Cuphead is a new platform and classic boss fight game that has visuals straight out of the 1930s that pays homeage to the cartoon style of Disney and Fleischer Studios. And is hard as hell as often you will face “bullet-hell” with no HP recharge. But the game teaches you how to deal with it and over time with some practice you get used to the patterns so you can get through the game. Cuphead is a story of two bothers: Cuphead and Mugman, that must make a deal with the devil to collect the contracts of the devil’s debtors in order to pay off their own gambling debt. You can either play solo as Cuphead to collect these contracts or play with a friend, Mugman. Which makes the game so much more easier as you have someone who can save your life from the bullet-hell. You both have infinite ammunition that can launched at enemies vulnerable spots until they submit. All the while the patterns of attack become increasing complex. There are two different level types: Run n Gun & Contract levels.
Parrying — hopping into attacks, then bouncing off them at the last moment — is a crucial and relatively forgiving mechanic in Cuphead, not requiring the superhuman timing of fighting games that feature a similar move. In some ways, I enjoyed the parrying system more than Cuphead’s various attacks. Only pink objects can be parried, and they change between levels, often blending into the scene. In one stage, they are dice skittering across a casino craps table; in another, they’re tears raining from a ghoulish pair of eyes. Finding the parry-able objects can become a game of recon, sending Cuphead into a fight not to win, but to spot the path to victory for a rematch. Tucked into the game are three mausoleum stages in which Cuphead can only extinguish ghosts with parries, sending the little goober bouncing across the screen, bopping one ghost after the other. It’s a lovely palate-cleanser, and I hope to see more of these missions in future expansions.
Run n Gun Levels
Run n Gun stages are filled with minions that chase and attack you. You cannot jump on their heads like other platformer games such as Mario. Though Cuphead is not a pure platformer game as there are boss battles. However, the Run n Gun stages are. You can only defeat them by using your weapons, of which you can have up to two weapons that can be switched back and forth. To upgrade your weapons, you need to gather coins and purchase them at the shop after you complete a level. Any coin earned on a level you failed, will not be kept. Each weapon has it’s own special attacks and abilities. Some are good for ranged attacks while others are good for close combat. For example, a stage with swarms of enemies benefits from a powerful short-range attack, a buff that automatically accumulates special attacks and a screen-clearing super move. Meanwhile, a humongous boss who fires large projectiles calls for homing bullets, a buff that prevents damage while dodging and a special move that grants brief invincibility.
On average each fight is two minutes long so they can be played over and over again. Each fight breaks up into multiple stages and have two options: Simple or Regular. Now they may give you the option for Simple Mode, but you can’t advance the game at all if you play Simple mode. You have to play Regular mode to move on in the game. Which I think is stupid. If it’s an option, you should be able to play it and advance the game not be punished for using it.
And each stage has its own set of challenges. I found myself becoming increasing angry and relieved when I finally beat the stages. Much like playing difficult levels in Mario Maker. But unlike Maria Maker, contract stages punish you for speed and pride. As the game isn’t designed for gamers to race through with nothing but raw skill and unearned confidence. If anything, the boss fights punish pride, filling stages with minions, projectiles and traps.
Overall, I loved this game. Sure it seems difficult at first but it teaches you how to get better. And each time you get further it feels incredible! I would seriously recommend that everyone tries out this game at least once. Will the first level make you pissed off? Preobably. But does that mean it’s not going to be fun? No, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
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