It’s thanks to Bayonetta that I, and probably many other gamers, know the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon. If you’ve ever played it, you’ll probably know exactly what I’m talking about. It seems like many yonks ago that I reviewed it for this very website. At the time, it was one of my favourite action games with slick mechanics and absolutely bonkers ideas. I was interested in playing the sequel some years later, but unfortunately it was Wii U exclusive. Luckily for me, Nintendo or PlatinumGames or whoever decided to release Bayonetta 1 and 2 on the Switch – probably so new inductees would have a chance to play them and get hyped for the recently announced Bayonetta 3.
I decided to run through the original quickly because it’s been nearly eight years since I last played it – and it’s a good thing I did, because wow, I’d forgotten so much about it. There are so many unlockables and secrets too – I didn’t even scratch the surface the first time, so hopefully I’ll be able to do most of them this time round.
For those who don’t know, Bayonetta is an action game very similar in mechanics to the Devil May Cry series – coming as it does from the same director – and puts players in the role of the titular, amnesia-stricken witch as she battles all the angels in heaven to reacquire her lost memories. There’s a lot of backstory involving a balance between heaven and hell and a clan of witches and sages that eventually wiped each other out, blah blah blah. It’s interesting if you’re inclined to read the story fluff, but nowhere near as entertaining as the ridiculously camp cutscenes.
Bayonetta has access to a wide variety of attacks, special moves and combos, with more waiting to be earned over the course of the game. You know how it goes with Japanese action games – the more skillfully you play by creating long combos and avoiding damage, the more currency you earn and the more stuff you can buy to create even bigger combos, and so on.
The Nintendo Switch version is super fast and smooth, both docked and undocked, and there are even some Nintendo-themed outfits for Bayonetta to wear, some of which do more than just change Bayonetta’s clothes. The Legend of Zelda one dresses her up as Link and gives her the ability to parry attacks without needing to equip the Moon of Maha Kalaa accessory. If you equip the katana, she’ll actually use the Master Sword on her back instead too. Pretty cool. The Metroid-themed one replaces Bayonetta’s weak shot move with Samus’s arm cannon shot. You can also raise and lower the visor on her helmet by holding down on the D-pad. Useless, but awesome.
At long last, I get to play this game. I was hoping this one would eventually come to PS4 or PC because it was the only game in the Wii U’s entire library that interested me, and I wasn’t about to buy a Wii U for one gane – but now I have in a portable form on the Switch, which is even better.
It’s a good thing I ran through the first game real quick, because the changes to Bayonetta 2 are subtle and more like tweaks. It’s basically the same formula as before, without any groundbreaking additions – which is fine by me. Among the enhancements are slightly faster, smoother combat moves which makes the combo timing easier; the lock-on feature being moved to the left trigger, which is much better; a new Umbra Climax move which consumes Bayonetta’s entire magic meter and turns her every strike into a Wicked Weave attack for a limited time; and and of course a selection of new weapons, accessories, items and combat techniques.
This game takes place some time after the first game, after Bayonetta has concluded her quest for her memories and has kissed and made up with most of her enemies, who are now friends – who all get fabulous new outfits for this game too, such as the weapon-selling Rodin who has traded in his high-collared trench coat and unlaced Doc Martens for a traditional Japanese outfit. In the intro to the game, Bayonetta and her friend Jeanne fend off a sudden angel attack, during which one of Bayonetta’s minions goes out of control and drags Jeanne’s soul off to Hell, prompting Bayonetta to mount a rescue mission to the gates of Hell itself.
The gameplay is almost exactly the same as before: big combos + big score = more stuff. Typical Japanese action game formula, although there seems to be a lot more secrets and unlockables on offer in this game. The enemy designs are just as crazy and the story is just as smirk-inducingly shameless as before, especially after the first thing you see in the intro is a zoomed-in view of Bayonetta and Jeanne’s crotches, letting us know that the titillating T&A content of the game remains unchanged.
Just as in the previous game, there are some Nintendo-themed extras, most notably the ability to scan Amiibos. As I’ve said in some of my other Switch reviews, I don’t own any Amiibos and never will, but apparently you can use them to unlock the corresponding outfits for Bayonetta – and get a funny message from Rodin about each one. Don’t worry, if you don’t own any Amiibos, you can still unlock the outfits the traditional way, it’ll just take longer to grind the currency.