Bayonetta: The Witch Returns Again

From the Bayonetta 3 teaser.

Soulcalibur VI was only one of the surprising Japanese game announcements from The Game Awards this year; the other was Bayonetta 3.

It was announced by Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime shortly after the announcement of Bayonetta 1 & 2 for Nintendo Switch, and will once again be handled by PlatinumGames. Like Bayonetta 2, it’s due for release exclusively for a Nintendo platform, though that’s Nintendo Switch this time instead of Wii U. The big difference here is how they aren’t resuming development of a game Sega cancelled, but are instead funding a brand-new installment, despite not owning the property.

The announcement of both was welcome, though there were minor hints at these coming to pass.

The first clue that Bayonetta 3 was in development came through the titular character’s appearance as a DLC character in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, which signaled how Nintendo liked her and wanted to keep her around. This led to me making a “Cognition Dissemination” post where I asked whether Bayonetta 3 was a possibility. This move showed how Nintendo didn’t simply fund the remainder of Bayonetta 2’s development just to have a Mature-rated game in their publishing lineup on Wii U, only to discard it when it didn’t sell on par with other Nintendo titles. Given the conclusion I came to in that post, perhaps I should have been more optimistic of this happening. I didn’t think they’d care this much about a property still owned by Sega, but it’s clear Bayonetta has big fans in the company.

Unfortunately, nether Reggie nor the teaser trailer provided many details. In it, Bayonetta resembled her appearance from the first game, and lost her battle to a mysterious enemy. She sadly ends up disappearing, though what this could mean for the main game is — surprise — unknown. No release date or timeframe was given with the announcement, and given that it took two years for Bayonetta 2 to arrive after it was teased, expect this to follow a similar pattern.

Bayonetta 2

Fortunately, ports of the first two games could hold everyone off. The clue that both games were coming to Switch came through a blatant teaser picture posted on PlatinumGames’ social media accounts. It showed both Bayonetta iterations as representatives as the Neon Blue and Red Switch Joy-Cons, with Bayonetta 2’s on top, and the original Bayonetta on the bottom. If this wasn’t a tease, it was the meanest “joke” ever, even if the intention was to nudge Nintendo into funding another installment. Since it was legitimate, PlatinumGames is spared from venom. It’s a shame the first Bayonetta will only be available as a digital download in all territories, though only the second game could fit on one game card due to 16GB being the current max for them.

The Switch port of Bayonetta 2 will allow for players to play local co-op with two systems, and will have some form of Amiibo support. What the Amiibo will do is unknown, but they’re unlikely to provide anything significant.

Bayonetta recently received another chance through its Steam release, which sold well. But for as good as Bayonetta 2 was, it was stuck on Wii U, Nintendo’s worst-selling console. The game couldn’t be ported to other non-Nintendo systems due to how the company funded its development, but it will get another shot at life on the more-successful Switch, whose sales are close to matching the Wii U’s total sales within a mere nine months of its launch. Chances are, plenty of players buying a Switch are those who wanted to play this game, but never got around to purchasing a Wii U due to the lack of software, and how it never dropped in price. There’s potential for this game to sell better on the system.

(I’m sure that I’m not just talking about me there, right? Maybe.)

Bayonetta

But the above-mentioned situation raises an interesting question: Since Bayonetta 2 on Wii U wasn’t the highest seller, why is a third game being funded at all? It’s possible Sega feels generous enough to foot a significant portion of the budget, but it’s more likely that influential staffers within Nintendo like her that much. Higher-ups in companies funding the development of games because they like the character or creator happens pretty often, and this is another example.

Heck, this even happened with another PlatinumGames-developed title recently: It’s clear NieR: Automata was funded due to Square Enix execs liking director Yoko Taro, despite the original NieR not taking off in any territory. Given Automata’s reception and sales, this ended up paying off, and the same could happen with Bayonetta 3.

After Scalebound’s cancellation, it was easy to get a little concerned for the future of Platinum Games, but they’ll fortunately have reliable partners to count on. Director Hideki Kamiya mentioned that NieR: Automata saved the company, and Square Enix intends to continue the series in the future. They also have action/RPG Granblue Fantasy Project Re:Link coming soon, though it still hasn’t been detailed over a year after its announcement, and the intended consoles haven’t been confirmed. Now, they’ll also have Bayonetta 3 to work on, and its clear the company will be fine.

It could be a while before we learn more about Bayonetta 3, let alone see it. But that should give you plenty of time to perfect your skills with the previous games, which will release for Switch on February 16th.

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