I never really enjoyed any of the games that directly inspired Cuphead. Contra and Metal Slug were before my time and as a kid their difficulty always drove me away. I assumed Cuphead would be the same, but I could never resist the simplest argument in its favor. Just look at it.
ARE YOU LOOKING?!
Destiny 2 won my money in a different way. I quit the first Destiny before any of the expansions but always heard how Bungie righted the ship with Taken King. I was eager to give the makers of my good pal Master Chief another chance. I'm glad I did. Destiny 2, for better or worse, is exactly what I wanted. You shoot aliens and get cool stuff. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Sometimes with a bare minimum of brain power, sometimes with more concentration and coordination than you thought you could muster. In that last situation, you are almost always playing with people who want to work with you to get the thing done. That changes failure from a punishment to a learning experience. Giving and getting encouragement helps you push on to the next run.
Where Destiny 2 has friends, Cuphead has...a graph. Hear me out. Each time you die, a line with tick marks shows up and a Cuphead silhouette moves across it, showing how close you got to the end. Each tick mark represents a different phase if you're fighting a boss. It is the most encouraging a horizontal line has ever been. You see yourself literally inching closer to the finish line with each failed attempt.
I appreciate that they let you quit the game completely after a failure.
The reward in Destiny is either the feeling you get from beating a super difficult Strike or Raid, or getting a new thing to look at. A shiny piece of armor, a new weapon, a slightly higher number. It's the same in Cuphead. The sense of relief and accomplishment when you beat that impossible boss is powerful and rare. But Cuphead delivers an even rarer kind of anticipation. I am excited just to see the next level. I find myself bombing my first few attempts (like I wouldn't anyway?) so I can take in every little detail on screen.
I probably would have bought Cuphead based off its look alone. And no matter how much I play of it, I am happy I cast my $20 vote for more games with incredible style. There's still a chance the challenge will put me off, and 2017 has no shortage of alternatives to offer. But I know that without all the space guns I fired in Destiny, I wouldn't still be firing finger guns in Cuphead.