“Cuphead” launched on Xbox and PC in September 2017. Now, it is out on Nintendo Switch, and the masterpiece feels completely at home.
The game is completely hand-drawn and seeks to replicate a 1930s cartoon. Levels look like Steamboat Willie or Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and bosses look like the typical rough guys from these cartoons, too. This game looks like a piece of art. I completely got lost during boss fights admiring the artwork and beautiful backgrounds.
The story is goofy, with the titular Cuphead, alongside his brother Mugman, seeking to fight off the Devil to keep their souls after losing a bet.
The story is simple — like an old cartoon — and players essentially only fight bosses, or big enemies that typically await at the end of levels. Instead of that, though, players mainly fight bosses instead of running and exploring levels.
There are a few levels of basic action where players run through a level and fight off enemies to reach the end, but, for the most part, players will spend their time fighting giant bosses that are as tough as nails.
These bosses include a deranged clown named Beppi, a giant mermaid, a skeleton-possessed train, and finally the Devil himself. These characters feel incredibly planned out and well-created, with each feeling unique and interesting.
The game’s main goal is simple. Beat the bosses, level up your character, and keep getting better so players can push forward and fight harder bosses. Once players kill enough bosses, players can finally take on the Devil himself and end the game.
While fighting the bosses, players have a few different abilities. There’s a basic spray that Cuphead will fire, alongside jumping, special attacks and new weapons players can unlock. The spread gun, for example, is an interesting upgrade. Rather than firing in a straight line, Cuphead loses some firing range but instead shoots in four directions. It’s an absolute blast to use.
Every boss looks unique and, more importantly, fights completely uniquely. Each boss battle takes roughly two to three minutes, but, because of the sheer difficulty, players may be stuck on one for hours at a time. However, learning the bosses attack patterns and overcoming them is the most rewarding part of the game. Finally knowing the bosses tells for when they’ll attack, dodging successfully, and getting the killing blow with one health point left is an absolute blast.
The music that plays during the boss levels is equally as wonderful and catchy as the gorgeous art. In no time at all, players will be humming themes and singing the intro song.
“Cuphead” not only looks and sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon of days past, but it’s also best played as one. I played through the game in roughly 10 hours through two sittings, both played early in the morning. Sitting down with a cup of coffee and enjoying this masterpiece as a work of art is truly worth it. Make no mistake — this game is special all the way through.
“Cuphead” is a brutal yet beautiful game. There were times whenI’d want to rip my hair out, but pushing through brings one of the most rewarding gaming experiences of the decade.
The most important part of “Cuphead” is how it’s one of those rare games where every single detail feels like a labor of love. Independent developer Studio MDHR, founded by two brothers alongside a small team, clearly made this as a passion project, one that oozes style and grace.
“Cuphead” is available now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC for $20.