Sunday, September 16, 2012

About Bayonetta 2...

Sometimes, at a family dinner, I'll be asked how I like this bit of food or that piece of dessert.  Now, it's nice when one is honestly able to answer that it's delicious - but that's not always the case - and in such unfortunate cases, when asked about the quality of a dry cake or questionable lasagna, I have a stock phrase prepared for deployment: 

"It's a lot better than the lasagna I wasn't eating ten minutes ago."

Bayonetta 2 is that lasagna. 

So people are flipping out over Bayonetta 2 being a Wii U exclusive, published by Nintendo.  These people are silly.

We need to appreciate, here - any game from Platinum is a gift to gamers, everywhere - and it's not like these things apparate out of thin air.  Sega were kind enough to foot the bills for MadWorld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta, Vanquish and Anarchy Reigns, Konami asked them to help out on Metal Gear Rising and Nintendo had already announced a relationship with the developer when they told us they were publishing Hideki Kamiya's latest thing, now known as The Wonderful 101.

Now, as it turns out, they're also footing the bill - and have secured publishing rights - for the sequel to the best brawler on the current gen.  Silly, silly people have a problem with this.  As a knee-jerk reaction, that's... sort-of understandable.  I myself referred to the news that Nintendo is publishing Bayonetta 2 as "rather crazy," but that doesn't make it a bad thing, or even something that's not good.

It's just weird.

It's something of a statement, by Nintendo.  They want to position the Wii U as a respectable, capable gaming machine for everyone - and that includes the niche, "hardcore" folks who care about Bayonetta.  Of the platform's handful of promising third-party exclusives (The Wonderful 101, Zombie U and Rayman: Legends), only Bayonetta has instant, nails-in traction with the "core" crowd.  Yes, we all loved Rayman: Origins - but Bayonetta is a separate beast entirely.

Bayonetta belongs in the discussion of titles that moved their respective genres forward.  It sits among luminaries like Half-Life, DOOM, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  It's one of those games.

And (for now, at least), you can only get it on Nintendo's platform.  I get the why of this.  I get why Platinum was willing to do it, and I get why Nintendo's willing to foot the bill - but I worry the outcome won't be what they hope.

Everyone wants to be Halo, but it was a rare event.  It launched with the original Xbox, offering something profoundly different from your run-of-the-mill console gaming experiences, and the rest is history.  It's nice to hope that Platinum, similarly, could be so rewarded for placing one of the jewels from their crown on the ground floor of what could be the next PS2, the next Xbox and, heck, the next Wii.  But c'mon.

You also run the danger of being the next Heavenly Sword - a gorgeous, ambitious brawler that was almost ignored at the dawn of the PS3's life cycle - there simply weren't enough PS3s in people's hands to support a hit, at that stage in the game.

For all of Nintendo's clever positioning, the WiiU will never be the next Xbox 360 - it can't.  The next Xbox 360 will (probably) launch late next year in competition with the next PlayStation (probably) - and when that happens, they'll be right back in the same boat - with a popular but under-powered piece of hardware, when compared to what Sony and Microsoft will be putting forward.

There's no way around it.  Come Holiday 2014, Nintendo will once again have the least-powerful console on the market, and the "core" folks will build their libraries around Sony or Microsoft platforms. which point Bayonetta 2 will probably get a port.  At least, if Nintendo's history of high-profile third-party exclusives is anything to go on.

So yes, Bayonetta 2 exclusive to the Wii U may seem crazy - but the reasoning is simple.  Nintendo want to show the hardcore crowd that they can play with the big dogs (at least 'till next year), and Platinum simply want to get Bayonetta 2 made - and so should we.

It probably won't pan out that well.  A few - let's say a hundred thousand - hardcore folks will buy the Wii U and they will get this game for it, but it's not a title that will give the platform any kind of a bump - and indeed, is the type of title which is only destined to be appreciated by people who, for example, read or write blogs about video games.

But let us not condemn this as a pointless exercise.  It may end up disappointing for Platinum and it may not glean the sales Nintendo hopes, but the crucial core of the thing remains : we're getting Bayonetta 2.

And Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U - a sequel to the best brawler of our time - is a profound improvement over the version of Bayonetta 2 that wasn't set to be published, until Nintendo stepped in.


  1. So what you're saying is

    you have your WiiU reserved, correct?

  2. No, but God help me Blue is getting one and I'm starting to consider it.

  3. I need to start saving for the next Xbox and PlayStation now, so unfortunately Nintendo get the pass for a second console in a row. It's a shame because ZombiU actually looks pretty cool.

  4. ...and Rayman Legends... :( sadface.

  5. Personally, I can understand where people are coming from. I think it's fair to assume that if the developer was going to make another game, they'd put it on a same or similar platform to what the predecessor was on, because that's the platform that is home to people that supported that game in the first place. To abandon those people in favor of a totally different platform would leave them understandably disappointed, in my mind.

    But objectively speaking, it's like you said. Platinum is a great developer, and another game from them is better than no game from them, regardless of the platform.

    And the other thing is that the situation is kind of different. The Wii U is technically an 8th generation console, and Bayonetta is not the first series to switch platforms over the course of multiple generations by any stretch. The situation just doesn't FEEL different because we still have the PS3 and 360, which by all accounts are probably on par with the Wii U in most ways that matter.