Poor Wii U, a misunderstood system that could go down as one of Nintendo’s biggest failures despite having several great games, including former exclusive Bayonetta 2.
Unquestionably, Bayonetta 2 was the one game non-system owners envied the most. The original was a cult classic and many had long given up on a sequel when PlatinumGames moved onto other projects. Originally, it was only part-funded by SEGA, and when internal issues started to affect the project, production was halted. Fortunately, Nintendo stepped in to cover the rest, and now the rights of the game belong to both former rivals.
It’s been a rocky road for the Umbra Witch and despite the fact that the game almost never happened, we’re very glad it did. Bayonetta 2 is a wholly faithful sequel, directed in much the same way with film reels acting as cutscenes, action-packed bloodbaths making up the bulk of the action, plenty of innuendoes, and a whole load of wasted ammunition. Ugh, see what playing these games has done to me!
One for the classics? Get the Bayonetta 1 Switch Review here
Enzo hasn’t stopped reeling off his ‘woe is me’ speeches and you’ll still get to visit good old Rodin at the Gates of Hell and supply him with LPs to gain some delicious treasures, as well as buy new items, techniques and weapons to stock up your arsenal. Even the Scoring and Trophy system plays out in much the same way, with the game grading your performance throughout.
The differences – apart from the fact our beloved Umbra Witch has sliced off her raven-locks – is that Bayonetta 2 is a much more well-rounded, fleshed out and developed game as opposed to its predecessor. Rather than just blast through scene after scene, watch a cutscene, buy some stuff, then move onto the next chapter, Bayonetta 2 practically encourages you to stick around, explore and make the most of your time in the game. There’s hidden verses to start with, encouraging you to not only fight everything you see, but to check out every nook and cranny before moving on. These can give you a sweet bonus at the end of each stage and really boost your score and currency.
And by exploring, you’re also likely to come across new Muspelheim portals – replacing Alfheim from Bayonetta 1 – which take you to various unique challenges throughout the game. They start off simply: kill all the enemies within the time limit and use your witch time ability. But then they gradually get tougher, for instance you have to use the same combo to defeat all enemies on the screen, or kill everyone without touching the ground. Apart from the usual halos, you can also get pieces of a broken witches heart. Make up four – ala Zelda – and your health bar capacity increase. Same with Moon Pearl fragments, collect enough of these and Bayonetta’s magic improves.
Speaking of her magic, Bayonetta doesn’t just get to transform into a Panther but also a sea snake, meaning she can boost through the water at an accelerated pace. Using her dark magic, she is also able to summon unearthly abominations to contend against her enemies, known as Umbran Climax, and sometimes even allows you to control them. She can even jump into machinery or armour at certain points in the game and use those attacks to beat her enemies into a pulp.
The game is also much prettier and more graphically intense. In handheld mode, the performance does suffer a little bit when compared to the original Bayonetta – which is absolutely seamless – and there are a couple of drops in frame rate, though nothing that severely affects performance. In many ways, though, Bayonetta 2 almosts serves better as a docked experience on a big screen TV to get the full effect and appreciation of the game’s quality, in addition to the smoother frame rate. The set-pieces are bigger, more dramatic and intense, the summonings are occasionally jaw-dropping, and the way the perspective of the environment alters can evolve the nature of gameplay. For instance, running up a wall and jumping onto its roof or backflipping onto the ground. If you thought Bayonetta 1 was loud, brash, and in your face, this takes things two levels above!
Bayonetta 2 even has full amiibo support and is compatible with most types. For instance, we tapped both a Yoshi and Mario Amiibo to the game and got some sweet rewards like a Mandragora Root, Unicorn Horn and Baked Gecko, in addition to some Halos. The game also leaves quirky, fun messages for you relevant to the particular character you’re scanning. For instance, it says of Yoshi ‘I hear they’ve got a saddle so comfortable, it’ll calm down even the loudest cryin’ baby. They spin some crazy yarn there too, ya know?’ It’s cute.
Also new to the Switch version is Tag Battle Climax which enables you to either connect locally to another Switch with a copy of the game or play with the CPU. You can also go online and play with a friend in what are, essentially, wave-based challenges, similar to those found in the Muspelheim portals. The aim is to perform the best by not taking damage and producing the best combos. You can place bets on each fight to gain more rewards and make the fights tougher, but obviously if you lose the halos go with you. I’ve managed to get in a couple of games with the CPU and thoroughly enjoyed the mode, but have yet to test out the online or local component due to a lack of activity on the server and a lack of … um … well … local buddies with a Switch. But I’ll be sure to update this review with some more detailed impressions on the mode once I’ve been able to see it in action.
Much like the Bayonetta 1 port, the touch screen is fully operational in Bayonetta 2 from start to finish and works a treat. It’s still not my preferred way to play but it’s fully functional, responsive, generally accurate, and can be a fun way to play if family members, loved ones or friends are tired of you ‘button mashing’. Not that I’m suggesting this is based on personal experience…
Even the HD rumble is used smartly, giving you the slightest clue when to evade an enemies attack and reverberating gently in the background as you slice, dice, and unlock full clips into anything that stands in your way.
So, yes, Bayonetta 2 is big, bold and beautiful in so many different ways. The enemies react accordingly to your strategies, boss battles can offer a nice challenge while also being great fun to be a part of. The game’s action even takes cues from the narrative by making Bayonetta’s nemesis noticeably tougher than any other adversary and really matching your skills, blow for blow.
And it never really goes off the boil either. Bayonetta 2 opens with a bang, but most certainly doesn’t end with a whimper. The action is just so satisfying in every stage, at every turn. If you get bored with one particular strain of attacks, you can switch out and customise your loadout, mixing up weapons on Bayonetta’s arms and feet. This can produce some deliciously devilish possibilities, and keep things feeling fresh through the games’ 10 hour campaign.
Considering Switch has already met and surpassed Wii U’s lifetime sales, I am glad, at least, more people will now get to play this masterpiece. Up to now, Bayonetta 2 felt like one of those truly legendary games that only a handful of people ever got to experience, but it’s a game that not only craves more respect than that, it also deserves a bigger audience.
Colourful, vibrant, fast-paced, and electric, hands down, Bayonetta 2 is the best action shooter on Nintendo Switch. Hell, Bayonetta 2 is in the Top 5 games on the entire system.
+ Action is so fun
+ Plenty of challenges to keep you coming back
+ Set-pieces are thrilling
+ Graphics look glorious, docked or portable
+ Customisation lends itself to exciting, unexpected options
– Frame rate stutters a bit in portable.
– Some jokes miss the mark.
9.5 out of 10
Tested on Switch