Games to Watch For: Cuphead

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Cuphead is demonstrated during the Xbox media event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 15, 2014

Sometimes, games get lost in development hell. For a time, Cuphead looked like one of those games. However, during E3 2017, something magical happened. Finally, fans got a release date on Cuphead. Now, all we have to do is wait until September 29th to get our 1930s cartoony art style fix. But what’s so special about StudioMDHR Entertainment‘s supposed gaming magnum opus? Let’s take a proper look, and see just why gamers should really be looking forward to this one.

Games to Watch For: Cuphead

The Game

In most respects, Cuphead belongs to a mix of run and guns and shoot-em-ups. As far as we know, this game is completely 2D and features side-scrolling in full. Additionally, there are some bullet-hell elements in the game, mostly exemplified in the enemies and enemy design. While level-based, the game’s levels come through an RPG style of hub world. Most levels in the game are based around various bosses at the end of each of them. In addition to keeping weapons when you die, the game offers infinite lives with basically no “game over” function. Cuphead is mostly single-player, but multiplayer options are available. When active, the second player will appear as…Mugman. Nice touch, MDHR.

The Story

For lack of a better term, Cuphead‘s story is just incredibly dark. During the game’s exposition, the titular character makes a bet with Satan himself. Needless to say, he loses the bet and is now in debt to the devil. Thus, the entire game is the story of the Cup’s journey to pay off his debt to Beelzebub. It’s a somewhat simplistic story, but since when did shoot-em-ups and platformers have deeply compelling stories all the time? Games like this are based on the gameplay itself, and almost nothing else. At the very least, the story is intriguing. For gamers, that’s all we can really ask for.

That Special Something: The Art Style

Every great game’s got that something special to it. For Cuphead, that happens to be the art style. Oh my gosh, the art style. Truthfully, that’s what seems to have a lot of people straight up hooked on this game (myself included). In the simplest terms available, this game’s art style is essentially Steamboat Willie in a nutshell. Well, it’s more of a mix of Walt Disney’s animation style and the Fleischer Brothers’ style (see here: Betty Boop). A bit off-topic, but if you enjoy this style and you enjoy horror games, maybe try Bendy and the Ink Machine. It’s much darker than Cuphead, but its art style and aesthetic are just as charming. But in any case, this 1930s animation art style is just so creative, and we rarely ever see it in gaming. According to MDHR themselves, the main character has gone through over 150 redesigns. That’s dedication to your stylization, folks.

Why You Should Be Looking Forward To It

This game is so creative that it actually almost worries me. Not only is its art style incredibly charming and innovative, but it puts a new spin on its genre’s gameplay. Not only that, but it also has just captivating enough of a story to give a proper backbone to its gameplay. My only worry is that Cuphead will end up being just a bit too ambitious, and might get itself in some trouble sales-wise. People are afraid of things that are unfamiliar to them. Hopefully Bendy suffered some of the blow in this game’s place, and people are able to properly enjoy it. In any case, this game should be an absolute blast come September 29th.

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