We argued, right at the start of our Bayonetta 2 review, that the "Wii U library is small, but also diverse and exciting". The reason we opened with that point is that, despite lazy comments often shared online — increasingly irrelevant with each passing month — stating that the Wii U has 'no games', that's rather far from the truth. The body of fascinating, enjoyable and varied games exclusive to the hardware is decent and still growing, while the eShop tops up playtime with a host of unique games or appealing multi-platform efforts. While Nintendo's home console is largely left out of the third-party triple A scene in retail terms, it has major releases of its own that are a delight.
This week Platinum Games is bringing Bayonetta 2 to the Wii U as an exclusive; let's make one thing clear, too, it is exclusive. Some continue to assert that we'll eventually see it on other hardware, and while not impossible that's dependent on Nintendo actually agreeing to that very prospect — SEGA owns the IP, Platinum Games is the developer and Nintendo is the publisher, with the big N's money making its development possible. So let's just puncture that right away and say that, in all likelihood and barring surprising deals in the future or ports way down the line, Bayonetta 2 is a Wii U exclusive.
It'll be Platinum's third game on the Wii U, counting the port of Bayonetta — out on the same day as the sequel — and system exclusive The Wonderful 101. Considering the fact that even hurried development cycles of major games can be 2-3 years long, the attention of Platinum is now likely to be on Xbox One exclusive Scalebound, announced during E3 this year. The company does work on multiple games at once — including the disappointing licensed effort The Legend of Korra — but there are currently question marks over whether it'll divert attention elsewhere. We certainly aren't without hope that more Nintendo projects are in the works — the studio has been relatively prolific since it was founded in 2006 — yet by the same token Platinum has generally hedged its bets across all platforms over the years.
If Platinum Games were to never produce another Wii U exclusive, which we hope won't be the case, its two main titles on Wii U — and to some degree that Bayonetta port — stand up as among its finest releases, and certainly rank high in the Wii U library. While its releases often struggle to hit sales projections at retail, there's little mystery to why publishers and platform holders keep going back for more — this is a company that delivers wonderful games.
Let's start with The Wonderful 101, which arrived in late Summer / Fall 2013. Its lack of notable sales success is a real pity — not helped by the Wii U being in the lowest of its doldrums at that particular point — as it fulfils various requirements to be a hit. It has bright, colourful characters along with an extravagant series of environments and spectacular robotic and alien enemies. Like much of the studio's work it's also rather demanding to play, with upgrade systems and items to grasp and a hefty level of difficulty even in some of the lower settings. It's also an experience that won't immediately click for all players, with plenty of controls to master and group-management mechanics with which to grapple.
Yet when it 'clicks', when the pieces come together, it's arguably one of the most exciting and ridiculous games available. Of course, there are those that never quite connect with it, and that perhaps helps to explain why this title's mixed reception — among critics and consumers alike — didn't help its chances. The Pixar-esque art design, combined with a few cheeky moments, also brought some contradictions into play in that it look 'kiddy', but came across mainly as a game for adults and committed gamers. These can be wonderful strengths and explains why we're in the camp of praising it as one of the Wii U's best, but these mixed approaches no doubt alienate some.
While the Bayonetta port is a fine effort — including some Wii U features such as touch controls and Nintendo outfits — it's Bayonetta 2 that means, when we look back on Platinum's contribution to the system, we'll confidently say that it truly delivered excellence. Critically acclaimed and about to hit stores, in our view it takes the highly praised original and improves in multiple areas, serving up one of the sharpest, most intense and visually arresting action games of recent times. In typical Platinum style there are brief moments where solid gameplay takes a back seat to cinematic extravagance, but for the vast majority of the experience it combines bombast and tight controls to terrific effect.
Commercially it's not had a great time in Japan, yet we're clinging to hope that the hype that was seen during its announcement in 2012 — and the improved positivity around the Wii U in general — will help it along to reasonable sales in the West. It truly deserves it.
For long-time Platinum fans, this isn't any kind of revelation; its library is often praised for its flamboyant style, particularly with action releases. The studio also supported Wii — with the super-violent MadWorld — and the DS — Infinite Space — while many of the team were part of Capcom's Cover Studios, producing memorable releases such as Viewtiful Joe and Okami. Without the intention of being elitist, these are what some would surely consider to be 'gamer's games'.
So, if Platinum's journey with the Wii U were to end with Bayonetta 2, we're confident that in a few year's time we'd still consider it one of the finest development teams to grace the system, producing games that we wouldn't want to give up. It may not be done, of course, especially as there's clearly a solid relationship between the studio's senior figures and their Nintendo contemporaries. Money and business will come into play, but in our dreams we like to think that Hideki Kamiya's oft-stated love for Star Fox and Nintendo actively planning to "enlist an external developer" to secure a 2015 release could bring the perfect synergy for that upcoming title. Platinum Games may not be finished with Wii U yet.
As Bayonetta's 2 long awaited arrival is here, however, we thought we'd take stock and acknowledge that, for all of Nintendo's excellent efforts with the home console, the Wii U would be a lesser machine without these titles in its game library.
Are you a big fan of Platinum Games, and do you want more of its games on Wii U? Sound off, as always, in the comments below.