Cuphead is a run and gun video game developed and published by StudioMDHR, an independent developer based out of Canada. The game was designed and developed by brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, who were inspired by the art style of 1930s cartoons. They sought to emulate the look and feel of early works by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Fleischer Studios with their surreal qualities.
The game allows players to select from single player mode or two player couch co-op where gamers take control of animated characters Cuphead and his brother Mugman to fight in an effort to repay their debt to the devil.
The brothers were playing craps and the Devil’s Casino against the wishes of the Elder Kettle. When they went on a winning streak, the Devil offered to raise the stakes. If they win one more roll, they receive all the money in the casino but if they lose the Devil will take their souls. Cuphead rolled snake eyes, losing the game. The brothers begged for mercy, pleading with the Devil to keep their souls. The Devil made a deal with them, collect the soul contracts that signify his ownership of the souls of his runaway debtors by midnight the next day, and he might let them keep their souls. They visited Elder Kettle for guidance, and he gives them a potion that allows them to fire blasts from their fingers to aid in their quest.
Development for the game began in 2010 after the Moldenhauer brothers saw the success of other indie games such as Super Meat Boy that released in 2010. They began the project using the Unity game engine and developed from their homes in Oakville, Ontario and Regina, Saskatchewan. The first few years were spent on flushing out the concept for the game and the main characters. Before settling on the main characters, the brothers had created around 150 different character designs.
Development ramped up in 2013 when they decided to make the development of the game their full-time job instead of a side hobby. The brothers decided to leave their fulltime jobs and remortgage their homes to help fund the game’s development. They soon started to hire staff to assist with the game’s development by hiring a developer, animator and jazz musician for the project.
First shown during the Xbox press event at E3 2014 the game gained a lot of attention. The game was not available to play at the event and was estimated to be approximately 40 percent complete. The game was originally intended to release in phases via expansion packs with 10 to 15 bosses in each release, however the vision changed during the development of the game and the scope continued to grow. Cuphead released on September 29, 2017 for the PC and Xbox One, a console exclusive that supported Xbox Play Anywhere. Microsoft approached the development team about creating a Nintendo Switch version of the game and on March 20, 2019 the Switch game was announce to the public with a release day of April 18, 2019.
The game was praised for its art style and noted for its challenging difficulty. It was both a critical and commercial success, winning several awards and selling over five million copies within two years. An animated series based on the game is in production by Netflix.
|Media Type||Digital Download|
|Release||WW: September 29, 2017|
|Genre(s)||Run and Gun|
|Development Time||7 Years (4 Years in Full Time Development)|
|Rating||ESRB: E 10+|
|Rereleased Platform(s)||Nintendo Switch – 2019|
PlayStation 4 – 2020
The Making of Cuphead and Dice 2018 Presentation