|the grown up dante we know from devil may cry 4|
those of you that know me and my gaming style know that i’m a big fan of the devil may cry series – not counting devil may cry 2 of course. that one was a shocking example of quantity over quality failing hard. one of the reasons i’m a fan of the franchise (and the first game overall) is for four main reasons. 1 – the gameplay – actively forcing the player to be creative with their play otherwise get penalized on in-game currency collected. it’s a perfect way of getting around the boring and repetitive gameplay that some games of that many games of the same genre struggle with. which was refreshing in a time where action game button mashing still got you wins. 2 – the challenge (ignoring DMC2 again here) – i like a challenge, the first installment was a hard game. even on the opening level, mis-timing attacks would lead to your character’s health dropping to nearly nil at the hands of possessed marionettes, forcing you to scramble like hell to find some health orbs. this only got more challenging as the game progressed. 3 – the environments – the game environments were well laid out and the puzzles were hard, but not impossible. and even though it has waned sharply since the first devil may cry, a lot of places gave you enough of that creepy feeling to jolt a little bit when something happened. because of this, i used to play around midnight with minimal lighting – it was the perfect ambiance to take advantage of the full trip-horror that the game provided. and finally, 4 – plot and characters, namely the main hero (or anti-hero if you want to get jungian) dante. and lastly 5 – the overall fun factor.
dante as a character pretty much is the devil may cry franchise. his character is one of a mysterious man with an dark past and lineage. that, and additionally through his dress, style, attitude, and fighting, laid the framework for what “cool” was in a video game hero in the early 2000’s, and more importantly, provided a lasting model. and the best part about this mythology they created was that the player could actually get into it, because dante was a believable character. his signature red trench and pants with platinum hair is part of his rightfully earned icon status in gaming. i’m actually more impressed with capcom looking back on it now then i was back then, they really pulled it off well. in my opinion there were a lot of later games in the genre that drew heavily from it – off the top of my head god of war, darksiders, dante’s inferno, and bayonetta (even though the producer says DMC had nothing to do with it, but i ain’t buyin’ it).
those are really the five reasons why anyone would be a fan of any game. but reason #4 on my list – plot and characters – is by far the most important one when you’re developing multi-volume sequels and franchises. a huge part of getting your fans to stay with you is for them to buy into the mythology. and to do that they need to have a connection with the world and it’s characters. i remember the xenosaga series being the same way for me a while ago, ironically also ignoring part 2, even though it was a completely different style of game. and why is that? it’s because games have become extremely good at cinematic and character-driven themes. evoking feeling in a player from character interaction and emotion isn’t something that’s just reserved for hollywood studios anymore.
i’m not going to lie. i was sad when aeris died in final fantasy vii. even jin’s end in xenosaga: episode iii was a little rough.
|young dante, from the DMC reboot|
so on to why i wrote this. i mentioned in a previous post about the trailer for “DMC.” this is a reboot of the devil may cry series, but is being primarily done by ninja theory (the folks behind heavenly sword). what they have experienced (rightfully?) is a huge backlash from fans from their tokyo game show trailer. the trailer does show us the same gameplay style we’re accustomed to, good mixes of swordplay and the signature “ebony and ivory” pistols, so on that part we’re good. what has fans objecting is a complete overhaul of dante’s character design. now i spoke last week about japanese game studios starting to outsource – working more and more with western studios to appeal to the western gaming market. their reasoning on this one:
“the essence of devil may cry is all about ‘cool.’ it’s about dante being cool and making you feel cool when you’re playing it, and so the combat and the style system and everything is integral to that. but, you know, what was cool 12 years ago — i think that was when the first game came out — isn’t cool anymore.” [via 1up]
this was according to tameem antoniades, ninja theory’s creative director, who by the way got the number of years wrong. also, if you google him, you’ll find he bears a stark resemblance to the new dante. he goes on to say if the current dante was standing outside of a bar in his current look he’d get laughed at. this statement brings me to my question – is this new dante the world’s opinion on what kind of characters we can relate to on our side of the world? a skinny goth emo kid that looks like he’s looking for his next score? some kind of cross between a vampire and american idol’s adam lambert? this new redesign, along with parts of the trailer, are claimed to be part of an origin story, so this is supposed to be taking place before the entire current devil may cry series, when dante was a young man. it portrays dante as some strung out kid being tested on in a lab, breaking out and killing some bad guys chasing him in old school DMC style. but the way the character looks – not even a shred of the dante we know in him. any relation to the characters and world we’ve gotten used to has been shattered. i saw the trailer featuring chuckles the emo monkey in the mugshot above, and was pretty upset. what other changes are there going to be? what about the other characters? vergil? trish? lady? nero???? i think i speak for a lot of the fanbase when i say that we would have preferred an in-sequence game, fleshing out nero’s connection to vergil and the devil bringer. but, hopefully that’s another game for another day.
so i’m going to tread cautiously here. if this is a game that shows a rough dante becoming the character we all know and love now, then i’ll be ok with that. or if this guy is possessed by some demon or through some psychological trauma thinks he’s dante, i’ll be ok with that. those are the only ways i’ll be ok with that. but if it was to be one of those, then they would have advertised it as such to avoid the fan backlash, right? thus i fear it’s a reboot to get a new generation of fans. sad. if this is a true reboot, then i may abandon the series altogether, and keep the old characters in the old series that’s in my head. i’ve seen too many reboots fail. they all can’t be batman begins.