Cuphead is getting a new free update to celebrate its six-year anniversary. The Xbox Anniversary Update, which is exclusive for those who own the game on Xbox consoles and Windows, includes behind-the-scenes featurettes, the full game soundtrack, and more. It launches on September 29.
Released in 2017, Cuphead was a smash hit for developer StudioMDHR thanks to the game’s unique art style. Since then the developer has supported the game with new content including last year’s Delicious Last Course DLC. While the Anniversary update doesn’t bring any new gameplay to the package, it comes loaded with extras.
The package adds a new Bonus menu to the base game. That includes over 100 hi-res photos, pulling in sketches, unused concept art, and more. It’ll also put the game’s 86-song soundtrack in one place, allowing fans to listen to selections through a music player. That’s rounded out by some behind-the-scenes video featurettes, some 1930s-style menus, and a new MIDI demo track by Kris Maddigan.
Ahead of the announcement, Digital Trends spoke to StudioMDHR studio directors Maja and Chad Moldenhauer over email. The duo provided some insight as to why it decided to put together the package six years after launch, as well as how it selected the included art. The update peels back some of the game’s 1930s set dressing to reveal the more modern processes that helped bring the game to life.
Why did you decide to put together this anniversary update six years into the game’s life?
Maja Moldenhauer: Great question! One of the great byproducts of a game like Cuphead, where so much of what you see is done with physical materials, is the fact that we end up with tons of stuff in the vault. Original sketches, concept art, process footage of painting or model work, unused music tracks, orchestra session footage, you name it. As we got close to the end of production on The Delicious Last Course, we were thinking a lot about our journey as a team since release and reflecting on the support we had received from our Xbox players since our very earliest teasers. We felt now was the right time to try and show our appreciation to the Xbox community for being in our corner from Day 1!
What’s something included in this update that the team is especially excited to show off?
Chad Moldenhauer: In true Studio MDHR fashion, we put a lot of thought not just into what we included in this Xbox Anniversary Update, but into how the update itself was presented. A lot of work went into concepting and designing spaces that felt tactile and fun to explore, like you were visiting the real spaces where the work on Cuphead was done. For example, on the Music Player screen, players will notice a gramophone sitting on a table — this is a real 1930s piece of ephemera that we acquired and photographed in detail to include in the scene!
I won’t give away every hidden reference, but we tried to pack the update’s screens with little touches like this to keep the experience feeling immersive and era-appropriate. As far as something for fans to keep an eye out for, we were so excited to include a behind-the-scenes video of our orchestral recording for “Baking the Wondertart”, which is the final boss battle song in The Delicious Last Course — and the musical track that features our largest number of simultaneous band members ever!
With so much potential process art to choose from, how did you decide on the selections included here?
Chad Moldenhauer: We wanted to strike a nice balance between early versions of work that made it into the final game, and concepts that hit the cutting room floor. For longtime Cuphead fans exploring the art gallery, we want them to have those fun “I recognize this!” moments as they look at early versions of poses, attacks, and character moments from the game, while also including a peek behind the curtain at things that never progressed beyond the concept stage. It was a really fun trip down memory lane for us, and we hope everyone enjoys the art we selected!
What do you think the bonus content included here will teach fans about how the game’s art and animation came together? Is there anything particularly illuminating about the team’s process?
Maja Moldenhauer: At a high level, we hope that the process videos and art gallery will give people a sense of how much love our whole team has for the work we did on Cuphead! We’ve talked a lot about the attempt to keep the game’s art and music authentic and era-appropriate, and I feel like these videos really shed light on what that means. With that said, we were also really excited to include some of the “rougher” production work in this update.
With our process being so painstaking once we put pencil to paper, we often use paint tools during brainstorming sessions to communicate ideas very quickly to one another for the broad strokes of a boss attack or phase transition, for example. A few of these made their way into the photo gallery, and we think they’re a fun break from tradition for the more handcrafted art we usually put out. Another example of this is the unused music track featured as the background music to this new section of the game, which is “sketched out” with MIDI tools by composer Kris Maddigan, and is the only non-orchestral piece of music we’ve ever featured in the game!
Cuphead’s Xbox Anniversary Update will be available on September 29 for players who own the base game on Xbox and Windows.
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