I beat the Cuphead: Delicious Last Course demo at Summer Games Fest. I had time between appointments, so I sat down on the strangely-deep couches in front of the demo station and figured I would inevitably beat it in an hour. I got nearly every achievement in the first game, so my main concern was what on Earth I was going to do with the remaining hour when I beat the boss in ten minutes.
I got stomped. Like, right and truly just beaten down.
After about 50 minutes, as I hurriedly looked at my phone clock between every death to mentally calculate how many more tries I could fit in, I eventually beat it. The small crowd that was wincing and oohing during previous runs had entirely dispersed, so no one got to see me actually claim victory. But I did do it.
Before playing the demo, I also got to sit down with Maja Moldenhauer, the Studio Director of Studio MDHR — a name I actually do not think I understood until I saw it written out next to the last name, which she also shares with her husband and brother-in-law and fellow Cuphead developers Chad and Jared. Huh.
During the interview, we talked about so many things Cuphead that I had trouble figuring out a decent flow for a preview integrated into gameplay impressions, so here’s the information in the form of a bulleted list.
- The demo has you fighting Mortimer Freeze, an ice wizard that — like all wizards in Cuphead — can and does transform into various monsters to ruin your day.
- In the demo, I could only play as Ms. Chalice, the Delicious Last Course‘s new playable character. You might assume this makes no difference, but Ms. Chalice actually plays differently enough from Cuphead and Mugman that you might initially have trouble.
- The act of parrying pink objects, a crucially important aspect of building meter in the game, is completely different for her. Rather than jumping into that object, you have to dash into it with a slightly longer dash than either Cuphead or Mugman have.
- She also has a double-jump, which can make some boss moves trivial to avoid. Sometimes, it even puts you directly in the path of an attack you should have avoided.
- In that sense, Ms. Chalice functions kind of like an easier mode for those who don’t like the actual easy mode, which at times ended fights before the final form and prevented players who used it from fighting the final boss.
- That same gate will be here in Delicious Last Course as well, Studio MDHR has confirmed. While you can access the DLC without beating Cuphead, you can’t beat the DLC island completely on the easy difficulty.
- Nintendo approached MDHR about adding Cuphead to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Moldenhauer described their initial reaction as an expletive she asked me not to transcribe, but added they had to “pick their jaws up off the floor” when they heard.
- Studio MDHR is “well aware” of the criticism of Cuphead‘s art style hearkening back to animation that was used for racist reinforcement and harmful stereotypes. Moldenhauer says they have been making “very conscious and deliberate creative decisions to move away” from that legacy.
- Some of the references in Cuphead are obvious, like Hilda Berg turning into the same bosses from Contra: Hard Corps. There are still references in the backgrounds of Cuphead bosses to games and cartoons that have not been found yet, however.
- There are also, of course, new references to games they love in Delicious Last Course.
- For Cuphead, music was created by composer Kris Maddigan separate from the boss design and patterns. In Delicious Last Course, the Moldenhauers worked more closely with Maddigan to try and tie the music to the way the bosses looked, felt, and functioned.
- Studio MDHR started as a largely remote studio, so the pandemic did not affect their workflow much. They did make sure to still give everyone working on the game more time for mental health during the pandemic, though.
- The Netflix show has been a major success for the studio and they were involved in the initial stages of it.
- Moldenhauer would not say what they’re thinking about after Cuphead, whether it be a new game in the series or a new franchise, but they’re always thinking about new ideas.
- It’s impossible to say how long an individual boss level takes to create, as they’re largely all made at the same time. Even what looks like a simple boss takes as much time to design and animate as the most complicated one.
- Moldenhauer says she would love if Cuphead could join more first-party games, but she’s not sure what other games she thinks would fit in with Cuphead‘s game design. “We already have so many ideas of our own to implement, I can’t think about integrating something else,” she says.
- If you pour alcohol into Cuphead’s head, he just holds it, and would not get drunk off it.
Play Days is part of Fanbyte’s Hot Game Summer coverage, where we’re bringing you recaps and commentary on this summer’s game presentations like Xbox’s showcase, the PC Gaming Show, and the all-encompassing Summer Game Fest hosted by Geoff Keighley. If you’re interested in seeing all of Fanbyte’s coverage, check out our Hot Game Summer 2022 hub.