Drawn by Hand with Hate

Cuphead is rapidly becoming my favorite game to hate. After about 10 hours with the game, I’ve made it to the second island, but I’ve also died over 200 times. Even though Cuphead can be one of the more frustrating games out there, I have never felt like I was being cheated or like the odds were insurmountable. Honestly, the main issues I’ve had with the game have nothing to do with the difficulty. A couple of times I’ve noticed that the music got stuck playing the opening theme, and once I died in an awkward fashion (if there even is such a thing in this game) and the game froze on a death screen; however, I find it difficult to complain about bugs in a game that plays as smooth as Cuphead.

Cuphead essentially has two types of levels ‘Run and Gun’ and boss fights. The  ‘Run and Gun,’ is basically a 2D classic side-scrolling level where you avoid taking damage while getting through the level as quickly as possible and try to collect all the coins along the way. The boss fights consist of several stages all fighting the same enemy who often takes different forms and throws new tricks your way. While the levels differ in format, one thing remains the same for both: You are going to die. In a game like Cuphead, you need to learn patterns and adapt to different enemies or attacks, so you should be prepared to take a hit almost every time a new obstacle is thrown your way. Most levels will require several play-throughs in which you slowly piece together a series of patterns and hope you can hold on to the end.

Perhaps the best part of Cuphead is the sheer level of diversity among bosses. I went from fighting a giant carrot, to taking on a house made of candy, and even fighting a flying genie after being transformed into a small plane. With different perks and upgrades available for purchase using coins collected in levels, Cuphead can earn more health and equip different bullets that will help taking down the constant stream of villains. While it’s not on the same level as games such as Destiny or Shadow of War, it’s still fun to test new abilities on your missions through the world of magical talking cups and evil gambling frogs.

Often times, when you see a $20 price tag on a game, it is easy to curtail your expectations. With all the stories about the game being drawn by hand, I was concerned that it was going to be a gimmicky cartoon game that might consume a weekend. Luckily, I was proven wrong by a mile. Cuphead has quickly become my go to game when I’m short on time. If I find myself with about 15 minutes of free time before I’m ushered out of my apartment, I can attempt a few Cuphead levels. Minus all the dying, each level only takes a couple of minutes to play through, and during the ‘constant dying phase’ of each level, you will probably only play for a minute at a time while you learn the patterns. Since the brain makes connections while you sleep, setting the game down for the night and coming back the next day can provide some very gratifying results.

If you enjoy old school side scrolling games, and you aren’t afraid of a challenge, Cuphead is well worth the purchase. While I don’t see Cuphead being a console seller, it’s a great addition to every Xbox library, and with low required specs, Cuphead can run on most computers and laptops as well. Also, for those of you with a game loving significant other or a friend that can come sit on the couch with you, throwing Mugman into the mix adds a new dimension to the game and adds to the replay ability of the game. Whether you simply love 30’s style cartoons or you are looking for a change of pace from the AAA games coming out this fall, at only $20 Cuphead is a must buy.

Jacob Wolf



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