First announced all the way back in 2018, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is a long-anticipated DLC. There's a whole new island to explore, alongside a new playable character, new items, new bosses, and more.
The setup is fittingly simple. Cuphead and Mugman travel to a far off-island where they learn that Ms. Chalice is trying to recover her body and leave the Astral Plane. She can do so temporarily — allowing her to replace Cuphead or Mugman as a playable character — but to do so forever, she needs a special treat being cooked up by Chef Saltbaker.
The ingredients needed for this cosmic-culling culinary confection are held by a menagerie of new bosses scattered across this fourth island. Beating them is no easy task, so you'll need every bit of skill you've got.
While it's been a long wait for this DLC, it was well worth it. Studio MDHR has pulled out every trick in its sleeves in order to create a visual and auditory feast. The animation here is somehow improved from the already-impressive style in the original game, with every single frame of a boss fight utterly packed with detail.
Each fight has a lot going on, from supplementary enemies aiding the titans you're attempting to topple, to the animated backgrounds and foregrounds. In one early fight, players have to weave between mob-themed foes being pursued by cops, dodging across bridges, and narrowly avoiding bombs.
I can't praise the animation enough. This is Studio MDHR at its best, pulling from everything that already worked and cranking the dials as high as they can go. It can be almost overwhelming trying to take it all in, adding to the overall difficulty level. The music is similarly stellar, packed with frenetic scores that fit the comfortable old-timey 1930s cartoon aesthetic, yet still sound new and full of energy.
All of this comes together for the final boss fight, which is only accessible after you've collected the five ingredients. Without spoilers, it's fitting in difficulty and scale as the last boss to be experienced in Cuphead, and the imagination of Studio MDHR is clearly nowhere near exhausted when it comes to entertaining ideas and matching anthropomorphic foes with meticulous game design.
Even outside of the scale, the game design here is some of the best across all of Cuphead. Multiple bosses have unexpected, gnarly tricks up their sleeves, and the game even plays around with player expectations based on certain "standard" elements of the experience so far. Twice I was left putting down my controller and yelling "Oh COME ON!" but I can't be mad. I could only clap at the way some of the foes in The Delicious Last Course took advantage of how I expected things to play out.
This brings me to the single shining caveat for everything I've said so far: Even by the standards of the original game, these boss fights are hard. Personal experience will always vary and different players will find different elements challenging, but bar the possibility of one or two exceptions, I genuinely believe every single fight in this DLC is harder than anything found in the mainline game.
If it's been a while since you played Cuphead or you're a newcomer, I recommend going through at least a few of the main game's bosses before trying out this DLC. You can technically access this DLC early on after beating just a couple of bosses in the original experience, but it might be a better idea to hold off and wait until you've gotten a bit more comfortable playing again.
While the focus is understandably on the spectacle of the new bosses, it's worth noting that with the addition of Ms. Chalice and several new items, the main game can also be experienced in a whole new way.
Ms. Chalice brings a whole host of new abilities to the walloping fest, adding a double-jump, dash parry, extra health, and invincibility while rolling to a player's arsenal. Despite that impressive list, she's not overpowered compared to the titular hero and his brother since she doesn't have the jump parry and can't equip any Charms for bonuses.
Outside of the boss fights, there aren't any new Run and Gun segments. You instead get a host of new challenges that share a common theme, disabling your weapons and charms. This means you have to think carefully about how to proceed. These provide more unique boss fights while testing players in unexpected ways.
While I don't want to give too many details, there's also a variety of new Charms for Cuphead and Mugman, opening up new avenues for fighting foes you're otherwise experienced with already. Combined with the ability to play as Ms. Chalice in already-existing fights, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course doesn't just provide new areas to explore and bosses to fight; it allows you to re-experience the main game in new ways.
As a result, if you're a newcomer, everything added works perfectly for a first-time experience. This isn't just for longtime fans of Cuphead; it makes the entire package more enticing to anybody.
Cuphead had already earned its place as one of the best Xbox games ever, but this seals it in and serves up extra delights on the side. At only $8, there's a ton of value here at an incredibly low cost.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is a refreshing treat in a year that has seen numerous game delays. It doesn't overstay its welcome, and the difficulty here is no joke. Everything about this DLC indicates that Studio MDHR isn't content just to deliver a quality game but instead wants to hone its experiences to perfection, no matter how long it needs to take.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is currently available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch.
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