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By now, you’ve probably heard about Cuphead and how hard it supposedly is. The Xbox One and Windows exclusive has been taking the world by storm since being released at the end of September and has had many jumping in just to find out whether they can actually beat it.
There’s has been some debate regarding how hard the game actually is, with some people suggesting that many are just exaggerating the difficulty and others suggesting that the game is really the devil itself, but this is something that one can only determine for themselves after they’ve played it.
However, there is no debate about the amount of love this small indie game has been getting from a large part of the #gaming community over the past few weeks.
So, what makes Cuphead such a fun and worthwhile experience?
In an attempt to answer the question, I found three reasons as to why many gamers (such as myself) tend to find Cuphead such a compelling experience.
1. Its Challenging, but Fair Nature of Gameplay
I won’t lie; I think Cuphead is hard. I’ve found myself selecting the "Retry" option more often than I would like to admit, but rather than just getting angry and giving up after failing levels multiple times I have found myself just wanting to carry on until I beat a particular boss.
This is because Cuphead is a very systematic game. You look for and learn patterns on boss levels and then you try to beat the boss by performing the actions you feel you need to in order to so.
This could be anything from learning how to avoid projectiles in certain fights to learning the movements of a particular character.
Once you’ve learnt these patterns, you’ll feel as if it is completely possible to beat the boss in question… but often some mistake on the player’s part will prevent this from happening for some time.
Remember, you only have three health points and once you’ve lost them all, you will have to restart the fight from the beginning. A mistimed jump could lead to a situation where you lose all these points in the very last sequence of a battle.
These situations often lead to instances where the player feels that they could beat the boss in the next attempt if they don’t make that one stupid error again that led to their death the previous time.
The fact that it may take some time and practice to beat a boss in a rather difficult game, ultimately leads to intense feelings of satisfaction once you do actually beat it.
A lot of people do feel that most modern games aren’t as hard as they could possibly be—often being void of any real challenge and so somewhat less gratifying.
Thus Cuphead, with its unforgiving and systematic nature of gameplay that is very reminiscent of older video games, is not only very appealing to those people who quite simply want a greater challenge in games, but plays heavily on the brain’s internal reward system, making it a compelling game for anybody who picks it up.
2. The Game's Simplicity
Cuphead is a game that simply teaches the player the basic control scheme of the game through a short tutorial and then throws the player into levels expecting them to learn how to beat them through using the few moves that they have been taught.
Yes, there is an opportunity for players to change weapons or certain special abilities, but overall the gameplay dynamics of the game does not really ever change.
Basically, Cuphead can be summarised as a game in which you shoot enemies while trying to avoid their shots back at you. As previously mentioned, as you play, you learn the systematic patterns of the enemy you’re facing, making it easier to avoid attacks and eventually beat said enemy.
Sometimes, it is only simplicity that is really required to make a very compelling video game experience.
3. The Game's Unique Design
Personally, I can’t say that I’ve really seen any other run-and-gun 2-D games that are also based around 1930s cartoon culture recently, but then, I also can’t say that I’ve played every single game out there.
Quite simply, Cuphead is a very good-looking game, accompanied by an incredible soundtrack that simply doesn’t seem to be like any other game out there, even if its genre suggests so.
Earlier this year, when Horizon Zero Dawn was released, quite a few remarked that although the game did make use of some very familiar open-world tropes, both aspects of the game’s narrative and gameplay features resulted in a situation where the game felt very new.
There’s a very similar idea here with Cuphead as the run-and-gun genre is very old itself and the hard nature of the game being very reminiscent of older games, but Cuphead itself seems to provide an experience that may be entirely new for many gamers or one long forgotten for those somewhat older.
New IP and new experiences are two ideals that are greatly revered within the gaming community.
Is 'Cuphead' for you?
As much as Cuphead has annoyed me to no end over the past few days, I will say that it has been one of the games that I have had the most fun playing this year due to the reasons mentioned above as well as the fact that the co-op feature has allowed for some very exciting experiences.
While the notion that the game is very challenging may be a turnoff for some people, it is certainly worth trying as the game provides a great experience, when it’s not making you want to smash your controller or keyboard.
I am very happy that Cuphead is doing well and do look forward to seeing developer StudioMDHR Entertainment’s next effort.
Are you playing Cuphead? What do you think about it? Please share in the comments down below.