Nerd Confessions Podcast: This week’s podcast we reveal our inner toons in excitement for the 1930’s cartoon inspired boss rush and indie developed game, Cuphead. Is it too hard or a perfect call back to challenging side scrollers? We also discuss the SNES Classic Edition and how things have changed since the release of the NES Classic Edition. Listener Confession embarrassingly brought to us this week from Husky Dante.
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- Apple admitted to Apple Watch LTE problems before the product even shipped. https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/20/16337874/apple-watch-lte-connectivity-problems-software-update
- If data is the new oil, are tech companies robbing us blind? What if users received a micropayment every time their data is used to earn a company money? https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/data-ownership-question/
- Nintendo confirms Mario was originally punching Yoshi in the head. https://www.reddit.com/r/nottheonion/comments/73f7rd/nintendo_confirms_mario_was_originally_punching/?st=J87QNV3J&sh=c5aceeb2
- There was a sighting out there of the new Lando in the Han Solo movie. Lando is being played by Donald Glover.
- The Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer is out! This trailer confirmed that the game is a prequel to Red Dead Redemption. https://youtu.be/F63h3v9QV7w
Topic #1: Cuphead:
“Cuphead is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles. Inspired by cartoons of the 1930s, the visuals and audio are painstakingly created with the same techniques of the era, i.e. traditional hand drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz recordings. Play as Cuphead or Mugman (in single player or local co-op) as you traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn powerful super moves, and discover hidden secrets while you try to pay your debt back to the devil!”
Cuphead is the first game by StudioMDHR Entertainment, an indie game development studio consisting of brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. Additional animation work was contributed by Jake Clark.
Its development began in 2010, and they worked on the game from their respective homes in Toronto and Saskatchewan. The game was inspired by cartoons from Fleischer Studios and Disney. Specifically cartoonists Ub Iwerks ( who did Oswald the lucky rabbit and Mickey Mouse), Grim Natwick, and Willard Bowsky, particularly their most “subversive and surrealist” elements.
Chad Moldenhauer called Fleischer Studios “the magnetic north of his art style”.
Fleischer Studios has done Betty Boop, Popeye, Koko the clown, Bimbo and Superman
The Moldenhauers watched ’30s cartoons in their youth, which Chad Moldenhauer describes as happenstance, based on gifts and VHS compilations.
They attempted a game in the style of Cuphead in 2000, but lacked the tools to continue. The brothers decided to try again following the success of indie video game Super Meat Boy, developed by Team Meat, in 2010. Unity, the free and easy game development engine was available and gave them the tools they needed.
Some of the games that influenced their design choices are: Gunstar Heroes (Seven Force!), Contra III, Contra Hard Corps, Super Mario World, the Thunderforce series and Street Fighter III.
The character that became Cuphead descended from a 1936 Japanese propaganda animated film where a man with a teacup for a head morphs into a tank. The Moldenhauer emulated the animation because they found it strange, and “right away it stuck”. The brothers had previously tried a kappa in a tophat, characters with a plate or fork for a head, and about 150 different designs.
The game was shown during the Xbox press event of Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014 to audience approval, but Cuphead was not available to play. The game’s art was estimated to be 40 percent complete as of July 2014.
The game was focused only on boss battles and with the great reception the game had when revealed to the public late into development the team decided to include platformer levels as well. The game was delayed at least three or more times as a result, but still consists mainly of boss battles.
Cuphead was released on September 29, 2017 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One, with potential later releases for Mac and Linux. Cuphead is an Xbox console exclusive, and supports Xbox Play Anywhere, but it’s also on Steam.
Cuphead is expected to be extended via expansion packs with 10 to 15 bosses each, similar to how Sonic & Knuckles added atop the Sonic series formula.
Currently there are a total of 4 worlds with 20 bosses and 6 run and gun (side scroller platformer) levels.
Why is the game so difficult? Official website statement:
“Our aim is “tough but fair”. Cuphead may be challenging, but that’s what makes victory feel that much more rewarding. We want to inspire players to master the variety of gameplay techniques available in Cuphead, so the challenge level becomes a means to an end. Cuphead has its roots in classic arcade-style games, games that really made you earn success. It’s the type of game we grew up loving and something we wanted to recreate.”
What is so special about the Cuphead soundtrack?
For starters, the Cuphead soundtrack is made up completely of original jazz recordings, composed by the talented Kris Maddigan, and recorded live in studio.
There is over two and a half hours of fully composed music written specifically for Cuphead. We’ve used a 13-piece big band, 10-piece ragtime ensemble, a solo pianist, singers, and a couple of surprises thrown in for good measure!
Let’s wrap this up!
Game too hard?
Ratings online state 5 star ratings game too hard, but worth the effort, 1 star ratings saying game is too hard. Majority of reviews seem to state the player can’t get passed the first level.
There was a lot of drama over a gaming journalist that spent over 20 minutes confused on the tutorial. Should gaming journalists be good at games?
GamesBeat PC gaming editor Jeff Grubb state “GamesBeat lead writer and reporter Dean Takahashi doesn’t really play platformers or sidescrolling action games. He’s bad at them. But since he was the only member of our staff in Germany during the time of Gamescom, he agreed to try it out for us. What would happen next would change all of our lives forever because no one knew Dean could be *this* bad.”
Topic #2: SNES Classic Edition
The SNES Classic Edition or SNES mini is Ninento’s follow-up to the NES Classic Edition which emulates games for that console. The console comes with a set list of games built into the system and is not able to play catridges, but is much cheaper than if you were to buy the games separate.
The console is distributed in three variations, featuring the unique design of the original systems released in Japan, North America, and Europe. While the North American release features an appearance based on the straight-angled grey-and-purple design of the SNES, the Japan and PAL region releases are modelled after the rounded edge Super Famicom design as originally released in these regions.
Internally, the console uses similar hardware as the NES Classic Edition. It uses an Allwinner R16 system on a chip with four ARM Cortex-A7 central processing unit and an ARM Mali 400 MP2 graphics processing unit. It includes 512 MB of flash storage and 256 MB of DDR3 memory.
The system features HDMI display output and two controller ports; two wired SNES controllers are bundled with the system. The controller ports are hidden behind a faux front flap which is designed to appear like the original Super NES controller ports. Similarly to the predecessor’s controllers, the Super NES Classic Edition controllers have connectors that can be inserted into the Wii Remote, and be used to play Super NES games on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console. The Wii’s Classic Controller is also compatible with the Super NES Classic Edition.
The console uses the Linux operating system and runs a set of emulators developed by Nintendo’s European Research & Development. These emulators provide the basic compatibility with the Super NES system, and for specific games, chipsets that were included on the cartridges, such as the Super FX chip used for Star Fox.
Nintendo had been criticized for the lack of availability of the NES Classic Edition, of which they sold 2.3 million units between November 2016 and April 2017, having not been prepared for the console’s popularity. With the Super NES Classic Edition, Nintendo originally said that although they were prepared to produce significantly more Super NES Classics than NES Classics, they would be halting production at the end of 2017. Due to overwhelming demand, Nintendo changed their plans, with Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé not only confirming the continued production of the system throughout 2018, but also confirming the return of the NES Classic, which many people were unable to get after people bought masses of them and resold them for much more than their MSRP. Fils-Aimé also discouraged consumers from buying from these scalpers and said there would be plenty stock of both NES and SNES.
The Super NES Classic Edition will ship with controllers with 5-foot (1.5 m) cables, addressing complaints about the short 3-foot (0.91 m) ones used for the NES Classic.
On July 21, 2017, the console was mistakenly made available for pre-order at Walmart in the United States due to a “technical glitch”, and all pre-orders were cancelled on July 26, leading to widespread criticism.