Cuphead Xbox One Review

Cuphead demands your absolute focus and it's a rewarding game where the best award is getting through the stage

By Grayshadow, Posted 02 Oct 2017

Don't let the cartoonish graphics and smiling characters fool you, Cuphead is a difficult side-scrolling shooter with relentless bosses that demand rapid decision-making. 3 hits and you'll have to start from the beginning, no mercy is given. Navigating through a hail of bullets, enemies, pitfalls, and attempting to take out your primary enemy is a monumental task, harking back to retro classics like Metal Slug. Cuphead demands your absolute focus and it's a rewarding game where the best award is getting through the stage.

Cuphead,NoobFeed,Studio MDHR,

Cuphead's 1930's cartoon aesthetic is endlessly charming and its chief defining aspect. The grainy 30s film and rudimentary production techniques constantly delight with each stage, providing new and exciting environments and characters. Each was dazzling to the eyes and showcased the impressive art style.

The characters and bosses are clearly inspired by cartoons created by Max Fleischer and Tex Avery. Studio MDHR has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of these old cartoons and used them to create this wondrous world. The technical execution is extraordinary with each animation, from shooting to simply moving, flowing with incredible fluidity. 

The world map acts as the primary navigation tool from your adventure. As Cuphead you gambled with the devil and lost, now you must collect debts from the devil's other acquaintances. Outside of the boss battles, you'll have the chance to run and gun through less-challenging stages for a few times. Here you can collect coins that can be cashed in for passive buffs and different weapons. Coins are limited and can only be collected once, making farming impossible. 

Cuphead,NoobFeed,Studio MDHR,

Cuphead has a myriad of ammunition for his handgun, which he fires from his fingers. 6 ammo types are available such as a charged shot, boomerang round, and spread shot with each having a unique alternate fire once a meter is charged. The meter charges when you hit an enemy successfully or parrying pink projectiles and enemies; this is done by jumping towards an enemy and then tapping jump again at the right moment. A super art is a powerful attack that can be used when your meter is full, but once it's full you cannot fire your secondary weapon and must use the super art. This can be inconvenient and times when saving your super art for specific movements.

Bosses are the highlight of Cuphead and each one has bizarre attacks with specific patterns that are necessary to learn. It isn't uncommon to fight the same boss and not see all their attacks since bosses usually end within a few minutes of frantic dodging and shooting. During the duration of the fight, bosses will change shape, position, and behavior with each phase. While the patterns of the attack remain the same bosses use them in different orders which can lead to various combinations. This kept me on my toes even when repeating a level.

However, while the bosses are challenging little aid is given to the player. While your 3 hit health is constantly on display, 4 if you equip a charm that reduces damage inflicted, there's no indicator for bosses. In addition, no statistics of the damage each type of ammo causes is available. While after a few levels of experimenting I did find some weapons performed better than others a helpful display would've eased the frustration. Plus no fast travel exist on the map, which means you'll have to manually go from one location to another. 

Cuphead,NoobFeed,Studio MDHR,

Cuphead does support local cooperative play with the second player taking control of Mugman. However, don't expect the game to become easier with a friend. Enemies gain more health when in cooperative play but players can revive one another by grabbing the dead player's ghost before they reach the top of the screen. The biggest let down is that online cooperative play isn't available.

Cuphead is a difficult game but Studio MDHR has included a simpler version of each boss where victory is almost ensured. This means anyone can enjoy the game to a point. To access the final boss players players still need to defeat every boss on standard difficulty but it's a welcome addition for players who feel stuck or frustrated.

Cuphead lives up to its initial promises, a beautifully cartoonish game with punishing side-scrolling action. The perfect soundtrack complements the beautiful graphics, capturing the era of old cartoons. This is an intense game full of amazing characters and exciting boss battles with the benefit of allowing a friend to join in on the adventure, but only locally. It has a few issues but Cuphead remains a unique game that stands out thanks to a clever development team that successfully captured the feel of playing in a 1930s cartoon.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Cuphead

90/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): StudioMDHR Entertainment
Developer(s): StudioMDHR Entertainment
Genres: Platformer
Themes: Cartoon
Release Date: 2017-09-29

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