Originally announced in June of 2018, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is finally coming out a little over 4 years later, this June 30th. We were invited to a preview event that showed off 13 minutes of all-new gameplay, and a lengthy Q&A with Studio MDHR about everything fans can expect. What I saw seems well worth the lengthy wait, so let’s get into it.
A Full Cup
One of the biggest questions fans have had about Cuphead’s DLC is just how it is integrated into the main game. The Delicious Last course adds a new island to the game which can be accessed once you have cleared the first of the game’s mausoleums. A boat appears on each island now and allows you to traverse both back and forth between the game’s landmasses, an incredibly welcome addition.
A visit to the boatman will bring you to the new DLC island where you quickly meet up with the Legendary Miss Chalice herself. After offering Mugman a delicious-looking cookie she swaps places with him, taking a physical form as he is turned ethereal! It’s only temporary of course and is the story’s reasoning as to how this long-dead golden cup lady has become a playable character. The new character, Chef Saltbaker (the GREATEST chef in all the lands), is working on mastering the very Astral Plane itself. His recipe for the Wondertart is sure to fully restore Ms. Chalice to the mortal world for good (well until she dies again at least). The cookie is only good for temporarily swapping places, and by golly, we needs this tart to bring our friend back to life!
The main ingredients for this wondrous confection are strewn about the island, guarded by a bevy of new bosses of course. There are no platforming stages this time around, but Studio MDHR did promise is “unique challenges that are a fresh experience” to replace them. Outside of new story cutscenes and world exploration we did get to see one new boss fight featuring jaw-dropping animations as Ms. Chalice gave the old one-two to an icy wizard.
They’re Still Animating “The Hard Way” and It Looks Incredible
This fight showed off the new multi-level transforming stages. Early on things take place in an icy arena. Ms. Chalice’s animation set is entirely new and built just for her. No shortcuts were taken here, as every single frame of animation was not only done by hand but on even bigger paper than in the main game. This dedication to the craft was a big reason a DLC originally scheduled for 2019 ended up missing its target by three full years. The words “Scope Creep” and “Announced too early” were uttered when they were asked just what had happened.
The person playing the demo we watched was quite good because much like the original release things looked incredibly difficult. Ms. Chalice and a few charm additions did have a few new tricks up their sleeves to try and even the odds out (a little). Ms. Chalice has a double jump, dash forward parry, and extra health point to contend with the fact that she takes up a charm slot to activate. One new charm mentioned when the question of difficulty came up was one that restored HP after a successful parry instead of adding to your super meter, as well.
Part of that incredible dedication to animation is that it’s all still just old-school paper. There are no shortcuts taken at all, which means Ms. Chalice not only has a fully new sweet of movement animations but her only unique super and plane ones as well. One shown off to us in the preview was her spin that shot damage in a straight line up and down, which was key to her defeating the wizard boss. A couple of new attacks were talked about as well, the first being the Converge shot. It is a W-shaped attack that you can focus into a tighter pattern if you hold down the fire button. The other was the Crackshot which was another type of homing attack to help those (like myself) who have a challenging time aiming during the insanity that is a Cuphead level.
Music and Tying It All Together
Studio MDHR was kind enough to supply us with three different music tracks for our video coverage and it’s all bigger and better-sounding classic tunes from the early 20th century. I’ve been humming the damned “delicious last COURSE” opener since I heard it, and the boss music is a crazy, frenetic, and beautiful cacophony. They were quick to point out that most of the development time for this DLC was spent during the ongoing pandemic. Each song has up to 110 musicians playing on it, far more than the original, but they could never have more than nine musicians in at a time for recordings. It’s just one of the many issues that added to the amount of time this release took to come out, but like the rest it seems worth the struggle as the end result is stellar so far.
The other big question is how this DLC ties back into the main game. Anything you unlock can be brought back into any part of the original game. From Ms. Chalice to the new charms and weapons it all carries backward thanks to the new Fast Travel boat system. The developers sounded excited at the speed-running possibilities that the new additions to the game offer up and depending on your skill set the new DLC should take the average “I beat Cuphead but just barely” player roughly three to four hours. Priced at only $7.99 at launch this seems like a perfect amount of content for something that is so insanely difficult and time-consuming to create visually. We were also teased that the new island has “so many secrets”.
Wrapping Things Up
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is shaping up to be, in the words of its creators, “a really cool final send-off of the original Cuphead story” and I couldn’t agree more. If you enjoyed the original this seems like a perfect way to spend more time before saying goodbye to this unique and excellent platformer. It is releasing on June 30th at the aforementioned $7.99 price and will be available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (No new native version for the Series and PS5 consoles sadly). Keep your eyes peeled here on Xbox Era for a review closer to launch.