Mostly everyone who has played CUPHEAD has mentioned its high level of difficulty. A side-scrolling run and gun game, it occupies a genre built to challenge the player, throwing waves of enemies at them and forcing them to think on their toes. It’s a game that requires the player to be fully engaged with it, exhibiting quick reaction times and multi-tasking between jumping across platforms, avoiding both the enemies and their gunfire.
A video uploaded by the tech website VentureBeat shows one of its employees struggling to do just that. Taken from Cuphead’s Gamescom 2017 demo, the video sees GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi struggling with just about everything the game throws at him: he experiences difficulty in attempting to jump onto a high platform in the opening tutorial; he routinely bumps into enemies running towards him; he falls down a hole to his death. The resulting footage is hilarious, playing out like a 26-minute slapstick comedy sketch in which poor Cuphead is forced to meet his demise over and over again.
But rather than being viewed as a funny half-hour struggle experienced by one writer, the video has instead been used to undermine games journalism as a whole. The end result has seen both trolls and prominent personalities surrounding the games industry vilify Takahashi, who has worked in tech and games journalism for 25 years, even though the article accompanying the video saw him poking fun at his own lack of ability during the play session. His feature, titled ‘My 26 minutes of shame with an old-time cartoon game,’ even begins with the sentence: “I suck at Cuphead. Let’s get this out of the way.” It’s not as if Takahashi was in charge of producing an extensive guide on how to defeat the game; he simply attended its booth at Gamescom, and emerged with some unfortunate gameplay footage to upload to VentureBeat’s YouTube channel.
Despite Takahashi never presenting the footage as an adept Cuphead preview, the criticisms came pouring in. On Twitter, The Daily Caller journalist Ian Miles Cheong clipped the opening segment of the video and included the caption: “Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they’re qualified to write about games?” The post received over 30,000 interactions, including a plethora of comments also condemning games journalism on the whole. “Easy, they watch Youtube gaming videos & write bs without ever playing the game,” popular YouTuber Keemstar replied. “Game journalists are a joke,” another user added.