It’s Mickey, it’s Felix, it’s Cuphead!

Cuphead is a fresh breath of a past that never existed. It offers a tasty mix of old and new.

Have you ever met someone and after a while felt like he or she has always been a part of your life? Cuphead is just like that person. Everything in his world looks and feels familiar though you have never been there before. It feels so strange. “What is this madness?” you may even ask, and the answer is short: “This is Cuphead!”

Playing the game manages to wake your inner child up. It’s like a throwback to those sugar-filled Saturday mornings in front of your TV. You feel like you’re in an old cartoon. And just like in cartoons the plot itself is very simple. To keep their souls after losing in gambling the title character Cuphead and his brother Mugman need to collect soul contracts for the Devil. The task, however, is everything but easy as the foes they face during their journey are more for tricks than treats.

There are two types of levels: run n’ gun in which you are on the ground, and shoot ‘em up in which you’re flying a plane. In both of these level-types you can move, shoot, perform a parry move, and use your special moves that you earn by shooting enemies and parrying pink objects. You choose the level you want to play from an overview map where you can walk freely, talk to residents, and buy upgrades from a shop.

Most of the levels are boss fights. The bosses include a haunted train, a manned robot, and an evil flower, just to name a few. The levels follow their bosses’ theme. For example, when you’re fighting against a queen bee the whole level and its enemies are bee-themed. The bosses have multiple forms with different attack patterns which you’ll learn by playing, though their patterns vary so two fights against the same boss are different.

Besides the boss fights, there are platforming levels and levels where you need to protect a vase from attacking ghosts. The vase levels are fun, but the platforming levels are dull. This is because they have too simple enemies and the level-structure is boringly linear. They’re also quite easy to beat which kills your mood a bit when you don’t get the same adrenaline rush as you get from the other levels.

The game itself is easy to learn but hard to master. The controls are simple, while the levels can be quite difficult. You’ll die very often, and every time you die you’ll see how far you progressed in the level. This feature is one of the reasons why Cuphead is so addicting to play. Seeing how close you were to the end wakes your desire to try again until you are finally able to beat the level.

Cuphead is not just a good platformer. In the age of CGI, creating hand-drawn animation in the style of 1930s cartoons deserves its own praise. Moreover, Cuphead successfully combines its looks with a jazzy soundtrack that more than better fits the era it’s mimicking. All in all, Cuphead is a stunningly beautiful game that is loads of fun to play.

9/10

Developer: Studio MDHR

Publisher: Studio MDHR

Platform: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Release date: 29.9.2017

Age rating: PEGI 3