Cuphead made quite an impression last year when it was playable for the first time at E3. At the time, you and a friend could wander around a world map, visiting various locales to initiate the game’s incredibly authentic, Fleischer-esque boss battles.
Cuphead does a fantastic impression of the run-and-guns of the 8 and 16-bit era, particularly Contra. At the time of the demo, it felt like levels would probably be added later to go along with the surreal, larger-than-life encounters, but it wasn’t guaranteed. If a new IGN video is anything to go by, it looks like things have expanded a bit. What’s shown here is a short level, not that Contra, nor any other old-school 2D shooter, typically featured long stages.
And what a stage this is, with a plethora of anthropomorphized floral and fungal life to impede your jaunt through a thick wood. From the perspective of pattern recognition and screen chaff, it looks like an early stage, without too much populating the screen, even if the timing is probably much trickier than it looks.
Assuming this isn’t a one-off, the addition of levels would give Cuphead the full figure of true homage to the genre. A game this visually stunning that hearkens back to crushing difficulty of arcade action’s golden age should be as rich as is possible with a tiny team like Studio MDHR.
Any (very minor) misgivings felt over the possibility of not being able to fully run through the worlds Cupheads carnival of devilish goliaths preside over can now be abandoned, though judging from the taste of the creators, it may have always been in the cards.
In any case, given the baroque pedigree Studio MDHR’s handily proved in a just a few set piece encounters last year, giving Cuphead what it was missing will probably just cement its reputation as an old-timey instant classic.