To the benefit of us all, the mere idea of people carrying around deadly weapons in public is one almost universally frowned upon. Wielding a set of massive blades while you're on the way to the corner shop or nonchalantly spinning a revolver around your finger when standing in the bus queue isn't likely to endear you to many a passer by and could well land you in a cell for the night.

To our rescue, then, comes the video game, and – in this context at least – Capcom's Dante, who makes handling huge arms as mundane and day-to-day as whistling, washing the car on a Sunday afternoon or falling asleep to Wild at Heart. Devil May Cry is a world where you can slice and dice from dawn to dusk, but Capcom has made such practices so humdrum that Dante's dance onto mobile phones flatlines.

Why? Well, that requires a little backstory. In its original console guise, Devil May Cry is a series that makes the most of its 3D surroundings, with the franchise's main protagonist – demon slasher Dante – taking full advantage of the hack 'n' slash scope console hardware provides. Even the most recent mobile conversion was 3D.

In this 2D outing, however, Devil May Cry has been stripped bare of all of its three-dimensional trimmings, and without the associated gloss and glamour, Dante struggles.

Taking the form of a side-scrolling left-to-right hack 'n' slasher, no doubt the developer team at Capcom was focused on making sure Dante's complex range of attacks translated well in what has become known as Devil May Cry 2D, but it's clear that play has swung too far the other way.

While diversity is still on tap – Dante can attack with a range of blades (which can be upgraded as the game progresses by collecting orbs released by dead daemons) and a gun, the implementation of fighting off foes feels sterile and disappointingly tame whichever tactic you use.

When you consider the game's plot (told via some wondrous pre-level creative writing on Capcom's part), which revolves around Dante clearing the streets of the demonic beings lurching and leering from side to side, the reality of doing so is depressingly a case of swiping frantically at anything that approaches.

As time passes, the adversaries get more complex in terms of practice and even physical appearance, but a change of strategy isn't needed: simply clear the screen of any imps by mashing buttons as fast as you can to progress.

Devil May Cry does offer up a little task variety, however, with some levels requiring you to focus on retrieving a certain object or surviving for as long as possible. But such changes are only superficial and do little to change the way of play; rather than actually being hidden, objects are usually revealed once a level's boss has been dispatched, meaning Dante's objectives rarely stretch beyond one directive: kill.

What's worse is that Capcom's attempts to add some longevity by ramping up the challenge amounts to nothing more than flooding the screen with more enemies. Dante is allowed to keep pace with his adversaries by upgrading his weaponry through collected orbs as his kills mount up, but Devil May Cry is only entertaining when it's easy. When streams of opponents snake onto the screen, it just becomes frustrating, with success being more down to lucky timing than overwhelming skill.

Capcom has also paid the price for the narrowness of a mobile phone's screen. Rather than letting Dante meander through the levels at his own pace, each area is split into set screens, each one identical to the last in all but background. The lack of space means there's not much movement – victory in many of the game's frantic battles relies on facing the right direction and lashing out with a blade at the right time, and nothing more.

Devil May Cry is certainly a harmless package, but 'harmless' is not an adjective that does such a deadly franchise any favours. Dante's 2D adventure plays itself out without ever paying service to such notions as 'fun' or 'ingenuity'. This is by-the-numbers stuff from a studio renowned for creativity and in a franchise celebrated for its sheen and vitality. 2D or not 2D? On this evidence, there's not even a question.