There are few game worlds and narratives as compelling as those found in Devil May Cry. A ruined world beset by angels, demons, and the Sons of Sparda, it’s amongst Capcom’s coolest creations and Dante himself is videogame royalty. Never mind his own games, he’s sprawled his long red coat across countless other titles, with every appearance hammering home the fact that the gunslinging, sword-wielding demon is likely more charismatic than anyone you could possibly dream up.
The appearance of Devil May Cry 3 SE on the Switch comes at a time where the action genre is having a remastering resurgence, and if you’re picking this up along with the 10th Anniversary Bayonetta & Vanquish set then prepare to develop carpel tunnel almost instantly. It’s that or you’ll need a new controller.
Dante and the Devil May Cry series ask one thing of the player, and that’s to despatch every enemy in your path in the coolest way possible. Devil May Cry 3 cemented the series identity, in that it focussed in on the build-up of style through putting together the most insane combos (in)humanly possible. Not only that, but it brought in the ability to swap out your weaponry on the fly, all the while trying to keep those combos going. It’s a masterpiece of action gameplay, and a watershed moment for the genre.
The Nintendo Switch Special Edition brings all of that and more, now allowing players to swap between the different combat styles mid-fight with Freestyle Mode. You have Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger and Royalguard to begin with, and Quicksilver and Doppelgänger later on. It’s been a popular mod for the PC version of the game so it’s fascinating to see it appear here as a bonafide feature, and it pushes the game to its logical conclusion. Devil May Cry has always been about variation, and attacking with that in mind, and here the Switch port nails it.
Things don’t start very well for DMC3 SE mind you. You will likely be appalled at how bad this game’s opening cutscenes look, with the in-engine animations seemingly rendered at the same resolution as they were on the PS2 way back when it launched in 2005. Add in the fact that some of the early tutorial windows appear in 4:3 and you’ll begin to wonder if the remaster team at Capcom thought that they were supposed to be doing a historical preservation job instead of modernising the game.
It’s particularly annoying when the opening cutscene of DMC3, with Dante all set to open his own shop, is amongst the most stylish re-introductions to a character of all time. Coming off the back of the lacklustre Devil May Cry 2, it was clear that Capcom were immediately setting a fresh new tone for the series, with the third game serving as a prequel, and reminding people what an absolute badass Dante is in the process. It’s all summed up in this opening five minutes, and to see it in CRT-vision is almost criminal.
Fortunately, when you finally take control of Dante, everything clears up. From the central gameplay to all of the following cutscenes, you’re getting a lovely hi-res Dante and a bunch of hi-res horrors to do away with, which makes the opening all the more disappointing and baffling.
Whether you’re returning to the game after many years, or coming into to it fresh, DMC 3 SE is still a simply brilliant entry in the series. The combat in the Switch port feels as tight as it did fifteen years ago, and fans will be glad to know that time hasn’t diminished the game’s deep challenge.
That said, this isn’t a particularly Joy-Con friendly game. The smaller buttons and shorter analogue sticks do nothing to help you when you’re in the thick of it, so you’ll want to use a Pro Controller or something similar if you’ve got them on hand.It’s so frenetic I was worried I was going to bend the Joy-Cons straight off the ends of my Switch at one point. That’s probably not a good thing.
The original version of this Special Edition of the game brought in a few tweaks to the gameplay including rebalancing the difficulty level, making Dante’s brother Vergil a playable character and offering Gold mode that gave you unlimited continues. It served to make the SE version the definitive outing for the game, and now, with the addition of portability and the style switcher, there’s plenty of argument to be said that the Switch port surpasses it.
It’s lethal though. In order to achieve a SSStylish rank you’re going to have to batter both your pad and your hand and fingers into a paste. Things do actually ease a bit the longer you spend with the game, thanks to levelling your character up and adding a wider array of moves, but you’ll still be clutching at your hand by the time the credits roll. If this sounds like your sort of thing, then you’re a masochist, but at least you’ve got good taste in games.