The presentation is from...
Devil May Cry
Bayonetta is clearly similar to Devil May Cry in its third-person fighting/shooting action – we know that. It's made by the same guy, after all. But so many idiosyncrasies, from the brief pause and explanation screen when you first pick up an item to the magical locked arena exits, are virtually identical.
Above: A hand, a golden disc... cleverly disguised, but totally recycled
Witch Time is from...
It may be triggered slightly differently (although dodging an attack properly is just as well-rewarded in both games), but Bayonetta's slow-motion Witch Time is clearly borrowed from Hideki Kamiya's other superb action game, Viewtiful Joe. Both screens go blue, both have increased graphical effects and both allow you to put the boot in hard. You can even knock fireballs right back at your enemy in Bayonetta, just like the bullets in Viewtiful Joe.
Above: Blue screen, Slower enemies, character motion blur... same effect
QTEs are from...
Sure, they're more like those from God of War in their epicness, but Quick Time Events were actually invented by Apple. Nah, just kidding – they were first introduced in Shenmue, but used to great effect here.
Above: Evolution of the QTE: Shenmue, God of War and Bayonetta
Not to mention sly nods to...
Some of the game references like the Space Harrier level are easy to spot. But what about that motorbike stage? An obscure cel-shaded coin-op it may be, but Sega's Wild Riders dodge move is identical to Bayonetta's. This sort of thing is rife throughout the entire game and it's a lot of fun to hunt them all out.
Above: Anyone else spot this one? Bayonetta apes Wild Riders' slide
So why's Bayonetta such a big deal?
Because it takes all of these ideas, turns them up to 11 and adds a fiercely sassy female lead who summons forth demons with her hair. Anyone can imitate, but Bayonetta simply does virtually all of it better than anyone else. And Kamiya's hardly imitating when he made half of those old games anyway, is he?