It’s been almost five whole years since Cuphead finally burst onto the scene after years of development hell and delays. Cuphead took the gaming world by storm, followed by waves of merchandise, cameos in games like Super Smash Bros, a Netflix series, and even a kids meal at Arby’s. Now here we are at the launch of its DLC expansion The Delicious Last Course after its own bout of delays. Thankfully, this isn’t some half-assed DLC cash grab; the team at Studio MDHR has put every ounce of love and care into the Delicious Last Course as the main game, and it shows.
The Delicious Last Course has Cuphead and Mugman alerted by a mysterious boatman that the Legendary Chalice has an urgent message for them. Throwing caution to the wind, our beloved heroes heed his call and sail off to the brand new Inkwell Isle IV. When they arrive they are greeted by the Legendary Chalice who shows off a magical cookie that can bring her back to life as Ms Chalice — with the catch that it’s a limited time revival and requires another living soul to bring her back. She then introduces the boys to the "greatest chef of all time" the Jolly Chef Saltbaker, who informs her that while the cookie only works for a small time, he has a recipe for the Astral Wondertart, a tart which grants the owner control of the Astral Plane, allowing Ms Chalice to be brought back permanently. He then sends the cup crew off to find the five ingredients needed to make the tart, with each one in the possession of the isle's bosses.
Like the full game, the star of the show in Delicious Last Course is the game's 1930’s rubber hose-style animation. It was gorgeous in the main game and it hasn't faltered at all in the DLC. Each boss fight has vibrant and intricate animation, arguably looking better than the bosses from the main game. While the style remains in tact, the DLC takes cues from late-30’s and early-40’s animation, which makes the designs here stand out a lot. We were in awe the first time we laid eyes on the Anteater in the Bootlegger Boogie fight. The DLC also experiments with 3D animation in segments like the King of Games’ castle and the DLC’s secret boss fight.
Delicious Last Course comes packed with six main boss fights, each of which is as over the top and detailed as any from the base game. While you can tackle the expansion after beating the first island's Mausoleum, we highly recommend beating the base game first as the DLC packs some of the hardest bosses in the entire game. Nearly all of the seven boss fights are incredibly overwhelming from the get-go, with things coming at you from all sides of the screen, leaving a lot to keep track of. For example, Gnome Way Out’s first phase requires you to keep track of minuscule gnomes on the ground, the bullets they fire, which pillar the light blue gnome is about to hammer, and Glumstone the Giant’s projectiles. Once you get to grips with things, the fights are as satisfying as ever, with none of it feeling inherently unfair (barring the coins in High Noon Hoopla, which blend into the background a bit too much considering how small they are).
The expansion also ditches the run-'n'-gun stages, but offers some bonus fights outside of the six story required ones. The main ones are the Kings Leap tournament, which is a series of five short boss fights in which your weapons and charms are unusable requiring you to rely solely on your parrying and platforming prowess. These challenges are your means of getting coins in the expansion to afford the new weapons and charms and offer a nice supplementary experience to the main game. There's also a secret boss fight for those who solve the mystery of the broken relic; however while it is a visual treat, it's definitely the most underwhelming fight in the DLC.
New playable character Ms Chalice is arguably the biggest game changer in the DLC; she’s selectable via the charm slot as soon as you start the DLC and targets the base game’s biggest criticism by offering up an easier method of play thanks to her unique skills. Ms Chalice has an extra hit-point, can double jump; her parry is done via her dash, and she has a dodge roll which is invincible. While Ms Chalice does make things a bit easier — her double jump and extra hit point were a life-saver at points — she by no means trivialises the game. Her being selected via the Charm slot locks you out of the use of any other charms like the incredibly useful smoke bomb dash. Her move-set also has its own downfalls like a shorter base jump and the invincibility roll only being able to be used while on the ground. For those of you who are getting into the game for the first time, or were turned off by the difficulty, Ms Chalice is thankfully usable in the main game as well, once unlocked.
Kristofer Maddigan returns as the composer once again and brings with him a new selection of jazzy bangers to really amp up the experience. Tunes like High Noon Hoopla and Bootlegger Boogie stand among some of the best tunes in the game. The music isn’t exempt from the DLC experimentation, playing around with other genres and even vocals on a few of the tracks.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is more Cuphead — for better or worse. Those put off by the original's difficulty may find the experience easier to swallow due to the excellent inclusion of Ms Chalice. But the game still has the same brand of punishing gameplay we’re used to from the original. The expansion adds some of the most inventive bosses Studio MDHR has ever come up with, backed up with that amazing animation and music which has never looked or sounded better.