Capcom is releasing updated versions of their old games? We know you must be as shocked as we are.

At this point it’s a joke how many times the company has churned out new versions of their hit games (just take a look at how many Street Fighters versions are available) but their latest trend is to release HD remakes for your fancy new TVs, with both Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica getting nice (if overpriced at $20) remakes for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Now that they have a reboot to Devil May Cry on the way it seems the perfect time for them to bring back the older titles, and they’ve taken the first three games, slapped some widescreen on them, and burned them to a disc.

Before we start, know that these are straight ports. Don’t expect director’s cuts with new levels and characters (although the third game is the revamped Special Edition)- these are the exact same games you played years ago. The only new thing is that they’ve been upgraded to a higher resolution and displayed in widescreen… mostly. For some reason menus and cutscenes are displayed in their original 4:3 ratio, the blurry graphics and letterboxing taking you out of the game quite easily.

Fortunately the actual game looks significantly better than you’d expect for a series that debuted on PS2, the environment and details really shining in the new resolution. Forgive a few blurry textures here and there and you’ll love what you see, almost mistaking it for the fourth installment if you squint a bit.

This is remarkable since Devil May Cry came out all the way back in 2001. Originally planned as a sequel to Resident Evil it soon became its own beast, a stylish action game that spawned its own incredibly popular series. The four installments so far have sold well over ten million copies and there’s another on the way- so perhaps it’s the time to see what made them so popular.

You can really see the Resident Evil influence on the first game. You explore a haunted mansion, health items are scarce, and you have to collect keys and emblems and such, solving simple puzzles to advance. But don’t worry about backtracking around the mansion though- the game keeps up a steady pace by being broken up into a number of short missions. You’re ranked at the end of each one depending on how fast you beat it and how many red orbs (the game’s currency, dropped from enemies) you’ve collected, which in turn gives you more red orbs to spend on new items and abilities.

The combat is still as fun as ever, with a system that ranks you depending on how long you can keep a combo going. It’s still a very tough game though, and definitely a bit unpolished, but for the most part it’s just as much fun as any current action games.

In 2003, Devil May Cry 2 was pummeled upon release by critics for being a cakewalk, and compared to the other two entries it certainly is. Enemies seem to be afraid of Dante this time, which makes getting combos that much more difficult but also keeps your health bar relatively undamaged. Everything plays mostly the same, with the addition of a much-needed dodge move and a couple of equippable items that give Dante new powers, like the ability to fly in demon form. He also just acts a bit more badass here even when simply shooting his guns- with each pull of the trigger he whips his fist out like he’s throwing a punch. There’s a new playable character called Lucia who controls much the same as Dante, but a bit quicker and weaker, which offers some replay value.

It’s still a fun game, just not nearly as good as the original. It almost seems like they listened to complaints about the difficulty and turned it all the way down to where there’s almost no feeling of challenge, even with boss encounters. This had no bearing on the success of the game, which sold many millions of copies worldwide and prompted a third entry in 2005.

Actually a prequel to the original and probably the best of the series thus far, Devil May Cry 3 decided to respond to complaints about the difficulty of the second installment by ratcheting it all the way to the top. Fortunately this version is actually from the Special Edition of the game, which balanced things out a bit. What’s obvious is that the combat system is the best of the bunch, with a complete revamp giving you six different styles (all with unique special techniques) to play around with.

The set pieces are the best of the series thus far, and also the most ridiculous- just wait until you see Dante’s guitar solo. The special edition also gives you the opportunity to play through the game as new character Vergil, and has a survival mode of sorts called the Bloody Palace which has 9999 levels (!). Expect to put aside a whole day or two for that one.

All in all, more Devil May Cry than you could ever want. Personally I’ve always found the series a bit overrated. You’ll notice I haven’t talked about the boring and nonsensical story, whose blurry cinemas in this edition are easily skippable without you losing anything of the experience. There are also a lot of issues with the static camera in a fast-moving game like this, but as the series went on it became much better. The unique art style and enemies make up for it, anyway. They’re fun games, don’t get me wrong, I just never understand their insane popularity over superior action titles.

The Sony faithful already likely know if they enjoy this series or not but this is the first time these games are available for a Microsoft console, and all on one disc. Since the third one’s better than Devil May Cry 4 this collection might be a great entry point for the series, especially if you’re looking forward to the upcoming DmC: Devil May Cry reboot.

Rating: 8/10

Devil May Cry: HD Collection ($40) was developed by Pipeworks Software and Capcom and published by Capcom for the Xbox 360 and PS3. This review was taken from fifteen hours with the Xbox 360 version with a copy provided by the publisher.

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