Another Castle: Bayonetta

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Bayonetta. The beautiful, gun-toting enchantress is strutting her way onto the Smash stage to much fanfare.

So, in honor of that, I’m excited to explore Bayonetta and her mystical, magical, high-octane, high body count story.

Name: Bayonetta

Quote: “Do you naughty angels deserve a good spanking?”

Age: 604

Occupation: Witch

Personality: Bayonetta has one goal in this story, and that’s to find out what happened to her clan while also figuring out who she is. She’s not interested in anything else, and if she has to blast away some of God’s divine angels who stand in her way, then so be it. She prefers to work alone. She’s calm, cool, collected, and cocky as she kicks ass.

Abilities: Expert in gun-handling, hand-to-hand combat, magic, and witchcraft

Her game series: Bayonetta

Why she rocks: She has her eyes set on one goal, and that’s to find out the secrets behind her past. If that means she has to kick the crap out of God’s Divine Angels every day to get her closer to that truth, then so be it.

She’s sexy and knows it, her gender has literally no bearing on her quest for knowledge about who she is and who her clan is.

She’s from an entire clan of legendary, gun-toting witches who were in constant battle with the angels and she’s here to continue that battle as she searches for her clan and her history.

Why you should play her game: Who doesn’t love a good witch story where the ladies are kicking ass and taking names? It’s a unique dynamic, her character design is super cool, and with her coming up soon in Smash, we all oughta get well-acquainted with her.

Why we’re glad she’s out here reppin’ for the ladies: She’s powerful, she’s sexual, she’s a centuries old witch who’s got a plan and a mission. No time for a man; just guns, witchcraft, and a hair suit.

But…

She’s a sexualized character, which female gamers are always wary of but isn’t an immediate disqualification, by any means.

In Bayonetta’s entrance to the game, there’s gratuitous camera angles and her initial transformation consists of an unknown force ripping up her nun costume, exposing all of her curves and cleavages as she moans loudly over a sensual cover of “Fly Me to the Moon.” That’s pretty on the nose, I think, doesn’t require a lot of explanation.

I’m hard pressed to find a woman who will look at Bayonetta’s up-crotch angle fight scenes and feel immediately empowered.  A woman can be completely and totally in charge of her sexuality, but when that confidence is projected into a skin-tight suit and a really up-close and personal experience with her vagina, it doesn’t feel like it’s for the women playing, but the men.

Why we’re wary of her place in Smash: Be aware that this doesn’t mean we don’t think she deserves to be in Smash. She 100% does. We’re more concerned with WHY she’s here.

Only the most iconic and well-loved characters are chosen to take the stage in Smash, and Bayonetta won the poll, so of course she must be loved.

But I’m worried – not even worried, but I’ve begrudgingly accepted that Bayonetta is going to get the Zero Suit Samus treatment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Samus.

But her skin tight suit, her pinched waist with no sort of semblance of a spine or physics in her body, her “waifu” status doesn’t seem to give Samus the appreciation she deserves as such an iconic character. She’s been around just as long as Link and Mario, she’s just as famous, but there’s a different air about her.

While Bayonetta isn’t a prodigal female character with twenty years of objectification-combating backstory under her belt, her presence screams fanservice more than appreciation of her merits as a video game character.

And it’s not like people are going to take the rhetoric of Super Smash Bros. characters so seriously as to bring gender theory into the discussion, but Smash has made an institution out of putting beloved characters from different universes against each other, and there’s something to be said about that.

Not a lot of people knew who Captain Falcon was before Super Smash Bros. Melee. “Falcon Punch!” is so iconic that most people (i.e. me,) didn’t know that his original game is a high-speed racer, he doesn’t even punch anyone.

Smash has so many characters that what you get about their characters comes mostly from face value and I’m worried that when they see Bayonetta, they’re going to see a sexy librarian with a bangin’ bod and some guns instead of a really bad-ass witch who is determined, cool, and independent.

Of course, this isn’t a death sentence.

bayofeaturedMy hope is that Bayonetta’s arrival to Smash will inspire people who haven’t already to go out and play her game and learn her story, and bring that to the game.

And through this announcement, I’m cautiously optimistic. There’s already something of a movement in the Smash world for people to recognize the female characters as warriors, not as ornaments; anytime I play the Miiverse level with my girl Samus, there’s always a Miiverse post in the background proclaiming that “Samus isn’t an object!”

That gives me the warm fuzzies in the best kind of way.

And we always love an underdog story. Most people’s first impression of Bayo is her back-facing, bubble-ass shot on the front of her box, I’m excited for her to come into this and prove that she’s more than just a pretty face.