If there is one thing that kills any creative process over time, it's listening to whining fans that think they know more about developing a character than the people who created the character themselves. I'm reminded of this fact whenever I check in with Capcom related news and come across some new bits of information regarding DmC, the prequel to their reasonably popular Devil May Cry saga.
For those new to the franchise, the long-story-short is that Dante, the main character of the series, has black hair and looks a lot like a washed up scrub than his more masculine, red trench-coat wearing counterpart. That alone is apparently enough to mess up a series, whose roots began as a potential sequel to the Resident Evil franchise.
What is astonishing to me is that breaking down the most recent gameplay trailer, fans of the series maintain that the entire game would be improved if Dante's hair was just a different color and length. It's almost no wonder the Japanese game development industry is suffering so much if all they're trying to do is cater to a group of individuals who don't want any sort of change. Knowing full well that Capcom understood the changes to Dante will inevitably draw some negative reaction, you can imagine such dramatic changes are being made if only for good reason.
It's even more painful to consider when you realize that DmC is supposed to be a story about the origins of Dante. There's nothing wrong with asking questions regarding a character's development, but to say that the game as a whole suffers from a plot-line not even remotely yet explained? Dante's origin has never been explored before, so it's fair to say that a younger Dante may have some visual differences "” hair color aside, but the most critical aspect of this new game would be the general shape that the world is taking. The world he seems to be living in, the weapons he uses, the shape everything around him seems to take when combat starts all focuses heavily on the most memorable underlying trait of Dante: his attitude.
Cocky, arrogant and with absolutely no doubt to his skills, Dante is a character defined, first and foremost, by his actions. The first thing you'll notice in the redesigned Dante is the absolutely staggering self-assurance he holds with himself. It spills out from the way he walks, in his facial expression and most definitely in the way he fights. Simply put, Dante is a massive asshole, but he's one that we love to watch fight.
Although we've only been given a glimpse of some work-in-progress gameplay this E3, everything I've seen beautifully personifies Dante as a character. His very presence gives colour to the world around him, which he effortlessly brings to life through his attacks and, just like the 'older' version of himself, Ninja Theory has taken care to make sure that Dante's attacks aren't strictly linear. Each weapon brings a different style to the gameplay, again brought to life by the way Dante wields his weapons. The cool part about his character isn't the fact that he uses a sword, it's how he uses it, and every single swing he threw down in the trailer looked just as fresh as the last.
It's quite clear that, despite all of his skill, the Dante that exists in this game is but a shadow of his future self as well. The black and white mode he enters that recolors his hair the 'appropriate' white I take as more of a hint of what the gentlemen is capable of, or at least what he can achieve under great focus. I don't really see how any of this gameplay can be improved by a character remodelling any more than the new Lara Croft redesign can be better if they made her breasts three times larger. If a company is going to take the time to imagine the roots of a character, it's logical to imagine that the end result will be something that leads to, in the case of a prequel, the 'first' game.
Perhaps it's just me, but I never really got why purists insisted that any kind of change made to a series is bad. Change is what fuels this industry and pushes new concepts and designs forward. In many cases, it's what causes developers to create new IPs in the first place; and while not all change is a good thing it's important to at least give it a chance before tearing it down from afar. In the case of this Devil May Cry, these so call 'fans' of the game need to relax and listen to themselves. Maybe if they take a moment to stop worrying about what sort of hairstyle Dante is sporting these days they would be relatively impressed with what Ninja theory has managed to accomplish so far.