Bayonetta is one of those unsung gems of the current generation of gaming. It’s a fast paced, kinetic, rewarding third person action/brawler with some tight controls, fluid combat, and that uniquely Japanese sensibility to its story that treads a fine line between insanity and tastelessness. While it didn’t rake in the dough on either the Xbox 360 or the PS3 (though it was used heavily as a reference point in console war arguments due to the shoddy PS3 port) Nintendo saw fit to come to the rescue of Platinum Games and publish the sequel, so unsurprisingly, this is a Wii U exclusive. And what an exclusive it is. Of all the games available at Nintendo’s E3, this is the one that felt the least “Nintendo,” and makes action fans genuinely sad if they don’t own a Wii U.
For the hands-on demo at E3, the opening levels of the game were playable, including the tutorial for combos and options to choose which difficulty level to play at, including the infamous “Easy Automatic.” The demo opens in typical Bayonetta fashion; all guns blazing with no clear idea of what’s going on except that whatever it is is already off the rails. It was nearly impossible to discern any kind of plot with all the noise of the booth and no headphones provided, but what is clear is that A) Bayonetta’s got a haircut, for a shorter, sassier, “Audrey Hepburn with glasses and guns” look, and B) she’s all cozied up with Jeanne, her rival from the first game who is now her BFF.
As to be expected from a game being played on a newer console, the game looks fantastic. It may not hold its own against some of the monsters shown on the Xbox One or PS4, but it looks like its performance slightly surpasses in looks and stability what the original Bayonetta achieved on its former consoles. The game can be played two ways, with either traditional controls or the use of the touch screen to completely negate any kind of stick or button input. This method involves tapping enemies with the stylus and using the screen to move and dodge, but it also means you’re stuck looking at the GamePad and not the TV.
If you opt to use the traditional controls—which I did—then the feel of Bayonetta has made the transition largely intact. The combos are similar to what they were in the first game, successful dodges still reward players with some Witch Time, but one of the new components to combat shown right in the opening level is aerial combat. At one point in the demo, a new, massive foe appears that climbs a skyscraper King Kong style and Bayonetta—because this is what witches do, naturally—sprouts a pair of wings and continues the fight in the air, fluttering about and executing her gun and melee combos as the giant demon continues to climb.
Of course, the big signature for Bayonetta is the enchanted hair that can be used for everything from forming giant stiletto heeled feet for crushing to the spontaneous formation of torture devices for execution. This was still on show for Bayonetta 2, although a surprise kicked in during the cut scenes; it seems Bayonetta’s magical demon hair now has an intolerance for Jeanne, as it attacked her and apparently tore away her soul from her body.
This is obviously going to play the role of central conflict/plot point for Bayonetta 2 as the demo ended on that big question mark. The game is looking good at this point, and still feels like classic Bayonetta, insane plot included. Wii U owners are fortunate; this one is shaping up to be a must own for classic Japanese brawler action. Bayonetta 2 is scheduled for a 2014 release exclusively on the Wii U.