The Cuphead Show is almost upon us. After viewing all 12 episodes of the series, it embodies the art style and fun of the game but doesn’t showcase any of its trademark gameplay or difficulty. With the cartoon being aimed at a slightly younger audience, it may miss the mark with some fans. Let’s take a deeper dive in our review of The Cuphead Show.
There are three big draws for the Cuphead game. The first is the 1930s inspired art style, and the other two draws are the gameplay and high level of difficulty involved in playing the game. The Cuphead Show takes the rubber hose animation of the 1930s and brings it into modern times. This results in a cartoon that very closely matches the aesthetic of the game, which should please fans.
Since there’s very little dialogue in the game, the creative team behind the show had some liberty to take the characters in their own direction. Cuphead (Tru Valentino) is the hot-headed adventurer who’s ready to get into trouble at a moment’s notice, while his brother Mugman (Frank Todaro) is the more level-headed of the two, constantly trying to keep them out of trouble.
The Devil (Luke Millington-Drake) and King Dice (Wayne Brady) aren’t quite as sinister as they are in the game, but those minor changes work better in the context of the more humorous cartoon. Other characters such as Elder Kettle (Joe Hanna) who wasn’t featured much in the game, and Ms. Chalice (Grey Griffin) who hasn’t been featured at all outside of trailers for the DLC, expand on what we’ve seen in the video game realm and are brought to life on Netflix.
While the overall plot of the game is somewhat intact, most of the 12 episodes in the series are unconnected. In the game, Cuphead and Mugman are trying to save their souls after losing in the Devil’s casino. The Devil makes a deal with them that sends the brothers on a journey around the Inkwell Isles collecting soul contracts for the Devil. In the cartoon, Cuphead once again owes the Devil his soul, but that’s where the plot stops, at least through the end of season one.
Only a handful of episodes touch on this overarching plot. With the episodes only being about 15 minutes in length (including credits), there isn’t a lot of time to develop a proper plot. This is done intentionally to better mimic the cartoons of the 1930s. Those cartoons could be seen as standalone affairs with no need to understand what happened before or after the events of each cartoon. That’s how most of the episodes in The Cuphead Show play out.
It’s nice to be able to watch an episode at your leisure without having to worry about the plot. However, at the same time, it’s a bit harder to enjoy the series as a whole with such little plot development throughout. It’s even a little frustrating when you realize the plot continues in the already confirmed seasons two and three of the series. You don’t get much plot, and what little you do get is presumably only one-third of the overall story.
If you enjoy short, one-off cartoons, and are a fan of the game, you’ll probably like The Cuphead Show. On the other hand, if you were hoping for more of the game’s plot to be featured in the show, or for the show to showcase any of the gameplay elements from the video game, you may find it lacking. There are a number of boss characters and locations from the game that show up in the series, but there’s very little fighting or combat, and nothing to indicate how difficult the game was. In some ways, it’s a hit, but in other ways, The Cuphead Show is a big miss.
About The Cuphead Show
Synopsis: Follow the misadventures of the impulsive Cuphead and his cautious but persuadable brother Mugman in this animated series based on the hit video game.
Creators: Chad Moldenhauer, Jared Moldenhauer
Writers: Deeki Deke, Clay Morrow, Adam Paloian, Cosmo Segurson, Dave Wasson
Stars: Tru Valentino, Frank Todaro, Luke Millington-Drake
Art Director: Andrea Fernández
Music: Ego Plum
Average Runtime: 15 Minutes
Releases: February 18th, 2022 (Netflix)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.