Written By: Toni Roberson
You have died.
Words that I’ve seen countless times during my frustrating play-through of Cuphead. Each time I died due to a mistake I made during a boss fight, it fueled the determination to play one more time. With simple mechanics, it allows the player to focus more on the visuals and gameplay. Its two-dimensional boss fights are filled with life. Lively characters throughout the game are memorable. As the game unfolds, it brings forth the past lives of old school cartoons for its players to enjoy.
1920s. The Dark Era of Cartoons
One of Cuphead’s biggest aspects are the visuals throughout the game. Centered around the unique appeal of cartoons in the 1920s, Cuphead establishes what cartoons during this time were known for, it’s dark and scary humor. Cartoons during the 1920s were not typically what you would see in 2017. Scary and dark animations were the center focus of these cartoons. Cartoon characters like Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse utilized a dark sensation throughout their silent segments. Such cartoons sensationalized a sense of anxiety and dread during some of the segments. Like old school cartoons, Cuphead’s story is not sunshine and rainbows. It deals with two characters, Cuphead and Mugman, who are fixated on gambling and loses it all to the Devil. To save their lives, Cuphead and Mugman must collect debt from various beings or they will “lose their heads.” This dark story plays on the various segments of cartoons in the 1920s. Before the Communications Act of 1934, cartoons in the 1920s were not required to display transparency for their content. This was a factor of many controversial cartoons during this time. Such cartoons establish bold renditions of various messages, both political and personal.
A Look Into a Different Time
Cuphead gives its players a fantastic perspective of cartoons of the past. From its dark cartoon animations to its jazzy soundtrack, Cuphead creates a video game time machine for those unfamiliar of old school cartoons. Instead of creating a simple old-school type game, Cuphead goes above and beyond. From the scratching sounds of a vinyl record played during loading screens, to the evil appearance of the games big bosses, Cuphead takes what made cartoons big in the 1920s and revitalizes them for the modern-day gamers to enjoy.