Bayonetta 2's appearance here today, as part of Nintendo's post-E3 Showcase, is a last minute inclusion. They didn't expect it to be here, explains the white-clothed demo assistant who's stationed by the booth.
He's here to run down controls and give background to the game. Unlike his brethren dotted around the hall giving similar advice to other games, he gets it easy. Every one of the attendees that steps up bats away any queries in favour of cracking fingers and unwinding neck muscles in preparation for the ten minute demo. There's a queue of other people behind doing exactly the same thing, stretching like they're readying for the thumb-war Olympics. In a way, they kind of are.
That Bayonetta's solitary demo pod, sandwiched between a wall of Wind Waker and Mario demonstrations, keeps a solid line five deep throughout the day says a lot about anticipation for the title.
The original Bayonetta was the stylish action adventure genre taken to its logical evolution. Years previous, Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya had dabbled with the precision combat he debuted with Dante in his next project Viewtiful Joe.
In 2009 he perfected it with Bayonetta, leaving a blueprint for 3D action adventure combat that no-one has come close to copying since. Rocksteady's Arkham games made you feel like a superhero at the touch of one button; Bayonetta forced you to earn it.
But much like his previous studio Clover's output, Bayonetta did well, but not brilliantly. Critically acclaimed with solid sales, you'd still be hard pressed to find it talked about in the same breath as this generation's greatest. Overly-sexualised cut-scenes and a main character that looked like Sarah Palin likely didn't help endear it to a wider market.
So a sequel had been much mooted, but not expected. And never on a Nintendo console. But here we are; Bayonetta 2, exclusive to Wii U. And our first hands-on with the ten to fifteen minute demo proves multiple things.
Firstly, Platinum have managed to find a way of escalating the action. The original opened with a fight on top a destroyed clock tower plunging off a cliff. Here, we begin atop a fighter jet as it roars through a city, skimming past skyscrapers and rolling round corners. Before the demo's end we've battled a mini-boss from the rooftop of a train as the behemoth charged alongside us, double-teamed it with a returning Jeanne in a three-way brawl, made chop-suey of newer angel types with our equally-as-new dual swords, and finished by flying around a skyscraper, beating the crap out of a King Kong-like dragon monster that's curled itself around the building's top. It's intense.
Second thing we notice; everything runs super smooth. Bayonetta 2 is just as extreme in on-screen action as the first. There's a lot being tossed around. And that's the other thing. You never get lost tracking Bayonetta nor her immediate threats. We're being flipped around on a plane's back through a city during a overcast sunset and attacked by enemy hordes - not to mention a flying giant that zips in occasionally to take a swipe.
It's sensory overload, yet we always know where we are in this combat storm.
Part of that is due to camera. It never needs adjusting. It pulls out exactly when needed, pans to keep everything important in frame. For the demo's length, its flawless.
Thirdly; the Wii U GamePad's up to the task. Our biggest worry going in was the tablet controller, both in feel and control layout.
Surprisingly it's only an issue once - when we have to crank up the button-hammering to charge our end of stage Climax, and that takes nothing more than a shift and lean on the thigh to support the controller as we batter it.
There is a touch-screen controlled 'easy' mode, but it's no different from the one-stick control scheme of the first game, for those folk who can't pull off the combos but want to watch the fireworks.
This feels a direct continuation from the first. No compromise. There's excess window dressing yet it never gets in the way of action. Everything about the action is precise. Witch Time-initiating dodges, testing new combo chains, slamming out Torture attacks, all building to the crescendo of the boss Climax.
We're exhausted come the end... and we immediately rejoin the queue. We're on our third run of the day when we're kicked out due to the event ending, by which point we'd only managed to score a Silver statue at the Results screen.
Is it a system seller? We know we're eager to see more, and early signs point to this being another Platinum classic. But for those around the pod though - Bayonetta's core audience - discussion focused on it going multi-format. That this was likely only a timed exclusive for Nintendo's machine. Obviously idle speculation only, and given Nintendo are the publisher, not likely to happen.
Yet the talk dealt with "when" rather then "would", almost as if it were inevitable. For them, they're happy to wait. A queue that might diminish one day, when, if, the leather-clad beauty shoots her way onto other consoles.
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