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Devil May Cry is a Stylish Action Hack and Slash game developed by Capcom and originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. One of several projects that spun off from attempting to develop Resident Evil 4, it is notable for codifying many of the tropes used for 3D Stylish Action games and for being the first original project worked on by Hideki Kamiya.

Taking place in the modern day, an infamous demon hunter known as Dante is approached by a mysterious woman named Trish, who informs him that Mundus, the lord of the Demon World, is attempting to invade the human realm, and the place to stop him is in an abandoned castle on Mallet Island. Dante, as the only known surviving son of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda, is the only one who stands a chance.

Gameplay consists of exploring the castle and its various environs and using timing-based melee combos and ranged gun attacks to battle the hordes of demons infesting the place — getting graded on how stylish you're being the whole time. Dante is equipped with a sword and two pistols named Ebony and Ivory to start off with, but acquires more weapons over the course of the game. Occasionally puzzles must be solved in order to move on, and there is Metroidvania-esque backtracking to previous locations to unlock new paths forward.

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This is the game that started the Devil May Cry series. The success of the game convinced Capcom to develop a sequel, and Devil May Cry 2 arrived in 2003.


This game contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Trish. She doesn't get a lot of scenes, but even in the intro cutscene she is clearly capable of taking on Dante.
  • Airborne Mook: Bat-form Plasmas.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Before battling Mundus, he and Dante end up in a universe Mundus conjured up, where you then proceed to shoot fireballs at him.
  • Anachronic Order: Though it was the first game released, this is actually the second game in the timeline, following Devil May Cry 3.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Nightmare fights make you fight all the previous bosses. However, when you fight Nightmare!Nelo Angelo, you fight his phase two form instead of his phase 3 form.
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  • Artistic License – Physics: The Frost enemy bio states that they are at below absolute zero temperature. This might be trying to imply that they're supernaturally cold, but it still sounds like a failure of logic, or at least physics.
  • Ascended Demon: Sparda, a powerful demon who turned on his masters and became a champion of the human world.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Mundus, in all his forms.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: the Sparda sword. While a sword that can turn into a scythe is stupidly sweet, and the sword deals the kind of damage Alastor can only reach during Devil Trigger, the lack of Devil Trigger on it leaves you significantly better off using Alastor or Ifrit. At least, until the final battle, where it proves worthy of its name.
    • This changes on higher difficulties, however. As you ramp the difficulty up towards "Dante Must Die", actual Devil Trigger abilities become progressively more useless, and melee attacks become your primary source of damage, elevating the usefulness of Sparda's innate strength.
  • Awesomeness Meter: Combat is graded based on a number of factors, including variations within combos, number of hits, and damage taken. This continues through the rest of the series.
  • Awful Truth: Dante doesn't take the revelation of Trish working for Mundus all along rather well.
  • Badass Biker: Trish enters Dante's shop showing this off, to put it lightly.
  • Bag of Spilling: Dante starts out with a room full of swords impaling demon heads on his wall, but only takes Force Edge with him, despite this taking place after 3 where he acquired several Devil Arms.
  • Beam Spam: To a degree, the Nightmare-Beta. Charge it up, and let a huge volley of penetrating laser shots recoil around the room like crazy.
  • BFG: The Grenadegun.
  • BFS: Dante's Force Edge and Alastor, and eventually Sparda. Nelo Angelo's sword is taller than its already enormous wielder.
  • Best Served Cold: Dante's goal is to keep killing demons until he "hits the jackpot" and finds the one who killed his mom. When he finally confronts the demon in question and gets the killshot on him, he seals the deal by declaring "Jackpot!"
  • Big Bad: Mundus, being King of Hell, is indubitably the Biggest Bad of all.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dante is unable to kill Mundus and only succeeds in banishing him back to the Underworld with Trish's help, with Mundus all but swearing he'll return. Dante also finds out Nelo Angelo is his Not Quite Dead twin brother, Vergil, after he kills him. On the plus side, Dante has a new demon hunting partner in Trish, and the two promise that if Mundus ever does return, they'll be ready.
  • Blade Run: The Shadow enemies will sometimes attack by extending long spikes from their body, which then stay out for a few moments. While they're out, the player can stand on them.
  • Blob Monster: Nightmare, and Mundus' final form.
  • Blood Magic: When you kill monsters, you collect their crystallized blood and offer it to the nebulous God of Time to upgrade your powers.
  • Bloody Bowels of Hell: The demon world near the end resembles the insides of a living being, complete with pulsating walls and a beating heart!
  • Blown Across the Room: Many, many enemies can do this to Dante, starting with Phantom.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: Nightmare first appears as a completely invulnerable pool of black goo which swallows Dante up if he touches it. Hitting the switches that surround the arena enough causes it take a more dangerous, but also vulnerable, form. Although its description says that the crystals are part of its power to materialize in the world in the first place, subverting this trope.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Dante can run out of ammo, but his weapons refill automatically given time. According to the manual, one of his demonic powers creates more bullets in his guns.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Completing the highest "Dante Must Die" difficulty unlocks a "Super Costume" for Dante, which grants unlimited energy for the Devil Trigger Super Mode. In this case, the game is still hard, even for a maxed-out character.
    • Beating the last of 15 Secret Missions offers you a Bangle of Time. Equipping it changes Devil Trigger to make it stop time, though it doesn't work on bosses and it's obtained so late in the game you only really get to use it during New Game+.
  • Brick Joke: During the first cutscene, Dante mentions that he's doing the job so he hits the jackpot and gets to the demon that killed his mother. His line just before the killing blow? "Jackpot!"
  • Bring My Red Jacket: Dante wears a big red Badass Longcoat and gets swords through him a lot.
  • Camera Screw: The game frequently changes the camera angle mid-jump. The key to your survival is that the game doesn't realign your controls until you land, so you need not jerk the controller around.
  • Camp: The dialogue is hammy, the action defies physics, and the very concept of the game is Rule of Cool. This didn't extend to the first sequel, but returned for the second sequel and has been a cornerstone of the series since.
  • Car Fu: Trish bursts through Dante's door on her motorcycle, then she hurls it at him.
  • Cash Gate: Some doors require a certain amount of red orbs to open.
  • Chaos Architecture: The Castle changes its layout when you return late in the game.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The biplane encountered in the first mission of the first game (christened Carnival according to Viewtiful Joe). It is later used to make your escape from Mallet Island.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: Mundus's final form in the sewers of Mallet Island.
  • The Collector of the Strange: Dante's massive collection of demon skulls.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Trish super-charges Dante with her power to blow Mundus out of the water.
  • Competitive Balance: Dante's weapons fits this.
  • Continuing Is Painful: To an extent. When you use an item, it's used for good: if you die, you will have to do the sequence (or the entire level) again without the items you already used, which may force you to go back to the loading screen. On the other hand, if you have any Yellow Orbs, you are forced to use one when you die, as opposed to being able to quit out and go shopping as later games would allow. The game does all it can to discourage light use of items, so if a passage or boss is hard, a more clever method is to try and get as far as possible without using them at first.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The souls of the dead envelop most of the area in Mundus' core in flame, and only by standing on large rocks can you protect yourself. Luckily for you, the flames don't actually radiate heat; you're fine as long as you're touching ground.
  • Cool Mask: Nelo Angelo. During the third and final battle, when he finally takes it off, he's even more of a challenge than before.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • Dante, when impaled by Alastor.
    • Trish when hold captive by Mundus.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: If, during the third fight with him, you fight Nightmare with his red cores, expect the fight to last awhile.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Going from 1 to later entries was awkward, as the first game had vastly different controls from the ones codified later; notably, jump was assigned to Triangle and melee attacks were done with the Circle button. Thankfully, the HD collection remaps the controls of 1 to make them similar to the other games, though that in itself can be an example if you got used to the original control scheme and then decided to give the HD port a go.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Dante uses his demonic powers for good. Ditto with Sparda (after he woke up to justice) and Trish (after her Heel–Face Turn).
  • Deadly Lunge: The Stinger move and its variants, though some enemies have their own versions too.
  • Defector from Decadence: Sparda.
  • Dem Bones: Sargassoes.
  • Demon Slaying: Dante's business.
  • Deus ex Machina: Trish suddenly being revived in time to save Dante. They never mentioned it again.
    • Unless you take Hideki Kamiya's implications in Viewtiful Joe that Eva's spirit haunted the Perfect Amulet and subsequently revived Trish to be canon.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Furniture will usually drop red orbs when destroyed.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Two puzzles involve fire-breathing T. rex skeletons that are called dragons.
  • Double Jump: Justified; the Air Hike ability allows the user to perform the second jump by creating a magic platform under their feet and leaping off that. In fact, that ability is locked to Alastor; equipping Ifrit renders you unable to do it, as well as the Sparda sword at the end of the game at least, until its true power is unleashed against Mundus.
  • Down the Drain: The ship level.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The only Real-Time Weapon Change is between Alastor and Ifrit (you must go into the pause menu to select anything else, particularly guns)
    • The game has swimming sections.
    • There are a total of 23 missions note .
    • There is no level select, so you cannot redo previous missions once you cleared them in case you want to improve your rank or missed out on powerups.
    • Once Hard Mode is unlocked, you can't go back and do Normal mode on a New Game+ until after the former has been beaten. After being beaten, then the game will allow to play on a lower or higher difficulty.
    • The Super Dante and the Sparda Costume have to be played in a new game meaning you have to buy moves all over again.
    • There are no white orbs to regain Devil Trigger, but Dante can get a full a meter of it back after defeating certain mini bosses or sections when Phantom attacks Dante in a hallway. Some doors have to be unlocked by spending red orbs.
    • Even though there are 4 melee weapons, Alastornote , Sparda, and Force Edge all share mostly the same move set, only differing in special abilities, damage, or devil trigger. Or lack thereof.
    • 1 is the only game in the series that have unique fatalities performed on Dante when at critical health.
    • This and 2 are the only ones to have no camera control. 3 & 4 allowed some control of the camera while the reboot allowed full control of it.
    • The jump button (X) being switched in the US and EU version of the game (fixed in the HD collection).
    • In addition there is a timer for some rooms when playing on Dante Must Die to let the player know how long they have before enemies devil trigger.
    • There is a rail shooting section at the end of the game.
    • No Bloody Palacenote .
    • This and 2 placed heavy emphasis on gunplay - guns are much stronger in this game and 2 than in the later games, and the wide variety of guns available to the player creates incentive for them to use it. 3 made gunplay less important by giving the player more tools to close the gaps between Dante and his enemies and the style system made melee combat more important to maintaining a high rank.
    • Dante's trademark sword Rebellion is absent.
    • With the vanilla version of DMC 3, it's the only game where Dante is the sole playable character.
    • At the end of the game, Dante renames his agency "Devil Never Cry". This is ignored in all sequels where the agency reverts back to "Devil May Cry" without even a handwave.
    • Perhaps as a result of being a retooled Resident Evil game, this game has a darker and spookier atmosphere than any of the sequels with Dante being on his own for the bulk of the adventure, the haunting soundtrack and the presence of Apocalyptic Log in the castle. While the horror is present in other installments, it mostly gets overshadowed by the campiness.
  • Easily Forgiven: Trish. Though at first Dante is furious with her for working for Mundus, he lets it go and sheds tears over her currently-dead body.
    • Trish is also a recipient of this in her Establishing Character Moment. She crashes into Dante's office on a motorbike, proceeds to beat him up, throw his sword through him, electrocutes him, then throws her motorbike at him! Directly after this sequence of events, however, he brushes it off and takes up her offer like what happened was no big deal.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Sparda Devil Trigger, which only works against Mundus and nowhere else.
  • Energy Weapon: Nightmare-Beta, which fires a series of lasers that bounce around the room and takes Devil Trigger energy to fire.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first cutscene does a good job of introducing Dante. He jokes to a woman who drove a motorcycle through his front door, points a sword when she looks like she can be hostile but doesn't use it, laughs off being impaled and electrocuted, sends a motorcycle flying with bullets, and calmly takes the sword out of his chest. Character established.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Phantom, the giant spider demon.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Happens when Dante first acquires Alastor.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Mundus' Core contains a whole lot of "the souls of the dead", which manifest as periodic bursts of flame that damage you if you don't have a bunch of solid rock to protect you. In other words, time your jumps or get burned.
  • Firing One-Handed: Dante using the shotgun and Nightmare Beta.
  • Flash Step: Nelo Angelo has this ability, but this is undermined both by the blue flames that signify his flight path as well as the fact that he rarely uses it to his advantage. Frosts possess a similar ability which involves the disassembly of their bodies at the molecular level, quickly moving across the room using the moisture in the air as a medium, and then reforming somewhere else.
  • Flavor Text: Dante has some hilarious observations regarding his surroundings in Mallet Island if you take the time to check everything. He even wonders why he's taking the time to bother, likely a holdover from development. Or perhaps to note that due to the genre change, Dante has no need for details.
  • Foreshadowing: As soon as you enter the first main hall of the Mallet castle five minutes into the game, a statue of the god the castle worshiped is on display as a three-eyed humanoid. Later on, when Dante returns to the castle, it appears to have vanished. Considering who Dante's come to stop in the first place, it's not hard to realize just who it's depicting, the player's only lacking the context as to why.
  • Gameplay Grading: Your combos are graded from D (Dull) to S (Stylish). After level completion you'll also get a letter grade. This would begin a tradition of scoring you on the fly in future games, although the names of each grade would change with every game.
  • Giant Spider: Phantom. Giant Magma Scorpion-Spider to be more precise. Still doesn't stop Dante from insulting it. Also his smaller brothers, the Kyklops.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Dante does it towards the end when he stops fooling around with Mundus and gets really pissed off.
    Dante: SILENCE!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Flock off, feather face!" It is more likely that this was done for the pun, as Dante is indeed talking to a giant bird, rather than any form of censorship.
  • Ground Punch: The Inferno ability, along with all its offshoots (Volcano, Shocking!) have Dante smash the ground with his fist to create either a wave of lava, a blast of Hard Light, or a heavy shockwave.
  • Guns Akimbo: Dante wields Ebony & Ivory at the same time.
  • Hands-Free Handlamp: After Dante acquires the Luminite, he projects a source-less beam of light in front of him whenever he's in a dark area.
  • Harder Than Hard: Dante Must Die.
  • Heart Container: Blue Orbs, both full (usually bought from the God of Time) and Fragments (the usual reward for Secret Missions, also found in gameplay). Purple Orbs serve the same purpose for the Devil Trigger meter, though without Fragments and almost exclusively bought.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Sparda; acording to the intro crawl, he "woke up to justice", and then proceeded to kick Mundus's ass and seal him away.
    • By the end of the game Trish has turned on her master as well, saving Dante's life in the process.
  • Hellfire: Ifrit is described as projecting this.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Dante, the half-devil demon hunter.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens a lot in this game. In the first cutscene, Trish impales Dante on his own sword. In the first proper level, Alastor flies straight through Dante's chest as well, awakening his Devil Trigger. Phantom also meets his end this way on the statue in the main hall of the castle, while Griffin is also pinned to a sacrificial pentagram by a giant pointy rock. Dante getting impaled would go on to be a bit of a Running Gag in the series.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: In addition to being stylish as hell, despite the above-referenced impalements, Dante's clothes never actually get holes in them.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: A sort-of retconned version - concept art for Ebony & Ivory had "FOR TONY REDGRAVE, BY .45 ART WARKS" written on the slides. When presented with the perfect opportunity to fix that with the novel, they instead ran with it, where even the sign outside the aforementioned shop spells the word "work" incorrectly, and Dante makes fun of the owner for being a bad speller.
  • I Shall Taunt You/Taunt Button: Dante makes a "come on" gesture that refills Devil Trigger orbs and raises the Style meter. This became series tradition, with the taunts getting more elaborate by 3 and 4.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Alastor, the lightning sword, is balanced in speed, range, and power. It’s the first weapon you pick up that has DT, making it stronger than Force Edge, but weaker than Ifrit.
  • Just Following Orders: This is what Trish tried to tell Dante of her betrayal before he cuts her off with "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Kill Enemies to Open: Doors sometimes become locked with magical barriers, requiring you to kill all the demons in the room before proceeding.
  • Light Is Not Good: Mundus' appearance is reminiscent of Greek/Roman gods, but he is actively referred to as the Prince of Darkness and the ruler of Hell.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Sparda Sword lacks DT (until Dante battles Mundus), but makes up for it in raw power. Its damage surpasses that of Alastor’s DT, but it’s not as versatile as the other Devil Arms barring Force Edge.
  • Limit Break: Devil Trigger.
  • Living Structure Monster: The blocked doors would attack Dante if you got too close, but otherwise left you alone until you got rid of them by solving a puzzle and/or killing some enemies.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Mundus's third form.
  • Lost in Translation: The name "Nelo Angelo" is mistranslated: it is supposed to mean "Black Angel" in Italian, but thanks to the problem the Japanese have with R's and L's, the letter got switched up, thus his name would, accurately, be Nero Angelo . This ended up causing even more controversy when 4 was in the works with its protagonist, who was also named Nero.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Nelo Angelo...until the third showdown with him, anyway.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Exclusive to 1 were fatalities enemies could use on Dante. Some were seriously disturbing. Likely included as a reference to its stylistic predecessor.
  • Mercy Mode: If you get a D rank in the first mission, you are offered the choice to switch to Easy Mode.
  • Minimalist Cast: All in all there's only really four characters: Dante, Trish, Vergil/Nelo Angelo and Mundus (of which the third gets no lines). You might also count Phantom and Griffin as characters since they get a few lines, but that's still only six characters in total, a lot fewer than typical stories. We don't even see regular Non Player Characters outside of the enemies.
  • Mighty Glacier: The pair of flame gauntlets, Ifrit, is slow but powerful. This makes it ideal for 1 or 2 oppoents, especially against bosses. While definitely more powerful than Alastor, it lacks the variety in range, even with all the upgrades in ranged attacks.
  • Mirror Boss: Nelo Angelo, who fights similarly to Dante...because he's Dante's long-lost twin brother, Vergil.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: Nearly every single enemy has a special introduction.
  • New Game+: Beating the game allows you to replay it on higher difficulty levels with all the upgrades you've obtained during your previous playthrough.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game does not attempt to hide its difficulty at all.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The castle actually gets less scary when monsters start roaming its halls.
  • One-Hit Kill: Can be done to some enemies by hitting them in a specific way: Sin Scissors can be killed in a single shotgun blast by shooting their masks point blank right after they attack, and Blades can be killed with a single downwards air attack on their back after being knocked down from behind. Both of them give some extra Red Orbs before the ones they normally drop after their death animation to show the player they did it correctly... as if the Blades flailing around on the ground spraying blood everywhere wasn't enough of an indication.
  • One-Man Army: Like all action game protagonists, Dante fits. However, according to the backstory, Sparda single-handedly fought off the unrestrained forces of Hell, taking this trope Up to Eleven.
  • One-Winged Angel: Devil Trigger, especially the version that Dante takes on in the final battle against Mundus.
  • Opposites Theme Naming: Dante's handguns are named "Ebony" and "Ivory" and are appropriately colored.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The lesser demons are Always Chaotic Evil, but the higher devils, such as Sparda and Trish are not necessarily. They may occasionally do a Heel–Face Turn because of that.
  • Painted-On Pants: Trish.
  • Panthera Awesome: Shadow, the Lion Gatekeeper. It takes the form of a shadowy big-cat, though its death animation make it look more like a large nekomata once its aura is gone.
  • Perverse Puppet: The Marionettes.
  • Planet Heck: The endgame levels take place in the Demon World.
  • Point of No Return: Once you leave the castle, the drawbridge you lowered will automatically raise back up, meaning any secret missions or blue orb fragments you failed to find are now out of your reach, since the castle's layout changes completely after you return.
  • Power Fist: Ifrit, which takes form as flaming gauntlets.
  • Reality Warper: Mundus is capable of creating sentient beings that are exact replicas of dead creatures, that even have the capacity for free will and the ability to betray him. And apparently that's not an effort for him at all. Unsurprising, seeing as he creates a new universe for the final battle of 1, purely for him and Dante to fight in.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dante gives one out to Trish in when he learns she's working for Mundus.
    Dante: Don’t come any closer you Devil! You may look like my mother but you're nowhere close to her. You have no soul! You have the face but you'll never have her fire!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: At the end of the game, Mundus apparently kills Trish. Dante's eyes start glowing red, he stops cracking wise, and gains the Sparda Devil Trigger.
  • The Rival: Nelo Angelo takes on this role, appearing three times throughout the game to challenge Dante, using similar moves to boot. It turns out that Nelo Angelo is actually Dante's long-lost twin brother, Vergil, but Dante doesn't realize this until Nelo Angelo is slain and he drops an amulet that matches Dante's own.
  • Satan: Mundus. Who is not (nor is he related to) Lucifer in any way, as that's a completely different weapon.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Mundus.
  • Timed Mission: Mission 23, where you must escape from Mallet Island before the collapse of the Demon World destroys it.
  • Sadistic Choice: "Don't even think about it. Blink, she dies."
  • Shear Menace: The Sins and Death based around them.
  • Shock and Awe: Trish has lightning powers. The Alastor sword is also lightning-elemental.
  • Shoryuken: One of Ifrit's moves is very close in terms of animation and utility.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Dante's character is based off of the eponymous hero of Space Adventure Cobra, and the Nightmare gun is meant to resemble the Psychogun.
    • Dante's name is, obviously, taken from the writer and main character of The Divine Comedy.
    • Trish's name is derived from Beatrice, Dante's lover and guide through Heaven.
  • Skyward Scream: "I should have been the one to fill your dark soul with LIIIIIIIGHT!"
  • Sticks to the Back: All of Dante's swords do this.
  • Super Mode: Devil Trigger, which increases Dante's speed and damage.
  • Taking the Bullet: Trish, as part of her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Tron Lines: Nelo Angelo's armor.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Phantom, the first proper boss battle, shows you that the bosses in this series are meant to be taken very seriously.
  • Wall Jump: In the form of a "kick jump" that acts as a double jump, allowing Dante to bound off of walls to reach higher platforms before he obtains Air Hike, the "proper" double jump.
  • Wham Episode: Mission 17: Parted Memento. Dante fights Nelo Angelo for the final time, but it isn't until after he kills him that Dante realizes he was his twin brother, Vergil, who he thought was dead for years. Oops. Oh, and Trish is working for Mundus.
  • You Have Failed Me: Griffon faced a rather brutal dishonorable discharge at the hands of Mundus, which displeases Dante.
  • You Remind Me of X: Dante reminds every boss he faces of Sparda.

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