With each advancing year, it becomes harder and harder to parse the age of media that has influenced me to this point. That is, of course, how time works, but with games, there tends to be a “retro” threshold that makes older titles simpler to categorize. At some point in my lifetime, X-Box 360 games will be considered old-school. Even now, considering that to be some sort of far-flung reality, I have to make sense of the fact that Bayonetta is over seven years old.
Playing Bayonetta on the PC in 2017, it certainly doesn’t feel old, accepting the fact that it is high on my list of favorite games ever and that I would likely be blind to any anachronism. I struggle to think of what would be improved if it were to be conceived in a modern context, though, outside of the expected visual improvements. The real question is whether this is a testament to Bayonetta being ahead of its own time or the evolution of action games since then not being significant enough to notice. I’d assume it’s a combination of both, since Bayonetta works best as an overt parody of the character action genre that over-saturated the 2000s, a wink and a nod to formula that it so effortlessly surpassed. At the same time, the character of Bayonetta seems to come from a future we still haven’t reached – a sex-positive female power fantasy that is threatened by nothing, treating her enemies with an appropriate level of flippant boredom. Seven years later, it’s still endearing. While her contemporaries endlessly brood and lash out, Bayonetta still wins because she’s never stopped laughing. That joy, as it turns out, is timeless.
I’d committed myself to giving the game a full playthrough once again, still assuming I’d have most of the bosses retained to muscle memory. Unsurprisingly, time away hasn’t been very kind, and thus, I’ve gotten trounced more than I’d like to admit. I choose to blame the apparently lack of telephone cheats in this version moreso than any lack of skill on my part. I do very vividly remember grinding the same boss over and over back in the day in a quest to get enough halos to unlock unreasonably more difficult challenges, which seemed doable at the time. Now I’m more inclined to be a content tourist, popping health every few seconds because I’m too busy remembering my favorite moments as they happen to avoid getting hit over and over. It’s not very often that nostalgia gets to me, so when it does, I tend to find it best to simply give in, knowing that my interest may be more fleeting than it was when I experienced it for the first time. That said, I’m probably still playing, even long after you read this.
It’s a beautifully well-done port, giving me hope that Platinum does similar work in the future. I know Bayonetta 2 is unlikely to get the same treatment, but if sales are any indication, maybe the character has life even further beyond that. One can hope. She needs to stick around for that future that she deserves.