Well worth the wait. Cuphead offers many hours of gameplay with its difficulty and high replay value. Plus, the game looks and sounds amazing so it’s easy to become immersed for hours at a time.
Developer: Studio MDHR
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Release Date: September 29, 2017
Platforms: Xbox One, PC (Windows)
Platform Reviewed on: Xbox One
The three years we all spent waiting for this game seemed to have been utilized very well by the developers. They’ve created something magical from an idea that would typically be dismissed by mainstream game fans. It may be difficult but this game is very fair and as a result, Cuphead is one of the best side-scrollers I have ever played.
A Throwback classic
Cuphead stars a crazy cool character by the name of Cuphead and his partner Mugman. They end up making a deal with the devil to repay their debt by collecting the contacts of other debtors. These contracts are collected by defeating the debtor in crazy boss-fights which are all unique. There’s also “run ‘n’ gun” levels in the game which play in a similar style to the old Contra games.
There are three different zones in the game for players to fight through. While you only need to play the boss battles, beating the run-n-gun levels can provide you with coins to purchase new weapons or upgrades. So you should probably complete these sections as well.
New weapons and items can be purchased at the shop in each zone however, there’s a catch. You can only equip one type of primary and secondary weapon at once. Additionally, you can only have one type of item for each slot. So you can’t just pick up all the health bonuses or something. The game does limit you in this regard. As a result, there’s an element of strategy to planning for boss fights and it allows you to customize how you play the game.
It’s possible to parry certain projectiles and enemies by jumping twice at the right moment. These projectiles are a pink color which makes them more obvious (assuming you’re not colorblind of course) and are very well placed throughout the game. Getting the parry does give you additional points for the final grade of each level so if you’re trying to reach the top score, you’ll need to do this a lot.
The boss battles are perhaps the most difficult part of the game however, they do have an attack pattern. Each boss has multiple stages where they take different forms which marks a change in behavior and attack patterns. As a result, expect to need to replay boss battles a few times before you finally defeat them. If you really struggle then there’s two different versions of the fight where one is slightly easier. The “Simple” mode tends to have one less phase than the “Regular” mode with a few slight patterns change to make it easier. Despite this, beating the bosses on Simple does still let you progress through the game. So just do whatever works for you.
The health meter for the boss is never displayed which is a little frustrating at times. If you die then the game displays the progress bar to reveal how close you were to defeat the enemy. If you like to see the boss getting weaker then you will be annoyed with Cuphead. There is no visual sign that a boss is starting to get weak or is approaching the next stage. However, if you play a boss fight enough you do start to get a feel for how much damage you need to deal in order to win.
Cuphead is amazing to play co-op but it does make the game harder. There is more projectiles on screen, the bosses’ health increases and there’s a second person on the screen who might get in the way. When someone dies, the other player can revive them by parrying their ghost before it floats off the screen and results in a perma-death for them on that fight. It’s possible to parry them once they’ve gone off the screen however but this is quite difficult. After every revive, the ghosts will float faster and if they are successfuly revived then they will only have one HP.
Cuphead was well worth the wait as it offers hours of gameplay and absolutely stunning artwork. The soundtrack really brings you back into the 30’s and is even sort of creepy but well composed. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who wants a co-op experience or a challenging platformer. It truly is a rare and original game that deserves all the praise that it has been given.
- Great difficulty level
- Stunning artwork
- Great soundtrack
- Fun co-op
- No boss health meter