Bayonetta 3’s Censorship Option Is A Funny Dig At America’s PC Culture


Platinum Games and Nintendo revealed the release date for the upcoming action game Bayonetta 3 today.

The game is set to release on Nintendo Switch on October 28th, so get ready for some witchy angel-killing from our favorite BDSM antihero.

Bayonetta is one of those terrific characters who manages to be a sex symbol and empowering to women all at the same time. She has guns in her high heels and her outfit is made out of her magical hair, which is why as she jumps around and uses her magic hair powers, sometimes you catch a glimpse of skin.

Honestly, it’s not only very clever character design, it’s turned into one of the best (and sexiest) action game franchises out there, with a powerful female protagonist who kicks the crap out of wicked angelic forces and never flinches from a scrap.

So, naturally, it’s incurred the wrathful scolding of various stuffy game journalists and the occasional angry parent or politician—in spite of the fact that the character was at least in part designed by a woman (the character was created jointly by Hideki Kamiya—a man—and Mari Shimazaki—a woman—but is obviously the product of a large team of creative and technical wizards).

For anyone still convinced by these arguments, I will point you to this Paste Magazine article by Maddy Myers who takes aim at the concept of the “male gaze” and how game criticism still isn’t ready for deep discussions about topics like ‘sex positivity’ and so forth (though one would have hoped we’d come a a long ways since the article was written, I’m not sure we have).

In one particularly salient passage, Myers points out that American culture itself is partly the culprit for the stuffy interpretations of Bayonetta as some kind of male-gaze-sex-object:


“Part of the bias against Bayonetta is due to our own anti-sex baggage as a society (at least, here in the States)—but an even bigger part, I think, is that videogame criticism just isn’t ready to talk about Bayonetta. You can tell, given critics’ frequent usage of the phrase “male gaze,” that we’re still a little bit far behind when it comes to understanding feminist media criticism, and the concept of sex-positivity in general might be a little too advanced in level for game criticism.

“What would a game with a female heroine who has actual sexual agency even look like? Would we know it if we saw it? Would we be able to recognize it, if we put it on a shelf between Dante’s Inferno and Killer Is Dead? Am I ever going to stop being annoyed when I see supposedly progressive male games critics arguing on Twitter about which sexually empowered women in games do or do not make them feel uncomfortable? FYI, men? I’m pretty sure Bayonetta doesn’t care if you like it. And I know Hideki Kamiya doesn’t.”

In the third Bayonetta game, Platinum Games has included a new self-censorship option that let’s you turn off the bits where Bayonetta shows skin whilst twirling her magical hair and adds more clothing to other characters with skimpier outfits as well.

Several thoughts here:

  • I vastly prefer a self-censorship option over Sony’s recent approach, which is basically to censor the crap out of anything headed to the West compared to its Japanese equivalent. This has become the norm with Sony’s localization efforts and has affected some Nintendo games as well, with localizers taking out bits that they assume some Americans might find offensive. Self-censorship keeps that in players’ hands and is something we’ve seen with game violence in titles like Call Of Duty which allow you to turn off blood and gore for younger or more sensitive players.
  • I still prefer no censorship at all because kids will always find a way to access inappropriate content and we shouldn’t be so fussy about it and shelter them from everything. And if you’re a fully grown adult offended by this stuff maybe play something else. It’s not that hard. There are like 20 billion video games out there now.
  • Finally, this mode is called Naïve Angel Mode which is absolutely hilarious. What else has the initials NA? North America! This has to be a dig at North American audiences and the ridiculous PC censoriousness that’s cropped up here over the last decade or so. There’s no way they came up with this and it just coincidentally has the same initials as North America. I love it. It reminds me of games that make fun of you for choosing Easy Mode. Wolfenstein: The New Orders easiest mode is called “Can I Play, Daddy?” for instance. But this is the first time I’ve seen a Japanese game outright mock American culture for being so censorious while still giving the scolds among us something they’ve been asking for all these years.

Bravo, Platinum Games! We salute you!

Bayonetta 3 is out on Switch on October 28th and I am ready for it, though I wish it was coming to platforms with better graphics. Too bad nobody other than Nintendo would fund the sequels! Maybe someday they’ll start making PC ports of some of these games.


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