The Witch comes to Switch without a hitch.
I remember finishing Bayonetta 2 on Wii U back when it first launched and being floored that somehow, PlatinumGames had bested the first game. Even with consistent framerate issues, the core design of that game was so incredibly good, that it became one of my favorite Wii U games. So, if you’re like me, you’re likely wondering if the Switch version brings anything new to the table that can justify a second dip. If you’ve never played Bayonetta 2, or Bayonetta for that matter, you’re probably wondering what makes this game so great. To put it simply, Bayonetta 2 on Switch is the best version of the best character action game ever made.
The plots of either Bayonetta game, particularly in relation to each other, are remarkably confusing. That’s not to say they don’t make sense, but if you’re interested in following along, pay close attention during cutscenes. With that in mind, it would be suicidal to attempt to cover anything other than the most general aspects of the story arc here. While Christmas shopping, Bayonetta and her fellow witch Jeanne are attacked by an angel-controlled fighter jet. Bayonetta kicks the fighter jet. Santa Claus steals Joe Pesci’s car and uses it to deliver guns to Bayonetta. While attempting to save Bayonetta from a literal dinosaur from Hell, Jeanne’s souls is knocked out of her and dragged to the underworld. This all happens in the first 20 minutes or so. Like I said, pay attention, things move fast.
Bayonetta 2 is a action game in the same vein as Devil May Cry or God of War. Most of the time is spent in combat, complimented by short segments of exploration and some very light puzzle solving. Combat is quick and fluid, relying on well-timed dodges to activate Witch Time. This features slows the progression of time and allows Bayonetta to get in a flurry of powerful combos before her opponent can do anything to stop her. While a plethora of complex combos are available to the player via the combination of punches, kicks, and ranged attacks, knowing specific combos is never really necessary. Rather the general flow of combat is where Bayonetta 2 puts most of its focus. Relying on the player to understand the timing of combat, both in relation to combos and the aforementioned Witch Time mechanic. Once you get a feeling for this flow, it’s easier to know exactly which attack types to use and when to use them. An unstated synergy is established between the game and the player that I’ve never seen accomplished to this degree of perfection in any other game of this style. Topping off the brilliant combat is the occasional spice of variety brought out through unique gameplay moments. Rare one-off segments in which Bayonetta takes control of a mech to rampage through city streets, or straight up plays a level of Star Fox ensure that a constant feeling of surprise underlines the entire experience.
During the occasional moments of exploration outside of combat, plenty of secrets and optional side challenges are available to uncover. While the experience as a whole is linear, the relatively open areas on your journey are well worth scouring. Any optional fights are generally rewarded with collectables that can be used to enhance some attribute. Combined with the fact that cleared levels can always be revisited, backtracking can prove an efficient way to power up for tough boss fights. Moving between levels and into bonus areas is exceedingly convenient on the Switch version as loading times are on average about 30% their previous length on Wii U. This seems to hold true whether playing off of a cartridge, the Switch’s internal storage, or a microSD card. I found myself taking on every single bonus area as the wait time to load into them only amounts to about three seconds in the Switch version. While we’re on the topic of improvements for the Switch version, the entire game runs much smoother. The Wii U version suffered from near constant frame rate drops away from its target of 60fps. The Switch version, on the other hand, sticks remarkably close to that target. Even if you’re someone like me for whom frame rate drops aren’t a huge issue, the benefits of a solid frame rate on a fast-paced game like this simply can’t be ignored. The resolution remains 720p, just like the Wii U version, but given the choice I’d much rather play at a lower resolution while maintaining the target frame rate. Surprisingly the game also runs at 720p in handheld mode meaning you get a nice clean image and even when portable, performance still outdoes the Wii U original.
Bayonetta 2 is an absolute masterpiece that should be experienced even if the character action game genre is not normally your cup of tea. It gleams with creativity and polish in absolutely every department. Had you asked me to find issue with the original Wii U release, I would have told you that significant frame rate drops can be an problem. Given the Switch’s correction of this singular issue, I have yet to identify a single thing to take issue with in Bayonetta 2 on Switch. I’ll let you know if one day I find something.