Why Bayonetta Is One Of My Favorite Women In Gaming

You know you’re doing the “seduction by lollipop” cliche right when you look like your doing the candy a favor.
Source: Know Your Meme

Ah, screw it. I’m counting this as a Halloween post. I mean, what’s more Halloween than a witch?

So, true to my nature as being infinitely late to the party, I’m just now starting to get into Bayonetta. I picked it up at a reasonable sale price on Steam and I’ll admit openly that I may have had the game wrong all these years. I wrote it off as just ‘Devil May Cry with boobs’ and thought it was just senseless titillation for titillation’s sake. But the more I played it, the more I came to realize that, while it does delve into gratuitousness quite often, it does so in such an over-the-top way as to stop being sexy and start being entertaining on its own merits.

Plus, I’ve come to have genuine affection of the titular Bayonetta herself. I actually feel kind of bad for writing her off as pure fanservice. Because when you actually look at her closely, you come to realize that…

Her exaggerated figure actually makes sense

One of the first things I noticed back when I decided to give Bayonetta a miss was how silly her proportions were. I mean, the first thing most people notice when they see her is that she has legs like stilts propping up a torso that’s just a cup size or two shy from being a Rob Liefeld drawing.

But once you see her interacting with “normal” human beings (normal being subjective in such a strange setting), you realize that she’s not some average, everyday superheroine; she’s a 7 foot tall, supernatural amazon witch bred of two warring factions of magic users and molded to be a perfect fighting engine. Of course her body would be an exaggeration of our own – extreme conditions result in extreme personalities and extreme appearances. Those legs NEED to be that powerful-looking so she doesn’t collapse on herself like a top-heavy Barbie doll.

Plus, she’s not just a pair of legs. Look at her delicate facial features and long, swan-like neck. Everything about her is meant to convey grace and class. And when you consider the main mechanic of the game is to make a long string of unbroken attacks in rapid, flowing succession, those are good qualities to have.

Still, there’s no denying that Bayonetta is still heavily sexualized. But, in her case, that’s actually a good thing because…

She knows she’s sexy… and she LOVES it

A large part of my recent journey through gender transition has been building up a positive body image by appreciating the sensuality of my body. Of course, when you work at a rest stop and have a horde of lonely truckers and construction workers – male, female, and otherwise – reminding you of that sensuality on a weekly basis, you tend to enjoy the attention (even though they should REALLY not be doing that to someone who’s on the clock; that’s just rude).

My point is that I’ve learned that flirting can be fun and can make you feel good when done right. And Bayonetta embodies this idea. A lot of people have criticized her for ‘moving like a stripper’ in game, but she always makes it clear that she does so by her own choice (“As long as there’s music, I’ll keep on dancing”). Besides, what’s wrong with erotic dancing anyway? It’s a perfectly noble art that requires years of training and conditioning to do well. I respect anyone with the physical fortitude and self-confidence to perform stark-naked like that for an audience.

And before any of you bring up her “wicked weave”, yes, the fact that her hair is both her costume and her most powerful weapon does lend itself to fanservice. But screw that; if I had a magical updo, you better believe I’d use it for some new wardrobes (“I can’t help it if I like the little outfits”).

She’s one of the few women that work the “sexuality as a weapon” angle well

Here’s the thing you need to understand about depictions of women in games; for the longest time, there were only two flavors of women.

The first is the cutesy one – small, meek, and gentle. She’s the sort of girl that’s designed to encourage you to want to protect her; i.e., “She just needs a big, strong person around.”

The other is the ice queen – hard, tough, and mostly disinterested in others; ESPECIALLY romantic advances. Whether intentional or not, it reassures the audience that it’s okay to think she’s hot because she doesn’t care anyway.

Both of these are (god, I hate this word…) problematic as one puts the woman on a pedestal and the other outright objectifies her. So how does Bayonetta approach this dilemma?

Bayonetta is not helpless; she can take down entire armies of the most powerful beings in Heaven, Earth, and Hell with ease. But, she’s not cold either; she displays a wide variety of emotions throughout the game and cares a great deal about her own personal enjoyment in particular. This results in a personality that is eager to find pleasure but is skeptical that YOU are the one that can provide it.

Do you get it yet? She’s not a cute princess, nor is she an ice queen; she’s SEXUALLY INTIMIDATING and you, aroused audience member lost in the fantasy, need to cope with that.

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The Agent Reviews (a Mod For) a Game: The Binding of Issac: Community Remix

It’s about time I did a proper review again.

The news is spreading quickly around the gaming community; The Binding of Issac: Rebirth, the sequel to Edmond McMillen’s hit game will be available on November 4th. To celebrate, he was even nice enough to endorse a 33% loyalty discount on Steam to people who bought the original. That’s dedication to your fans, folks.

However, in the meantime, hardcore fans like myself will need to find a way to scratch that itch for the next month. Leave it to some devoted fans at Code-Cast with the aid of the community on Reddit to help us out.

Community Remix, as the name implies, is a revision of the Wrath of the Lamb DLC made by and with the help of a large group of fans. It runs through another mod called SpiderMod whose primary purpose was to function as a sort of ‘survival mode’ for players that needed more of a challenge.

There are a number of changes both large and small, but the most notable differences are an indirect result of McMillen himself. Over time, he has been leaving small teasing glimpses at Rebirth in the form of small animated GIFs showcasing new items and item synergies. Community Remix has managed to incorporate these teased new items into the mod.

One new item that I found interesting was Samson’s new starting item – The Donkey’s Jawbone. In essence, it acts as a scaled down version of Mom’s Knife as it has a boomerang effect and can function as a melee weapon.

The mod also introduces new pick-ups (key rings, half-soul hearts, mixed hearts, etc.), new pill effects, new Guppy-like transformations (you can now play as Tammy and Loki if you collect their items), and has modified a few existing items (The Polaroid, for example, is now a passive collectible and won’t take up valuable trinket space).

These additions add a new level of challenge and strategy for long time players as well as give them a feel for what changes to expect in Rebirth.

But probably the most positive change in this mod is that this fixes the video resolution issues present in the original. One of my biggest complaints while playing was that there was no visually appealing screen ratio that TBoI ran at. Now, the resolution automatically adapts to your selected window/monitor size. This is amazingly valuable to ‘Let’s Play-ers’ that record their playthroughs.

There are a few minor complaints to be made with Community Remix, however. Firstly, while the adaptable resolution makes character, enemy, and item sprites look amazing with no deformation, the backgrounds still appear to look grainy and pixelated in some places.

Also, another contribution from the community were remixes of the game’s original soundtrack. These remixes are very catchy if you’re a fan of electronic music, but they don’t seem to capture the same dark, foreboding atmosphere of horror-as-comedy that Danny Baranowsky’s compositions gave. In other words, I want to like these songs more than I actually do.

Overall though, I’d say that Community Remix is a great way to tide you over until Rebirth hits the store front. It won’t replace Rebirth by any means, but It will give you a taste of what’s in store.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish a playthrough as Guppy to honor the memory of an absent friend.

The Agent Reviews A Game: Loadout

I sometimes find it difficult to keep my mind occupied during the day outside of my necessary routine of job searching and housekeeping. As a result of my limited funds, (I am a resent college grad with a lot of loans to pay back, after all) I can’t indulge in many luxuries.

To that end, speaking as a gamer, the free-to-play market becomes all the more valuable to my mental health to ensure regular challenging stimulation. You can thank the crew at Rooster Teeth for introducing me to a new F2P game on Steam; Loadout.

Normally this wouldn’t be the sort of game I would look into, but as we’ve established, I’m in no position to be choosy. So I figured that, since it has been years since I did a proper review of a game (my first was a well crafted, fan-made Mega Man game that used the Zandronum engine), I’d like to give everyone my take on it. So let’s break it down.

The Basic Summary

This is one of the most simply constructed games I can recall in recent memory. There is no plot or story – at least not one that is easily seen. There is a lot of ado about a material called Blutonium and fighting over it, but it rarely comes up in gameplay.

It’s basically the barest bones of the modern day First-Person Shooter (though in Loadout, the camera is placed over the shoulder) which plays to its F2P nature; it has few frills and doesn’t get hung up on details.

There are two key focus points the game wants to bring to your attention. The first is the cartoonish levels of violence and gore. As you play, you will find you, your teammates, and your opponents having your limbs whittled to the bone, your heads reduced to not but a brain and eyes, and holes the size of ten-pound rutabagas punched in your stomach – none of which seems to impede your characters ability to fight.

The second focus is the game’s namesake; the loadout mechanic. Players earn both experience points and in-game currency called Blutes to purchase various parts for your weapons allowing you to make the perfect tool for you (my personal favorite combination is the triple barrel rocket launcher with sidewinder missiles carrying an incendiary flak payload).

The Good News

“I’m flying! Weeeee!”
Source: VentureBeat

Normally, I would be put off by the gore of a game like this. In this case, however, I can’t take a game this over the top seriously. VentureBeat got it right when they likened Loadout to “… a Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Quentin Tarantino.”

Also, the weapon crafting mechanic is a lot of fun. Part of the challenge and entertainment value of the game is testing out different combinations of parts to get the desired effects. It ensures that you keep playing to find that perfect set-up.

The characters, despite never speaking and having no guiding story to define them, have loads of personality. They all boast an over designed style reminiscent of the toys marketed to young boys in the 90’s (Mad Balls come to mind) that play to the anarchic sense of humor the game has.

The Bad News

Insert The Lonely Island’s “Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions” here.
Source: MMO Reviews

As I played through Loadout, there was a niggling voice in the back of my mind that I had played this game before and it had nothing to do with how annoyingly pervasive the Shooter genre of games is. Suddenly it donned on me; this was Gotham City Imposters.

Other than the modified weapon system, the game was borrowing mechanics and sensibilities from Gotham City Imposters which itself felt like a half-hearted attempt to make the multiplayer from any Call of Duty game made in the last seven years more light and fun but was bogged down by it’s repetitive nature and technical limitations.

Loadout, in turn, suffers from similar problems. There are only four game modes playable across six maps, so the game gets tiresome after a while. They will most likely add to it in the future, but unfortunately, they must be judged for what they are now.

Also, where all of the attention was placed on the weapon customization, little was given to the character customization. There are only three character bases to build from – a white male, a black male, and a white female – and almost all of their wardrobe (read: anything that is not default for the character base) must be bought with real cash. Even Gotham City Imposters gave you the option of using in-game currency to buy clothes and only made you pay for exclusive content.

The Final Verdict

On one hand, Loadout is a generic Shooter in an age of generic Shooters (that, thankfully, seems to be slowing down). On the other, however, it’s probably one of the better generic Shooters to be released recently.

You can certainly do far worse than Loadout and spend more money in the process, but nothing stands out and tells me that this will be the game to knock Team Fortress 2 off of its El Dorado-esque plies of gold and loot and redefine the free-to-play market.

To sum up in a simple analogy, Loadout is to the Shooter genre as ClayFighter was to the Fighting genre; the very best of the boilerplate in its field. Give it a try, but don’t expect too much for nothing.

The Gift of Two Grumps

Seriously guys, let’s chill out for a sec. ‘Kay?
Source: dynamofox on Imgur

As mentioned in my article on independent shows online, I love Game Grumps. It’s a funny and entertaining show that sets the bar for all would-be comedy game playthroughs (I hesitate to use the term “Let’s Play’s” out of respect to them).

However, the fanbase has been divided ever since June 25th of this year. This came as a result of “JonTron” Jonathan Jafari leaving the show’s production to be replaced by Leigh Daniel Avidan, AKA; Danny Sexbang. The fans, as would be expected on the internet, are now caught in a war over who is the Superior “Not-So-Grump” and if Jon should return.

But honestly, I think that this change is the best thing to ever happen to ANYONE that is currently or was previously involved with the show – including Jon and Danny. Today, I will explain my position on this matter as well as analyze what makes these two men so amusing.

Why JonTron Is Funny (And What His Limits Are)

Relax, Jon. It’s constructive criticism.
Source: GoodGuyGiygas on Imgur

Jon’s brand of humor centers around his bombastic nature. If you watch his work, either on Game Grumps or his own show, He excels at going overboard with his emotions and drawing out the same reactions from those he works with. Remember, the key to good humor is exaggeration. In Jon’s case, he chooses to exaggerate reactions and emotion to comedic effect.

Jon’s weaknesses, however, also stems from this humor as he has a tendency to go too far with his extreme reactions to the point where they become exhausting or unlikeable. Let me put it this way, when poor over-worked Game Grumps editor Barry Kramer has to censor you five times in a row for dropping the n-word and even co-host Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson calls you out for “derailing” the show, it’s time to tone it down a little.

Why Danny Sexbang Is Funny (And What HIS Limits Are)

It takes a special man to rock a unitard with a ninja on a cardboard key-tar.
Source: Lyric Wiki

Like Jon, Danny’s humor is reliant on exaggeration. But where Jon exaggerates his emotions and actions, Danny’s exaggeration comes from his witty observations and Arin’s reactions to them (and the audience’s reactions by extention). The moment that many claim earned Danny the love he has now, the “Death Approaches” gag from Part 5 of their Super Mario Bros. 2 series, illustrates this strength well. In addition, his own reactions seem more genuine and less forced then Jon’s as evidenced in Part 3 of Mega Man 2.

Sadly, Danny lacks the envelope pushing nature of Jon. Jon may play too far in the middle of the street too often, but Danny has yet to even see the other sidewalk. On the rare instances where he does get raunchy, he tries to insist that it be edited out which Arin disallows due to the format of the show using real time reactions.

Why The Change Is Good For Everyone

This has nothing to do with the topic; I just REALLY wanted to show Arin making one of his goofy faces.
Source: Reddit

Let’s take a look at what this shift in dynamic does for everyone involved.

First, it creates talk among fans and non-fans which spreads the word about the show and drives more traffic to them. This benefits the Game Grumps cast and crew as a whole.

Second, Danny now has a second channel on YouTube to complement his music videos for Ninja Sex Party. This gives him more coverage and fans of one of his works will be more likely to check out the other when they inevitably hear about them.

Third, Jon’s fans will be more likely to support his own show out of loyalty while giving him more time to devote to another show where he has much more creative freedom.

Lastly, we, the fans, now have two rival camps ala Capt. Kirk/Capt. Picard (or Joel Robinson/Mike Nelson if you’re especially geeky). This lets us debate the merits of both and feel like we’re being constructive.

What Do I Personally Think?

Personally, I prefer Danny as a co-host over Jon. Jon’s brand of humor has saturated the Internet to the point of my own disinterest and I just want something fun and different.

This, of course is not to take anything away from anyone. Both Jon and Danny are amazing performers and talents that deserve every bit of praise they get and I wish them good fortune in their future exploits.