Bayonetta 1 & 2 (Switch) review

Nintendo / Platinum Games
Switch, Wii U (Switch version reviewed)

If you ask me, this is definitely the best social climate to release a pair of games about a sexy witch who has an outfit made out of hair that makes her naked any time she attacks with it.

Don’t worry: I can already imagine some of you getting nervous. That’s a discussion for another website, and given it’s an important topic (and rightly so, in my opinion) I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding said discussion elsewhere before too long.

It would be daft, though, not to address the skimpily-dressed elephant in the room: Bayonetta 1 & 2 are very much games that would result in plenty of uncomfortable conversations if they were brand new releases and not ports of games that are nine and four years old respectively.

Much like my review of the significantly more questionable Senran Kagura: Estival Versus on PS4, though (don’t click that if you’re at work), I’m going to spare you the morality lesson here. It’s up to you to investigate the content and tone of these games and decide if they’re suitable for you or any younger gamers in your life: my job is to tell you if they’re actually fun to play.

In that respect I can confirm that yes, yes they are.

This isn’t going to be a massive review: these are older games and they’ve been covered to death already. Many gamers will already be familiar with both games: if you aren’t and want to know more, I recommend reading Simon Parkin’s 2009 review of Bayonetta for Eurogamer and Rich Stanton’s 2014 review of Bayonetta 2 for the Guardian.

The big question here is how well these games run on the Switch, and the short answer is ‘very well’. Only the PC and Xbox One X enhanced versions of the original game run better than the Switch version, and since the sequel was a Wii U exclusive, this new Switch port is now the best way to play it.

Both games render at 720p, which may disappoint some but this really isn’t a massive problem. It can look a tiny bit blurry in docked mode if you’re playing on a huge telly, but because the Switch’s screen is a 720p display that means they looks crisp as hell when playing in handheld.

The first game runs at a fairly solid 60 frames per second. There are very rare dips during the most frantic of moments, but by and large you’re going to get extremely smooth performance here.

This isn’t a huge surprise given that we’re talking about a nine-year-old game, but it’s still nice that playing Bayonetta on handheld in 2018 is a better experience than playing it on Xbox 360 in 2009, which was relatively smooth too but susceptible to hefty screen tearing (not present here).

The bigger news is that the second game also hits 60fps most of the time. This is a far bigger deal because the Wii U – the only other system Bayonetta 2 has been released on – aimed for 60 but occasionally dropped as low as 40 during intense scenes.

That’s not to say you’re going to get a rock-solid 60 here at all times, but it’s close enough that the game feels significantly more stable than it did on the Wii U in 2014 (and, again, on a handheld to boot).

So, what else, other than the fact it runs a little smoother? Well, the special Nintendo-only costumes added to both games for the Wii U release are back again here.

The first game includes four costumes that are available from the start, letting Bayonetta dress up as Samus, Link, Peach and Daisy. These changes aren’t necessarily just for looks: the Link costume’s Master Sword lets you pull off a new counter move, while the Samus suit lets you use your arm cannon and turn into a Morph Ball, dropping bombs.

The Peach and Daisy costumes are more cosmetic-only affairs, but they’re still cool: instead of summoning Madame Butterfly for some moves, Bayonetta instead conjures up Bowser’s massive fists and feet, appearing from a portal to smash enemies.

One thing to be aware of, mind you: the Peach and Daisy outfits have very short skirts that make some of the cutscenes far less comfortable to watch than before.

From time to time during cutscenes Bayonetta will do sexualised gestures, like spreading her legs or bending over. Usually, her standard skin-tight outfit makes these moments clearly provocative but still relatively tame.

When you’ve got an outfit with a short skirt, though, these leg-spreading moments go from cheeky teases to full-on upskirt “have some of this” moments: needless to say my wife was suddenly curious as to why I was playing such filth. But I digress: just letting you know as a sort of public service announcement that playing with those costumes essentially raises the age limit a notch.

The second game, meanwhile, offers the same four costumes plus a fifth Fox McCloud one, complete with four mini-Arwing guns replacing Bayo’s normal pistols.

While the first game makes these costumes available from the start, the sequel makes you earn them by spending 100,000 halos at the Gates of Hell store. Alternatively, if you have the amiibo for each character, you’ll unlock the costume right away.

Someone asked me if the Switch version let you play with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles. Fill your boots

Scanning other amiibo will give you a bunch of seemingly random items, though they are accompanied by lovely letters referring to the characters you scanned. I scanned the Little Mac amiibo, for example, and Bayonetta got a letter saying the item was “something that came in from that fight club of yours”.

In all, that’s more or less all there is to report here. If you’ve somehow managed to last all this time without playing either Bayonetta game, there’s really no better time to remedy this. If you’ve played them before there isn’t really much different here: these are essentially ports of existing games with few changes, that run a wee bit smoother.

Both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 are fantastic on the Switch in docked mode, but they really shine in handheld: that 720p screen matching its native resolution perfectly and making for some beautifully crisp visuals.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether a game that’s this sexualised is to your tastes tonally. The actual combat and gunplay, however, is far less contentious: there’s a reason Xbox and PlayStation owners were livid that Bayonetta 2 was a Wii U exclusive, and if you’re a Switch owner who missed out the last time, now you get the chance to find out why.

Don’t pass it up.

Bayonetta 1 and 2 are out on Switch on 16 February. The physical version of Bayonetta 2 is priced £49.99/$59.99 and comes with a download code for the first game.

Alternatively, you can buy each game on the Switch eShop. Bayonetta is £24.99/$29.99 and Bayonetta 2 is £39.99/$49.99, but if you buy one game the other will be discounted, meaning the total cost will be £50/$60.

In order that I could write this review, I received a free copy of both games from Nintendo. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.

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