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Why a Video Game Called ‘Cuphead’ Is a Big Deal for Microsoft

September 29, 2017, 8:23 PM UTC

It’s been years in the making, but the hotly anticipated video game Cuphead has finally been released.

Cuphead, created by the independent publisher StudioMDHR Entertainment, debuted Friday on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox One gaming console, Windows 10, and the Steam gaming distribution service.

Brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, who started work on the game in 2010, intended for its visuals to harken back to the animated films of the 1930’s, like old Walt Disney Mickey Mouse cartoons or Fleischer Studios’ Popeye the Sailor and Betty Boop cartoons. Indeed, a trailer of the game resembles the old-timey animations of the past, featuring a spastic bebop-style jazz score.

The indie gaming studio received an undisclosed amount of funding from Microsoft to develop the game, which was delayed several times over the years. StudioMDHR said several times that the game’s postponements were needed to give them more time to release a non-buggy game that didn’t compromise on their original vision.

With Cuphead being an exclusive Xbox One and Windows title, there are no plans to make the game run on console rivals, like the Sony PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch.

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Microsoft is releasing the game as part of its Xbox Play Anywhere program, in which people can buy the game for $20 via the Windows online store and access it on both their PCs and Xbox One. If people buy the game on Steam, they will not be able to play the game on an Xbox One console.

It’s part of Microsoft’s plan to bridge the gap between Windows-based PCs and the company’s flagship Xbox consoles. The company believes it can attract more customers than its rivals by offering the ability to play games that can be accessed on multiple Microsoft-sanctioned devices.

Although it’s unclear if Cuphead will become a blockbuster success like Minecraft that will benefit Microsoft, early reviews have praised the game’s unique visuals and compelling gameplay, although many find it difficult.

“Every screen is a riot of color and motion that I can say without hyperbole is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a game before,” tech publication Ars Technica wrote in a review.