Bayonetta 2: Bringing sexy back!
Playing sequels to beloved video games can be a bittersweet experience. Or just bitter. Sometimes the experience isn’t any better or worse than the first; only a chance to revisit the world and characters. Or, as is more often the case, the sequel somehow manages to be a gigantic step backwards for the series. Many, many games with a 2 in the title were huge disappointments for me: Xenosaga Episode 2, Devil May Cry 2, and God of War 2, just to name a few.
But not Bayonetta 2.
No, Bayonetta 2 looks at its predecessor and says, “Bitch, please! I can do everything you did, but do it bigger and do it better.” And it delivers. Bayonetta 2 is a massive success in my eyes. It’s most definitely my new favorite action/beat ’em up game, and a strong contender for Game of the Year here at Hardly Hobbies. Steve-O and I were smitten by the game within the first 5 minutes. And unlike The Evil Within, B2 upheld our excitement and enjoyment for the entire campaign and then some. We enjoyed B2 enough to keep going back, again and again, to plow through harder difficulties and unlock trophies. Er, “Bewitchments.” My bad.
Now to give supporting details to my indulgent Bayonetta 2 worship. Going immediately from the remastered B1 to B2, it’s clear that a lot of work went into making B2 a smoother, brighter, and more fun experience. Even on the wimpiest next-gen system, B2 is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are vibrant, the scenery and enemies detailed and original. The framerate was smooth as can be. While playing, you’ll forget you aren’t playing on a PS4 or XB1 with the crisp details and beautiful colors. I can’t stress how well-designed the creatures (especially bosses) and scenery are. The music is as fitting as in the first. Although, to be fair, I didn’t like the poppy battle music as much as B1’s “Fly Me To The Moon” cover.
The other most impressive aspect of B2 is the pacing. While B1 felt slow at times, with a lot of down time in pretty linear areas, B2 has little-to-none of that. I’m bewildered at how they managed to create a game that felt like it quickly hopped from epic boss battle to epic boss battle, while still incorporating loads of collectibles to seek out for upgrading health and magic.
About those epic boss battles. Here’s the bigger and better I was talking about earlier:
I bet you thought I was going to insert a picture of Bayonetta’s boobs.
Time to play “Where’s Bayonetta?”
I mean, really, look at the size of those! Bayonetta is barely a blip on the screen! But thanks to the incredible design and vibrant colors, you won’t hardly feel lost. The enemies and the protagonist all have colorful and (usually) well-telegraphed moves to help sort things out. Epileptic seizures notwithstanding. Anyway, our favorite Umbran Witch is more than capable of dishing out the hurt on these bad boys with her flashy magic and weapons. Both of which have returning favorites and new features. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the weapons in Bayonetta’s arsenal this time around are so. much. fun. With the exception of the Kafka bow, we had a hard time deciding which weapons to equip on the two sets you’re allotted. We switched out and experimented a lot more than the first game. AND YOU CAN EQUIP SWORDS, WHIPS AND MORE ON HER FEET! And yes, that merits all caps, because the combos Bayonetta pulls off with swords on her hands and feet are nothing short of beautiful.
In terms of magic and abilities, not a whole lot has changed. Witch Time is still here. Torture and climax attacks still exist. The most apparent addition is “Umbran Climax,” AKA “Devil Trigger Mode.” When her magic bar is full, Bayonetta can enter Umbran Climax mode to unleash a crazy barrage of attacks (all customized to the weapons she has equipped) and her health bar slowly replenishes itself. As humorous as the torture attacks are, there’s nothing as satisfying as unleashing your favorite combos with your favorite weapons against a particularly annoying foe.
If you’re a Bayonetta veteran, expect a lot of the same general battle mechanics. This game is pretty unforgiving if you don’t abuse dodging and Witch Time. I did find B2 to be a bit more forgiving than its predecessor. I didn’t die nearly as much while playing normal mode. One big decision factoring into this is the removal of a lot of the poorly-timed QTE from B1. When I played B1, I remember yelling “I pressed the jump button!” more than once, yet half the time it didn’t register. Very annoying, and thankfully absent from the sequel.
Think what you want about the sexualization of Bayonetta, but I feel as though that sort of took a backseat in this game. Not in the “We’re with Nintendo now, we have to be family friendly” way, but more “It’s already established and done, so we’re gonna make a few nods to it and be on our way.” Because, trust me, when it’s there, it’s there. Her outfits speak loudly and clearly to that. There’s some funny cutscenes supporting that as well. As a sequel, they didn’t have to beat us over the head with already-established themes. Thankfully, they spent more time and energy on the battle system, graphics, and game modes.
The story isn’t anything to write home about. Though the implications it makes towards the first game are interesting. All the main characters have returned, some in more glory than others. Luka and Enzo are quite clearly only thrown in because they have to be. Rodin and Jeanne are the only ones with much significance. Jeanne’s new look (longer hair and a decent mascara job) is great, but certainly doesn’t compare to Rodin Santa!
Thought I was joking, didn’t you?
The newest cast member is Loki. He’s annoying, obnoxious, and has bad hair. So I’m not even posting a picture of him.
One small complaint that I have, and it’ll only really resonate with those who wanna go all “completionist” on this game, is the lack of a “Restart from last checkpoint” feature. It didn’t occur to me until we were trying for some of the achievements that it was a frustrating oversight. I also wish the game menus allowed you to track your broken heart and broken moon pearl collections as it does for crows and journals. Seriously, why do it for some collectables and not the others?
We also played a lot of tag climax and made sure to unlock all of the verse cards. Until finding a good way to grind halos online, we used it to acquire some quick cash and play around with unlockable characters.
In closing, aside from begging any and all Wii U owners to purchase this and support the franchise, I have to share Steve-O’s crowning achievement. Like its predecessor, Bayonetta 2 has a crazy hard fight against Rodin to unlock a special weapon. Not only did Steve-O beat Rodin after some practice, he got a Pure Platinum rating! It truly was a thing of beauty. This was the one time I wish the game was on the PS4, so he could hit the “share” button and brag. And if I’m remembering correctly, it was with at least one alcoholic beverage in him. Do I or do I not have the best gaming partner ever?