The soundtrack from the devilishly difficult platformer and boss battler Cuphead is the first video game soundtrack to land at number one on the Billboard Jazz charts (via The Gamer).
Cuphead captivated the crowds with its traditional and singular art direction, inspired by cartoons from Fleischer Studios and Walt Disney Animation in the 1930s. The game is entirely hand-painted and employed old-fashioned animation methods, drawing over 120,000 frames of animation before formatting them digitally. The effect was incredibly successful, but the game appealed for a soundtrack that matched its classic style.
The task fell to Kristofer Maddigan, and it's clear that his work resonates with many, many listeners. Speaking in an interview with Bandcamp, Maddigan demonstrated his creative process underlying the Cuphead soundtrack. ‘From a very early on I had a pretty clear idea in my mind that I didn’t want this to be a 21st-century composer writing 1930s-era music for a 1980s/’90s-style video game,’ he said. ‘I really wanted to approach this like I was a composer from some other parallel universe, where the jazz age was happening simultaneously with the golden age of video games.’
‘I think one of the reasons people have reacted so positively to Cuphead is because there is this nostalgia for classic animation and early jazz, even if some folks haven’t been exposed to much of it in their lives,’ Maddigan explained. ‘As time goes on, there are fewer artforms that have a really ‘analog’ kind of vibe about them, and I think when people experience that — even if they can’t put their finger on it — there’s something familiar and comforting about it, and it is very easy to appreciate the craftsmanship involved.’
Cuphead is out now for Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One, and there will also be a Netflix adaptation of the run and gun game coming soon.