Cuphead featured image

Review: Cuphead – Don’t Deal with the Devil

Cuphead is a game that not only captures the imagination with its unique 1930s cartoon-inspired visuals but also presents a challenging and engaging gameplay experience. Developed by StudioMDHR, this run-and-gun platformer, released in 2017, has since garnered a significant following for its distinctive style and gameplay mechanics.

Cuphead - Duo

Visuals and Art Style

Right off the bat, Cuphead impresses with its visually stunning hand-drawn animations. The art style is a loving homage to the cartoons of the 1930s, particularly the works of Fleischer Studios and early Disney. Every frame of the game looks like it could be a still from a classic cartoon, complete with the grainy film quality and slightly washed-out color palette that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia.

The character designs are imaginative and whimsical, with Cuphead and his brother Mugman standing out as charming protagonists. The game’s bosses, which range from a giant carrot to a boxing frog duo, are not only visually distinctive but also showcase the creativity and effort put into making each encounter unique and memorable.

Gameplay Mechanics

Cuphead is notorious for its difficulty. The game is primarily made up of boss battles, each with their unique patterns and phases that players must learn and overcome. This challenge is a double-edged sword; while it provides a sense of accomplishment upon defeating a tough boss, it can also be a source of frustration for some players.

The controls are tight and responsive, which is crucial for a game that demands precision. Players can shoot in eight directions, and mastering the parry mechanic is essential for both defence and filling up the special move meter. The game encourages experimentation with different weapon types and abilities, allowing players to find a style that suits their approach.

Cuphead - Boss Fight

Sound and Music

The audio in Cuphead is another high point. The jazz-inspired soundtrack is not only fitting for the era the game emulates but is also incredibly catchy and well-composed. The sound effects, from the simple pew of Cuphead’s finger gun to the more elaborate noises of the bosses, add to the charm and immersion.

Story and Narrative

While the story in Cuphead is simple – two brothers trying to save their souls from the devil – it’s more than enough to set the stage for the game’s events. The narrative takes a back seat to the gameplay and aesthetics, but it does its job in providing context and motivation for the player’s journey.

Cuphead - Pals

Accessibility and Difficulty

Cuphead can be punishingly difficult, which might not appeal to all players. However, for those who enjoy a challenge, it offers a deeply rewarding experience. The game does not have difficulty settings, which means all players must face the same level of challenge. This design choice preserves the integrity of the game’s challenge but could alienate players who are less skilled or prefer a more casual experience.


Cuphead stands out as a masterful blend of art, music, and gameplay. Its challenge level won’t be for everyone, but for those who appreciate tough games, it’s a rewarding and memorable experience. The game is a love letter to the golden age of animation and a testament to the artistic and creative possibilities of video games as a medium. Whether you’re a fan of challenging platformers, a lover of retro aesthetics, or just looking for something different in the gaming landscape, Cuphead is a game that deserves your attention.

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