Hands On: Cuphead

Cuphead reminds me of the good ol’ days of gaming.
I cut my gaming teeth on 90s Nintendo, Sega and PlayStation titles. In today’s market, those games are too linear, too one-dimensional, but I freaking loved them and Cuphead takes me back to those times.
My first experience of Cuphead was approximately 3 years ago at an event put on by Jason Spiller for Xbox New Zealand called XONZ. It was my first real gaming event I’d gone to after having just moved closer to Auckland from a relatively rural setting in the centre of the North Island. So there I was, literally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (genetic defect) thrown to the wolves of the New Zealand gaming community. Along with a slew of titles either just released or to be released in the near future was a very early build of Cuphead! My hands-on experience was brief but I was hooked.

Cuphead has featured in almost as many Microsoft E3 press conferences as the classic gaming t-shirt and open suit jacket combo. Ok, that might be a bit of an over-exaggeration but you get the idea. I’ve been waiting a long time to play the final version of this game and boy oh boy, yes please, thank you very much did Studio MDHR deliver!
In the game, you play as Cuphead (and you can have a mate playing as Mugman) as you try to defeat bosses to pay off your debt to the devil. Jump, shoot, parry and dash your way to victory against increasingly difficult bosses as they unleash fire and fury on your soul. Cuphead is a 2D sometimes side-scrolling game where the aim is to hit and not be hit. The 1930s style artwork is on point. Bosses look stunning and deadly. One particular flower boss pretty early on in the game starts off looking cute AF but then turns into a freaking demon whose sole purpose is to destroy you!
It’s very rare, especially from an indie dev team, that a game plays exactly how you want it to. I’ve sunk a fair few hours into Cuphead now and been annoyed at a lot of things, mainly myself and the sadistic game devs but never once at the controls. Cuphead does what you tell him(?) to. This game is tough though!

You owe it to yourself to play this game. If it’s purely because you feel like punishing yourself, it’s much healthier than flagellation so you’re gold. If you’re after a hell of a challenge and a decent throwback to what games used to be like, then you’re all good too.
Studio MDHR did an amazing job at bringing 1930s cartoons to life in a way you didn’t know you wanted. But you really should.
You can get Cuphead on Xbox, Steam, Humble Bundle and GOG.
Images: Studio MDHR