The year is 1999, Capcom is riding the high of there recent success in Resident Evil series. A new console called the “PlayStation 2” was around the corner and they needed something new! So the grabbed Hideki Kamiya (the man behind RE 1 and 2) and told him to make a new title in the series. But what Kamiya did was so radically different that it was denied by Capcom. Reason? The game could not be taken as a horror title since the main character was hacking and slashing through enemies with ease. But the prototype had so much potential, that Kamiya made his own little dev team, called themselves “Team Little Devil” and made the first Devil May Cry!
In 2001, gamers were introduced to a game setting not seen before. A castle with a gothic architecture, timing with killer puppets, ghosts and other types of demons, and a cool demon hunter hired to clear it all out. Inspired by the poem “Divine Comedy”(hence the names Dante, Virgil etc.), the series centers on the main character Dante, whose goal is to avenge his mother's murder by exterminating demons.
But the game's made appeal was the gameplay. Focused primarily on fast-paced, highly stylized combat. Gaining a high style ranking that requires long attack and evasion strings while avoiding damage. The style ranks are tracked during combat with letter grades, from worst to best: D, C, B, A, S, SS, SSS. Couple that with a new mechanic that will also become a mainstay for this type of genre: “The Devil Trigger”. A state where the character is stronger, faster and in most cases invincible.
And while the first one is a bit bare bones, with every consecutive title it got more and more refined. The first one also introduced some story main staples too. Such as the always present female companion to be a foil to Dante's supposed coolness and Virgil: the brother and constant rival to our hero, who has a constant goal of becoming the strongest there is.
The game has sold more than 3 million copies, starting a mainstay franchise for Capcom, that would lead to multiple side media. Comics, TV shows and many many cameos!
2 years after the first title, we got Devil May Cry 2. Or did we??? The main joke from the fanbase is that there is not DMC2. This is due to the fact that the game is just so bad and different, that people refuse its canonicity.
But what makes it so bad? Well…
First off, different director. An unidentified director was placed in charge of the project for the most part. But the result was so terrible, in the last 4-month stretch, Capcom gave the helm to Hideaki Itsuno. But in such a short time frame, no much could be done. In the end, we got: A story that dropped the cocky coolness and became “serious” and “edgy”. A game world that was stale and repetitive. And an overall downgrade to the combat system, with the biggest flaw being that your range weapons did nothing, other than “looking cool”.
But the game at least introduced some combat mechanics that will go on with the series. That being: the ability to perform combos in mid-air, an evade button and a weapon-change button, so the player could cycle through weapons without going through the inventory screen. Oh, and the ability to play as a character other than Dante for some replayability.
While the game in high sight was panned, sales-wise it did well with 1.4 million copies worldwide by March.
2005 was the year we got Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening for the PS2 and for the PC the following year. This game is a prequel to the first DMC, featuring a younger and cockier Dante, a more polished combat system and with a greater difficulty than before. So difficult in fact, that a special edition was released in 2006 with a more “low” difficulty settings.
But not only do we have a more polished combat system, we got “styles” which allowed for more combos and abilities, enriching the experience even more! Each of the four basic styles gains experience points, which unlock more techniques and abilities without costing “red orbs”, the common currency of the series.
And the story also became the most iconic in the series. Balancing serious and silly with a cool flair. This is the story that gave us: motorcycle riding vertically up a tower, and an epic high-speed sword fight in the rain and of course, the best oneliner that makes the sense- JACKPOT!
In the end, the game sold over 2.3 million units, for the special edition only.
In 2008 we again got a new entry in the series. However Devil May Cry 4 did something unexpected, it was based around a new character and their story. We follow Nero, a teenager possessing demonic arm. as he is on a mission to stop Dante after he assassinated the leader of the Order of the Sword.
Nero brings with him, that being using his demon arm to pull enemies to him, along much more combo variety and even quicker combat encounters. But that does not mean that you can't play as our cool white-haired series face. You can even change styles on the fly now.
Recently in 2016, we even got a special edition which adds both English and Japanese voice tracks, improved visual effects and textures, in-game re-balancing, additional costumes, and 3 bonus playable characters: Vergil, returning from Devil May Cry 3, Trish, playable for the first time since Devil May Cry 2, and Lady, who makes her playable debut.
All in all the game got is pretty well received and sold over 4 Million units.
A little after DMC4. someone at Capcom had a thought: “This series is stale and westerners don't like it”. Then they got “Ninja Theory” and told them to make a Devil May Cry, with more of a western punk/ anti-establishment flair and a Dante that instead of throwing out quips, just goes “Fuck you”.
And they did.
Also, there is another switch up in the combat. This time having two types of weapons that work better against certain monsters. Which did not go well with a fanbase, that is used to style and combo flows, who now have to constantly pay attention to the color of the enemies.
Not only that, but the story again went got sort of serious. This Dante was less cool demon hunter with years of experience and more “edgy” teen/ young adult who just “does not care man”. And there are plenty of other grievances. But in the end, the hate died down and ultimately the game went to sell over 2.2 million copies.
After years of special editions, cameos, and wishful thinking, we got a fantastic surprise. Out of nowhere at E3 2018 we got a trailer for the new entry in the series! Devil May Cry 5 (or V) is announced for 2019! A return to form, with Nero at the helm, with Dante and Virgil in the background helping out. And the cherry on top, a song that would be really bad everywhere else, but for DMC it fits perfectly. This ignited the fanbase and now the hype is real!