This week at the Tokyo Game Show, Capcom showed a trailer for the new Ninja Theory-developed Devil May Cry game. This game is to serve as a reboot to the series which debuted on the Playstation 2 back in 2001. Over the year we’ve seen mixed reactions to the series, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most recognized franchises of the past decade. While a reboot of the franchise is not necessarily a bad thing (and is actually quite common at this stage in a franchise’s life, which we’ll explore further), it seems like Capcom doesn’t have any idea what they’re doing.
The developer behind the reboot, Ninja Theory, is still somewhat of a new company, having really only developed two games – 2007’s Heavenly Sword for the Playstation 3, and the upcoming Enslaved due out in a few weeks. This isn’t the first time that Capcom has gone with a outside (i.e. not Japanese) collaborator to work on a franchise, and in a Q&A session last year the company stated that they would primarily only have their in-house development teams work on new IPs, but after their last European-developed game, Bionic Commando, you’d think they would reconsider that approach.
There’s no way in telling if Ninja Theory is going to do a good job with the Devil May Cry name until the game is released, so right now we can only judge the game on a brief reveal trailer. Most of the trailer is standard Devil May Cry fare – European architecture, demons, acrobatic combat, ridiculous weapons. The most notable changes to the franchise are the art style, the story and, most importantly, the main character – Dante.
I’ll admit, the only problem I have with the new game is the character. Dante has been pretty well established over the past decade. Every Devil May Cry game (and others, such as Viewtiful Joe and the upcomign Marvel vs Capcom 3) has shown Dante is essentially the same manner – he’s a white-haired, well-built demon slayer in a long red trenchcoat. Simply put, Dante is a badass. The new look for Dante seems more fitting as the lead singer for Fall Out Boy than as the son of a demon.
Hideki Kamiya, the director of the original Devil May Cry described Dante as “showy” and “stylish”, so perhaps they’re adjusting his image to appeal more to what is “stylish” in this day and age, but there are ways to do that without making the character look like a wimp. Mr. Kamiya also describe Dante as “a character that you would want to go out drinking with”. For me, I wouldn’t be caught dead with that guy. When asked about the new direction of the reboot, Mr. Kamiya himself has said “whatever” and that he missed the old Dante.
Capcom has done reboots before, you’d think they know how to do it right. 2005’s Resident Evil 4 is one of the greatest games of all time, and probably the best example of how a reboot should be done. The story of the previous games stayed intact, the characters stayed the same while being updated after a six-year hiatus, but the new and original gameplay brought new life to a game series on the decline.
I bring up Resident Evil 4 for another reason. Back in 1998, the reigns of a new Resident Evil game were given to Hideki Kamiya from the series’ creator, Shinji Mikami. Production began on a new game for the Playstation 2. However, after the game was believed to be too radical a departure from the series, the game was transformed into what we know now as the original Devil May Cry. So, it’s ironic that one franchise’s planned sequel became a new franchise only to have it’s newest game be a somewhat radical departure itself, no?