As I was training for an upcoming half-marathon on the morning of December 9, 2019, I happened to look at my phone just as a press release from Sega hit my inbox. I nearly dismissed the preview notification, because I was trying to catch an Electabuzz in Pokemon Go, but the subject title caught my eye like nothing else. Sega and PlatinumGames announced a combo remaster of two of my most beloved titles: Bayonetta and Vanquish. I couldn’t text my editor fast enough to ask if I could write about Vanquish.
We already know how I feel about Bayonetta and, truth be told, I’m far from alone in loving that game/series. There’s also already a remaster of the first game for the Switch, added when they ported Bayonetta 2 from the Wii U. So while it’s exciting that PS4/Xbox One owners will get a chance to replay or play the game for the first time, this isn’t nearly as exciting about the remaster of Vanquish.
Vanquish released a year after Bayonetta, nearly to the exact day. It had the same slow-down mechanic that Bayonetta had with Witch Time, but despite this feature, the game’s primary focus was utilizing the massive speed and slides of the protagonist’s Augmented Reaction (AR) suit.
Like most PlatinumGames titles, Vanquish highly emphasized (aka forced) the need to constantly be on the move. It had a cover-based system, but most cover was easily destroyed. Since it was a bit of a bullet-hell shooter, cover rarely lasted very long if the hero Sam Gideon stayed in one spot. Instead, cover was meant to be used as a way to plan ambushes and stealth attacks. By flicking his lit cigarettes, Sam could divert guarding robots to look elsewhere while he slid in and out of cover, stealthily killing distracted robots along the way. If he slowed time while sliding and killing, he could wipe out all the guards without alerting any of them he was there until it was too late.
And it was amazing.
Yet, we never did get a sequel, because despite the game doing well critically, consumers didn’t get into it. The game’s length was one issue to be sure. On average, playing on Easy or Normal difficulties took between 6-8 hours to get through. Since most people don’t replay games, no one wanted to pay full price for such a short title.
Vanquish was meant to be replayed, however. In typical Platinum Games fashion, players were rated based upon their performance in each level. The ratings came with various in-game rewards and spots on the leaderboards. Players were judged based upon the difficulty level, gunplay style, how long they stayed in cover under fire, time spent to complete the level, and damage taken. Platinum Games wanted players to replay levels for higher scores and replay the game on the harder difficulties to get the “complete experience” and of course higher scores.
Even if you never replayed the game, though, the gameplay was too much fun to miss out on. Critics certainly enjoyed it, but many consumers disliked it (including my editors at the time, the uncultured swine) and Vanquish fell by the wayside. Even more disappointing was the fact it had a very entertaining story that was naturally left open-ended for a potential sequel. Unfortunately, critics and consumers both either didn’t like the story or ignored it entirely for the gameplay.
Perhaps once this combo releases in February 2020, Vanquish will finally receive the love and respect it deserves from critics and consumers alike. And then maybe I’ll finally have that sequel I’ve been waiting nearly ten years for.