Whimsical, frantic, fun, frustrating, and eerie – these are words that describe Cuphead perfectly, a run-and-gun shooter game made by the ever creative StudioMDHR. This game pays homage to the cartoons of 1930’s Disney and Fleishcer Studios, both in style and aesthetic.
The story begins when brothers Cuphead and Mugman end up in the devil’s casino, where they gamble their hearts out winning one bet after another. The devil who noticed their winning streak decides to make a deal with the clueless pair. “If you beat me, all the riches in my casino are yours! But if you lose, I’ll have your souls, deal?” Blinded by greed, Cuphead threw the dice and lost. Now the two must work for the devil and acquire the contracts of other escaped debtors in exchange for their souls.
The animation is fantastic; in fact Cuphead’s animation is so good that people mistake it for a children’s cartoon. The game gives an authentic old world charm thanks to artists who painstakingly hand draw the characters, giving them life.
The gameplay has a very old-school feel, similar to games like Gunstar Heroes and Contra. The difficulty is not that hard and cheap deaths only result in the player’s mistakes. This encourages trial and error of knowing the bosses’ pattern based on their attacks. Be warned though, since bosses in this game have a habit of changing their bullet pattern depending on their playthrough.
Power-ups in Cuphead each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The boss battles may be fun, but the run and gun sections of the game feel a bit stale after many retries. The sound design fits perfectly with a mixture of barbershop quartet and old school 30’s music. Creating a beautiful atmosphere which transports the player in the golden era of animation.
Overall, Cuphead proves to be a fun throwback to old school shooters. A game that makes the long wait all worthwhile for it is a great tribute to its genre and much more.
Final Score 4.5/5