Cuphead developed by StudioMDHR has a unique art style resembling what a game would look like if created a hundred years ago. The game was inspired by the Rubber Hose style of animation that was used in cartoons from the 1930’s such as the works from studios Fleischer and Walt Disney Animation. Cuphead was one of those games that has been sitting in my library for awhile now and I finally decided to play it after all these years to see what the hype was all about.
Pros and Cons
-Fun and challenging run and gun gameplay
-Tough as nails boss fights that will test your skills
-Interesting power-ups and upgrades to utilize
-A nice jazzy soundtrack of the 1930’s era
-Beautiful art style of old cartoons that are nice to look at
-Some objects that are pink can not be parried
-Some of the bosses require some form of luck to beat
The Devil went down to Inkwell Isles
The story starts out with Cuphead and his brother Mugman, they are having some fun at The Devil’s Casino, despite their caretaker Elder Kettle’s warnings. The two start playing craps and they were on a winning streak, however, The Devil notices and decides to raise the stakes. Now, he did not offer them a fiddle made of gold, but all the riches in the casino against their souls.
The two brothers knew it was a sin, but took the bet. They lost and pleaded to The Devil if there was another way to repay him, so he made another offer. If they are able to get the soul contracts that will signify his ownership of these runaway debtors by midnight the next day, he would spare them.
Cuphead is not a story-focused game, it will have some segments of the story but for the most part, it’s mainly run and gun action.
The Devil said I’ll start this show
Cuphead is a run and gun shooter with platforming elements that will focus on challenging boss fights. You will be mostly fighting bosses, however, there are a few levels that you can play in order to collect coins. These levels are not required to beat the game but the bosses are. There are two difficulty options that you can choose to fight the boss in, simple or regular.
If you beat the boss on simple, you will not get the soul contract that you need to fight the final boss, but they act as good practice if you are struggling against the boss on regular mode. One thing I should mention is that each boss has one-liners they will say whenever they beat you which adds some character to their personality.
There are also a few levels in which Cuphead or Mugman will fly in a plane; these are only used for bosses, however. These bosses are some of the hardest fights in the game as you can’t use any of the powerups you buy from the shop, so you are forced to rely only on your reflexes.
Both Cuphead and Mugman have an ability that will allow them to parry any object that is the color pink. At the same time, you also have the same ability, so if it’s pink, you can parry it. I highly recommend doing this often as this helps build up the charge meter for your special attacks.
I only have two issues with Cuphead as a whole. The first one is that you encounter some objects that appear to be pink at first glance, but end up being a different color as you find that you will not be able to parry them. This has confused me a few times that had led to my death. The other issue is that some bosses seem to be dependent completely on luck instead of skill, so it does not matter how good you are, you could potentially still get screwed over.
While I have enjoyed my time with Cuphead, I still have not finished it for one simple reason: one of the bosses in the latest parts of the game heavily relies on randomly generated mechanics rather than on the player's skill, due to which I found this encounter frustrating.
Fire flew from his fingertips
There are power-ups or upgrades for you to collect throughout your adventure with the coins that you obtain. There are a few useful ones but it depends on your playstyle, as each boss has its own way of being beaten. My personal favorites were Chaser, as it homes in on enemies and bosses, which is perfect for those who are not good at aiming.
I also liked the Smoke Grenade because it makes you invincible when doing a dash. If you like playing it safe, I also recommend getting the upgrades that give you some extra hits.
You also have a special attack that you can do that will deal a huge chunk of damage to enemies or bosses. So remember to parry often whenever you see something pink, to help build the charge meter.
A band of demons joined in
The soundtrack is something that I really loved, the 1930’s jazz music is really catchy. There are also some other songs in the game that I were great as well including a small poem that plays on the title screen that I really enjoyed as a whole.
My personal favorite song had to be King Dice’s theme Die House as it fits his character really well and I wish it got more time to shine as a song.
Artstyle and Performance
The art style is hand-drawn with cel animation and water cooling backgrounds. Each area or level looked very nice and you could really feel that you were in a cartoon. Cuphead runs very well, I experienced no issues while I was playing the game. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, with16 GB of RAM.
If you want a fun run and gun shooter, then I suggest picking up Cuphead. It can get challenging but it is also very rewarding once you find a way to beat that one boss you are stuck on. Do keep in mind that some bosses require some luck to beat, not all of them but at least a few. Despite that, I had fun and I recommend Cuphead as a whole.