Ever the opportunist for milking its rich back catalogue, Capcom finally brought the Devil May Cry series over to the Switch last year. However, rather than releasing the HD collection like it has done for other platforms, it elected to trickle out the releases one by one, costing more altogether, which is unfortunately standard practice for Capcom’s other Switch ports.
Nonetheless, it appears the third instalment has been worth the wait, as rather than just another quick and dirty port, new and welcome features help bring a slight modern touch to this old-school action classic.
For the uninitiated, Devil May Cry 3 is actually a prequel to the original game, set a decade before Dante officially sets up his demon hunting agency. Most of the story takes place as you’re ascending a huge tower in a bid to stop your twin brother Vergil from unleashing a deadly demonic power while also having the occasional run-in with a mysterious vengeful woman (who’s eventually just known as Lady).
This instalment also introduces Dante’s style-based combat. This adds whole other layers of depth to an already very technical hack-and-slash action game that’s essentially on par with a fighting game. There’s Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster and Royalguard styles, which continue to be part of Dante’s repertoire in later games, while defeating two later bosses further unlocks the Quicksilver and Doppelganger styles.
The other thrill of DMC3’s combat is unlocking an impressive arsenal of weapons to further change up your fighting style, such as rocking a guitar that sends out electricity and bats out of hell. This here is where the Switch port goes a little extra to make this edition that little bit more special.
In the original game, you would pick your style and weapon at the start of a mission and could only change when you come across a divinity statue, where you can also go to buy new items or moves. But you can leave that in the past now, as the Switch version is comparable to the modern entries where you can switch both weapons and styles at the tap of a button mid-combo.
That opens up whole new exciting ways to mix things up in DMC3 as well as rack up points for stylish play. You could parry an enemy’s attack with Royalguard then switch to Swordmaster and send them up in the air then switch weapons while you’re in mid-juggle before gunslinging some distant enemies, and so on.
There is a caveat to this however. While weapon switching has been mapped to the Switch’s ZL and ZR triggers for you to cycle through, style switching has been mapped to the D-pad. That makes sense since that’s how it’s done in DMC4 and DMC5, until you realise these buttons are also used for some rather important menu functionality, including the map and item screens. Honestly, I can’t see why these couldn’t have just been integrated into the pause menu, but alas, that may have been a bit too much extra work for the port.
As it is, style switching is only possible via its own Freestyle mode. You could call it an additional difficulty hike since you’re basically on your own if you get lost during some occasionally annoying puzzle sections that require backtracking or you need an item to help you out during a tough fight (reviving with a gold orb is still possible though, since that triggers automatically if you die). Never mind that DMC3 is already one of the tougher games out there - hell, even the easy difficulty doesn’t unlock until you’ve had your ass kicked a few times.
I might not be most qualified to comment on all of DMC3’s most hardcore intricacies though I’m not convinced more hardcore necessarily means better, especially when it’s part of some dated design. Old muddy visuals aren’t so much of a bugbear as are the predominantly fixed camera angles that often frustrate traversal and orientation, or an absolutely maddening lock-on system (consider remapping target switching for your sanity). Its age feels more noticeable especially after playing last year’s excellent DMC5 or indeed compared to Bayonetta, the undisputed queen of this genre.
Still, it’s the unadulterated arenas of the Bloody Palace where Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition truly shines, when you’re just focused on pure stylish combat in ever-escalating encounters. Even here, another addition has been made for the Switch version, allowing for co-op play. You can even use single split Joy-Cons too - though unless you’re happy to handicap yourself, you might want to have a spare Pro Controller to hand instead.
Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Devil May Cry 3 may be getting on a bit 15 years later but it nonetheless remains one of the most technically hardcore action games out there, and devout devil hunters will make great use of the additional features for the Switch port.