Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

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Paul Campbell
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Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby Paul Campbell » June 6th, 2019, 1:47 am

I heard all this hype about Cuphead, about how it had retro game play but with an original graphic style all its own. I read lots of user reviews online praising the game, while also universally mentioning its undeniable difficulty. The trailer in the Nintendo E-Shop on the Switch did a really good job of making the game look fun and exciting, and I'm sure to many people it is. But I wonder how it holds up to my generation of gamers, those that mostly grew up during the 8 and 16 bit ages.

The graphics and sound are absolutely one-of-a-kind. Not just the old-time cartoon style that makes this look like a game that came out before Pong, but the captured style, mannerisms and humor that gave those old cartoons their charm. It almost looks like the developer hired a bunch of former Disney animators in their 90's and had them work directly with the programmers.

BUT..... I have almost zero interest in the game play. Most of the game is long, drawn out "boss fights", that can easily take over ten minutes, each one separated into different phases of that particular boss. And no matter how far you get in one of these battles, death means starting from the beginning.

But the thing that is really missing from these fights is some true 8-bit strategy. You spend the majority of your time dodging obstacles and maneuvering through "bullet hell" scenarios, and often the only way you will hit the "boss" is if you are holding the fire button down while you are doing all this. Most of the time the ENTIRE BOSS, sometimes filling half the screen, is vulnerable to your projectiles, instead of a "weak spot", like and eye or a heart or something. And to me, this would change the entire game. I really feel like all I'm doing is avoiding obstacles and hoping that my movements will coincidentally point me in the right direction so a few bullets will hit the boss. It just feels weird to me, and I think it might have alot to do with my 8-bit sensibilities getting in the way, because my young boys LOVE it, and it seems like a lot of the positive reviews online come from younger gamers who don't know what to expect with a game like this. A game that seems more intent on showing you animations from the 40's than making a fun game.

Am I wrong? Should I be working harder to enjoy this? Is this going to be like Hollow Knight and eventually become amazing if I stick with it?

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pacman000
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby pacman000 » June 6th, 2019, 8:15 am

I really feel like all I'm doing is avoiding obstacles and hoping that my movements will coincidentally point me in the right direction so a few bullets will hit the boss
Hey! That's how I defeated Tatanga! ;)

ActRaiser
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby ActRaiser » June 6th, 2019, 11:22 am

It's been a while since I've played it. Isn't there a strategy in that when you "flip" if you time it right, you can gain some bonus energy? The boss shoots at you, you flip into it, it builds up something. Or maybe it was a special colored shot or enemy. If I could get to the bosses I could normally figure out how to beat them. It was the run and gun stages that always got me. That's where I couldn't quite make progress and hit the wall.

I loved it, frustratingly hard and all. The art style is what sold it to me. It's like playing a mad, crazy mickey mouse cartoon.

And don't feel bad about not understanding the "flip" side of things. I didn't know that was a thing either until much later.

ActRaiser
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby ActRaiser » June 6th, 2019, 11:37 am

This link explains the parry really well.

https://www.polygon.com/cuphead-guide/2 ... box-one-pc

I think it's the missing strategy piece you were talking about. It also covers the extra weapons and coins used to purchase said weapons.

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Retro STrife
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby Retro STrife » June 6th, 2019, 2:29 pm

I feel similar - that Cuphead is an average game wrapped in a shiny package. It might even be a below average game when you think about it. I don't think there's anything remotely special about the gameplay or level design - and the difficulty is impossibly hard in the all the wrong kind of ways. But man, that "shiny packaging" is one of the shiniest I've ever seen. I love the art style and, for that reason alone, I'm really glad I played it and would recommend it.

Voor
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby Voor » June 6th, 2019, 5:36 pm

Everything you’ve said is true, but there is certainly some deeper strategy. When I have time, I’ll post a link to a nice speedrun of it.

eneuman96
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby eneuman96 » June 6th, 2019, 5:59 pm

The reason I loved Cuphead is the opposite as what this post says, in that I think it would still be an excellent game even without the attention-grabbing art style. It's certainly challenging, but I honestly think the difficulty is overblown (at least on Normal), and the only boss I found to be genuinely cheap was Dr. Kahl's Robot. Otherwise, it's much more forgiving than any Contra, and I feel it's finely tuned enough to be more than a gimmicky art style wrapped around an average game.

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby VideoGameCritic » June 6th, 2019, 8:52 pm

I agree that Cuphead is an artistic masterpiece that's not particularly fun to play.
What was the point of making it so hard?

strat
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby strat » June 7th, 2019, 12:10 am

Disagree, though I could understand disliking the game's format for simply lacking content. You can restart the boss right after dying and there's no worry about a gameover. Also, the weapons are balanced enough that they make more sense to use on certain bosses. You have to juggle aiming and dodging; in some cases it's not a good idea to hold the fire button. The game is masterfully designed in all its tradeoffs.

That said, the game gets away with its relative lack of content because of the successful mimicking of 1930's style cartoons. I probably wouldn't care for it as much with a traditional 8/16-bit pixel art style.

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Retro STrife
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Re: Anyone else totally underwhelmed by Cuphead?

Postby Retro STrife » June 7th, 2019, 12:22 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:I agree that Cuphead is an artistic masterpiece that's not particularly fun to play.
What was the point of making it so hard?


Design flaw. There's no other way to look at it IMO. Some games are challenging, and their challenge is justified or it's part of the appeal of the game (i.e., the Dark Souls series). For other games, trial and error is the entire point of the game (i.e., Celeste). For Cuphead, there's no upside to the difficulty - it just makes the game worse than it could have been.


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