In 2014, brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer produced the very first game through their Canadian indie game development studio, StudioMDHR. Inspired by the rubber hose style of animation used in cartoons of the early 1930s, this game sought to mimic those “subversive and surrealist” elements. How much do you know about this game?
Cuphead tracks the adventures of the titular character and his brother Mugman on the fictional Inkwell Isles. Despite the warnings of Elder Kettle, these fun-loving cups enter the Devil’s Casino and begin playing craps. In the midsts of a winning streak, the Devil proposes this challenge: if they win one more roll, they walk away with all the money in the casino; if not, the Devil claims their souls. After losing, Cuphead and Mugman beg for mercy. The Devil relents, agreeing to relinquish their souls if they collect the “soul contracts” of his runaway debtors.
The gameplay revolves around continual boss fights, with interspersed run and gun levels. The boss fights, as well as the run and gun levels, are housed in three different worlds and eventually lead to a fight against the Devil himself. Players are ranked with a grade based on their performance per level, through factors such as the time taken to win, damage avoided, and number of parried attacks. Cuphead also includes role-playing elements, a branching level sequence and has a two-player local cooperative mode.
First shown during the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Cuphead was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One in September 2017, for macOS in October 2018, and for Nintendo Switch in April 2019. The game won the IGN Best Xbox One game at E3 award in 2015, the award for "Best Indie Game" at the Gamescom 2015 Awards and was nominated as “Best Independent Game” at the E3 2016 Game Critics Awards. Cuphead was considered both a critical and commercial success, selling over four million copies by July 2019.
An animated series based on the video game is currently in development by Netflix Animation, Studio MDHR and King Features Syndicate. The Cuphead Show will follow adventures of Cuphead and Mugman across Inkwell Isle, exploring areas and characters beyond those in the video game. Although targeted for children, the series will include humor and gags for adult audience appreciation. Chad and Jared Moldenhauer from Studio MDHR will be executive producers along with C.J. Kettler from King Features.
The Cuphead Show has yet to set a release date.