Bayonetta 1 & 2 on the Nintendo Switch is probably the most obvious purchase ever. Bringing together what might be two of the best action games of all time into one package, with the added ability of being able to play both those games on the go, is as much of a selling point as you really need- but sadly, thanks to a confluence of bad circumstances and poor timing, the Bayonetta series has never received the kind of mainstream and widespread recognition and success it deserves. Meaning that on the Switch, for many, it’s less a matter of buying a package that represents two games that represent the peak of the genre, and more a question of wondering what exactly it is that you are spending money on.
In a sense, that is what represents the biggest opportunity for this new release- it represents Bayonetta‘s most obvious chance yet to break out. The Switch as a console is on fire, and games on it are selling in ridiculous numbers- and there is an unspoken hope that Platinum’s stylish character action games can benefit from that tidal wave, too- by selling to old and new players alike.
If you are one of those old players- you can quit this review right now. There is nothing that needs to be said here, except that this release includes two fantastic games for the price of one, with Bayonetta 1 running the best it ever has on console, and Bayonetta 2 running the best it ever has, period. Throw in some added perks, such as the ability to be able to play them portably, and some token Amiibo functionality, and you have what is possibly the definitive edition for the entire series so far.
"There is nothing that needs to be said here, except that this release includes two fantastic games for the price of one, with Bayonetta 1 running the best it ever has on console, and Bayonetta 2 running the best it ever has, period."
If you’re a newcomer, you probably need some convincing- but once you’re on board, you are in for a hell of a ride. Incredibly stylish, hugely addictive, and giving players a thrill and a rush unlike anything that other games can manage, the Bayonetta games are the action game genre at its peak. The first game, which released almost a decade ago back on the Xbox 360 and PS3, is by none other than Hideki Kamiya, the progenitor of the genre in its modern form with the original Devil May Cry. Bayonetta 1 includes all the wonderful flair and sense of style that Kamiya (and indeed, Platinum themselves) have come to be known for, as well as some tight action that rewards advanced players, while also remaining accessible to more casual ones who just want to play the game.
The original Bayonetta was a revelation in its time, but it is actually the weaker link in this package. As mentioned, it released almost ten years ago- and its age shows in a lot of ways. Its camera is decidedly not the best, and often suffers an inability to keep up with the action, and the game is littered with (admittedly infrequent) Quick Time Events that result in an instant death should you fail them as a player- though, thankfully, it is liberal enough with checkpoints that that never results in a loss of too much progress. It is also a bit too long for its own good, and the adventure begins to lose some steam in the third act.
But with all of that said, Bayonetta is still an incredible game that has some delicious encounter design, and utterly fantastic action gameplay, and combos that feel glorious to pull off. It is a game that never forces you to invest any more time and effort into it than you want to- but, thanks to a score attack style scoring and grading system, dangles the possibility of you learning its intricacies, to truly master its genre defining gameplay.
"Incredibly stylish, hugely addictive, and giving players a thrill and a rush unlike anything that other games can manage, the Bayonetta games are the action game genre at its peak."
On the Switch, the game runs in 720p undocked and docked- which might seem disappointing, but is more than made up for by the fact that the game manages the hitherto unprecedented act of more or less maintaining a steady 60 frames per second throughout (I say mostly, because I feel like there may have been some slowdown in some areas, but I can’t be quite sure- better to be safe than sorry).
Then there is Bayonetta 2– when I first reviewed this game all the way back in 2014, I called it “the greatest action game of all time”, and that is an opinion I stand by four years later. There is literally nothing like Bayonetta 2– it trims away all of the faff and the fat from the first game, making for a leaner and meaner game with a laser sharp focus on finely honed mechanics. The QTEs are gone, the pacing is tightened up, and Witch Time, which you can activate with a perfect dodge, and which slows time down around Bayonetta, letting her dish out lethal amounts of damage, remains the most satisfying move to pull off in an action game.
Bayonetta 2 also greatly benefits from the absurdly ridiculous amount of escalation and spectacle it packs- the game starts with a scenario that would represent a final boss in most games, and then only goes up from there. It is so frenetic and breathless, it can often feel like a boss rush, throwing you into one outlandish and devilishly crafted combat encounter after another.
"Bayonetta 2 also is the best it has ever been on the Switch- 720p again across both, docked and undocked modes, but the game’s framerate holds steady at 60fps."
Bayonetta 2 also is the best it has ever been on the Switch- 720p again across both, docked and undocked modes, but the game’s framerate holds steady at 60fps (curiously enough, I may have run into fewer drops for Bayonetta 2 than the first game), which the Wii U version of the game famously failed to do a lot of times. Just seeing this game, with its fluid action and frenetic pace, run at a blistering and steady framerate is a treat- and it is almost enough to justify this entire package’s existence all on its own.
Thankfully, there are far more reasons for you to dig into Bayonetta 1 & 2 on the Switch than just that- the ability to play the greatest action games of all time on the go is, in and of itself, more than enough, but the best console versions of both games only sweetens the pot even more. Throw on top of that the fact that for many, this will be their first time ever with Bayonetta, or that for fans, this is an excellent primer ahead of the upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive release of Bayonetta 3, and Bayonetta 1&2 becomes, as I said already, the most obvious and effortless recommendation for a purchase there ever was.
This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
Two fantastic games for the price of one, both running the best they ever have (at least on console); Bayonetta 2 remains sublime, and the greatest action game ever made; the added ability of playing both games on the go
In a lot of ways, Bayonetta 1 is beginning to show its age; no actual new content added to either game