In the opening hour of Bayonetta 2, the hair-enwrapped witch you play as goes shopping, kicks an airplane jetting towards her into the sky, shows off her birthday suit, kills a dozen or so angels, and teaches her pet dragon a lesson—all while enjoying a lollipop. Oh, and the familiar pal Rodin pops in somewhere along the way decked out in a Santa suit, because it's the holiday season after all. Ho ho ho.
This is par for the course of Bayonetta, a two-deep series of action games from PlatinumGames known for being deeply, deeply silly. Bayonetta is confident in this sensibility, with its over-the-top sexuality and ludicrous scenarios. And on the Nintendo Switch, nothing is left behind in the dust of the bullets Bayonetta's shooting out of her heels. In fact, on the portable-hybrid console Bayonetta looks as good as she ever has before.
When I booted up the new ports, I was slightly worried. Even with dozens of great ports like Rocket League and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, other games with high-speed action like Doom have shown that sometimes games struggle on the hardware, with a low-capped frame rate and overall low-resolution. Yet it seems Bayonetta has the strength of her prior entries on older hardware as a plus: there is nothing to really push with Bayonetta on the Switch, in terms of frame rate and the like. Her combos are just as dazzling as they were on the Wii U, whether she's kicking an enemy into a torturous coffin full of spikes or shooting down flying foes all around her with her gun-heels.
Our friends at Digital Foundry have gone as far as to call Bayonetta 1 and 2 on the Switch as nearly the "definitive" console versions of the games. (Especially given the latter is only available on consoles, since Nintendo helped boost its development financially in making it an exclusive.) While Bayonetta runs faster on PC and on the Xbox One X with Backwards Compatibility, it still prevails largely over the Wii U counterparts. This even translates to load times, which are so fleeting that you probably won't even manage to finish testing out a combo until you're back in the game proper.
There's something novel about carrying the action of Bayonetta wherever you'd like, even if performance-wise it looks a lot slicker when on a big screen television. As someone who plays her Switch primarily portable (I have my dock right on my desk without a connection to a tv; my partner's dock is in our living room), it's great that the Bayonetta games don't take a major hit when they're on-the-go too, unlike other games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
For a pure action game—and I mean pure—Bayonetta 1 and 2 perform swimmingly on the hardware, with the original having a slight greater edge in the flow of action. They both inch closer to their limits of 60 frames per second (fps), with no dips in my hours with each game so far. As someone who doesn't normally grouse about frame rate (even Doom's 30fps on Switch hardly bothered me, honestly), Bayonetta's one of the rare sorts of games where a higher frame rate really matters. With that left untainted, the action is as fluid as it's ever been before. Y'know, except for that rough launch on PS3.
These ports of Bayonetta have the most in common with their Wii U counterparts. They feature touch control modes, where players can poke and swipe the screen to make Bayonetta obliterate her foes. The ports also feature four special outfits themed after Nintendo characters, specifically Peach, Daisy, Samus, and Link. The latter two are the neatest costumes of all, with Link's costume giving Bayonetta the familiar Master Sword and changing the halos you collect to rupees. The Samus costume gives Bayonetta an arm gun with the lo-fi Metroid sound you're sure to recognize. The only downside with the costumes is that you miss the added visual flourish of Bayonetta summoning her hair-clothed body as a weapon. The costumes go above being just teensy cosmetic changes, all while reminding you that, yes, Nintendo of all publishers saved Bayonetta from an early grave. What a weird world we live in.
Sure, the definitive way to play the original Bayonetta remains its recent PC version, which runs at a very stable frame rate of 60fps. But for those who missed out on her last-gen adventure (including the incredibly rough PS3 version), didn't own a Wii U, or don't have a spiffy PC to run the game in all its glory, the Switch port of the original game easily edges above all of the rest. As for Bayonetta 2, its decidedly more lavishly setpiece-littered successor built for a less-powerful piece of hardware—well, it looks pretty swell too.
Overall, the ports for Bayonetta 1 and 2 are what all ports for the hybrid console should be: playable in both the Switch's forms, without mincing too much in the process between either. It's a delightful way to either revisit Bayonetta after a long time away in preparation for the upcoming Bayonetta 3, or to see what all the hubbub is about if you missed her bombastic arrival to the character action genre. And if that isn't your jam, then fuggedaboutit.