.......I know what a lot of you are going to say in the comments when you see the title. "GoofierBrute, you charismatic, sexy, intelligent, humble beefcake! Bayonetta 2 was well recieved and loved by many people, and we're even getting Bayonetta 3 next year! It can't be a forgotten game!" And you'd be right! On both accounts! But at the same time, I do feel that even with the universal praise that the game got, I still feel that there's enough here to warrant it being forgotten.
Besides the fact that I've established already in this series that just because a game was well recieved at release doesn't mean that it'll be that way years from now (see The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Metroid Fusion), I would also argue that despite being one of the most influential and most important games in PlatinumGames' catalog, Bayonetta 2 is often ignored or passed aside by a lot of people, especially in the character action game genre. Hell, while everyone is tripping over themselves to talk about how great Devil May Cry 3, 5, or even Bayonetta 1 are, you don't really see people talking about Bayonetta 2, especially since it was arguably one of the few games keeping the genre alive in the 2010s that people didn't actively hate (hi DMC: Devil May Cry). And I want to figure out why that is.
So with the Game Awards having come and gone, Bayonetta 3 coming out next year, and the four year anniversary of that original trailer that told us so much yet nothing at the same time, let's put on our best gun heels and get ready to shoot some angels, and take a look back at Bayonetta 2.
And if you still aren't sure why I'm talking about this, ask your mum.
So to talk about Bayonetta 2, which released exclusively on the Wii U on September 20, 2014 in Japan, October 24, 2014 in the US and Europe, and October 25, 2014 in Australia, we need to talk a little bit about the original Bayonetta. Released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in 2009 in Japan (2010 in the rest of the world), the original game was a huge success for PlatinumGames, despite it reportedly almost destroying them. It was well recieved (well the 360 version was), an anime movie was released for it, and even talk about apperances for Bayonetta in other games were considered, like Sonic All Stars Racing and in the upcoming Project X Zone, though both were rejected for different reasons. There's was no question that a sequel was going to be made, and there was actually some work done on it. Unfortunately, PlatinumGames got hit and the combo was broken.
You see, in the early 2010s, Sega decided to pull a late 90s Sega and fell into financial trouble; there's a lot to talk about in this era and the effect it had on Sega even now, but for the sake of Bayonetta 2, we'll focus on one part of this period, specifically how a bunch of Sega games were cancelled around this time, and Bayonetta 2 was one of those games. PlatinumGames didn't want their work to go to waste, so they made a deal with Sega: if they could find another publisher to fund the game, then work would continue, and so the race was on to find a publisher. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done, as many publishers said no; Platnium has been really coy about who they shopped the game around to, for obvious reasons, but it still always seemed kind of weird that most studios turned Bayonetta 2 down despite it doing really well critically and finicially, with the original game selling 1.35 million copies in 2010. Then again, this was also the era where every video game selling less the 100 billion copies in its first week was considered a failure by most publishers before they realized they could add microtransactions into their games (I swear, it's hard to tell whether games have gotten better or worse), so I can also see why the team had a hard time getting pitched. Regardless, just when it looked like the game wasn't going to happen, Nintendo flew in and saved the game at the last minute and agreed to publish the game and everything was amazing and there was no controversy.
Okay, there is actually more to this than that. While it is true that Nintendo liked the game enough that they agreed to publish it, it was less of them saving the day and more them asking about it. At the time, Nintendo and PlatinumGames were working on a little game at the time called The Wonderful 101 (which fun fact was initally going to star Nintendo characters instead of the homage to Kamen Rider and Super Sentai that we got). In fact, according to some reports at the time of Bayonetta 2's release, PlatinumGames supposedly didn't even show them the game because they didn't think Nintendo would be okay with it, but to the surprise of everybody, not only did Nintendo say yes to publish and fund the game, but they stayed pretty hands off.
They didn't tell PlatinumGames to add Gamepad gimmicks, they didn't tell them to add a casual mode or one button mode, they didn't even tell them to tone anything down, that last one being a surprise. In fact, outside of Nintendo telling them to make Bayonetta's Link costume sexier and giving them the okay for her to summon Boswer in Wicked Weaves while in her Peach and Daisy costume, Nintendo pretty much stayed hands off and let the team do their own thing, which is not something you see happen in this industry. And to this day, despite all the research and everything, I just have no idea why Nintendo did that. Maybe Nintendo needed games for the Wii U, since it was the first time they were working on an HD console, or maybe they had enough faith in Platnium that they could make something good, or maybe Iwata and everyone at Nintendo thought it would be funny to publish a game like Bayonetta 2.
Whatever the reason, Nintendo is why we got a sequel to Bayonetta, why she's in Super Smash Bros., and why she's getting a third game. And no amount of complaining is going to change that, no matter how much people bug Kamiya about it. But I'm getting ahead of myself (we'll talk about that in a bit anyway), so let's talk about the game itself!
So I don't think this is going to be a controversial opinion, but I'll just say it: Bayonetta 2 is a fantastic game that you absolutely play. This is despite the fact that for all intents and purposes, it's just the first game, with just a little bit more polish. And that's more than okay, because it's easily one of the best games of the character action genre.
The gameplay of Bayonetta 2 is the same as the first one: you go through, fight angels and later demons, solve some simple puzzles, and find hidden areas throughout the levels, where you have to fight more enemies. Rinse, lather, repeat, until you reach the end of the level, where you get ranked on how well you do throughout. It's pretty standard for a character action game, but what sets Bayonetta 2 apart from its peers are the minor and much needed improvements made to the game, such as the removal of instant death quick time events in boss fights (though they are in there, they're hidden and just give you an advantage for the battle if done successfully), enemies are a lot more diverse in both design and playstyle, and while there is one on rails vehicle section at the end of the game (and even then, that's only the first part of the last level), there are less of these kind of sections in Bayonetta 2 compared to the first game, with most of the big set piece moments being focused more on ridiculous combat and over the top action. But perhaps the biggest change to Bayonetta 2's gameplay is the inclusion of Umbran Climax.
At various points in the first game (mostly big boss battles), Bayonetta would let her hair down, both literally and figuratively, and would be able to unleash hellish combos and attacks to match the powerful enemy she was fighting. In Bayonetta 2, you can use this technique at any time when a meter is filled up, and when activated increases her attack power, makes her combos faster, and even recovers a little bit of health, though if you're totally a master of the game like I am, you don't have to worry about that last one at all......yeah. Both Umbran Climax and the returning torture attacks share the same meter, so you have to decide which one to use, with the former being great for taking out groups of weaker enemies and the latter is perfect for taking out indvidual strong enemies, or at least dealing enough damage to them that you can take them out. Most of these inclusions aren't big, since the core gameplay is the same as the first one, but I feel that they're enough for me to say that not only do I love Bayonetta 2's gameplay, but I feel that I love it more than the first game and even the Devil May Cry series.
I know that's blasphemous to say, but I feel that these changes add up to make a game that feels a little more elegant in its design. Is elegant the word I'm looking for here? Yeah let's go with elegant. With each of Bayonetta's moves, there's a certain level of poise and cunning with her moves, almost like a ballet, in contrast to Devil May Cry's more aggresive style, which for some people can be a bit of a turn off. This is also helped by Bayo's Witch Time ability, which enables her to pull a DIO and slow down time and let you wail on enemies for even more intense combos. Of course, the closer you are at dodging the enemy's attacks are, the longer Witch Time lasts, though the trade off is that if you screw it up, you take damage, lose your combo, and lower your overall score. This may all sound complicated, but Bayonetta 2 is designed in such a way that you can still have a great time with it and not get bogged down with its systems, something that can be a problem when trying to crack other games of the genre.
And that level of ease is also why some people tend to not like Bayonetta 2. While it's not a common opinion, I have heard from some people that they don't like the game because it's been toned down and made a little easier, especially compared to the first game. While I don't disagree that the game was really easy, as I think I could only remember dying once or twice during my first run, I also don't think that as a bad thing. Bayonetta 2 is an easier game by design, but that's because Platnium fixed and tweaked a lot of the game so that it flowed better. Enemies are more diverse and spread out over the course of the game so you don't get overwhelmed by tougher enemies. The camera is set in a way that you can see most of what's around you if not everything around you, even in boss fights where the enemy is bigger than you, which happens quite a few times. Enemy attacks are easier to read and figure out, though not so easy that it's a cakewalk. And did I mention they got rid of the instant death quick time events in boss fights? All of this adds up to a game that is just an overall fantastic game that cuts out a lot of the fat and makes for a perfect meal.
I guess that's the overall best way to describe Bayonetta 2: it's a well put together meal that is made up of well cooked food that complements everything perfectly made by chiefs who are masters of their trade. And while it may not be anything earth shattering, the fact that it's a perfectly made game more than makes it for its lack of innovation. There's a reason why this game is in my top 10 favorite games of all time. But what did other people think?
Bayonetta 2 did really well in every way it possibly could. It has a Metacritic of 91/100 for the Wii U version, while the Switch version, which was released on Feburary 16th, 2018 worldwide and Japan a day later, was at 92/100. Numerous publications sang its praises, with some publications like GameSpot gave the game a 10/10, the seventh time they had ever done that. Our own Chris Carter gave it a perfect 10/10 as well, declaring it as "one of the finest action games of all time". A fair number of reviewers called it a massive improvement over the first one, despite the combat being relatively the same, with some publiciations like IGN saying it made the first game "look poor by comparsion", which is saying a lot considering how great the first one was. It won quite a few Game of the Year awards as well, including best overall Game of the Year here on Destructoid. Sales wise, it did pretty well too, with the Wii U version selling over 300,000 overall in its first nine weeks, while the Switch version sold 400,000 more in that time frame as of March of 2018.
Impact wise, the game has some legs (ha!) in ways that even went beyond its intial release. Besides being re-released on the Switch, Bayonetta herself became playable in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS after being one of the most highly requested fighters in the character poll. As a fun little easter egg, Bayonetta 2 includes an on rails plane level that can turn into a Star Fox level, which was enough for Nintendo to give them the keys to the series and gave us Star Fox Zero......which I know that isn't the most glowing of endorsments, but that was still a pretty big deal (though I do plan on talking about Zero at some point). But beyond that, I would argue that the success of Bayonetta 2 helped PlatinumGames in other ways as well. It started a great relationship with Nintendo, who agreed to fund the third game in the series and publish Astral Chain. Microsoft agreed to published Scalebound, a dream project by Hideki Kamiya that sadly didn't get off the ground. Activision tapped them to make three games for them, one being a decent Legend of Korra game, the phenemonal Transformers: Devastation....and the not very good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. However, they were also tapped to develop the excellent Nier: Autotmata, so that's great. My point is that while Bayonetta 2 wasn't the sole reason for PlatinumGames working on a bunch of big games......it certainly didn't hurt either.
So then with all of that praise and impact, why am I talking about here? Why do I feel that a game that has been impactful as Bayonetta 2 should be talked about on a series about forgotten games? The reason is three simple words. Published. By. Nintendo.
Okay, I know that seems extreme, but honestly there's really no other reason I can think of. If this game wasn't published by Nintendo, I wouldn't be discussing it here. If it had been a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One exclusive, people wouldn't be as dismissive of its difficulty or bugging Kamiya on Twitter for so long that him blocking people became a meme. And since I brought it up, I think now is a perfect time to talk about inital reactions from the news that Bayonetta 2 would be a Wii U exclusive (well, now Nintendo console exclusive), which is to say that it was pretty negative. Which before I go any further, I will say that it wasn't completely unjustified at the time, since Nintendo had a bit of reputation for going a bit overboard when it came to censoring or covering up parts of games that were deemed to graphic. So when it was announced that Nintendo was publishing the game, it was the equivalent of your local church raising money so that they could to an Ozzy Osborne concert. But as we all know by now, Nintendo didn't do anything but just give Platnium the money to make it, nothing more and nothing less. Yet even today there are still people mad about this and the upcoming third game being on Nintendo's consoles exclusively. Granted, it's not as bad as it was before and shortly after release, but it's gotten to the point where I distinctly remember Kamiya saying numerous times that Nintendo had final say on what systems it was going to be on, with him even once infamously saying "if you want Bayonetta 2 on PS4 or Xbox One, how about trying to ask Nintendo... If Nintendo doesn't say yes, it's not going to happen... While you're at it, try asking for Mario and Zelda too..."
Speaking of Kamiya, did you know that he was actually a very open and easy going guy to approach on Twitter? But then people kept bugging him about so much stupid stuff, Bayonetta 2 being a Nintendo exclusive being one of the big ones, that he got bitter and jaded to the point where you have to talk to him in Japanese just to have a chance not to get blocked. And honestly, I don't blame him for that, because if I had to put up with the same kind of questions over and over again for years, I'd become a meme like this too. What makes all this even more annoying is that anger over the game being exclusive is being aimed at the wrong people. If you want to still blame someone for Bayonetta 2 not being on the PS5 or Bayonetta 3 not coming to the PC, don't blame PlatinumGames, Kamiya or Nintendo; blame Sega for this. Because if they hadn't gone and made so many terrible business decisions (including but not limited to making so many terrible Sonic games), we wouldn't be in the mess we're in, and a bunch of people wouldn't be mad that they'd have to buy a Nintendo console to murder angels as a sexy librarian stripper. Though I do wonder if the same people who were and still are mad about this series being Nintendo exclusive are also mad that Persona 5 is still a PS4 exclusive, but I digress.
And while I get that it always sucks to see a multiplatform game become exclusive for one console, in the case of Bayonetta 2, this isn't a simple case of a console manufacturer buying exlclusive rights so that the competition can't have it. This is a case of game literally not existing because no one else in the industry was willing to take a chance on it except Nintendo. And if you're still mad about that, then I'm sorry to say but the only person you're hurting here is yourself. Because you're denying yourself the chance to play one of the-no, not one of. The GREATEST game in the character action genre.
Bayonetta 2 won several Game of the Year Awards, sold pretty well, helped PlatinumGames get their foot in the door, and it's even getting a sequel sometime in 2022. It still deserves better.
Bayonetta 2 is a fantastic game that builds on everything that came before and still stands as the greatest game of its kind to be made. While I get that this style of game isn't the easiest to get into, Bayonetta 2 strikes a perfect balance between being easy for newcomers but also a blast to play for veterans, and I would honestly recommend it as a great jumping off point for anyone interested in the genre. If you were ever curious about that one character in Smash that spikes you with the giant heel came from, you owe it to yourself to give Bayonetta 2 a try. You'll have a bewitching time.
.......I'll let myself out.