Devil May Cry: Or, why a new design can be a silly thing to hate.
Recently, I got my hands on the new Devil May Cry game. The only things I really knew going in was it didn’t sell as well as expected, was made by Ninja Theory, and was a reboot sporting a new Dante design. That people hated. Oh did they hate it.
It’s the most common phrase that I hear in regards to this game. “They changed the way Dante looks!” “He’s an emo crack addict now!” Things like that. It seemed to be the only thing people really had to comment on. I didn’t get a chance to play it when it was released, but it wasn’t out of disinterest… I just got distracted by something else. I’m prone to do that from time to time. But I sat down to play it just recently, and honestly, I think it might be the best one of the series. For a lot of different reasons, ranging from the game play being perfect for DMC, the visual design is a high point with one of the most visually striking boss battles I’ve ever played and Dante actually has a character outside of being cool. So, did people really miss a gem of a game because of a silly little redesign? The answer seems to be yes, and I think that’s rather… misguided.
Now, before we get into it, the reason behind the design as best I can find, is that Capcom asked Ninja Theory to give the character a makeover. I found this quote, from Would you kindly.com:
“Jones says that while new Dante is a “radical departure”, there is a reason in the reboot’s story for it. “Part of the ethos of a reboot or retelling of an origin story is to go back and find out why certain totems of a franchise exist. We want to tell those elements of the story. …We want to update and mature the tone of Devil May Cry.”
“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,” Ninja Theory’s creative director Tameem Antoniades told 1UP. “But, you know, what was cool 12 years ago – I think that was when the first game came out – isn’t cool any more. If Dante, dressed as he was, walked into any bar outside of Tokyo, he’d get laughed out.“
Now I know Dante is classic in his original design. Messing with it is somehow like messing with Mario’s overalls… regardless of how many jobs and costumes Mario has, it’s part of his look. But the design itself seems to have some cultural influence to it. Dante was originally designed by Hideki Kamiya sometime around 2000-2001. Now, I’m no fashion expert, but nearest I can compare, Dante’s clothing choices would be classified under Visual kei, one of many prominent Japanese fashion styles, which was created in the mid -1980’s by Japanese musicians consisting of striking makeup, unusual hair styles and flamboyant costumes, not unlike glam rock or glam metal. Go Google it and see for yourself. Yes Dante’s look is way more subdued than anything that Google image search will give you, but it’s still not something that could be worn anywhere outside of Japan without getting some glances. The point I’m making is that fashion changes what’s cool and what isn’t at almost lightning speed, and it differs from region to region on top of that, so I can understand the idea of the quote, that Dante would look too out of place in this new world. In anywhere but Japan, and maybe Germany, Dante does not fit in, and at least from a fashion sense, is probably no longer “cool”. So when Ninja Theory is asked to give Dante a makeover, they do so in a way that is culturally significant to them. The new design makes him look a British punk rocker that is at home with drugs and booze as he is kicking faces in at some mosh pit, grungy and dirty, a stark contrast to the pretty boy version we are used to. Knowing that Ninja Theory, the company behind the game, is a British developer, you can see where their design comes from, looking more like a hooligan than a Japanese glam rocker. So it’s really just another design that’s inspired by location and the culture that surrounds the developer. I’m not saying one looks bad, or one looks better than the other. I’m saying it’s a silly reason to avoid the game entirely. It’s like choosing not to hang out with someone based on the clothes they wear or the music they like. It certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste, fashion rarely is, but from a design perspective, I feel the new look fits better in this game, and the original look fits better in the original games. Really, the game play is still awesome, and the visual design outside of Dante is so damn impressive to look at, why are we complaining about Dante looking a little different? It just seems we are missing the point.
Some would argue that you shouldn’t change a character basic design, and while I can understand that, I find it funny that no one bats an eye when Nintendo did the same thing years ago.
Metroid Fusion was released in 2002, and while I love that game, it did do the exact same thing people were vocal about in DMC. It gave Samus a new, sleek design, not too far removed from her zero suit, which really seemed to do nothing more than highlight her gender. Yes, it had effects in the game and the story, but I’m talking strictly from a visual perspective. In fact, if it wasn’t for the helmet, nothing about this design would say to me that this Samus, and not some new character trying to take her place. Now, 2002 was a long time ago admittedly, but I can’t recall news magazines or websites saying people were upset about the new design, or people saying they wouldn’t play the game because of the new look, nor can I find any evidence to say that was the case. It just seemed to be a redesign that no one cared about. I only bring it up to showcase how silly it is. If the game play is up to the standards, and the game visually holds its own, why skip over it? There is no reason to harp on the characters design. You can make fun of them; you can hate them or like them however you want, but to dodge the game entirely? It seem’s like a little much to me.
If you have not checked out the new DMC game, go check it out. If you have Playstation plus it’s free for the month of February, and if not, it’s very cheap to buy. Fans of the genre, and previous DMC games, will feel right at home. Is Dante different? Incredibly so, but it doesn’t change how fun the game actually is.
If you’re interested, the whole article the quote came from can be read here http://www.wouldyoukindly.com/capcom-devil-may-cry-reboots-dante-design-has-a-reason-could-have-been-worse/