Indie Discovery: Studio MDHR

The studio behind the coolest indie game since sliced bread, Cuphead.

September 1, 2016 by Felicia Miranda

This week’s Indie Discovery features Studio MDHR, the ingenious creators behind the highly anticipated indie game Cuphead. It’s spearheaded by Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, two Canadian brothers that bring back feelings of the Fleischer Brothers with their attempt to revive the golden age of American animation.

Their project Cuphead stands out among its peers due to its unique art style that’s reminiscent of cartoons such as Silly Symphonies, Popeye, and Betty Boop which were immensely popular during the 1930s. This means the game will be entirely hand drawn, inked, and painted with an original jazz score.

It’s a pretty impressive endeavor for the small team at Studio MDHR, considering the extensive process that goes into traditional cel animation (make sure to check out the video below to see just how tedious the process is). In an interview with TIME magazine, Chad Moldenhauer made note of how much effort is invested into just one frame.

Even though we know how much work goes in, it’s interesting to watch that video and see that if you don’t speed it up, over 25 minutes of work goes into one frame."

- Chad Moldenhauer

The team also implemented sequence looping which gives the game a more authentic retro feel. Sequence looping can be found throughout animation and in video games, and is often used to save time and resources. The usage of it in the game is spotless, and never takes away from the quality of Cuphead. Instead, it beautifully adds to the aesthetic.

So what drove the Moldenhauer brothers to develop an indie game inspired by vintage cartoons? It stems from their appreciation of the genre that started when they were very young. Although these cartoons were already considered dated during their childhood years, a combination of their parent's influence and a sincere admiration for the 1930’s unique animation style are to blame.

The approach Studio MDHR is taking with their game is unlike anything we’ve seen from the gaming industry. Cuphead has been described as "stunning and punishing" but in the best way possible. As for what we can expect from the story, Cuphead's plot revolves around two protagonists that go by the names Cuphead and Mugman. The two manage to lose a game of dice to the devil and are spared if they willingly submit to him and do his bidding.

Look for an in-depth preview of Cuphead coming soon on Indie Obscura where we’ll discuss Cuphead's gameplay and what you can look forward to in the game. Cuphead is due to release sometime in 2016 for Xbox One and PC, and we can’t wait to see what the folks at Studio MDHR have planned!

For more indie discoveries on Indie Obscura, be sure to check out the surrealistic artwork of the Miami Hotline artist El Huervo, read up on these 5 influential women in the gaming industry and see how these four streamers are combating negativity within the gaming community.