Aztez – A Game of Conquest and Brutality

On Bayonetta 2 And “The Secret Game”

Y'all KNOW how I feel about Bayonetta 1; I believe it is the carrier of the greatest combat engine ever built. Imagine my surprise when Bayonetta 2 finally comes out here in North America and it is somehow an improvement in almost every single way. I'm not going to give its own combat analysis, as everything I said about Bayonetta 1 still applies, except now with less cons! But in that first analysis I referenced the "...secret game buried inside of Bayonetta...playing it for a respectable rank". I've since been asked many times about that secret game and instead of writing about I want to show it to you. Now that I have the technology to do this and since I'm already knee deep in Bayonetta 2, I made a video (with tactical commentary) of me playing through the first chapter and obtaining a Pure Platinum rank (the highest you can get) in every fight.

I had a commenter asking me to expand on the systems themselves. Luckily for them, I recently did a stream of Bayonetta 2 where I went into some pretty serious detail. The difference in tone between these vids was because the Pure Platinum vid was A. scripted and B. very late at night and the stream was during the day when I was caffeinated. Haha! Anyway, drink it in.

I'm bothering to talk this much about it because all too often people take games like this at face value and have no idea there's an incredibly fulfilling experience wrapped up inside of it. This is "The Secret Game". I know I've been referring to it here in the context of Bayonetta, but it applies to any technical action game. Luckily, I've realized over time that a reliable way to push people past their face value understanding is to show them high level play, i.e. combo videos. That way they can see for themselves what the game is capable of and hopefully it turns on the part of their brain that wants to be able to perform like that, too. But the problem with combo videos is that it's also easy to know you're looking at something amazing but not actually derive any insight. That's what I'm hoping to accomplish with the video I made.

In that video I have a link to another youtube video; my man Saurian Dash (who helped write the Future Press Bayonetta 1 guide, a mind-blowing tome of high and low level information in great detail) is putting together a series of videos designed to teach people how to play Bayonetta, and I linked to the first video in the series. He's amazing and his work is amazing and if getting good is your goal then he will be invaluable.

Saur is one of the most passionate people I've ever met and he has rallied a small group of hardcore action gamers to create content designed to put games like this in greater illumination. I've joined the cause in my own way, but Saur's contribution is already immense; check out his youtube channel to see additional Bayonetta work and also to see his invaluable Wonderful 101 content as well! As usual, if you have any questions, throw them at me and I will hit you back.

  • Chris Wagar

    i still think that Devil May Cry 4 or DMC3 with the style/weapon switch option have the best combat systems, and I was not wowed with bayonetta 1’s. I don’t think making an improvement on bayo1’s combat is a huge achievement, just a bunch of obvious things like diversifying the weapons you use. bayo has better enemies though I think, they hold up better in 1v1 combat generally due to different hitstun rules and moveset design.

    The reason i think dmc3 and 4 did better is because apart from nero, both had a very lax emphasis on dial combos and a very heavy emphasis on specific command moves. You have neutral slash, forward slash, back slash, nero had back to forward slash, dmc3 let you mash for crazy combo moves. then in the air you can have a similar distinction between moves, every weapon had its own movement through the air and hit area. then the style system acted as a modifier on melee and ranged weapons, some weapons had charge attacks, and so on. Bayonetta by comparison had some command moves, but was mostly dominated by combo sequences which only really varied in how long they took, how powerful they were, and when the wicked weaves came out. It didn’t feel like there was a meaningful distinction between punch and kick, unlike weapon, gun, and style. the different weapons didn’t tend to help this much in bayo1, except for having different wicked weaves. (i never got the rocket launcher though, so i can’t comment on that)

    I’d rather see more of the intentional and varied movesets of dmc than memorizing a frankly massive arbitrary combo list just to get access to all my moves.

    • I think I understand what you’re getting at here, but I’m worried you maybe didn’t dive in very deep. Oh and I’m not contributing to the Bayo Vs. DMC argument because they’re hugely different beasts and we’re not changing each other’s minds. Haha!

      Anyway, it’s important to know that Bayonetta is not just a clump of arbitrary designer-made combos. Starting and finishing those combos is most certainly the core system, but you do actually have a pretty meaningful set of command moves that make the game substantially more expressive. I agree that they’re WAY less emphasized by the game than DMC’s are, but DMC is a very different system; you’re bridging this tiny pool of arbitrary designer-made combos into free-form combos with a large (inarguably larger than Bayo’s) pool of interesting and diverse command moves.

      If there’s anything I will always give DMC, it’s that its scoring system incentivized you to use all of its tools, and Bayo’s does not. It incentivizes a form of mistake-less dance that is less about variety and more about a certain purity of execution. But my point is, Bayo has them. Watch any combo video to see players switching in and out of animal forms, using the variety of launchers, offensive dodges, animal form commands, and etc. I promise they’re there but you can’t go in expecting a DMC-like system.

      For whatever it’s worth, I consider Bayonetta’s combat engine greater than even DMC (which you know I love to death and back) because I think at the end of the day, Bayo’s fundamentally feels WAY better than 3, a little better than 4, and is ultimately more accessible. Mechanically, that is! Bayo artistically is still the biggest barrier to itself but once someone is through the barrier they enjoy it. I know plenty of people who like action games and aren’t into DMC, which to me is a profound rift.

  • Azeke

    You could have used some taunting to keep the combo going in the video, but aside from that it’s a cool video that shows variety of weapons and combat encounters and strategy that goes to Pure Platinum runs.

    While i think Saur’s works is excellent, the first episode of Umbran Arts spent too much with minute, obvious details such as movement and targeting and mixing basic techniques with advanced techniques. This will only confuse new players with barrage of information that they simply can’t use.

    I think yoshesqueSA’s “Pure Platinum Explained” tutorial works much better as tutorial for new players:

    How is your game coming along?

    Do you plan to write something about Wonderful 101?

    • I have since learned about the taunt and integrated it. Such a great mechanic!

      What is your definition of a new player? I’m asking because while I think this PP Explained video is really great, I have no clue why you would rather show it to a new player over Umbran Arts 1.

      The game is going fine, just grinding away.

      I don’t plan on writing about Wonderful 101 because I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Don’t read into that; it simply hurts my eyes. Haha!

  • Victor Borges Angelo

    I loved Bayonetta and Devil May Cry 4 and DMC, but i never actualy played them beyond the normal campaign for very long. I plan on doing so soon.

    Bayonetta is indeed an incredible game, however if there is one thing that bothered me was how quickly it became less Combo your enemies and get a good rank and more Survive this incredibly fast enemy.

    I can see the purpose of those two different types of combat but i would be happier if there were more chances to just use the enemies as punching bags to create combos.

    Can we talk about some things i have in my mind about beat-em-ups? i hope so.

    About my above comment, and the separation of enemy encounters and scenarios and the configurations of enemies: I think that there is a different but not exclusive way of separating encounters to the one you proposed: Survival, the Combat and the Easy Combo fight.

    The Survival is when you are fighting a very powerful and fast enemy like Grace and Glory, in those your skills of surviving a fight are tested, and you are almost always in the defensive.

    The Combat is the usual fight.

    And the final one: the Easy combo is when you face weak enemies, where you can combo them without much fear of retaliation, where you are in full offensive, and where you are tested for your skills of making a combo.

    Or you can call them: Defensive and Offensive fights.

    Bayonetta scoring system in my opinion is more suited to the Easy combo fights, Maybe to make it harder to get a perfect if you don’t have much skill.

    Tha is probably because Bayonetta is a game with a big focus on skill, and that makes sense

    So i think that not only a beat em up should have some difference in the scoring system based on the type of fight, but it should also have fights without a score, so that it could use different configurations of enemies.


    And just to make this cleat, Bayonetta as it is is a Perfect game for its purpose of Stylish and Skilled action, my coments are more about my perfect idea for a beat-em-up using Bayonetta as an example. Don’t get me wrong Bayonetta IS a masterpiece and the mechanics are very refined.

    I have some other things i would like to talk, but i’m only going to do so with your approval.

    • Victor Borges Angelo

      My mind is lacking ideas to talk about, so i will wait until i have something of substance.

      Also, how can i edit my comments?

    • Hitorio

      From my experiences, Grace and Gloria don’t feel like mostly-defensive survival if you employ well-timed Dodge Offset. You can style all over them in this fashion.

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