So, I told myself last week that I was done blogging about Bayonetta 2. It was time to move on, I said, and despite the fact that I’ve played little else since the game was released, surely I had said all I could on the subject. It’s a brilliant game, and after all, there are only so many synonyms for brilliant on Thesaurus.com. But, as I sat down to think of something to write for this week, I could think of little else.
So, here we are. Talking about Bayonetta 2 once again. Specifically, its ranking system.
If you’ve never played a Platinum Games’ game (and yes, this phrasing amuses me) before, firstly, shame on you, and secondly, here is how the game is structured. The games tend to have a large number of levels, and each level is divided into encounters with monsters. The name of these encounters varies from game to game (Missions in The Wonderful 101, to Verses in Bayonetta). Each encounter has a set number of enemies to defeat, whether a small legion of weaklings or a giant boss. And at the end of each encounter, you’re graded on your performance based on three simple-to-understand criteria:
- The length and duration of your combo.
- The amount of time it took to defeat all enemies.
- The damage taken during the battle.
The amount of points you earn in each of these criteria is then scored to give you a grade for that encounter, ranging from Stone (you suck) to Pure Platinum (you rock!). At the end of the level, each encounter’s score is tallied together to give you a kind of “Final grade” for the level.
These rankings never hinder your progress in the game, and they rarely affect anything other than special unlocks. And with Platinum Games’ games being unforgiving and very challenging, it’s very likely that your first foray into this wonderful world of video gaming will result in low ranks.
For some people, this becomes a kind of disheartening feature, reminding them of how much they suck at video games. I’m inclined to agree with that idea. This does show that you suck at these games. But rather than get disheartened by it, I welcome the challenge. Yes, I suck at this game now. But I’ll get better.
You can play through a Platinum Games’ game and entirely ignore the rankings. That’s fine. But if you do, you’re missing out on a whole new level of challenge and gameplay. See, these games are made to be replayed multiple times. Because, by the time you get to the end of the game, you are far better at the game than you were when you started. And if you were to go back and try an earlier level, your ranking would go up. It’s a tangible measure of progress, and while you may not have mastered the game, you at least can measure your improvement.
My first playthrough of the original Bayonetta resulted in many Stone rankings. But I kept at it, and managed to get those scores higher and higher. In Bayonetta 2, I’ve earned almost always gold and platinums, and upon clearing the story, I went back to earlier levels and raised my ranking. Now, I learn nothing less than platinum ranks, even on higher difficulties.
It just required practice.
Too many games, I feel, are designed to empower the player. They are designed to make you feel like a badass without doing much more than just going where the game says to and doing the thing. Their systems aren’t complicated, and the game never begs you to master it. There’s no challenge, because the game is too concerned with making you “look cool.”
Bayonetta 2 makes you look cool. But before you can do so, you have to master its systems. It’s a game that rewards practice, and makes you earn your badassery. It’s a system that keeps on giving the more you put into it.
It’s a type of game philosophy I can really get behind.
Did this make sense to you? :) Do you agree with this thought process, or do you like the illusion that you are good at the game? Let’s talk about it! With these posts, I’m finding that my views are more and more in the minority opinion of video gamers, something I find fascinating. Let’s discuss!