Fans have had a long wait for the Cuphead DLC, which had a series of delays after it was announced in 2019. Studio MDHR faced understandable issues and setbacks during the pandemic, while also admitting that The Delicious Last Course grew in ambition and scope as time passed.
A week ago, I saw a press-exclusive showcase of the DLC, featuring the beginning of this content’s story, some dialogue, one boss fight, and the first gameplay of the new playable character, Ms. Chalice.
Studio MDHR’s executive producer and studio director Maja Moldenhauer, co-founders Jared and Chad Moldenhauer, and producer Eli Cymet were answering questions at the event, providing a little more insight into the game.
The first thing that we saw was the inclusion of a new NPC on the original island, which appears once you have advanced a little in the main story. This character will tell you about the new lands of Inkwell Isle, and he’ll offer to take you to them in his boat.
When reaching the new place, a ghostly Legendary Chalice appears from the astral plane and tells the protagonists of a new cookie that lets her swap places with one of the two characters. However, this is temporary and Chalice can’t stay for long. For that matter, she introduces us to Chef Saltbaker, another new NPC who will send our protagonists on a quest to find the ingredients for a ‘Wondertart’ that will let you control the astral plane, making Legendary Chalice (now called Ms. Chalice) free forever.
After some dialogue, we got to see the boss Mortimer Freeze in ‘Snow Cult Scuffle,’ with the two difficulty options of ‘Simple’ and ‘Regular’ that we already know. This boss fight was everything that you would expect: a bombastic showcase of impressive animation and fantastic music. A sorcerer attacks the player with minions, like a giant whale and small ice devils. Then, he transforms into a big snowman with a completely new moveset, requiring precise dashes and jumps. Finally, the transformation into a huge snowflake, popping his own eyes as a weapon, seems like a challenging last round.
While watching the battle, one of the developers told us that there are boss phases in the DLC with more frames of animation and detail than whole battle scenes from the original game. Also, multiple scenarios will change completely while going from one phase to the other.
Composer Kristofer Maddigan is back for the DLC and he continues to bring songs based on his ‘30s and ‘40s inspirations. The devs explained that he expanded the style of the genre, creating “shorter but denser” tunes, and adding new types of music involving many more musicians; over 110 musicians are credited in The Delicious Last Course. We could hear some of the new songs and they all sounded charming and marvelous, as usual.
The new character Ms. Chalice doesn’t fall behind when it comes to artistic endeavors. She has “10,000 new frames of animation not based on other characters,” and you will be able to perform some unique moves while playing with her: a double jump, a dash parry, and an invincible roll.
In fact, Studio MDHR took criticism of the original game’s difficulty options into consideration while developing Ms. Chalice. While she isn’t supposed to be an “easy mode”, according to the devs, she has much more freedom of movement than her male counterparts. For example, her dash parry is a direct response to the more precise timing mechanic of Cuphead and Mugman. She has a more generous window and it looks like the movement is pretty safe to perform with fewer risks. While in the fight scenes, she has a different set of weapons, such as a rapid-fire projectile bomb, and a regular weapon that is more of a spread shot when compared to the other characters.
However, Studio MDHR also explained that she won’t be overpowered because she has some caveats, too. For example, to play as her you have to use the Astral Cookie charm, which will fill one of your charm slots reducing your options. Also, her invincible roll can only be performed while standing on the ground, which is more limited than the Smoke Dash that our original protagonists can do.
Two new weapons were also shown: the Crackshot and the Converge Shot. The former is a straight shot that becomes a homing projectile near an enemy. Its special move is a turret in the shape of a small planet, which will float for some seconds and automatically parry enemy attacks that come by. On the other hand, Converge Shot is a three-way shot that covers the whole screen. If you hold down the trigger, the attack will be more focused and narrow, letting you hit enemies in a more precise way. However, you won’t be able to move freely while doing so.
Inkwell Isle, the new land, seems to have many secrets and new mechanics, but the developers kept their cards close to their chests. For example, we were told that there will be a new exciting way to earn in-game currency, although there weren’t any more comments about that. There will also be some kind of side quest that we have yet to see. While The Delicious Last Course won’t include new platforming levels, Studio MDHR says there are some other “creative ideas that use Cuphead’s gameplay in a unique way.”
We weren’t told how many bosses, new items, and secrets are going to be included in the DLC, but there was some talk about its duration. It took one of the devs around three to four hours to 100 percent complete it, but that figure highly depends on player skill. Plus, there will be some unique and fun achievements that encourage fans to get good with the new additions, as well as the opportunity to go back and battle any of the original bosses and platforming levels with Ms. Chalice or the new weapons, which will add to its replayability.
Studio MDHR announced that when this DLC launches, it will be done with Cuphead as it wants to experiment with “other games and other styles.”
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course will launch on June 30 on Steam, GOG, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It costs $7.99 and it requires the original game. There will also be a physical release with no launch date yet.
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