Bayonetta 1 + 2 Switch Review
It's hard to believe that Bayonetta, of all characters, is more affiliated with Nintendo than with any other brand. Given the M-rated nature of her games and the fact that she started out on the 360 and PS3, it's hard to believe the overtly sexual, demonic angel slayer has found her home with the more family-friendly mascots of Nintendo. But, here we are, nearly four years after Nintendo helped fund Bayonetta 2 and a few months after Reggie Fils Aime came to The Game Awards and showed off an announcement trailer for Bayonetta 3, and announced that Bayonetta 1 + 2 would be coming to the Switch. It's kind of like how Disney is now allowed to market and even make films about Deadpool; it's a bit to take in.
Anyway, regardless of where she's from, Bayonetta makes her current-gen debut with her two previous ventures. In a world where hack-and-slash games have become a dying breed (save for Dynasty Warriors and the hundreds of franchises that wear its skin), it's great to see a combo-based action game come out. As someone who grew up playing games like God of War, Devil May Cry, and Ninja Gaiden, I've missed these types of character-driven action games, and Bayonetta 1 + 2 are still some of the best around. If you have a Switch, it's a no-brainer whether you should get it or not, though returning fans will be left wanting more.
First the bad news: Bayonetta for Switch is nothing more than just ports of both titles. There's little in the way of any sort of graphical updates; both titles are still 720p, and there's little in terms of new features. You can use amiibos to help get certain Nintendo-themed costumes at a faster rate, and the co-op mode now supports offline play (two Switches required, no split-screen), but don't expect anything like a boss rush mode or any form of new content. It also should be noted that Bayonetta plays the same in both docked and portable modes. Given these game were released years ago, you'd think Platinum Games would at least give returning fans a bone, but sadly, that's not the case.
That said, the framerates for both titles have seen improvements. Bayonetta 2, in particular, now runs at a near perfect 60 FPS, whereas before it had trouble holding its framerate on the Wii U. Seeing how chaotic the action can be, it does make sense to sacrifice graphics and resolution for better framerates. Even at 720p, Bayonetta's twisted and crazy world still looks great, thanks to fantastic art design, great use of color, and some of the most creative creature design in the industry. It goes to prove that art will always trump pure horsepower.
Playing Bayonetta 1 + 2 is still a joy, even after all these years. You'll get a good thumb workout since you'll be alternating the various combos to get high scores and better rankings. Bayonetta starts of with small skirmishes before going into overdrive with bigger enemies, bosses the size of of a city, and even throwing said bosses in with regular foes. Along with her trusty handguns, Bayonetta also has her witch-time, allowing her to slow down time to get a few hits (after she's dodged at the right time). She can also use enemy weapons for a short time and upgrade her list of attacks with the halos that drop from the enemies she kills. Bayonetta's combat is deep, simple, and just a whole lot of fun.
That said, the original Bayonetta is showing its age. Its visuals have a worn-out, dragged look and feel to them, and the game's pacing isn't as tight as that of its sequel. The action set pieces are still top-notch, but as the game goes on, you feel like chapters should have ended 10 or so minutes earlier, especially in the third act. That being said, Bayonetta 2 fixes all this and lasts a solid 9 hours, while the original will last you about 11 or so.
Bayonetta's plot follows the footsteps of other Nintendo games, as it's mostly there to connect the action. The first has an amnesia-stricken Bayonetta fighting to save the world from demonic angels, which leads her to find out who she is, while the sequel has her trying to save her friend Jeanne before her soul is lost forever. You'll meet a cast of colorful characters, from the Joe Pesci-inspired Enzo to the cool and collected Rodan, but don't expect that much depth or cohesiveness from the original's plot; the sequel does a much better job of trying to make you care about Bayonetta and the world she inhabits.
Bayonetta may appear to be nothing more than just a sex object, but there's more to her. She's confident, tough, and uses her sexuality to mock her opponents and catch them off guard. She's kind of like the video game version of Catwoman: never afraid to show off and unashamed of it. In an age where female characters are constantly strict, somber, and always showing a no-nonsense sensibility, it's nice to have a female character that can actually have fun and not take things so serious.
Bayonetta 1 + 2 are still great games. The original may be showing its age, but it's still a wild ride, and its sequel is still fantastic. While it would've been better to have some new features, there's still enough content here to keep you coming back for more for a good while. From tons of unlockable costumes, characters, and weapons to constantly trying to beat your high score, you'll be coming back for seconds and even tenths. If you love action games, you owe it to yourself to buy this collection. They're fast, sexy, and just a whole lot of fun. And isn't that all we can ask from Nintendo?