Bayonetta is back on a new system with a new outfit and a new haircut, and fans of the first game will be happy to know that her latest adventure is just as ridiculously violent, perverse, and over the top as the original.
Like many of you, I was surprised when Nintendo announced that they were publishing the next entry in Platinum Games’ Bayonetta series, and that the game would be exclusive to the Wii U. Nintendo consoles are really known for having ultra violent, ultra hardcore third-person action games, but that hasn’t caused the Bayonetta team to hold back in anyway: Bayonetta 2 takes everything that was great about the original game and makes it better.
Now, Bayonetta 2 does feature an optional casual setting: in this mode, the game’s enemies are easier and you control the game entirely using the Wii U pad’s touch screen. Bayonetta moves according to where you drag your finger, and sliding your finger over enemies will cause her to attack them and automatically chain together a combo. I think the idea behind this mode is that anyone can play it, but I still don’t really see a point for it: I don’t think casual gamers or Wii Sports playing grandmas are going to suddenly get into Bayonetta just because you can play with simplified touch controls now.
Now before you go and accuse Platinum Games of selling out to the casuals, you should know that this new mode is entirely optional and the game is still being designed as a hardcore experience with traditional controls in mind.
Selecting the traditional “Normal” mode in the demo drops you into the traditional third person action that you know and love: Bayonetta is controlled with the analog stick, and you can chain together combos using the face buttons. You can use the left trigger to execute a quick dodge, while the right trigger lets you cycle through any weapons Bayonetta has in her inventory. The E3 demo gave players access to two sets of weapons: Bayonetta’s traditional set of two handheld pistols and her matching set of guns hidden in her heels, as well as a set of dual swords that she could use to unleash whirling attacks that could hit multiple enemies at once.
Veterans of the first game will immediately feel at home with Bayonetta 2’s gameplay: the action is fast, the controls respond instantly, and Bayonetta is still capable of summoning extremely elaborate death traps and demons to assist her with her finishing moves. The enemies are just as vicious as ever, and while the E3 demo gave players copious amounts of healing items to make sure they didn’t die before they got a chance to try out a good chunk of the game, I still almost died a few times during the demo. The team behind Bayonetta 2 features a lot of the same people who created the original Devil May Cry, and it’s clear that they weren’t just the pioneers of this genre, they’re its kings.
The Wii U isn’t exactly a graphical powerhouse, especially when compared to the next-gen systems it was displayed next to on the E3 showfloor, but despite that, people were constantly stopping in front of the Bayonetta 2 demo station to talk about how good the game looks; it’s easily one of the most technically impressive games for Nintendo’s little system. It also helps that the stage in the E3 demo was constantly ramping up the action: the stage begins with Bayonetta fighting a group of enemies on top of a Harrier jet (that’s flying at top speed and is weaving its way through a complex city filled with skyscrapers.) Eventually, the jet gets ripped to shreds by a massive flying enemy, and Bayonetta has to slow down time and then jump from piece to piece of the disintegrating plane in order to land on a train below, where she continues fighting even more enemies. The demo eventually ends with Bayonetta creating a pair of wings for herself and taking to the air in order to fight a massive dragon. The action depicted in the game is ridiculous, completely over the top, and best of all, it absolutely revels in how insane it is. If this is what the game throws at you in the first level, I can’t wait to see how the action escalates in later parts of the game.
Tecmo Koei is taking Ninja Gaiden in a weird direction and the future of Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise is uncertain, so it seems like Bayonetta 2 might be the last great traditional Japanese “character action” game we might see for awhile. I’m completely fine with that, though: if the rest of the game is as good as the demo that I played, then Bayonetta 2 will be good enough to carry the entire genre by itself.
Bayonetta 2 will be released for the Wii U sometime next year.