We are in the 30s. The Silly Symphonies by Walt Disney were archived in the previous decade, the integral Mickey Mouse has become emancipated and is already a very popular character among children, with new dedicated series. Donald follows him with his first characterization made of an oblong beak and flaccid buttocks, as well as his inevitable sailor suit.
He still does not know that in the following years he will be profoundly modified, taking on a more pleasing and harmonious appearance. These are the years when the Looney Tunes face the still wild world of animation, along with the sexy Betty Boop and the first animated Braccio di Ferro, both of the Fleischer brothers.
In the same years StudioMDHR tries to create his first videogame, taking up the visual style of those who were not yet considered masters, but who will become such with the passage of time. Unfortunately, development is proceeding slowly due to the fact that no one has yet invented computers.
Something is actually there, but these are secret machines, very cluttered and able to generate only a few numbers, certainly not to manage a complex graphic engine like Unity (you could read it in the documentation that does not support the Memex, please). For this reason it is decided to freeze the project, with the promise to resume it when the time is ripe.
The announcement of the resumption of work takes place in 2014, on the occasion of E3.That’s when the guys at MDHR realize that a lot of years have passed and that in the meantime a lot has changed in the world of animation, both technically and stylistically.
But now the die is drawn: the characters remain those designed in the 30s, than to throw all the work done then do not talk about it. And then “Cuphead” remains a very original character despite the years, since there are enough of ducks, rats and other anthropomorphic creatures around.
Joking aside, from E3 2014, the actual year of the announcement of Cuphead, more than three years have passed. Many had even lost faith in its chances of going out on the market, as it was the subject of some big changes in the implementation phase. Instead here it is. When we saw it for the first time, we immediately became fascinated by it, but experience has taught us that between a captivating graphic style and a good game, often the distance is abysmal. Fortunately, this is not the case.
LET’S EXPLORE THE ISLANDS
Cuphead begins with some static images that tell the prologue of the adventure of the two protagonists. Cuphead, practically an anthropomorphic milk cup, and his brother Mugman literally play the soul at the casino. The only way they have to save themselves is to get the contracts of the souls of other inhabitants of their world, scattered on three islands, and bring them to the devil, who in turn will spare theirs.
The slender plot that introduces you to the game should already have made you understand that the focus of the gameplay is certainly not the narrative side. On the contrary, let’s say better: the story is practically all here and you can already imagine yourself how it will end.
Taken control of Cupehead or Mugman, if you play in cooperative mode, you can decide whether to address the very short tutorial in their grandfather’s house, useful to know the basic mechanics, or if you go directly to explore the first island, which we can consider as a large center of connection from which to access the various sequences of play, indicated by animated objects or small placeholders.