Right now, Cuphead is a pretty big indie game, known mainly for two things: its gorgeous 1930s rubberhose art style, and its almost unbearably hard gameplay. For those of you who don’t know the game, Cuphead is a shooter where you work through boss battles either alone, or in couch co-op mode with the other player being Cuphead’s brother, Mugman. There is even a huge amount of DLC coming, so there is only more Cuphead around the corner!
Well, Jason already did a Nindie Spotlight on this one, but I am here to bring down the hammer and judge the game!
I want to start off with my praise for everything about Cuphead’s aesthetic. The art is incredible, from the bold and whimsical character designs to the intricately detailed watercolour backgrounds, I was never underwhelmed by the creativity of each new level. It easily helps Cuphead stand out as something cool and unique, and I honestly can’t think of another game that looks like this one does.
The soundtrack is also phenomenal. With all the charm of an old style cartoon theme song, each track is upbeat and helped me power my way through each tough boss fight. Cuphead’s score is just as full of character and just as distinctly recognisable as the art.
On to Cuphead’s play style. There are two types of levels to be found in the game. Run and guns, where you run from left to right shooting things and jumping over platforms. These aren’t the most interesting aspect of the game, but luckily there aren’t that many of them. Then there are the bosses, which will make up most of your gameplay. These levels are where it’s all about dodging projectiles and shooting your own endless supply of bullets back at the enemy.
With no checkpoints, no way to heal, or no way to revive yourself, unless in co-op mode, everything about these levels is brutally challenging. I found myself swearing at my losses and cheering at my victories no matter how long a level took me to beat.
Cuphead and Mugman are both simple and effective characters to control. Each have the same basic abilities of jump, move, dash, and shoot. In Cuphead, you can also parry anything pink by double jumping so that your second jump is performed directly over the object. Although the parry ability is pretty helpful when it works, especially in the co-op mode where it can be used to revive the other player, more often than not I would misjudge my jump and just end up taking damage from the projectile (But that’s not necessarily the game’s fault, but mine).
Now, onto where Cuphead’s flaw comes in. The lay out of your run and guns will be consistent each time you die and have to redo them. However, the bosses aren’t. This is more present in some fights than others, but bosses multiple attack pattern orders are often randomised, so although you can learn the actual patterns, you’ll never get used to the order they come in.
This would seem like it keeps the fights fresh and exciting, but really it makes bits of the game feel like they come down to luck. Certain combinations of attacks would feel impossible to avoid, and some would feel significantly more simple.
The charm of Cuphead can not be denied. It’s visually and audibly appealing and unique, and each boss battle finds a way to be creative and fun, even if problems with the randomised attack patters are noticeable at times.
Cuphead is a game I’d absolutely recommend, as long as you’re willing to work hard for your wins, because this one is not very forgiving but will reward you like few titles out there.
Cuphead Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Developers: Studio MDHR
Release Date: April 18th, 2019
Price: $19.99, £16.99, €19.99
Game Size: 3.3 GB
Fun and creative characters
Challenging and unique boss fights
Random attack patterns can be annoying at times