I first learnt of Cuphead, developed by MDHR studio, earlier this year at the Microsoft press conference when it was announced that the company would be supporting a number of indie titles for their platform. The trailer had me intrigued due to its retro, hand-drawn style and awesome jazz music. The game is composed entirely of boss battles and its style draws heavily from cartoons of the 1930s such as the classic animations of Disney, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Brothers. I managed to get some hands-on time with the game at EB expo this year, so here are my thoughts:
The best way I can describe this game is as a non-stop boss-level in games like Metal Slug but with a cute cartoon aesthetic. The levels were scattered around a map hub which you could walk around. The bosses and their levels are significantly varied from level with some examples including a queen bee in her hive and another being monstrous vegetables in a garden. For each level, the bosses vary up their forms and attacks as their health decreases which helps to keep things interesting. As they’re all boss battles, they’re all essentially one-level stages and very difficult (or more likely; I suck at console gaming). Generally, there is a rhythmn to the boss attacks and once you play through the level enough times, you’ll become proficient at reading these patterns and learn to defeat them.
Unfortunately, as I had only a limited amount of time to acquaint myself with these, I was unable to learn how to run and gun my way around the stage well enough to win. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed the visual style and I can see the appeal it has for action oriented gamers.