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Cuphead

Cuphead is a 2D side-scrolling shooter/platformer hybrid. Its reputation for being hard is deserved, even without the unfair aspects. I quite like the game. The unfair aspects can be mitigated with the wiki and youtube (and there's no major spoiler potential to worry about), and overall the game is great.

Blind choices

Cuphead has an equipment system, but shows no quantitative information, you can't sell anything, and the system itself is not well explained: the description of charms makes them sound like passive upgrades, not equippables, so I initially bought two charms without realizing you can only equip one at a time.

Trial and error

The wiki's list of shots is highly recommended reading before buying anything.

https://cuphead.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_Shots

Trial and error

There are a lot of enemy patterns that require foreknowledge to avoid, objects that look dangerous but aren't, objects that don't look dangerous but are, etc. I can list a ton of offending examples off the top of my head:

Rumor Honeybottom's saw

Captain Brineybeard's boat's laser

Cala Maria's petrification attack

Cala Maria wiki article

Djimmi the Great's last phase

The miniboss with the shockwaves

The squid

It seems to get worse later in the game. I don't remember it being that bad in world 1, but in world 3, every level has two things like this.

Balance

There are a few hilariously underpowered items, a few reasonably underpowered ones, but there aren't any *over*powered ones. There are a few different weapons and a few different charms worth using in different levels. A lot of depth also comes from the ability to switch between two weapons inside of a level.

Ergonomic problem

Cuphead inherits a flaw common in arcade-style shooters, which is that you almost always want to be shooting, which means you pretty much hold down that button the entire time you're playing. It makes my finger sore. Solving this problem in Cuphead isn't as simple as "just make the player constantly shoot" though, because there *are* some situations where you don't want to shoot, they're just few and far between. I'd like to experiment with a button that suppresses shooting instead of a button that shoots.

Sectioning and saving

How to sve the player's progress correctly

Cuphead does all of this right: it saves automatically outside of battle, there are no in-level checkpoints or consumable items to speak of, and no status is preserved between levels. You can also replay old levels (to get more coins if you missed some of them before, but not to re-collect the same coins).

Most levels are about 2 minutes long and retries are quick. The only change I'd have made is more health. 3 hits for 2 minutes is low enough that being hit can be very tilting. I'd have it balanced for 6 hits per level.

Cheap difficulty

Difficulty settings

Difficulty settings

It has a weird deal with the easy mode: there is one, but from what I'm reading it makes your wins not actually count, making it basically pointless (soul contracts are required to proceed so at most you could play all of world 1 this way).

SimpleMode on Cuphead wiki

There is an unlockable hard mode. It sucks that it's unlockable, but at least the normal mode is hard enough that no one would need it on their first playthrough.

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