Game Review: Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Number of Players: 1-4
Time: 20 Minutes
Age: 8+
Game Type: Dice Placement
Gamer Type: Casual Dice-Chucker
Complexity: 4

Dice have a magical quality about them. For some reason, they represent the “chance” factor in life better than any other randomizer out there. Just like in life, something random can always derail the best-laid plans of mice and men. The second reason many of us love dice is that they drive the cult of “true” eurogamers mad. Spending weeks building strategy only to be defeated by an anomaly of probability frustrates the hell out of them; the rest of us just call that the fun of gaming. USAopoly will frustrate them even more with the incredibly fun, incredibly fast-paced Cuphead fast-rolling dice game. Regardless of the “Dice are bad cult’s feelings,” this is an amazing game that is fun for the whole family.

Story

Now that I have picked on the eurogamers enough, Cuphead is a port of the popular video game, Cuphead: Don’t Deal with the Devil. The video game is available on most platforms and is supposed to be one of the best run and gun platform games out there. In Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, you take on the role of the protagonists of the video game (Cuphead and Mughead) and two of the other characters (Miss Chalice and Elder Kettle). This is an “RPG” style game where you beat bosses and improve your character as you go along (in the solo mode you play two characters). Interestingly, the story follows that of the game. However, this is a good and bad thing as if you have played the video game the story is similar and if you have not, then the story is new. 6 of 10.

Artwork

First of all, the artwork is amazing. Second of all, the artwork is based on the 1950’s style hand-drawn cartoons. If you like nostalgia, then it does not get any better than this. The artwork has all the campy goodness we want to see from the golden age of cartoons. As an interesting aside, USAopoly captured the feeling of the game completely in this dice-rolling adventure. Other than the box being a little smaller than the standard medium size, the artwork for this game is darn near perfect for it (9.5 of 10).

Mechanics

The first thing that you notice when you start playing this game is that time is a mechanic. This is not a simple time limit like most games, but a time limit that actually tests your skill. In most games with a timer, you have to figure out a puzzle in the time. In Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, you have to roll to beat the clock. Each boss card has a move you need (represented by images on the dice) to avoid taking damage. As with most run and gun games, you have to dodge before you can hit. You roll the dice and see what you get. The interesting part of this mechanic is that once you move off of an early card in the chain (bosses are laid out in three or four card patterns), you cannot return. This mechanic adds to the challenge of the game.

Another factor that makes it cool is that it is a progressive game. I know, progressive games are all the rage now, but this one stands out. Not only do you have to beat a boss to move on to the next deck, but you can reset the decks so this is not a single-play game. Further, the score sheet (save sheet) allows you to pick up where you left off, letting you play the game over multiple sessions. You can build your character, get better weapons and skills, and try on the big baddies as the rules change. 9 of 10.

Strategy

Both time and strategy are in play in this game. First of all, players choose the amount of time for the timer (20, 15 or 10 seconds for each battle). Once the timer stops, rolling is over but placement continues. This opens the door for “do I roll for a perfect roll” or “do I play what I have when I have it and get fewer rolls.” Your choice in this feature can be the gamebreaker. The goal of the roll is to dodge and deal damage to the baddie, keeping in mind you want your teammates to do the same.

There is no engine building in this game, which means our eurofreinds will probably miss out on a great game that they won’t even try. However, for those who do play, defense, offense, and rush are all in play. You can play defense, only trying to damage on the last card after you have dodged everything. If you like, you can go the balanced offense route, trying to use all your damage. Finally, you can “devil may care” with the rush and try to deal as much damage as you can before the baddie damages you. To add to the strategy, there are tokens that let you help your teammates when things go bad. (6.5 of 10).

Novelty

Handrawn cartoons make this game a nostalgic wonder. The game style and placement is quite novel, especially for a dice-chucker. The more you play this game, the more you see what you can do. The EX dice is also a “Wildcard” element in the game. Do you “use it early to save yourself” or “save it for a double (or more) hit?” Only you can decide. The subject matter is still fresh and the Cuphead franchise has not been beaten to death, so new and old Cuphead fans can enjoy it. (6 out of 10).

Overall

Once you push past the vale of tears from the Eurogamers (who will love other games in USAopoly’s catalog), you will have a chance to play a great game here. Cuphead is fun. Cuphead is easy. When you add to the system that it is a quick game, you have a winner. This is not some high strategy epic quest, it is a fun beat-down of bad guys. The more you play, the more challenging it becomes. Regardless of your game style, this game is a winner in our book; when you get the game will you have what it takes to be a winner? (36 of 50)

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Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

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