Bottom Line: Bayonetta 2 is still an incredibly fun game from start to finish, but the WiiU faithful who played the game at its initial release should know that there's nothing new for them in this premium-priced package. If you never played the game, however, know that you're stepping into one of Platinum Games' finest adventures.
Over the top action set pieces
Combat that is fast, fluid, and fun
Looks great on the Switch's small screen
It's the same game that released in 2014
Starting to show its age in certain areas
Premium price tag
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The WiiU was a misunderstood console, that's for sure. Not even Nintendo themselves understood how to utilize the system fully, but it ended up being the platform of choice for some Nintendo classics: Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3, and perhaps the most unexpected, Bayonetta 2. Initially released in 2014, Bayonetta 2 was the subject of fan outrage, primarily due to the game's platform exclusivity on Nintendo's doomed console. Those who played it, however, were treated to one of the best action titles of the decade.
Fast forward to the start of a new decade, and the Nintendo Switch now dominates the console market. Games previously stranded on the WiiU now have a second shot at glory thanks to a steady stream of re-releases. Now that Bayonetta 2 has joined the Switch's library, two critical questions remain. Does this game still hold up and is worth returning to if you've already played the WiiU version?
What I love about Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 follows the titular character, Bayonetta, on another adventure through hell and back. This time, she's on a quest to save her best friend's soul from eternal damnation after some demon-slaying gone wrong. On her way to the Inferno to save her, Bayonetta encounters Loki, a foul-mouthed child being pursued by a supernatural being. Bayonetta makes it her duty to protect the child, as well as locate her friend's lost soul.
The story is mostly forgettable, but the characters make up for it with silly one-liners and ridiculous dialogue. Bayonetta 2 is at its best when reveling in its b-movie camp. Bayonetta herself is a walking innuendo, often playfully making suggestive remarks and dropping into a wide-legged squat or split as often as possible, but it's never over-the-top.
The action set pieces are the bread and butter of the game, and they still deliver more than six years after its initial release. Platinum Games is known for offering fast-paced, over the top gameplay, and Bayonetta 2 does not disappoint.
Bayonetta has never been better; her combos are incredibly satisfying to pull off as well as watch. Using the guns on her hands and feet, you can also make use of Witch Time, Bayonetta 2's version of bullet time, to maim, decapitate, and straight-up obliterate your enemies. Stopping mid-combo to spank a centaur or summon a demon "climax" through a portal as Bayonetta poses (tastefully censored) in the foreground is as fun now as it was in 2014.
Not all fights are created equal, though. The battles that take place in the air, ocean, or moving platforms suffer from wonky camera angles and a feeling of weightlessness that ruined the otherwise tight control. Bayonetta works best when she's firmly planted on the ground.
Players are ranked and receive medals based on how well and quickly they dispatch enemies at the end of every brawl. The medals are tallied at the end of the level, and you're rewarded on performance. The game lends itself perfectly to those interested in grinding out high scores as well as catering to those who are looking for short, 20-30 min game sessions.
What I didn't love about Bayonetta 2
What isn't as fun are the parts that exist in between the combat. Running down lifeless streets to the next battle almost feels like an interactive loading screen. There is not much else to do besides strut to the next fight, and most of the interactivity in the game world exist as quick-time events.
And that's when the cracks in Bayonetta 2's game design start to become apparent. The DNA of Bayonetta 2 can be traced back to games like Devil May Cry, which makes sense as Hideki Kamiya created both games. The action is smooth and fun, but the levels are simple, often littered with invisible walls that keep players from wandering too far off the beaten path.
When you encounter an enemy, you're thrown into a small arena, and the only way out is to kill everything in the space. It's a familiar gameplay loop that was growing stale then and even more so now.
Graphics and textures are also distinctly last-gen, with lots of clipping and bloom effects that remind me of early Xbox 360 games. Last gen game design is not necessarily to Bayonetta's detriment, but these flaws become more noticeable as the action genre continues to evolve on other platforms.
Worth the switch to Switch?
What about the Switch difference? Well, get ready for this because there's…nothing, really. Bayonetta 2 looks identical to its WiiU counterpart, but the frame rate drops present in the WiiU version are fewer and far between. All of the WiiU features remain intact, including the multiplayer mode, touch controls, and all of Bayonetta's Nintendo-centric outfits. Still, now you can also tap Amiibos in the shop for extra items and currency.
Bayonetta 2 can also be enjoyed in handheld mode, and the game looks great on the Switch's smaller screen. Having Bayonetta 2 on-the-go is quite nice, but it is difficult to whole heartily recommend if you've played the game on the WiiU, even more so when you consider the hefty $60 price tag. The physical edition of the game comes with a download code for the original Bayonetta, much like the WiiU version. If you purchase the game on the Nintendo E-shop, you'll pay $50, with an option to pick up a digital copy of Bayonetta for $10 more.
Should I buy Bayonetta 2 for Nintendo Switch?
Bayonetta 2 is still an expertly crafted game and a worthy addition to the Switch's excellent catalog. It's ridiculous and over the top in all the best ways and is a joy to play. My biggest complaint is that it's the same game that was released on the WiiU. Plus, the game design that was already aging in 2014 feels like a fossil in 2020.
I can fully recommend it to action game fans who have never had the pleasure of taking Bayonetta 2 for a spin, but for those who have, there's nothing here you haven't seen before. I genuinely hope that Bayonetta finally finds the audience it deserves and ascends beyond just a cult-favorite once Bayonetta 3 hits the Switch sometime in the future. In the meantime, Bayonetta 2 is a reminder of what this franchise is capable of.
Bayonetta 2 is every bit as insane and excellent as it was when it was first released on the ill-fated WiiU. It's incredibly fun to play, and its stylish gameplay will capture the heart of any action game fan. For those who played it back then, however, it's virtually the same game with a premium price tag.
An insane thrill ride
This party is still crazy.
Bayonetta 2 is as fun as it was when it was originally released. Action fans all over should not miss out, especially if they missed it the first time around. Returning fans, however, might be disappointed with the lack of new features.
Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.