Platform: Xbox-one (E3 2015 Build)
Release Date: 2016 (Xbox One, Steam)
Like the 1920s, 30s, and 40s cartoons that the game emulates, Cuphead is an expression of what fun can mean without all of this newfangled futurism. The game is always rhythmic, bouncing to its own beat to keep up the liveliness that it tries to portray, but always extra expressive thanks to the big eyes and big head making it unnecessary to need nuanced, subjective feelings but instantly knowing the anger or anguish from having every possible feature, from the eyes to the hands to the body language shouting out their current state of being.
As far as gameplay goes, the build at E3 was more like a boss-rush. You go to the various cartoon-staple locales, like the airplane homage to Crazy Plane by Mickey Mouse where you fight a giant Egg-splitting Condor stuck inside a birdhouse, to the Casino where you fight a duo of prize-winning boxing frogs. The boss fights have low margin for error so you need to be on-point with your shooting, and with limited lives this can make it a bit frustrating to keep replaying the same bosses.
The bosses feel much like the Metal Slug bosses do. A lot going on-screen, but never really that much chaos where you feel stressfully overwhelmed. You can find boss patterns quickly, but you get tunnel vision-ed quickly to shooting the boss in the face that it can be a pain to have to deal with the actual jumping and dodging of the retaliation from the bosses. This is a fact of most shmups that you have to live with and manage if you want to play this game. Much like Metal Slug, much like Cuphead.
I do hope, though, that there might be more substance to the game than just strictly boss-rushes. While the bosses have many phases to the fight each with different patterns, skillsets and screen management obstacles giving room for more than just a single mode of expression for the boss patterns, there can be some novelty in developing a level and smaller enemies to the theme of a 1930s bouncy-ball animation sing-a-long that would be wonderful to explore.
But this is an early build and the game still has a ways to go, so I hope they develop in a broader scope before release.
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