I really didn’t want to have two Devil May Cry blogs so close to each other, but it was either this or add another Halo: Reach review onto the blogs page.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty big Devil May Cry fan. I own every game, including DMC2, own three copies of DMC3 because it’s one of the best PS2 games ever made, and one of my best friends even made me a DMC3 Nevan guitar that doubles as a Rock Band guitar. And I even didn’t totally hate the anime series. So yeah, I’m a fan of most anything that has Devil May Cry on it.
At my initial glance, I hated the reveal of the Devil May Cry reboot. As some of you might have read from my previous blog I believe a reboot is one of the last things the Devil May Cry franchise needed. At fellow DToider Trev’s insistence I tried to cool off about it and let it sink in before making more judgment on it. So, after allowing all of this to sink in for a few weeks I think I can finally say what I think about this whole thing.
Let me precede everything by saying this, I have no doubts that the gameplay and story of the game will probably be respectable. I have nothing against Ninja Theory as developers and I enjoyed Heavenly Sword as well. That being said I think it needs to be pointed out that Heavenly Sword was a good game but it wasn’t necessarily a great game. In terms of presentation and production value it was an A+ title but in terms of its gameplay I’d take any of the God of War or Devil May Cry titles (…except DMC2) ahead of it. So with all of that said, I won’t doubt that this will probably be a decent title in the end…
…However, this does not necessarily mean it will be a good Devil May Cry title.
(Everyone take a deep breath, I’m about to agree with Jim Sterling on something).
The more Ninja Theory talks, I’m continuously becoming convinced that they missed the point on what Dante is as a character. And here is where I actually kind of agree with Sterling on something. Dante was never intended to be a character that could walk into a bar, be so cool that he’d never have to actually buy a drink himself, and be liked by everyone because he’s suave cool shit. I think at some point Ninja Theory thought Dante was Indiana Jones when he’s in fact more James Bond. Simply put, Dante is a douchebag. He’s meant to parody the trying-to-hard-to-be-cool characters you see in lots of other games & anime. Watch pretty much any of Dante’s cutscenes from Devil May Cry 3 or 4 and you’ll see what I mean. Let’s use DMC3’s rocket surfing scene as a good example.
A “traditionally cool” character along the lines of a Han Solo, Nathan Drake, or Marcus Fenix would dive out of the path of danger, say some witty one liner, and then go along their way. Dante on the other hand hops onto said incoming rocket, surfs on it Ninja Turtle style, and says “Woo” enough times to get under Ric Flair’s skin, all in the aftermath of killing a giant ice Cerberus he treated like a puppy. Basically, Dante knows he’s powerful enough to just tell Lady to go screw herself but instead he tries to one-up Lady as a giant metaphoric “Fuck you”. In fact Dante tries to one-up everyone he runs into, friend or foe. Real life people who try to act this way are commonly referred to as douchebags. Dante is just a douchebag who can punch a juke box in half.
Need another bit of proof? The main subplot of Devil May Cry 4 is that the entire Order of the Sword crisis could have been resolved a lot faster if Dante didn’t sit on his ass for half the game thinking he’s tough shit.
The correlation between Dante and “cool” was never a direct one, and was a very roundabout one. He starts off every game as a snide punk who really doesn’t care what’s happening, tries to show up everyone around him, and does things that only he thinks are cool. As each game progresses the ridiculous stuff grows to preposterous levels as he’s likely trying to even one-up his own previous actions, and before you know it Dante is power-sliding around killing enemies with the power of rock or tossing roses at bad guys to kill them. And you know what, it’s at that point that Dante becomes cool. It’s not because he’s naturally a cool character, even if he has some slight Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle charisma, but rather that his douchebaggery towards everything around him becomes so ridiculously lavish that you can’t help but laugh and think it’s awesome. Dante’s cool factor is slightly akin to those good old Sci-Fi channel movies that are so bad they end up becoming good, except with Dante it’s that he acts so preposterous that he ends up looking awesome.
As I said, I think Ninja Theory missed the point of what made Dante a “cool” character. Now, considering that the reaction to the new DmC “Dante” has been pretty negative, to the point where the original Devil May Cry creator doesn’t seem to like it, I think it’s kind of arrogant and stupid of Ninja Theory to basically come out and say “The Dante that everyone likes isn’t cool any more”. Obviously this quote isn’t verbatim, but it’s essentially what Ninja Theory was boiling down to in this interview. Your prospective customers are already against you, or at the very least divided, by this change and you’re telling them that the character they never wanted changed isn’t cool anymore. Yeah…I’m pretty sure that goes under the “Things I Wouldn’t Do” category. I doubt Miyamoto would have told the Zelda fans that adult Ocarina of Time Link was a tights wearing pansy when he was trying to sell Wind Waker Toon Link to the Zelda franchise. By the way, remember the giant schism Toon Link created in the Zelda fanbase? Yeah, that schism is still there.
I’ve already talked about how they missed the point with Dante’s cool factor in my opinion, so I’m not going to retread that ground. But that “Old Dante isn’t cool anymore” interview bugs me for a few different reasons. First is a very fickle one… does Ninja Theory even know the original year the Devil May Cry series started? “But, you know, what was cool 12 years ago -- I think that was when the first game came out -- isn't cool anymore.” Eesh, I know it’s really minute in the end but that doesn’t do anything to boost my confidence when you don’t even know the year of origin to the game you’re rebooting… hell the Playstation 2 wasn’t even launched 12 years ago, he’s that off. I know he probably just threw out a number on the fly and he’s not the first person to say stupid things ever, but really if you’re working within the industry you should know some of these facts.
Ninja Theory has also talked about how this new Dante is modeled after what’s cool in today’s society. This brings me to my next question….
When the fuck did smoking become cool?
I’m not going to try and deviate into an anti-smoking rant as I have no problem with people who smoke as long as they are courteous about it. But it’s safe to say that this generation is pretty well aware that smoking is pretty directly correlated with cancer and is extremely addictive. A lot of people who do smoke want to quit, and smokers in general know the habit is expensive as living fuck these days. Plus there’s a lot of states starting to turn “smoke free”, my home state of Wisconsin recently went that route this July. So I’m not seeing a “cool” correlation there honestly. Old Dante didn’t smoke because his creator said Dante’s persona would lead him to think he’s too cool to smoke.
And then we get to the big thing that seems to have everyone’s undies in a bundle. The rather drastic revamp of Dante’s look. Seemingly dyed black hair, gritty undershirt, beat up looking coat, ugly haircut, lanky body, and overall appearance like he just got off a night long heroin trip. He’s gone from an overly sharp dressed distinctive looking character to… well, admittedly he looks like the lead singer of Green Day and besides the black & white handguns he has nothing really distinctive about him. Back to the whole “New Dante is based off of what’s cool today” bit, when did dressing in clothes that don’t look like they’ve been washed in a week become cool too? Last I checked most ‘cool’ people like looking, you know, nice? I guess I’m just really curious where Ninja Theory’s research team staked out to determine current fashion.
Just... no matter what, the outcome is just going to suck
I’ll say it right away, regardless of the reasoning & how much it may make sense to the story, I just don’t like the look. Now for all we know, DmC might just end with Dante having his silver hair and his old-school look at the end since this is a revamped origin story. But every time we hear Ninja Theory talk, it’s looking more and more like that isn’t likely going to happen and that this look with a few tweeks over the course of the game might be here to stay.
First, I laughed when they were asked about any of Dante’s old villains possibly returning. The awkward pause and “uhhh” face seems to indicate he doesn’t know jack shit about any of Dante’s old villains. I would have at least given him a pass had he said Vergil.
So Ninja Theory wants to pull Dante away from being an over the top fashionista to a harder edge character who’s more relatable? Again, do they even know what really went into Dante as a character? Devil May Cry has always been about over the top gameplay and over the top stories. The over the top fashionista persona of Dante just kept in theme with everything else about the game. Trying to create a relatable not as over the top character in a world of demons and blatantly over the top events is going to create a harsh hurdle to jump in regards to storytelling. Plus Dante has never meant to be a relatable character. He’s a child of a human and a demon, can take a broadsword to the chest without flinching, has near instantaneous healing, and can outrun bullets. His basic formula makes him less relatable than Superman.
From this interview, it really makes me think they’re trying to go the “Dark Knight” route in some respects with DmC. Now I’m really trying not to speculate on things that haven’t been announced for this game yet, but I’ll just say that going the dark or edgy route doesn’t mean the character has to change with it. Look at the new Batman films for instance; do you know what’s changed about the Batman character between the Nolan, Schumacher, and the Burton movies? The answer is absolutely nothing (besides bat-nipples). You can structure stories of varying styles around the same character without compromising said character.
In terms of storyline, obviously it’s way too early to pass judgment on the story and what they will do. Devil May Cry in the storyline perspective has been over the top but straight to the point. Assuming Ninja Theory’s apparent ability to miss the point, I have a feeling the story won’t be very Devil May Cry-esk. Already Ninja Theory has thrown out the word “revenge” as part of its storyline description. Instant cringing ensues this, most video game storylines don’t work too well with a generic revenge subplot in my opinion. Sorry Kratos, that includes even you. In fact let me quote verbatim;
The new game will "depict a duplicitous world where nothing is ever as it seems and the line between good and evil is constantly blurred. Spurred into action by the promises of a trusted relation, Dante bursts into this world intent on revenge at any cost.”
First off, I don’t think anybody plays Devil May Cry to think about moral relativism or how everyone’s a grey area lying bastard. I play Devil May Cry to stylishly blast demons head’s off with ridiculous weapons while eating a fucking pizza. Ninja Theory has said this story will have some form a revenge plot, it involves a Dante who is confirmed to be younger than his DMC3 counterpart, and a blurred line between good and evil seems to indicate that Dante will be conflicted with what to do in this storyline. If you directly connect the dots it seems to lead to a conflicted revenge seeking teen protagonist who’s discovering his power. Yeah, this totally sounds like something great. I’m sure George Lucas thought the same thing when he penned Attack of the Clones, too.
With the stuff they say they’re taking away from the character and the stuff they’re substituting in, the character really isn’t Dante anymore. My question now becomes, if you’re creating a new origin story and changing an existing character into a noticeably different character then why not just create a new IP instead of rebooting a franchise that was never broken? If there’s one thing the divided DMC fanbase can at least agree on, it’s that the franchise didn’t really need a reboot.
Some people are using the argument of “It’s a reboot they can do whatever they want”. Not entirely. With most reboots the main character(s) tend to stay the same while a different story happens around them (Nolan Batman, Star Trek). In most remakes the main characters may change, but the basic storyline stays the same (Nightmare on Elm Street, Dawn of the Dead). Both ways work because it keeps some familiarity for the person interested in the product. If you’re changing up characters and telling a new story at the same time, exactly what is there for the consumers to latch on to for familiarity besides the name that appears on the title screen? The answer is really just about nothing. If the story is pretty much brand new and the characters aren’t whom they used to be, slapping familiar names on things is really nothing more than an attempt to cash in on said names. Taking this into consideration while factoring in that the Devil May Cry series has sold respectably and had a very content fanbase, it all comes back to the question of “Why reboot?” and it leaves me fairly confused.
Reboots. But Kirk still eats apples. Freddy still wears his fedora.
Another defense that has arisen amongst the DmC ordeal is that “We’ve only seen one trailer and a handful of screenshots, you don’t know if Dante’s personality is even any different! Wait till there’s a demo!” I agree and I reserve the right to change my mind at least until I get a playable demo at my disposal. However if the currently available DmC information was stuff that was leaked online I’d be more prone to agree with the people who are saying wait. But you need to remember that everything currently out in regards to trailers, screenshots, and even the interviews is stuff released by Capcom & Ninja Theory. This stuff is premeditated and thought out before hitting the masses. In short, it means that the images and potential feel of this game is what Capcom is intending to make you feel. Not necessarily the “Dante looks like a tool now” reaction, but the entire gritty different feel is entirely intentional. The only way this wouldn’t be true is if Capcom & Ninja Theory are just lying through their teeth and being deceptive.
Capcom wouldn’t be releasing this stuff if they weren’t looking for reactions, hell half the reason they even release this stuff is specifically to get a reaction. If they just wanted people to become aware that a new Devil May Cry is coming without any other reactions, someone would just stand in front of a microphone and say “We’re making a new DmC game soon, good bye” and leave it at that kind of like what SquareEnix tends to do with some of their Final Fantasy announcements; they announce a new title but you don't see squat of it until a year later.
As I said, I reserve the right to change my mind the more information on this game becomes readily available. If I end up being wrong then we all get a sweet game, and I don’t see what’s bad with that. Right now I base my opinion of the new DmC on what lay in front of me, and from what I see in front of me I don’t see anything that leads me to get excited about this new title. Ninja Theory slowly keeps convincing me that they are missing the entire point about what made the DMC characters what they are, and what made Dante a memorable character, and that the entire direction of this game is steering in a direction I personally don’t really care for. Like I said, this will probably end up being a decent game in terms of gameplay… but it might end up being a bad Devil May Cry game. If the current writing on the wall is in fact what ends up happening all I can hope for is that DmC gets an InFamous treatment or things revert back to the original Devil May Cry continuity a la Prince of Persia.
Finally, when I think of a harder edgier looking Dante my mind always reverts to this image. As a fan I consider this a bad omen.
*Sigh* I was once excited about this game...
And to cleanse everybody’s pallet of this lacklusterous new Dante look and any thoughts of Devil May Cry 2, I give you this as the finale. It has babes, explosions, and an ending that seems like something I’ve seen out of an 80’s action movie. In short, it’s awesome.
Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.
Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.