HANDS ON: Cuphead is challenging but addictive fun

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Cuphead is one of the most anticipated indies right now, most notable for its presentation, mimicking 1930s cartoons. I was able to try out the game demo on the PAX Australia show floor, which includes an overworld mode, and several difficult boss fights, from a giant carrot, to boxing frogs that transform into a slot machine. I’ve been very excited to try this game after seeing snippets of gameplay at E3 2014 and 2015, and am eager to see how challenging these levels really are.

Studio MDHR have done an impressive job of creating a game with the visual style of a 1930s cartoon, and the precision of a 16-bit platformer. The style perfectly captures the feeling of old animations creating goofy, yet creepy boss characters, almost all elements on screen have exaggerated movements, or bobbing up and down.

Gameplay wise, Cuphead is very challenging and requires a lot of attention and patience. The gameplay mechanics are simple, with A to jump and X to shoot, but it requires a lot of skill to move around the levels and dodge incoming attacks. Your play space is limited to what is on screen, and your movement changes depending on the stage  – you can be on foot, or flying on a plane, changing up the gameplay and introducing new mechanics.

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In the demo, you can choose which boss to fight in the ‘overworld’ screen, giving you a top down view on the map and being able to walk around to different locations like the garden, which puts you right into a battle with a giant carrot, or the plane, which takes you to the skies to verse a giant bird. There is also a co-op mode which lets you play as Cuphead and Mugman, having an extra player with you is a challenge, especially when you’re trying to dodge projectiles and trying to figure out your location on screen.

The game is very addictive, and I ended up making several trips back to the booth to try out the other boss fights, I’m really excited to see what they have in store for the game.
Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is set to release sometime in 2016, on PC and Xbox One