Cuphead is a wildly original game featuring unique art and crushing difficulty, that sets itself apart from other indie games on the market, and a game Time Magazine calls “Betty Boop meets a shoot ’em up meets a miracle.” On the day of its release, I woke up at 6:40am I had no idea what I was getting into as downloaded the game.
Upon first glance most people likely think, “This game looks cute and easy. I’ll get it and clear it in 5 hours minimum!” But Cuphead does not play like Mario and is not easy. Cuphead plays more like Contra than any other game I’ve played. I’ve played it for eleven hours so far, and I have only defeated the first world.
Cuphead’s story is simple, but it fits the theme and tone of this game perfectly. The story follows Cuphead and his brother Mugman who live with their grandfather, Master Kettle. After being warned numerous times by Master Kettle not to wander from home, the two boys find themselves at the Devil’s casino. After a streak of good luck, the Devil himself approaches the boys. He says that if they win this next roll, they can win all the money in the casino. But if they lose, their souls belong to the Devil. Ultimately, they lose and beg the devil not to harm them. The Devil offers them one chance to save their souls: by defeating every other person who came before you.
The art of Cuphead should get an award. The art in this game is a masterpiece and is one of the main reasons I push through the crushing difficulty. Almost everything was done as it would have been done in the 1930’s except for coloring. All of the art was hand drawn on paper and inked on paper, colored in photoshop, and the music was performed by a live jazz band. The only reason I push myself to finish this game is because the art makes it pleasant to look at. The creators of the game kept the game’s aesthetic as authentic to the 1930s as possible. The only exception is their use of coloring due to the fact that it was done in photoshop because coloring in cell would have delayed the game’s release by five years.
The gameplay in Cuphead is extremely fast-paced, and very, very, fun. The first boss a player is likely to face, is actually three bosses rolled into one long fight. The first boss is a potato that shoots balls of dirt out of his mouth, which players have to avoid by jumping. After that, an onion pops out of the ground weeping tears. If a player touches the onion or it’s tears, the players loses a life. Finally, a carrot shoots homing missiles that are shaped like carrots at the player. The carrot then uses its third eye to fire beams of energy out of its forehead. Call it your average physic carrot!
There are also numerous platforming levels that feel more like Mario, but players can’t jump on their heads, regain health, or reach checkpoints. However, these levels are so rewarding to overcome, these run and gun levels are the only places where you can get coins which you can use to buy upgrades from a lovable pig and his shop.
You can play with a friend, but don’t think this makes the game easier, in fact gets harder. But don’t make that shun friends away from playing with you. The game becomes as twice as difficult hence two players, but this difficulty never seems unfair. And that statement goes for single player too. At no point did I ever feel like the game was too unfair or too hard. Every time that I died in that game I felt and knew it was my fault for not avoiding the bosses’ attacks. And that’s a thing that makes Cuphead great.
9.5 / 10 Cuphead is one of the best games I have played all year.