Bayonetta has been a cult classic from the moment it released in 2009. Often considered to be the game that defines Platinum Games as a developer, Bayonetta offers up a fast-paced action game telling a tale of ancient witches and their battle against the forces of light. The titular protagonist is one of these witches, and battles against angels using her martial arts and guns strapped to every limb.


RELATED: Things Bayonetta 3 Needs to Live Up To ExpectationsWhile it didn’t explode sales records, it quickly gained a dedicated audience of fans that was large enough to justify a sequel in 2014. Now, with a third Bayonetta game just around the corner, it’s worth taking a look back at what made the original game so beloved, and how well it holds up today, even though thirteen years have passed.

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5/5 The Visual Style, Including Biblically Accurate Angels

A game all about the battle between dark and light needs strong visual design to highlight the contrast, especially with the light side unusually being given the role of the villains. Fortunately, the developers were able to fall back on biblically accurate angel designs, leading to enemies with faces in strange places, draconic appendages and even an enemy that’s just a wheel with human legs as its spokes.The strong visual design spreads to Bayonetta herself too, along with the demons she can summon using her hair, all of which are memorable and command attention.

For instance, Bayonetta’s patron, Madama Butterfly, shows herself as giant limbs that burst into the world through portals while Bayonetta fights, complete with manicured nails and high heels. She also shows up as Bayonetta’s shadow in a cool visual detail that might be easily missed. The environments are also gorgeous gothic buildings and unusual geometry, which manages to overcome the game’s occasional desaturation, one of the few dated elements that gives away this being a game from the PS3/360 era.

4/5 The Jazzy Soundtrack

Bayonetta does away with typical soundtrack conventions for a game of this type. While other character action games usually turn to aggressive guitars to pump the player up, and a battle between heaven and hell would normally demand an orchestra and a choir chanting in Latin, Bayonetta decides on its own direction. While certainly some boss fights do bring in the Latin choirs, most of the game is soundtracked by jazzy pianos and brass instead.

This gives battles more of a swing feel, which gives it a unique feel. It even introduces this style with a full fast-paced cover of popular standard Fly Me to the Moon while Bayonetta battles angels in the opening cutscene while shedding a nun costume. Even beyond that, the game has a few sneaky musical references to classic Sega titles in its vehicle levels, such as a remix of After Burner’s theme in a level set on a plane, and a road combat level soundtracked by a jazzy version of OutRun’s Splash Wave theme.

3/5 The Over-the-Top Action

Bayonetta is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is probably why so much of it ludicrously over-the-top. Whether it’s Bayonetta marking sarcastic quips towards a massive upside-down head with dragons attached to it, a battle against a gigantic angel in the ocean where she surfs on a panel from a downed plane, and a final battle that takes place out in space, this is a game that pushes past the concept of realism and then just keeps going to see how much it can get away with.

RELATED: Switch Action Games to Play While Waiting for Bayonetta 3Bayonetta isn’t a particularly long game, but every step of the way it’s determined to cram as much absurd action in as possible. It’s a game that isn’t satisfied until the player is left staring at the screen in awe of how much is going on. It manages all of this despite all the limitations of what its original systems could do, and it’s still impressive to this day.

2/5 The Fluid Gameplay

None of the other points would matter if Bayonetta didn’t hold up as an actual game, and it excels there too. The controls are simple to use, with a single punch button, a single kick button and a button for shooting Bayonetta’s guns. However, the combinations of moves these few buttons can generate is seemingly endless. Every combo yields a different effect, with moves flowing effortlessly from one to the other.

RELATED: Bayonetta’s Strongest AngelsThis fluidity in shaping combos with some simple button combinations leads to every fight being a blast. Using Wicked Weave finishers to punch a crowd of angels across the room or executing a perfect dodge and activating the time-slowing Witch Time ability is always satisfying, and the variety on offer with the multiple combo options available means that this gameplay never gets stale. Even thirteen years on, it still feels fresh and exciting.

1/5 Endless Replayability

Platinum have a reputation for games that are simple to pick up and difficult to master, often expecting players to go through multiple playthroughs, refining their combat strategy and uncovering new secrets. Bayonetta is no exception to this, with grades applied to every combat encounter, where points are applied for style, speed and avoiding taking damage, encouraging players to keep coming back to get the difficult Pure Platinum awards.

The slow process of unlocking news moves and weapons also encourages multiple playthroughs, as it’s unlikely anyone will get everything in a single run. With these unlocks, Bayonetta’s potential combos expand significantly and create greater opportunities to get closer to the Platinum awards, which is a further reason to try them all out. It’s a game that constantly rewards replays and never gets old while doing so.

MORE: Hardest Bosses in Platinum’s Games

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