Much has been written and said about the Wii U’s woes: the gulf in technology separating the system from it rivals, the lack of regular AAA releases, alongside a total absence of third-party support or confidence. This hysteria is whittled out every single time a game is released that is worthy of note, with each title weighed down under a pile of “Saviour of the Wii U” badges, which is unfair for any developer to live up to.
Bayonetta 2 finds itself as the next martyr in this position, but it also finds itself in the good position of being a third-party game with the full backing of Nintendo, plus SEGA, both of whom share top billing in the game’s initial introduction. From the moment the game was announced as a Wii U exclusive, there has been a tidal wave of negative comments from people who don’t understand why developers Platinum Games aren’t bringing the spectacled one to the other consoles of this world. Let’s get this straight, this game would not be financially viable if it weren’t for the support of Nintendo and SEGA.
As for the game itself? Well, it’s Bayonetta to the core, and going by the areas of the game I’m currently allowed to talk about, it contains everything you would expect from Platinum Games: Action, Silky-smooth framerates, campiness, unique characters and enemy designs, and uncomfortably overt sexual themes.
From the get-go, there is an instant feeling of familiarity as we’re reintroduced to the titular character. Ultimately, our heroine is once again fighting the demons and angels that reside in various planes of existence, namely Paradiso, Purgatoria, and Inferno. All you need to know is that the fighting is as manic as before, while the extravagant set pieces are even more absurd right from the very start. Within those initial chapters I fought demons on skyscrapers, angels on fast-moving trains, and even on top of fighter jets in the middle of a city. I imagine these early stages are a good primer for a clear escalation of the absolutely mad action that will no doubt pervade the rest of the game.
It’s also gorgeous as well, appearing lightning-fast and running at a consistently high frame rate, that only occasionally drops at non-essential moments, and pre-rendered cutscenes. There is so much going on screen, and as you’ll be able to see from our preview video, each battle is an exercise in beautiful chaos. The asset design retains the uniqueness from the original, with some very weird enemies, not to mention Bayonetta’s signature Wicked Weave summons.
She retains the same basic abilities she had in the original, and so far, her only major new ability is the Umbran Climax. After completely filling up the purple magic bar by damaging enemies, pressing a specified button will engage a mode where all your attacks will be replaced with Bayonetta’s significantly more powerful Wicked Weave attacks, wherein giant fists and feet made of hair will pummel your foes. Evading enemy attacks at the last second (to activate the slowed down Witch Time) is still very much the order of the day, and remains a good way to give yourself a breather while multiple enemies try and beat you down.
While the battles have so much going on, it’s comforting to know that efforts have been made to make the game a little more accessible for new players or those not confident with these types of game. There is an easy mode of course, but for players who aren’t comfortable with the finger gymnastics required for racking up some of the big combos, there are touch-screen modes available. The whole game can be played in this manner, with swipes and slides taking care of movement and evasion, and taps for jumping and attacking enemies. At this stage, I wouldn’t say it’s a preferable form of control, but it’s certainly usable and I had even racked up a few gold medals using this method. You can see another video detailing how the touchscreen functionality works here.
It isn’t all about fighting though, as there are a few sections of the game that are a little slower in pace, as you traverse areas to get to the next fight, finding various collectables and secrets on the way. Rodin and his shop (The Gates of Hell) return to give you a place to spend all of those lovely rings you pick up on your travels, as well as to provide a little bit of comic relief in between the violence.
So at this early stage, this is basically more Bayonetta. Alas, there is some time before you’re going to know if that’s a good thing or not, as the game isn’t released until October. But it’s shaping up to be another stellar Wii U-exclusive title, which is something we all want, right?
Bayonetta 2 is due to be released in October 2014, exclusively for Wii U.