There are a lot of my friends who, regardless of how large their Steam/Xbox/Playstation libraries are, always return to their classic gaming systems because they like a challenge. Old games like Contra which are known for their brutal difficulty, rewarded memorizing enemy patterns and level layouts and that had a really pleasing sensation when you finally beat the next level or boss. While there are games that are difficult these days (to the point where Souls-like is starting to describe games that are “hard like dark souls”), nothing felt like those old retro games in terms of difficulty. Enter Cuphead.
Before getting into what Cuphead is and what you’ll be doing, I need to talk about the design. The visuals and audio are some of the most polished and well researched that I’ve ever come across. As someone who grew up wanting to be a Disney animator, their use of Fleischer era ‘rubber hose’ animation is incredible and the sounds and soundtrack are equally amazing. If only for the audio visual experience, watch someone play Cuphead.
Cuphead is a punishingly difficult game. Even beating the very first stage will likely take you multiple attempts. In fact the design of the game is that you shouldn’t go into a level or boss battle expecting to beat it, but instead expecting to learn. How to learn patterns, layouts and timing. It will take a good amount of learning until you feel comfortable enough taking a proper run at beating the stage and when you do, it feels amazing.
As far as the story goes, Cuphead and his sidekick Mugman get lucky at a casino but before long their luck runs out and the owner of the casino (the Devil). As it turns out, the devil has many contracts out on souls that are on the run and so in exchange for freedom, he tasks the duo with capturing those foes. Those foes are the various boss battles spread around the game.
The levels are divided into three types. The first type is boss battles, with bosses that are much larger than you, unleashing attacks ranging from filling the screen with many projectiles to slow moving easily predictable shots that bounce around the screen and stack up to the point where you’re dodging three or more of them. The second type of level is a platforming type game where you’ll run left to right, avoiding enemies and trying to reach the end of the stage. They’re not complicated but they are difficult. Finally there are flying stages, where cuphead is in an airplane and will end up also being a boss stage or platform stage. And of course, these airplane levels are just as hard.
So what does Cuphead have to fight against all this? Well he has what is affectionately known as a peashooter. Literal finger guns. Cuphead will also pick up special attacks by beating bosses, change his gun up by buying new ones and by buying powers like ninja dash. Oh and all the projectiles in the game can come in a pink variety, which is an indicator that Cuphead can ‘Parry’ them (nullifying their effects and building your own charge meter).
Bryan Holmes, thegeniusinc.com
Seeking to share his exuberance and love for video games, partnering with Windsor Independent allows us to bring that knowledge to your eyeballs. Also Bryan loves Dinosaurs, Movies and Comic Books which occasionally see posts over at his website.