I’m one of those people who got a chance to play through some of the very best games that the 80s and 90s had to offer, and as some of you probably already know. Quite a few of those games were pretty darn hard (like “Ninja Gaiden“, “Ghosts ‘n Goblins” and “Contra”). My point would be that I never really bought into the rants about Studio MDHR’s run and gun/platform adventure game “Cuphead” being too difficult. You see, everyone who has played through some of the hardcore games of the 80s and 90s are already used to this kind of difficulty.

What I’m trying to say is that you either adapt to Cuphead’s difficulty level, or you simply pick up another game instead. You know, in a way it’s kind of like that old Fisherman´s Friend “Suck it Up” TV commercial . Anyways, I think you get the idea. So, right off the bat, I freaking LOVE “Cuphead”. In the matter of fact, “Cuphead” made me think about a mix of games such as “Super Mario World”, “Commander Keen”, “Barts Nightmare”, “Rayman”, “Un Squdron”, “Street Fighter”, “Contra” and “Mega Man”.

cuphead level 1

“Cuphead” is no harder than you allow the game to be, because “if” you learn from your past mistakes and just keep on playing. Then you will become successful sooner or later.

Simply put, I felt right at home with “Cuphead”, as I grew up playing a lot of those games that I mentioned. Furthermore, since I loved those titles to bits as a kid, “Cuphead” actually felt like a combination of old and new. In other words, you really do get the best of both worlds in “Cuphead“. However, make no mistake, “Cuphead” might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the game’s rather high difficulty. Even so, it’s very rewarding for those who can look past Cuphead’s said hardcore difficulty, because it’s extremely satisfying to beat a stage or a boss and receive a really good grade (the game gives you a grade between F to A when you beat a stage or a boss).

cuphead vs games journalists

The boss fights are intense and nerve wrecking. Especially later on in the game, where you get to meet bosses that could make a full-grown man cry out of pure frustration.

That’s also the reason why you keep coming back over and over again, until you beat the said stage or boss. It’s also worth mentioning that you will get a chance to buy new items, weapons and special attacks in the game’s shop. However, just like in the “Mega Man” series, every weapon has its strenghts and weaknesses. So you have to figure out which weapons (yes, you can carry around with more than one weapon at a time) you should use against which enemy or boss.

cuphead the struggle is real

The struggle is real in “Cuphead”, but the game will reward you greatly if you just hang in there and never give up.

You also get a chance to get more health points at well. However, it comes at a price though, because your weapons will do less damage if you use this item (it’s called “Heart”, and it’s listed as a “Charm”). Nevertheless, sometimes it’s worth doing less damage and having more health points instead. Well, at least that setup worked the best for me. So “if” you have a good setup of skills, weapons and items, then you will get much better odds at reaching success in “Cuphead” with no doubt.

cuphead shop

There is at least one shop per world in “Cuphead”, and the shop allows you to buy different items and weapons with the gold coins that you have collected throughout the game’s stages.

So, yes, it’s a learning process, and yes, you WILL die a lot in “Cuphead” (no, I will not make any jokes about that one game that so-called games journalists love to talk about every time a game is a little bit too hard for them). Even so, that didn’t stop me, because I simply didn’t want the game to win over me. I also wanted to know what would happen next, because there is a rather cool story to “Cuphead” as well (there will be no spoilers here!). So that worked as a great motivator for me at least, and the awesome gameplay aspects, soundtrack and graphics kept me motivated throughout the game as well.

cuphead cagney carnation boss fight

Cagney Carnation is with no doubt one of the most irritating bosses whom I have fought in my life so far.

So, all in all, “Cuphead” is with no doubt one of the best run and gun/platform adventure games that I have ever played to date. I mean, the game just keeps on giving from minute one. Sure, you will most likely die a lot, and scream and rant a lot while playing “Cuphead”, but that’s also a part of the game’s charm (you know, the same kind of charm that made games such as “Mega Man” and “Contra” great?). Nevertheless, I would still recommend “Cuphead” to everyone who loves really great and challenging run and gun/platform game, because that’s exactly what you’re going to get with “Cuphead” (that and more).

Pros:
+ Great graphics, animations and artwork
+ Fun, colorful and interesting characters and dialogs
+ There are plenty of bosses and stages to complete
+ You got plenty of different items, weapons and special attacks to play around with
+ The soundtrack is freaking awesome!
+ Run and gun, platform, adventure, RPG and shoot-em-up mixed into one
+ The replay value is high due to game’s grade system and alternative difficulty option during boss fights

Cons:
– “Some” people might find the game to be too hard
– I did experience some crash bugs during boss fights
– Some of the later levels and bosses “might” make you cry out of frustration

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 5/5
Sound/Music: 5/5
Controls: 4.5/5
Replay value: 4/5

tgg grade 4.5 out of 5

Verdict: 4.5/5
It’s been ages since I played such a challenging and addicting run and gun/platform adventure game. Well, Studio MDHR sure hit the jackpot with “Cuphead”, because the game really does feel and look like a mix of the golden era run and gun/platform games from the 80s and 90s mixed with today’s industry standards. Furthermore, not only does 1930’s cartoon look and soundtrack look and sound great, but it also makes the game stand out from the crowd. So, all in all, “Cuphead” is a school book example of how a great and challenging game should be done.

Title: Cuphead
Developer: Studio MDHR
Format: PC
Genre: Run and gun/platform/adventure
Resolution: Highest possible on PC
Release date: 2017-09-29
Difficulty: Hard
Spent time: +15 hours
Average grade internationally: 87.90% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI12+/Teen
Price: 19,99 Euros via GOG.com

***Disclosure***
We (TGG) are a part of the GOG family, and we may receive a profit cut out of your purchase via the GOG links in this article. The review code was also provided to us by GOG.

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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