Chaotic nos­tal­gia

Cuphead

GAX (Malaysia) - - REVIEW - By Peter Chu

Blast from the past

You don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be born in the 1930’s to ap­pre­ci­ate the dis­tinc­tive art style of car­toons from that era, be­cause there’s some­thing about its old-school charm that man­ages to tran­scend even the im­pec­ca­ble Pixar-qual­ity an­i­ma­tions of to­day. But even with its nos­tal­gic ap­peal, it’s hard not to think that it would be sui­ci­dal for a video game de­vel­oper to re­lease some­thing in 2017 that looks rem­i­nis­cent of a car­toon from that era – espe­cially when we’ve be­come so ac­cus­tomed and de­sen­si­tized to video games with graph­ics that are more re­al­is­tic than ac­tual re­al­ity. En­ter Cana­dian in­de­pen­dent game de­vel­oper, Stu­dio MDHR En­ter­tain­ment, who has boldly de­cided to take the plunge with its de­but game, Cuphead. And to say that the risk has paid off would be a mas­sive un­der­state­ment, be­cause more than one mil­lion copies of Cuphead were sold within a span of two weeks, and it’s easy to see why.

Mod­ern war­fare

If you en­joy play­ing side-scrolling shoot­ers like Metal Slug, but want some­thing that’s con­sid­er­ably more chal­leng­ing, you’re bound to have oo­dles of fun with Cuphead – pro­vided that you’re will­ing to per­ish mul­ti­ple times over just to com­plete a sin­gle level. And by mul­ti­ple times, we’re not talk­ing about sin­gle-digit num­bers here – we’re talk­ing about num­bers that you’ll have to keep track of us­ing all your fin­gers and toes, and per­haps even those be­long­ing to the friend sit­ting next to you.

Yes, Cuphead can be pun­ish­ingly dif­fi­cult, but it’s also in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. Un­like Metal Slug, which has a string of dif­fer­ent lev­els with inane en­e­mies that you’ll have to com­plete be­fore com­ing to a boss fight, ev­ery level in Cuphead is lit­er­ally a boss fight. And no, you won’t be able to de­feat them by sim­ply mem­o­riz­ing their each and ev­ery move, be­cause you will also need per­fect hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion to avoid the hail of pro­jec­tiles that will be head­ing your way.

Not mak­ing mat­ters any bet­ter is the fact that ev­ery level in Cuphead is de­void of check­points, and that your char­ac­ter will only have three lives to work with through­out the du­ra­tion of the level. Pe­riod. There is no way for you to re­gen­er­ate or re­gain a lost life.

Just so you know, it should take you no more than five min­utes to com­plete a sin­gle level in Cuphead with­out dy­ing. But be­cause the odds of that hap­pen­ing is ac­tu­ally lower than the odds of you en­coun­ter­ing a uni­corn in per­son, you can safely ex­pect to spend at least 45 min­utes on ev­ery level be­fore pro­gress­ing to the sub­se­quent one.

Sure, you can at­tempt to vary your play style by pur­chas­ing dif­fer­ent weapons, abil­i­ties, and spe­cial moves from the in-game shop, but do bear in mind that ev­ery weapon has its own draw­back. The scat­ter­shot weapon, for ex­am­ple, does the most dam­age com­pared to the rest of the avail­able weapons, but you’ll need to po­si­tion your­self un­com­fort­ably close to bosses be­cause of its short range.

CON­CLU­SION

Cuphead can be down­right tor­tur­ous at times, but boy, does it hurt so good.

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