There’s a section near the end of one of the new stages in Cuphead’s DLC that made us shout a four-letter word at the screen extremely loudly, and that word wasn’t ‘cups’. Being the level-headed types we are, it’s very rare for a game to make us resort to such outbursts, but there we were, bellowing the sort of language that would turn the air bluer than Mugman’s nose. And yet, despite this, we weren’t gnawing our fists in rage or spiking the controller off the wall. We were laughing.
We can’t go into much more detail because it’s the sort of thing you should discover for yourself, but it’s the sort of cheap trick that will likely guarantee you’ll die the first time, which in any other case would be thoroughly infuriating given how many lives will likely be lost to reach that point. And yet, something about Cuphead makes its cheeky trick endearing rather than enraging.
It’s one of a large number of moments in The Delicious Last Course [geddit!? – Ed], the (very) long-awaited DLC expansion for Cuphead which was announced way back in June 2018, a year before the base game had even come to Switch. Fans will almost unanimously agree that it’s been worth the wait, even if it is a little on the short side.
The Delicious Last Course consists of between five and seven new stages, depending on how you play (one is hidden and the other can’t be accessed if you play on the easier Simple difficulty), as well as five challenge stages. Each main level consists of an entirely new boss battle, and each is similarly epic compared to the boss fights encountered in the main game. From a lengthy scrap with an ice wizard who can turn into a snowman and a refrigerator, to the Moonshine Mob – a gang of criminal bugs led by a devious snail – each boss is brimming with just as much character as those already encountered by Cuphead fans.
It should be noted, though, that if you’re a fan of the run ‘n’ gun sections from the main game, your needs won’t really be catered for here. Of the seven main stages in this DLC, six of them start right away with a boss battle and the remaining one is an aeroplane shoot ‘em up stage. This does also mean players can’t gather coins in the usual method – in the main game, most of the coins are found in those run ‘n’ gun stages – but there’s a series of five new challenge battles with a new character called the King of Games which can be used to earn coins for the new power-ups available (such as the oddly powerful Crackshot weapon).
This is all well and good, but the most obvious new addition in The Delicious Last Course is Ms. Chalice, a new third character who can be summoned to take the place of Cuphead or Mugman if you apply the Astral Cookie charm. What this means, of course, is that you can’t apply any of the other charms, like Heart or Smoke Bomb, while you’re playing as Ms. Chalice, which on paper sounds like it should make playing as her a little harder. On the contrary – Ms. Chalice is packing her own set of buffs that actually make her the character of choice for anyone who wants a slightly easier time without straight-up dropping the difficulty.
Right off the bat, she starts each battle with four health points instead of three, making the Heart charm useless anyway. She also has a double-jump move – while Cuphead and Mugman can only get a second jump if they parry a pink object in mid-air, Ms. Chalice can double-jump whenever she feels like it. Her parry, then, is tied to the dash move instead, meaning she can parry pink objects by simply dashing into them, requiring less precise timing. Add to that her roll move, which makes her temporarily invincible, and you’ve got a new character who can get out of any tight squeeze without getting so much as a chip on her porcelain. Assuming you can get porcelain chalices. We dunno.
Ms. Chalice, then, provides an interesting halfway house between players who may be struggling with the Regular difficulty but don’t want to resort to dropping down to the Simple difficulty level, which often results in whole phases being missed out during boss fights (not to mention the fact that you need to beat every DLC stage in Regular to access the last one). The extra benefits she brings should make things a little easier for players who want to stick with Regular, but let’s be clear here, it doesn’t instantly make things a walkover or anything.
The bosses featured in The Delicious Last Course are just as fiendishly tricky (if not a little more so at times) than those in the main game, so if you’re concerned that the addition of this ‘easier’ character is part of an overall lessening of the game’s difficulty, then don’t worry — that isn’t the case. And of course, you can take on all the new stages as Cuphead or Mugman instead if you don’t want Ms. Chalice’s boosts. Meanwhile, for those who don’t necessarily want to play as Ms. Chalice but might fancy another little bit of help, the DLC also adds a new charm called Heart Ring to the in-game shop, which gives you a health point back when you perform your first, third and sixth parries during a battle.
The sum of all these parts is a wonderful final hurrah for a game that continues to stand as one of the best of its generation. It’s not the world’s longest expansion, coming in at about a quarter of the size of the main game (seven bosses compared to 28), but at only $8.99 / £6.79, it’s absolutely reasonably priced for what you get. Just make sure you don’t have any kids around while you’re playing, in case you end up joyfully shouting the same word we did.
Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course is a great little expansion that adds new life to one of the Switch’s most entertaining games. It may be a tad on the short side but what’s here is absolutely fantastic and it’s reasonably priced to take its length into account. If you have the original, this is essential. If you don’t, they both are.
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