Devil May Cry 2

That’s the craziest thing about Devil May Cry 2. Every sequel is burdened by the shadow of its predecessor, but video game sequels are supposed to be able to take advantage of the fact that they can at least usually offer a more refined version of what came before. Ultimately, the game’s greatest sin is its almost impressive ability to avoid doing just that. 

Sequel It With Fire

When push comes to shove, I can easily imagine some gamers arguing that other notoriously bad video game sequels like Duke Nukem Forever, Perfect Dark Zero, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 are strictly worse games and more disappointing experiences than Devil May Cry 2. I can’t deny anyone those views, and I certainly can’t defend any of those games on their own merits. 

Yet, I struggle to think of a game that fails quite as spectacularly as a sequel as Devil May Cry 2 does. Unlike some of those other sequels that were burdened by unavoidable changes in development teams, comically long stays in development hell, or, frankly, generally low expectations, Devil May Cry 2 is the product of a series of truly terrible decisions that border on self-sabotage. 

It’s difficult to think of another video game sequel released so close to its predecessor that ignores or alters pretty much everything that made its predecessor successful. If Capcom had asked the original Devil May Cry team to simply make another Devil May Cry game, they probably would have gotten a stellar sequel. The fact they chose any other route (must less the one they did) has to be one of the most baffling decisions in video game history. 

Do you know what’s really strange, though? Much of the team responsible for Devil May Cry 2 (most notably director Hideaki Itsuno) would go on to work on Devil May Cry 3, 4, and 5: arguably the three most acclaimed games in the franchise. You could call that a miraculous turnaround, but the truth is that you can see elements of those better games in DMC 2. Things like quick weapon swaps, more elaborate evasive maneuvers, an emphasis on action over platforming and puzzles, and even Dante’s beloved Rebellion sword are all featured in this otherwise easily-maligned sequel. If you’re feeling optimistic, you could even call DMC 2 the very, very rough draft of better things to come. 

However, knowing what the Devil May Cry 2 team could have potentially done somehow makes the final product that much more painful. The reason sequels generally enjoy a somewhat negative reputation (despite the number of truly beloved sequels in entertainment) is due to the popular perception that they are often cash-ins that steal resources and opportunities from original projects. In its own ways, DMC 2 represents the worst realities of that perception. It’s a sequel greenlit by a studio that seemingly decided that one follow-up was as good as another so long as the name on the box did the heavy lifting. Indeed, they thought that a game by the name “Devil May Cry 2” would be such a guaranteed hit that they gave it to a studio that needed an easy retail win.

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