Why is Cuphead Successful?


Every now and then, a game appears from what seems to be thin air yet its popularity grows exponentially.

To name a few examples: Limbo, Pokemon Go, Cuphead.

Cuphead is an indie game released on the 29th September and within 2 weeks of its release, went platinum.

It has a perfect score on Steam from over 16,000 reviews and countless amounts of positive reviews around the web.

But why is Cuphead successful? Surely it’s just another indie game – there’s thousands of them to chose from. What made this one so different?

Well today, we are going to uncover:

  • What is Cuphead?
  • Why is Cuphead Successful?
  • Who developed the game?

What is Cuphead?

Cuphead is a side scrolling, imaginative platformer which has its players forced upon impossible boss levels and stages.

You play as Cuphead and can team up with Mugboy when enjoying multiplayer. The duo compete against cleverly designed enemies through flick book animation and creative fighting styles such as the finger guns.


Through gambling success at a Casino, Cuphead and Mugboy are offered one final bet. If they win, they own the Casino! If they lose, their souls belong to the Devil.

From this point, you can probably assume what happens.

In order to pay off the debt to the devil, Cuphead and Mugboy instead travel across the lands collecting soul contracts from other residents who have promised their soul to the devil facing many challenges along the way.

It’s hard to believe that from a small story and two small characters that this game could have received such a positive reception.

However, as we will soon find out, we will understand why Cuphead became so popular.

Why is Cuphead successful?

Retro Art Style

If you haven’t already noticed yet, Cuphead has a very different art style to most games – this ultimately makes it stand out from the rest.

With the inspiration of 1930s-style cartoons, Studio MDHR has managed to create a throwback game reminding us of the very beginnings of the animation style.

This video gives a clever insight into how the Indie Team constructed their characters:

As for the backgrounds, these were all hand painted with watercolors. So everything you see in the game was created in real life and then inserted into the game.

This method of animation of a video game is revolutionary. Never would you have imagined that it is possible to interact and control a drawing.

For lovers of the retro animations like Disney’s creation, I would definitely recommend this game.

One clever reddit user played his copy of Cuphead on an old, black and white TV:

Level Difficulty

In addition to its bespoke art style, Cuphead is renowned for its near incredibly difficult boss levels.

This game is based on defeating 17 bose phases in order to retrieve the contracts for the devil; each bose is just as difficult, if not more, than the last.

Fighting all of these difficult levels, Cuphead feels like a never ending battle against a stream of difficult levels that each try to kill you in a unique way.

Many gamers have been left raging in fits of anger after losing multiple times just like this streamer:


Despite this, fans have praised Cuphead for introducing a challenging yet rewarding experience for its users.

Its refreshing to discover a light hearted game that also has the ability to test our hand-eye coordination.

Typically it’s the cute, unrealistic characters that venture on a happy journey meeting happy characters in mythical worlds and there isn’t much to challenge us.

Equally, it’s the heart-wrenching, war-driven or apocalyptic, reality-based video games that are rich in difficult levels we can spend hours trying to solve.

Of course, this isn’t always a case however, its nice to be introduced to a video game that breaks the mould and defies its stereotype.


After learning about the huge potential this game possesses for creating hours and hours of entertainment, you go to purchase the game on Steam or on Xbox and discover that Cuphead only costs £14.99.

Seeing as the game was created by a small indie studio, the game also has the price of a small indie game as expected.


But comparing it to AAA titles that have just been or are about to be released that have the same level of anticipation, the price is unbelievable.

Super Mario Odyssey for Nintendo is set at the price of £49.99 brand new which is nothing compared to Star Wars Battlefront 2!

If you don’t want to pay the microtransactions, you can play for 4,528 hours in order to unlock everything. That’s roughly 27 weeks of continuous play. Alternatively, you can pay $2,100 on top of the price of the game.

Now, looking back at Cuphead, everything is included in the game at the beautiful price of £14.99.

This is perfect for those of us who may not be able to afford the extortionate price of AAA titles but want to experience the lives and stories of unique characters through detailed gameplay.

Also, this price makes this game a perfect Christmas present as it isn’t emptying your pocket and the receiver is getting an awesome game to play over the festive season.

About Studio MDHR


The creators of Cuphead are a Canadian based team founded by the Moldenhauer brothers, Chad and Jared.

The pair frequently watched cartoons from the likes of Disney and Fleischer Studios which fueled their love for the art style.

The inspiration for Cuphead originates from a 1936 Japanese Propaganda video where Evil Mickeys from the western world are being destroyed by the Japanese forces.

Their particular inspiration was the man with a tea cup for a head who transforms into a tank.


“We just thought, well, let’s try that,” Chad Moldenhauer said. “We thought it was so odd. I drew a couple versions of it and right away it stuck.”

While this is their first project, they have left us with high expectations for their next game.

In Conclusion

So why is Cuphead successful? With its radical game design as well as painfully difficult boss levels, Cuphead introduces gamers to a unique experience for an affordable price.

Have you had a chance to play Cuphead yet? Let us know in the comments below! 

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