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E3 2015: Cuphead Hands-On Impressions
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E3 2015: Cuphead Hands-On Impressions

Arcade-inspired action and manic 1930s cartoon flavor are alive and well in this Xbox One title.

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My favorite game during E3 was pretty unexpected. With all the hype surrounding most of the titles you’ve been constantly anticipating there was one independently-made game that caught my eye during Microsoft’s press conference for Xbox One was Cuphead, which had me from the moment I first saw the trailer. Among all the expected enthusiasm this game took the cake for most creative side-scroller without being pretentious about it.

If you’ve never grown up watching animations from Ub Iwerks, a magical period where political incorrectness was hilarious affair and not sensitively guarded away from children like today, then you probably won’t ‘get’ this game. If you’ve never genuinely enjoyed arcade shooters like Contra, then you definitely won’t ‘get’ this game. However, if you do like traditional cartoon violence and relentless side-scrolling action then this is the most unique combination, hands-down.


The gameplay is easy to pick up as I played the booth demo. There were three separate boss battles comprised of a psychotic carrot monster with electric eyes, a pirate and his tugboat, and a flying stage against a giant condor trapped in a birdhouse who coughs up projectile eggs. You can alternate between two types of weapons and the challenge is methodical in pattern, much of it paying direct homage to classic action coin-ops which drained you of your cash within minutes.

It’s a quirky blend that shouldn’t go together but is perfectly matched into a uniquely bizarre and deceptively unfiltered package – figuratively and literally.


Even after the debut on Monday which was crowded by other high budget titles reception for Studio MDHR has been overwhelmingly positive, and I even got to speak with Chad Moldenhauer who was happy that he and his brother Jared were able to see their project come to light; within hours of the Xbox One showing he found his inbox floored with inquires.

Quite frankly, there was nothing else on the E3 floor that catered to both the gaming and artistic old-school like Cuphead, and I can’t wait to play the final version with my own two hands. But for now, I’m only to able enjoy the demo here and now while in Los Angeles; in the meantime you’ll have to wait for this unhinged run-and-gun love letter to 1930s cartoons to hit in spring 2016.


About the Author: Herman Exum