My time with Bayonetta 2 during a hands-on pre-E3 demo session was very brief, giving me a look at little more than a handful of combat encounters. Still, those battles were enough to illustrate one important point about Platinum's Wii U-exclusive sequel: Its destination console hasn't required it to lessen its violence by any conceivable metric.
Bayonetta's combat is as fast-paced and combo-centric as it was in the series first, cult classic outing. She's just as capable of meleeing, kicking and shooting her way through crowds of angelic enemies as she was in the original, gaining advantage on her foes by dodging their attacks and activating Witch Time to bring their movements to a near stop.
The brutal Torture Attacks the first game became known for are also back, letting players execute weakened foes with a brief quick time event and a summoned, hair-based murder machine. It's on a Nintendo console, but Platinum hasn't held anything back; the Torture Attack featured in my demo involved a pair of grinders and a fatality reminiscent of the treadmill fight from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Bayonetta's not without her new tricks, though. The most prominent of her new abilities is called Umbral Climax, which — after filling up a meter charged by successful combos — turns her regular attacks into enormous, screen-sized strikes. Her attacks in this state are just as stylish as her other special maneuvers, sending enemies flying with giant, floating fists and feet made from her trademark raven hair.
The series' pervading sexuality hasn't been cut back on the Wii U, either. The ratio of attack power/clothing is very much still in effect, leaving Bayonetta with little more than a few strands of hair covering her body after pulling off a huge combo. It's not surprising to see that Platinum didn't cave on that major stylistic element of the first game, but it certainly didn't make it any more comfortable to play it in a room full of attentive Nintendo handlers.
The game's style hasn't suffered across the board, actually, in the series' transition to Nintendoland. The aforementioned battle took place on the back of a speeding harrier jet flying through the heart of a congested city, chased by other jets and massive, horrific angels. This scene was loaded up without context, leaving me with no idea why any of those things were where they were. The only familiar element in the scene was a cameo appearance by Bayonetta's foil from the first game, Jeanne — Nintendo wouldn't comment on whether her reprise role meant Bayonetta 2 would feature an oft-requested co-op mode.
In terms of Wii U-exclusive features, the only thing demonstrated was full off-TV play, allowing you to get through the game playing entirely on the GamePad. The title will also feature a cinematic "Touch" mode, allowing players to control Bayonetta using the GamePad's touchscreen. The specifics of this mode weren't shown off, but Nintendo hinted that it would be designed to make the game more palatable to casual audiences.
Hopefully, the game's other improvements will be shown off soon, but it's reassuring that the game's more mature elements haven't been lost in translation. Bayonetta's still as violent and provocative as ever. Yes, she's gotten a drastic haircut in between games, but she's still got enough to weave into magical torture implements.
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