Monday, 25 March 2013

The Plight of the Devil May Cry Fanboy

The latest edition to the Devil May Cry franchise has been out for a decent amount of time and the anger surrounding its release has long since subsided; but on reflection there is a lesson to learn from the new Dante- people can become completely attached to unimportant shit.

Before DmC was announced there was a rumour of a reboot and many fans had an immediate  knee jerk reaction; this wasn’t surprising and some complaints seem justified, but as more details came to light, a few key moans came to the forefront; not regarding the canon of the series, it’s use of lore, changes made to the gameplay, or even combat; rather more people were awake at night thinking about the colour and style of Dante’s hair.

I always found it hilarious that Dante, the white-haired demon hunter, was so beloved as a character. His story is not exactly original, the fiction surrounding him is slapshot at best, and his emotional range is limited to wise-cracking asshole or master of mellodrama. Put simply, your average Devil May Cry characters and story could be interchangeable with most episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; yet this is not a bad thing, the true worth of the game has always been in it’s addictive combat and detailed system mechanics. It’s fun to beat demons to a pulp with a variety of vicious weapons and looking stylish while doing it.

Most comments, however, made it obvious that at some level people very much identified with Dante as a character, and felt he needed to be preserved in every facet.

Watching this scene makes you realise that the story isn’t designed to make you think about the meaning of existence; it’s about feeling unstoppable, and doing it in a fashion so ridiculous that it crosses over the other side and becomes awesome. Sarcasm, humour and a cheeky hint of self-awareness has always been what made Dante tolerable; anytime he has even attempted to branch out his character begins to tear at the seams.

Scenes like this are looked back on as jokes, but when you finally get around to comparing old Dante with the new, can you really tell the difference?

And finally I get around to my point: people have a tendency to care about the wrong things and clearly have trouble articulating themselves properly. It was rare to see a comment mentioning concerns over the shift in tone, lack of “tongue-in-cheek” delivery the series is known for, and most importantly, the implied changes to the combat as a result of being made by a different developer. All worthy complaints but it was clear when people couldn’t figure out why they were so angry about the reboot, they fell back on the most surface level complaints; his hair. his coat and the apparently “emo” attitude the new Dante was being labelled with. When I first said people can become completely attached to rubbish, I don’t mean that in a terrible way. Rubbish can be incredibly entertaining (one of my favourite films is “Commando”), but it’s clear some people don’t agree when you view some comments, most read like people going through various stages of grief...

...ranging from anger... denial... flat-out confusion...

As harsh as I’ve been, I don’t want to condemn Dante; some characters are defined by their stories and history, while others embody simple concepts such as confidence, recklessness or just a general sense of fun, and even though these criticisms are a year out of date, there is still a lesson to take on board. If something you love is facing a change, you should always have a good look at what makes that thing great; whether it’s a game, film, or book, it should never boil down to just it’s surface level details. With this perspective, even a catch-phrase spouting douche like Dante can become more than simply the colour of his hair or the shade of his coat.

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