If you missed these the first time they were around, the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle is a great way to enjoy two of the greatest character action games from the previous generation. It’s for good reason that Platinum Games came to be the most prolific game developer at that time, and it’s thanks to them that Hideki Kamiya’s studio is held in such high regard these days, even going as far as recently starting a Kickstarter for a re-release of Wonderful 101 that ended up meeting its goal mere hours after it opened.
Both games included in this bundle are incredibly good and a ton of fun, each in their own unique ways. It’s no exaggeration to also say that they were very influential to action games that came after them. That goes double for Bayonetta, which went on to even spawn an anime, but when it came time for a sequel, Nintendo had to step in and help finance its development and publishing, resulting in an exclusivity deal for Bayonetta 2 and the upcoming still under wraps part 3. As for Vanquish, it never saw any continuations, but it went on to be a cult hit and somewhat of an overlooked gem within Platinum Games’ portfolio, criminally so.
This isn’t the first time either of these were released, considering that they saw a Steam up-res in 2017. However, it is officially the first re-release of Vanquish on consoles, considering that Bayonetta saw one on WiiU and Switch respectively, alongside its sequel’s release and eventual port to Nintendo’s current system. As with most of Platinum’s games — or even the games from the team back when they were Clover Studios under Capcom, like Okami and Viewtiful Joe — Bayonetta in particular went on to garner quite a following, even prompting Bayonetta to be added to the Smash Bros lineup, including an Amiibo.
All that love is for good reason. These two are incredible action games that are still very playable, and thanks to the bump up in visuals, look as sharp as they can for their age. Remember, Vanquish and Bayonetta were originally put out ten years ago on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and we’re now reaching the end of the generation that followed those consoles. If that doesn’t make you panic with how time flies, I don’t know what could. The most important thing to keep in mind is that for all the gameplay goodness you’re most certainly going to find in both of these games, the wrapping that goes around them is very much from that moment in time.
That is to say, both games are very, very dumb. Not idiotic, but extremely silly in how they deliver all the action within them. Out of the two, Vanquish is probably the one that has aged worse in that regard, with how it was already a little trite back when it was new, while Bayonetta is just balls out insane, embracing its ridiculousness without an ounce of shame, and going off more and more with every entry. If you like following lore and story in your games, you’ll be sadly disappointed with this bundle — they’re not to be taken seriously, instead, they’re focused on keeping you entertained, and they will surely do so regardless of whether or not you’ve played them before.
Vanquish is definitely a game from 2010 as it drips with grittiness and slight jabs of witty banter during its relatively short running time. For as fast as it is getting you to the end, it definitely does so with plenty of flair and a dose with style, at least when it comes to the action, since its premise is nothing to write home about. You play as Sam Gideon, a cigarette-smoking paper-thin gruff guy that gets to wear an experimental combat suit created by DARPA that gives him an arsenal worth of abilities in battle. That comes in handy for sure as he’s put into action when a space colony is used by Russian terrorists to completely decimate San Francisco sometime in the future.
Out of those powers, the most fun and Vanquish’s trademark is being able to boost slide yourself around the battlefield, in and out of cover. It gives you a mobility edge against the waves of enemies that mostly attack you head on. Sadly you can’t boost all the time since Sam’s suit tends to overheat pretty quickly, but it comes in very handy in pinches and when you want to flank the enemy as your CPU friends who usually are fighting alongside you keep them occupied. Even on normal difficulty Sam can’t take a lot of punishment before biting the dust, so gluing his shiny metal butt behind cover is very important, as is moving around when needed.
This dance of knowing when to move and take cover, as well as the possibility of taking things aggressively by flanking is the best part of Vanquish’s combat design, since you can’t really play it like you would a Gears of War. Ammo is thankfully plenty and you’ll find a lot of difficult guns on the field, which you can pick up and switch around as needed, upgrading your favorites as you go via drops from fallen enemies. These upgrades are cumulative and stick with you throughout the game, giving you reason to stick with your favorites for the majority of your time playing. If you’re like me, you might want to eventually tackle its higher difficulties, but if you’re used to playing on normal, it’s more than enough of a challenge that won’t pull any punches, all the while keeping things on a level playing field.
Bayonetta on the other hand, obviously doesn’t take itself seriously at any point, as its intro is quick showing that off, putting you right smack in the middle of the action, fighting against angels on top of a free falling piece of a church (or something!). As Bayonetta, a cross between a nun, a librarian and a stripper — sounds like the setup for a dirty joke, right? — you’re caught in the middle of a heavenly conflict and armed with guns just about everywhere on her person, including her feet, you fight against all manner of monsters. Luckily for you, a Joe Pesci looking and sounding friend is there to drive you around and deliver all the exposition and jokes you need in between the crazy levels you’ll shoot and dance your way through.
The gameplay in Bayonetta is very similar to other character action games like Devil May Cry, focusing on combos and keeping enemies stunned as you beat the ever living crap out of them. You’re graded at the end of every stage, but don’t be too discouraged if you don’t end up getting top scores, it’s way more fun to simply bask in how crazy this game looks in action. Bayonetta is easily one of the most animated videogame characters around as she leaps across the screen doing all sorts of insane and anatomically impossible poses as you deliver attacks during combat. There are surely games that followed this with even crazier looking action, but Bayonetta is still most definitely king — or better yet, queen — when it comes to spectacle, even to this day. And yeah, it was eventually surpassed by its sequel, but what else would be bound to do so than the next game by the same team that developed it?
The Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle is an excellent pickup for anyone looking to beef up their PlayStation 4 or Xbox One collections. Bayonetta and Vanquish incredible titles in their own right, and they look and play as sharp as they ever have in the past, with all the bells and whistles to be expected in an HD remaster, that is 60 fps and 4K resolution. They’re also coming out in the lull between gargantuan releases this year, the perfect time to get reacquainted with some of the best games that graced the previous gen, so dig in!