Bayonetta 10th Anniversary Remaster Review (PS4)

“Don’t f**k with a witch!”

Bayonetta is up there with the best—arguably even the best—hack-‘n-slash action game around. It’s problematic and erratic PS3 port back in 2010 left a false impression – after all, Bayonetta is no mere historical curio. We may have had to wait ten years, but Bayonetta finally has the Playstation port it deserves, offering 4K support with smooth, stable framerates. This, my friends, is how you port a classic.

The story of Bayonetta is, quite frankly, a mental one to explain in simple terms. A shapeshifting witch left with amnesia after a 500-year slumber, with guns in both her hands and strapped to her heels, is but the beginning. From then on, her story is your story. As the detailed lore is explained throughout as flashes of her previous life, reacquaint her, and of course you, of her salient backstory. The fictional European city of Vigrid is the adventure’s setting, and finding the “Right Eye of the World” is the quest Bayonetta must fulfill. Along the way is an army of angels that must be slain in a variety of wonderful ways, including demons made of hair. See, I told you the story was mental.

“Say hi to the wife and kids for me!”

If that potentially sounds too much for you, then remember this: Come for the story, stay for the combat. Bayonetta’s existence revolves around its masterful combat mechanics. Tapping triangle/circle gives you quick punch/kick attacks. Chaining them together with different weapons assigned can lead to a myriad of combinations. Then there are Wicked Weaves; powerful combo finishers that, when executed, transform Bayonetta’s mystical hair into a giant demonic boot/fist that inflict great damage. And naturally, look flashy as hell. In the past ten years, only one title has come close to Bayonetta’s combat, and that is the Wii U-exclusive sequel, Bayonetta 2, a little over five years ago. The fluidity and hypnotic rhythm of the combat are indeed that good.

Aside from the combos themselves, adding to that fluidity is the Dodge function. A quick tap of R2 allows Bayonetta to glide away from harm. Not only that, activating a dodge at the last possible moment freezes everyone – except for Bayonetta – in what is called Witch Time. For anyone who has played a Platinum title since, such as Transformers Devastation or Nier: Automata, this concept may be nothing new. But such is the genius of the concept, and it’s no surprise to see it becoming a developer-mainstay feature. There are, of course, subtle differences. Where Nier is all about accuracy, flow is the key in Bayonetta. The dodge is part of the combo chain, so it can be resumed after dodging.

“Do you like it when she calls you ‘Mummy’?”

The combat is oh so important as it is an extension of Bayonetta herself. The opening sequence gives the impression of someone with grace, poise, always in charge, and enjoys the thrill of combat. In turn, so is the animation of your actions – graceful that is – and assuming you’re not too terrible at it, you’ll be having as much fun as she is. It is both genius and beauty coming together, all at your fingertips.

The same can also be said for the action cutscenes. They are silly, playful, and on the right side of cocky. They are also highly entertaining and brilliantly choreographed, encapsulating again how much Bayonetta is in control. The camera also lingers over our star frequently, often with camera-facing glances, or alternatively, Bayonetta’s more private areas. Some may find this somewhat egregious. But this is merely intended as an extension of the self-awareness and confidence of Bayonetta. The sexualization is merely another source of power for our titular character. She is a funny, tenacious, and wise-cracking witch, and it is hard not to admire her beauty and grace.

There are very few, minor quibbles. This being a Sega property, it feels inevitable that QTE’s are involved. Not often, nor debilitating overall, but let’s face it, they are a product of a bygone era. Here a key life or death moment may need repeating until the correct singular button is pressed. It feels unnecessary and old-fashioned. The tendency to transition directly into being attacked out from a cutscene can be more irritating. Especially for those gunning, slashing, punching, and indeed spinning for top stage rankings.

“Now, it’s time to be naughty.”

But what of the remaster? Well, the action certainly keeps up the 60 frames per second promise. It feels right at home on the PS4 pad also. It is, without doubt, a major upgrade on the Platinum-outsourced PS3 disappointment of ten years ago. Even the Xbox 360 version struggled when the action got too frantic, but here it is smooth as smooth gets. It steps up to the plate of modern resolutions admirably well, also. Never has Bayonetta looked so good in my home than on my 55-inch 4K television.

As for the re-release timing generally, it feels like an important piece of redemption for Playstation hardware. The PS3 version has a bad rap with bad sales to go with it, so it is fitting that a definitive version gets both a new and old audience. The colour palette may seem a little bland in places today, but the level design remains superb, the combat sublime, and, now more than ever, an essential bargain.

This review originally appeared on www.heypoorplayer.com

 

 

My ‘Final Games’

One of my favourite podcasts, Final Games, is to video games what BBC’s Desert Island Discs is to music. Each episode a different guest details their 8 video game choices they would take with them to a hypothetical deserted location for the rest of their days.

So, in Final Games tradition, I will include my choices with a sample of music from each, and my reasons for each choice. Enjoy.

Tetris (Gameboy, 1990):-

There are many iterations of Tetris, but for me all pale in comparison in quality, simplicity, and sheer importance to video games than the Gameboy version. The tile-matching puzzle titan was the original mobile gaming phenomenon that brought gaming to the masses. It helped launch video games into the mainstream and many of its derivatives appeal to those who even don’t consider themselves a gamer.

Back in 1989/90 when physical console multiplayer connections were a must, I often challenged a friend who lived around the corner, visiting each other’s homes to spend hours on linked battle mode.

Tetris is the perfect pickup and play game, whether it’s a bus journey, your lunch break at work, or simply the need to engage your brain for any amount of time.

Super Mario Bros 3 (NES, 1991):-

The Christmas of 1991 I received my very own Nintendo Entertainment System, along with the latest Super Mario game – Super Mario Bros 3.

Mario games were easily the benchmark for all platformers today, 2D/3D, and back then, this was the benchmark. The overworld map, suits (frog, hammer and Tanooki) and the super leaf were all introduced here, and have been mainstays ever since.

At 10-years-old I wasn’t great at video games but I herald beating Super Mario bros 3 as my earliest gaming triumph.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (SNES, 1992):-

Link to the Past was the first video game I’d ever bought 2nd hand back in 1993/4. LttP is a game I make a time-honoured tradition of playing through each year. Like Super Mario World, it was another masterpiece released around the launch of the Super Nintendo, and simply timeless.

From the dramatic opening, essentially a tutorial which serves as a perfect insight into the themes of discovery and survival the game brings, Link to the Past is simply one of the best adventure games ever to be coded, and a journey I implore everyone to take at least once in their lifetime.

 

Chrono Trigger (SNES 1995, 2008)

The supergroup collaboration of Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Hori, Dragonball and Z creator Akira Toriyama plus script writer Masoto Kato simply created a masterpiece in role-playing and storytelling. Despite its standard JRPG appearance Chrono Trigger is bolstered by its time travel mechanic, resulting is a story that transcends thousands of years and consists of love, tragedy, and friendship, with 13 different endings on offer.

Neither the SNES or the PS1 versions were released in Europe, and it wasn’t until around 2001 that I managed to grab a decent boxed copy – but it set me back £92. Once it finally got it’s 2008 DS release, my dream was realised. 13 years of hype and it did not disappoint.

 

Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (PS2, 2006):-

If I’m going to live out my days alone in a deserted location, then I’m going to need my football fill.

Since its release in 2006 I have spent hour upon ungodly hour challenging the incredible Master League mode; easily the greatest single player football mode in any football game ever made.

The beauty of the PES series is that as you raised the bar, so did the game in its challenge and learning curve.

A joy to play, difficult to put down, PES 6 is the football game I would take to my grave.

 

Bayonetta 2 (Wii U, 2014):-

Bayonetta 2 is simply a masterpiece. Yusuke Hashimoto’s sequel to Hideki Kamiya’s incredible Bayonetta achieved what few sequels do: not only replicate what made the original a success, but also improve every element.

bayo2_ss_140708_008

The combat is simply a masterclass, the art direction stunning, the pacing tighter, truly improving what was already a perfect original. Despite the main campaign taking around 10 hours, there is so much more to perfect resulting in a title that could possibly be played forever, with secrets to find, scores/grades to beat, combos to create and perfect; Bayonetta 2 is simply incredible.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 1998):-

OoT is simply the most incredible video game ever devised. Enjoy Oblivion/Skyrim? Dark Souls/Bloodborne? The Witcher? OoT is the blueprint for all of those and many more.

It was released 2 weeks before Christmas in 1998 and in truth I did little else in the advent lead up than sample its delightful open world, fall in love with the combat mechanics, savour the magnificent soundtrack, and surrender myself to the contentment that the game delivers.

Following its 3DS remake and release in 2011 I once again stepped into Link’s shoes and it is as much a joy to play now as it was almost 20 years ago, and I’m sure I could say the same in another 20 years.

 

Final Fantasy VII (PS1, 1997):-

Cloud’s journey to stop world-controlling corporation Shinra from draining the world’s life essence for fuel resource has everything: friends, enemies, love, tragedy, death, and one of the greatest antagonist’s in video game history, Sephiroth.

Tscus_94163_07042008_191550_0015he beauty of Final Fantasy VII is its pacing, the turn-based combat, the incredible backdrops, levelling system, and so much more. The sprites may now look a little outdated, but the rendered backdrops really capture the mood and condition of the slums people must live in, and the open world is truly a feast for the eyes.

Final Fantasy VII is the only game in the series I’ve gone back to, having finished it twice, and still desire to go back to on a regular basis. When the time comes, it is a journey I would gladly take once again.

 

 

 

 

 

My 52 Game Challenge of 2014

2014 was a great year for gaming. Particularly for me, as I decided to undertake the ultimate lonely gamer task: complete 52 games in a calendar year. That works out at just shy of 4.5 games a month. Ouch.

Now I’m typically a gamer who starts many games, but takes forever to finish them. Save points are often my weak point in that I often to decide to call it quits once I reach one. Note to RPG makers: NO MORE SAVE POINTS, autosave all the way please.

Anyway, although late one, I completed the challenge. A simple feat for a lonely gamer such as myself, if I’d not started it in June! Yes, that’s 52 games completed in 6 months. And here they are:-

Xbox Live Arcade:-

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Streets of Rage 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade

Streets of Rage 3

TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled

Street Fighter III Third Strike

Final Fight

X-Men

Sonic Adventure 2

The Walking Dead Season 2

King of Fighters ’98

 

Xbox 360:-

Lego Batman 2

PES 2015 (Champions League)

 

PSN – Duck Tales Remastered

 

3DS:-

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Sega 3D Classics: Sonic The Hedgehog

Sega 3D Classics: Shinobi III

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Fantasy Life

Super Mario 3D Land

 

Wii U:-

Super Mario 3D World

Mario Kart 8 (Special Cup)

Bayonetta 2

 

Wii – Kirby’s Epic Yarn

 

Gamecube – Capcom Vs. SNK 2

 

Nintendo 64 – Lylat Wars

 

Gameboy:-

TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan

Kirby’s Dream Land

Super Mario Land

Super Mario Bros Deluxe

Donkey Kong Land

 

SNES:-

TMNT: Turtles in Time

Mickey’s Magical Quest

Final Fight 2

Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium

The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mick and Minnie Mouse

Aladdin

Super Castlevania IV

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Castlevania: Dracula X

Starwing

Donkey Kong Country

 

Mega Drive/Genesis – TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist

 

Master System – Sonic The Hedgehog

 

NES:-

TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project

Castlevania

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

Where’s Waldo?

Super Mario Bros 2

Duck Tales 2

 

Turbografix – Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

 

Arcade – Sunset Riders

 

Particular highlights from this list have been many, but the standouts are Kirby’s Epic Yarn, A Link Between Worlds, 3D World, Fantasy Life and Bayonetta 2. LOVE THAT GAME. Not many particularly lengthy titles I know, with Fantasy Life probably the longest, but there were some tough cookies, the standout being Castlevania’s III and Dracula X. But that was the beauty of the challenge; it drove me on to finish even those difficult titles, in order to move onto the next one.

I shall once again be undertaking the challenge in 2015, in fact, if I get to 52 in 6 months again, I may well go for ANOTHER 52! I shall keep you all updated on here, plus I shall Instagram and Tweet each game as I finish them.

How about you, are you up for the challenge?