Reviewed by @Brett_SevenDaze
- Developer: Studio MDHR
- Publisher: Popagenda
- Release Date: 18/04/2019
- Price: £16.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by Popagenda
Cuphead has been on my list of games to play since it was originally released 18 months ago, There were 2 reasons holding me back:
1) the fact I didn’t own an Xbox and
2) the specs on my laptop barely met the minimum requirements so it would have been a horrible experience. I decided to hold out!
Fast forward to March 2019, Nintendo released a spring indie direct with Cuphead being the first announcement. I couldn’t contain myself and the best thing about it was I only had to wait a month until I could get my hands on the 1930’s inspired run and gun platformer.
The Moldenhauer brothers have created a masterpiece. The amount of detail that has gone into the animation which has painstakingly been re-created and hand drawn using the same methods that are nearly 100 years old and defined the golden age of animation, is mind blowing. The soundtrack is no different, every effort has gone into creating a score that compliments the game perfectly. With a music style taken from the same era and with the crackling sound of vinyl in the background, it’s those little touches that makes the experience even more authentic.
How hard can it be….
Cuphead is a run and gun style game which is heavily focused on boss battles. The premise of the story is that Cuphead and Mugman have sold their souls to the Devil. They managed to strike a deal in which they would be let off if they were able to retrieve the souls from a long list of names from the residents of Inkwell Isle.
After a short tutorial with the Elder Kettle you are free to roam the world of Inkwell Isle to fight your first battle. As it is an open map there is no order in which you have to complete the boss battles. As long as you have all 5 contracts you can progress onto the next world.
After 18 months of reading comments and reviews on how difficult it is and how rage inducing the game play can be, I was starting to wonder what I had got myself in for and if it was as bad as everyone was making out. For once, the internet was not wrong.
My first encounter was Goopy Le Grande. I was ready to throw the towel in after what felt like an eternity of failing with the dreaded You died! text flashing across the screen. Each boss has three sequences so once you have learned the movements you can get into a rhythm, but be warned if you make one tiny mistake the game is not very sympathetic so be ready to press pause and tap the retry button.
On every boss there is the option to choose a simpler difficulty, but I feel you are doing yourself a massive injustice as the sequences are slightly different and also, you can’t collect the contracts if you complete the level on simple.
Shoot, shoot, jump and shoot some more….
Cuphead never hides from the fact it is a run and gun game so be prepared to keep your thumb pressed on that Y button and don’t let go. The controls and movement of the protagonist are fluid and pretty straightforward to grasp but if you feel that the mapping of the buttons are holding you back from dealing with the devil then there is the option to fully customise the layout, This can be found in the controls menu. The only criticism I have on the controls is that the aiming could be improved as it seems that it is fixed to octo direction shooting which can sometimes cause for some frustrating moments and unexpected deaths.
To initiate your special ability you need to build up and collect five cards. This can be done by shooting your enemy. Once you have all fivr you can press the A button. Depending on which special you choose on your equip card you can potentially cause some major damage.
Each world has a shop named Porkrind’s Emporium in which the proprietor is, well you guessed it, a pig who wears an eye patch and sports a moustache. Here you can spend your hard earned coins on the run and gun levels, there are 2 of these in each world. These are your typical side scrolling 2D platformer with five coins to collect per level. You can also earn coins by randomly finding them when roaming the map. Items for sale range from extra hearts to gun upgrades. There is also a mausoleum in each world where you can unlock super moves when you complete the level. These can enhance your game play and give you a slight upper hand in battle.
Cuphead performs well in both docked and handheld mode and it playing this brilliant title on the go really is a wondrous thing. I suppose the only problem with playing in handheld is the fact you may throw your Switch across the room in frustration, as opposed to simply tossing your Pro Controller on the floor. Neither are recommended, one has far less harrowing consequences.
Cuphead for me has lived up to its expectations. The 1930’s art style has been beautifully executed and with a soundtrack that pays homage to an era that has long been forgotten about instantly brings back that nostalgic fuzzy feeling in your stomach.
Even though I never played it on the Xbox and have nothing to compare it with, Cuphead is fast becoming my favourite game to be released on the Nintendo Switch and could possibly creep into my top 10 games of all time.
Yes it is difficult, but definitely not impossible and when you see that glorious text show up saying A Knockout! after hours of failing miserably there is a sense of achievement that I feel is lacking in most modern games.
Cuphead is a must buy for any fans of platformers or shoot em ups. There are many hours of fun to be had and with the built in achievements to unlock and the insane expert level which is playable once you have completed the campaign on regular. You will be wanting to go back for more.
If you want to play Cuphead with a more authentic feel you can change the display colours from default to greyscale in the switches system settings. The results are pretty cool.
•Hand drawn animation makes for beautiful results.
•Controls can be changed due to customisation
•Difficulty can be a little too much to handle in places
•8 direction shooting
Cuphead is a difficult but rewarding run and gun platformer. The 1930’s art style is the icing on the cake for this near perfect game. This title is a must buy for every platformer and shoot em up fan, even if its to just admire the aesthetics.