Late to the party: Bayonetta 2

Late to the party is a new feature for those times when we start playing a videogame that has already been out for around half a year, or when we get into a TV series that is now in its second or third series.

To start things off I’ll be looking at Bayonetta 2. I actually got the game when it launched on the Wii U during the second half of 2014 as part of a double pack that included the port of the original Bayonetta for the Wii U. The first game was one that I never got round to playing, although I do recall giving the demo a go. At the time however this style of third person beat’em up was not something that appealed to me, nor was it a genre that I was particularly good at. However since then I have played a couple of games that are similar such as Killer Is Dead and Remember Me, although these are noticeably different to Bayonetta, they helped train me in the logic of this type of game.

So when the demo for Bayonetta 2 become available, and being intrigued by Nintendo’s determination to keep this series alive and to bring it to the Wii U, I gave it a go. I was not surprised by the fact that during my first playthrough of the demo I did particularly poorly, gaining only a stone award (Bayonetta grades performance by stone, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum). But after a couple of more times I ended up with gold overall, and more importantly I was enjoying the combat it offered, which was completed by the over the top everything that really only Japanese developers know to provide.

I therefore had no reservations in ordering the double pack that contained both games and played the first Bayonetta as soon as it arrived. Bayonetta is a challenging game, but ultimately fair, and most people who pick up the game should be able to reach the end, although with a lower score. I enjoyed my time with it and easily understood why those who had finished the game rate it so highly. However I did not follow this immediately by playing the sequel, and since having started Bayonetta 2 (hence this article) I stand by that decision. The only fault (if it can be called that) is that it is very similar to its predecessor.

Then again the first Bayonetta got so much right, why change it. Bayonetta 2 is an exercise in polish and only improving upon areas where it is worthwhile to do so. The main area where this so far seems to be apparent is with the difficulty. Bayonetta 2 is an easier game, but the challenge is still there, and as the combat has been slightly improved, such as with the inclusion of Umbran Climax, the experience is more enjoyable.

In addition the visuals are stunning, proving just what the Wii U is capable of despite being less powerful than the Xbox One and PS4. It also delivers smooth gameplay at 60fps (although this isn’t fixed) which helps to enable the fast action that takes place. There were many people who complained when it was revealed that Bayonetta 2 was to be a Wii U exclusive, but the game seems to have benefited from being so. But because it was in development prior to Sega no longer wanting to publish the game and Nintendo stepping in the additional features that the GamePad can provide aren’t utilised much. That is not to say that it doesn’t take advantage of the GamePad, but it almost exclusively restricted to acting as an off screen display, and the touch screen controls aren’t much of a talking point, although they are perfectly functional and could provide a more welcoming experience to some.

Despite the similarities with the previous entry, the sequel introduces a new set Lumen enemies to dispose of. But it goes beyond this with the inclusion of demon enemies which so far have been dark and mechanical in nature. This nicely contrasts the bright and angelic style of the lumen. It’s not just the visuals that are different, as they fight in different ways and most importantly they have very different weak points; and in Bayonetta this is crucial.

Another important aspect that the sequel had to get right was the boss fights. So far these have been just as intense and impressive as before. Also the Infernal Demons that Bayonetta summons seem more detailed and interesting this time, and they now play a bigger role in some of the battles, making them more intrinsic to the experience.

Bayonetta 2 is one way to make a sequel. It doesn’t radically change from what came before, but it knows what the strengths were and simply polishes those whilst providing a new enjoyable experience. Bayonetta herself, despite a notable haircut, is just as charming and whilst some may view her actions and poses as overtly sexual, that’s kind of the point. Bayonetta is always the one in charge, and anyone who disagrees with that won’t be breathing for much longer. This confidence extends throughout the game itself and is why it is so successful. There are some who purchased a Wii U solely for this game, at first I thought that was a bit odd, but now I get it. The Wii U might be struggling, but no one can fault the high quality games it does have, and Bayonetta 2 is one of them.

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