By the flicking of her hair, something wicked this way comes. She’s down in the gates of hell with Enzo following her tail. Rodin’s ready to dish out the goods, but Cereza’s back for just one thing; a bullet for her Valentine and only on the Nintendo Switch.
Almost four years since Bayonetta landed exclusively onto the Wii U with her bloody rose lollipops and witty charm, she’s back to her old hack-and-slash, hair-and-tear, bullet-and-booty tricks again for the Nintendo Switch. From series creator Hideki Kamiya and PlatinumGames, we get not one but two Bayonetta games to relish at a beautiful 720p and 60 frames per second, docked and undocked. And if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on the special ‘Non-Stop Climax’ edition, you’ll also receive a steelbook, collectible verse cards and sticker sheets, along with a download code for the first title and a game card for the second. Love or loathe its rambunctious, overindulgent and carnal approach, it’s not every day we get to say we climaxed; Bayonetta style.
It was back in 2010 when gamers had their first taste of Bayonetta. Featuring signature gameplay mechanics similar to titles such as Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising, alongside mischievous dialogue and playfully executed special attacks, Bayonetta found its initial home on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It wasn’t until 2014, when its sequel released on the Wii U, that the series found fame on a home console from a publisher that has historically altered violence on screen. Gone are the days from 1993’s Mortal Kombat on the SNES which magically transformed blood into ‘puffs of sweat’ and changed the on-screen fatalities. Now, Bayonetta is allowed to shine in her full form with torture attacks, flirtatious costumes and NSFW sounds of battle pleasure.
Both Bayonetta and its sequel follow similar paths in their 12-15 hour storylines. In each, you’ll play as the Umbran Witch, Bayonetta, as she fights against the angels, followers of light. While the first game focuses on the who, what, when and how of Bayonetta’s revival and the restoration of her memories, the second treads the path of vengeance as she seeks to restore her lifelong friend, Jeanne, with her soul which is trapped in Inferno.
Newcomers to the Switch versions can expect to see superbly fluid hack-and-slash action sequences brought together with interesting changes of pace from challenging boss fights, time trials and combo arena trials in either the Alfheim (Bayonetta 1) or Muspelheim (Bayonetta 2) realms. The latter areas are excellent places to hone your combo skills, allowing you to explore different ways to defeat enemies for extra Broken Witch Hearts that lengthen your health bar, or Moon Pearls that give you extra magical ability. Of course, players can also stop by Rodin’s store, The Gates of Hell, where you can purchase additional movesets, healing items such as lollipops, and a variety of weapons and accessories to aid gameplay. And on a welcome note, there’s also a number of difficulty settings you can choose from, with hard mode unlocked from the beginning in Bayonetta 2.
In both games, players will be able to use a number of special magical attacks. While Bayonetta focuses on using Wicked Weaves with her hair to lift objects and hurl them into enemies, Bayonetta 2 uses Umbran Climax; an all-out magical attack that lets you unleash hell’s fury onto Paradiso’s angelic swarm. The series’ iconic feature, Witch Time, is incorporated into both, though. By dodging a fraction before an enemy’s attack, Bayonetta can initiate Witch Time, where the passage of time slows and gives players extra moments to pummel an enemy with big hair-raising combos.
For series fans, purchasing Bayonetta 1 & 2 on the Nintendo Switch is a no-brainer. Since its days on the Wii U, both games feature immensely improved touchscreen functionality and performance capabilities. There are no lags, stuttering or framerate drops when playing undocked on the Switch console, in fact every movement – whether it’s a punch, kick or air combo – is swift, smooth and responsive. It’s effortless to switch between touchscreen and controller play, too. Easily use the multi-touchscreen to lock on to enemies, initiate Witch Time by sliding your finger in the opposite direction to an enemy, and tap the screen to unleash combos in quick succession. And if you’d prefer to utilise both play styles, you can push the X and A buttons simultaneously for a Climax attack.
There is, however, one small drawback to using the Switch’s touchscreen mechanics. Aside from your fingers getting in the way of the action, it’s also very difficult to use this play style on normal difficulty or above on the original Bayonetta. With less precision, it becomes cumbersome and unwieldy and, to quote from a popular movie archer, you would die before your stroke fell. Whereas on Bayonetta 2, its difficulty is designed for both play styles and touchscreen action can be used on harder modes, if you should so wish. In comparison to the original touchscreen mechanics on the Wii U though, it’s smart, intuitive and fun on the Switch’s UI.
Another big change in Bayonetta 2 is its amiibo functionality. Fans may remember how frustrating it was to unlock the Nintendo-themed costumes via a lengthy, arduous halo-grinding process. Now, there’s an easier way to get the exclusive Link, Samus, Fox, Peach and Daisy costumes and all players need to use is their accompanying amiibo figures in The Gates of Hell. Using these particular amiibo, along with the two Bayonetta figures, will unlock the various costume sets immediately, allowing for themed runs of the game from the get go. Plus, using any of the other compatible amiibo will unlock additional halos and healing items. While one specific amiibo can only be used once per day, you can use up to 32 amiibo every day to obtain extra materials; happy days for halo-grinders.
For fans looking for an extra challenge outside of the main story, Tag Climax in Bayonetta 2 is now available in local wireless co-operative play. While the concept is still the same, (wager your halos to determine the difficulty and fight up to six verses together against angel enemies) the mode is no longer restricted to online only matches. Unfortunately , it does require you to pair up with a friend who owns another Switch system and the game. Due to the restrictions, it meant we were unable to try Tag Climax in local wireless mode.
Between the tongue-and-cheek gameplay and the upgraded playability, Bayonetta 1 & 2 for the Nintendo Switch are remarkably polished ports. Although additional modes and features wouldn’t have gone amiss for those who purchased the Wii U version, the games are superb in their own right. Featuring best-in-class portability, enhanced performance and a lick of polish, Bayonetta 1 & 2 on the Switch are insanely fun, non-stop action games. After all; once you pop, you just can’t stop.