Cuphead is a throwback style run and gun adventure game designed and produced by StudioMDHR in 2017.
It’s been a while since I found myself whistling jazz tunes while attempting to scratch my eyes out and crying while rocking back and forth in the fetal position.
I love this game…I think.
Cuphead tells the tale of Cuphead (obviously) and his pal Mugman as they travel around the world collecting Soul Contracts for the Devil, to whom they owe their own souls for making a deal and losing a bet. Sounds familiar, right? Well, once you realize that the entire game is hand-drawn as if it were a 1930’s Fleischer Studios cartoon (see: rubber hose animation), you’ll be as sucked in as I was.
The detail in the characters and background art is painstakingly apparent as you run, jump, dash, and shoot your way through levels and boss fights. So. Many. Boss fights. Watching the game move at a cross between vintage 24 frames per second and a modest modern 60 frames can be a little jarring at first, but it’s easy to get used to as the action pulls you in.
However, I must caution those who are taking this experience with little to no preparation: this game is hard. Very hard. Frustratingly hard. Ridiculously, aggravatingly, hopelessly hard. Okay, I’ll stop now.
Needless to say, be prepared for a grind. Cuphead rests on its laurels of being a trial-by-fire trudge through forests, gardens, candy lands, and more. Enemies fly from all directions, some are invincible, some just take a lot of bullets. The best way to put it: it’s not unfair, but you’d better be ready to be beaten countless times for the simplest mistakes before you get a feel for things. Also, with no way to gain more health, you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid that last fatal hit before you reach your goal.
Cuphead is a powerful, yet docile creature. It may be fun and adorable, but it is also a force to be reckoned with. Have fun, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.