Devil May Cry 2 on Nintendo Switch is…Still Very Much Devil May Cry 2
While Devil May Cry 2 on Nintendo Switch is a fine port that plays solidly, this misstep for the DMC series is better off left in the past.
Look, first things first: Devil May Cry 2 is not a great video game, by any stretch of the imagination. Since its release in 2003, DMC2 has had an infamous reputation among series fans as the black sheep of the Devil May Cry games. While history might be kinder to some of the missteps that DMC2 ended up taking when it first released, that sour reception for the game is not entirely unwarranted over 16 years later.
Basically, Devil May Cry 2 was the series’ emo phase, where its attempts at angst and pathos come off as convincingly as they do on a My Chemical Romance album. Dante, the charismatic demon hunter that we were introduced to in Devil May Cry, took a turn in its sequel as a dour and bland anti-hero with no redeeming qualities, along with a story that barely connects to the original in any meaningful way. And by all accounts, DMC2 has more or less been erased from the series’ canon, as even Capcom (probably intentionally) left it out of a story recap trailer in the lead-up to Devil May Cry 5’s release earlier this year.
A large part of Devil May Cry 2’s issues came from a troubled development cycle, where an unnamed, uncredited director took on the project and was eventually replaced by Hideaki Itsuno (the series’ current director), who had only a few months before the game’s release to course-correct its development. Despite Itsuno’s efforts to improve on the previous director’s mistakes, DMC2 ended up feeling disjointed and incoherent, if anything because of the fact that only so much could be done with so little development time left.
While it brought a few new features and ideas to the series (such as a second campaign with a new playable character), Devil May Cry 2 still is as much a misstep for the series now as it was back in 2003. That being said, if you’re looking for any reasons at all to play it in 2019, whether you’ve simply exhausted all other options of literally any other video game to play, enjoy similar activities like watching paint dry or filing taxes, or haven’t been convinced by me yet of why you (probably) shouldn’t play it, then please, Dear Reader: read on.
Devil May Cry 2 follows the exploits of Dante and his new companion, Lucia, as they track down a nefarious businessman named Arius, who aims to raise the demonic god Argosax and achieve the ultimate form of power. From there, the story devolves into a mundane “save the world” plot as Dante and Lucia try to intervene in Arius’ quest, but a boring storyline is unfortunately the least of DMC2’s problems.
While Devil May Cry 2 largely keeps the satisfying, combo-based combat system of the original mostly in place, it significantly dials down the amount of new abilities that players can unlock over the course of the game, leading to Dante having to use the same cycle of repetitive attack strings and combos. Stylish as the combat may be, it’s hard to get excited about the same three-hit sword combo being used over and over again with relative ease.
This is combined with the fact that Devil May Cry 2 is significantly less challenging than its predecessor, and far shorter. Even novice players of other character action games will be able to breeze through DMC2 in around 6-8 hours (for both Dante and Lucia’s campaigns), perhaps even less if you decide to cheese your way through it. Though DMC2 has a few moments of challenge in its boss fights, they’re few and far between, especially how firearms (which are severely overpowered) make it easy to just stand back and blast everything in sight to get to the next area.
From its design, to its gameplay, story, and combat, Devil May Cry 2 shows brief glimpses of inspiration that are buried under half-baked execution, and have only left me over the years wondering just what happened. What made Dante go from a sarcastic badass to an unbearable edgelord? How is the game’s secret character (spoiler alert) infinitely more fun to play as than either of its two main characters? Why did anyone think that fighting a demonic tank was a great idea?
If there is one positive that can be gleaned from the release of Devil May Cry 2 on Nintendo Switch, it’s the hope that we will eventually get a Switch release of Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, which is arguably the series’ best installment (and my personal favorite). And as much as DMC2 might have its flaws, the DMC series ultimately turned out for the better afterward, or at least turned out differently if Hideaki Itsuno hadn’t gotten involved; a silver lining for all things considered.
Devil May Cry 2 is surely a mess compared to its predecessor, but the Nintendo Switch version at least preserves that mess to its finest possible form. Though the Switch version is a solid port from a technical standpoint, DMC2 is best left for the Devil May Cry fans that have any curiosity of experiencing this game on their own terms, with all its flaws. However, if you have any intention of catching up on the series in order to play the excellent Devil May Cry 5, you really won’t be missing out on too much if you just decide to skip this one. You really don’t deserve to see Dante at his worst.