The closure of Capcom's Clover Studio - the division responsible for the likes of Viewtiful Joe, Okami and God Hand - was met with plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth among gamers. That's understandable - studios creating high-profile original games aren't exactly ten a penny, after all. Still, just because Clover's doors were shut last March doesn't mean that the creative talent that fuelled the studio dissipated. Instead, the key players reformed as a development company called Seeds, Inc - which was subsequently renamed to PlatinumGames Inc.
Which brings us to today. In search of a source of original IP to shore up a side of its business that's seen as lacking, resurgent publisher SEGA has jumped into the gap left by Capcom's abandonment of Clover's talent. Signing a four-game deal with PlatinumGames, SEGA has in a single move added a raft of games to its line-up from some of the best-known creative names in the Japanese market. Not bad.
What's more, we can tell you about three of those games right now. A fourth game, which is being directed by Shinji Mikami (you know, him who created Resident Evil), remains under wraps for now, but there's plenty to be excited about in the first three, all of which are being produced by Atsushi Inaba, former CEO of Clover. Without further ado...
This is the first game Platinum had to show off, and while the video trailer we saw was brief and somewhat abstract, it laid out the stall for this PS3 and 360 game pretty effectively. It's got a lithe, athletic young lady shooting the hell out of a suspiciously demonic-looking beast, then flipping around like a mentalist, kicking it in the head... And shooting it again for good measure, using a gun mounted in her enormous high heels.
Ridiculous? Of course - deliciously so. Not that that should come as a surprise, once you discover that the game is directed by none other than Hideki Kamiya, a man whose previous credits include directing the likes of Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe and Okami.
It's the Devil May Cry background that shines through most clearly here, and Kamiya himself freely acknowledges that. Announced as the creator of Devil May Cry, he's quick to point out that the action genre (or at least, that specific niche of the action genre) really hasn't moved on since the original Devil May Cry. Bayonetta, he reckons, won't just be another "stylish action" game - it'll take the genre to the next level entirely.
Details, man, details! Okay - it transpires that the central character, the eponymous Bayonetta, is actually a witch who's been resurrected in the present day. For reasons as-yet unclear, she's got to battle a host of angels (we've got a pleasantly blasphemous feeling about this one), and along the way, she'll be using an assortment of ballistic weapons, with those ludicrous high-heel guns being a key part of the arsenal, and a major aspect of the gameplay.
That's about as much as we know about Bayonetta so far, but as Platinum's only announced "hi-def" project, plenty of attention is bound to be focused on the game. Despite the DMC style, Kamiya is also a director who's proved that he can do more than just returning to his previous glories, and who's comfortable working across a variety of genres - so who knows, this could really be the (gun-heeled) kick in the backside that the action genre needs.