MDHR releases its vision of beautiful artwork on a gaming platform in a nod to 1930s animation.
Playing as a couple of mugs who lose everything in a casino your only way out is to reclaim the debts of others. The Devil is a tricky adversary and the collection of reprobates you must reclaim funds from is as varied as it is hard. Utilising a wide variety of game mechanics and controls every level is a learning curve. One moment you may encounter Asteroid style destruction from above and the next Donkey Kong uphill hurdles, these are all made to work perfectly for Cuphead with its fantastical artistic backdrop.
Reading into the practices and preparation the team performed to create Cuphead is as fascinating as the final product. Hand drawn on over 50,000 frames (excluding changes or mistakes) the meticulous and painstaking process was a real labour of love. The frames were the inked and coloured before being transferred to glass. This process was taken from the 1930s Walt Disney style animations; however, this has never been done for a game before. The team looked into a way of doing short loops of animations to create a smooth crisp game style that matches today high standards and demands.
Aside from the stunning and ground breaking artistic practice that went into the game, everything is packaged into a tight and very accessible gameplay format. The story comes in small snippets that are easily followed, the over world lets you navigate between missions in a very simple and satisfying way, you have the option to tailor your ability’s, level difficulty and type, meaning you never feel like you are grinding along in one direction for too long.
For me Cuphead embodies the soul of all truly great platformers, a character that grabs you, a world that feels as deep as it is absorbing to look at and a gameplay model that will always draw you back in for more. The potential to be a Mario style classic is there and even if it is borrowing influences I think it combines them so well it is not to Cupheads detriment. The 1930s musical influence offers a fantastic mix of upbeat madness, blending perfectly with the controlled but unhinged madness of the visual and gameplay style. I would recommend this to anyone, it can be picked up and put down with ease but it is hard to forget. Perfect for filling those moments when you can’t decide what to watch on Netflix or don’t have the will to drop into a heavy multiplayer experience.
Written by Joe Turner-McMullan