When most people picture the Wii U, they remember a Fisher Price-looking disappointment. Yet, for action gaming connoisseurs, it’s the console that Trojan Horsed the best game of 2014 into our lives. I am, of course, talking about the breath-takingly bizarre Bayonetta 2.
As the once-shelved follow-up to the Sega-published Bayonetta, the 91 Metacritic-rated sequel is a madcap masterpiece. Now, eight years on, we find ourselves potentially just months away from this year’s Nintendo Switch threequel. With only a single trailer to go on, details on the Umbran Witch’s highly-anticipated upcoming adventure are… well, somewhat scant. What we do know however, is that after returning to the batshit brilliance of the eight-year-old Bayonetta 2 – there’s a very real chance we’re in for another all timer.
For those who skipped Nintendo’s Angel-obliterating opus, Bayonetta 2 is an experience that operates entirely in its own sense-defying stratosphere. From its manically melodramatic main theme, to a whiplash-inducing Christmas shopping prologue that sees a festive Bayonetta fighting angels atop a fighter jet, Platinum’s turbo-charged joyride is one that never lets up. It’s an undeniable high point for the character-driven-action genre. A serotonin-secreting source of utterly glorious nonsense. The best part about it, though? This sweary, sexual, angel-slaying sim wouldn’t exist without Nintendo.
With the big N struggling to find an audience for its poorly named Wii successor, it needed great games – and fast. Thankfully for Nintendo, a slightly skint Sega had recently got cold feet with its new witch, leaving developer Platinum with a finished Bayo sequel sitting on the shelf. The rest, as they say, is Neogaf-baiting history. Made under the watchful eye of series creator (and notorious Twitter troll) Hideki Kamiya, impressively, our heroine’s second outing manages to feel even less coherent than its predecessor. Make no mistake, this is an experience filled with barely comprehensible story beats and baffling ‘jokes’, yet it’s hard to care when they lead to such a giddying tour de force of combat and endlessly eye-popping spectacle.
It's the kind of glitzy and giddying mess that only comes from the most carefully crafted Japanese games, and culminates in a vibe so uniquely and inimitably Bayonetta that it's hard to put into sensible, adult words. And if you’ve experienced the full swathe of Bayonetta 2’s ‘narrative’, it appears the writers at Platinum struggled with sensible, adult words too.
This is a game that dares to ask questions that we’d wager few people were asking. Like; what if Bayonetta was actually the mother to a half-angel, half-squirrel child? And, if Bayonetta loses more clothes, will her breasts summon city-levelling demons?! The result is a culmination of cutscenes and conversations that would probably give even poor old Psyduck an aneurysm.
Still, this strangely compelling blend of sassy zingers, proper noun-ed lore and Poundland Danny Devito impersonation all come together to tee up one thing – a gallery of glorious set pieces. Whether you’re surfing across a flooded city on half a wall, madly slashing at a biblical sea creature, or punching the ever-loving shit out of a gigantic 40-foot angel, Bayonetta 2 feels like a bunch of coked-up lads constantly trying to one up each other on a wildly escalating stag do.
It's hard to understate just how joyous the action in this game feels in the hands. No, not like that you perv. Perhaps fittingly for a game starring a witch protagonist tasked with slaying God’s angels, when a good combo chain reaches full flow, the feeling borders on a religious experience.
Angels topple, female-led bangers blast out of the speakers, and blood, gore and torture devices rain from the sky amongst a brutal ballet of bullets. And that's before you even unlock Bayonetta’s many battle techniques or equip her with any stat-improving accessories. From using ‘witch time’ to part the seas - Moses style - before galloping across them as a demonic panther - Bayonetta 2 feels like it’s steering you into constant sensory overload.
If you somehow come away from the first level feeling as though Bayonetta 2 is too straight-laced, you can opt to make the game even more ridiculous. How? By kitting our anti-heroine out in frankly ludicrous Link, Samus or Fox McCloud outfits. Quite frankly, the idea of giving the already sexualised Bayonetta a tail makes me gag, but Furries – don’t say Nintendo doesn’t do anything for you.
For the rest of us, there are more innocent motivations to keep returning to Bayonetta 2. Like in its predecessor, your performance is rated in every battle – a technique employed by series creator Hideki Kamiya since the Devil May Cry days – and it keeps you surprisingly well-motivated and eager to improve. With each battle, I felt compelled to avoid as much damage as possible, coveting that elusive Pure Platinum performance medal.
When it comes to the feel of combat, pacing and sheer spectacle it's hard to view Bayonetta 2 as anything other than a masterpiece. Sure, the story is largely hammy nonsense, but it does what it needs to keep the next mind-bending set piece or gargantuan boss fight rolling along at a break-neck pace. Quite simply this is a game that needs to be played to be believed. The Nintendo exclusive is a 10-hour romp of such unrelenting brilliance that it’s hard to know how Platinum can top it for the threequel.
Still, after the understated invention of 2018’s Astral Chain – and the eight year wait between Bayonetta entries – if anyone can top their own eccentric genius, I’m confident it’s the folks at Japan’s most sought-after studio.