PS3: Bayonetta Hands-on

Just released this week on the PSN Store, we take a hands-on look at the demo and check out what’s so hot about the title.

Developed by Platinum games and directed by Devil may Cry series creator Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta seeks to bring a fresh new look at the formula which Kamiya has pioneered and takes it to another level. Bayonetta centers on it’s title character, a witch who can wield 4 guns and other weapons and dish out magical attacks with the use of her hair.

The game play is very similar to that of the Devil May Cry series in which you’ll still have the same close attacks and long range attacks. The new addition this time is the magic attacks which are usually automatically called upon as you rack up your combos resulting in a stunning, visually impressive and brutal finisher. You can also perform amazing acrobatics which allows Bayonetta to shoot her guns in a variety of poses.

The demo we played consisted of 2 levels, the first being a tutorial to become accustomed to the controls and the second being the first real level to the game. The tutorial basically pits you against generic enemies and teaches the basics of the game which involve learning to use melee attacks, combos, blocks and magic attacks. It’s set in a generic screen that isn’t using any level and basically it forms the loading screens which allows you to test out moves while waiting for a particular level to load.

The first level takes place in a cathedral which is somehow occupied by “spirits”. We didn’t know reason for this as the text is completely in Japanese while the dialogues and voices all spoke English. Taking a stroll past the cathedral and into a open area with a fountain in the middle, we are treated to our first real battle between hordes of flying enemies. The controls feel pretty solid and there wasn’t any issues trying to perform a magic attack. After finishing all of the enemies, we are treated to our first major set piece, the Betrayed which is this massive axe wielding hulk-like monster with a red gem on it’s back. As I’ve played some of the Devil May Cry series, I could instantly tell this was it’s weak point and began tearing into the monster.
Further along there’s another impressive fight with a monster which destroys some of the environment and also a duel between another witch. The demo does reveal some back story to Bayonetta and you’ll see some insight about her past.

The graphics are pretty impressive, especially once you call your faithful magical canine to perform a stunning finisher. The architecture is also very detailed and produces a glorious shine as you play through the level. Despite all the arguments about the Playstation 3 version having massive framerate issues, we didn’t notice any of the sort while playing the demo.

From what we can tell, Bayonetta looks to be a very interesting title and we can’t wait to see how the full game comes together. Check it out when it launches in Q1 2010.

Wii: Pop N Music Preview.

While the most popular games of the music genre pioneered by Konami have made it across the waters, there is one however that still hasn’t found its footing. Pop N Music, part of Konami’s highly popular Bemani range of arcade games is finally being brought over to the Wii after a line of successful PS2 incarnations and with it comes a whole slew of new addtional features. The Pop N Music series have prodominently been kept in the land of the rising sun but recently showed up at E3 prompting it’s eventual release in the US. Fans of the series however, be warned.. it isn’t exactly how you remember it in the Arcade or the previous console versions. Gone is the traditional Pop N Music peripheral and has been replaced with the Wii’s Motion Controls. There is however some new features being incorporated to make use of the Wii’s capabilities such as the ability for DLC of additional songs.

Having just released in Japan, in the time we’ve spent with the game we’ve noticed a number of differences mostly notably it’s visual style which gives off a very casual feel to the game. While one can argue that the original game always had a cartoonish style to it, this time it is even more prevaliant as selection screens and menus have been made more simpler and the gameplay changed from it’s original 9 buttons to 5. The gameplay itself plays out like Pop N Music normally does with coloured markers flying down the screen requiring you to hit them in sequence however one major issue we did notice was the controls which occassionally registers the wrong input. However, this didnt stop us from having fun with the games’ tracklist which consisted of a mix of Jpop/anime music.

Apart from some control difficulties, which will hopefully be fixed in the final release, Pop N Music is still very enjoyable and should introduce the franchise to many new players.

Pop N Music is due out in the US later this year. Look out for a proper review later in the year.

Wii: Taiko No Tatsujin Preview

Taiko no Tatsujin is a popular franchise from Namco Bandai in Japan and marks it’s first installment on the Wii. The game, just released in Japan, comes with an interesting new Drum peripheral which plugs into the bottom of the Wii Remote and brings with it a load of new songs with familiar faces in the game. Though relatively unknown elsewhere, the Taiko series is popular in Japan with games on PS2, DS and PSP and made it’s debut in the US on the PS2 as Taiko Drum Master though it only released one game. The game has players tapping to a drum following notes which scroll across the screen seen in similar rhythm games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The game play though simplistic is varied by where you tap on the drum, as you tap on the drum surface for red notes and on the side for blue notes. Rhythm game fans looking to import the game without spending a large amount on the drum will be pleased to know that the game can be played without the peripheral and that it supports both Wii Remote and Classic Controller Configurations assigning the drum hits to buttons instead.

The game also supports up to 2 players for simultaneous play and with a large number of different options for multiplayer . You can play versus with a friend or battle it out with items or just play together on a song. Mii Support is also included with appearances in certain songs but that’s as far as it goes. From what we’ve played, the game has enough to satisfy fans of the series with an additional challenge mode but doesn’t come with the Drum customisations seen in the DS version nor the minigames on the PSP. There is also no information on any additional downloadable songs like the PSP version from what we’ve seen so far. As said, the game is currently out in Japan and fans of Rhythm based games should surely pick this one up.