Cuphead has taken the gaming world by storm and continues to receive stellar reviews from both independent and major outlets, hailing the release as nothing short of a Technicolor masterpiece. After years in development the acclaimed Cuphead finally found its way to the market, much to long term supporter’s surprise.
As many reporters have agreed the ‘rubber hose’ boss-rush, is a delight to watch. Featuring incredible hand drawn animation, Cuphead transports the player to a realm of 1930’s Steamboat Willie nostalgia in tandem with a punishing, yet addicting difficulty curve.
Rather than looking at Cuphead directly, the community should be aware of an ever persistent issue with game criticism and fan interaction. Fans and critics should obviously praise deserving releases, however, the issue arises when a game is met with so much praise that it is labelled ‘over-hyped’. We can already hear gamers refusing to purchase the game and criticising the product with little – or more commonly- no experience with the game what so ever.
Once a game reaches “masterpiece” levels, some feel the need to refuse the consensus, and the seemingly successful game fails to reach even greater heights. The gaming community is a self-harming micro-chasm which is unable to acknowledge success or failure accurately. Many “gaming” journalists aren’t gamers whatsoever, ultimately making their criticism baseless with no ability to compare previous knowledge. Arguably a critic is useless if he has no ability to compare or reference personal experiences to the subject.
These gaming journalists are more accurately, journalists which review games. Not gamers that are journalists. Major gaming reviewers (which won’t be named) consistently produce reviews which rarely fall below the extremely high 8’s. Faith in these major names has fallen year on year and damaged video game criticism significantly. Forming a double edged sword of inaccurate reviews and a faithless consumer base which both damage the gaming industry and independent game producers.
Cuphead was created by a small group of passionate creators and deserves to be successful, but because of the corrupted journalistic world of gaming, it will shamefully never reach as many people as the game perhaps should. Not only do the poor journalistic practises of major critic platforms hurt consumers but simultaneously chokes the most passionate and creative people in the industry on a lead.
Ultimately, with faith in gaming criticism being so woefully low, a spotless review for an inspired game such as Cuphead will make a significant portion of consumers reluctant to make the purchase. Being branded a “masterpiece” is akin to being branded mediocre to some. Creating a noticeable group of gamers which are obsessed with the label of “over-hyped”.
Although Cuphead is not the best example of this phenomena, it is the most recently relevant game which shows tell-tale signs of the industries cracks and just how deep they have influence. Seemingly counterintuitively, Cuphead should receive less media attention from the major outlets. Until an apparent reformation of gaming journalistic practises and a revival in the belief in gaming journalism among consumers, extremely positive reviews will be both a blessing and a curse. Thrusting the game into a world of over-hyped isolation and warning flags to those who consider themselves more than the casual gamer.
Cuphead is genuinely “game of the year” for some, and not to others. This subjective disagreement is healthy for the industry and must be encouraged, but the blame of inaccurate journalism and the performance of many game titles of the last few years falls on both the journalists and the consumer. If gamers want steadily quality games then they must be open to titles which receive largely positive reviews and not dismiss them. On the other hand, gaming journalists need to remove the naivety and corruption from their industry and serve the general public honestly as all journalists are duty bound.
Congratulations to the developers of Cuphead on their success. All of us in the gaming community hope to see more independent crews produce spectacular games for us to enjoy on the couch and escape into their charming worlds which they create.