Saturday, July 14, 2018

G.I. Joe: Resolute


A number of ‘80s toyline properties initially aimed at children, including some of Hasbro’s IPs, have since garnered an adult fanbase, some of which would rather that franchise cater to them. Rarely does such a franchise actually deliver on this request, which is where G.I. Joe: Resolute comes in. Originally released as a series of 11 episodes (ten 5-minute and one 10-minute) released on [adult swim]’s website, these were then compiled into a feature that was aired on TV and released to home media in this form. Though I’m more of a drive-by fan of G.I. Joe, this special seemed intriguing enough that I watched it via DVD. Not only was it better than I expected, by the end of it I almost wanted to see what happened next.

Cobra Commander (Charlie Adler) has taken the world hostage, threatening to destroy various nations around the world with a particle beam unless the UN gives him control over all of them within 24 hours. When Cobra Commander destroys Moscow to show he’s serious, the Joes, led by Duke (Steve Blum), work tirelessly to come up with a plan to stop Cobra’s plans. Meanwhile, Snake-Eyes has some personal business to take care of when Storm Shadow (Eric Bauza) challenges him to a final showdown at their dojo.

There’s a lot going on in the story, however everything resolves and comes together in interesting ways. The combined form of the special results in some hesitations, meaning you can tell when each of the original episodes starts and ends, however these actually allow one to better absorb what’s going on in the feature’s multiple subplots. The story is overall one of the better takes on G.I. Joe that I’ve seen, not just because of its more violent/serious nature, rather it was just really well-written and executed.

Storm Shadow (Eric Bauza, left) and Snake-Eyes (right) about to face off.

The animation, provided by the well-regarded studio Titmouse, Inc., is very well-done, using a polished, yet gritty art style that fits well with the G.I. Joe setting. Knowing that Titmouse animates in Flash makes the animation quality seem more impressive than it already is since it’s not obvious and very much resembles a more traditionally-animated series.

The voice acting for Resolute is impressive, especially given the size of the cast and that all of them are voiced by four people between them: Steve Blum, Eric Bauza, Grey DeLisle and Charlie Adler. Each actor’s vocal range is on good display here, each of them providing voices for several characters at once while still making them sound different from each other. Steve Blum’s range kind of shows a little if you’re familiar with some of his other work, however I only knew it was him when voicing Duke and some background Joes without realizing who he also voiced (among them Ripcord and Zartan) until the credits rolled. Charlie Adler’s take on Cobra Commander is rather interesting; having seen clips of the original cartoon where the late Chris Latta voiced the character, it was evident that Adler was trying to emulate Latta while at the same time giving it a more sinister twist that matched his more ruthless personality in this feature (amusingly, Latta and Adler have also each provided a voice for different versions of Starscream in the Transformers franchise, as has Blum).

G.I. Joe: Resolute is a very interesting take on G.I. Joe that older fans of the series should not miss. The animation and voice talent are excellent, as are the writing and character dynamics. Though the G.I. Joe brand generally aims at a younger demographic, Resolute was designed for a much older audience and, as such, is best not shown to any younger G.I. Joe fans. That said, even those with only a passing knowledge of G.I. Joe will be able to get some enjoyment out of Resolute.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Review Hub - Metal Gear


In 1987, Konami released Metal Gear on MSX2, a release which would not only spotlight the Stealth genre of video games, but also put Hideo Kojima on the map. Since then, Kojima would continue to develop new games within the franchise, whether he wanted to or not, and continue to expand on not only the possibilities of Stealth games, but also weave an increasingly elaborate and complex tale about the soldier Big Boss and his clone, Solid Snake. Though Kojima has since moved on to bigger and better things with the new Kojima Productions and the development of Death Stranding, the Metal Gear series continues to impress gamers to this day with its engaging mechanics and ability to tell a deep story about the horrors of nuclear warfare.

Below is a list of links to every Metal Gear review on this blog, presented in order of release.

Games

 
 
  
  


Compilations



Motion Comics

 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Moss


When Moss was initially announced for the PlayStation VR, I was intrigued by the concept of aiding a mouse named Quill on her quest by manipulating the environment in certain ways. The art style and Quill’s general design also got me interested in playing, though I ended up waiting until a physical copy of the game was announced before eventually picking up the game. While short, the price is definitely worth it and may leave you waiting for a sequel.

A young mouse named Quill has been chosen by a Reader (the player), who is reading a story in a library. Shortly after Quill tells her uncle about this, her uncle tries to take care of things himself, only to get captured by the evil Sarfogg, who has taken control of the kingdom the story takes place in. Upon learning about this, aided by the Reader and equipped with a magic sword via mysterious Glass she found earlier, Quill sets off to rescue her uncle from Sarfogg.

Quill (bottom left) on her journey.

The game is immersive in its own way compared to other PS VR games/demos I have played. The game encourages you to begin in a sitting position, although the environment can be freely explored by you looking around, usually by leaning or standing up to see things that may be obscured from the default view. This not only gives a great view of the amount of detail in the level design, it can also help in locating hidden scrolls that give you collectible fragments to complete an image found in the library. In addition to manipulating specific parts of the environment, the player is also able to control enemies by grabbing them, as well as restore Quill’s health by grabbing her backpack (the color of the backpack acts as an indicator); you can also destroy some objects via grabbing.

Because the default view is just close enough to the action, you may also be able to sort of connect with Quill and your emotions are heightened during certain moments. You can interact with Quill at certain points by giving her a high-five, which actually nets you a Trophy, and the general intimacy of the design caused me to feel sad for her at one point. The immersive nature of VR also makes the final confrontation with Sarfogg more terrifying that it might have been otherwise (although at some point it was replaced with frustration over multiple deaths).

Example of an environmental puzzle in the game.

The game generally sports some really good level design, featuring highly-detailed environments that can often make you want to look around and even behind you to view more. Many levels also consist of environmental puzzles that are just challenging enough to give you a feeling of satisfaction upon solving them and can put your multitasking abilities to the test. The narration by Morla Gorrondola helps sell that you are experiencing the events of a storybook, aided by the fact she has some good vocal range, and the music by Jason Graves adds to this well.

Moss is a PS VR game I would highly recommend for adventure and puzzle fans as well as those seeking to get more out of the system. The immersion factor of the game is impressive, as is the level design, providing a perfect example of what third-person VR games are capable of if done right. The game also heavily hints that Quill’s journey is only just beginning, however the execution of the concept was done so well that I’m actually looking forward to whatever sequel that developer Polyarc has planned. At $30 New (at time of writing), Moss is one of the more affordable PS VR games on the market and should not be missed.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bayonetta 2


Note: This review contains spoilers for Bayonetta.

Following the success of the original Bayonetta, a sequel was announced three years later in 2012, but this time exclusive to Nintendo’s Wii U console. The reason was later revealed to be that Nintendo was the only company willing to greenlight a sequel in the first place, hence the exclusivity. Since I didn’t own a Wii U at the time and didn’t want to get what I viewed as a DOA console solely to play one game, I didn’t end up playing it, not even with the incentive of first run copies including a Wii U port for the original Bayonetta. It wasn’t until the announcement of Bayonetta 3 as a Nintendo Switch exclusive that I finally caved and picked up the physical Switch port of Bayonetta 2, if only so I could actually keep up with the series. Now that I’ve finally played it, it feels like PlatinumGames managed to improve on the original in just about every way.

Only a few months after the events of the original game, Bayonetta is out Christmas shopping when she and Jeanna are attacked by a group of angels. All goes well until one of Bayonetta’s demons breaks free of her command and begins to attack her as well. Although she overpowers the demon, Jeanne’s soul is removed from her body and dragged down into Inferno. While Rodin does what he can to delay Jeanne’s death, he informs Bayonetta that she will need to travel to a sacred mountain named Fimbulventr, where she can enter the real Gates of Hell and retrieve her friend’s spirit. When she arrives in the town of Noatun to begin her journey to the mountain, she runs into a boy named Loki, who seeks the mountain for reasons he can’t remember and is being chased by a masked Lumen Sage.

Loki joins Bayonetta on her journey to Fimbulventr.

The story of Bayonetta 2 is better executed than in the first game, due largely in part to a more streamlined story that easier to follow. It also manages to expand on many of the concepts introduced in the previous game without betraying previously established lore or sacrificing the charm and personality of the original. Returning characters remain consistent to their characterizations and character growth from the original, while returning character Luka is also able to display a somewhat more mature side. At the same time, the plot threads which expanded on in later parts of the game manage to slot in the events of the story to fit in with and help explain the time travel elements from the first game.

While Bayonetta 2’s story is improved, I noticed that some of the story beats seem to echo ones from the previous game. In particular, Bayonetta once again travels with a child (in this case someone she believes is a child), with Loki filling the role in place of Cereza. The plot once again involves some sort of time travel aspect, as well as someone looking for the Eyes of the World, and the final boss is ultimately defeated in a similar fashion to Jubileus, though perhaps not as memorable in execution. I’m not saying these beats are bad to echo, in fact they are handled differently and very well in their own right, but it was noticeable after playing this game immediately after completing the original.

The idea that Bayonetta 2 is similar to, but greatly improves upon, the original also extends to the core gameplay. The mechanics of the game are largely unchanged, though each one has received an upgrade or some quality of life improvements. For one, Bayonetta begins with a god number of skills earned from the previous games, including the beast transformations. These transformations are expanded upon by including the addition of a Snake Within that allows for better maneuverability during underwater sections, itself a new feature to the game, and the transformations in general are incorporated more into the larger, more open level designs.

Bayonetta's new Snake Within form.

The magic system has received some noticeable improvements as well. Taking damage no longer drains the magic gauge and reaching a full gauge now gives the choice of either executing a Torture Attack or activating an Umbran Climax, which heavily increases the damage output of Bayonetta’s weapons. Each weapon is affected differently during an Umbran Climax, though it otherwise turns every attack into a Wicked Weave attack. Crafting is also handled differently, requiring the player to select a recipe book and then select a recipe to craft from instead of manually mixing all of the ingredients. As for other general quality of life improvements, they include, but are not limited to, the lack of instant death QTEs and a much larger window for remaining QTEs, a more forgiving window for activating Witch Time (in exchange for a slightly shorter duration) and item use no longer affecting the Chapter score.

While the enemies in Bayonetta 2 are a lot more varied than in the first, both in terms of the number of Angels and Infernals and their designs, the combat generally felt easier. Certain enemies still present a challenge, including some which return from the first game, but throughout my entire playthrough on Normal, I suffered far fewer resets than in the first. Basically, the game in general is more forgiving. However, the encounters with the Masked Lumen Sage, among others, also present themselves with a larger scale than their counterparts from the original, including having summons fighting each other in the background.

Bayonetta must now do battle with Infernals as well.

The default control scheme is a bit different from the original, mainly flipped functionality of the shoulder buttons, and takes some getting used to. While I was able to adjust, I was once again playing using the Joy-Cons in a separate Joy-Con Grip. Given the somewhat cramped layout of the controller and the shape of the L and R buttons, it was incredibly easy to accidentally switch weapon sets during combat and unintentionally activate Umbran Climax when I really wanted to use a Torture Attack. As before, this game also has a touchscreen control scheme, though I would advise against it. Control changes for special segments are easier to adjust for, since these segments are now a bit shorter than the would be in the original game.

As with Bayonetta, players can visit the Gates of Hell to buy various items, weapons and techniques for use in the game. Though Halos are still the primary currency, defeating Infernals and destroying related objects will also reward the player with Orbs of crystallized demon blood which count toward the total Halo count. Recommended buys for this game are similar to the original (Air Dodge, Stiletto, Break Dance, Bat Within and Crow Within), but the new Charge Bullet skill is also worth buying for its ability to increase damage output with bullets, as is the Mallet of Rewards for its ability to increase the number of Halos and items the player receives from performing Torture Attacks. Also available in the Switch version is amiibo support, which also provides a way for the player to obtain the Chain Chomp weapon, which is highly recommended for a weapon loadout alongside Salamandra; I used both in my B set when able. I’ll note here that my A set of weapons was simply the default Love Is Blue guns (their names are Prelude, Minuet, Toccata and Nocturne).

In terms of graphics, Bayonetta 2 seems more polished than its predecessor. The characters all received a general update to their appearance, all of which seemed to match the lighter direction of the sequel. What helps is that the game seems to generally have a brighter color palette that moves it a little more away from the Devil May Cry-inspired art direction of the previous game. With this brighter palette, it seems to emphasize the color blue a bit more as sort of a theme color.

I’ll mention here that while every character received a general update to their look, the most drastic were Bayonetta, who now has noticeably shorter hair, and Jeanne, who now has noticeably longer hair. I personally liked the new looks, and actually found Bayonetta’s new look more aesthetically pleasing, but those who preferred the original looks will be glad to know that the Bayonetta 1 costumes are unlockable within this game.

Bayonetta (L) and Jeanne (R) received more drastic redesigns than the rest of the cast.

As for any differences between the Wii U and Switch versions of the game, I can only go off of what I’ve been able to look up. Apart from the aforementioned amiibo support, I found graphical differences from the Wii U version rather negligible, perhaps a slight upgrade at best.

There’s a multiplayer mode called Tag Climax where two players play as one of the characters and fight groups of angels based on which unlockable Verse Cards are chosen. Each complete match uses six of these cards and players bet a certain number of Halos on each fight in an attempt to earn more; the difficulty of each fight is based on the number of Halos wagered. Players can fight alongside the CPU while waiting for someone else to play with, though this requires the second person to also own a Switch and have their own copy of the game, even if you’re playing locally. For this reason, I only tried out the CPU version and quickly concluded it would be better to play with another human being.

The music of Bayonetta 2 is also pretty good, especially with setting the mood of each segment of the game. As with the previous game, the most noticeable track is the main theme, in this case Tomorrow Is Mine, since it’s played during combat and also at the right moments within the story.

Bayonetta 2 is a good example of a sequel that’s able to improve on the original in all of the right ways. While a lot of the core gameplay is unchanged and the story follows some similar beats, the game manages to add a new layer of polish that elevates the Bayonetta series to new heights. Though the game feels easier this time around, save for trying to get Pure Platinum rankings, it still felt very much like Bayonetta. Fans of the original game are more than likely to enjoy this installment, especially in anticipation of Bayonetta 3, while Switch owners looking for a good action game should seriously take this game into consideration. Just make sure you find time to play the original as well.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp


Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip "T.I." Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, and Michael Douglas. Directed by Peyton Reed. Screenplay by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari. Based on Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby; and Wasp by Stan Lee, Ernie Hart, Jack Kirby Produced by Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard. Runtime: 118 minutes. U.S. Color Superhero, Action

Two years after appearing in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is back. In the intervening years, Scott Lang has been serving house arrest by the FBI for his actions in Germany. Meanwhile, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), are also wanted by authorities and are on the run. The most important thing in Scott's life is his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), whom his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new husband Jim Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) now encourage he see.

Hank and Hope, however, are now estranged from Scott and have their own familial interest, which revolves around Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank's wife, Hope's mother, and the original Wasp. Based on what they think Scott knows, they can get her back from the quantum realm in which she has been trapped for the last 30 years.

Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is only one of several
villains keeping Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) from his goal.

But things are never that easy in a Marvel movie, as the Pyms have to fight not only Scott's reluctance to help but also an arms dealer turned restauranteur, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who also needs to return to the Quantum Realm and, like practically everyone in the two films, has it out for Hank. Also along for the ride are Scott's ex-con friends Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).

There is the usual humor and action mix throughout the film that marked the first Ant-Man (2015) and has been the earmark of the MCU throughout its now 20 film run. If you've seen the original film, and have kept up on the Marvel film series, then you will not be disappointed here. This is a more ambitious effort than the first one and luckily, bigger does mean better or at least as good as the first film. (All too often the reverse is true).

There are a lot of special effects in this film, which is to be expected in a film where characters and objects can get smaller and larger with the push of a button, but they never really seem to overwhelm the film with their wizardry. Rather, they seem necessary to telling the story the way it should be told.

Ant-Man and Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) seem to have good chemistry on screen.

Paul Rudd is, as he always seems to be, likable in the role and he does seem to have some chemistry with Evangeline Lilly. Together with Peña, Harris, and Dastmalchian, Rudd provides most of the humor in the film, even contributing to the screenplay.

Luis (Michael Peña) helps provide some of the humor in the film along with Rudd.

Lilly and Douglas make a good father-daughter team as well. Douglas, who sounds more like his father, Kirk, with each passing year, is also solid in the role of the elder Pym. But despite the gray hair, you can tell that he still thinks he can take on anything that he wants.

Hope and her father Hank (Michael Douglas), while on the run,
devise a way to bring his wife back from beyond hope.

Michelle Pfeiffer is new to the series and, while she doesn't have all that much screen time, proves that she is still a good actress and still quite beautiful.

Someone who I'm sorry to say we see less and less of on film is Judy Greer. I like her, but in most films she's in, she gets very little screentime, at least in the ones I've seen. Maggie's and Jim's change of mind about Scott seems like a complete 180 from the previous film but is still nice to see.

A word of caution, to get the most out of the film and there are two additional scenes, one mid-credit and the other post, it would definitely add to your enjoyment if you have seen Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

So, at least with Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to show little signs of slowing down or even going away. As we enter Phase Four, there still seems to be a lot left in the tank and stories and characters left to explore.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review Hub - Back to the Future



Since its initial release in 1985, Back to the Future (BTTF) has gone on to become a major pop-cultural icon, one that endures in popularity to this day. Though it was initially just a trilogy of movies and a handful of other tie-ins (including a two-season animated series and a now-defunct Universal Studios theme park ride), the series has made more of a comeback in recent years in the form of an ongoing comic book series by IDW Publishing, with an episodic video game by Telltale Games produced in the interim. The IDW comic has the close participation of BTTF writer Bob Gale, ensuring the quality of the comic remains true to the movies while using the comic as an opportunity to further develop the series both within and beyond the original trilogy.

Below is a list of links to very Back to the Future review on this blog, presented in order of release and separated by medium.

Movies

  

Back to the Future
Back to the Future Part II
Back to the Future Part III

Compilations


Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy

Telltale Video Game


Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bayonetta (Switch)


Back in 2010, Sega released Bayonetta, developed by PlatinumGames and directed by Hideki Kamiya of Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe fame, onto the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America. At the time, I had, for a number of reasons, played the PS3 version of the game, widely considered the worst version of the game (Kamiya has since confirmed that it was because the game was designed with 360 hardware in mind). In 2014, a sequel, Bayonetta 2, launched exclusively on Nintendo’s Wii U alongside with an improved port of the original game. In 2017, a Bayonetta 3 was announced exclusively for the Nintendo Switch, along with Switch ports of the first two games for 2018. Since I didn’t want to permanently stay out of the loop, I finally caved and bought a Switch and later bought Bayonetta 2. However, I decided to play the original game again first, available through a download code, both for the story and because it had been eight years since I had last played it. In that time, I think the game has aged rather well, but its issues have become more noticeable as well.

Bayonetta is awoken after a 500-year slumber with no memory of herself or her past. She spends the next 20 years battling angels from Paradiso, one of the Trinity of Realities alongside Inferno and Purgatorio, until one day she finds herself wrapped up in a centuries-old conflict between the Umbra Witches and Lumen Sages over something called the Eyes of the World. As she chases these lost memories, she comes into contact with another Umbra Witch named Jeanne, a journalist named Luka and a child named Cereza. As she chases the meaning of the Eyes of the World, the pieces of her lost memory begin to fit together.

Jeanne, a recurring enemy throughout Bayonetta's journey.

The backstory of Bayonetta is rather fascinating and very consistent in its presentation and execution. Though out there in comparison to other games, the story is fairly easy to follow and is complex enough to keep the player invested until the end, when all of the preceding events make much more sense. What also helps keep the player invested are the contrasting personalities of each of the characters and how they play off each other. Even without knowing all of their backstories in full, their interactions also give a sense of familiarity that would have developed within 20 years. The only drawback might be that the full background of the world is located within collectible journals, which means that players should prepare to do some light reading.

The presentation of the cutscenes is also unique from other games. Though there are parts of cutscenes rendered the traditional way, some parts use static shots of the action rather than full motion, though some things like hair still have motion. It feels off at first, but after a while it feels like Platinum was going for a specific style with this approach and it does help it stand out from other games.

The easiest way to describe the gameplay of Bayonetta is that it’s like an evolved version of Devil May Cry. Combat is similar in that there are dedicated buttons for shooting, melee and jumping. However, this is where the similarities end. For one thing, Bayonetta can be equipped with two weapons, one on her hands and one on her feet; the default is a set of four guns called Scarborough Fair, with each individual gun named Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. She can also be equipped with two sets of weapons, an A set and a B set, which the player can swap between on the fly; equippable weapons are unlocked by collecting Gold LPs and going to the shop. Additionally, the “Light Attack” button has her attack with her hands and “Heavy Attack” has her attack with her feet. Bayonetta also comes with a double jump which, along with unlockable beast transformations, allows her to gracefully move along the battlefield. Bayonetta can also use the enemy’s weapons against them, though the player will temporarily lose the ability to shoot. The player can also string together combos, which usually end in a Wicked Weave attack created from Bayonetta’s hair.

Combat in Bayonetta with a Wicked Weave attack.

I'll quickly mention that my personal setup while playing eventually fell into using Scarborough Fair in my A set and Shuraba and Odette in my B set. This allowed me to play the game will full power guns while also switching to a powerful and speedy weapon setup to help make certain fights easier.

An emphasis is also placed on dodging, since doing so at the right moment activates a mechanic called Witch Time. During Witch Time, time slows down, allowing Bayonetta to freely strike her enemies for the duration without worry. Witch Time is also used in some environmental puzzles in which the player must dodge a lightning blast to slow time and traverse certain terrain (ex. running water). Attacking enemies also builds up a magic gauge which, when full, allows Bayonetta to perform a Torture Attack which can heavily damage, if not outright kill, an enemy angel. However, taking damage beforehand will proportionally drain the magic gauge. Bayonetta can also craft and consume lollipops which provide a variety of abilities, including replenishing health and magic, creating a shield and multiplying her strength, but using these will also incur a score penalty at the end of a Chapter. Crafting ingredients can be obtained by destroying objects within the environment.

On the subject of scoring, Bayonetta, like Devil May Cry, features a ranking system that takes into account completion times, combo scores and penalties from retries and items uses. Each set of fights, or Verses, within each Chapter is scored on a scale from Stone to Pure Platinum, while each Chapter, rated on the same scale, averages the ratings from each Verse before applying score penalties; it is entirely possible to miss some Verses. Though the player can replay Chapters in an attempt to get a better score, the game itself can be pretty unforgiving as it goes on, even on Normal. I’ll admit that during my playthrough, I ended up using a lot of yellow (shield) and red (strength) lollipops to survive some of the harder battles.

While the combat is very fun and engaging, there are some general annoyances with the gameplay that are hard to ignore. During cutscenes and other in-game sequences, it is possible for quick-time events (QTEs) to pop up at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, failing a lot of these leads to instant death and a score penalty during a retry, not helped at all by the fact that the window to press the right button(s) is very slim. QTEs are also used during boss fights, where Bayonetta finished them off with a Climax attack which summons a demon from Inferno. In this case, the QTE determines how much of a score bonus you receive at the end of the Verse, but the timing window here is also pretty strict and it can take a moment to process which button you’re supposed to mash for each one.

Due to the game’s unforgiving nature, specific enemy pairings become increasingly unbearable no matter how you power up. Special mention goes to Grace and Glory and their later Gracious and Glorious counterparts, especially when the player has to survive multiple waves of them, as well as any team of at least three Joys.

In spite of the difficulty, the boss fights are highly interesting. This is the sort of game where enemies that are originally mid-bosses show up again as regular enemies and end bosses show up again in mini boss rushes. This isn’t really a bad thing, since it adds some extra challenge to the game, although the boss rushes can get kind of draining after a while, since they occur two or three times in the last few Chapters. What mitigates this somewhat is the creativity in their unique designs and strategies. The last three bosses are especially memorable, as they include some unique and highly cathartic sequences, though to elaborate would go into spoiler territory. However, I will admit here that during the Golem boss fights, I was able to cheese it by staying right next to it, dodging its attacks into Witch Time and holding down the fire button. Probably not the best way to enjoy the fight, but food for thought.

The Golem can change shape, but can also be easily cheesed.

The controls are mapped pretty intuitively and are highly responsive to the player’s button presses. However, I should address here that I did not play Bayonetta on a Pro Controller, as others may recommend, but rather with the Switch’s Joy-Cons. I tried playing them while attached to the unit, but it felt more comfortable to use a Joy-Con Grip to act as more of a traditional controller. Even then, however, I found the controller kind of cramped and the shape of the L and R buttons makes it rather easy to accidentally press them in the heat of battle. It didn’t affect me too much, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. The Switch also has a touchscreen-friendly control scheme, but I wouldn’t really recommend it, since it depends heavily on player gestures.

There are also times when the game switches to different types of gameplay, necessitating a different button layout for the duration of the applicable Verse(s). These take a little getting used to, but for flying sections I would suggest inverting flying controls (in this case, the default is already inverted, where Up=Down and Down=Up).

During the course of the game, the player collects Halos by defeating enemies or destroying objects in the environment. These are exchanged at the Gates of Hell bar run by the demon Rodin. Halos can be exchanged for items, techniques, costumes, weapons, accessories and treasures. The game will highlight some “Hot” buys, or recommended purchases. Personally, I would highly recommend buying the techniques Air Dodge; Stiletto, a version of Devil May Cry’s Stinger attack; Break Dance; Bat Within, which eases up on dodge timing; and Crow Within, which grants temporary flight, as soon as possible, as they are very invaluable for movement and combat advantage.

Bayonetta (left) with Rodin (right), proprietor of the Gates of Hell.

Since Bayonetta and Devil May Cry were created by Hideki Kamiya, the comparisons are inevitable. They share some similarities in their visuals and atmosphere, but, as stated earlier, Bayonetta feels like an evolved version in terms of combat and the visuals themselves are also flashier, lending itself to its more upbeat tone. The sillier tone at times reminded me of a Suda51 game, which, considering I like Hideki Kamiya and Suda51, is actually pretty good.

The graphics of Bayonetta have aged quite well and are pretty good on the Switch, perhaps even improved from the original release, aided by a very steady framerate (especially when compared with the PS3 version). I’ll note here that Bayonetta’s design in this game is meant to strongly evoke sex appeal, mainly from her figure and costume design (her costume is actually her hair). While her sex appeal is subjective, her design is certainly iconic and really stands out, even eight years later.

I’ll note here that the Switch version of the game comes with a couple extras, mainly amiibo support and some extra Nintendo-themed costumes based on Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Link and Samus. The Peach and Daisy costumes alter Bayonetta’s Wicked Weave attacks to summon Bowser from the Mario series while the latter two actually alter the gameplay. The Link costume changes the Shuraba weapon into the Master Sword and allows Bayonetta to parry attacks without the need of an accessory (specifically Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa), which can free up an extra accessory slot. The Samus costume not only allows Bayonetta to raise or lower a visor, but also enables her to fire a chargeable laser when shooting enemies.

Bayonetta in the Link costume.

The score for Bayonetta is absolutely fantastic, perfectly matching the tone of the game. Certain tracks are also very memorable, especially the main theme, Fly Me To The Moon, which plays at all the right moments. The music which plays during the various menus also becomes familiar with time and sets the right atmosphere.

Bayonetta is a game I would highly recommend. The story isn’t necessarily a literary masterwork, but its creative concepts and charming atmosphere are able to come together for a memorable experience. Though some aspects haven’t aged as well, including the instant death QTEs and certain encounters that are more difficult than they have any right to be, it’s still overall a very solid and enjoyable experience that’ll easily please action games fans, as well as those who enjoyed Devil May Cry and are looking for a great twist on the formula. For those looking for a game to add to their Switch library, Bayonetta should more than satisfy.