Since its reveal at E3 in 2014, fans have been clamouring for a chance to play StudioMDHR Entertainment’s Cuphead, a run and gun indie video game heavily inspired by old 1930s cartoons and animations.
The full version of Cuphead was finally released on Friday. Thanks to Xbox New Zealand, I was provided with a copy of the game to play and review, and I was completely blown away.
StudioMDHR Entertainment is a small indie game development studio, run by two brothers. Given how small the team was, it is no wonder that Cuphead suffered from release delays, especially due to the intricacies of the artwork and the amount of effort involved in publishing a game that remains true to the art and style of old 1930s animation.
In Cuphead, players take on the role of the titular character and must fight through a series of bosses in order to collect their souls and repay a debt to the devil. The game can either be played in single-player mode or in a two-player cooperative mode, which will bring Cuphead’s brother, Mugman, into the game as the second player.
The game features multiple levels and includes two different play styles; defeating bosses to collect souls and progress to the next level, and a standard run and gun game mode, which allows players to collect coins in order to purchase weapon and ability upgrades.
Don’t be deceived by the game’s cartoonish looks and catchy 1930s instrumental soundtrack. Cuphead is tough, even for the most skilled of players. It’s been a good while since I last played a platformer game so I was completely out of practice when it came to starting Cuphead.
The level of difficulty didn’t seem to matter as even playing on ‘simple’ was challenging. It took me nearly half an hour to complete the first level and defeat the boss, only to find out that one cannot collect souls in simple mode. The game must be played on ‘regular’ difficulty or above in order to progress in the game.
This was torture for me, as ‘regular’ difficulty felt like it was tailored for platformer experts. It was gruelling trying to beat the bosses over and over and certainly frustrating as well. By the end of my hour long attempt, I was exhausted and my fingers hurt. I suppose that already tells you how much of a beginner I am. It was so much easier playing with another person, and I was lucky enough that my Player 2 is a seasoned pro at platformer games.
Despite how challenging the game was, I was impressed at the depth of the game. It is certainly one that would be amazing to watch someone speedrun. Of course, it was the animation and soundtrack that truly captured my interest and left me in awe at how such a small indie game development studio could produce such high quality 1930s animation. Playing through the game certainly brought on a sense of nostalgia of my childhood; of watching old reruns of Disney’s Silly Symphonies and Looney Tunes’ Merry Melodies.
StudioMDHR Entertainment has struck gold with Cuphead, delivering on their promise to bring forth a game that not only looks good but will create a lasting impression on the gaming community. With brilliant animations inciting all kinds of nostalgic feelings and gameplay that’s challenging but super fun, Cuphead is a game that is one that is most definitely recommended.