Developer: Studio MDHR
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, Arcade, Platformer
Release Date: April 17, 2019
How we got the game: We bought it on the Nintendo Switch eShop
Cuphead originally came out in September 2017 for PC and the Xbox One, and it had always been on our radar after seeing playthroughs of it on YouTube and Twitch. Considering it recently came out for the Nintendo Switch, Rachel and I figured it was the perfect time to try it.
Cuphead is a run-and-gun boss rush kind of game. There is light platforming, some side-scrolling levels for your characters to run through, taking down a plethora of enemies in their way while collecting the occasional coin to spend on upgrades for your weapons and health.
These particular levels are few and far between, but they’re a lot of fun. We got stuck on the very first level because we’re apparently terrible at the game, but we had a good time nonetheless. So much happens on screen and there’s a lot to keep track of – the various enemies, constantly shooting your gun (or finger gun, if you will), jumping and dashing over platforms, and keeping an eye out for coins to collect or anything pink to parry on. This entire game was made without using the color pink except on a select few objects which you can parry.
After getting demolished on the run-and-gun levels, you do start to realize that there’s a pattern to all of the enemies’ locations and behaviors. It tests your memory as well as your skills with the controls. Control-wise, you use the analog stick to move Cuphead and Mugman left to right, as well as being able to control which of the eight directions you can shoot your finger guns. The four main buttons are for jumping, dashing, shooting, and your special attack once you build up your super meter.
As mentioned before, parrying allows you to fill your super meter faster. The more you hit enemies with your gun, the more your super meter will fill up. Parrying helps with that, though I’m not good at it. The bosses themselves are challenging, but a whole lot of fun. With each try, we get a little farther until we get so loopy that we need to take a break. Luckily, there’s more than one place to go to on the main map. Areas are blocked off but you usually have a choice between two or three levels to hop into. So, if you get stuck, you can take a break from that but still keep playing.
The boss rush fights were each in stages, with the choice of having two difficulties — simple and regular. Gathering coins from the run-and-gun levels to spend on weapon upgrades are key to developing strategies to defeat the bosses. You can mix and match between different types of finger guns, switched easily on the fly with the L/SL button, as well as determining what the best defense would be, whether it’s having an extra hit point or becoming invulnerable while dashing.
All of the power-ups are useful in their own way, but there are definitely some that fit better for certain stages than others. Of course, this is all trial and error, which is part of the fun. Also, the extra hit point is nice, but it slightly decreases your attack power if you have it on.
Mimicking the old cartoons, Cuphead’s graphics are charming and make me feel like I’m watching Mickey Mouse cartoons from years ago. While the themes in Cuphead aren’t quite as innocent as Mickey Mouse, the images and short dialogue remind me of those cartoons. The art style is a little wacky but the images flow smoothly even in the middle of the boss fights.
I absolutely enjoy the aesthetic of this game, especially the various boss designs. They all have their own special charm and unique personality. Of course, mimicking the old school cartoon is definitely a plus.
The music is a lot of fun, and the sound effects are so satisfying. The music itself matches the levels, but it’s also subtle enough to not kill your concentration when you’re going up against the bosses. You’ll probably also be shouting and laughing at the screen for the levels over the music anyway, but if you take the time to listen, it’s pleasant.
The sound effects are pleasing as well. I enjoy the various sounds when you parry something or even just the finger gun noises. It’s a great experience overall.
The story of the game revolves around the brothers Cuphead and Mugman, who got into a bit of trouble when they wandered into the Devil’s casino and gambled away their souls. The two begged for another way they could pay off their debt to the devil, and the devil decided that if the two could bring the souls of others who owed him, then the devil would let Cuphead and Mugman off the hook.
The Elder Kettle warned them of the Devil and his casino, but greed overcame Cuphead must to Mugman’s warnings. Thus, begins a journey for the two of them to battle so many characters in their world… killing them and forcing them to work with the Devil.
Cuphead has some fun replay value, what with it having single and co-op modes and a couple of different difficulty settings for the boss fights. The boss fights themselves can be a challenge, and there are different combinations of weapons and defensive mechanisms that you can try on different runs.
I can definitely see myself playing this again. While it’s difficult, the boss battles are fun to pick up and play if you’re looking for something fairly mindless, yet challenging. Plus, with the co-op mode there are plenty of opportunities to play with various people.
5 out of 5 lives.