We played Cuphead at the Xbox Fanfest in Cologne and despite playing in co-op with a newly found German friend, we died over and over again against a single enemy. We died perhaps 12 times in less than five minutes. We loved it.
Cuphead is side-scrolling shoot-em-up that’s old school in more ways than one. Yes it’s difficult, a single shot is enough to make you lose a life, waves of enemies flood the screen and projectiles do crazy things like bounce back after they have passed you and split into three parts, and bosses are bullet sponges with no visible health bar, but the most striking aspect are the visuals. Visually it looks just like an early Disney cartoon, complete with over-exaggerated animation loops and grain filters. The colours are just right the sprites are all hand-drawn and the backgrounds are simply gorgeous. This is a game not only or people who love old arcade shooters, but anyone who can appreciate the artistry that goes into animation and gaming.
The section we were playing featured characters in small planes fighting against a giant bird in a birdhouse that fired eggs. The eggs would hit the back of the screen then split into three and come back to hit us again, while more eggs were coming and waves of spear-wielding birds flooded across too. Every single object and projectile looked perfect and entertaining, so we didn’t mind the constant cycle of life and death.
Without a doubt we can say that this is the most striking game we’ve seen all weekend at Gamescom. Unfortunately we need to wait until next year to play the finished title.