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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Bayonetta 2.

Transcript Edit

Seems like these days there are a lot of people banging on about how we need more gender diversity in games and more roles for women besides being the focus of stealth snogging tutorials and then something like Bayonetta 2 comes out and they turn around and say: "we need more gender diversity in games that isn't that." Well geez guys, I don't know what you want anymore! I mean Bayonetta's clearly powerful and in control of her life. Admittedly she looks like a flag pole with various items of sporting equipment nailed to it, but the debate over whether she represents female-empowerment or sexual objectification is for me a fairly swiftly resolved one, process of elimination really, she can’t be a sex object because she has the proportions of an internet meme horror character; I’m trying to imagine having sex with her and it feels like rubbing my dick on the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still. My mind can’t quite get to the point of having lustful thoughts because I’m too worried about where I’m going to find a step-ladder at this time at night.

Still, Bayonetta does give much needed representation to one severely neglected demographic and that’s: people who are capable of enjoying themselves! Every aspect of the game has the sense of sheer joyful energy running through it, from the music, to the walk animations and given a choice between Bayonetta and the reboot Lara Croft say... I’d rather have sex with the latter but only because it’d be possible without erecting scaffolding but Bayonetta is the one I’d rather be stuck opposite on a long train journey because she doesn’t stink of grim determination and caked-on goat shit .

“Wait, I thought we were gonna talk about Bayonetta 2 Yahtzee, so far this could apply to either 1 or 2?”

And there you’ve glanced off if not directly hit the nail on the head, viewer. I don’t know if this is true everywhere but the only version of Bayonetta 2 I could get hold of came bundled with Bayonetta 1, thankfully for no extra cost but I can’t help feeling that this was somewhat ill-advised. I get that it needs introducing to a new audience now that it’s Wii U exclusive and incidentally I’m still crossing fingers for Bayonetta being added to Smash Bros. just so the mothers of the world have to field some fucking awkward questions.

But if someone plays through Bayonetta 1 and then immediately moves on to Bayonetta 2, their first thought will probably be “Hang on, didn’t we just do this?” Yes, I’m sorry to say Bayonetta 2 is the bad kind of sequel, the kind that finds it impossible to move on from the original or carve out its own identity, descending instead into parades of nudge wink references and environments that are either copy-pastes or so similar it makes no odds.

“How can you say that? This classical European-style town with a suspiciously large number of open plazas has a completely different name to the previous one!”

So what is there that is new? Well, Bayonetta’s got short hair now; of course her outfit is supposed to be woven from her hair and now we know it wasn’t woven from the hair on her head. EWW! And the setup for the plot is a bit more coherent this time around: Bayonetta’s sister Jeanne has been dragged to hell and we’re off to rescue her straight Alighieri style. It’s a story involving actual emotions and comprehensible motives such as what human beings might have , so of course it gets unceremoniously booted out of the game two-thirds of the way in to be superseded by pseudo-theological cosmic warfare bollocks, so I guess it’s one of those “Liked the original? Well here’s more of it so you can put off leaving the house for another 12 or 13 hours" dealies.

I could probably just link to my review of Bayonetta 1 at this point and knock off for a crafty one; it’s about as Platinum Games as Platinum Games gets: absurdly large-scale action set-pieces, references to other Platinum Games, characters with weird hard to place accents and an emphasis on challenging up-tempo to which arcade combat design for people who really miss high-school and like being evaluated and graded every alternate step. Although I scraped through the first game with the lowest grades, I was a solid B student this time: silver medals across the board, so either it's eased off a bit or all those hours clocked in with Dark Souls have paid off.

The only combat mechanic that’s new for Bayonetta 2 is that as well as QTE torture attacks, you can use your magic meter to activate what I can’t help but think of as ‘Rage of the gods mode.’ But the practical effect is the same as the QTE attacks: you activate it then treat the controller like the face of a disobedient spouse for a few seconds and hope everything dies before your wrist dislocates.

But lest we forget it’s Wii U exclusive now and you know what that means: waiting half an hour for the fucking console to update before I could play the fucking thing. Also there’s the usual benefit, you can go off and play it on the screen controller if someone else wants to use the TV. Wii U, I’m playing a game about a pole dancer fighting demons! Obviously I live alone. Oh… well you can also control the game with the touch screen by touching where you want to go and what you want to attack like you’re a small child pointing insistently through the window of a sweet shop, or I suppose you could just use the buttons? OR I COULD JUST USE THE FUCKING BUTTONS, COULDN’T I? Because then my hand wouldn’t be getting in the way of my view of the touch screen and being distracted by own body parts is exactly why I took the mirror off my ceiling! And what with the Wii’s preference for geometric shapes over the organic controllers design favoured by other consoles, the concept of good-sense, and people with working hands, the frantic button mashing gave me finger cramp after a while. It’s like trying to beat the speed record for seducing a VCR.

When I first heard that Bayonetta 2 was going to be a Nintendo exclusive my first thought was that that felt instinctively wrong, part of it’s that you could never imagine her being introduced to Smash Bros. because it’d be like enacting Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to warm up a PTA meeting. The Nintendo universe is so quintessentially sexless she could tear a hole in the fabric of reality with a single swing of her engorged clitoris. But on the other hand the Wii U is still the only console to have kept 'have fun, play games' on the top of the priority list and Bayonetta’s fast-paced arcade action and sheer colourful joyousness does fit in with those kind of retro sensibilities, which is why it feels so lurchingly out of place whenever characters swear. Bayonetta’s supposed to be a classy and in-control sort of lady, so when she goes "Fuck off! "In the middle of a combo like a cockney market-stall vender noticing a police man, it feels a bit incongruous. What, so you just disco danced a purple frog into existence and made it lick a centaur to death, but now it’s time for some gritty realism? I like my swearing, but in the wrong place it brings down the whole gosh darn tone, you cunt. 

Addenda Edit

  • Is he human or is he a dancer: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Bet you're glad I resolved that whole gender diversity in games issue for everyone, you'll have so much free time on your hands now
  • Now let's all have sex with each other

Screenshots Edit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5

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