July 9, 2019
Video Game Sensation ‘Cuphead’ is Getting an Animated Series on Netflix
Have you heard of Cuphead? It’s an indie video game series from Studio MDHR with a visual style that calls back to classic 1930s cartoons from the likes of Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop, Popeye, and more. As for the gameplay, it has a classic run-and-gun feel like old school videos games such as Contra or Earthworm Jim with players controlling Cuphead and his brother Mugman as they fight a stream of bad guys and big bosses. Gamers of all ages love this stuff, and Netflix wants to capitalize on that.
Netflix has has announced a team-up with King Features to create The Cuphead Show!, an animated series based on the video games that aims to “expand on the characters and world of Cuphead.” And before you ask, yes, the vintage animation style of the video game series will be kept intact.
Though a Cuphead animated series might make perfect sense considering the popularity of the video game franchise, there’s just one problem. The video game series doesn’t tell much of a story. The basic set-up is that brothers Cuphead and Mugman decide to play some craps inside the Devil’s Casino, going against the wishes of the watchful eyes of the Elder Kettle. When a bet goes wrong, the two lose their souls to the devil, and now they’re forced to repay their debt by collecting soul contracts on the devil’s behalf, which results in the never-ending stream of video game battles. Very little time in the actual game focuses on story or characters, but that’s intentional.
Here’s what Cuphead looks like in the various trailers for the game and downloadable content over the years:
The video game has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, and it’s also taken home 20 major awards, including Special Achievement in Animation at the 45th Annual Annie Awards, Xbox One’s Game of the Year, a BAFTA Games award for Music, and a trio of statues at the 2017 Game Awards for Best Debut, Best Independent Game, and Best Art Direction. So you can see why this is such a big deal.
However, Cuphead is a video game that relies almost entirely on gameplay and a gorgeous visual palette. There are story cinematics here and there, but otherwise, there’s not much to develop a story around for an entire series. So how is Netflix turning this game into a full-fledged animated project? Well, here’s their official description of the show:
“The character-driven comedy follows the unique misadventures of the impulsive Cuphead and his cautious but easily swayed brother Mugman. Through their many misadventures across their surreal home of the Inkwell Isles, they’ve always got one another’s backs!”
I suppose there’s the possibility that this could turn into a fun monster of the week animated series with some exciting animated action, all in the style of those classic 1930s cartoons with a ragtime jazz score to drive it home. Honestly, that sounds unique enough to be appealing, especially in a world where kids seem obsessed with loud, obnoxious gameplay videos. And if this animated series can get them to stop watching FartPatrol69’s YouTube channel (which I made up for this anecdote) that’s full of Minecraft voiceover videos for five minutes, then that’s a victory.
Here’s what game creators Chad & Jared Moldenhauer of Studio MDHR had to say about this new endeavor:
“Jared and I grew up on a steady diet of hand-animated classics – some of our favorite memories together are intertwined with early Disney, Ub Iwerks, and Fleischer Studios. These cartoons are a huge part of the reason Cuphead came to exist, and the thought of our little animated adventure becoming a cartoon of its own is surreal and wonderful. We can’t think of better partners than King Features and Netflix and are so excited for Cuphead fans and new audiences alike to discover the world of the Inkwell Isles as envisioned by the talented team at Netflix Animation.”
You can check out the poster for the Cuphead animated series below, and there might be some more news to be announced since creators Chad & Jared Moldenhauer will be having their first San Diego Comic-Con panel later this month. The duo will mostly be talking about what’s next for the video game franchise, but since the panel will be moderated by C.J. Kettler, president of King Features and executive producer of the Cuphead animated series, there just might be more details on the project that will be revealed.
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