The first time I heard about Cuphead was at E3 a couple of years ago. A friend and I were passing by the Microsoft booth when I got a glimpse of the iconic rubber hose animation style on one of the monitors. I didn’t get to play it since there seemed to be a line of people waiting to try it out, but the game was memorable enough simply by watching to make a lasting impression.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I bought the game for my Nintendo Switch as a birthday gift to myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but after the first couple of boss fights, I feel like I got a pretty good understanding of the game.
There are two main kinds of levels; boss battles and run and guns. These levels are necessary to complete in order to unlock new areas of the world map and move forward. Boss battles are not a walk in the park, even in simple mode. They require a cycle of playing, learning the bosses attacks, dying, and starting all over again to move only a little bit further. You have three HP to get through the entire battle, so every dodge, shot and parry matters. For “Djimmi the Great”, I died thirty eight times before finally beating the boss, and that was only in simple mode. I’m not even sure if that number includes the amount of times I hit replay in the main menu.
Each boss has multiple forms that build upon another as the battle goes on. It’s a great way to track your progression through the level because each part of the battle has a consistent pattern to it no matter how many times you replay it. However, there is usually a random variable in each level that keeps you on your toes. For example in the simple version of the “Baroness von Bon Bon” level you must beat three of the Baroness’s lackeys before facing the Baroness herself, but you may not know which three out of the four possible bad guys you will be facing and in what order during each play through.
Run and gun levels are more like the traditional 2D platformer levels and are less common than the boss ones. The goal of these stages is to collect as many coins as you can while running through the level and dodging or defeating enemies. Like the boss battles, you only get three HP and go through the similar cycle of learning, dying, and trying again. The coins collected after completing these run and gun levels can be used to purchase new abilities at Porkrind’s Emporium.
There is a third kind of level, the mausoleum, that’s optional in each section of the map. These levels are more defensive and require parrying ghosts to keep them away from an urn on an alter. Completing these levels unlocks new abilities.
Although it can be frustrating at times, I am enjoying this game and curious to find out how times I die by the time I complete it. I’ll have to report back on how many it turns out to be. My prediction is around 500.
I currently don’t have a good way of grabbing the screenshots off of my Nintendo Switch without spamming my social media accounts, and so I decided to grab screenshots from some YouTube videos. The screenshots you see in this post are from videos by ZackScottGames and Boss Fight Database.