Switch ports exist to satiate the rabid fans yearning for a more suitable place to play indie games or a portable way to relive yesterday’s classics. But they’re often inferior, either technically or otherwise, and are boosted purely by their aforementioned portability. That’s fine, but not quite exciting, especially for those without a persistent pension for portable ports. The DEVIL MAY CRY 3 Switch version is above them all as it not only made one of the best character action titles available on the go, but it also added a handful of game-changing mechanics.
These additions coincidentally have a lot to do with switching. Dante can now switch styles, ranged weapons, and melee weapons on the fly during gameplay, which were features previously locked to PC mods. Those playing on any one of the many console releases or the unmodded PC version had to choose their style and weapons at checkpoints. The potential combos and strategies concerning Dante’s full arsenal were left at those checkpoints.
Devil May Cry 3 Switch Review | Jackpo(r)t
The Switch port finally unlocks the full promise of an unbounded Dante that was later realized in Devil May Cry 4 and 5 and modernizes this classic in the best way. Learning longer, more intricate combos is the most obvious way this improves the combat (and cannot be understated), but this also has rippling effects that go beyond prolonged aerial juggles and cutting down on tedious menu surfing.
Previously, you had to lock in what loadout you wanted, which inevitably led to patterns that were hard to break. Pragmatism left certain style and weapon combinations unexplored as it was too simple just to rely on what worked. Since you can now dabble without fully committing, you’re encouraged to stray away from the easy Swordmaster and Rebellion pairing and dig into the Royal Guard mechanics as well as the more unusual weapons like the Nevan guitar and the Artemis laser gun. An easily accessible arsenal encourages experimentation.
Choosing which weapon you want from the weapon wheel is possible but tricky, given how quickly the game moves and how precise you need to be to select your desired armament. But it’s a relatively small nitpick because of how it opens up the game and shows how impossible it is to go back to the other versions. It’s not a feature that should stay exclusive to the Switch, but it does make a killer excuse to pick this version up.
Adding substantial new features is already abnormal for Switch ports as is the game’s excellent technical performance. The all-important frame rate never dips or sways as combat gets more hectic and load times are almost instantaneous.
Despite the occasional odd 4:3 menu screens and blurry, dated ground textures, the game looks great on a technical and artistic level, too, banking on its slick animation, emotive characters, and appropriately brooding atmosphere. A native PS2 game should run and look well and on all current systems, but it’s still worth acknowledging, given the shaky nature of some Switch ports.
Devil May Cry 3 Switch Review | Rebellion hasn’t lost its edge
PS2 games don’t always age well, gameplay-wise, yet Devil May Cry 3 is still one of the finest action games ever crafted. Combat — be it Dante or Vergil — is fast and frenetic with incredibly responsive controls that always ensure that you’re in, well, control. Deadly enemies push you to pay attention and exercise those intuitive controls, something that the array of unforgettable and varied boss fights repeatedly test you on. Slaughtering Beowulf is every bit as satisfying now as it was in 2005 because of the timeless, pristine core that sits at the heart of Devil May Cry 3.
And that’s something later entries could never quite recapture because of how they contained duds that slightly dulled the experience. Devil May Cry 4 and 5 are both fine titles, but with added frustrations. DMC4’s repetitive level design and offensively corny story held it back as did V’s inclusion and Nero’s limitations in DMC5. Because of these missteps and DMC3‘s brilliant foundation, they didn’t make DMC3 obsolete. Instead, the two sequels pointed out how lean DMC3 is and this port is just a reminder of its purity.
Devil May Cry 3 Switch Review | Style with substance
Even the story outdoes its successors along with most other games of its ilk. While it could lean on quips to give the facade of an engaging narrative, DMC3 uses Dante’s personality as a way to get you invested before revealing a tightly paced story about dealing with troublesome family members. Each of the four main characters have clear motivations that drive them and have arcs (when appropriate) that round them out quite nicely. It’s simple yet effective and shows how other action games like Bayonetta often lose sight of the simplicity and efficiency that makes stories in action games work.
DMC3’s tale also uses its action to great effect, too, as it still has some of the best and most ridiculous stunts in any game. Whereas DMC4 took the cornball drama side of anime storytelling, DMC3 aped the over-the-top action from anime that defies all logic but is utterly fascinating to watch unfold. Seeing a man swing a motorcycle around like a blunt, nunchuck-like weapon or using a sword to grab and then throw bullets is ludicrous and still plays well 15 years later.
The camera is one of the few places where time has been unkind to Devil May Cry 3. Whether it’s planted in one spot, zoomed too far out, or too far in, Devil May Cry 3 has a knack for obscuring the action and revealing its roots as a failed Resident Evil game. This is partly due to the interior corridor-heavy level design that doesn’t give the camera much room to move, which is exacerbated in the new co-op Bloody Palace as the viewpoint struggles to keep up with two characters. Fixing these issues would require an overhaul outside of the scope of a mere remaster, but it’s still a blemish that shows the game’s age more than anything else.
Devil May Cry 3 has aged remarkably well in almost every other area and the Switch port is the best version of this all-time classic. It’s a noteworthy achievement since the platform rarely gets comparable versions, let alone the standout one. Part of this lies within the new style and weapon switching, but these thoughtful additions only bolster the genre-defining fundamentals the game has had since 2005. The genre hardly gets better than this and this version serves as both a blueprint for creating timeless action games and making meaningful Switch ports that go beyond the bare minimum.
GameRevolution reviewed Devil May Cry 3: Special Editon on the Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.