Cast your minds back to 2009, the original launch year of Bayonetta, and familiarise yourself with what Nintendo were doing.
Wii Fit Plus. Red Steel 2 and Style Savvy, to name but a few titles. The Wii still had the tag of being a family-friendly system and the DS went from strength to strength as the go-to place for JRPGs.
Now almost a decade later, the big N seemingly have one of the bloodiest, most provocative action-adventure franchises of all time locked down as a company exclusive with the third title only arriving on Switch. And considering Bayonetta first appeared on the Xbox 360 and PS3, not only has the umbra witch aged incredibly well – visually and mechanically – but amazingly Nintendo have managed to pull off the definitive version of the game. The fast-paced, action-packed gameplay is still alive and well, is running buttery smooth, portably or docked, and has even been complimented by expanded, well-implemented touch control.
Already played this to death and want to know more about Bayonetta 2? We’ve got you covered!
However you choose to play Bayonetta, it runs better than all previous ports. Perhaps making this the first real test of Switch’s abilities against its competitors, proving that the system is not only a significant evolution from its predecessor but a considerable upgrade from its rivals’ last-gen counterparts as it’s able to manage a locked 60 fps at 720p.
The game doesn’t slow down even once in handheld mode, the time spent on loading screens has been dramatically reduced, menu transitions are seamless and while the textures are now a bit on the dated side, watching the zaniness unfold in the palm of your hands is nothing short of impressive. Especially that section out on the highway. Incidentally, when IS she getting added to the Mario Kart roster?
Developed by PlatinumGames and created by Devil May Cry mastermind, Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta is a time witch reborn, confronting her past with guns on her stilettos and a lollypop in her mouth. Bayonetta has a magical ‘Witch Time’ ability which slows down time in order for her to get extra shots in on her enemies and can use her hair to whip, punish and torture them. Hair that, unfortunately for her, also makes up the material of her clothes and tends to leave her a little exposed during combat. Basically, if you think those pathetic plate bras barbarian women use in RPGs is pretty lacklustre protection, then you’ve got to imagine that Bae-Bay would be pretty screwed. Fortunately, she’s a bad ass and this nudity actually puts at her strongest, giving her an Ultimate Climax ability that morphs the stray hair into an underworld entity that can devour her foe.
You will need to run, jump, shoot and slash your way through thirteen chapters, crossing realms through portals, defeating stone-faced statues and collecting halos which can then be used to upgrade to bigger, badder and better weapons at the Gates of Hell. Stylistically, few have bettered Bayonetta and coming back to the game all these years later that creativity is still clear for all to see.
Between sprinting around the maps in panther mode, the boss battles, the weapon variety – using a trombone to blast out laser beams, anyone? – those epic climaxes and the unique plethora of characters, Bayonetta does action just as well as anything else in the genre – sometimes better. But it’s the clever spins on gunplay, glints, gleams, twists and turn, coupled with that bad ass holier-than-thou sounding soundtrack that really set it apart from anything else out there.
And for motivational purposes, you get graded for the time you beat a level, the combos you pull off, and the damage taken, then awarded a medal at the end of each verse – sub-section of the chapter. So there’s definitely plenty of reason to dip in and out of each area to keep bettering your score.
Switch owners will get all the benefits of Bayonetta from Wii U, including the Samus, Zelda, Peach and Daisy costumes, as well as using touch in the Angel Attack mini game, though we wouldn’t really recommend that. They’ll even get some new benefits, like the feel of HD Rumble as you smash and blast your way through everyone and everything and the ability to play the whole game, start to finish, using full touch control. And surprisingly, we think the controls evolve the gameplay enough that it could actually be possible to do a fully playable mobile port.
Personally, it’s never going to replace the precision offered by the Pro Controller or Joy-Cons, but you can move around easily by dragging your finger around the screen, swiping backwards to evade, tap low or high on an enemy to punch and kick, and hold your finger down to shoot. You can pull off a surprising amount of combinations and it works better than you might expect. It’s definitely worth trying out at least once. If the spectacular visuals, speed and seamless nature of the game on handheld aren’t impressive enough, the ability to play Bayonetta without any buttons definitely is.
And that’s why I can confidently say that this is the definitive version of Bayonetta. Yes, some of the glitches have still made it across – like mistimed platform movements and clipping problems – but they certainly don’t detract from the overall experience or break the game in any severe way. Bayonetta is a brilliantly bloody action adventure game with everything you could ever want or wish for from the genre. If you’ve somehow never played it – or even if you have – you will not find a better home for it than Switch. An absolute coup for a system still in its first year to house the definitive edition of one of the greatest games ever made.
+ Seamless and stable, portable or docked
+ Quirky, memorable soundtrack
+ Best version of one of the greats
+ Impressive, responsive touchscreen control
+ Tons of fun
– Some rough glitches
– Textures now seem a little dated
9 out of 10
Tested on Switch