Cuphead

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Cuphead Game Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Charming retro-themed game presents maddening challenge.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 45 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There are messages about the value of redemption. Also, young characters face consequences for disobedience.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game's heroes are disobedient kids who redeem themselves and others through violence.

Ease of Play

Thumb-numbingly hard platforming levels and boss battles. While the game's simple to learn, the two difficulty levels are extremely challenging, even on the "easier" option. Multiple replays are required to successfully pass each stage, with more needed to get the best score on these levels.

Violence

The game features frequent comic cartoon violence. No blood or gore's shown, but some bosses are scary-looking.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are some references to gambling, alcohol, and smoking scattered throughout the game.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cuphead is an action platformer available for download on the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game is based on the surreal cartoons of the 1930s, and casts players as two young kids with cups for heads that have to collect souls for the Devil after losing their own in a Casino. While the focus of the game is violence against other figures in this animated world, it's all shown to be the silly cartoon variety with no blood or gore shown. There are some scenes of gambling and mild references to alcohol and smoking. Players should also know that the game is incredibly difficult, which could frustrate players. Even in the "easiest" setting, players will find their skills highly challenged by the split second timing required to survive some stages.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCryDyeSweater May 25, 2018

Good graphics, Decently hard, Great Game!

Where to start with this game, this game is awesome! The graphics are lovely to look at to the point where they distract from the gameplay,the game is very hard... Continue reading
Adult Written byFaith D. February 9, 2018

Color without accuracy

Its a throwback in both graphics and poor targeting. Jumping and shooting remind you of the bad 80s games we mocked as kids that just couldn't get area ri... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaster Mario October 15, 2017

Great Art style, And Great Game for People of all ages.

This game has an amazing style of graphics, and Is one of the best platformers I have played. It includes very mild cartoon violence, no blood or gore, Some of... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNightyKnight2007 May 7, 2020

Amazing game, cultural norms of the 30s.

This game is very fun, although very difficult. Studio MDHR takes the beloved 1930s cartoon artstyle and makes a beautiful handcrafted experience that many kid... Continue reading

What's it about?

CUPHEAD stars a mischievous kid (with a cup for a head) living in a place called Inkwell Isle. He foolishly enters the Devil's Casino where he finds out -- as most gamblers do -- that the House always wins. He can't pay, so the Devil demands his soul in payment; he also says he'll let the kid off if he can collect the souls of other Inkwell Isle residents. This sets the stage for a series of shooter-style, multiphase boss battles interspersed with a few run-and-gun sequences. Successfully clearing the latter earns you gold, which you can use to buy useful weapon and skill upgrades.

Is it any good?

This is, visually speaking, the most unique game made in years. Done in a graphic style that emulates the hand-drawn animation of the Max Fleischer studio of the 1930s, Cuphead is far and away one of the most beautiful games you'll ever lay eyes on. It's also one of the most maddening. Developer StudioMDHR Entertainment said they meant for it to be a challenge, and boy, did they succeed. Hearkening back to classic arcade run-and-gun action games, Cuphead is a string of merciless boss battles. Don't expect boring bosses here; you'll be fighting things like frogs, zeppelins, mermaids, boats, and candy houses, all to a swinging Jazz Age soundtrack. The fights, like everything else in the game, are packed with creativity and personality. It's a good thing, too, because without its stratospheric level of visual and audio appeal, Cuphead would alienate all but the most determined players. Impressively, the Switch version has been optimized to run just as well as the Xbox One and Windows PC versions, which is an amazing technical feat. In fact, some levels load as fast or slightly faster on the Switch than the more powerful systems.

Winning fights takes near endless patience, not to mention savant-level reflexes. And if you're thinking two-player co-op makes things easier, you're wrong. Two players on screen only doubles the chaos. Still, the most skilled and patient gamers get the glory, the unlockable color modes (two-tone and black-&-white) and the right to say they beat the game. The rest of us, well ... we get a taste of cool retro fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Is the impact of the violence in Cuphead affected by the cartoonish visuals that don't have any blood or gore? Why is this kind of action OK compared to other games? Would the violence be intensified if the visuals or gameplay were more realistic?

  • What era does Cuphead hearken back to? Would you prefer if more animated games or cartoons looked like this instead of how they look today?

  • Do you enjoy a challenge? Does the difficulty of Cuphead appeal to you or would it keep you from playing the game? Why?

Game details

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