Having Fun with Bayonetta 2

Nintendo scored quite the coup when it was announced that Platinum Games was making two games for the WiiU and one of those games was going to be a sequel to their much lauded action game Bayonetta. That news got even better for Nintendo fans with the addition of a port of that game. Bayonetta 2 has more than lived up to the hype. It is an excellent game. It is not a revolutionary game; it is merely a revision of the original. Considering how good that first game was, that is not such a bad thing. Also, Bayonetta 2, as well as the port of Bayonetta, takes full advantage of the Nintendo connection to make a game that is all about bonkers fun.


While Bayonetta 2 plays much like is predecessor, it also smooths things out considerably. I must admit that a lot of that smoothing might come from the fact that my previous experience with Bayonetta was playing the PS3 port, which by all accounts is flawed to say the least. That doesn’t change the fact that Bayonetta 2 plays perfectly on the WiiU. There are also some changes to the combat. The Bayonetta combat system is all about narrowly dodging attacks to activate “Witch Time,” where time slows and attacks to more damage. It is some combination of that Matrix influenced “bullet time” and Viewtiful Joe’s slow motion ability. Activating that is easier in Bayonetta 2 thanks to more clearly cued enemy attacks. It is a lot easier to judge exactly when to dodge than it was in the first game. It also removes most of the QTEs that the first game had, making for many fewer cheap deaths.

For the most part, the game is just more of the same. It is Bayonetta, but with more weapons, more enemies, just more in general. I love how the different weapons change how the game plays entirely. Using the bow is a completely different experience than using the scythe. The beast weapon is undoubtedly Salamandra, which is a chainsaw sword. It is supremely satisfying to use that weapon. The other part where the fun really comes in is the Nintendo fan service. The game is loaded with Nintendo themed fun. There are a bevy of costumes themed like Nintendo characters. You can dress Bayonetta as Link or Samus or Peach or Fox. It doesn’t end there, though. When dressed as Link, the halos you collect as currency become rupees. When you’re dressed a Peach (or Daisy) Bayonetta’s wicked weaves – attacks when her hair becomes demon fists or feet – become Bowser themed. As Fox anything that can be replaced with an arwing is replaced with an arwing. It sets the tone as a game that is all about fun. The actual game is as hard as ever and the game doesn’t coddle the player, each victory must be earned, but it is carefully designed so that even failure will be enjoyable.


The big elephant in the room is what exactly to make of the game’s main character. It is hard to tangle out what Bayonetta is. Is she a powerful character with positive sexuality or was she created just to pandering with her frequent near nudity and playing to the leering, lingering camera? This has inspired a delightful debate, assuming one can ignore the gang sub-literate hyenas currently shitting up any sort of conversation about video games on the internet especially if it touches on gender. It is not a question with a clear cut answer. The game absolutely does provide ample opportunity for players to ogle Bayonetta, the camera lingers on her ass and chest every chance it can. The game devotes an almost disturbing amount of time to extended crotch shots. However, in the game Bayonetta holds all the power. Her flirty, sexual antics are to amuse herself. The other characters and even the camera to some extent exist to serve her needs. Is the condemnation of Bayonetta just slut shaming? Or is she just another in the long line of “Strong Female Characters“? I fall more to the positive side of that debate, though I am careful of whom I play the game in front of. Bayonetta is entertaining, but it is slightly embarrassing.


Bayonetta 2 just works. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it defies the player to do so. The story is just an excuse for every escalating conflict between Bayonetta and everyone who stands in her way. While the combat is intense and has an astronomical skill limit, the rest of the game teeters constantly on the edge of silliness. Sometimes it steps away, and is nearly genuinely moving at times, others it gleefully jumps into a pool of silliness and splashes around. Even the most grave moments the game manages are undercut by Bayonetta being dressed in an ill-fitting Princess Peach costume. Bayonetta 2 is certainly a unique experience.

What I Read in October ‘14

I did quite a bit reading in October, all of it in two series. I finished up my reread of the Outlander series, which was largely entertaining. I also got caught up with Jasper Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer series. I don’t expect to come close to matching this pace next month, since NaNoWriMo will be taking up a lot of my free time. It is also why I am kind of phoning in these reviews. Let’s get on with it.


The Song of the Quarkbeast

Jasper Fforde

I saw that a new Jasper Fforde book was coming out, which reminded me that I never read the one before it. So I bought both this book and its sequel. These are his Young Adult books, skewing a little younger than his other work, but they are still highly entertaining. Jennifer Strange is still leading the magic company of Kazam, with its founder, the Great Zambini, still missing. Now she is facing problems with the only other magical practitioners in the Ununited Kingdoms, meddling from the King, the reproduction habits of Quarkbeasts, and the mystery of what happened to The Once Magnificent Boo. She has to hold together Kazam in the face of a competition to determine who controls the future of magic itself.

Song of the Quarkbeast is another great Jasper Fforde book. It keeps the trademark humor and wit, but aims it at a younger set than something like the Thursday Next series. This book is funny. It also pulls the curtain back a little more on how the word of this series works. I liked this one more than the first one. It spends less time getting to know the characters; it just gets to the fun.


The Eye of Zoltar

Jasper Fforde

I followed up book two with book three immediately. It is a similar thing. This time, Jennifer goes to a foreign country where magic is outlawed to rescue the Once Magnificent Boo, as well as look for a magical macguffin that may or may not exist, the Eye of Zoltar from the title. It is not a quest, though, those require regulations that Jennifer doesn’t want to deal with.

On its own, this is a fine story, but it is kind of a digression from the characters and setting that the previous two books established. The Eye of Zoltar is an excuse to the a few characters out of the way in order to set up the next (final?) book in the series. That would be a problem if this book wasn’t still supremely entertaining. It introduces some interesting new characters and some entertaining concepts. Again, I don’t like this series quite as much as I do Fforde’s “adult” books, but there is still enough wit and humor to make it worthwhile.


A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Diana Gabaldon

It had been a long time since I had read this book. I remembered snatches of events, but not the sequence or the totality of them. Much like Dragonfly in Amber, this book is one to close up all the lingering plot threads from the previous books and clearing the way for the next one. The community of Fraser’s Ridge in the back country of North Carolina is firmly established by now, and thing are moving rapidly to the start of the Revolutionary War.

This is a sprawling book, with tons of small stories, but no strong central one. There is the growing unrest in the colony, with Jamie, knowing the outcome, trying to balance safety and his other obligations, with not allowing them to get caught on the wrong side of history again. They also have to deal with Ian’s return from living with Indians and some troubling new tenants, along with a host of other problems. It does let the stories take their time in the telling. The tale of the Christies’ is a sad, strange saga, with Claire’s protégé Malve doomed by the regressive gender notions of the time as well as her father’s harshness. It ended the only way it could. Her attempts to pin her out of wedlock child on Jamie is a strange soap opera-esque note, mostly because there is no chance that it is true. The fact that dealing with that accusation takes up a good portion of the back of the book is somewhat disappointing. The big deck clearing decision is Roger and Brianna taking their family back to the future. It was necessitated by the heart condition their baby had, but seemed to be mostly an effort to focus the narrative of the next few books.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes is a somewhat weak book on its own, but as a part of the ongoing Outlander Saga it is a fine entry in the series.


An Echo in the Bone

Diana Gabaldon

Another Outlander book. This one deals with start of the Revolutionary War and, despite their best efforts to the contrary, Jamie and Claire’s participation in it. At the start of the book, Jamie and Claire attempt to go back to Scotland, both to visit his sister and to get his printing press, which is how he plans to aid in the war effort. However, their attempts to secure a berth on a ship lead to a series of misadventures that bring them right to the heart of the fighting. It is a story scattered all over colonial America.

It is a little too scattered. The sheer number of POV characters has gotten out of hand, and Gabaldon doesn’t stick with any one of them long enough for the reader to get comfortable. Especially with the frequent trips to the ‘future’ with Brianna and Roger. It is not that their portion of the story isn’t interesting, but it is completely divorced from the rest of the book. It also brings in Jamie’s son William as a major player in the story. He is still unaware of his paternity, but he and Jamie keep crossing paths. Ian also begins a romance with a young Quaker girl. Other than its inability to keep focused on one story for any length of time, this is a fine entry in the series, though it is clearly a part one with a part two coming.


Written in my Own Hearts Blood

Diana Gabaldon

I did another quick read through of the most recent Outlander novel after I caught back up. It reads a lot better when you know what happened to lead to the situation where the book starts. It also is a lot more of a focused book than either of the last two. While there is just as much Roger and Brianna stuff, it is kept to its own section, letting it stand on its own better and not interfere with the other part of the story.

This one lets the Revolutionary War part play out, but with everything at the end seems to be setting up could be the end of this series. Roger and Brianna are back, William knows who his Daddy is and the Frenchman is not letting up in his search for Fergus, who may or may not be heir to a French Lord. I don’t profess to have any clue about how it will play out, but it seems like it is leading to a conclusion.

Now Playing for October ‘14

This was a month of Smash Brothers, at least until the last week of the month when I got both Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Bayonetta 2. Next month should be pretty free until near the end of the month again. That at least will clear some time for me to complete NaNoWriMo.


Bayonetta 2

I’ll have a full post about this sometime in the next week or so. It is a great game, but that is to be expected from a PlatinumGames title. It doesn’t quite reach the highs of its predecessor, but it is overall a slightly better game. It is a much more even experience; while it doesn’t reach the astounding highs it also doesn’t have the lows. By which I mean the instant death surprises and QTEs. I think the team at Platinum knew they weren’t likely to get another chance at this series (fingers crossed that I’m wrong) and they went all out to make this the best game they could. It is polished and inventive and just damn great.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – wrote about it here.

Smash Brothers 4 3DS – wrote about it here and here.

The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks – wrote about it here.

Art of Balance

This is a puzzle game, with previous versions releases for Wiiware and the 3DS, where the player stacks oddly shaped blocks, trying to keep them from falling off the platform. When the game starts adding special blocks, like breakable ones or blocks that reverse gravity it starts to get really intense. I really enjoy puzzle games, I can zone out for hours solving things like this. Art of Balance is a damn fine puzzle game. It doesn’t quite have the presentation of PushMo, but it is much easier to wrap one’s head around, though not necessarily easier to solve. This is a good game.


Yakuza 4 – I’ve played a few chapters of this, but I couldn’t make much more progress. I expect it is the last Yakuza game I’ll get to play in English and I want to savor the experience.

Mario and Luigi Dream Team – I started this up when I was sick of Smash Bros. I don’t know what I think about the new graphical style, it looks different from the previous Mario & Luigi games but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. The rest of the game seems to play about the same as the rest of the series. Honestly, I didn’t stick with much past the prologue, but this is what I have to play on my 3DS until Persona Q hits.


I’m not finished with this yet, but I am ready to call it the definitive version of Bayonetta. I’ve never played it on 360, but it certainly runs much better than the PS3 version. And the 360 version doesn’t have Nintendo themed costumes. This is a great game on any system, but the silliness of Link and Samus costumes make it even better.

Tomb Raider Underworld – wrote about it here. I haven’t managed to finish it, but I am still playing it.

Cursed Mountain – My attempts to clear out my Wii backlog started with this survival horror game. It isn’t a great game, the controls are clunky and some of the motion controls are awkward. But it does have some great atmosphere and a unique setting. I haven’t made it too far into the game, I had planned to play it on Halloween but ended up playing Bayonetta instead, but I will come back to finish it. It is a solid 7 of a game, flawed in many ways, but interesting nonetheless.

– I ambled around Fourside for a while this last month. I think I know where I’m supposed to be going now, but I’ve got distracted by other things. I’ll get back to it.


Persona Q – This is the only big 3DS game I am buying the rest of the year. My budget won’t allow for me to get this and Fantasy Life and Pokemon. I am going with the Atlus game. A combination of the Persona and Etrian Odyssey series, this looks like exactly the sort of game I’ll love.

Smash Bros WiiU – I spent 40 odd hours with the 3DS game already; I expect to double that with the WiiU pretty quickly. It looks so good.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – This is the last game in my Zelda replay, assuming I can’t track down 4 Swords Adventure, (I am baffled about what happened to that game. I’ve searched everywhere) and I will get it finished before the end of the year.

Okami HD – I picked this game up cheap at the same time I got Tomb Raider Underworld, but I played that first since I was fresh off of the Tomb Raider reboot. I am eager to play this again.