Hell to Pay..
Bayonetta and all her over-sexualized poses and winks to the camera have finally found their way to the Nintendo Switch. While the game originally released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 way back in 2009, and then again on the WiiU some five years later, it was a game that many were shocked that it ended up on a Nintendo Console in the first place, let alone getting a system exclusive sequel on the same day. With the upcoming release of Bayonetta 3 being yet another Nintendo Exclusive, both Bayonetta and its stellar sequel are here and they are now portable and are just as cheeky as ever.
With gun mounted stilettos and a costume made out of her own hair, Bayonetta oozes style and sexuality like no franchise before it. It's fast, it's frantic, and while the story can feel a bit convoluted and confusing at times, Bayonetta still holds up to this very day. Despite the game sharing some action parallels with the Devil May Cry series, Bayonetta and her colorful cast of characters, as well as several unique gameplay moments, gives the game its own identity and flavor. From a highspeed bike chase down an almost neverending highway to riding atop a massive missile, Platinum Games have created one of the most impressive action games ever made.
If I was to sum up Bayonetta in one word, it would be 'Outrageous' and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one. The character will stop in mid-battle to strike a pose while her clothes leave her body to form a giant fanged dog, an enormous spider, or of several other vicious creatures, all while the camera spins and moves around her, never giving you more than a tease at her bosom and rear focused physique. Bayonetta will jump from floating platform to floating platform, run up the side of a wall, or string up an angel on the back of some crude metal horse in a show of bondage torture. Yes, this is on a Nintendo system, and yes, they paid for additional sequels.
The plot, as I've mentioned, can come off a bit confusing apart from the fact that Bayonetta was revived 20 years prior after being found in a casket and devoid of all her memories. While she starts to piece things together, she's soon bombarded with various characters and heavenly creatures that seem to know a lot more about her than she knows of herself. She shortly finds out that she is in possession of what is called an Eye of the World, a special plate that is worn atop her chest. This sends Bayonetta on a quest to track down the remaining Eye, hoping that it may lead to clues about her past. The story, at times, disappoints and feels more as if we are moving from battle to battle instead of the beat to beat of a focused narrative. There are several cutscenes that do push the story forward, but they don't do a good job of staying interesting and often just repeat the same elements over and over again.
Bayonetta is a fast-paced third-person action game that is built upon rapid attacks, combo's and dodges to stay alive. The game can be brutally hard even on normal, or blissfully easy on its lower difficulty modes, should you just want to sit back and pop off a few buttons to unleash some devastating combo attacks. As you dodge last-second enemy strikes, Bayonetta will enter Witch Time, a short burst of slowed time that allows you to get a few cheeky shots in before time returns back to normal. Witch Time might very well become your best friend should you look to master how to dodge each of the varied creatures that look to stop you in your tracks. While those tracks are mostly linear, you will have small moments of exploration to track down special attack stages, various collectibles, and special chained up chests that contain bullets for the between-mission mini-game.
Whether it's sliding across the ground or performing a break-dancing move, Style is quite simply the name of the game. While Bayonetta has some stellar moves from the get-go, you'll collect Heavenly Halos to purchase new weapons, items, costumes, and flashy new moves. You can also craft helpful items from a number of materials you'll discover in your travels. Choosing between moves and weapons can be a tough choice depending on how many Halos you have collected or earned through your performance in each level. While Bayonetta doesn't have words like Cool!, Sweet!, or Stylish! flash up on the screen like in Devil May Cry, you are scored at the end of each battle and level with a medal based on said performance.
As you build up your magic meter for some sexy Witch-flavored attacks, there are also contextual button prompts that can dish out some pretty sweet damage and visual flair. This can involve throwing a giant dragon-like creature by its tail, or unleashing a Climax Attack where Bayonetta will form mystical creatures out of her hair. The QTE prompts can have poor lead up to prepping you for several of them as I would often miss them entirely or start hammering the button too late should it request I charge up a damage circle. It is also worth noting that Bayonetta originally released around the time that 'Quick Time Events' were a big part of gaming and while they have calmed down slightly in recent years, they are not an entirely forgotten mechanic.
While gaming on the go or playing it on the big screen, Bayonetta manages to run at a fairly solid 60 FPS. Both methods of enjoying the game run at a decent 720p resolution but that comes at a cost of reduced texture filtering when playing it portable. The game while docked certainly looks far better than the Wii U version and marginally better than that of the Xbox 360 original. While it still falls behind the PC version in regards to visual clarity, the game still impresses due to the fact of how fast and fluid it runs on the go. The portable nature of the Switch also brings with it some touch controls, and while they do add something new to the game, I rarely if at all, ever used them. The boosted power of the Switch hardware, especially when compared to the WiiU, allows Bayonetta to have almost non-existent loading times as the game will load up each level before you can even get in a few combo's during the practice level that is essentially your loading screen.
Given the era when Bayonetta came out, tight corridor action games often would result in a camera that didn't quite know what to do, and while it's not something here that is constant, the camera can give you a bad time in some of the alleyways and tight fit sections of a few levels. Thankfully, the game doesn't demand too much from you as I never had to fight with any of the controls or the camera to any significant degree.
Despite the game being out for nearly a decade, I never did complete the original on the Xbox 360. When I installed it on my Switch, I burned through it in just under 10 hours and instantly loaded up its sequel, a game I owned on the WiiU, but never got around to playing it on the account that I hadn't beat the original. Now that Bayonetta and its sequel are on a Nintendo console I actually enjoy using, I've been investing almost my entire free time to completing both games. Bayonetta is a solid action game that understands what it needs to do to be a fun and action-packed experience, even if the story is a bit lacking. The sexualized aspect of the character may not be for everyone, but if you can get past it and come to grips with all the combo attacks and dodge systems, Bayonetta is a superb experience that needs to be part of your Switch library.