Indie Platformer/Run and Gun Cuphead Makes An Old Look New Again

With its beautifully retro animation aesthetic and surprisingly deep gameplay mechanics, Studio MDHR's debut title Cuphead is worth following.

At Microsoft's E3 press conference this year there were many indie titles that viewers only got a brief look at. Several new indie games flashed on the screen in a montage but no further details were given on them. One of the most interesting titles that we only got a glance at was Studio MDHR's Cuphead. However, that peek at the game was enough to pique many people's interest due to Cuphead's unique aesthetic and animation.

Studio MDHR really went the extra mile to get the look of a 1930s cartoon and it shows. Cuphead looks just like a Felix the Cat short or one of Disney's earliest works. Everything moves with the same rhythm and pace as characters from that era did, and it makes Cuphead look almost indistinguishable from that period in animation history. The game even has added smudges and film projector effects to make it more accurate to the time period. 

Cuphead's Aesthetic Gives it a Retro Animated Look and Feel

Image from studiomdhr.com

According to Studio MDHR's press release, Cuphead's gameplay is inspired by classic 2-D run and gun action games such as Gunstar Heroes, Contra III and Contra Hard Corps but also on games such as Super Mario World, Thunderforce and Street Fighter III. This peculiar mix of source material starts to make more sense after looking at the game mechanics Cuphead touts.

Cuphead is designed to be accessible to newcomers but also contains a lot more depth for veterans of the genre. Studio MDHR claims they're designing the game for speedruns, have included "a unique parry defense system," a "wide variety of wacky weapons, supers and secrets," and "schmup levels throughout to test your skill."

The Hand Drawn Characters and Environments Are Awe Inspiring

Image from studiomdhr.com

Cuphead will also include original jazz compositions that were recorded live for the game, two playable characters (the titular Cuphead and his pal Mugman), a co-op mode and an "irreverent and wacky sense of humor inspired by '30s cartoons." Judging from the press release and the amount of detail shown in the game's animations it seems that Studio MDHR is putting a gargantuan amount of work into this title.  If they can pull it off, Cuphead will be a phenomenal game. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep an eye on this one and you should too.

Published Jun. 16th 2014
View Comments
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Cuphead was one of the only games I saw at any conference this E3 that made me stop and immediately look for more info. I absolutely love the aesthetic and I can't wait to give it a spin.

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