Game Title: Bayonetta
Developer: Platinum Games, Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download (Included in Physical Version of Bayonetta 2)
Battery Life: 2.75 – 3.5 hours
Download: 8.5 GB
There are lots of Nintendo franchises that gamers love to talk about: Mario, Kirby, Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles, Fire Emblem. This past generation they added a new franchise to that list, giving Nintendo’s arsenal of exclusives a sexy M-Rated game for fans that don’t just want to play kiddie games anymore, and they even threw its main character into the last Super Smash Bros game, Bayonetta.
Of course, what many people don’t know is that Bayonetta did not start off being exclusive to Nintendo. It actually started as a PS3 and Xbox 360 game, the latter being available for backwards-compatible play on the Xbox One. It wasn’t until its sequel was made that Nintendo secured exclusivity over Bayonetta and her action franchise.
That couldn’t stop with the Wii U, though. With Bayonetta 3 in development for the NIntendo Switch, they saw it fit that they bring the other games to the Switch as well, essentially removing Bayonetta 2 from being a Wii U exclusive to a Nintendo Console exclusive.
To start off my coverage for the series, here is my review of the Nintendo Switch version of the original Bayonetta!
In the world of Bayonetta, there once lives two clans that governed history. The Lumen Sages had dominon over the powers of Light and the Umbran Witches had dominion over the powers of Darkness, before getting involved in a war and ultimately wiping each other from the face of history.
Present Day focuses on a survivor of the Umbran Witch clan, a leather-clad magical witch known as Bayonetta. The plot followers her as she travels in search of a stone tied to her past, in the hopes of figuring out who she is and shooting, slicing, and smashing her way through hordes of deformed angels, hell-bent on removing her from the World of the Living.
Story is one of the big focal points of Bayonetta’s campaign and the lore sets up an interesting world with demons and angels outside of how most games portray them. Bayonetta, herself, is a unique protagonist being a heroine skilled in the dark arts of summoning evil demons to devour and mutilate angelic monsters. It’s a reverse of what you’d normally see angels and demons associated as.
Before ending this section, it is worth noting that this series is famous for its sex appeal. Bayonetta is filled with eye-candy and a lot of sex humor thrown into most of the story scenes before boss fights. At first, this seems to be a bit over-the-top, but the further you get into the story, the less the game forces all of that onto you, as opposed to the game’s underlying story and lore.
Bayonetta is like Platinum Games’ response to games like Devil May Cry and God of War. It is a 3D action game based around performing attack combos and, more importantly, dodging and learning how to fight the hordes and bosses headed your way. Imagine God of War with flashier combos, more weapon types, and a bigger focus on platforming and you’ve basically got Bayonetta.
Before diving into the game, Bayonetta received exclusive Nintendo content when it released on the Wii U. While the Switch version doesn’t bring anything new, outside of portability, the 4 Nintendo-themed costumes are here again, letting you swing around the Master Sword, shoot shots from Samus’ Arm Cannon, and summon Bowser in the special Zelda, Mario, and Metroid costumes.
Progression in the game takes place in chapters, which are large, explorable stages filled with collectibles, monster hordes, and their own share of platforming. Your task is to navigate through each environment and reach the next story scene, which pushes the story and the stage, itself, forward. It’s not all that different from DMC or GoW, just that you go back to a Chapter Select Menu after completing each chapter, rather than getting a story scene and immediately continuing where you left off.
When you come across monster hordes, which will be relatively often, you’ll fight them off with a combination of Melee Weapons, Dual Firearms, and special Powers. You have 3 attack buttons for this purpose and are able to string together different combos depending on what weapons you’re equipped with and how much area you have to fight. You unlock various weapons as you play through the game, but you can also temporarily pick up and use weapons used by most of the monsters you fight, giving you a lot of different fighting styles to choose from.
But even more important than the combat system is the Dodging System. The game is built around dodging with precise timing against almost every enemy in the game, as dodging certain attacks initiates what is called Witch Time, which temporarily freezes time for the enemy, allowing you to freely string combos to rack in damage while they’re helpless. This is important because many enemies just don’t have long openings to do this and many bosses don’t either. The game is built around this system and it is to be used as much as possible.
This is the big thing that I feel sets this apart from other action games of its kind. In God of War, you don’t have to use your dodge. You can just pick your combos and stay long-range and be fine, but in Bayonetta, you can’t. Melee is where all of the decent damage is and the bosses just aren’t realistically doable without Witch Time, so you essentially have to think and figure out how enemies and bosses fight in order to dodge them with accuracy. You have unlimited continues so even if you die, it’s not a big deal. It just lowers your overall Rank for that stage.
As you fight through Monsters, you’ll earn Halo Rings, which are used as the game’s currency. The Shop that you can visit sells items that help you through stages, New Techniques to add to your arsenal, new costumes to change Bayonetta’s look, and other features that will unlock as you play through and beat the game.
As an action game and it being on a handheld, we have to ask about the game’s length. While it is true that this was originally a PS3 and Xbox 360 game, how much time will it take you to run through the entire Story Campaign of this action game? On the Normal Difficulty, I cleared the Final Boss after around 15 hours of Game Time, so it should take you at least that long, unless you play on the Very Easy difficulty setting. Once you beat the game, you unlock Hard Mode, a bunch of Costumes in the Shop and, if you got high enough ranks, a second playable character.
Controlling the game is simple enough, and the game explains it to you pretty well. One nice touch is that the Switch version has touch controls (I don’t know if the Wii U version did or not), enabling you to string combos together and do QTEs with the Switch’s touch screen instead of using the buttons on the Joy-Cons.
The Left Analog Stick is used for moving and the Right Stick for moving the Camera. The Arrow Buttons / D-Pad are used for equipped items. The four triggers are also used. The L and R triggers are used for taunts and lock-ons, ZL is used for switching weapons, and ZR is used for dodging.
Then come the face buttons. X and A are used for punching and kicking attacks, B is used for jumping, and Y is used for various actions with NPCs, objects, and sometimes Quick-Time Events. + opens the Pause Menu and – opens the Customization menu.
Overall, it’s not too hard to learn and all of it is explained to you during the tutorials. The Camera, on the other hand, is a problem. Throughout the majority of the game, the camera follows you pretty well, but in the Non-Giant Boss Fights, it constantly will get caught on walls, zoom in on you, and all around not stay focused on your opponent, which is very frustrating.
Graphically, this game looks fine in gameplay. There are some small jagged edges here and there but they are mostly impossible to see outside of cutscenes. But speaking of that, cutscenes are where things don’t look as nice. All of the pre-rendered scenes have a bit of a blur effect to them that the rest of the game doesn’t have. It looked as it they took them straight from the previous versions of the game, rather than refining them for the Switch.
Performance, however, is exceptional. Whether you’re in TV Mode or Handheld Mode, the game runs at a flawless 60 fps at every single point where there’s gameplay. They really did a good job of optimizing the game for this reason.
As far as this goes, I wasn’t expecting miracles considering what kind of game this is. You’ll get more than Zelda, but not by a huge margin. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 48 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 52 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 27 minutes
So, you’ll get around 3 to 3 and a half hours out of Bayonetta. For reference, Zelda’s max is 3 hours, 12 minutes, so there’s definitely some better Battery Life to be had here. But, as I said above, not by a huge margin.
In conclusion, Bayonetta is a fast-paced action game that is as unique as it is sexy. While story cutscenes being blurry in both Docked and Handheld Mode is a bummer along with the camera frustration, it is a small blemish on an otherwise fun alternative to Devil May Cry or God of War.