Devil May Cry 1 review (PS2)

dante, guns, devil may cry, devil may cry cover

Remember when I said DMC didn’t need a reboot? Maybe I was a tad bit overemotional when I said that. Back to the reboot for a second, the story idea is one of the few things I praised, and with the reboot, if it managed to keep all the characters and combine it with the story idea, I would have loved it! We would have characters introduced, fleshed out, and overall be better developed, as the fourth game, while I do like it, wasn’t perfect yet did give me the best Dante. Sadly, we all know the reboot killed all chances of taking the cool concept and destroyed it in the very first game, and even if the story did appeal to me, the destruction of Mundus and all of that possibility would have probably pissed me off even more because you’re killing the possibilities for more stories. At least with DMC1, Mundus is sealed, thus it does give the rise for his return for a more epic game. All of that said, does that mean the original DMC game, the very first one, was better?

I…hesitate to say that. But let’s take a look anyway.

devil may cry comic, devil may cry, dante, nelo angelo, comic book

Also, there was a comic series…that was cancelled. Yep.

One thing to note though: Devil May Cry wasn’t originally meant to be that game. In fact, it was gonna be a new Resident Evil game, but for decisions I can’t recall, Capcom decided to make it a new series, and Hideki Kamiya was the creator. Sadly, I couldn’t much information from Kamiya about DMC. And trying to mention the series to him, well, you might as well ask for a punch in the nuts, since he did link me to something. Here it is:

Yeah, the guy is angry, but can you really blame him? Granted, I lost some respect for Kamiya since this wasn’t exactly professional behavior, and I wanted to know what his future plans were for DMC before he quit. A shame really. However, that said, it does surprise me with how much DMC has changed over time with the later games, as well soon dig into. After all, he even said so himself that he left the series 12 years ago, and it improved after he left, minus the nightmare that is DMC2. But let’s just start with the story first.

And sadly, that is the greatest weakness of this game. It’s simply at least, with Dante, the son of the legendary demon Sparda who went rouge against demonkind to save humanity (and is honestly the more interesting story than what we get in this game), and he is tricked by Trish into going to Mundus’ headquarters. It’s a trap, and a really crappy one by the supposed dark lord. We already get a real problem, as any person would probably just put Nightmare and Trish against Dante right away, maybe add in a few more enemies, and Dante would have lost! That was literally all Mundus has to do, and victory was his! This is facepalm worthy on so many levels, and one of the reasons I cannot defend the old Mundus. Hell, Mundus kills one of his minions for failing, yet why the hell can’t he just use the lightning attack to stun Dante while his minions kill him that way!? The only one that really had a personality was Trish’s, and that’s not saying much, as she started out intensely evil, yet being saved by Dante suddenly sparked some goodness in her. The story is completely rushed, cut-scenes totaling to about 40 minutes at best, so it’s definitely more gameplay over story.

The main demons also lack personality, but that does kind of make sense. After all, a ton of demons are meant to be drones and be intimidating. By giving them less of a personality and more of just something that wants to kill and devour Dante, and it kind of works. It doesn’t make them engaging exactly, but at least the fights are decently tough, though I was just figuring out how to control Dante since I hadn’t played the game in so long. However, this also presents a bit of a problem, mainly with Trish and Vergil in particular, as Vergil can only be judged by actions, and even then, what I get is that he is reluctant to be controlled while fighting Dante, and Trish’s alignment turn was too fast. And as for the other demons, well, considering the overall tone of DMC, the point earlier could be a bad thing too. They really aren’t that memorable, and certainly do not help make Dante look cooler. The status of a series can easily be brought up when it has compelling and awesome villains, and even basic monsters can work sometimes. One example I can think of is Hazama for BlazBlue. True, he is much more entertaining than these monsters, but he is also pretty one-note in terms of personality, always wanting to see people in pain. Still, he was intimidating and powerful enough, and even smart enough, to still be a major threat; we’ll get back to BlazBlue another day. Plus the demons here don’t really have  plot-holes I can pick apart, save for maybe Phantom and his lava, and Mundus of course when he uses his lightning to kill Griffon.

phantom, lava spider, devil may cry, dante, lava, spider

Wait, how in the hell do you hurt a lava spider anyway!?

In the 40 minutes of cut-scenes, there is not enough room for development. What you basically have is the equivalent of less than two episodes of a series. The lack of development for even Dante is pretty low. We get his confidence, but at the same time some nobility too, wanting to end the fight against Mundus and even speak a bit highly of his father, unlike his third game self, and even his fourth game self, which is my favorite incarnation of the character. The reason I love Dante isn’t because he’s cool. It’s because he is the biggest friggin’ dork, and the coolest dork. No matter what, that man can keep me entertained and have a fun adventure with, even laugh when he does something funny. Here, less so, and as much as I want to give the excuse of the other games in charge of the other development, it’s still no excuse for the lack of it here. Sure, I can point to the other games all I want, but this is meant to be the very first game. If this game was released by today’s standard, I have seen this type of character, like Haken Browning from Super Robot Wars: OG Saga Endless Frontier; we’ll get back to that game eventually too. Hell, even new Dante at least had a struggling personality change. It was crap, sure, but it was still there and made him slightly standout.

So all we have to go for him is gameplay at best. Still, in this game, he might come across as a bit of an idiot for going to the island in an obvious trap, but at least he’s still confident and fun to have an adventure with, showing at least some emotion when fighting the bosses and being somewhat fun, though not nearly as entertaining as his DMC4 self. And it’s a shame the actual adventure doesn’t have much to it. In fact, it’s downright terrible with the story, yet so terrible, it’s actually a lot of fun. The acting is terrible, the story is awful, yet at the same time, it’s just a treat to see how much doesn’t really work. And even with the obvious flaws, I still found myself engaged, except towards the end with the constant repeating fights that just seemed added there to build “drama and tension,” but are otherwise annoying and pointless. One thing to also note about the Trish and Dante romance, that actually spawned from the fans, not Hideki Kamiya. According to sources, mainly wikias, Kamiya stated that they weren’t involved romantically. Even the games and anime didn’t really hint towards that. In this game, it’s actually pretty clear and I definitely feel like these two are more partners than anything involved romantically. If there’s one thing the reboot did right, it might have been to eliminate this pairing, because having your main star be in love with a woman that looks like his dead mom….yeah. Creepy.

nelo angelo, dante, devil may cry

Hey, Nelo Angelo, I didn’t say I preferred you either.

Visuals shows great age, but that said, still look pretty decent, be it enemy designs or the environments themselves, no matter how limits they can be to give enemies the opportunity to cheap-shot you. Platforming though can be a great pain thanks to the jump button and how awkward it seemed to feel. Cut-scenes, while move fast, do remind me of stunt work, and when I get reminded of stunt-work and cheese, I get reminded of Power Rangers, though a lot of Power Rangers series tend to have much better stories; I am not taking that back. That said though, it is still very entertaining to watch how everything still moves at such a fast pace, even for a game as old as this one. The overall demon designs can range from basic to pretty neat, and are actually effective, sometimes even chilling, like the Sin Scissors, or the Shadow Cats. This is even complimented with their gameplay, forcing you to use every trick you can to finish them off. Sound also adds to this, albeit some songs are more questionable. For instance, for such a chilling atmosphere that reminds me of Resident Evil and Castlevania, the guitar music and such feel a bit off, yet at the same time do give you that energy when you fight a bunch of enemies, employing the different strategies necessary. In fact, as you progress through the game, you actually do gain notes on the demons in your menu. It’s a handy little feature I wish more games did.

For all I harp on the story, the gameplay is also aged, but still kind of entertaining. It’s harder to predict when enemies will attack, at least off-screen, as it was hard to tell where a shotgun blast would come from, though some attacks would be easier to find. I liked being able to rely more on sound than sight, and when I mastered it (to an effect because I suck at DMC in general), still kind felt fun, but at the same time very limiting. Remember, this was the first game, so the mechanics of the third game that gave the series new life weren’t around. Still, an interesting challenge. Sadly, I never really understood what the style meter was for in this particular game, and you can’t replay stages too. However, when fights are meant to be epic, they certainly feel like it, especially Mundus. For a lack of character he presented, he at least establishes he is a titan of power, able to warp the space around him and force Dante to pull out every trick and weapon he has in order to win.

Then we have areas that are meant to build some tension, and honestly they kind of work, at least for me. Horror games have always been mixed for me, as I tend to scare sometimes easily. The idea of phantoms going through walls, carrying gigantic scissors and laughing all the time, and yet you can’t see them until they get close is pretty chilling. Of course, any fear I have is immediately dispelled when I shoot them in the face with a shotgun. These moments are pretty few to be honest, but worth noting. This game’s isn’t meant to be horror. Hell, it’s damn cheesy as all hell and terrible, yet that’s what makes it fun. And it’s challenging to boot, as you have item limits placed on you, and you’ll need those items if you are unable to master the skills available to you. And the game sure as hell doesn’t hold your hand, as things like extra missions and such for health boosts may be completely missed; beat the game two times and never once found an extra mission on purpose. Plus the fight music can get rid of that tension. Also, the camera is annoying as all hell. It keeps up the action decently, but sometimes it just made me dizzy with the way it flowed unnecessarily close. The jump button is also a bit awkward when trying to land on small platforms. Not sure if it was just me, but sometimes I would barely miss the target.

devil may cry, mundus

There is something pretty cool about the mysterious three orbs though, for a time.

Needless to say though, this does support the idea of the reboot. There’s no clear focus with the series starting at this particular game. Three remains the best in the series for good reason, but we’ll cover that another day. There’s really nothing else worth noting about DMC1. Overall, it’s a pretty challenging hack and slash that relies on moving, shooting, and fighting, though style is a bit lacking even with the number of weapons available. Still, the fact that the game is good because of how bad the story is, that’s not exactly a good sign of a hero being taken seriously. DMC3 helped the series, but I must admit, having the series grow so popular from games 1 and 2 is a but questioning, even from someone who has been with the series for a good long while. Trust me, if this game was released right now, no reboot or anything, just starting fresh, it wouldn’t last. Still, it serves as a learning experience as to what not to do, but then again, a lot of games I reviewed here can say the same thing.

Devil May Cry 1 gets a 3 out of 5. You should be able to find it anywhere for a good price, and the DMC HD collection also has this game. In fact, I recommend getting that, as it contains DMC3 as well. DMC2 though, feel free to skip. Trust me, even fans have. I pray I don’t have to review it.

Join us next time, as the Project X Zone marathon continues with the very thing that got me interested into Project X Zone. No, it wasn’t Dante that sealed the deal for me. It was a man who, let’s just say, is “The Sword The Smites Evil.”

srw, super robot wars original generation, sanger zonvolt, giant robot, giant sword

Till next time.


About The Smartest Moron

I am a college graduate of Temple University, majoring in Media Studies and Production. While hunting for jobs, I also do a review series on YouTube where I analyze stories/characters called The Smartest Moron.
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