Enter the Dominatrix

Trigger Warnings – Sexual content

Sorry for yesterday, I needed to vent and have a little bitch fit but with that done, here is the post I actually wanted to write yesterday. I decided to get my gamer shades on again and write about another new release that I wish I could get but alas, once again, my lack of a Wii U is biting me in the backside. The more astute Nintendo fans can put two and two together as they figure out which recent release on the Wii U is about a sexualised character – yup, I want Bayonetta 2. The game has been a long awaited release for fans of the original like myself and if you don’t know about this game, I urge you to find out about it. The lovechild of a forbidden romance between a sage and a witch sells her soul to darkness for the powers to kill the angels that destroyed her kind and is led on a wild goose chase across the city of Vigrid as she tries to remember her past, suss out who her true enemy is and generally try to have fun. Bayonetta evokes a marmite reaction as a game though because the protagonist is a woman with legs up to her eyes in a tight catsuit that takes off this catsuit to use it as a living weapon and her motions are generally erotic so whilst some love the game, some call it a shameless attempt to pander to the male gaze and a degrading interpretation of women in video games. I am here to argue on behalf of Bayonetta, seeing as she wouldn’t argue her case, she’d just whip til you apologise and then “How do the Americans put it? Pop a cap in yo ass”

Before I begin, obviously this is the view of a white male, a liberal-minded feminist white male but still ultimately male. I am not a woman, I do not represent women and this article is purely my opinion so don’t give me flak if this seems like a lopsided argument, it is purely what I think of the character and you are free to your own interpretations. Ok, I should also add that I do not like Bayonetta as a game solely on the basis that the lead character is a sexy witch with a posh accent, whilst that sounds attractive I actually like the game for the fluid combat system, interesting plot (which granted is not dissimilar to that of Devil May Cry 4 but the same producer so hey) and the pleasing aesthetics and controls of the game making it one of the most well constructed and replayable games of the genre so again, no flak, I’m not defending Bayonetta out of some sort of raging horniness over the protagonist

Bayonetta, to me, represents a great character and a great female character. Bayonetta is strong, but not in the moody bitch with guns kinda way, by contrast she is actually quite cheerful, stern but she has fun doing what she does. Bayonetta is not the reluctant grump like most ‘strong’ female characters who just sorta get dragged into it and make snide comments whilst pointing guns at things half-heartedly, but she’s also not the other type of strong female character who is just sounds constantly horny but denies anyone a touch except that one guy. Sure, there’s Luka but Luka isn’t to Bayonetta what the Doctor is to River, they aren’t equals engaged in playful banter, Luka is Bayonetta’s little ball of fluff, something to amuse her, she evens calls him “Cheshire”, the name she gave her stuffed toy. To be honest, I think Bayonetta only tolerated Luka’s hatred and didn’t just snap his neck was because he’s funny when he’s being self-righteous and angry because Bayonetta knows it’s a load of shit and that if she stood there naked before him, he’d forget his grudge in an instant and beg for her touch. Bayonetta sees through the men of the game, shown as shallow and greedy incompetents, and she just strings them all along for her own amusement with no consequences on her part because she knows she’s what they want, she is a weapon in more ways than one

You see, I feel the problem most writers face, including myself, is that a strong female character in their mind is a woman who is just grumpy and packs a weapon of some description. Sexualised in appearance but not attitude and she resorts to either making smart-ass comments or showing no personality at all to assure the men around her that she will not be sleeping with them. I have yet to meet a woman like that because that’s not a woman, not really. Female characters are like male characters, they need to have strengths, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, fears and things to be proud of. A good female character has to incorporate something that is true of women-kind – perhaps your female character has insecurities about their appearance and shrugs it off by acting all arrogant (Lana Kane), perhaps your female character despises children because she is a fun loving young free spirit scared of commitment because of a history of loss and being surrounded by shallow self-serving idiots has her doubting the honesty of everyone around her (Bayonetta). You see where I’m going with this? By trying too hard to make her strong, you deny her female identity and then you’ve either got the fetishistic guns-and-tits combo character or the miserable companion character stuck following after your impulsive male lead. Good female characters have things that make us remember they have issues that matter to them and that remind us that these characters can add something to a formula that enhances it much more than the absence of that character. Doctor Who didn’t take a downward spiral after River Song left because she was the confusing sexy-counterpart to the Doctor but Amy Pond was more, she was a mother, she was stuck in a love triangle and she had dreams that were crushed and had to deal with that – that’s why more people miss Amy than miss River, from what I’ve seen at least

Leading back to Bayonetta, Bayonetta embraces her female identity and uses it as a weapon to distract her opponents, overwhelm their senses and all the while have a good giggle. Bayonetta is sexualised and erotic yes, but not for the sake of it, she is a dominatrix, so very clearly. The themes of BDSM in her choice of weapons, the ‘Climax’ attack, the tongue-in-cheek humour of sex that, never directly refers to the act or even the parts involved but she talks about “playing games” and “pillow talk”. Bayonetta is teasing her enemies and bringing the saints to sinners as a power play simply because she can and she enjoys it, note the constant smug grin on her lips. Bayonetta is very intelligent and manipulative, she doesn’t waste her talents on Rodin or Enzo because they’re on her side, she knows she has them under her thumb but the angels? Enemies, enemies that she taunts with her sexuality. A sexualised woman is not a bad thing, I think I covered that before, this is a woman who is proud of her body and flaunting it on the battlefield to bring her enemies to their knees so she can execute them with ease. Personally, I love it, I think she’s funny and witty and charming and it’s good to see a character who is sexualised for a reason. Women in games are generally sexy for no apparent reason, like Ivy in Soulcalibur, why does she don such a skimpy outfit that is very out of character for one so uptight? The answer there is male gaze but Bayonetta does it on purpose, she wants the world to stare, she wants people to gawp or call her names because she takes life with a spring in her step out of a sense of superiority

The game is universally well received and the sequel is already beloved but one review knocked it down for being too sexualised to enjoy. I’m sorry, what? Ok, firstly, I thought gaming guys, as a stereotype, loved this stuff but the fact that your lead character is someone who knows they’re hot stuff, embraces it and uses it as a weapon is a bad thing. Oh right, silly me, women shouldn’t be openly proud of being attractive, how disgusting. I forgot that confidence is a terrible personality trait. Would the game be enhanced for Bayonetta being your standard female character for this genre? Come on, what’ll it be – skimpy clothes and acting as if they’re normal attire or dirty hair and a tank top? Bayonetta is a statement, it wants to stand out, it pokes fun at needlessly sexy characters by making one who is sexy for a reason, she’s fabulously flaunting what her momma gave her because she wants to. I think it’s a bold move and a welcome refreshment from samey-characters and games, I dare you to find me five games quite like Bayonetta. Struggling? Ok, five games like… well let’s say Dead Space. Oh that was easy, there’s fucking tons. Space age shooter with cool outfits and tech? Halo, Alien:Isolation, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Doom. Sure, the camera is gratuitous with body shots but I can’t help feeling the camera acts as if the witch herself directed it – she’s hot, whatever the style, and she wants us all to know that

I don’t know, maybe you disagree, maybe you don’t, but I think Platinum Games created something fun and unique and made a character I’d personally enjoy the company of… if it weren’t for the fact she’d probably just chain me to a wall until she got bored of slapping me in the face

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Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Future

Man, my last post was heavy wasn’t it? Political agenda, rage against idiocy, a burning passion for an ideal democracy of all demographics – I’ll grant you it was probably a bit of a task for some of you to read and talking to some of my friends, they didn’t even bother the moment that dreaded p word came up. Kinda makes the article seem more relevant considering the content but there you go. Anyway, today’s article is gonna be a bit lighter and it’s mostly just my nerdy hypothesising going on here but I want to talk about Hyrule Warriors and why it is a stroke of genius for Nintendo to do such a thing, as well as a good move for Koei

Legend of Zelda probably doesn’t need much introduction as a series, it’s a legend, funnily enough, one of the all time greats – rescue the princess, throw bombs, cut grass, play ocarinas, shout “Hyah!” at everything – what do I need to tell you that you don’t know already? Since the first Zelda game came out in 1986, the series as a whole started to perfect a formula of dungeon crawling, treasure hunting and boss bashing that became iconic, it set these games out as the leaders of the genre and must-haves for their respective consoles. Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, each one struck awe in the fans and the formula steadily began to become a sort of mould to make the games by which has ups and downs. On the upside this is a profitable way of making games and requires a lot less hard work to design as you take that recipe and use it but on the downside, it can get samey. I’ll probably get murdered for this, I’m calling Legend of Zelda games samey but hear me out ok? I’m not saying the formula is a bad thing, I’ve played and enjoyed many Zelda games in my time but change is good in anything and I think Nintendo came to realise that with Hyrule Warriors. I think Link is being the front-runner for a lot of changes to come to Nintendo who are slowly realising that they can’t run a business on nostalgia and wishful thinking and perhaps they want to be the ones who dare to take that step of rethinking their characters and concepts to challenge gamers into trying new things. I’m talking proper re-imaginings here, not Ninja Theory Dante bullcrap. So what does Nintendo do? Two games – Hyrule Warriors and Link Between Worlds, the game-changers

A Link Between Worlds came out first of the two and it takes place in the same timeline as A Link to the Past, following on that aesthetic theming and sorta undoing some of the damage it did. Don’t get me wrong, a solid enjoyable game but a game about going to person A to get something for person B so that they give you something to give to person C so you can do a thing – essentially making a free-form adventure into a bus route with boss fights. Link Between Worlds offers a whole new way of travelling and seeing the world, changing how you interact with the environment so those walls and blocks become relevant, the scenery itself is now a character to you, it matters. I have yet to play this game but I looked into it and I want it – this is a game that defies the standard and messes with it, only a little bit but enough to soften the blow of Hyrule Warriors. Hyrule Warriors was a big change, a whole new experience as a dungeon exploration game suddenly became a hack and slash on epic battlefields ala Koei. Significant difference and a whole new genre, not like Mario Kart was to Super Mario Bros, which was “Stick Mario’s face on a game that’d be plain without it”, this was take two well-established brands, combine and create a whole new way to play. I want this game, as a Koei fanatic and a lover of the older Zelda games, this game is Christmas and Easter in one package. Imagine other franchises honestly being this bold and heck, some are trying what with Sonic Boom reinventing Sonic from scratch. I think this is a good move for Nintendo and from what I’ve seen and heard online, the fans agree

So why Koei? Why their engine? Well mutually beneficial I should suspect, Dynasty Warriors 8 relaunched Dynasty Warriors as a cool game to be seen playing instead of “Oh my god, you play that shit? All you do is mash buttons”. Firstly no but that’s a rant in itself but in the same way Nintendo perfect a formula, Koei perfected a game engine – weapon movesets, crowd rendering, individual animations – Koei has come a long way from a screen of twenty characters staring each other down and slapping each other with swords, now you can be a goddamn titan of destruction raking in thousands of kills. However, Koei uses the same story and retells it, admittedly better each time (Except 8 compared to 7, another story in itself) and what they needed was to use this engine more ambitiously rather than exclusively for games loosely based on history books. A fantasy genre adventure with well-established characters and lore? Jackpot. You take the beautiful world of Hyrule, the finely tuned mechanics of Dynasty Warriors, you get this holy grail of new age gaming. I really want Koei to do more things like this, personally I’d kill a man to see Soulcalibur Warriors become a thing, they already have a moveset for Sophitia from Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, make it happen Koei! I will also settle for some other bad-ass crossovers – Final Fantasy Warriors would rock the world to the core, I shit you not. No more turn-based nonsense, just straight up own those bitches Sephiroth-style (Oh yeah, Koei lets you be the villains, you’d be Sephiroth)

Yeah, this wasn’t so much a rant as a gush and a rave but I don’t always have to be negative y’know? I just really like Hyrule Warriors and want to play it myself so badly, makes me think a Wii U is now a worthy investment, especially with Bayonetta 2 being exclusive to it as well. Ugh, goddamn… modern gaming is often quite stale but Nintendo and Koei know how to reinvent the fucking wheel my friends, it’s happened

Nerdgasm dealt with, sophisticated and eloquent arguments about topical issues will resume as normal in future

E-Gads!

To further promote your image of me as a horrid little troll who lives in the basement feeding off the dead remains of farm animals whilst flicking his snot around the room and calling everything noob, I am an avid gamer and have been ever since I was little. In all fairness, being a ‘gamer’ has become a cooler thing to be as the years have passed and the industry is booming. Could you imagine trying to be a hardcore gamer back in the days where your computer hooked up to your TV set? Fuck yeah, just beat my record at Pong bitches, haters gonna hate! I was born in the nineties so I can almost consider myself as having grown up alongside the video game industry and what started as a cute yet dorky little dysfunctional child/console soon grew up to be something bigger, smarter and with a lot more tricks up his sleeve/disc slot. However, as I reach the period of my life that is full of uncertainty, of opportunities to grasp a hold of and make something of or to fail, I feel that my dear old games consoles have stumbled across an identity crisis themselves. Oh what poor naive children are we, lost and afraid in a modern world.

Let’s start with the console that everybody loves to hate, the latest edition in the XBOX family, XBOX One. Apparently one now comes after three hundred and sixty but then who’s counting. Not Microsoft. Cheap joke but XBOX started out as the green-eyed envy of Bill Gates made into a ‘Kinda like Playstation but chunky and I own it’ deal and from there it went on to become Sony’s main rival. At first when XBOX stormed the scene it sported a wide range of games, mostly aimed towards boys with a fixation on proving how manly they are by rubbing their balls in each other’s faces, and aside from having technical difficulties that became feared as a techno-plague, XBOX and his son 360 took their place on the stand of big-fucking-deal console. I’m sure we are all familiar with the XBOX 360, the console with more shooters on the market than innovative ideas, a fan base mostly consisting of beer-swilling-racial-slur-slinging hoodwinks but with the occasional boffin chucked in on the side because they realised Fallout New Vegas works much better on 360 than on PS3 or they sided with XBOX at the start and won’t change sides from there. XBOX 360 looked like it was going to take itself seriously though, in the long run, and just as it started rolling out games that offered a challenge, it pandered to the family-fun gremlin and boom, Kinect. I have used the Kinect, a god awful piece of shite with a lense that throws a wobbly if you step just half an inch too far one way or the other, like a fascist who has discovered Feng Shui. As the build up to E3 made the new XBOX One out to be some sort of schizophrenic toaster that thinks it’s a cinema system with a social network latched on, Microsoft had a lot of shit to scrape off it’s shoes… It not only failed to this but it planted both feet in the shit and did a merry fucking jig. The XBOX One is essentially that computer from Space Odyssey but it orders pizzas, streams movies and apparently constantly observes your living room for signs of insubordination against the great beings! The camera is constantly on and the console demands you connect online at least once a day or your games will be rendered null and void until you have given a Microsoft executive a thoroughly good hand-job. You can’t trade or buy used games without going through a lengthy procedure and as ever, all the goodies that you actually want your XBOX to do will cost you a modest fee. Joy. I’ve never been a big fan of the XBOX but even XBOX fans have been telling me the new console is a blinking light show that raids your trousers for spare change whilst you’re drearily staring at some heavily armoured space marine with a gun bigger than his own leg.

Sony’s turn now and their entire campaign was mostly ‘Reasons why Microsoft should just quit now’. Sony promised something cheaper, something that is actually turned off when you press the power switch to do so, a more gamer-oriented experience and even did a video to explain how to share games using that age old method of handing the other person the disc. Yup, if Sony wasn’t trying to take a shit on Microsoft’s doorstep then someone please direct them to the bathroom because they left a steamer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA&list=WL6F4BEE00F8B2ED96

Well the PlayStation has had a funny life all things considered, emerging from the darkness to suddenly dethrone Sega and Nintendo as the top dogs of the nineties with a faster and more sleak little number, the PS One (See, they even did the one thing first). Profits swelled and ho-hey, out comes a second PlayStation and this one is black and sexy and it plays DVDs and it has a whole host of games we all know and love. Sure, it now had a rival in Microsoft but it kept going, the ever-reliant oxen of the console world. I think an ox is an apt metaphor, the console won’t break down on you and you can always rely on it to be your humble servant but it’s a bit dopey and it’s potential can only be used to the truest extent provided you know anything about oxen in the first place. The PS3, when it first came out, sold itself on the premise ‘Wait around long enough and we’ll show you something really cool, honestly… keep waiting… keep waiting… seriously, it’ll blow your mind in a few years!’. Unfortunately, Sony spent a fuck ton of money and energy on swagger and forgot to back it up with some real substance so it had a shaky start next to the 360 but then it got into the swing of things and started doing backflips and juggling knives for all the boys and girls. Shooters? Yeah. Party games? Yeah. Hack and slash? Yeah. Games where you play as the animated remains of a wallet dressed in drag and save your patchwork buddies from an anti-social owl? Yeah why not? The PS4 is a step up from there… supposedly, though it couldn’t help getting itself a little touch-screen like his buddy Wii U and now the beloved Dualshock looks hideous, like that girl you used to think was a real stunner until she died her hair the colour of pixie shit and you’re left confused as to what was wrong with brown hair? I’m not sure what to expect of the PS4, they’ve pitched it around an old man’s face and the promise of yet another Final Fantasy game… and Kingdom Hearts apparently.

This leave us with the good old Wii U, the ugly child of the Wii who was the ugly child of Nintendo’s mind finally snapping into a bunch of random squiggles with Mario’s face on. In the usual tradition, Nintendo announced new consoles with old games made a little more shiny as if scared of having new ideas but this is nothing new, the SNES came with a remake of Super Mario Bros for the NES but with cuter graphics. I never understood the direction Nintendo sought to go in. Start from brick with box pad controls, make nicer brick with similar controls, make little box with ergonomically designed controllers, make brick with wand thing, make cute looking brick with Etch-A-Sketch. The Wii U uses two screens, a feature I’m pretty sure almost nobody asked to be incorporated into games. Gee, this HUD display in my shooter game is so conveniently placed right in front of me, I wish someone would get rid of it and put it on my iPad for me to stare at periodically so I can fail to remember whether it was ammo or health items I needed to restock. ¬†You touch a few buttons on the little fella and then your TV makes a sound, the game continues, taking otherwise seamless and smooth game play and then chopping it into jagged chunks. The games roster will be the usual deal, find an old game, advertise it all over again with a heavy dose of nostalgia and then dig up a character from the nineties and remind people that this character is cool. Megaman is back people, he’s in the “New” Super Smash Bros. Game. Nintendo has bought the rights to a few good games though, including Bayonetta 2 unfortunately (I say this as it’s a Wii U exclusive and how that will work is a mystery to me). All in all, the Wii U will assume the position previously filled by the Wii – an ever-so-charming box of wonders suited to gamers of all ages that occasionally pisses out ¬†sentimental memories of Sonic the Hedgehog all over the rug. D’awwwwww Nintendo, you little cutie!

I can’t help but feel an age of gaming has passed as consoles compete like bickering old ladies in a bingo parlour only to find that all three have shat themselves and there never was a bingo parlour, they’re sat in a pub in Hull. The games console isn’t a games console any more, that’s not what comes first. Your console is a cinema system, a fast-food order machine, an internet browser, a free international phone service, a social network provider, a photo album, your Netflix subscription and YouTube all rolled into one and it kinda feels a bit weird. Before gaming became a big deal and a big money-maker the rules were simple.
‘This console plays games that have this console’s names written on it. You buy games at a store, you put them in the console, you have fun, you get bored, you buy or trade for new games and repeat until you are bored of console. If you want to watch TV, watch TV on the TV, not on console. Console play game? Yeah?’
Ignoring how I suddenly devolved from fluent English to Engrish as the sarcasm actually cannibalised my brain cells for a moment, I hope I make a point. However, once anything makes a name for itself it becomes an udder you milk for money until the cow explodes. The consoles cost the same as a decent used car nowadays so maybe for that kinda money we should expect this little flashing box of giggles to offer us pizza now and then, or replace the DVD player. Easy fix there though would be just build something that is a generic disc-recipient that plays back what is on the disc and that’s it, cut the price down a bit!

Not how it works is it? Well I thought I’d let you all know console wise, I side with PS3. Not PS4, because unlike most people I don’t just have the money to get a new console on a whim and if I did, I’d spend it on something more useful. The PS3 is fine, it works, it is a good console with more than enough games and I have a PS2 for the PS2 games, the PS3 plays PS1 games for whatever reason so yeah. I’ve never owned an XBOX though I have lived in a household that owned a 360 for a few months and found it to be an up and down experience. My friends were all XBOX or Wii fans back in the day so I’ve spent a minimum of about twenty-four hours on each of the major consoles of this generation. I like my PS3 best, not out of that stupid ‘My parents got me the PlayStation, please can it be the best console so I don’t regret asking for it instead of the XBOX?’ logic that many gamers go by but mostly because a number of Dynasty Warriors games are PlayStation exclusive and considering how it defined my childhood, I stick by PlayStation. Cue hate from gamers calling the series a dull button mashing splorge fest in a historic setting, so sue me for enjoying something. If you are ten years old and you witness a guy in red and gold armour swing a halberd around and effortlessly destroy an entire army, that quickly sells to you.

I hope that come what may, we will never lose sight of the joy of slapping the old disc in a console and sitting down with a remote ready to immerse ourselves in a zombie apocalypse, a ninja showdown or the adventures of a stuffed animal in the land of milk and honey. Once that’s gone, I’ll just say fuck it to the lot of it and live out the rest of my gaming days on outdated consoles quite happily.