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Hands On: Bewitching Bayonetta 2 Brings Action Gaming To A Climax On Wii U

Posted by Morgan Sleeper

We spend some time with Bayonetta 1 and 2

It’s hard to overestimate just how much buzz Bayonetta 2’s Wii U exclusivity garnered back when it was announced in 2012; the first game in the series - from Platinum Games and Hideki Kamiya - was critically acclaimed and a big hit with fans, though since it only ever appeared on the Xbox 360 and PS3, not all Nintendo gamers will be familiar with just why this witch is so well-renowned. Luckily, during this year’s Digital Event at E3, Nintendo announced that Bayonetta 2 would also include a Wii U update of the original game, making their latest console home to the entirety of the enchantress’ oeuvre. We went hands-on with both titles at E3, beginning with the sequel, and ended up thoroughly impressed and a little lightheaded - Bayonetta 2 is a bracingly brilliant action game, a graphical showpiece for the Wii U, and a whole lot of fun.

Our demo of Bayonetta 2 began with a quick explanation of the controls and a quick-fire cutscene, before throwing us right into the action, on the angel-infested roof of a supersonic jet careening through a Manhattan-like cityscape. Even in this Prologue stage, the pace started strong and didn’t let up; from the plane, we proceeded - crash by spectacular crash - to the top of a runaway train and the side (and eventually top) of a skyscraper, all while battling enemies of various shapes and sizes, as the weather went from sunny skies to raging thunderstorm.

The gameplay reminded us quite a bit - thematic differences notwithstanding - of Platnium’s first Wii U title, The Wonderful 101, in its pacing, frenetic level design, over-the-top set pieces, and emphasis on evade-attack sequences and combos. Bayonetta moves quite differently than the masked mob of superheroes, of course, but she’s every bit as nimble as you’d expect from her streamlined design, and the controls are easy to get to grips with and wonderfully fluid. The left stick is for movement, ‘B’ jumps, X’ and ‘A’ send out punches and kicks (including some in the form of giant limbs made from Bayonetta’s super-powered hair), and ‘ZR’ is used to dodge - evading at the very last second triggers a stylish slo-mo effect and activates ‘Witch Time’, where time stands relatively still for a few moments and you’re free to land lots of extra hits.

Even garden-variety enemies can take quite a few of those hits, too, which means there’s plenty of opportunities to get in some of the game’s spectacular combos. Bayonetta can juggle foes with the best of them, and the combo system is built for speed and style: different strings of ‘X’ and ‘A’ perform increasingly impressive attacks (temporarily unravelling Bayonetta’s hair-based bodysuit at the same time), while holding down either button for a longer press will hold the offending angel at arm’s (or leg’s) length with gunfire from her handguns and shoe-mounted pistols. Guns aren’t the only weapons at Bayonetta’s disposal, however; we were able to switch freely between her guns and a pair of whips in the demo, and were told that more weapons will be available in the final game. We were especially fond of the whips, and air-juggling enemies inside the frenzied tangles of lashes unleashed with longer button presses.

Successfully stringing together attacks will fill Bayonetta’s magic gauge, and once it’s full you can unleash Torture Attacks - silly-gory finishing moves that can run enemies through a life-sized cheese grater, among much else - or activate Umbran Climax - a hyper-powered mode that casts the screen in an eerie indigo and powers up every punch or kick to the hardest-hitting, hair-based variety. All of these systems add up to exciting, engaging combat that - combined with her super fluid motion and significant speed - makes being Bayonetta a blast. We loved stringing along multiple enemies at a time, snapping back and forth between foes mid-combo, sprinkling in ranged and Torture Attacks, and switching weapons as we went; it’s fantastic, frantic action, and the level we played was pure, adrenaline-pumping fun from front to back.

Part of that considerable adrenaline rush comes from the foes you’ll face. There were plenty of Bayonetta-sized baddies to deal with in the stage we played, for instance, but there were also lots of larger enemies who made things even more interesting. These towering beasts - including a flying, gold-plated, angelic mech and an enormous demon dragon - provided especially thrilling fights, with design reminiscent of old-school boss battles. In fact, we’d feel comfortable calling all these colossal creatures bosses, except for the fact that they just kept coming; there was a point in the demo where one battle ended when a massive monster came in to dispatch the slightly less massive one we were currently fighting, only to turn on poor Bayonetta, resulting in a new fight on an even larger scale - a continuous food-chain of boss battles that kept us on our toes until the very last.

Even with all the surprise attacks, what amazed us most about our time with Bayonetta 2 was how comfortably in control we felt from start to finish. It would be easy for a game with this much off-the-walls action to fall into a trap of automation, where flashy camera angles and choreographed battles keep spectacle high and player input at a minimum. That’s not the case with Bayonetta 2; we felt a clear one-to-one correspondence between our every move and the on-screen action, and it was absolutely exhilarating. The game certainly helps you along, with massive tells indicating when enemies are about to strike, but it’s up to you to evade at the proper moment, active Witch Time, and follow up with combos. Even in the sections of the demo which could be called ‘set pieces’, as in Bayonetta’s mid-air fight with a thirty-story dragon wrapped around a skyscraper, you’re always given exactly enough control - it genuinely felt like our doing when the dragon went down.

The only place where this feeling faltered was in the perhaps too-frequent Quick Time Events, where we were required to hit one of the four face buttons very quickly with very little warning. These popped up for everything from dodges - jumping between pieces of debris, or avoiding incoming shrapnel, for instance - to finishing attacks, and while thematically they make sense, in practice they came off as slightly bothersome. It doesn’t help that the Wii U’s face buttons are all the same size and colour, either - a single letter serves as the sole distinguishing feature for these rapidly required inputs, and at least once we found ourselves having to pull our eyes away from the action to determine whether an impending QTE required an ‘X’ or an ‘A’.

Speeding around the New York-style metropolis and taking down multi-story monsters was a real thrill, and it was also incredibly beautiful to watch - Bayonetta took a centaur hoof to the face early on in the demo because we wanted to just take a moment to look around at all the unbelievable detail whizzing past. Water, explosions, and lighting effects all looked spectacular, and everything was so clean, clear, and colourful in brilliant HD - again, not unlike The Wonderful 101 - that we’d have been very happy to sit back and enjoy the ride even without all the exciting gameplay. It’s worth noting too that the graphics do that gameplay a great service by keeping up a consistent framerate - we didn’t encounter a single bout of slowdown, even in special-effect-packed sequences so dense with action they’d make Bangai-O blush.

Going back to the original Bayonetta

After banishing the final beast in Bayonetta 2, we were also able to play through a stage of the Wii U update of the original Bayonetta, brought onto the E3 show floor after the second day by popular request. In terms of gameplay, this felt very similar to its sequel; the controls were unchanged and felt just as tight, Bayonetta still had access to both whips and guns, and we still spent the stage air-juggling angels into massive combos. However, the specific stage we played - set in a lovely looking train station and its immediate surroundings - focused more on close-quarters combat and included a few light puzzle elements, which gave it a slightly more subdued feel than the cinematic cross-town rumble we’d seen in Bayonetta 2. ‘Subdued’ is a relative term where Bayonetta is concerned, of course, and flicking a few switches and searching for a door key didn’t stop her from also going to town on enormous enemies in and around a massive outdoor fountain - it felt a bit different, but we had just as much fun with Bayonetta as Bayonetta 2.

This rerelease also adds in a few Wii U-exclusives to the core experience, in the Nintendo-themed costumes Bayonetta can wear throughout her adventure. We played through our demo as Peach Bayonetta, who came complete with a hip-mounted Mario doll, and charging through the game’s hellish haunts dressed up as the pink princess was lots of fun. The costume was cute enough, but it’s the little details that made it clear this was a labour of love: the original collectable halos turned into gold coins, sound effects changed to match their Mushroom Kingdom equivalents, and - best of all - Bayonetta’s larger-than-life, stiletto-capped hair-attacks were replaced by enormous, disembodied Bowser limbs. We couldn’t help but smile every time we banished a divine messenger to the netherworld with a swift kick from a shining yellow Koopa leg, and playing as Peach lent the game a goofy levity that kept us smiling throughout. The costumes are entirely optional, of course, but we imagine quite a few Nintendo fans will be winging their way through Vigrid as Samus, Link, or Peach.

Wii U owners will be also happy to hear that it looks like we’re getting a technically top-notch experience - the demo we played ran at a rock solid framerate, with no sign of slowdown or any of the hiccups that plagued the PS3 port. And while the graphics don’t quite match up to the brilliantly beautiful Bayonetta 2, this is still a great-looking game.

Based on our time with Platinum’s latest, Bayonetta 2 seems to be shaping up into a real treat: it’s a stunning game with exhilarating combat, surprisingly nuanced controls, and an incredible sense of style. We were similarly impressed by the Wii U update of the original adventure, and came away from the E3 demos wanting only to play more of both as soon as possible. Happily, we won’t have too much longer to wait - Bayonetta makes her Nintendo début this October, and we expect she’ll make quite an impression on Wii U action fans.

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Make sure you check out our First Impressions of Bayonetta 2 when we played it at last year's E3, and don't miss our other hands-on features from this year's event:

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User Comments (71)



MadAdam81 said:

I had never really known what Bayonetta was, but E3 has put this on my buy list. Thanks Nintendo, I'm going to be broke all year, as all the Nintendo releases I wasn't going to get I will now get thanks to E3. Smash Bros is another one I was going to skip, but E3 really changed my mind on that as well.



Dave24 said:

Can't wait for it. I really liked the first one and I'm sure I'll enjoy this enhancement of the first one on WiiU and the sequel. Finally



wayneyrob22 said:

something to look forward to and maybe we will get a glimpse of what the wii u is capable of, sick of hearing underpowered to be honest.




I can imagine someone being a little confused where the A button is if they were new to the Wii U (I really can't, just being slightly polite), but how long have you been playing the system?

Its location is not the a mystery.



AJWolfTill said:

e3 elevated these games from a curiosity to an essential for me! I just hope the versions including the originals aren't priced too high : )

I actually had this issue for the x and y buttons when playing Assasin's Creed 3 when I first got the console. There were quick QTE button mash moments in the fights against wolves and bears which got me killed a fair amount before I adjusted.



WanderingPB said:

am i the only one drooling wanting to play this now?!

@audiobrainiac dude u read my mind again…now let us commence with the Ren & Stimpy Happy Happy Joy Joy Dance!!!



Ichiban said:

Its weird to think that Nintendo's biggest releases this silly season are all beat em ups! Such a welcome change from the usual holiday line up of platformers from Nintendo I must say. I'll be picking this up for sure.



C-Olimar said:

Urgh so much want! Wish Bayonetta was releasing earlier (before Bayo 2)... but then I'd probably end up paying quite a bit more for it...



MrGawain said:

I've recently decided W101 was my favourite game of all time (beating Suikoden 1&2), and as far as I can see this has a chance of beating it.

Which makes me wonder if it gets any type of success, will it impact on improving W101's sales?



WanderingPB said:

@MrGawain that's funny i posted a similar comment on the MK8 selling 2 million article. I personally wish that success for any Platinum game and hope that this will shed some well deserved lime light to the W101 and if it can boost its sales then maybe just maybe we could get a "wonderful" sequel that it truly deserves! My favorite battle though is still operation 001-C with Ohrochee…getting Pure Platinum on that was one of the best feelings ive ever felt an just cemented this as my GOTY 2013!!!



sinalefa said:


That is why I want a Wonder Pink outfit for Bayonetta. That will help with exposure. Not to Smash Bros. levels, but it can help!

Something that I hate about the original Bayo are those quicktime events. They come out of nowhere, and you are given like a second to react, or you get a game over. You don't even know what button it will ask you to press. Unfortunately it seems they kept them, I just hope they don't get you a game over.



Luffymcduck said:

Hahaha, didn't even notice that, even though my most waited releases of the years end are Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros Wii U.



Ricube said:

@MrGawain I hope so. W101 deserves so much more love. Even if some levels are pretty "unbalanced" and really hard to get pure platinum. Still, that sure is an innovative game that deserves a greater success and maybe a sequel.



Shambo said:

@Ricube Bayonetta wasn't going to get a sequel, but then Nintendo came to the rescue. W101 is on Nintendo already, and that makes me really hope they'll boost the franchise by marketing the first game now in the form of an announcement of a sequel.

I knew I needed Bayonetta 2 eversince I played the first one on PS3. But I lost hope it would happen, until that first teaser... Never could've imagined I could ever need it this much though... REALLY hyped! Nintendo's E3 was literally a high speed hype train with the impact of a meteor: every game they showed or announced, is on my preorder list. Some already were, of course, but still...



HAL9000 said:

My first platinum game was W101. I have no reservations in calling that my game of the year. I cannot wait for Bayonetta.



Leu10antFalcon said:

Platinum Games and Nintendo have taken How U Will Play Next to a whole new level. A must buy for true Bayonetta fans and passionate gamers everywhere.



WanderingPB said:

@MrGawain Roger! Team Engaging Unlimited Hope!!!!

@sinalefa my friend so far ive noticed when it comes to any of ur comments about Platinum games we are on the same wave length and if i could i would "yeah" all ur posts LOL! Any form of advertisment for W101 is welcomed in my book it just makes sense ya know and i was hoping for something more than a trophy in SSB but maybe there's still hope for Bayonetta. Wonder Pink would be perfect indeed! QTE seem to be kinda on that thin line of personal preference because i like them but its nerve wrecking when u dont expect them and are trying to not mess up! Or frustrating when the sequences are just not clicking.…

Or how about the Planet Destruction form of Jergingha i swear i was stressed throughout the whole thing because every time i thought it was over he came back…very stressful but as a final Boss…Epic or how about when suddenly had to start charging up and blasting to survive…my arm went limp after pressing the button so many times and the funny part is even when i saw the credits rolling i didnt believe it was over! Its was stressful and krazy and i wouldnt have it any other way b/c once u know what u have to do its not as bad the next time around but just as fun!!! But this is also coming from a person who actually really liked Beyond Two Souls on so yeah QTE…my body is ready…i hope LMAO!



heyzeus002 said:

The 1st one was my personal best game of last gen so really cant wait for this.just hope it doesn't get delayed...



Action51 said:

Glad to hear the controls are tight and fluid.

The Wonderful 101 had great controls, but they were too different and took an effort to master properly which modern gamers can't handle.

I never played the original Bayonetta, so I'm probably going to end up picking this set up!



zipmon said:

@LUIGITORNADO Ha, I actually meant the QTE prompt that pops up at the bottom of the screen, not the controller itself - since the buttons are all round & white, it's harder to differentiate between them without actually glancing down at the prompt, whereas on the Xbox 360 version the buttons would've been different colours, and (perhaps) easier to read in peripheral vision. Though not knowing where the buttons are would certainly make it tougher!



sinalefa said:


My problem there is that I crack up when they show all the Wonderful Ones also pressing the buttons like crazy. I just love that sense of humour even when the earth is at stake.



vonseux said:

Hasnt W101 sales skyrocket on amazon earlier this month? It was a strange phenomenon. I hope bayonetta success and make W102 ppssible



WanderingPB said:

@sinalefa to me that sequence was LONG!!! LOL my son was laughing telling me to look at the screen and see their faces…i took a quick look but i was having a Mortal Kombat Test Your Might flashback and i was just smashing those buttons as if there was no tomorrow! Of course in retrospect i also wanted to save the world…yup that my answer and im sticking to it LOL!



yemsols said:

I dont have a wiiu yet but Ill probably be preordering this game and hyrule warriors before their releases



Luna-Harmony said:

Epic i can't wait to pre-order special edition with 2 discs.
I own climax edition on bayonetta 1 on ps3 it's amazing.



Farmboy74 said:

Bring it on missed this on PS3 but going to make sure I'm getting them both for my Wii U



coolaggro said:

I think I'll have to quit my job in October. Too many good games coming out from Hyrule Warriors at the end of Sept onwards.



Kirk said:

When all is said and done, this is just a button bashing action game where you basically do the same thing over and over for however many hours, right?

Repeatedly bash away at the action button(s) to kill a wave of enemies (in what is really just a simple ring/arena that's merely window dressed to look more visually exciting and stimulating than a basic square), move onto the next wave, kill a few more waves, move onto a boss, kill the next wave of enemies and so on and on...

Am I correct here or is there more to this game that I'm missing?

Note: I've not played any of the Bayonetta games so I'm genuinely curious because that's kinda all I really picked up from watching the various trailers.



SleepyCrossing said:

Its a cross between Dante's Inferno and RuPaul's Drag Race! LOL. Seriously, I can't wait to play this.



IronMan28 said:

I loved the first one, and the second looks like it'll be just as, if not more, awesome.



Kirk said:


Well certain ones.

I just watched the first part of a play through of Bayonetta on Xbox 360 and was like "WTF is this sh*t?!" and that was just the 14 minute long intro cut-scene. Seriously, it was like the worse movie from the 70s ever or something. So cheesy and badly done with terrible editing and just difficult to watch anything because it was all over the place. It's nearly impossible to actually follow what's going on during any action sequences. Also, sensory overload with the random music and barrage of sound effects all going on at once too. Don't like the look or style either. It's like they just took everything they ever thought was cool and mashed it altogether in one game and any semblance of sense be damned. Basically it's a mess.

Onto the gameplay now to see if it's at least better than that cut-scene...

Edit: Nope. Not feeling it in the slightest. Each to their own I guess. Maybe the Wii U version is MUCH better or something...

Note: The guy/gal/thing who decided on the editing of the cut-scenes needs to be shot. He/she/they apparently have no clue about the 'line of action' or simple concepts like the flow of a scene and giving the viewer time to actually process the imagery in each frame/shot etc. They might as well just pick 500 random shots of anything and play them in a totally random sequence cutting to a totally different angle every 4 frames. You be able to follow that just as easily.



JaxonH said:

I believe that a lot of Nintendo fans who think they won't enjoy this game, and that this game isn't their cup of tea, would nominate Bayonetta 2 as GotY if they actually gave it a try.

The reason I say that, is that I used to be one of them. Before Wonderful 101, I thought Bayonetta 2 was NOT my kind of game. Not interested, nothing to see here, move along. And Wonderful 101 gave me the same exact impression, although my curiosity over the Unite Morphs and drawing weapons on the Gamepad won out, and I ended up giving the game a spin. And boy am I glad I did! That game was AMAZING! Like, seriously amazing! I couldn't believe how poorly I had judged. It was a real eye opener for me.

I wish everyone would play Wonderful 101 and get a taste of that Platinum goodness before Bayonetta 2 releases. Made me a fan for life, and I know I'm not the only one...



sinalefa said:


Sorry, but you need to play the game to realize it is not a button bashing game, but an action game with tons of variety, combo opportunities and enemies who will cream you in seconds if you don't use that dodge button efficiently, even on Normal difficulty. A video just won't cut it.

As @JaxonH mentions, you get a grasp of the combat system and what is going on as you play it, as any deep game it has a learning curve. Kamiya's games are definitely an acquired taste, but he has never disappointed me. Guess that is the reason why none of his games are million sellers, as the quality and polish are there.





Lol at watching a play through of Bayonetta. Bayonetta isn't TLOU. You need to play it to get it. I'd like to see you button smash your way through the game.

It is suppose to be silly. It's not this ultra-serious action game. It doesn't take itself serious and that's the fun of it.



Bender said:

Hmmm... I love Platinum and Hideki Kamiya, but I'm not sure if this one is for me.. Never played the original, since at the time my mom was all "objectifying women is bad!"..



Dpishere said:

The more I see about these games the more interested in them I get, and I originally wasn't interested in them at all!



Minotaurgamer said:

who cares? this game is going to bomb anyway, just like in the other HD twins. Only geeks and otakus enjoy this stuff. This is nintendo's money terribly wasted.



Stucazzo said:

Is this game anything like the Devil May Cry series? I tried playing DMC 4 and could not get into it.



element187 said:

To play a Platinum Games game, you need to learn the combat system,.... wonderful 101 at first plays very frustrating, but as you get the hang of it the game really opens up..

I rented Bayo on the 360 and it's the same deal. You have to put time into learning the combat system. I think once I get to the point where I' m juggling enemies in the air with combo after combo, there is just no better feeling than that in video games........

I say that as someone who doesn't usually like action games and prefers RPG's and Platformers. Don't let this game pass you buy if you are unsure. Pick it up and read some online guides and watch some guide videos on YouTube and try to mimic what you see, you will be a certifiably badass in no time.



gojiguy said:

I loved Bayonetta 1, so I am counting the days until this game releases. I am ripping through my backlog so I can just spend as much time as possible with the game.



Melkac said:

The Wonderful 101 should totally be re-released. Just give the game to any other development studio from Nintendo (R&D? Retro? ...Monolith???) and fix all the little issues the original game had. THEN make a sequel, the possibilities are endless!

About Bayonetta 1+2, I've been excited for Bayo2 ever since it was announced so yeah. I really hope it sells well...that's completely up to Nintendo, though. Advertise the damn thing, Reggie.



Melkac said:

@B3ND3R Tell your mother to have some fun for once. Specially since Bayonetta's sexualization is meant to be a parody.



Cia said:

Originally i thought that those Nintendo suits the heroine's able to wear were pretty silly... but since Nintendo fans generally buy only games with Nintendo mascots on them, perhaps this is a good tactic to increase sales.




@minotaurgamer I'm not an a octopus, nor am I a geek, and I'm still going to get it. Bayonetta is freaking fantastic. It's gameplay is bar-none in the action game realm.

It's fast, smoothing, addictive, and highly rewarding.



sinalefa said:


So just because you dont like the game you have to label people who do with a stereotype?

I am happy that Nintendo is 'terribly wasting' money supporting a talented and passionate developer even if they take a hit, unlike MS and Sony.



AyeHaley said:

If 1 more person says the Wii U doesn't have/isnt getting any new games..I'll go hulk on them.
We've really come to a point where there is enough to play on Wii U to warrant a purchase...and its only getting better! 2 epic action games this year! (well 3 if you count Bayo 1)
Can't believe I have a console with GBA games like Golden Sun and Metroid Fusion, Earthbound, gorgeous MK8, ZeldaTWW in HD, the best Donkey Kong in years, an underrated godly action game TW101, Pikmin3 (with freaking touch controls<3), 3D multiplayer Mario, a Tekken, Art Academy (only possible on Wii U/3DS!) the best platformer in years: Rayman Legends, the best Lego game to date: Lego City, slick Ninja Gaiden 3, Monster Hunter!!, Wii Sports online, indie darlings like Little Inferno and ScramKitty, 2 NES Remixes, upcoming DS games and so much more its too much to write. All those games +Bayo, Hyrule Warriors and friggin Smash Bros...I'm a happy camper. (sorry 'bout this rant, im just so excited about the Wii U's library of games haha)



Bender said:

@Melkac that's a dangerous thing to tell her, haha. In all seriousness, I may have to pick this up to support Kamiya. Because I have a master scheme in my head, Nintendo buys Capcom, then asks Platinum to make an exclusive Devil May Cry on Wii U.. Since Kamiya made the original DMC and has been making his games even more nuts lately, I can only imagine how off the wall he can make a new DMC. Old Dante preferably, not that new emo trash.



sinalefa said:


The creator of Devil May Cry (the first one) is also the creator of Bayonetta. He sees the latter as an evolution. I haven't played DmC4 so I don't know how similar they really are. Judging by reviews, Bayonetta is the better game.



motang said:

Looking forward to playing this one! The first game was great (of which I will be re-playing on the Wii U). Will NintendoLife be doing separate reviews for both games?



GearsOfWarU said:

I can't wait for this game looks so Awesome!!! & I loved The Wondrful 101 + you get a free game the original what a great value ... Love Platinum games & Bayonetta



mamp said:

@LUIGITORNADO My biggest issue is that I actually mix up the buttons because I also play Xbox and well the buttons are flipped, oddly enough I had no issue with the playstation controller guess it's because the buttons are represented with shapes.
I'm so getting this game!!!

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