Cuphead: The Delectable Last Course makes several allusions to fighting games.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course has finally been released, after being postponed from 2019 to 2022. New character Ms. Chalice joins Cuphead, Mugman, and Ms. Chalice in an attempt to gather components for a very rare dish.
Also, the makers of Cuphead are huge fans of fighting games. This is evidenced by the fact that the first game’s boss battles had several references to legendary games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Now that we’ve spent some time with the newest DLC, we’ve seen several possible references to other fighting games that the Moldenhauer brothers may have included. Some spoilers follow.
Assertion of dominance in Street Fighter III: Third Strike
This time around, the boss encounters didn’t feel as heavily influenced by fighting game tropes. There may be more concealed in the game’s many bouts, but so far, the majority of what I’ve found has been in the King’s Leap’s horse knight boss fight.
King’s Leap is a series of tasks that pits you against mini-bosses and forbids you from using any of your standard weapons to take them down. Instead, you must rely solely on parries to take down your opponents.
There are a variety of attacks you can expect from the horse knight, including sword and shield-wielding. With his “bring it on” hand signal, the knight taunts you for a few seconds throughout a match, and he stands straight up to do so.
I couldn’t help but think of Ken’s Third Strike taunt from Street Fighter 3 whenever the knight did it, especially since he does it as much as you’d see a competitive Third Strike Ken player do it in an actual match.
Even if the left arm doesn’t quite line up, there’s a definite nod in this direction.
In Killer Instinct, Sabrewulf’s Eclipse uppercut (2013)
While defeating the knight, Sabrewulf’s Eclipse from Killer Instinct kept replaying in my head. Several fighting game moves, such as Leona’s uppercut or Decapre’s in Ultra Street Fighter 4, can be compared to the horse’s sweeping upward assault, although the animation and body stance appears to be nearly identical to Sabrewulf’s.
Street Fighter 5’s Nash’s crouching medium punch
Even though I’m not sure if this move is prominent enough to provoke an attack in Cuphead, it’s impossible to ignore how strikingly similar these two are.
I kept reminding myself, “I’ve seen that normal in Street Fighter before,” every time the horse knight performed this upward attack. Nash’s crouching medium punch is etched into my mind because I despise battling him in Street Fighter 5.
The horse knight’s position is extremely similar to that of Nash’s attack, and the two actions seem to complement one other very nicely. Horse Knight’s standard anti-air, on the other hand, is far superior.
Chireitou from the Darkstalkers series by Hsien-Ko
This one caught my eye during the Summer Game Fest gameplay demo. The DLC’s launch version looks exactly like Hsien-Chireitou Ko’s in every way.
When the giant snowman monster in Cuphead gets hit with a ground pound, swords shoot out of the ground. Even the shape and color of the blades are quite similar to those of Hsien- Ko’s, and they appear in the same way and pattern.
In a strange coincidence, the ground pound animation of the snowman looks a lot like one of Victor’s attacks from Darkstalkers.
As soon as you enter the Doggone Dogfight boss battle on DLC island, you’ll be able to see this allusion in full. One of your first challenges will come from a pilot who is outfitted just like Rolento from Final Fight / Street Fighter Alpha.
Several of his strikes, such as the three crossbones that fly at you and another smaller dog dropping three tennis balls at a time, look to be homages to the classic fighting game character’s kunai and grenade skills.