Cuphead is a run and gun boss battle game that is heavily inspired by cartoons of the 1930s. You select single-player or local multiplayer, and have a wide arsenal of weapons and abilities to help you along your journey. The storyline is compelling and unique, following the two cup brothers, Cuphead and Mugman, as they navigate the four Inkwell Isle Islands taking down bosses and collecting their souls so they can pay off their debt to the devil. Every boss fight you encounter in the game is unique and has different mechanics, so you have to change your guns and powers to adapt to the changes which keeps the game fresh and fun. This game also features some incredible live jazz and Disney style characters with beautiful watercolor backgrounds. The animation is traditional hand-drawn cel animation, earning massive respect from the games fans for the developers’ commitment to mimicking the 1930s style through traditional means of animation, even though the process was painstakingly difficult. All of these elements are what makes the game truly stand out from others. It brings nostalgia to many people, and with its 1930s style, it provides something fresh and unseen into the modern gaming community.
Cuphead is a very difficult game to beat. Although it’s challenging, it’s very satisfying to overcome a difficult level and progress through the game. It takes skill and can cause mental pain but because of how beautiful the game looks and how incredible the music sounds, it’s 100 percent worth trying to beat the entire game if you have the time for it. Instead of giving you exactly what you want right off the bat, Cuphead makes you earn the right to achieve the game completion rewards. While it is incredibly painful to beat this game, especially on pacifist mode, that’s partially the point. After finishing the game, you will have felt as if you overcame a big challenge, and once the optional pacifist route is presented, the replayability of the game increases, because you have to go through the entire game again but use a whole different system of strategies and skills. These include, as the name of the route suggests, not shooting any enemies throughout the entire game. In boss battles, all you can do is dodge enemy attacks and overcome obstacles in your path. You have to change your arsenal to adapt to this, and although this route is incredibly tiring, it unlocks a secret black and white mode, making the game feel even more like an old cartoon show. Even though a majority of people love a good challenge, there are still many who don’t, and this deters them from buying the game. Aside from its incredibly gorgeous atmosphere and soundtrack, the gameplay is just not for everyone, and that’s okay. Make sure this style of gameplay is one you like before you go in blindly, as its difficulty can be an unwelcome surprise to people who aren’t aware of it. If you’re someone who’s bored and needs a challenge or someone who wants to experience something unique and new while also feeling immersed in the past, this game is definitely worth your time.
A lot of people are long-distance and prefer games that allow them to play with their family or friends from their own separate gaming systems. However, Cuphead does not yet have online multiplayer. This feature not being available definitely impacted some buyers of the game, as playing it alone can be boring for some people. And yet, it can also be a smarter move, as the game’s difficulty is increased once there are two players present in the game. Unless you and your partner work your way to become incredibly coordinated and skilled, you may encounter a lot of failure in your gameplay experience. All that truly matters though is that your experience is fun, so as long as you and your partner aren’t trying to speedrun the game, just have fun and take your time, as this game does require a lot of practice, anger and patience to become skilled at.
The game can also be a bit overwhelming for some people because of all the content in the levels. The amount of obstacles and enemies that are constantly on your screen testing your reflexes can be stimulating for certain people to overcome, but annoying for others. If you are someone who gets easily overwhelmed, this game might not be the best to play, as it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening on the screen. However, I find that even though the content in levels can be overwhelming, the charm of them outweighs their annoyance. Each level is expertly crafted and can be messy at times for the player, but it’s a sort of organized chaos that’s fun to try and navigate through using different paths and strategies.
Overall, I would say that this game is definitely worth your time. It is fun, the characters are memorable, and the music and art are amazingly crafted with inspiration from the 1930s. Although incredibly difficult, the challenging aspect of the game is fun and gives players a sense of accomplishment once they finally beat it. Even though it can be a bit overwhelming at times, its beauty outweighs the negatives of that. It is organized chaos, and provides players with stimulation for each level they beat. While having online multiplayer would massively improve the game, not being able to play with friends online should not take away from the amazing experience the game can provide to you in single player. I would rate this game 5/5 stars, as it is one of the most compelling and fun games I have played in years.
Written by Alyssa Campbell, Lethbridge College
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