Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course serves up a beautiful, difficult meal
LOS ANGELES – Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is an apt title for this highly anticipated expansion. It’s the last piece of downloadable content for Cuphead, and it is, indeed, delicious. (Metaphorically speaking; we wouldn’t recommend eating it.) Between sumptuous visuals and a delectable difficulty level, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is a feast for the senses, albeit one that may not go down easy.
I went hands-on with Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course at Summer Game Fest, and it’s one of the few demos from the show that I couldn’t actually finish. I didn’t run out of time – I simply couldn’t get past its multi-stage boss fight, which has essentially no margin for error. The Delicious Last Course, like the initial Cuphead game, demands near-perfection at all times. To advance, you’ll have to learn by repetition.
The Delicious Last Course demo begins as you take control of Ms. Chalice: a new playable character for this piece of DLC. At first glance, Ms. Chalice seems more powerful than Cuphead and Mugman. Her default attack shoots lightning bolts in three directions; she has an innate double-jump ability; she can roll through enemy attacks with a moment of invincibility; she starts with an extra hit point. The flip side, however, is that she feels a bit floaty, and her default attack can be difficult to aim.
I became intimately acquainted with Ms. Chalice’s strengths and weaknesses when I squared off against The Delicious Last Course’s demo boss. This enemy is a rotund purple wizard, who floats above the battlefield and launches three different types of attacks at Ms. Chalice. In the first, he summons a group of small icicle minions that embed themselves in the ground, then march toward her. In the second, he whips out a crystal ball and shoots tarot cards at varying angles.
What struck me about the boss was not that the attacks were particularly difficult to dodge, but rather, than you had to dodge them perfectly for an extended period of time. Because Ms. Chalice can take only four hits, a single mistake can cost you a victory. Furthermore, the wizard was a veritable bullet sponge, taking hit after hit with absolutely no ill effect. This is where Ms. Chalice’s hard-to-aim basic attack also worked against her, as I often had to choose between standing in an advantageous attack spot and dodging a deadly projectile.
When I finally defeated the wizard, I assumed that the demo would ease up a bit – but that’s not how Cuphead does things. As soon as the wizard took enough damage, he summoned a gigantic snowman, who rolled toward me, taking up half the screen as he went. When I tried to avoid his attack by jumping, he simply jumped into me instead, bumping me back to the very start of the wizard fight.
That is about as much Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course as I can get through at a press event. And yet, failure in Cuphead is not nearly as galling as it could be, partially due to the striking animations. The whole thing resembles a 1930s cartoon, complete with exaggerated character proportions, a rubbery animation style and a grainy filter across the whole screen. While Cuphead fans will already know what to expect, the animations in The Delicious Last Course seem even more fluid than before, and the color palette is especially striking.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course will be out on June 30 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and will cost $8. If you haven’t beaten the base game, you may want to start now – it could take you a while to beat.