Back in 2001, Capcom released the first in a new series of action games that kickstarted not only a new franchise for them, but an entirely new sub-genre of action games – the flashy, stylish and often brutally difficult Japanese action games we get on a regular basis today.

The creator, Hideki Kamiya, stated that they were originally working on a new Resident Evil game, but didn’t really feel like doing another one and experimented with different styles of gameplay. The result was Devil May Cry, a fast-paced action game with a heavy focus on stylish fighting. It was also very difficult compared to other action games of the era, but was popular enough to spawn two sequels on the PS2 and another on the PS3 and Xbox 360, with a fifth sequel – sorry, prequel – for our current consoles due out sometime soon.

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This HD collection rounds up the first three games to tide us over until the release of the new DMC later this year. The original Devil May Cry is, as far as I’m concerned, the most brutal of the lot. The famous demon hunter, Dante, armed with his trademark sword and gun combination, heads to a castle on an abandoned island to stop the resurrection of the Demon King, Mundus. Along the way, there are thousands of enemies to fight, a few different weapons to collect, new attacks and abilities to learn, and big, tough bosses to defeat. Devil May Cry‘s style-focused gameplay is a bit less refined here than it is in later installments, but it’s still very challenging, especially since the enemies – even the standard ones – are downright merciless.

Devil May Cry 2 is kind of the black sheep of the collection. It was clear that Capcom had heeded the cries of the wimps and toned the difficulty down a bit – but many hardcore fans felt that it was entirely too easy. It was true, but it was clear that Capcom was starting to get the hang of creating stylish action games, and Dante now sported all kinds of cool attack animations and flashy abilities, like wall-running, firing in two directions at once, and being able to shoot in a full 360-degree arc while falling in a downward spiral. Very cool. We also had the option of playing as a female demon hunter called Lucia – but she just wasn’t as cool as Dante.

And last but not least is Devil May Cry 3. While still not quite as hard the original, it was a welcome challenge after DMC2, and the new ideas, weapons and fighting styles that Capcom introduced made this prequel to DMC1 immensely good fun. The over the top cut-scenes and young Dante’s dauntless attitude were also a hoot to watch

If you’re an action game fan and you haven’t ever played at least the original Devil May Cry, then this is a perfect opportunity to man up and take your rite of passage.