REVIEW – StudioMDHR’s game made us wait for a few years, but the way it turned out to don’t make us disappointed. Cuphead is a game that PlayStation-owners can be jealous of, although this game isn’t perfect. (Then again, what game IS perfect…?)
The game’s plot can be recapped in just one extended sentence. Cuphead and Mugman ends up in the Devil’s casino, where they end up going on a winning streak, however, their greed led to put their souls on the line for the loot in the place… and now they have to work for the Devil to get souls (or, to be exact, soul contracts) or they will lose theirs! This isn’t that big of a deal, but it does its job.
Run ‘n’ gun
The game doesn’t offer you the same thing as today’s popular games. Nope: this twenty dollar Xbox One/PC game is a classic run ‘n’ gun. A sidescrolling shooter with a few platformer elements thrown in. You might ask, why do I consider Cuphead as one of the outstanding games of 2017? The answer is simple: the audiovisuals (yes, the music, too!) remind me of the 1930s. This reason is why this game is so great: it goes back to past with its gameplay as well.
You can expect three kinds of levels. The Run & Gun levels’ goal is to reach the end (and if you want some extras, do it in a pacifist manner), the soul contract levels are just boss fights, and the three mausoleum stages open up a special skill each after completion. Here, you have to do parries on the ghosts before they reach the chalice in the center of the level.
Cuphead‘s (and Mugman’s, if you have another player) main attack is just shooting bullets out of its hand, and he can also utilize one of the three specials. One of them is a large beam straight ahead, the second offers temporary invincibility, while the third one is a projected attack on an area. You can also buy other types of shots – spreader, heat seeker, boomerang, and so forth -, which cost coins. You can get coins on Run & Gun levels, hidden in the hub world, or just by talking to the NPCs. All bosses have a certain weakness, and all of them have multiple phases, offering fun and entertainment to those who are open to such a thing.
Cuphead is not easy, but it’s not ridiculously difficult either: you start out with three HP, but if you want to give up a bit of firepower to get more (five is the maximum), you can do that. If you die, you restart the boss fight/stage, without a game over. If you do co-op (local!), then you can revive the other player with a well-timed parry, but the boss’ HP will reset to max on its current phase. It’s not a bad idea, to be honest. We need more couch co-op!
The graphics don’t want to be amazing. Nope, but still, despite the 2D style and the retro cartoony look, it’s still looking beautiful! The background music is also fantastic. King Dice’s theme, as well as the title screen song, are some of the best game music I have heard. Check them out!
Still, if I wrote so many positives, what about negatives of Cuphead? Well, on Regular (normal) mode, you can beat it in about five hours, but I have also seen someone die 174 times and beat it in roughly 7.5 hours. On Expert, the bosses have more HP and faster projectiles while remaining fun to play, and you can pretty much complete Cuphead altogether in ten hours, or maybe less. If you played Contra, Metal Slug, or Gunstar Heroes, then you’re going to love Cuphead. Just get used to its art style! It has over one million sales by this point, so it’s not something terrible. It’s easily recommended to those who grew up with 8/16-bit consoles!
+ Brilliant audiovisuals!
+ Classic run ‘n’ gun style with couch co-op!
+ Stylish, and it will be copied a lot
– It’s somewhat short and challenging to those who are not into this genre
– I can’t write anything else! Maybe the fact that it’s not on PS4?
Genre: Run ‘n’ gun, 2D platformer
Release date: September 29, 2017