Can someone please tell me when Nintendo sneakily stole Bayonetta from every other console? I remember when the first Bayonetta released in 2009, and much like its spiritual predecessor Devil May Cry, was beginning to see life on all consoles, it seemed very much like Bayonetta would follow the same path; as a high concept, high octane brawler with obvious mass appeal.
But with its first sequel exclusive to the Wii U, the third installment exclusive to the Switch, Bayonetta herself appearing in Super Smash Bros.—as well as her own Amiibo—and now a Switch re-release of Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2, it really does seem like Nintendo has added the series to its illustrious list of exclusive titles.
And frankly, it belongs there.
I never actually played Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 upon their respective releases. I had played the demos and really enjoyed them, but slept on their full releases. I’m definitely glad I waited though because Bayonetta 1 & 2 are simply smashing on the Switch. For anyone who hasn’t played either entry—or Devil May Cry for that matter—Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 are hyper-stylized hack-and-slash games that beautifully mix a combination of physical attacks and gunplay for combo-heavy, intensely fun combat encounters.
Both games perform wonderfully on the Nintendo Switch, running at a consistent 60fps so the action always feels slick and responsive—even during many of the dynamic fights with insanely chaotic backgrounds. While both games are locked at a 720p resolution in both handheld and docked versions, it’s barely noticeable, with textures looking crisp and smooth and incredibly detailed enemies and environments.
And while I will concede that Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 are probably best enjoyed on a big screen, with just how much can be going on sometimes, I did spend the majority of my time playing in handheld mode, and never once did it feel too cluttered or disorienting on the smaller screen. Furthermore, given how most levels consist of moving from one fight to the next, the gameplay perfectly lends itself to handheld play, as players could easily finish a fight and put the game down in-between commuting or lunch breaks. The only downside is that Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 are a little hard on the Switch battery, offering only 2-3 hours of playtime before needing a recharge.
Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 also possess some Switch-exclusive features. Most notably, and also most weirdly, is the return of the touch-screen control method initially introduced in the Wii U version of Bayonetta 2. By tapping enemies, Bayonetta will execute a basic combo, while swiping the screen will have her dodge incoming attacks; and I’m very torn on this. One the one hand, I can appreciate the application of the Switch hardware—utilizing the touch screen for a simpler, more mobile-style of portable gameplay; but on the other, I can’t imagine who this is for. There exists an easy mode, so newcomers don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the number of combos and weapon styles, allowing them to take the game at their own pace. And anyone familiar with the franchise won’t need a control method where the game basically plays itself. It’s a strange choice. However, I guess in a game where a sexy witch uses her hair (which is also her clothes) to summon monsters, no decision was too odd.
Bayonetta 2 also features amiibo support (originally releasing a month before amiibo), wherein players can use compatible amiibo to instantly unlock some of the Nintendo-themed costumes that were included in the original release. Bayonetta 2 also features local multiplayer for the Tag Climax mode, which previously only featured online multiplayer.
While I may have joked at the start of this review that Nintendo stole Bayonetta from other platforms, there more I think about it, the more I think it’s a game that belongs under the Nintendo banner. One might imagine this is what they’d come up with if they were tasked to design a full-fledged adult game. It truly embodies everything that makes a solid first-party Nintendo game: it’s got a great sense of style, a strange yet charming tone, amazing atmosphere, and it’s fun as heck! And like Mario, Link or Samus, Bayonetta herself is uniquely designed, instantly memorable, and brimming with charm.
While one might find it odd that Nintendo is receiving such praise for filling its library with remasters, Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 feel right at home on the Nintendo Switch, especially with a third installment headed exclusively for the console. If you’ve never played these games, this is the perfect excuse to finally try them.