I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the old style of cartoons developed in the 30’s, I’ve always been scared by the way they’ve been animated.
Something about those clumsy looking designs always made me scared. The way they moved—the way they morphed into something else, it made no sense to me. It feels like Lovecraftian Horror.
So for me, Cuphead gave me the chance to go back to my childhood fears and then beat the ever living shit out of the cartoons that plagued my nightmares when I was a kid. It was oddly nostalgic, but still creepy much like those cartoons from before.
Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: September 29, 2017
MSRP: $19.99 (PHP 1239.95)
This review is based on a retail copy purchased by the publication.
I hear people often comparing this to Disney shows in the 30’s, but in truth, Cuphead’s animation feels more similar to Max Fleischer’s style of animation than Disney’s. While Disney went for the cutesy style of animation, Felischer’s style was often more creepy and nonsensical when it came to appearances, that’s what Cuphead seems to be going more for instead.
Diving Into The Game:
The premise for Cuphead is very simple. Two brothers, the titular Cuphead and his brother Mugman, lost their souls to the Devil in a gamble. To save their own skins, they are tasked with collecting all the other contracts from other cartoon debtors who escaped from the Devil’s grasp.
Of course, those debtors aren’t too cozy with the idea of losing their souls, so a fight will always ensue between Cuphead (and maybe his brother if you’re playing co-op) and the many debtors of the Devil.
Now the first thing you’ll notice about Cuphead’s gameplay, is that it plays very much like Contra, an old fashioned game from the golden era of video gaming. Only, you won’t be blasting through military bases and enemy soldiers, you’ll be fighting your way through cartoonish figures.
There are two main game modes in the main story. The Run and Gun segments that allow you to gather coins for upgrades and the boss fights themselves. You get the option to skip past running and gunning and head straight for the boss if you so desire just by approaching where the boss is on the map but the chances of taking on a boss successfully without upgrades and items are quite slim.
Cuphead is punishingly hard. There are two difficulties you can select before entering a level: simple or regular. You are capable of choosing a level whenever a boss fight is too hard for you.
You can also only take three hits. Three hits and you’re dead. It’s made much more simpler in co-op where you can parry your partner’s flying soul to revive him and let him join the fight again.
You have many (and I mean many) bosses to face in Cuphead. Their designs wander from cutesy and fun to downright terrifying. The latter is really more of a personal opinion, Cuphead isn’t meant to be a horror game.
Bosses are hard in a way that challenges your reflexes and encourages you to memorize attack patterns. At times you will be fighting more than one boss at once forcing you to pay attention to each on the screen.
There is an item shop run by a pig wearing an eye patch that will sell you firing types depending on what you want and other perks that will drastically change the way you play. However, you cannot equip them all at once and you can only gain coins from Run and Gun stages so be wise about what you take into battle.
By far the best noticeable thing about Cuphead is its music. If you’re a fan of the old cartoons, then Cuphead’s music is going to hit you like a train of nostalgia. A lot of it are pretty good. Some are even just worth waiting around to listen to like I did when I hit the menu or when I heard King Dice’s song.
It is a good game. It can be frustrating at times when you lose, but it’s really a game for those who were in the 80’s or 90’s and quite a blast from the past. Some of the character designs were even inspired by old cartoons such as Popeye.