- A new Xbox Anniversary Update for Cuphead is launching September 29 exclusively for game owners on Xbox and Windows.
- Studio MDHR crafted this “love letter” as a thank you to the Xbox community for being some of the first to experience this groundbreaking ID@Xbox game.
- The Xbox Anniversary Update includes over 100 never-before seen hi-res photos extracted from the MDHR archive, behind-the-scenes video features, the entire Cuphead soundtrack, and more!
Cuphead fans are in for a very special treat later this week — this Friday, September 29, Studio MDHR will deploy a special “Xbox Anniversary Update” exclusively on Xbox and Windows that will bring a “love letter” to fans with a new Bonus menu that includes an Art Gallery, Music Player, and Behind-the-Scenes video player to Cuphead!
This content will include over 100 hi-res photos extracted from the MDHR archives, showing off never-before-seen concepts and unused art pieces, and the entire Cuphead soundtrack – 86 tracks that will be playable for the first time in one place! And while you navigate through the stylized menus that tap into that iconic, 1930s animated style that Cuphead nails so well, a new, never-before-heard MIDI demo track from Kris Maddigan will be playing in the background.
Settling on the contents of what would go into the Xbox Anniversary Update was no small feat. As the team shared with Xbox Wire, one of the great byproducts of a game like Cuphead, where so much of what you see was done with physical materials, is the fact that they end up with tons of material in the vault.
“Original sketches, concept art, process footage of painting or model work, unused music tracks, orchestra session footage, you name it,” says Studio MDHR Co-Director Chad Moldenhauer. “Knowing that we wanted to give our thanks to the Xbox community that has shown us love from day 1, we really thought about the kinds of things we would want to see as fans of Cuphead. The goal was to make this update feel like a real peek behind the scenes at what went into bringing the game to life, across all parts of development!”
“We thought it would be fun to give this to our Xbox community as a gift on the game’s anniversary, as our Cuphead journey really started with the release on Xbox.”
Studio MDHR Co-Director Chad Moldenhauer
“When it comes to the kindness and support the Xbox community has shown us all these years – all the way back to the very first teasers and snippets of Cuphead – no amount of thanks feels like enough,” says Studio MDHR Studio Director Maja Moldenhauer. “We really consider this update just a small token of our immense gratitude, and hope that everyone enjoys it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together!”
The idea of releasing these bonus features as the Xbox Anniversary Update was really a situation of the timing working out perfectly.
”We thought it would be fun to give this to our Xbox community as a gift on the game’s anniversary, as our Cuphead journey really started with the release on Xbox,” says Chad. “In game development, plans like that don’t always work out, but we were fortunate that all our testing and finalization for the update seemed to finish with enough time to launch on the game’s sixth birthday!”
There’s a lot of special, never-before-seen content in store for players. For this update, they made the decision to give Xbox players a first-ever peek at some of the earliest “MS Paint-style” art they created as they would go through the early design concepts for certain attacks and character moments.
“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,” explains Chad. “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!”
When it came to scoping out what would be included in the Xbox Anniversary Update, it was done in true Studio MDHR fashion – in that this update was very much a case of wanting to get the fine details just right.
“We really wanted the experience of browsing the gallery, or listening to the music, or watching the behind-the-scenes videos to be like players had opened a doorway into the MDHR offices during the making of the game.”
Studio MDHR Co-Director Jared Moldenhauer
“One thing we knew from the beginning was that we didn’t want an update like this to be just a series of menus,” explains Maja. “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 piece of 1930s ephemera that the team acquired and photographed in detail to include. It’s this tremendous level of faithfulness to the era that Cuphead was inspired by, which will be littered throughout the screens of this special update.
“We really wanted the experience of browsing the gallery, or listening to the music, or watching the behind-the-scenes videos to be like players had opened a doorway into the MDHR offices during the making of the game. Or found themselves at the work desks of an old 1930s animation studio with papers strewn about and drawings littering the desk,” says Studio MDHR Co-Director Jared Moldenhauer.
“A personal favorite of mine is our behind-the-scenes video of the recording session for “Baking the Wondertart,” which is the big final boss battle song from our Delicious Last Course expansion. We’ve said in interviews before that the orchestra for The Delicious Last Course contained over 110 musicians — far more than on the soundtrack for the original game. What makes “Baking the Wondertart” so special is that it’s the one track in the game on which every single member of the Cuphead orchestra plays. There’s a particular chord at the end of this track that shows off everyone’s involvement at once that I think you really must see to believe!”
Of all the great content that will be included in the Xbox Anniversary Update for Cuphead, what impressed us the most was the team’s decision to share the entire soundtrack and not just a sampling of tracks.
“Surprisingly, this is something we went back and forth on a fair bit! There was initially the worry that players who had not experienced The Delicious Last Course might accidentally spoil themselves on key story moments by having access to the track list from that game,” describes Chad. “The idea was to make DLC tracks unlockable if we detected that you had installed the expansion. After much discussion, though, we came down on the side of giving the Xbox community access to as much of Kris’s great tunes as possible — especially as we feel most of the players enjoying a section like this will have experienced the full Cuphead game experience already!”
“It’s not a stretch to say that without the ID@Xbox program, Cuphead would not be the game it is, or have become the success it has.”
Studio MDHR Studio Director Maja Moldenhauer
For many, ID@Xbox and Cuphead seem synonymous with each other. The game was announced in 2013, the same year ID@Xbox got off and running, embarking on more than 10 years of indie developer support for tons of unique gaming studios — like Studio MDHR.
“It’s not a stretch to say that without the ID@Xbox program, Cuphead would not be the game it is, or have become the success it has,” says Maja. “From their very first outreach through to today, the ID team has been in our corner all these many years with resources, advice, and support. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating that I really believe ID@Xbox is the blueprint for how modern developer support can and should be done – a team full of genuine, passionate people who want nothing more than for the teams they work with to make the best games possible. Getting to work with ID@Xbox was like finally finding that all-important map after wandering aimlessly around the dungeon, and we’re so grateful to have been involved with the program!
“It’s no exaggeration to say that we couldn’t possibly have envisioned Cuphead reaching as many people as it has since it launched on Xbox six years ago,” says Maja. “Like so many developers releasing their first game, our dream goal was to connect with a large enough audience that we could stay together as a team and work on another project. We ended up – and remain – blown away by the audience we found for our little animated adventure. And it all started with the love and enthusiasm we received from fans on Xbox!”
The Xbox Anniversary Update for Cuphead will be available as an automatic download for owners of the game on Friday, September 29 on Xbox and Windows.