For years, the Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2 has been like that amazing restaurant that’s tucked away in a depressing retail park on the far side of town. It’s fantastic, sure, but it’d be so much better if it were easier to reach.
Originally released in 2014 as a Wii U exclusive, Bayonetta 2 outdid its already-terrific predecessor in every way. Well, almost every way: because of a publishing deal with Nintendo, the sequel was chained to the Wii U, a console so beleaguered that even its limited but rich library of good games wasn’t enough to get very many people to want to buy one. The first Bayonetta had been released on Xbox 360 and PS3, and got a surprise PC port last year. The superior sequel remained stuck in Wii U Purgatorio.
Bayonetta could save the world but she couldn’t save the Wii U, which wound up going on life support even before Nintendo officially announced the Switch two years later. Bayonetta 2 is the first of hopefully several major Wii U exclusives to get ported to the Switch. Given that the Switch exceeded the Wii U’s lifetime sales in less than a year, it’s safe to say a lot more people are going to play it.
That’s a good thing, because Bayonetta 2 is terrific. It’s got well-tuned combat, brilliant animations, and feels unusually satisfying to play. (One downside is all those button-mashing finishers, though: my right thumb is killing me!) It’s also unexpectedly approachable. I am by no means exceptional at this kind of fast-paced fighting game, but once I get into a flow state with Bayonetta, I feel like a lord.
Bayonetta’s “Witch Time” dodge, which lets you activate a few moments of slow-mo after nailing a perfectly timed dodge, effortlessly reasserts itself as one of my all-time favourite video game moves. It’s so good.
Seriously, the dodge is the thing that makes me love these games. I like the outrageous fashion and kitschy silliness of the story, sure, but the game’s basic combat rhythm is what keeps me playing. Bayonetta is usually taking on enemies who are much larger than she is. As if to compensate for that, many of her combos finish with a humongous fist or high-heeled kick spiralling in from the nether-space, smashing into her enemy. It all works in concert: time a dodge perfectly and your opponent will go into slow mo, giving you time to pull off a combo and smack the massive creature in the jaw with an equally massive fist.
I might like Bayonetta 2 more than the first game, but the first game is great, too. Considering that you can get it for ten extra bucks if you buy the two games together, I can’t really think of a reason not to get the two-pack. That’s a lot of video game for not a lot of extra money, and if you play through both games and really pay attention (and, okay, maybe read a wiki entry or two) you’ll have enough of a handle on the story to be ready for whatever madness transpires in Bayonetta 3.
The quality of the port seems strong as well, at least after six hours of play. I did notice a couple of frame-rate hiccups during some of the climactic opening encounters in docked mode, but the game feels smooth overall and sticks more consistently to 60fps than it did on Wii U. The first game also runs well. Both feel great to play with a Switch Pro controller, which makes sense, since everything feels good to play with a Switch Pro Controller. And as you’d expect, while it feels slightly less good to play with the Joy-Con thumbsticks and button layout in handheld mode, it’s a treat to play this kind of bells-and-whistles 60fps action game on a handheld.
Kotaku’s resident video game expert (and avowed Bayonetta fan) Tim Rogers made a video answering a bunch of technical questions people had for him about the port and the game overall, which I recommend watching if you’re curious how the Switch version stacks up:
Bayonetta 2 is a fantastic game that deserved better than to be marooned on the Wii U. Hopefully it helps pave the way for ports of other Wii U exclusives like Tokyo Mirage Sessions and The Wonderful 101. The Wii U might be dead, but its games live on.