Review: ‘Cuphead’ Out With the New, In With the Old

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Jason Perez

The chaos begins in "Floral Fury" one of many bosses.

“Cuphead ‘Don’t Deal With The Devil,'” released on Sept. 29is an extremely difficult, exciting and beautiful game to experience that keeps the player coming back for more with each level. “Cuphead”s 1930s cartoon design looks like an easy and friendly children’s game. However, do not be fooled by its Mickey Mouse stylistic choice; “Cuphead” is a game that will make even the toughest gamers cry in defeat.

“Cuphead” is about two young brothers who ended up at the Devil’s casino where they hit a jackpot each time. Cuphead, the main protagonist, got a bit too greedy and bet the brothers’ souls to the Devil. When they lost, the brothers worked out a deal with the Devil, and that is where the game begins.

The first noticeable feature about the game is the graphics. “Cuphead”s style is taken from the 1930s where everything had eyes and gloves and bounced around to a musical beat. It is a breath of fresh air seeing something new yet old on the TV. The production for “Cuphead” started way back in 2010, when game designers were trying to figure out how to capture the 1930s. Seven years later, the amount of work is seen with each level having hand-drawn characters and backgrounds coming to life as an old-timey epic game. Playing through the game, feels like watching an episode of “Popeye The Sailorman” when an angry flower turns into a machine gun in the middle of a fight. It is a strange sight, but it fits the game’s classic style.     

Aside from the beautiful choice of 1930s graphics, the difficulty of “Cuphead” will make players want to throw their controller. The levels are broken up by a map that the player can wander around choosing whether to fight a boss immediately from the start or to sections called “Run & Gun.” No matter the choice players make, there will be yelling and cursing. The game is entirely trial and error with gratuitous amounts of memorization. The bosses keep a rhythm of attacks when going head to head with them, however, the bosses sometimes change the rhythm and throw cheap shots to ruin the flow. The difficulty lies within the fact that there are only three hit points Cuphead can take before a game over. There is no way to regain health when fighting bosses, so strategizing is key to defeat them. It is a game that will make players angry and frustrated, yet feel accomplished and satisfied after defeating each boss.

For a video game that is about selling your soul to the devil in a gambling habit, “Cuphead” itself makes players addicted to take another roll of the dice to see if they can beat the level. One more attempt turns into 4 in the morning still working on a strategy to beat that one boss. “Cuphead” may be frustrating, but it does not take away from the amount of enjoyment there is to have while playing.