Bayonetta (ベヨネッタ, Bayonetta) is a character and newcomer in Super Smash Bros. 4, and is the seventh and final downloadable character. She was announced alongside Corrin during the Super Smash Bros. - Final Video Presentation on December 15th, 2015 and both were released on February 3rd, 2016. She is the sixth third-party character to be introduced in SSB4, following fellow SEGA character Sonic, Capcom's Mega Man and Ryu, Bandai Namco's Pac-Man and Square Enix's Cloud. Bayonetta was added to the game as the winner of the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, being the highest-voted character in Europe and among the top 5 in North America, making her the overall #1 worldwide among realizable characters. Her default appearance is based on her redesign for Bayonetta 2, but with slightly modified proportions, most notably in her height. Bayonetta's English voice actress, Hellena Taylor, and her Japanese voice actress, Atsuko Tanaka, both reprise their roles in Super Smash Bros. 4.
Bayonetta currently ranks 1st out of 58 on the tier list, making her the highest-ranked DLC character, newcomer, and third-party character. Bayonetta's top placing is primarily due to her powerful combo game; almost all of her attacks can reliably combo into one another, leading to powerful 50/50 mixups at high percentages, and she even has zero-to-death potential. Furthermore, a majority of her best KO attacks can be easily comboed into, and she can also start combos by using Witch Time or Bat Within on opponents who make mistakes, giving her a safe approach; further bolstering her approach is a number of decent zoning options, such as Bullet Climax and her unique Bullet Arts. Bayonetta also boasts a long, safe recovery with both After Burner Kick and Witch Twist granting significant distance, directional flexibility, and enormous hitboxes, which is further supplemented with her ability to wall jump and wall cling. She herself is capable of edge-guarding many characters with her quick aerials, including several which can become sex kicks if held and a number of powerful grounded options as well, such as a large and powerful meteor smash in her down smash.
Bayonetta's primary flaw is her poor frame data on the ground, with many of her grounded attacks coming out on frame 9 or later, as well as frequently having high cooldown lag, especially on her smash attacks. Some of her specials gain more landing lag the more she uses them in the air, making her landings relatively exploitable if her combos whiff. Furthermore, despite her long recovery, Bayonetta is still considered a lightweight, and when considering her large hurtbox, she is easier to hit and KO than most other characters. Finally, players must exercise caution with her Witch Time, due to its poor effectiveness on multi-hitting moves, and its lowering efficiency if used too often.
Bayonetta has historically achieved excellent tournament results and representation, even after she received infamous nerfs in 1.1.6, with Pink Fresh winning 2GGT: KTAR Saga with her, along with players like Saj and Wonf placing high in nationals such as CEO 2016 and Smash Factor 5 respectively, while Salem most notably achieved success in KTAR XVIII and won EVO 2017.
Bayonetta, much like in her home series, is a combo-heavy fighter, with many multi-hitting attacks and chainable moves. Unlike Ryu, Bayonetta specializes in aerial combos that consist of fewer hits, with her special moves being a main component in many of them. However, she shares a similar problem with Ryu in that her overall mobility is just average, with a slow walking speed, average dashing, below average air speed, but she has high air acceleration, jump force, falling speed (the ninth fastest), and gravity, attributes similar most other combo-based characters. Similar to Sheik, she is also tall and light, which when combined with her fast falling speed and high gravity makes her a rather frail fighter overall.
Bayonetta's greatest and most defining strength is her infamous punishment game, unarguably the best among the entire cast. One of its components is a special mechanic, Bullet Arts, where holding the attack/special button during many of her attacks extends the ending animation to allow her to shoot. Depending on how long the relevant button is held, Bayonetta will fire up to ten (with some exceptions) invisible bullets from each used gun with no hitstun (unless the opponent is at a point blank position), and have long range (about the size of half of Final Destination) as a way to rack up damage. Most of these bullets are arced in the direction that her attack faces her, while many shoot bullets in separate directions, such as her down tilt (forward and backwards). With this in effect, Bayonetta has the potential to deal more than standard damage should her Bullet Arts connect. Tapping the attack button again during Bullet Arts transitions to the next move in her attack chain (if applicable), but she must do this before she twirls her guns to put them to rest (signifying the end of her combo). Bullets are also considered to be disjointed hitboxes attached to her, leaving them as unreflectable. With this ability, she has a very good damage racking game, and can camp to force opposing approaches by dealing chip damage at a distance, or simply hold down the attack button after a whiffed aerial attack to pelt opponents with minor damage, making a missed attack less of a detriment for her compared to other fighters, and granting her a good neutral game. Bayonetta also has a more traditional projectile variant in her neutral special, Bullet Climax. Unlike Bullet Arts, it has visible bullets, but they cause hitstun and can be charged to increase their power, making them usable to edgeguard recovering opponents.
However, the most notable point of Bayonetta's punishment game resides in her combo game. All of her moves possess very large range and up tilt, down tilt, up throw, forward aerial's first hit and Heel Slide serve as good combo starters; they all launch opponents into the air, where from there she can mix and match her aerials, such as aerial attacks (most notably multiple forward aerials), Witch Twist, and After Burner Kick, which can result in massive damage and can wall of pain or even zero-death opponents. This also gives her a good edge-guarding game, especially with a powerful back aerial, a neutral and up aerial that can frame-trap recovering opponents, and a meteor smash in down aerial that is incredibly powerful even at low percentages and surprisingly recoverable for a stall-then-fall. Her down special, Witch Time, is also a staple on her moveset: it is a counterattack with very fast startup that, if landed, it slows down targets to 1/8 of their speed and leaves them extremely wide open to her combos or charged smash attacks (though the opponent takes a reduced damage multiplier of x1.2 for smash attacks, and it does not negate lingering hitboxes that can interrupt her attempt to counterattack). Using Witch Time wisely is crucial to victory, as it can decide the outcome of the opponent and even turn the tides of the match instantly if the opponent is careless. She also benefits from her unique safety net in Bat Within, which negates all knockback and reduces damage for attacks that would have hit her if her counter activates too late or during the starting frames of any of her dodging methods. The latter essentially gives Bayonetta a frame 1 air dodge and sidestep, and a frame 3 roll, breaking many combos that would otherwise be true on other characters regardless of their escape options. Furthermore, Bat Within enables Bayonetta to teleport in a given (usually more favorable) position, enabling her to punish her attacker afterwards if used wisely, although it often moves her too far to exploit her opponent's vulnerability.
In regards to the potency of her moveset, Bayonetta has some notably strong and/or useful attacks that can help her close out stocks once the opponent is at high damage, even more so with the help of her Witch Time, which serves as the glue on her surplus punishment game. All of her smash attacks are powerful and useful, with forward smash having the biggest hitbox out of them, up smash being the fastest and strongest, and down smash being a meteor smash that serves as an extremely useful edgeguarding move. Her up aerial is her main aerial to KO out of her combos, as they often take the opponent to the upper blast line, where she can finish the combo off with the up aerial to net a relatively early KO. Back aerial, while having slow startup, is her most powerful and damaging one and has long range, and can be used to finish an opponent in a similar vein to her up aerial, through the use of a combo that carries the opponent to the lateral blast lines. Down aerial's notably high base knockback often KOs opponents at very low percentages if they are below or at the stage's height. Her forward throw is strong, though due to it launching opponents at a slightly high angle and being commonly used, it can often fail to KO, and thus it is one of her last resort KOing options. Witch Twist is also infamous for causing very early KOs due to the hits' high base knockback. To complement her punishment game, her recovery is among the most flexible in the game, as After Burner Kick gives her fair horizontal distance, and while Witch Twist comes up vertically short, she can re-use it after a midair jump. Her wall jump/cling also helps her recovery and can often leave the opponent on an unfavorable position. She can also use Witch Twist, double jump, Witch Twist again up to three frames after, and restore her double jump, allowing her to mix-up her recovery. Her punish game also complements her recovery, as the immense range of her special attacks allows her to easily edge-guard break opponents, and edgeguard or even KO them in return. Thus, like Sheik, Bayonetta is among the hardest characters to successfully edgeguard, with very few characters such as Palutena having options that can keep her away from the stage.
Even with her set of strengths, Bayonetta has some weaknesses that are quite exploitable. Her tall frame and light weight makes her rather easy to combo and KO (though it is worth mentioning she technically has a frame 1 air dodge, making her harder to combo by characters whose combo ability isn't perfectly linear). Her frame data is also quite polarized: while her aerial attacks have very low ending lag, many of her grounded attacks have notable start-up and ending lag, especially her smash attacks, making them unsafe on shield, and leaves her vulnerable to opponents that have better frame data than her while grounded, like Pikachu or Little Mac. Her smash attacks also do not terminate on hit, rendering them unable to hit any character with an active hitbox, while being unable to trade with most attacks if they make contact with her. Her position after performing After Burner Kick and/or Witch Twist in the air can be exploitable, as the more of these moves she uses in the air, the longer landing lag she will receive at the end, leaving Bayonetta punishable if they are whiffed and if she is forced to land on the ground. Despite Bullet Arts granting her a relatively good neutral game, her approach is fairly poor, as her few options in dash attack, dash grab and Heel Slide are predictable. Despite her abundance of KOing options, she is reliant on Witch Time to land her smash attacks, spacing to land her aerials, on forward throw to KO the opponent if her level of rage is high, and her combos to carry the opponent to the blast lines and KO them with an aerial attack. When it comes to escape her combos, Bayonetta has a 2.0× SDI multiplier on her multi-hit/combo moves, causing her combos to fail if the player doesn't read their opponent's DI and SDI, and this causes her zero-death combos to get stale. Her rolls, sidestep, and air dodge all have noticeable ending lag (though her rolls end three frames earlier than Samus's), and the former two also have among the slowest start-ups out of all the characters in terms of invincibility. Witch Twist doesn't travel much vertical distance on its own, making her recovery short-ranged if she doesn't use or has already used her second jump or her After Burner Kick. Finally, she lacks customs specials, like the other DLC characters, though due to the huge utility her special moveset has, it is more of a nuisance to her.
Overall, Bayonetta's strengths noticeably outweigh her weaknesses. She can dish out large amounts of punishing damage in her combos once she reads the opponent and exploits their vulnerabilities, but must also be careful not to let her opponent take advantage of her own weaknesses, though due to the high range and priority her attacks have, doing so is a difficult task to begin with. Perhaps the only characters that she has problems against are those who can camp well against her, or have much a much better neutral game than she does, such as Rosalina & Luma for the former point and Sheik for the latter one, but outside of that, she can easily dominate and punish characters who cannot properly capitalize on her weaknesses. She has arguably the highest tournament representation among the entire roster, with smashers including 9B, Captain Zack, Pink Fresh, Salem and Saj having used her with consistently strong results in regional and national tournaments. However, while Bayonetta was quickly considered the best character in the game upon release, opinions varied on how dominating she was in tournaments; while some regions went as far as to ban her from tournaments due to her overpowering potential, others claimed that Bayonetta's supposed potential did not yield the overwhelming success other characters had previously attained, such as Sheik and Diddy Kong. Update 1.1.6 ultimately nerfed a variety of Bayonetta's attributes, putting her more in line with the rest of the cast; while not significantly crippled, her tournament representation and results both fell in response. Despite these nerfs, her excellent tournament results have led to her being widely seen as the best character in the game and one of the most competitively viable characters in the entire roster when her high learning curve is properly mastered to her fullest.
Bayonetta has been noticeably nerfed in game updates since her debut. She was at first slightly nerfed in 1.1.5: her up and forward smash are slightly weaker, her down aerial's animation has more ending lag, her Heel Slide has more ending lag, and her infamous Witch Time has more ending lag, shorter duration, decays more with each use, and has a slower regeneration rate after usage. However, these changes did not reduce her effectiveness as she was still widely perceived as the best character in the game due to her immense strengths, while the effectiveness of other top tier characters, notably Sheik and Zero Suit Samus, being toned down in the same patch further exacerbated her dominance.
However, 1.1.6 significantly nerfed Bayonetta by directly worsening her combo game, with the effectiveness of her combo starters being weakened and her combos becoming easier in general to escape: her down tilt and forward aerial both have slightly more ending lag, while the former has less range and the latter is less powerful, both versions of After Burner Kick and Witch Twist have doubled SDI multipliers that make it easier to escape her combos, non-input ABK has increased knockback scaling that renders it worse for comboing at high percents, input ABK has a much worse launch angle that outright removes nearly all of her zero-to-death combos and makes it easier to DI (now only works if the opponent has poor DI towards her), and Witch Twist has altered knockback values that limit its combo ability at higher percentages. Despite these changes, however, people have compared her to Diddy Kong in that while she initially seemed to be much less effective after her nerfs, her greatest strengths have remained intact. As a result, while she is no longer the best character in the game by a considerable margin, she is still a very popular and successful character in competitive play.
Bullet Arts deal 0.5% each, and can be used after the initial animation of almost every attack. The rapid firing can be held for a few seconds, and the bullets have moderate range. However, in stark comparison to their appearance in the Bayonetta series, the bullets themselves are actually invisible, since their hitboxes are similar to a grab aerial's instead of a typical projectile's. The bullets cause flinching at point-blank range, but otherwise deal no hitstun, much like Fox's Blaster. Thus, they can be used to essentially "steal" KOs in timed matches.
Technically, the bullets are not projectiles, but rather indirect attacks with large disjointed hitboxes. As such, they cannot be reflected or blocked by the Hylian/Hero's Shields, though they can be slowed down by another Bayonetta using Witch Time. Bullet Arts are also capable of traveling through multiple characters at once, and thus will hit anyone or anything in their line of fire.
Bat Within (バットウィズイン, Bat Within) is Bayonetta's other signature mechanic, based on the defensive technique of the same name.
Bat Within activates when Bayonetta is hit by an attack early during rolls, sidesteps, or air dodges, or late during Witch Time. Nimble/Dodgy Dodger Equipment does not affect this window. When this happens, Bayonetta transforms into a flock of bats, halves the amount of damage inflicted, and continues moving in the direction she was traveling; for a roll, she will advance in the same direction, and for a sidestep or after Witch Time, she will stay in place. She can travel in any direction if done during her air dodge, but needs to have jumped prior if she wants to rise with it.
When Bat Within is activated, she endures some ending lag, meaning that it is possible to extend a combo on her if it was activated by a faster attack or a long-lasting, multiple hitting attack. While Bat Within makes Bayonetta's rolls, sidestep and air dodge appear to be the best in the game, each of them possess noticeable ending lag. To compound this, several characters, such as Duck Hunt and Mewtwo, have rolls, sidesteps, or air dodges that start up just 1 frame later without being nearly as vulnerable at the end.
Bat Within also has the distinction of being treated as a counterattack that does not strike back; therefore, it does not trigger against grabs, Final Smashes, or unblockable attacks. Although difficult, it is possible to simultaneously activate both Witch Time and Bat Within if Bayonetta is struck precisely when their activation windows overlap. However, doing this is actually a hindrance, as she will still receive halved damage while Witch Time's slowdown effect on the opponent is reduced.
In competitive play
Tier placement, history and tournament bans in various regions
Bayonetta was, along with Corrin, one of the only two characters to miss on the first 4BR tier list, due to them being available two days after the tier list was released. Her initial perception on the community has been, however, positive since the game's release, albeit in a controversial way. Players pointed out her abundance of strengths, namely her extremely strong combo game with zero to death potential, her excellent recovery, a decent neutral game despite her average mobility, the strength of her moveset despite being a light character alongside guaranteed KO setups with Witch Time, and the ability to punish the opponent for trying to punish her due to the former move. Despite her strengths being slightly toned down in update 1.1.5, the nerfs to Sheik and Zero Suit Samus further bolstered the controversy surrounding her, and people stated she was too good in competitive play while comparing her to Brawl's Meta Knight, and certain regions even had officially or considered banning the character from their tournaments. Regions stated that unlike Sheik before update 1.1.5, "she is very simple to pick up". Following update 1.1.6, after the tremendous nerfs she received, all of the regions that had banned have removed the ban since then, while any region that had considered her ban also desisted after said update.
Even so, while her perception suddenly dropped in the eyes of many smashers, it became positive again due to the smashers that kept maining her in competitive play adapting to a newer, more creative playstyle, similar to Diddy Kong after update 1.0.8. While her results were initially not as amazing as before, her strong tournament representation and results culminated in her being placed at 11th place on the second 4BR tier list. Said tournament representation and results would become even more bountiful as time passed, in particular due to Salem, Captain Zack, Pink Fresh and Saj's strong results within their regions, with the former two also making it to Top 8 at two major tournaments. As a result of this, she now holds the 1st placing on the current tier list (in another similarity to Diddy Kong with the previous tier list); this tier rise is the second largest between the second and third tier lists, with people stating that while the nerfs did make a difference in how simple it was to pick her up, they didn't hold her back from being considered one of the best characters in the game. Despite this, opinions on Bayonetta's placing were mixed, as some people were in favor of her taking the first spot, whereas others stated against her that her dominance was still not as high as other characters like Diddy Kong and Sheik. Recently, however, Salem has won two recent major tournaments in EVO 2017 and DreamHack Atlanta 2017, which has influenced said perception to now fully lean towards her placing being accurate.
Banned (lifted after 1.1.6)
In addition to the normal three fighter trophies, Bayonetta has an additional trophy of her design from the original Bayonetta game.
Bayonetta's default outfit is based on her appearance in Bayonetta 2 and is equipped with Love is Blue. She has an alternate outfit based on her appearance in the original Bayonetta, known as "A Witch With No Memories", and is equipped with Scarborough Fair. Depending on the costume, various visual effects will be one of two colors (which directly correlates to the aesthetic theme of both Bayonetta games): Blue for Bayonetta 2 and red for Bayonetta. One of Bayonetta's alternate outfit color schemes is based on Jeanne, her childhood friend and friendly rival. While using Jeanne's color scheme, Bayonetta's Smash attacks as well as her final smash will have the hair surrounding Madama Butterfly's limbs and Gomorrah colored white.
Her appearance while doing Wicked Weaves (summoning Madama Butterfly in her smash attacks and summoning Gomorrah in Infernal Climax) is less revealing than in the Bayonetta games, as she retains most of her clothing while performing them.
In the Japanese version of the game, Bayonetta is voiced in Japanese by Atsuko Tanaka while wearing her Bayonetta 2 outfit and in English by Hellena Taylor while wearing her original outfit, making her the the only character who speaks a different language depending on the costume. This references the fact that Bayonetta did not have Japanese voice acting in its initial release; Japanese dubbing was introduced for the Wii U version after Hideki Kamiya was impressed with the Japanese voice-acting done for the animated movie: Bayonetta: Bloody Fate.
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