Cuphead is a 2D run-and-gun platformer designed by StudioMDHR. Originally released for Xbox One, this title takes cues from Contra, Metal Slug, Gunstar Heroes, and other similar titles. Now that Cuphead is available on Nintendo Switch, the title breathes new life for classic titles on the console.
Designed with 1930s cartoon aesthetic in mind, Cuphead features wacky character designs, old-timey barbershop quartet music, and even a filter akin to TVs having static on these old programs would appear. Plus the game has 2-player co-op and many boss fights for you to enjoy.
The story tells the tale of Cuphead and Mugman, two boys who can’t stay out of trouble. One day, they enter a casino and earn high winnings. The King Dice encourages them to challenge the Devil. Win, and they win everything in the casino. Lose, and their souls belong to the Devil. The slimy gambler tricks the boys into the game, and upon their loss, the Devil strikes a deal with them. Either take down all of his previous debtors, or they lose their souls.
Together, they visit the Elder Kettle, who grants them new powers. Afterwards, Cuphead and Mugman begin their journey around Inkwell Isle to find their debtors and save their souls!
As mentioned before, Cuphead features a 1930s animation aesthetic. Akin to Mickey Mouse cartoons from back in the day, this features the exaggerated animations of characters. Some are quite adorable, others quite creepy. Regardless, it’s a beautiful work of art with some of the best animation ever featured in a 2D title.
The old-timey music comes to mind for anyone familiar with the Steamboat Willie era of cartoons. In addition to a catchy soundtrack, you’ll get to enjoy the cries of bosses as you whittle down their health and take them down!
Cuphead is a run-and-gun title. This means it’s largely a 2D platformer but with the emphasis on shooting. Fans familiar with Contra will feel right at home. You fire away at enemies while dodging their attacks and memorizing their patterns. Plus you can buy new weapons and switch them out. You can equip various loadouts, including two guns, a charm, and even a super art. You can even earn these Super Arts by saving Ms. Chalice from ghosts in each area.
You’ll get to explore a map of Inkwell Isle. This means interacting with NPCs and picking the order in which you want to clear stages and fight bosses. Note that each world has two run-and-gun stages and several boss fights. Honestly, there are many more boss fights than there are stages, so you’ll spend more time learning boss patterns than platforming. Also, you’ll get “shmup” boss stages (shoot ’em up), which means flying in a plane instead of platforming.
Each boss has its own unique pattern. And quite similarly to Contra and games of its ilk, it’s notoriously difficult. With only three HP, you won’t get any healing items. You must rely on reflexes, pattern knowledge, and your Parry ability to build your super arts. Some equips can give you more HP but only at the expense of your attack power. These equips are wonderful for beginners. But more experienced players may want to boost their damage abilities once they figure out each boss’ pattern.
Despite being known for its difficulty, Cuphead is balanced well in the right ways. It’s not bone-crushingly brutal at least until the endgame. Even then, learning patterns will make the final fights easy. Some might take longer than others. But the victory always feels rewarding. Plus, newer players can opt to play an easier difficulty against some of the bosses.
My only gripe with Cuphead is there aren’t enough platforming stages. There are more than enough boss fights to go around. Their unique character designs truly set it apart from other games as well. You’ll find no shortage of wacky boss choices and animations, all of which you’ll find quite stunning.
If you’re looking for a 2D title that will challenge you in the right ways, you’ll make a great choice with Cuphead. Once you beat the game, you can try the Expert mode stages and nab all the achievements. Although Cuphead is fairly short, the title is expected to see the Delicious Last Course DLC arrive in 2020. Stay tuned into NerdBite as we cover more of Cuphead’s DLC as it gets closer to release.
Thank you for reading our Cuphead review! Have you tried the game yet? Let us know in the comments below!