When it comes difficult platformers, few hold as much weight as Studio MDHR’s Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil, an action platfomer that mostly focuses on boss battles. But Cuphead is not necessarily known for its difficulty alone, because this is one of the most unique art styles used in a video game ever, especially on the indie market. The 1930s cartoon visuals are an absolute joy to look at, and it makes Cuphead‘s presence on the Nintendo Switch a gift from the Almighty Microsoft.
This Nindie Spotlight is a complicated one, because this is a title that is not so welcoming for casuals but is still absolutely worth your time and energy. My name is Jason, and this is your Nindie Spotlight for this week – Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil.
Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil
Cuphead follows Cuphead and Mugman as they make a horrible deal with the devil and eventually lose their souls. In order to repay their debt and regain their souls, the devil tasks the two with collecting the soul contracts of numerous other figures that have also lost to the lord of the underground, and this is the main premise for the game.
Each figure that you are collecting a contract from is a boss, and the game is loaded with them. The 19 bosses spread throughout the game are beautifully rendered to look like 1930s era cartoon characters, and the way they flow on the screen cements this direction even more. Every single boss is original and usually takes up the whole screen with their bright expression and over-the-top move set.
On top of the boss fights, there are also some Run ‘n” Gun levels that tasks the main characters with traversing through some enemy-riddled stages getting from point A to point B. They are a nice break from the usual boss stages, and it adds a whole lot more value to an already strong package.
Boss Fights Like No Other
Clearly Cuphead‘s greatest strength is a double-edge sword, and that is the incredibly awesome yet insanely difficult boss fights. Each area of the map is littered with fun little icons or establishments that serve as an indicator for the boss ahead, and it would be an understatement to say how different each boss feels.
Some bosses task you with dodging for days and days until you find your openings, while others need to be taken out fast before things become more overwhelming and the odds stack up. Stages are split between platforming ones and flying ones, where the former feels like your standard action platformer boss fight while your latter feels a bit like a shoot-em-up with bullet hell-like bosses that do not let up.
But none of these boss fights are kind and usually take quite a few attempts to defeat, especially if you are not a regular action platformer fan. However, the feeling of elation you receive as a player for defeating any of these bosses is unlike anything else, and the celebration had after hearing that “KNOCKOUT!” from the announcer is bound to be awesome.
You would think that this is the greatest selling point for the game, but you would be wrong!
The Art and Sound of Cuphead
Like already mentioned, Cuphead looks and sounds like a 1930s era cartoon, and it is damn near perfect in execution. The character models for both the main characters and the bosses are all wonderful. The extreme attention to detail and the homage paid to a forgotten time in entertainment pays off tremendously, because watching the fluidity of every little thing on screen is mesmerizing.
But the soundtrack is what wraps everything up perfectly. The old toon-inspired music follows the action on screen, and boss transitions even follow suit with musically transitions. The piano riffs are an absolute joy to listen to, but I found the horn tracks to be the most exciting! Hearing those trumpets blast during pivotal boss fights kept my blood pumping and made me want to replay those stages again.
My favorite, though, without question are the Barbershop Quartet songs that seldomly pop up through the game. They are excellently sung, and they are a relic in musical history. However, it is an art that is still appreciated today and makes the soundtrack even more stellar.
It is honestly amazing that we are talking about Cuphead in a Nindie Spotlight at all, and yet here we are. There are so many more things to talk about from the super-fun cooperative gameplay to the genuinely entertaining story to the game being entirely hand-drawn. This is an experience that deserves all of the attention is has gotten, and even writing this Nindie Spotlight is making me want to fire it back up again.
This is one of those deals with the devil that you don’t mind, because although Cuphead is incredibly difficult for a large portion of gamers, it is worth the price of admission because everything else about the game excels, but if you are a masochist, then the difficulty is a positive factor as well.
There is your Nindie Spotlight on Cuphead. Join us next time for another brief look into the Nintendo Switch’s best Nindie titles. What are some of your favorite indie games? Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for visiting Nintendo Link. Happy gaming, everyone!
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.