Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course pulls no punches, but it’s not all pain and porcelain. Before you can press start on this nightmarishly difficult run-and-gun platformer you’re welcome with a snappy showtune that leaves your jaw on the floor and your foot tapping along. Enjoy it while you can: it might take awhile to wring this earworm from your brain, but it’s the last relaxing moment you’re getting for awhile.

In developer Studio MDHR‘s first expansion, brothers Cuphead and Mughman are on a quest to restore Ms. Chalice to her mortal, ceramic form. Ms. Chalice isn’t just a damsel in distress: in The Delicious Last Course she’s a playable character with a powerful moveset, which offers a saving grace to anyone who (understandably) found Cuphead too difficult.

Though Ms. Chalice lets players equip any of the weapons they have already found in the game, she also has a built-in double jump and a dodge roll, which provides a luxurious frame of invincibility. Playing Ms. Chalice is by no means mandatory – you need to equip a charm to let her take control – so masochistic players won’t lose the challenge they crave. Instead, Ms. Chalice offers a wonderful middle ground for players who find Cuphead‘s Regular mode a little too tough but find dropping down to Simple mode an excessive remedy.

Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course. Credit: Studio MDHR.

Besides Ms. Chalice, The Delicious Last Course also brings several new weapons and charms courtesy of Cuphead’s long-time business-pig Porkrind. One of these weapons –  Crackshot – quickly became a personal favourite due to each shot’s ability to break off into a slightly weaker homing bullet, which allows you to focus on dodging without losing too much damage output. In terms of charms, a new one that allows players to regain health from parries is this expansion’s biggest draw, but unfortunately playing as Ms. Chalice counts as using up a charm slot – so those looking to play as Cuphead‘s newest character likely won’t get to try it. It’s a shame that The Delicious Last Course too many extra weapons and charms, but those that have been added are all great additions.

With The Delicious Last Course, even seasoned Cuphead regulars may find themselves giving in to Ms. Chalice’s charm. Studio MDHR has approached this DLC with sadistic glee, and The Delicious Last Course‘s garishly evil cast of bosses put some of the base game’s third act villains to shame. Not even months of Elden Ring can prepare those who have spent 2022 seeking a challenge: having limited health means The Delicious Last Course‘s boss fights are less forgiving than the misshapen monstrosities FromSoftware threw at gamers in February, and it can take much longer to learn a fight’s patterns as there’s often so much going on at once. In one particular fight – an outlaw cow whose phases see her slowly transformed into a tin of sausages – you might be quick to recognise when she’s about to fire her double-shot from the hip, but can you do that while a dastardly bird is raining down TNT and the wind is blowing the shots you just dodged back for another round?

Cuphead - The Delicious Last Course. Credit: Studio MDHR.
Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course. Credit: Studio MDHR.

As a result, each battle can take time, tears and patience to master. Sometimes trying to beat a particularly challenging enemy (such as the DLC’s nightmarish fruit-flinging final boss) can feel like you’re running headfirst into a brick wall, but these repeated frustrations never feel unfair: next time you’ll know it’s in your best interest to duck when the Geese Crossing sign is raised. The Delicious Last Course manages to capture exactly what makes Cuphead so captivating – at first every boss looks insurmountable, which makes finally seeing “knockout!” ring across the screen feel unparalleled.

However, Cuphead‘s phenomenal art style means that you’ll almost be sad to see the back of each foe. It may have been five years since Studio MDHR flexed its illustrative muscles with Cuphead, but The Delicious Last Course proves the team’s mastery of hand-drawn charm hasn’t gone anywhere. While a mountaintop battle against Glumstone The Giant heavily evokes Disney’s original 1937 Snow White film (with added stomach ulcers), Studio MDHR recently told NME that some “magic of the later Disney years” has crept into The Delicious Last Course, and that’s true. The game’s spectacular finale might start off like a bullet hell re-imagining of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but in later phases it slips into the ’90s of Beauty And The Beast when you start fending off animated pepper shakers. While merely matching the beauty of Cuphead‘s art style would have been an imposing task in its own right, Studio MDHR has managed to go a step further and sprinkle some extra flavour in to keep things looking fresh.

In total, it took around 11 hours to complete The Delicious Last Course, but the new content doesn’t stop at the credits. Collecting every ingredient in Regular difficulty offers an optional Expert mode for fans to tackle, though the jump in difficulty isn’t as steep as it sounds. Expert mode works the same way it does in the base game, with small tweaks to make those you’ve already bested pack some additional punch. This means faster attacks and more projectiles to dodge, as well as extra health to whittle down to achieve a knockout.

It all sounds very intimidating but even for players new to Cuphead, it’s worth giving a shot – by the time you get to this stage you will already have got to grips with most enemies’ fighting patterns, which means the higher intensity isn’t as daunting as it looks. No matter which difficulty you tackle Cuphead, one thing is guaranteed: The Delicious Last Course is a great slam and then some.

Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course launches on June 30 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and PC. NME tested it on PC. 

The Verdict

The Delicious Last Course is everything a Cuphead fan could ask for – more of everything the world fell in love with in 2017. This DLC’s colourful cast of baddies are just as challenging and intricate as any you can find in the base game, while Studio MDHR’s gorgeous hand-drawn art style means they’re brought to life phenomenally. As an added bonus, the smart moveset of Ms. Chalice means that even if you struggled with Cuphead in the past, this DLC is worth giving it another shot.

Pros

  • Ms. Chalice is a huge boon for anyone who previously found Cuphead too hard
  • Each boss is a pleasure to die to
  • New environments and characters look stunning

Cons

  • More charms and weapons would have been nice

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