Cuphead is one of those rare “perfect” games in my mind. Everything it sets out to do, it does not only well, but so masterfully, that I do consider it a perfect game. Where nothing can really be improved upon. It’s been fine tuned so much and tweaked and balanced with all the players in mind. While I wasn’t originally a fan of the “Boss Rush Mode” gameplay style when the game was originally announced, but when the game came out, it worked really well as the core of the game, with some run and gun & plane boss stages thrown in for good measure. Again, I think Cuphead is a perfect game.
So back in 2018 when the DLC was announced at E3, I was unbelievably excited and quickly put it down as a top announcement that year, which hopes that it might show up for Christmas… Boy, was I in for a big disappointment. Not only didn’t it ship that year, but it took until Summer 2022 for it to finally come out. Which is something I kinda called back when the Netflix show was announced. When I sat in my car that morning and read that Netflix announced a Cuphead TV show, I knew right then and there that the DLC was either going to take forever to come out, or not come out at all. Well, after 4 years, we finally got the DLC.
Delicious Last Course tacks on a new island to the Cuphead game. With the story of Ms. Chalice summoning Cuphead and his pal Mugman to a mysterious Island. She greets them, and while Mugman chews down on a cookie, Mugman and Chalice swap places. She now has a real body, and Mugman is trapped in the astral plane. To bring Chalice back to the land of the living, she has the Salty Baker agree to make a pastry tart that will let her have her old body back. So it’s up to Cuphead and Mugman to go find the ingredients that are being held by several bosses in the game.
The new island is fairly small, with a single hidden path and a handful of bosses. Chalice herself is also a new playable character that features a double jump, and an invincibility roll and dash. Along with all that, there are a few new weapons and charms to play around with. I tried using Chalice for a bit, but her double jump is a two smaller jumps, meaning her first jump is a shorter jump then Cuphead’s single jump, which caused me to have to double jump for everything, and in a game where you are already concentrating on so many things, having to pay attention to double jumping for everything was just one more thing to manage that I didn’t like having to. Which made me end up switching back over to Cuphead.
Chalice also requires to have the cookie charm equipped, meaning I can’t have my two extra lives charm in use, or anything else, which is just another reason why Chalice was basically pointless for me. I usually needed those two extra hearts that allowed me to easily not have to memorize the boss patterns as much, but could focus on dodging without feeling like every hit was an instant death and restarting. It just gave me a bit of extra breathing room, which I really liked.
The bosses are the main talking points in Cuphead, and there are 7 full bosses as well as a parry boss gauntlet section. So there is much more than I initially thought, as the pause screen has you collecting ingredients from 5 bosses from around the island, but with the final boss and a secret boss, and the parry bosses there is a lot more, and the game became a bit more of a value once I finished it. Each boss has at least three phases, and those phase changes are just incredible from a visual standpoint. Like with the original game, everything is hand drawn and there are some extra visual flares to make certain items pop and stand out more. Along with a few new set pieces that feature a very 60’s inspired Rank and Bass stop motion animation style, everything works together well without feeling like a mishmash of random nostalgia.
The Bootleger gang boss, with a 1920’s prohibition era look is one of the first bosses, but gave me the hardest time. Partially because I played the DLC wrong. I forgot about the new weapons, because I didn’t have the money for it, and the main way to get money is by defeating the Parry bosses, which are out of sight unless you walk to an area that drops down a ladder from the sky. It took me three days of on and off fighting to defeat the Bootlegger gang, and when I got to the third phase I got to the part where a scroll says “Knockout!” on screen, but it’s a fake out and actually goes into a fourth and secret phase that caused me a bit of trouble. But with practice I was able to defeat the gang and move on. Each boss there on out was a bit of learning and practicing, but became a small challenge and I was able to defeat them fairly easily.
Then it came to the last boss that held ingredients, the Dogfighter airplane family. This boss also had a secret fourth phase, that flips the screen on it’s sides and upside down, which really messes with my mind. It took a while to get good enough to finally get to that phase consecutively, and when I did I was so racked with nerves and on edge that I almost always immediately died. Taking a few days off and playing some more relaxing games really helped. In fact, I recorded a podcast where I said I didn’t know if I would ever go back and play it, because it was just too hard to do. But then talking about it made me want to pick the game back up, and when I did, I flew through not just that boss, but several others and finished the DLC in record time.
Taking a break when the game gets overwhelming was exactly what I needed to do, and what I would suggest to others who are having a hard time with it as well. Along with changing out the weapon and use the coins to purchase and use one of the new weapons. Crackshot basically is a heavy hitting homing shot, that just allows you to concentrate on the chaos happening around you and learn the patterns without having to also focus on trying to hit the enemies as well. It’s just a very good, albeit possibly overpowered weapon. But it helped me beat the bosses without too much hassle, so what can I say?
There is nothing in the DLC that will convince people who didn’t like Cuphead to begin with or thought it was too hard, as I thought the DLC was much harder than the original game. But with the Crackshot weapon, it made the bosses become extremely easy. Chalice was wasted on me, and I have heard that she is actually basically an easy mode and super overpowered, but I have really no desire to play as her.
While I expected much more out of the DLC, since it took over 4 years to produce, it’s an excellent addon to an already perfect game. And at $8 for an expansion to a smaller budgeted game, it really is worth every penny.