Tagged "Cuphead"

Oct 08
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The Devil’s casino sounds like a place only the naïve or incredibly foolish would stroll into. Cuphead and his porcelain pal Mug Man don’t come across as either, so we can only assume on the day they played dice with the Devil they were filled to the brim with something far stronger than coffee.

Suffice to say the odds weren’t in their favour, and now unless they can claim the souls of numerous ne’er-do-wells on the Devil’s wish list, a grave consequence awaits. What then ensues is a series of boss fights, run ‘n gun platforming stages and aerial combat battles, all rendered in 1930s-o-vision.

You only need to look at screenshots to understand that Cuphead is a thing of beauty. The 1930’s cartoon aesthetic has been hand-crafted with an incredible eye for detail, resulting in one of this generation’s most visually striking titles.

Seeing it in action is only half the story, however. To really appreciate the effort Studio MDHR has poured into this passion project, you need to experience a boss battle for yourself. The animation loops and attack patterns work in tandem perfectly, with frequent visual prompts to forewarn of incoming attacks. Moreover, bosses don’t merely stand on one spot while firing their perfectly timed projectiles. They have numerous waves – some of which can turn a battle completely on its head (so to speak) – and can call in reinforcements. A good example here is Baroness Von Bon Bon, who summons various candy-based critters in a randomised order.

some final waves are so tough that you’ll need an almost full health bar to prevail

The whole experience boils down to learning from past failures until finally dealing a long-awaited final blow. Bosses initially seem impossible but given time, you’ll learn how to survive long enough to finally tick another soul contract off the Devil’s list. It’s perfectly acceptable to select ‘retry’ after taking a hit just moments into a battle; some final waves are so tough that you’ll need an almost full health bar to prevail.

Cuphead can withstand just three hits before kicking the bucket, with a fourth health point available as a perk at the cost of reduced firepower. Coupled with a choice of switchable weapons – all of which can be in your possession by the halfway mark – there’s a lot of scope for experimentation.

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Sep 26
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Few publishers dare to go mano-a-mano with FIFA 18 it seems, as there’s little in way of retail release this week. Having said that, we may see Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony and YO-KAI WATCH 2: Psychic Specters make the UK top 40 next Monday. Different demographics and all that.

On the download services there are a fair few games of note, including the eagerly awaited Cuphead – a game three years in the making. That’s joined by Ruiner, a gritty top-down cyberpunk shooter that’s generating a buzz on Twitter, and the PS4/PS Vita version of the wonderful SteamWorld Dig 2.

For Xbox owners feeling flush, Forza 7 is available from Friday via the £79.99 Ultimate Edition. Several car packs are thrown in, although the fact that the contents of the ‘Day One Car Pack’ are still yet to be revealed seems a little cheeky.

We may also see Battle Garegga Rev.2016, Lilith-M and Syndrome on the UK Xbox One Store before the week is out. It isn’t entirely clear what countries they’re launching in first.

New release showcase:

FIFA 18 – Multi

EA’s money making giant rolls back into town this week, available on just about every format going. The consensus is that it’s the best FIFA in years (the best since FIFA 12, Game Revolution claims) but there’s still room for improvement.

We’re still waiting on review of the Switch version. We’ve known for some time that it doesn’t have the same features as its current-gen counterparts. Hands-on-impressions were favourable enough, though. Switch support from EA hangs on this title, so hopefully it’ll do the business.

[Update] Nintendo Life awarded the Switch version 8/10 earlier today.

Will this be the last outing for last-gen consoles? Perhaps – the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of PES 2018 failed to make a dent in the chart. It all depends on success on a global scale, really. The humble PS2 received FIFA games up until FIFA 14, thanks to sales in countries such as Brazil.

Reviews:
4.5/5 – GamesRadar: The best footballing package available, with myriad improvements – yet still unlikely to convert fans of the opposition.

8/10 – VideoGamer: Problems such as the defensive game feeling less important and the hinderance of set pieces are apparent, but the flashy graphics and sharp commentary are no longer the only reason to boot up EA’s football sim for a kick around. At long last, we have two quality football games on the market again.

8/10 – The Metro: The improvements are slight, but this is still the best FIFA has been in several years – in terms of gameplay as well as just presentation.

SteamWorld Dig 2 – PS4/PS Vita

After hitting the Switch last week, Image & Form’s dirt digging sequel arrives on PS4. It’s bigger, bolder, and brighter than the 2013 original, thanks to far more lavish production values. The gameplay loop of mining, selling, upgrading, and descending further into a secret-filled mine is simple yet compelling. And the fact that the hero has all-new abilities prevents it from a case of being more of thesame.

We awarded it a well-deserved 9/10 earlier this week. To quote ourselves: “For a third time in a row – with SteamWorld Heist being the second – Image & Form has managed to create something a hair’s breadth from perfection”

Cuphead – Xbox One

After more than a couple of delays and setbacks – and one huge shake-up to turn it from a boss rush experience to a run and gunner – Cuphead is finally out this Friday. With Xbox One exclusives thin on the ground, despite the Xbox One X just weeks away, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We’ll update this round-up with a sampling of reviews once the embargo lifts.

[Update – the first reviews are now live]
Reviews:
5/5 – GamesRadar: ” If you’re partial to a tough-but-fair challenge, and you have even the slightest appreciation for the rich history of animated cartoons, you’ll be overjoyed by the wonderfully artistic adventure that is Cuphead”

4.5/5 – Windows Central: “The randomness on some boss fights will frustrate some, but patient, methodical gamers will relish the challenge, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment at the end of each huge battle”

8/10 – GameSpot: “It could benefit from a few tweaks, and two-player co-op doesn’t feel like the valuable addition you might imagine, but Cuphead remains a rare, unique game that truly stands out”

3/5 – Twinfinite: “If you’re in dire need of a real challenge, definitely give Cuphead your attention. However, if you’re not in any rush there’s no harm in waiting”

SNES Mini Classic

Nintendo’s latest nostalgia box bundles over twenty 16-bit hits together, including the never-officially-released Star Fox 2. Both first and third-party titles feature, including the likes of Mega Man X, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Castlevania 4 and Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. No Final Fight or Axley, but we’ll get over it.

While the £79.99 price tag puts it £30 higher than the NES Classic Mini – which sold out almost instantly – it does come with two controllers. We know it’s a cliché to say it, but we really do hope Nintendo produces enough stock to go around. We’ll chalk up something resembling a review after ours arrives.

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Jun 13
By Adam, Matt & Jake In Blog No Comments

The doors have closed on another E3. Microsoft proved that they’re committed to turning the Xbox One’s fortunes around; Sony provided a typically strong showing; Nintendo’s belief that it’ll be great games that’ll eventually get the Wii U into more homes was clear to all.

Matt, Adam and Jake have picked a clutch of titles that caught their attention, including Nintendo’s staggeringly beautiful Wii U Zelda outing and the ambitious and similarly beautiful PlayStation 4-exclusive No Man’s Sky. But first, a couple of indie titles heading to Xbox One.

Cuphead – Xbox One, PC

cuphead-pirate1

As a writer who often relies on caffeine to coax the words out, I took a shine to the titular Cuphead instantly. Finally, a videogame character I relate to. Cuphead is joined by Mugman, and together they traverse 2D worlds influenced by the 1930’s Disney ‘Silly Symphonies’ cartoons. In a way, I guess this makes it a semi-sequel of sorts to the 16-bit classic Mickey Mania.

Studio MDHR has been working on Cuphead for quite some time already but it wasn’t until catching a brief glimpse of it during Microsoft’s ID@Xbox showreel that I learned of its existence. With its smooth animation and careful attention to detail it did quite literally, I kid you not, raise my eyebrows. It genuinely resembles one of Walt Disney’s early efforts, from the startled expressions on the faces of bosses after giving them a clout, to the way Cuphead merrily bobs up and down while standing on the spot. To ensure total authenticity, backdrops are created using watercolours while the animation is being hand-drawn and coloured on traditional animation cels.

It’s a run and gunner that pays homage to Gunstar Heroes, Contra III, Mega Man X and more. Diversity will come for ‘shmup’ stages – with the likes of Radiant Silvergun and Ikargua cited as influences – and also power-ups similar to Super Mario Bros. 3’s suits that’ll bestow temporary new powers. Rather than simply copy elements from the aforementioned, Studio MDHR are spending a considerable amount of time fine-tuning the enemy attack patterns to previously unseen levels of complexity. Bosses will have different attack patterns depending on difficulty level, while when replaying previously completed levels enemies will have a new attack or two up their sleeves. If all things go to plan, over 30 bosses will feature in total, bagging MDHR the Guinness World Record for ‘Most Boss Battles in a Run and Gun Game’ in the process.

The developers have also spent a lot of time studying Super Mario World, promising a “playable” world map and a wealth of secret areas. Here’s a quote from MDHR’s blog:

When developing Cuphead we started with the basics – who knows this better than Shigeru Miyamoto. He set the standard for all 2D and 3D platformers and they are still a great formula for gameplay perfection. Knowing this, we’ve spent a lot of time fine tuning small details like hitboxes, screen movement, player control, weapon balancing, and a ton of small details that may go unnoticed by some.

Cuphead isn’t due out until 2015, and that’s just fine with me – works of art take time, and that’s exactly what Cuphead is shaping up to be.

Volgarr the Viking – Xbox One

volgarr_screen_01

Continuing the theme of authenticity, this 2D hack and slasher from the aptly named Crazy Viking Studios could have easily existed back in the ‘90s, crammed onto an Amiga disc, or existing slightly less forcefully squeezed onto a Mega Drive cart.

I have no qualms about recommending to keep an eye out for this one. The PC version went well, bagging a handful of awards in the process. Taito’s Rastan is rightly referred to as the biggest influence, due to the relentless pace and similar art direction.

Controls are tight, allowing the hirsute hero to block attacks and roll out of harm’s way with ease. Volgarr starts off with a wooden shield that can only take two hits, but later new armour and weapons become available, contained in Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts-style chests. It’s because of the responsive controls that death rarely feels unfair – death comes at the hand of your own skills, rather than cheap or lazy game design.

With a little bit of luck, the developer’s next game – the sci-fi influenced Eternal Helix – will eventually find its way onto Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program too. And with even more luck, Microsoft will do the right thing and give games such as Volgarr and Cuphead the promotion that they deserve.

No Man’s Sky – PlayStation 4, PC

No Mans Sky

What do you get when you stick four men together in a small office in Guildford? In the case of Joe Danger developers Hello Games, you get No Man’s Sky, a sci-fi space adventure game set in an infinite procedurally generated universe. You can fly through space, sure, but you can also explore all the planets – an unlimited number of them, all populated with random alien life. Oh yes, and you’re connected online sharing your discoveries with all the other players too. We’re not quite sure what the goal is yet, other than trying to reach the centre of the universe, but it sounds amazing.

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Jun 09
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Towards the end of their Xbox E3 conference, Microsoft posted a one-word tweet on Twitter. That word? ‘Games’.

Simple yet effective, it summed up their conference perfectly. No talk about streaming TV shows or watching American sports live – just good old games. And boy did they have plenty to show.

We’ll get the free-to-play stuff out of the way first, because none are real surprises. The short Killer Instinct: Season 2 trailer focused on T.J. Combo, showing the brutal boxer fighting a variety of season one characters on a new backdrop – a construction site. The trailer ends with T.J knocking Fulgore to the ground, only to turn and face a mysterious new enemy from Ultratech. Season 2 is set to start this ‘fall’, with new developer Iron Galaxy in charge. After 7.5 million downloads, Happy Wars is also heading to Xbox One, complete with Xbox 360 cross-platform play. New enemies, modes and local four-player co-op were confirmed.

A press release also reports that upcoming F2P creation tool Project Spark is set to receive some Conker-related content, which has to be better than no new Conker game at all.

Halo-The-Master-Chief-Collection-BoxShot-Right-v3-RGB-png

Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Crackdown were the big surprises. Or rather, they would be if it wasn’t for the endless rumours surrounding them.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out this year and includes the first four Halo games. No ODST or Reach, sadly. Only Halo 2 is receiving a remaster, along with six new maps built from the ground up for Xbox One, but Microsoft does promise a 60fps experience for the rest. A Halo 5: Guardians beta and the Halo: Nightfall live-action digital series are also being thrown in for good measure.

Original creator Dave Jones is back at the helm of Crackdown, fans will no doubt be pleased to hear. The unforgettable ‘voice’ of The Agency is back too, dishing out quips with his dry tone. A lack of screenshots and in-game footage suggests that it’s still early days, but we should all know what to expect – co-operative mayhem on a far larger scale.

These weren’t the only surprises on show. A celebration of all things Capcom, Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition is available right now. The £7.99 download lets players ‘cosplay’ as their favourite Capcom characters from Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Darkstalkers and more. Bringing the daftness back to Dead Rising, it looks colourful in both senses of the word. We love the artwork too.

SuperDR3-KeyArt-Final-landscape-logo-jpg

The surprises didn’t end there either. Original Xbox strategy game Phantom Dust is being re-imagined for Xbox One, while Platinum Games are hard at work with Scalebound – a fantasy action game featuring dragons. The trendy headphone-wearing hero is able to absorb dragon’s power briefly, becoming coated in thick dragon skin-style armour while hacking and slashing screen-filling beasts.

Director Hideki Kamiya was soon bombarded with tweets from fans. Some excited to play it; others damning the fact it’s a console exclusive. It’s just like Bayonetta 2 all over again. Give the man a break.

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