster games.

Fortunately, while Japanese developers are prone to slapping region codes on their games, US publishers aren’t as picky, so I can use most US titles on it even though it’s from a different region.  Pretty handy.  There are of course limits to this: many games from Japanese publishers released in the US ARE region locked to prevent reverse importing, so I can’t play, for example, Bullet Witch or Earth Defense Force 2017 on my new console.

One Japanese-developed game that works just fine on an imported console is Bayonetta, and I’ve been playing that this week.  It’s pretty stunning to look at and the combat is the definition of satisfying, but I’m having real trouble resisting the urge to roll my eyes whenever it goes into a cutscene.

For the record:  I’m a big fan of games that pander to the base instincts of men.  If you take a generic action title and shoehorn in a scantily-clad waif with big swords that are also guns, I’ll be right there on day one to pick it up.  Same goes for extremely questionable strategy games or beach volleyball games with jiggle physics.  Something about Bayonetta, however, just manages to push my “Oh, come on, was that REALLY necessary?” button.

Fortunately, it has a lot going for it besides the draw – or in this case, surprising lack of draw – of the main character.  The monster designs are particularly impressive, and I’m liking the way it presents parallel worlds, letting you romp through a modern city in the “real world” and then seeing the same world with the flower gardens and sparking water fountains of Paradisio or the lava-filled streets of Inferno.  Also, as I said before, the combat is remarkably satisfying; it seems to have been designed to let even pathetic button mashers (like me!) pull off crazy moves, and shifts neatly between very acrobatic and brute-force depending on what sort of weapons you’re using at any given moment.

So far, I’ve played through the first three – out of eleven, I think – chapters.  Looking forward to where it goes from here.

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