The original Bayonetta first appeared on PS3 and Xbox360 about four years ago and it was received with differing amounts of criticism. In light of the release of the sequel, Nintendo is releasing the first game for Wii U along with some new controls and new Nintendo-exclusive costumes for the leggy witch. Let’s see how it compares to the other console versions, shall we?
As you may (or possibly may not) be aware, Bayonetta is an action platform game that you can describe of as the child of God of War, Devil May Cry, and Playboy magazine. Technically, the genre is “spectacle action game”, which means that, literally and figuratively, the game brings out the big guns and you’re almost expected to whistle a “no bloody way!” at every cutscene. The game is designed around the idea of playing through the sections multiple times with new abilities each time.
The story is about as bizarre and insane as the action is. Bayonetta is a witch who is armed with guns in her hands and guns in her boot heels, and is covered in a suit made from her own hair. Hidden within her hair are demons of all varieties whom she uses to defeat her enemies: the angels. Yes, it’s that bizarre. The story revolves around her waking up after a 500 year nap and going on a killing spree. Ok, ok. She wakes up with no memory of her past, and she then goes on a killing spree to find out who she is, why she has a quarrel with someone called Jeanne, and to discover the nature of the lost Umbra Witches and Lumen Sages. If you really want a decent grip on the story, you’re actually better off watching the film. The story takes place mostly in a fictional area of Europe called Vigrid, but parts of the action also take place on the heavenly and infernal planes of existence.
Frankly speaking, the Wii U version of Bayonetta is almost identical to the prior console versions, so I’m not going to go over the game as a whole again. What’s different, costumes aside (which I’ll get to in a moment), is the off-TV play and the touch controls on the GamePad. One of my favourite features of the Wii U itself is the off-TV play on the GamePad, and although the action may be on a smaller screen, it’s still no less fun. The GamePad lends itself well as a controller, although if you prefer to play on a larger screen, you’d perhaps be better off with the pro controller.
The touch controls themselves are actually not as bad as I’d thought, but they are certainly not as intuitive as the buttons. You still have to use some buttons in addition to taps and swipes, and suddenly this makes touch as a control mechanism a little less wieldy than just using buttons alone. There’s simply too much action going on to rely on the touchscreen. It’s a nice idea, but if you’re going to be using some buttons in any event, then stick to buttons. One nice feature of the touch screen is that the “Share to Miiverse” icon is always on the screen, so you can happily share screenshots and impressions of the insane action at just about any time in the game.
The thing that puts the Wii U version of Bayonetta above the older versions is the inclusion of Nintendo-themed consumes. There are four: Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Samus, and Link. Bayonetta doesn’t actually turn INTO these characters, but wears their outfits. Well, when I say their outfits, I’ll say this much: the Peach and Daisy outfits are NOT something you’ll soon see the actual princesses wear! In fact, it’s an uncomfortable feeling thinking about Bayonetta’s sexified versions of the costumes on the Princesses. Mind you, much of Bayonetta is meant to be uncomfortable, action aside. The costumes don’t just change Bayonetta’s appearance, though. In the case of the Princesses’ costumes, instead of halos, the Angels now drop Mushroom Kingdom coins, and Bayonetta’s heel stomps and wicked weave punches show a certain shelled King’s arms and legs instead of Bayonetta’s demons. Furthermore, with Link’s costume, finding secrets or hidden areas plays the famous jingle from the Legend of Zelda games, and the angels drop rupees. There are other secrets attached to the costumes, but it’s the kind of thing that you’re better off playing to figure out.
Bayonetta for Wii U, while almost identical to the other versions, is still a worthy addition to the Wii U’s library, especially with the sequel coming up, and it’s still as enjoyable an action game as it was the first time. The costumes make for interesting additions (only one has a noticeable effect on actual gameplay, however) and it’s definitely something you’ll not find in any other version. Yes, it’s still a divisive game when it comes to sexism debates, but since nothing’s changed there, the debates won’t have changed either, and this review is not going to delve there. However, it’s still a damn good action game with some incredibly insane spectacles, and if success is measured by those standards….well, then this game is still a success.
Final Score: 8.5 brutally leggy prawns out of 10
Developer: Platinum Games
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa
Platform: Wii U
Age Rating: 18+
Genre: Action Platformer
Release Date: 24 October 2014