A tribute to Cuphead, one of the most beloved video games of all time
Cuphead isn’t my favourite game, but my affection for it is unique. It’s a rare game that inspires a youthful feeling of wonder long after the formative time of creativity and discovery has passed. The cuphead is like those Saturday morning cartoons you didn’t want to end.
Cuphead – The Animation Method
Cuphead’s employers are all intriguing, from the seemingly innocent Cagney Carnation to the delightfully titled Baroness Von Bon Bon to the overzealous clown Beppi. I can picture true cartoon stories where Cuphead and Mugman have to raid Von Bon Bon’s sweet castle or when the brothers have to stop Sally from performing her wicked performance while playing.
I occasionally play cuphead on “simple” just so I don’t have to pay as close attention to the action, allowing me to observe a boss’ facial expressions. Or the way they conjure projectiles that drift across the stage at around 24 frames per second, closely aligning with the movements of the visual flair of cartoons of the era.
The small crew at StudioMDHR created all of Cuphead’s animations by hand. Even to this day, that truth perplexes me. I’ve never played a game with more personality than Cuphead. Simply by watching it in action, it’s evident that StudioMDHR poured its heart and soul into this enormous, unique experience.
The thrill of discovering
That’s what brought me to Cuphead in the first place. It’s unparalleled. In many other games with comparable gameplay, Cuphead’s presentation is unsurpassed. The appealing sights and detailed animations shine even when played in portable mode. Cuphead, to me, perfectly embodied the excitement of finding something new as a youngster. Only this time, I was 26 and had no idea that any game could recreate the amazement of discovery.
Cuphead making a game that resembles a 1930s cartoon
When production on Cuphead, a new game that combines side-scrolling gameplay with 1930s-style American animation, began, Maja Moldenhauer ordered a large quantity of animation paper. Because the game was to be hand-drawn to recreate the era manner, the was a need. Moldenhauer, who worked as an artist and producer on the game, believed that her first paper order would be sufficient to see the team through Cuphead production and then begin work on whatever the studio’s next project would be.
That did not occur. Instead, the massive stack of paper lasted about a third of the way through Cuphead’s development. One of the causes was the game’s scope, which increased considerably midway through production, causing repeated delays and a lot more animation. But it’s also because the Studio MDHR crew is full of perfectionists who would toss away character and level concepts many times until they got earlier what they wanted. That means many papers get wasted. “We’ve been fine-tuning things that many of the general public probably won’t even notice,” Moldenhauer adds. “But we were simply being fussy.”
Cuphead, a game that blends two very old-school inspirations, will be released this Friday on both Xbox One and PC. On the one hand, it’s a run-and-gun action game that tries to imitate the toughness of genre legends like Mega Man and Gunstar Heroes. There are massive creatures to defeat that require pattern recognition. And rapid reflexes, also waves of adversaries ranging from fireflies to angry flowers.
I love cuphead and already purchases some cute Cuphead plushies and will continue to collect more.