I remember several years ago observing the very first glimpses of Cuphead and being insanely excited for it. What felt like an unbearable wait became a reality and eventually the excellently illustrated masterpiece launched on Windows PC and Xbox in 2017. The game received an overwhelming response hitting the high 80s on Metacritic across the board with the only criticism being the intense difficulty. Shifting upwards of two million copies in the first two weeks of its long-awaited launch, it went on to triple that number within the space of two years. Bring with this several game awards and a popular animated TV series on Netflix, the brand has become a big deal and an incredible feat for Studio MDHR. It is deserved though and I can only imagine how much hard work went into the logistics of the hand-drawn animations and mechanics of the boss fights and run and gun level design. Five years later we are lucky enough to receive Cuphead in The Delicious Last Course with new bosses, areas, weapons and environments. Does it follow on from the wonderful stability of the base game though? Let’s find out.

Introduction

Adding 14 new achievements with a whole new backstory we have a reasonably priced slice of content that really does extend the experience in a fantastic way. The legendary chalice returns and is now a completely playable character going by the name Ms Chalice. Without delving into the story too much, because I don’t want to spoil it for hardcore fans of the series, here is the general gist. Cuphead and Mugman have been told that the legendary chalice needs their assistance and that they have to travel to an island. Once you arrive on the island, Chalice offers them both a cookie and Mugman takes the opportunity with both hands and devours the delicious treat. This causes him to turn into ghost form whilst Chalice becomes a physical being. Chalice then asks the brothers to go and have a chinwag with Chef Saltbaker who states that he can covert her permanently out of ghost form with a Wondertart. The thing is though, all the ingredients are scattered throughout the island and you must defeat the bosses throughout to try and obtain the goods needed. I’ll leave the story there though, as there are some twists and turns throughout and you’ll want to uncover these for yourself.

Gameplay & New Stuff

The core gameplay is much of the same that you were used to during the main adventure, but to me, it felt like it excelled in intensity with a lot more going on with many more spontaneous moments. Ms Chalice brings a new way of playing and engaging with enemies with her invincible roll which will get you out of sticky situations regularly. She also has an extra health point in comparison to the Cuphead and Mugman and a dash parry. The new weaponry is delightful to use once you unlock the three options on offer. Crackshot, converge and twist-up make up the three new weapons and can all be purchased with coins in Porkrind’s Emporium. Crackshot starts as a straight projectile for a short period and breaks off to attack the closest enemies. Converge splits across the screen as an electrical current and twist-up fire cyclones across the screen. Of course, you can bring across the old stuff from the base game, but I spent most of my time testing out these new toys. Annoyingly I did have to go and dig out enough coins throughout older levels to afford to purchase all three though, but this is a minor bugbear and nothing game-breaking.

There are no run and gun levels present in the DLC which you may have experienced in the core game. There are a plethora of boss fights at your disposal though with some other fun aspects to discover such as the Chess characters which will require you to position yourself to parry them until you beat the level. For those who enjoy a real challenge, you’re going to have a lot of fun as each session is rock solid. Whilst it can become infuriating, I was driven to beat each section even if my patience wore thin.

Graphics & Audio

If you’ve already played the base game then you’ll already know what to expect in terms of the phenomenal visuals. Cuphead is already a work of art and one of the most impressive feats in video game history in my opinion. This piece of DLC extends that outstanding artistry and you can instantly realise why it has taken five years to get an expansion out for this game. The bosses as always are uniquely crafted with waves of environmental changes cascading throughout each frustratingly addictive fight. The three new weapons on offer bring new opportunities and animations to these beautifully constructed levels. I especially love that this content didn’t just feel tacked on and blends in with the base game world map nicely into a boat trip to the new island. I commend the art design team and applaud them for not only bringing the same level of detail to the overall package but also bringing fresh and exciting challenges with the familiar gameplay. There is literally nothing I can pick out and fault with the aesthetics and the performance of the game is spot on with quick loading times on Xbox Series X and that wonderful 60FPS goodness.

Audio integrates solidly with the aesthetics bringing that old-school family cartoon vibes with its 1930s-40s soundtrack with whimsical sound effects. Now I haven’t actually dived into the cartoon on Netflix but playing this really made me want to go and experience all the excellence and attention to detail to see if matched what was on offer here. Again, there is nothing that the team have let slide with what you’re hearing in your ears and I’d absolutely recommend you play it with a decent pair of surround sound headphones.

The soundtrack is leaps and bounds ahead of the original game, though this is hardly surprising given that the budget now allows for a larger orchestra. Recorded over multiple sessions, the music is the cherry on the cake and a joy to listen to. I’ve heard it likened to Fantasia in terms of quality and I have to say I agree, you won’t hear quality like this elsewhere.

In Conclusion

Studio MDHR has done it again and blasted it out of the park. Whilst it has taken a fair amount of time to get it out there, it just goes to show that you should only ever really release something when it is truly ready. With the extreme challenge of hand-drawn graphics and animations and the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure the team had some real obstacles to overcome. Fans of Cuphead and newcomers alike should absolutely invest in this add-on. Not only is it stupendously low priced for the meaty amount on offer, but it also rounds off an already special indie title that should be part of anyone’s library of games. If you’re wondering how many hours you’re getting for your money, realistically around 3-5 hours depending on your ability. With the different difficulty levels and achievements to obtain, there is much room for replayability. Don’t let this one pass you by, it is and will easily be one of the huge highlights of 2022.

 

 

 

Overall
  • 95%
    CX Score - 95%
95%

Summary

Pros

  • Incredibly detailed hand-drawn levels and animations
  • nice meaty package that is well integrated into the base game
  • Solid mechanics and a wonderful soundtrack

 

Cons

  • There are NONE!

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