Bayonetta 2 for Wii U
Bayonetta is a rather unlikely Nintendo franchise isn’t it? After Nintendo funded the development of a sequel to the critically acclaimed but poorly selling original, there was much upset about this game’s Wii U exclusivity. Fears that Bayonetta may have been dialled down for Nintendo’s more child friendly image were misplaced; Bayonetta 2 is just as insane and fun as the first one.
Bayonetta and Jeanne are battling a bunch of angels while Christmas shopping when one of Bayonetta’s trusty summons turns on her seeking to drag her to Inferno. Jeanne pushes Bayonetta out of the way and is taken to hell in her place. Bayonetta is desperate to rescue her friend and the only other surviving Umbra Witch, so travels to the European city of Noatun, in the shadow of the mountain Fimbulventr, which is supposedly the nexus of the three realms; the human, Paradiso and Inferno.
I actually found that I liked Bayonetta’s plot more than I thought I did. The whole thing was bonkers obviously, but actually quite entertaining bonkers. There was an internal consistency which held up quite nicely, so I was actually really pleased to see these characters again. The actual story of Bayonetta 2 doesn’t really work, with the only successful element being an interesting re-evaluation of the plot of the original as new light is shed on the past. The long cutscenes would be a problem therefore if it wasn’t for one thing; Bayonetta herself. Bayonetta is a divisive character and I can completely understand why people may be turned off by her, but I think she’s brilliant. Of course she’s a sexualised figure, but unlike the mute and passive vessels for male sexuality seen in many games, such as the Dead or Alive franchise, Bayonetta is sexy for Bayonetta. She is in complete control the entire time, revelling in her sexuality and showing not one ounce of shame or humility as she cavorts about the place. In a society which often seeks to crush independent female sexuality, telling women that they should repress their desires unless it’s for the benefit of a man, Bayonetta is a boldly independent figure.
If you were hoping for something radically different from the original, you’ll be out of luck. The combat is pretty much the same, with the light/heavy attack combo system which worked with such beautiful simplicity last time. The witch time mechanic is back and works as well as ever, with the constant risk/reward of whether to dodge to save yourself or dodge to activate those precious seconds of free attack being the core of the Bayonetta experience. A nice addition is the ‘Umbra Climax’, which can be chosen when magic is full as an alternative to the returning ‘Torture Attacks’ from the last game. These let Bayonetta briefly unleash an unstoppable combo of wicked weave hair attacks and never stopped being unbelievably fun. Another great addition is the ability to strap weapons to Bayonetta’s legs instead of her standard guns; I opted for a play style of rapid twin blades in her hands with flamethrowers attached to her legs. Yep, this is definitely a Bayonetta game.
The whole experience is as dazzlingly insane as the first one, with an almost unrelenting stream of madness barely letting up throughout the game. It’s slightly shorter, but that’s probably a good thing since the whole experience has been cranked up so thoroughly. There are slightly more open areas too and a little more traversal stuff, which is welcome because unlike many games like this the traversal mechanics are actually really fun. It’s quite a lot easier, at least on normal difficulty, with a much more generous approach to the scattering of witches’ graves, which makes exploring the environments more tantalising than the original. The addition of Nintendo costumes is lovely, and they’re slightly more than simply skin changes. For example, if dressed as Princess Peach Bayonetta will summon Bowser’s first rather than her hair. It’s already been spoiled everywhere but I won’t do so here, I’ll just say to wear the Star Fox costume on Chapter 16, the final level; trust me. With a new co-op mode, as well as the bundling of a port of the original Bayonetta for the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 is a hell of a package.
Bayonetta 2 looks lovely, with a massive improvement in the environments which were a little bland in the original. The voice acting is generally good, but the faux-British accent of one of the new major characters took a lot of getting used to. The music is fantastic as well, with another fast-paced poppy remix of a classic song serving as the theme, this time ‘Moon River.’ I don’t know why this keeps working for the series, but it really does, managing to make the silly feel epic. The general design in this series is just so good.
With the original bundled as well, Bayonetta 2 is a no brainer for both fans of the original and newcomers. Let’s hope that Nintendo’s new most unlikely franchise has wings. I really hope we get a Bayonetta 3, but failing that, Bayonetta for Smash 4 DLC!