Bayonetta was one of the most bizarre experiences of 2010, but even more bizarre was the recent announcement that Nintendo would be publishing its sequel exclusively for the Wii U, prompting both enthusiasm and outcry from gamers worldwide. Console preferences notwithstanding, it's exciting enough alone that we are getting a sequel to Bayonetta in the first place, so we decided to resurrect our Fix, Keep, or Ditch feature to examine what worked well in Bayonetta, what didn't work, and offer our thoughts on how the series should move forward.
While Bayonetta is praised for its tight gameplay and style, presenting a coherent story was never its strong suit (a criticism that can honestly be attributed to Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya’s entire body of work). Though some may argue that a game’s story is not important as long as the gameplay is well designed, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to improve the game’s narrative.
Bayonetta’s action sequences were spaced apart through various platforming segments, usually involving Bayonetta’s various animal transformations. While these sequences were appreciated for bringing the game some diversity, they often disrupted the entire flow of the game. These sections weren’t bad enough to land in the “ditch” category, however; with the proper approach, platforming could be just as involving an experience as the expertly designed combat.
Bayonetta as a character has sparked much controversy since her debut in 2010, with some seeing her blatant sexuality as pandering and degrading to women, while others saw her sexuality as empowering and non-exploitative. Regardless of which stance you fall on, it can’t be denied that sexuality is the primary theme Bayonetta was built on, and moving away from that would rob the series of its identity. Sure, that might be a little wordy for the game whose premise is centered around a dominatrix witch who fights angels with her hair and high heeled-guns, but I believe the point stands.
Epic Boss Fights
I hold the unpopular contention that Bayonetta outdid God of War III in terms of boss design back in 2010, and with Bayonetta 2 possibly set for a 2013 release, it looks like she’ll have to square off against Kratos again. Bayonetta’s set-piece boss fights were the highlight of the game, be it against giant sea monsters while surfing, a climactic one-on-one duel against your sister on top of a collapsing building, or kicking a god into the sun. And most of all, it was done with style. Bayonetta’s finesse in dispatching her foes was a welcome departure from Kratos’ mindless brutality, and Bayonetta 2 would do well by following up on that.
Describing Bayonetta’s moveset to someone unfamiliar with the game is certainly a daunting task: “So, like, there’s this lady, right? And she’s like a sexy librarian who wears a one-piece black body suit made of her hair, which comes off of her to become giant monsters. Also, she wears guns on her feet and summons S&M machinery to finish off... er.... defeat her enemies.”
Despite the awkward talks that usually follow, this level of bizarreness is precisely the reason I love Bayonetta. It’s just so different from everything else offered by the industry and provides for unique and refreshing gameplay. If anything, it at least makes for interesting conversation.
Drawing further comparisons to God of War, Bayonetta had many quick-time events (QTEs) throughout, though unlike God of War, they suffered from poor implementation. Considering the QTEs were of the “press X to not die” variety, perhaps the sequel would do best to ditch them altogether. If Bayonetta 2 were to keep QTEs in some form, however, it would be much more interesting to see them utilized through the Wii U Game Pad’s touch screen as opposed to more traditional QTEs.
Bayonetta’s story was nonsense, but at least it was an entertaining yarn in its own right. Too bad the same can’t be said for the manner in which Platinum Games went about presenting it. The majority of Bayonetta’s story was told through cutscenes animated with still frames, with voice-over added on top. It’s as though the developers never got past the storyboard phase of animating the cutscenes. It was jarring set against the fast paced gameplay, as well as boring and completely lazy. We hope Bayonetta’s developers improve on the story, but ditch these types of cutscenes altogether.