Bayonetta 2 on Nintendo Switch
The Wii U had its fair share of excellent exclusive titles, despite being ill-fated. Super Mario Maker, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, and the first Splatoon game are good enough to stand alongside other great Nintendo exclusives. The Bayonetta series also became a Nintendo exclusive during the Wii U’s lifetime, standing out as one of the few games aimed at a more adult audience. However, being stranded on Wii U meant that many Bayonetta fans, or newcomers to the series, missed out on a phenomenal action game. Thankfully, both Bayonetta 2 and the 2009 original have made their way to Nintendo Switch, granting those that missed either of them another chance.
In terms of content, Bayonetta 2 remains largely untouched. It is still the same wonderful action experience it was when it launched, just now with a couple more bells and whistles. The combo focused gameplay is a joy, seeing you leap seamlessly between each incredible set-piece. You’re rarely given a moment of peace due to the relentless pacing, with even the paths between areas often crumbling beneath you as another monstrous beast surprises you from the depths of hell. It doesn’t throw you in at the deep end, however, introducing gameplay styles and combo opportunities slowly as you progress, matching them with the unique enemies that are frequently introduced.
With the ability to tie different weapons to Bayonetta limbs and the simple button layout, the combos and action flow beautifully. It’s frantic and fast paced but, thanks to the enemy and weapon design, never overwhelming. As the tougher enemies approach, you’ll use the skills you’ve learned to counter their attacks and satisfyingly beat them into submission. The fights themselves are also varied throughout. One moment you’ll be comfortably punching, kicking, and shooting some angels in a courtyard, next you’ll be atop a fighter jet that’s hurtling towards a mountain, taking down giant flying snake demons with your trusty pistols and purple toad summon. These insane set-pieces and boss-fights are in almost every chapter. Fight one boss, and another is in the next room; defeat one and it’ll come back for round two minutes later. They never feel repetitive, though, thanks to the excellent design of the stages, the bosses, and the movement of Bayonetta herself.
There’s also a palpable confidence to the way Bayonetta 2 tells its story. The overt sexuality to almost everything and the borderline nonsensical plot may be a turn off to some, but the batshit crazy world and uniquely charismatic characters compliment the game’s tone perfectly. The camera may be uncomfortably drawn to her bottom half but Bayonetta is a wonderful lead. Her confidence makes her feel even stronger, and her one-liners make her endearing. That humor extends to the supporting cast as well, with Dave Fennoy’s Rodin, Loki the British boy who uses a strange mix of Queen’s English and London slang, and Enzo all shine when they’re involved. Following this group of unique characters, in a world that ranges from the dark gates of hell to the majestic, Venice inspired streets of Noatun, is a joy throughout, especially since everything between the cutscenes are so fun to play.
The Nintendo Switch is also the best place to play Bayonetta 2. It runs at a silky smooth 60fps in handheld and docked modes, never dipping like it occasionally did on Wii U. It still runs at just 720p, with a very minor improvement over the original versions, making it look better in handheld mode, albeit marginally. The scale of the set-pieces and enemies is easier to gauge when the Switch is docked, and the more hectic fights are easy to keep track of when playing on a larger screen, but both are great ways to play, with handheld having the obvious advantage of being able to be played wherever you want. The original game may also come packaged with your purchase of Bayonetta 2 and it is also still a fantastic experience. It runs at the same frame-rate as the sequel, and at the same resolution, but since it is a decade old game, it is beginning to show its age. A remake on the technical level of Shadow of the Colossus this is not.
If you’ve played Bayonetta 2 before and are looking for a reason to pick the port up other than to simply replay an excellent action game, you might be disappointed because there’s very little in terms of new content. The touch controls that were introduced with the Wii U version of Bayonetta 2 have returned and been extended to the original. It’s a fun way to play but, beyond easy mode, you’ll find it difficult since pulling off combos isn’t as simple and you don’t get the same level of control as you do with actual buttons. Amiibo support is the other notable addition and it allows you to purchase in-game items that will make Bayonetta look like iconic Nintendo characters from Link to Samus as she leaps and slashes her way through the story. You’ll also get some bonus consumable items by using your amiibo that make the combat significantly easier, so you might feel a little overpowered, but they’re perfect for a second playthrough.
Bayonetta 2 may not be appealing to everyone. Its sexuality and over-the-top tone may be a frustration to some. However, from a design and gameplay point of view, it is up there with the best in its genre. Bayonetta, the side-characters, and the world you’re fighting in are crazy and unique while the combo focused action is deep, yet accessible enough that you feel like an expert in no time. The Nintendo Switch version may not feature much that the Wii U original does not, but the console hybrid is the best place to play one of the best action games of all time. If nothing else, the re-release has made me more excited for Bayonetta 3 than I ever thought I would be.
Score: 4.5/5 – Great
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