Publisher: StudioMDHR Entertainment
Genre: Side Scrolling Shooter
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: Pegi 7
Release Date: 28th July 2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
A Long Wait
In July of this year one of my prayers was finally answered, Cuphead came to PlayStation 4. Three long years I’ve been waiting for this game to appear on my console of choice! All the time coveting its gorgeous hand drawn cell animation, and frantic run and gun action. It is now finally mine; I eagerly awaited the download, but did Cuphead live up to my years of envy and high expectations?
Cuphead is the story of two little mugmen, Cuphead & Mugman, who live on the isles of Inkwell with a wise Elder Kettle. One day, the duo are shooting craps in the Devil’s casino. Cuphead is on a winning streak when the devil himself steps in to raise the stakes: all the money in the casino or the mugmen’s souls hang on the next roll of the dice.
Cuphead throws snake eyes, losing the bet. The Devil offers Cuphead and Mugman a last-minute deal; they must collect the contracts of the other debtors on his books to save their little mugmen souls. And so these two smiley little sentient mugs set off on an adventure of violent reprisal against the debt ridden inhabitants of the Inkwell Isles.
Each mugman starts with a basic shot fired from their fingers but can soon buy new shot types and charms from Porkrind’s Emporium, a handy little shop run by an eye patch wearing pig. Cuphead and Mugman can both hold two shot types, one charm, and one super at any given time.
Shooting The Shots In Cuphead
There are 6 shot types to unlock. Each has a particular style that will be effective in some but not all situations. For example, the chase shot has high range and low damage but requires no aiming, allowing you to concentrate on movement. On the other hand, the Roundabout shot has great coverage and good damage but only achieves its potential when fired backwards. Mixing and matching is the key to making it to the end of Cuphead.
Charms are also available for sale at Porkrind’s Emporium and grant additional perks to Cuphead and Mugman. Little things like an extra hit point or two, boosting your super bar, and making your evasive dash move invisible. This last charm is quite frankly a must-have for most of the game.
There are three super powers available to unlock in the game. This is done by defending the Legendary Chalice from pink ghosts in three creepy mausoleums. Two of the supers are attacks and one gives a brief period of invincibility. To use a super, you need to fill your super bar by defeating enemies and parrying pink objects throughout the world.
Any pink object in the world of Cuphead can be parried, giving you a nice chunk of super meter for your trouble. While playing co-op you can also parry your dead teammate’s ghost to bring them back from death with a single hit point. Sometimes the parry mechanic feels quite forgiving and at others it seems to require pinpoint accuracy to achieve; this caused me some frustration but nothing compared to Cuphead’s many epic boss battles.
Cuphead Is Boss Battles
The whole game is basically a collection of fantastic boss battles interspersed with a handful of platform levels to break things up a little. There are also a small number of levels that see Cuphead and Mugman take to the skies in cute little planes to shoot down their foes. These levels help to add variety to the overall game but certainly were not my favourite levels.
Every boss battle on the other hand is simply a joy to experience and overcome. They are often surreal and comical with just the right amount of whimsy. You’ll soon become accustomed to taking on stuff like two boxing frogs that turn into a slot machine mid fight or a deranged woman and her castle made of sentient sweet treats; that’s all just normal on the Inkwell Isles.
Cuphead has a reputation of being difficult; it certainly is challenging and the final bosses hammer this point home hard. But all the skills, powers, and knowledge you need to beat every boss is in the game. You just need some patience and perseverance to see them all fall.
The Glory Days Of Co-op
I played through the whole of Cuphead with a buddy, it really shines as a couch co-op experience. Like the visual style of the game, the co-op gameplay harks back to an earlier time and a different way of playing together. Cuphead feels evocative and nostalgic even though it is a new(ish) game, it effortlessly and sublimely invokes the best from the era it mimics.
I thoroughly loved every second I spent running and gunning through Cuphead, it was certainly worth the wait! I fear that we may not see a title like this again, but I can finally relax now I’ve had the pleasure of playing this unique and wonderful game.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You Can Buy Cuphead Now From The PlayStation Store