Opinion – Turn and Face the Strange

DMC_iconIf you were to wade into the comments section of any DmC Devil May Cry coverage, you would have thought that Ninja Theory personally went into everyone’s house and ripped the head off their precious childhood teddy bear. To call the vitriol over this recent reboot ‘a bit over the top’ would be the understatement of the year.

It would almost give you the impression that gamers cannot handle even the slightest change to their beloved franchise, which is a sad thought.

We’ve all seen the recent flurry of angry comments sections, we’ve all pointed and laughed at the petition listed on the White House’s page (which has since been taken down). But this rage has been almost constant since this reboot was announced over two years ago. Even back then, the comments were a bastion of frothing rage:

  • “why he’s name is dante??? wtf…. hahah wher’s dante?? with white hair??”
  • “…this is porbably a story of a junky that went to rehab and, pure coincidence, his name’s Dante.. This is NOT Dante”
  • “capcom and ninja theory, fuck you.that is all. fuck you”

DMC_Dante_1In their defence, DmC does represent a pretty drastic tonal shift from its predecessors. But at the same time, it looks like it does some pretty fun things with the universe, even if it does kind of rip-off that one episode of the severely underrated TV show The Middleman. Though really, they could have done anything with the franchise, so long as it was as far away from this moment as physically possible.

But I haven’t completely dismissed this loud, passionate sub-section of the Devil May Cry community. I have tried to see things from their perspective. Could it be that they grew up playing the perpetually perfect Devil May Cry franchise, only to be faced with this wolf in black-haired sheep’s clothing? It couldn’t be, since Devil May Cry IV wasn’t released that long ago and is commonly considered an outlier. It couldn’t be because of the drought of technically proficient character action games out there, since this new instalment is more than capable of delivering the crazy combos of games past. I even tried to imagine what it would be like if they took a franchise I loved as a child and completely redid it. Still, I couldn’t fathom the level of vitriol being thrown around.

Indeed, all I went back to was the many instances of communities loudly protesting change. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has been shunned by a good segment of the community seemingly because, “It isn’t Melee.” Many people insisted on playing Counter-Strike v1.6 even though Counter-Strike: Source was gathering steam. And it would be an interesting and potentially amusing exercise to compare the comments between The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’s original announcement and its recent Wii U re-release news.

DMC_Dante2I’m not arguing change for the sake of change — just look at Prince of Persia: Warrior Within — but if a developer does nothing new with their franchise, then it quickly risks becoming stale. You end up with uninspired games like We Love Katamari, Sonic The Hedgehog 4 or Halo 4, which was so successful at replicating its forerunners that it became boring in its almost stubborn refusal to take a risk.

I say all of this, but at my core, I am a big, filthy hypocrite.

When the Codemasters rally game DiRT 2 was first released, I immediately dismissed its shifts from the first DiRT game and the Colin McRae racing franchise, almost going so far as to accusing it of pouring Mountain Dew over Colin McRae’s grave (bless his soul). But then I stopped sneering at it from the sideline and gave the game a proper go. And you know what? It was a damn fine racing game! Sure, the X Games motif ensured that it was outdated years before its release, but underneath Ken Block’s unholy acting talent lied a finely tuned rally game, one I still occasionally go back to.

Having said that, thank goodness they changed things up again for DiRT 3.

Change is neither good nor bad. It is, quite simply, change. The way to deal with it is on a case-by-case basis. Everyone is entitled to their perspective, but keep an open mind. If you resist change for the sake of resisting change, then you risk missing out on some quality gaming as well as diluting the quality of future games. Or worse, you may just end up looking like a the guy who asked the Obama Administration to take DmC Devil May Cry off shelves.


Come back on Thursdays for more thoughts and views from the NG+ cast and crew.

[Image credits: Giant Bomb, TGN Times,  Devil May Cry wikia]