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For other uses, see Cuphead

CupheadLogo
CupheadArtwork
An artwork image featuring Cuphead, Mugman, The Devil and King Dice

Genre(s)

Run and Gun
Platformer

Game By

Studio MDHR

Release Date

September 29, 2017

Project

Indie

Engine

Unity

Theme

Action
Adventure

Platform(s)

Microsoft Windows
Xbox One

Mode(s)

Single-player and Multiplayer

Link

Steam Download

Cuphead (also known as Cuphead: Don't Deal With The Devil) is a run and gun indie video game developed and published by Studio MDHR. It was released on September 29, 2017 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. As the title character Cuphead, the player fights a series of bosses in order to repay a debt to the Devil. The game was heavily inspired by the works of 1930s cartoonists such as Max Fleischer's Fleischer Studios, and sought to keep the works' subversive and surrealist qualities. Praised for its art style and noted for its challenging difficulty, it sold over one million copies two weeks after its release.

Synopsis

On Inkwell Isle, Cuphead and his brother Mugman are two fun-loving kids who live under the watchful eye of Elder Kettle. Against the elder's warnings, the brothers wander into the Devil's Casino and play craps. When the brothers go on a winning streak, the casino's manager King Dice calls upon the Devil, who raises the stakes. If Cuphead and Mugman can win another time, they will own the entire casino; if not, the Devil will have their souls. Cuphead rolls snake eyes and he and Mugman must give up their souls. The brothers beg for mercy, so the Devil makes a deal with them: collect the contracts of other inhabitants of Inkwell Isle who have lost their souls by midnight the next day.

Cuphead and Mugman travel around Inkwell Isle collecting soul contracts from residents who have lost their souls to King Dice and the Devil. Eventually, Elder Kettle tells the brothers that when facing the Devil again, they must "do the right thing". Once they make it back to the Casino, King Dice reveals that he too lost a bet, presumably about whether or not Cuphead and Mugman would be able to retrieve the contracts. He fights the two only to lose. The Devil then asks the brothers about the contracts and in return they will "join his team". At this point the player can choose whether to hand the contracts over or not. If they say yes, the Devil turns Cuphead and Mugman into his demonic lackeys and the game ends. If they say no, the Devil then battles the brothers. After defeating the Devil, the brothers toss the soul contracts in the furnace and race home. They tell the residents that they are no longer under control of the Devil and they all cheer the brothers for their heroic deed.

Gameplay

CupheadXboxOneGameplayScreenshot

In-game screenshot of Cuphead, showing the player and a co-op partner battling Captain Brineybeard, one of the game's bosses

Cuphead features a branching level sequence and is based around continuous boss fights. Cuphead has infinite lives, keeps weapons between deaths, can continuously fire his blasts and has a quick dash ability that can be used at will. The levels are accessible through an action role-playing game-style top-down perspective overworld with its own secret areas. It also has a multiplayer local cooperative mode that allows another player to play as Mugman. The player can also purchase more weapons and "Charms" from the shop using coins collected from the run-and-gun levels. Charms give the player special abilities like an extra life. Cuphead has a parry ability that, after successfully parrying five times in a row, enables Cuphead to perform a special move.

Development

Cuphead is the first game by Studio MDHR, an indie game development studio consisting of brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. Additional animation work was contributed by Jake Clark. Its development began in 2010, and they worked on the game from their respective homes in Toronto, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The game was inspired by cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios, Disney, and cartoonists Ub Iwerks, Grim Natwick, and Willard Bowsky, particularly their most "subversive and surrealist" elements. Chad Moldenhauer called Fleischer Studios "the magnetic north of his art style". The game was developed with the Unity game engine. The Moldenhauers watched '30s cartoons in their youth, which Chad Moldenhauer describes as happenstance, based on gifts and VHS compilations. Among other siblings in their Regina, Saskatchewan childhood home, the two shared aesthetic taste and interest in gameplay. They attempted a game in the style of Cuphead in 2000, but lacked the tools to continue. The brothers decided to try again following the success of indie video game Super Meat Boy, developed by Team Meat, in 2010. The character that became Cuphead descended from a 1936 Japanese propaganda animated film where a man with a teacup for a head morphs into a tank. The Moldenhauers emulated the animation because they found it strange, and "right away it stuck". The brothers had previously tried a kappa in a tophat, characters with a plate or fork for a head, and about 150 different designs. Over the development process, they have made multiple revisions to many gameplay elements, including how gameplay actions feel at the edges of platforms and how long players are disabled after receiving damage. They planned multiple difficulty levels, and chose to abandon a typical damsel in distress plot for one where Cuphead perpetually creates trouble for himself. The developers planned to surpass the Guinness World Record for number of boss battles in a run and gun game by having over 30 to the record's 25.

Gallery and characters

Trivia

  • Through the game was shown during the Xbox press event of Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014 to audience approval, Cuphead was not available to play.
  • Conversely, Makedonski said the "eight-direction firing radius" was his least favorite system in the game, calling it "clunky and awkward".
  • As summarized above, Cuphead is the first game by Studio MDHR.