Bayonetta is one of the most over the top action games that has ever graced a gaming platform. When it first hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in 2010, it became a critical darling. The title character caught people’s attention thanks to her playful one-liners and distinctive abilities, while the hypnotic mix of deeply satisfying combat and gloriously grand set-pieces kept controllers glued to their hands.
On the 16th of February, Bayonetta brings her signature style to the Nintendo Switch in a re-release of her dreamy debut and its spectacular sequel. So, we decided to go into Witch Time and take a look back at this cult classic.
Work first started on Bayonetta back in 2007, at the Japanese game developer Platinum Games. While the studio hadn’t shipped a game at that point (their Wii exclusive debut, Madworld, would come out in 2009), they were made up of some of the biggest names in game development, with Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami among its founders.
The team within Platinum who focused on creating Bayonetta was headed up by industry legend Hideki Kamiya, who had previously directed Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, and Okami. As lineups go, it’s more Manchester United than Accrington Stanley.
Heaven versus Hell
Still, nothing could prepare us for what he would produce with Bayonetta. While the fast-paced action and gothic aesthetic of Devil May Cry was clearly an influence, Bayonetta turned everything up until eleven was a blip in the distance.
The game puts you in the high heels of the titular witch, whose past has been wiped from her memory, and places her slap-bang in the middle of a hunt for The Eyes of the World. Much punching, kicking, and walloping of angels ensues.
Okay, so the plot isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but who needs narrative when the action kicks off with you fighting dozens of angels on a falling clock tower? Rich world-building is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to pummel a bunch of baddies in the most spectacular way possible.
The focus on building combos means you dance across the screen taking out waves of enemies, but what made it feel truly distinctive was the Witch Time system. This nifty innovation rewarded well-executed dodges by freezing time for a few seconds, allowing you to give your motionless enemies a drubbing before the flow of time resumed. The result was a mix of reflexes and strategy that left you in awe.
Then there’s Bayonetta herself. For instance, the fact that her hair doubles as her clothes. Do not restart your internet connection, you read that right. Bayonetta’s hair is the source of her power, so while it’s usually wrapped around her in the form of a witchy-black catsuit, sometimes it’ll take the form of a giant boot and slam into your divine foes. Later on, you can even summon huge demons through the outrageous power of Bayonetta’s hair. Clearly, her strongest combo is shampoo and conditioner.