The original Devil May Cry actually began development as a Resident Evil title under the direction of RE2 creator Hideki Kamiya. However, after a significant amount of development time the game was considered to be too much of a departure from the classic Resident Evil formula to carry its name. Instead of scrapping the project completely, Capcom instead decided to continue development of the game under a different name. Development of the new Resident Evil title was handed over to the Creator/Director of the original Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami, and Kamiya continued work on what became Devil May Cry.
As you might expect, Devil May Cry features many technical similarities to the older Resident Evil games, as well as some general presentation trademarks of several Capcom and Mikami games. The game features the same fixed camera viewpoint (a feature that is still met with mixed reviews to this day), as well as the trademark "You Are Dead" game over screen and the "This game contains scenes of violence and gore" start up warning screen, all of which had originated from Resident Evil, with the latter being included in countless M rated Capcom games, including Dead Rising, Killer 7, Dino Crisis and Onimusha. Despite being a new and (at the time) unproven series, Devil May Cry would not stay in Resident Evil's shadow for long, being both critically praised and commercially successful, and helping to pioneer the 3D Hack and Slash and "Character Action" genres.
Wanting to capitalize on Devil May Cry's success, Capcom decided to take an unrelated game being helmed by a different director that was currently in development and have it overhauled into a sequel to Devil May Cry. Released less than a year and a half after the original, Devil May Cry 2 was received much poorer by reviewers and fans alike, many seeing it for the cash grab that it was. Despite stellar sales close to the original, Capcom decided to play it safe and give the next entry in the series more time in development than its predecessor.
Despite DMC2's critical panning, Hideaki Itsuno returned to direct Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. Much attention was paid to the criticisms DMC2 received, and the developers responded to them by making the combat in DMC3 tighter, faster and more punishing, much like the original title in the series. The story was also designed as a response to criticisms about DMC2's story and Dante's character in said game. A prequel to the original game, DMC3 showed a younger, cockier Dante and explored the relationship he had with his brother Vergil, who played a minor role in the first game. Devil May Cry 3 was released to critical acclaim, and fans saw the game as both a worthy successor and a huge improvement to the original game. A special edition of the game was later released that allowed fans to play as Vergil, though only new intro and ending cutscenes were made, the rest of the game identical to Dante's campaign with the cutscenes taken out. This version also retuned the difficulty, which was infamously increased for the American and European releases in response to complaints about DMC2's difficulty. The difficulties levels are now all equivalent with the original Japanese version's.
In early 2008 Devil May Cry made its first generational leap with the release of Devil May Cry 4 on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and a PC later in the same year. DMC4 introduced a new protagonist, Nero, who players control for the first half of the game. Dante does appear in the game, first as an antagonist and then as a player character after the halfway point. Devil May Cry 4 was met with mixed reviews, with the combat being a high point but the second half of the game being met with criticism for featuring Dante going through the same levels Nero had gone through during the first half. Despite criticisms, Devil May Cry 4 quickly became the best selling entry in the series, and one of Capcom's best selling games overall.
On September 15th for the Tokyo Game Show, a new CG trailer (apparently non-gameplay) was released for "DMC," the fifth game in the Devil May Cry series. It features a short-haired protagonist (who apparently has an affinity for smoking) who shares many of the combat traits as Dante (dual handguns plus melee). One sequence in the trailer seems to indicate that you will also be able to use an extending grappling hook of some sort, at the very least to swing around objects in the environment. This game was eventually released as DmC: Devil May Cry. Developed by Ninja Theory, this was the first game in the series developed outside of Capcom, and was designed as a reboot to the series. The game was met with critical acclaim by reviewers but was received notoriously poorly by fans of the series, who saw the gameplay as much shallower than the original series and didn't care for the new interpretation of Dante.
The main plot of Devil May Cry revolves around Dante, who's mother was murdered by demons. Dante swears vengeance on the demons, looking to eradicate them from existence. Throughout the course of the story, Dante eventually finds out he has a long lost brother, Vergil. He also finds out that the demon lord Mundus is the one who killed Dante's mother. Though, throughout all the Devil May Cry games, the basic plot remains that you are going to be killing a lot of demons.
The gameplay of Devil May Cry focuses on fast and stylish combat. The player strings combos together by attacking an enemy for a long period of time without getting hit. Later games in the series would also reward you for using a variety of attack and using stylish moves. Devil May Cry also features some puzzle solving and item hunting but this always take a back seat to the action. Dante also possesses a Demon Trigger ability that allows him to take a demon-like form. This serves as a special attack of sorts. Also, although guns are one of Dante's primary weapons, there is no ammo and no need to reload.
Novels & Manga
Two light novels, which are novels with manga style illustrations, were released alongside the first and second Devil May Cry games. Both were written by Shinya Goikeda and served as prequels to the games. The first novel, Devil May Cry Volume 1, spanned the events from Dante's mother's death to the events of the first game and was released alongside the first Devil May Cry. While the second novel, Devil May Cry Volume 2, spanned the gap between Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2 and was released alongside the second game. Shin Mikami was able to work with Goikeda during the writing of the novels. However, Devil May Cry 3 contradicted many of the events that took place during the novels.
A three part manga was also announced. The manga takes place a year before Devil May Cry 3 and is suppose to serve as a backstory on how the characters in the third game came together. Code 1: Dante and Code 2: Vergil have both been released with Code 3: Lady still to be released.
A Devil May Cry anime series was also produced and aired. The series spanned 12 episodes and aired June and September 2007. The events during the anime take place after the first Devil May Cry but before Devil May Cry 4. The series was directed by Shin Itagaki and produced by Madhouse. In 2008, the anime was released in the United States by ADV though Funimation Entertainment later accquired the series when they bought ADV.
A Devil May Cry comic series was originally planned in 2004 by Dreamwave Productions. Only three of the planned four comics were released, the fourth was abandoned after the company went out of business. The idea of a Devil May Cry comic series was not mentioned again until July 2008. WildStorm, an imprint of DC Comics, announced that they would be publishing a Devil May Cry comic series, alongside a Resident Evil comic series. No launch date or creative team has been announced at this date.