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The Burning Stone: Cuphead Review

Title: Cuphead
Genre: Run and gun, Action
Publisher: StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc. | Developer: StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.
Platform: Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Steam and GOG
Release Date: 09/29/2017

Cuphead is Overflowing with Anger-inducing Fun and Nostalgia

This beautiful hand-drawn masterpiece from StudioMDHR had us laughing hysterically, yelling nonsensical gibberish and rubbing our temples in frustration. Available now on Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Steam, and GOG.

The two main characters, Cuphead and Mugman progress through numerous levels of increasing difficulty, in an attempt to collect contracts for the Devil. The main focus is boss battles here. Cuphead’s audio and visuals pay homage to the time-consuming animation techniques of the 1930s. Instead of the smooth graphics that many have grown accustomed to in current game titles, Cuphead treats you to the grainy quality of hand-drawn cel animation and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Don’t linger too long in one spot to admire the stunning watercolor backgrounds though, or you’re sure to fall victim to one of the game’s many enemies or projectiles.

The Greater the Difficulty, The Greater the Glory….right?!

When discussing Cuphead, the first thing that came to mind was the game’s rumored difficulty. We figured, that it couldn’t possibly be THAT difficult right? Yeah, it totally is. Though the boss levels are by far our favorite, each level is a brutal lesson in humility. In our experience, we found that button mashing and rushing got us nowhere and strategy and patterns played key roles in what little success that we managed to achieve. The rush felt after defeating one of these merciless levels was amazing and made the panic and sometimes anger experienced from these roughly 2:00-minute bouts of torture worth every second. Don’t get me wrong, we had fun, but it had been a while since we experienced such a wide range of emotions from a co-op game.

Some Jazzy Serenades

From the dulcet tones of the barbershop quartet in the title screen to the Jazzy tracks that accompany each unique level; Cuphead engulfs you in music from the 1930s era. The fast percussion and manic saxophone/trumpet solos raise your heart rate up to your throat and keep it there while you shoot, dodge and parry your way through the levels. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself toe-tapping between retry screens. We’ll be on the lookout for Cuphead’s soundtrack.

Weapons and Upgrades

It’s funny to talk about weapons in this game when in all actuality there were none. Projectiles are shot from Cuphead and Mugman’s hands as they make shooting gestures with their thumb and index finger. You can purchase upgrades and different weapon types through an NPC store, but be sure to choose wisely as currency is not easy to come by. We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of unique weapons available. For example, one of our favorite weapons required us to face backward in every battle to use the weapon effectively while another required us to be point-blank.

A Steaming Cup of Awesome!

This game was a lot of fun, though the difficulty in some levels was frustrating. The art style and music is a refreshing breath of fresh air and makes this game an absolute steal for $19.99. I think that this is a game that John and I will play over and over.

Here are some quotes from our experience with the game:
John: “I’m not sure why that didn’t work” “I don’t want it! I don’t want it!”
Jill: “Oh! Use dash!” “What happened?? Was he NOT dead?!”

DISCLAIMER: Cuphead game code provided to RAGE Works for review.