Have you ever found yourself playing games from the Contra and Touhou series? Have you grown up to love the 2D animation of early Disney and Flesicher Studios? Well, if you enjoy both, you’ll love the wacky antics of the newest game on the horizon that has everyone dashing and parrying bullets – Cuphead.
The game begins with the titular character, Cuphead, and his brother Mugman, finding themselves having a great time gambling in the devil’s casino. After winning many games in a row, the owner of the casino – the devil himself – places a wager onto the two brothers. If they win a game against the devil, they can take all the money he has. If they lose, the two will lose their souls.
Mugman saw that it was a bad idea and tried to warn his brother, but it was too late. Cuphead, blinded by the easy cash, had already tossed the dice. The two dice revealed a pair of snake eyes, resulting in the two brothers losing instantly.
Pleading for their lives, the devil found another way to make use of the two; by using them as debt collectors. They had to collect all the souls of the runaway debtors by midnight the next day or they’ll lose their own.
And it sure as hell was not gonna be an easy task.
At this point, the game already has you snagged in with its colourful design, mesmerizing characters, catchy music, and plot that seems like a scrapped episode of Rick and Morty. But the relationship you and the game share will grow into a solid love-hate.
The gameplay itself consists of you playing as Cuphead (if you have a second player with you, he plays as Mugman), and you have to go around the three separate worlds and defeat giant bosses who owe the devil their soul.
The boss fight gameplay starts easy; with the two starting bosses, The Root Pack and Goopy Le Grande, you think its gonna be an easy walk in the park. But then you end up fighting the other three debtors in the same world, and nearly want to throw a fist into your computer.
To say the least, if you don’t have good awareness of what’s on the screen, and don’t have good hand eye coordination, you’ll have lots of trouble on the bosses.
The fights relentlessly bombard you with attacks, with barely any time to even breathe. It doesn’t help that you only have 3 health points with no way to recover them at all, so you need to be extra careful.
Although, you aren’t necessarily weak yourself. You can buy new weapons (such as an autoaim shot, so you don’t have to worry about accuracy) and power-ups (such as more health, but with less attack power) from the in-game shop. You can even achieve new super abilities by completing the mausoleum levels in each world.
The difficulty for each boss ranges from simple or regular, but it’s recommended that you play on regular mode to progress in the game. The game even mocks you after playing on the simple mode for the first time and beating a boss – saying you need to beat it on regular for the soul contract.
If the task of beating bosses gets you too upset, you can blow off steam doing some of the Run N Gun levels, which sticks to classic 2D platforming shoot em ups. And yes, they’re equally as challenging, but not required to do.
Each boss has its own unique playstyle, theme, and mechanics, so you’ll spend lots of time trying to figure out every single one (while dying in the process.) Heck, you may end up falling in love with some of them. But still, no matter how many attempts it takes, it’s always satisfying to see the words “A knockout!” sprawled across your screen, signifying the fight is done, and you reign victorious.
Overall, Cuphead gives a difficult challenge to players, but not impossible. For a reasonable price of 20 dollars, it’s a game anyone can pick up and play.