This much we know: Cuphead is coming to Xbox One and Steam. It's being made by Studio MDHR, composed of two brothers — Chad & Jared Moldenhauer. The shooter game is a tribute to the vast back catalog of the Walt Disney empire, cartoons like Steamboat Willie and The Wise Little Hen. We know that it's being made not just in the style of those cartoons, but using period techniques including hand drawn and inked cel shaded animation with real watercolor backgrounds. It will also be scored with an original jazz soundtrack. But what, in the name of all things holy, is this game actually about?
Well, it's about Satan.
Let's go to the GIFs.
In their latest trailer, shown yesterday during Microsoft's E3 presentation, we learned that Cuphead (left) and his intrepid sidekick Mugman (right) gambled with the devil and lost. Now they have lost their mortal souls.
What's a container to do? Get drunk.
Through a mysterious set of events, filling his head with a pitcher of booze allows Cuphead to see in color. That's when he goes on a rampage.
Cuphead seems to be a connected series of increasingly difficult boss battles. Looking at the backgrounds, you can clearly see distinct levels. The first is a garden, where Cuphead and Mugman must defeat a psychic carrot...
... and a spud-spitting potato. Later on the duo makes an assault on a haunted train. Enemies include this eye-rolling ghost...
... and a massive skeleton.
At some point, the dynamic duo raid a nightclub, fighting through a series of strange creatures including this monstrous slot machine.
There's also a boxing frog and a floppy fan, clearly this game's homage to Ornstein and Smough. Clearly.
Somewhere along the way, Cuphead and Mugman blackmail a rat.
Other levels are less well-defined, but all of the bosses are memorable. Here's a few more of our favorites.
Here's Cuphead soloing a little mermaid ...
... going toe-to-toe with a pirate and his friends ...
... and trying to steal honey from a beehive's accounting department. Throughout the trailer you can see little nods to the Disney classics, including their efforts supporting the propaganda effort during World War II.
Yes, Cuphead fights the fascists — just like his father before him.
Cuphead was originally slated to come out in 2015, but the brothers Moldenhauer write on their blog that the help they've received from Microsoft has allowed them time to make their game better.
"We know we said that Cuphead would be out in 2015 and now we’re saying that Cuphead will be out in 2016," they write. "We’re sorry. But this Cuphead isn’t that Cuphead. This Cuphead is so much better. With Microsoft helping us out, we are able to push the art further, refine the mechanics more, and deliver the Cuphead game we’ve always dreamed of. In development, time is our greatest asset, and pushing the release to 2016 allows us to make for the best game possible."
Polygon will be spending some time with Cuphead at this year's E3, so expect more on the game this week. Until then ...