Need to know
What is it? Add-on chapter to tough but gorgeous platform shooter Cuphead.
Expect to pay $8/£6.79
Release date June 30, 2022
Developer Studio MDHR
Publisher Studio MDHR
Reviewed on RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? 2-player co-op.
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Not many games refer to themselves as delicious, but who would deny it works for Cuphead? Studio MDHR’s painstaking recreation of a 1930s Disney aesthetic oozes confectionery flavour that sends you flitting between its delicacies like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And even if this new dish of platforming goodness arrives a little cold—nearly five years after the original game’s release—it remains a succulent proposition. Just don’t forget Cuphead is similarly famous for its boss fights that rain merry hell upon you. Prepare to di(n)e.
At least you can jump right into this DLC even from a fresh save without completing the main meal. Reach and finish the first mausoleum challenge that becomes accessible only a couple of stages in and you release the star of this episode, Ms. Chalice. From there, a clock-faced boatman will row you to the new fourth isle, where your task is to return the ghostly Chalice to corporeal form. To do that, all you need is, well, a Wondertart, at least according to jolly local chef Saltbaker. He’s only too pleased to make it providing you can gather five special ingredients. But wouldn’t you know it these particular groceries are protected by burly bosses, and you’ll have to defeat them first.
(Image credit: Studio MDHR)
That’s not the only time the stunning visuals get rather lost in the demands of such a frantic action game, though. For instance, Esther Winchester, a cow dressed in cowboy gear—a reverse cowgirl, you might say—has a similar problem. She’s never more delightfully animated than when she’s skipping backwards on the right half of the screen, accosting you with a mammoth vacuum cleaner. But you may barely notice since that’s exactly the point you need to stay focused on the left, weaving between missiles she’s sucking towards you.
At points such as these, The Last Course isn’t entirely at one with itself, then, like a world in which Mega Man was tossed into a Silly Symphony in the hope they’d get along. Equally, it still seems strange that, as indebted as Cuphead is to those old cartoons, it’s never found a place for their character development and storytelling techniques in its scenes. While the character design is visually stronger than ever here, these bosses are really only colourful mechanical puzzles, any personality they have condensed into their desire to kill you and how they react to being shot. This felt excusable in the original game, since the cast was so large. Now it sticks out as a missed opportunity not to bookend individual encounters with more context and sketch narrative arcs through the battles themselves.
The Delicious Last Course is still top-tier Cupheading. I’d even say that two or three of its bosses would barge their way into my overall top five Cuphead stages, which equates to a pretty strong return. On an artistic level, however, there’s something underexploited in the practice of mining the history of animation in such detail, merely to line up its treasures with targets on their heads. As delicious as it may be, there’s always that hint of regret when you’re served a truly artful piece of cookery, and the only thing to do is demolish it.
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