Bayonetta is a game that's been sort of hanging out in the back of my mind since late summer. While I do enjoy the occasional action game, I hadn't really been anticipating it too much. I'm usually terrible at these sort of games and I can never really see them beating out RPGs, shooters, or platformers on my list of favorite genres. That being said, I'm a huge fan of the Viewtiful Joe and Devil May Cry series' and there is no doubt in my mind that Hideki Kamiya really really knows what he's doing when it comes to action games. I was lucky enough to snag an early demo code and try out the Xbox 360 version of the game this past week.

Chances are, if you don't know much about the game, you're atleast familiar with the character. You know, that badass librarian chick with guns on her heels? Bayonetta, who has awoken from a 500 year sleep with no memory of herself or her surroundings, is introduced after a gravity-defying battle upon a plummeting clock tower. Her provocative and hyperbolic personality immediately sets the mood for what I can only imagine will be one of the most ridiculously over-the-top game experiences of 2010.

Bayonetta fights several types of angel-based enemies over the course of the demo. Standard angel enemies, flying enemies, and larger mini-boss angels all make an appearance. All of which drop collectible halos and/or health and magic upgrades upon death. Halos are, from what I understand, used for weapon purchases and upgrades. I wasn't able to access a weapon shop in the demo, but I wasn't really looking too hard for one either. I was, however, able to pick up several enemy weapons and put them to use in battle. I ran across a flail, a giant battle axe, a few polearms, and a trumpet that acts as a shotgun.

Each face-button functions as a basic move that can be strung together for some pretty insane combos. Simple three or four button combos are very effective and, when playing on normal, the game is fairly approachable and easy to pick up and play. But, a deeper understanding of button combinations and control is necessary to unleash Bayonetta's full potential. Juggling enemies, air combos, and torture combos are all very satisfying. Even within the small scope of the demo, I was made aware of the incredible amount of combos, movements, and attacks that Bayonetta has at her disposal. 

In addition to melee attacks, Bayonetta can fire automatic pistols from both her hands and feet. This adds yet another layer of depth to the combat. At the same time, the way gun control is implemented makes it very fun and easy to use. Simply holding down a face button at the end or during a combo will introduce gunplay into the situation. It's possible to use guns in a long-range, point and shoot sort of way, but there's no better way to top off a double punch to the face than with a blast or two from the trusty old heel pistol.

If the demo pays any testament to the final game, boss battles are going to be a defining trait. There are several significant boss/mini-boss fights in the demo and the game seems to have no qualms about throwing big scary enemies at you as often as possible. Not once did I feel overpowered or cheated though. The fights were genuinely fun and changing environments/surfaces were often incorporated.

I have to say, even after some way-positive reviews from Edge and Famitsu and all of this "redefining the genre" talk, I was still hesitating to get my hopes up. But, after experiencing just a tiny bit of the game, I can certainly tell that there is something to look forward to with Bayonetta. I can't wait to give the full game a try when January rolls around.

If you haven't had a chance to play the demo yet, it's available on Japanese PSN/Xbox now and in North America and Europe on December 3rd.