‘Cuphead’ Hands-on Impressions

Doug Trein

Cuphead, an indie run-and-gun game developed by Studio MDHR, made quite a buzz during its reveal during Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference. The team has been hard at work on the game since then, adding even more bosses and content. An impressive demo in the Microsoft booth at E3 this year. Those anxious for the game to be released have a lot to be excited about.

The game’s strongest characteristic is the extremely charming art style, modeled after animated shows and films from the 1930s. The developers have stated inspiration came from Fleischer Studios and Disney, along with cartoonists Ub Iwerks, Grim Natwick, and Willard Bowsky. Each frame of animation has an insane amount of detail, and watching Cuphead can almost be as fun as playing it.

The demo at E3 included a small handful of platforming stages with two boss stages. After my time playing the game, one thing stood out immediately: Cuphead is DIFFICULT. Fans of shoot-em-up and bullet-hell games will be right at home here. Projectiles and enemies fly in from every direction and players can only take three hits before they die and are removed from play. Players can revive each other, but must approach the floating ghost of the deceased player in a short time window.

Recently, the developers revealed that they would be adding platforming stages to the game between boss fights. These platforming areas are as difficult as the boss fight stages, and in particular require coordination during co-op. The platforming itself remains simple; it’s the hordes of enemies that can cause headaches.

The boss fights, though, are where the game really shines. Each boss is a unique threat with an arsenal of attacks and special moves. Every boss also has multiple stages, usually increasing in size or throwing more bullets around the screen. Bosses tend to have a good chunk of health as well, so players will need to really memorize their patterns if they want to have a shot to come out on top.


So be forewarned: Cuphead will test your patience and require a lot of trial-and-error before you complete it. Depending on the type of gamer you are, that can either be a great quality for a game to have or a terrible one. The combat will remain engaging regardless of your skill level and players who are looking for a challenge will be rewarded with a fantastic experience.

Cuphead will be released sometime in 2016.

Doug Trein
Doug Trein is a staff contributor at Fandom and focuses primarily on video games and animated television shows. His game genre favorites include strategy and turn-based role-playing games, first-person shooters, 2D fighting games, and action/adventure titles.
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