After years of expectation and hopes, the original Cuphead’s release was met with a combination of joyful excitement and frustrated rage. The utterly distinctive aesthetic and gorgeous character designs drew in players in their droves, but many were just as quickly driven away by the crushing difficulty. Still, as the game was ported from Xbox to Switch and PlayStation, and saw the release of a Netflix show, what players really wanted was more Cuphead to sink their teeth into. Now, with the release of The Delicious Last Course (initials DLC, get it?) it’s time to dive back in.
With the main storyline of Cuphead being concluded, the DLC sees the titular hero and Mugman set off on a whole new adventure. Summoned by Miss Chalice – the character who occupied the Mausoleums in the original game and joined our playable vessels in the cartoon – Cupman and Mugman find themselves looking for the ingredients for a magical cookie that will bring Miss Chalice fully into the real world. While she is a playable character in the DLC, unlocking her requires equipping a specific charm that sees her replace one of the brothers.
The enemy design and animation in The Delicious Last Course is up there with the very best of the original game. Almost every boss is filled with memorable moments and all offer the same perfectly judged level of challenge for the player. As with the main game, you’ll no doubt begin by cursing the punishing nature of each level, but learning the enemy attacks and figuring out the best ways to combat them will soon (well soonish) have you praising the game’s design. After what often feels like a long time banging your head against the brick wall of projectile attacks, multiple moving enemies and screen filling lasers, suddenly something clicks and you enter the flow state where it all begins to make sense. Well, that’s the plan, at least.
The presentation and main game mechanics are largely untouched from the original game, outside of some new charms and weapons to purchase, but the addition of Miss Chalice represents a completely new challenge. Even better, you can go back and take on all the original levels with her to add an extra level of replayability. In fact, I found her abilities gave me an edge to get past some of the original bosses that I hadn’t beaten first time around.
The most obvious difference in Miss Chalice’s skillset is the inclusion of a double jump. This can really help with some of the bosses that require platforming but comes at the expense of the original parrying mechanic. Instead of jumping onto anything pink, you instead need to dash into them. Again, this makes some sections easier but can throw you off with the timing for others. Luckily it’s easy enough to switch between characters to find the one that best suits each encounter.
The run and gun levels from the main game have been replaced with parrying challenges that really test your more defensive skills. These are a great palate cleanser between the various multiple stage boss battles, and success is rewarded with coins to purchase the new weapons from the sinister Porkrind. Alongside the new offensive weapons and charms, there are a range of secrets to discover, one of which requires a specific charm to be equipped. I still maintain that a charm that shows the boss health bars would be the single greatest quality of life improvement, but at this point this isn’t going to happen.
As with the main games, all the bosses can be played in either simple or regular modes, with the former lacking some of the final transformations and therefore not counting towards completion. Beating each boss on regular rewards you with the various ingredients for Chef Saltbaker’s recipe and therefore the ability to progress to the DLC’s ending. There are also Expert modes available for 6 out of the 8 new bosses if you really want to challenge yourself.