“Good things come to those who wait” is a saying that gets said sometimes. It’s supposed to extol the virtue of patience, as though it isn’t always best to enthusiastically leap toward everything. That’s probably true! It’s important to be discerning.
The adage doesn’t quite fit our extremely specific situation of waiting for a video game to release, though. Only the developer has control over how long it’ll take to make a video game. I’ve never made a video game, but I bet it’s hard as hell. I only kind of know what frustum culling is. So, instead, a more suitable saying (that’s still pretty similar) would be “Some things are worth waiting for.”
Cuphead was worth waiting for. My lord was Cuphead ever worth waiting for.
Cuphead had been in production since 2010, as new developer StudioMDHR spent seven years perfecting nearly every aspect. Its hand-drawn animations are absolutely stunning. Its multi-phase boss fights are usually nothing short of incredible. Its 1930s jazz music is the ultimate complement to everything that’s happening on the screen. And, not to relegate it to an afterthought, the platforming and shooting is superbly tight.
Honestly, Cuphead is nearly bulletproof. It’s tough to come up with sincere criticisms of a game that does everything so well. This is the best I can come up with: I bet a lot of people bought Cuphead because of its awesome aesthetic and bounced right off of it when they realized how goddamn hard it is. That is not a very good criticism. (Personally, that difficulty only fueled my need to best it.)
Admittedly, this category didn’t have the stiffest competition this year. That doesn’t diminish Cuphead‘s accomplishment. It’s easy to imagine this game winning its respective year no matter when it released. It really is that excellent.
We spent a lot of time navigating Cuphead and Mugman around as mystery liquids sloshed about in their, uhh, heads. StudioMDHR has been coy about what that liquid is — never really pinning it down to a specific substance, rather dodging the topic with answers like “it’s their essence.” Not tonight. Tonight those cups are filled with champagne in celebration of Cuphead earning Destructoid’s Best Xbox One Game of 2017.