Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil Review

Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Developer: Studio MDHR

About the Game    

Ever wondered what it would have been like if video games existed in the 1930s? With the 2017 run and gun & platformer, Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil, you can. From the amazing artwork to the hair pulling boss fights, and stressful platforming levels Cuphead continues its impact even into the New Year. Developers, Studio MDHR, planned to release Cuphead in 2016 but delayed it twice to avoid rushing the process of development. Right away, you can truly see all the time and effort put into this game.

What sets this game apart is its interesting art style choice, taking inspiration from cartoons from the 1930s, such as Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, and more. Each frame was hand drawn by a small team and then pieced together into what is now Cuphead. Along with amazing visuals, comes a great soundtrack that was recorded live and truly mirrored classic 1930s music (available for purchase).

Ever since the game released, it received mixed reviews regarding its difficulty. With only 2 difficulty levels (Simple and Regular), people became concern about how difficult each boss was even while fighting them in “Simple” mode. Games now-a-days do their best to reward players of all skill levels. Cuphead could not care less about how experienced you are and makes you work for that win. You need to learn from your mistakes and memorize each bosses’ attack patterns and their different attack phases. While it may make things extremely frustrating after dying for the 27th time, it makes that victory even more satisfying when you finally get to see the boss’s defeated animation. The game can be best summed up by saying that its, “tough but fair”.



Gameplay is approximately 75% boss battles and 25% platforms. With 95% of it being very challenging to all players. Mechanics are simple, shoot the boss until it dies while trying not to be hit 3 times. The first boss (The Root Pack) is the easiest out of all the bosses, and it is just a taste of what the rest of the game has to offer.

The boss fights are the bread and butter of this game. Each boss is unique both visually and mechanically. You cannot go into a new boss battle expecting it to be the same as a previous fight; you have to learn how to fight them all over again.

Before you enter a boss fight, you need to know that the game only offers 2 levels of difficulty: Simple and Regular. “Simple” allows players to practice fighting the bosses with it being easier than normal. Only downside to this mode is that it does not allow you to collect that boss’s soul until you beat them on “Regular” mode. Once you collect all the souls, you can finally enter the final battle.

While the game is challenging, that does not mean that it does not give the players some way of coping with them. Cuphead features a unique upgrade system where the player is allowed to buy and choose specific upgrades. Players start with a balanced weapon called the “Peashooter”. As you progress through the boss battles and platforms, you start to gather in-game currency in the shape of golden coins. You use your hard-earned coins to purchase new upgrades such as new weapon types, ultimates, and special abilities.



Search the map for hidden goodies. The map area where you chose your next boss fight has some hidden secrets in the form of hiding spots, and gifts from the locals. So make sure you take the time to look throughout the entire map and talk to all of the interesting characters.

Be patient, and take your time with each boss fight. After putting in several dozen hours into this game, I learned that it was best to take my time when fighting a new boss by learning their attack patterns as best I can.

Buy Smoke Bomb early; it is a lifesaver.

Take breaks! I tend to play worse the more frustrated I become at a game and trust me, I got frustrated A LOT while playing Cuphead. It helped me to take a break from the game to gather myself together or to stop fighting a particular boss and moving onto something else to switch things up.

Final Words

While Cuphead is difficult for most players that is not to say that, it is not a great game for all levels of players. No matter how experiences of a gamer you are, you will get frustrated with this game, but you will also feel a great sense of accomplishment when you finally beat that one boss who has been beating you endlessly.  Its unique art style, gameplay and soundtrack make it such a unique game for its time. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who is familiar or new to run and gun games.


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