Cuphead review by FreddyFIsh
Cuphead review by FreddyFIsh
Cuphead is a side scrolling action platforming shoot 'em up game. It utilizes early Disney esque art styles for it's visuals with complementary Big Band Jazz (Swing) and Barbershop back ground music to really emphazise the 1930's theme it's presenting.
Cuphead and Mugman are the main protagonists of our tale of side scrolling local co-op only action (just thought I'd get that out of the way). They made a deal with the Devil on a game of craps, thinking they couldn't possibly lose, they were wrong.
The plot sets the mood from the very beginning, a game with an innocent cartoonish look and innocent looking characters but underlying adult themes are afoot... moral of the story? Don't gamble with your life.
Cuphead plays very much like the original Contra games, except the colors are reversed this go around. P1 (Cuphead) is red and P2 (Mugman) is blue. You walk around an overworld map choosing destinations to venture in to. Some are bosses, some are side scrolling levels.
There's always more than a single option available to you but in the end you have to complete every stage to progress the main story. There are side quests to embark on by talking to overworld NPC's and hidden coins to collect. There's a shop to buy different styles of shots and charms to help balance out your weaknesses as a player.
Once an area is selected you then choose your difficulty. At first only Simple (Easy) and Regular (Normal) modes are unlocked. Once you finish the game, Expert (Hard) mode becomes available.
Disclaimer: The final two boss fights in the game can only be played on Regular (Normal) and Expert (Hard) modes.
The differences between modes are as follows:
Simple (Easy): Enemies have slower attack patterns, their attack cycle pool is a bit more shallow, meaning they won't use all of their available attacks and some phases of a boss fight will be removed entirely.
Regular (Normal): A normal level of play for above average gamers. Most boss phases are available, and most attack cycles are available, enemies attack at an increased speed over Simple (Easy) mode. Highest rank you can earn is an A+.
Expert (Hard): For true masochists. All the stuff from Regular (Normal) mode is here, except now all boss attack speeds are increased by about 1.5. Some bosses also have an extra phase added in and some even combine attacks together. It's like playing the game on turbo mode but you can now earn the coveted S Rank if you perfect the stage. Good Luck!
Once you've made your choice in difficulty you proceed to shoot, jump, parry and dash your way through some side scrolling areas (6 in total to be exact) but the meat of the game is just an all out boss brawl. There's over 20 bosses to fight all with unique patterns and looks, no two bosses are alike so you're going to have your work cut out for you.
At the end of each stage you're graded on your performance based on certain criteria:
How long did it take you to finish the fight / stage?
How many hits did you take?
How many parry attacks did you perform?
How many super attacks did you land?
Trying to get A+ (on Regular mode) or S ranks (on Expert mode) seems to be the meat of the game and where most of your time is going to be spent. You could always just breeze through stages never thinking twice about how well you did but if you want to be a Cuphead master, you'll have to practice.
Rank in no way hinders you from completing the game, the ranks are inconsequential to your progression of the story. Once you finish a level or beat a boss, more of the map will open up to you and you can venture onward.
It's a fantastic game. As someone who grew up with Contra, it's a love letter to that game series as well as fans of a lost age of art and music. It's actually one of the only high quality side scrolling shoot 'em up games on Steam of it's kind that stays true to form. Simple yet incredibly challenging.
I would recommend the purchase if you're interested in something different for a change. Put down the mouse and keyboard and pick up ye olde game controller and go to town. I played this game for 8 hours straight and finished it in a single sitting. It took a lot of patience and concentration but it's completely do-able on Regular mode... Simple should be a breeze for the casuals. It helps to have grown up in a generation where this genre was a household name and not so niche as they've become today... If you're an old boy like me, this game should be an adequate challenge but not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.
There's a lot of stigma going on with this game right now and some gamers are saying the difficulty curve is causing them to think twice about purchasing. Rest assured there's a difficulty selection built in to the game before you access each level so there's really no excuse to be afraid... if you can't handle it, play on Simple mode. Remember you have 2 hours to refund.
The difficulty spikes fairly quickly so you know, just don't be a Dean Takahasi and take 10 minutes to beat the tutorial and you'll be able to see if the game's challenge is truly for you. Although if it does take you more than an hour to beat the first stage even, I would suggest refunding it... you're not going to make it.
Even though ratings are highly subjective and don't really mean anything, it's like an 8 / 10. An above average game and will end up being a cult classic.
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