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Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game Review

A brawl is surely brewing

Cuphead is one of Andrew's favorite video games. Can the new dice adaptation from The OP live up to the source material?

[1930s Newsreel Voice]

Well slap my knee and pour me a mint julep, that ceramic superstar is back for some more with Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game. Widely celebrated for his digital escapades, Cuphead is charting into more analogue waters. Gather round the table and roll them bones till your wrists are sore!

How does it work, you ask? Easy as pie. Much like the original electro-videographic amusement, Fast Rolling Dice Game finds Cuphead and his friends squaring off against a series of riotous ruffians. Reveal three cards from the deck, start the timer, and get to rolling. Not only do you need to be sure that you match each symbol on the cards, you’re trying to hit ‘em where it hurts when Lady Luck permits.

The presentation here is certain to tickle even the ficklest of fancies. The art is direct from the source, a charming collection of cartoons embodying the aesthetics of the 1930s. Even the provided app, which scores and times, gets in on the fun, as it features some of the original game’s toe-tappin’ tunes.

By the time you finish a round of Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, you’ll be swearing like a sailor and blue in the face. Bring all of your nerve and your quickest reflexes to bear in what’s sure to be the most fun you have at the table all year.

That’s Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, available at any fine purveyor of hobby pursuits. Tell ‘em Cuphead sent ya.

[Contemporary Reviewer Voice]

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, social, dumb-in-the-best-sense dice game, you could do much worse than Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game. Players simultaneously chuck their six dice over and over, as quickly as possible. You’re trying to match the symbols shown on the boss’s cards while dealing damage as, well, as quickly as possible. This is not a leisurely game.

Don’t worry, by the way, it’s not just you; I too always want to put a “The” in the title.

The four player boards, each showing one of the Cuphead characters.
The player boards.

As a work of adaptation, Fast Rolling Dice Game is undeniably loving. The art and production are top drawer, the characters just as wonderful on paper as they are in pixels. As players work their way through the bosses, they gain access to weapon upgrades and charms that will be familiar to anyone who’s played the video game. Not only are all the upgrades present, they manage to each capture the feel of their digital counterpart. The designers even managed to replicate the unusual structure of the penultimate boss.

I played through most of the game across two sittings with my roommates, who had a blast. “This is so fun” was a near-constant refrain. My girlfriend enjoyed it so much that she bought the video game. Brand synergy at its finest.

Four upgrade cards on the table.
Upgrade cards available at the market.

[Inevitable Reversal Voice]

While everyone else enjoyed the game all the way through, I found myself getting bored at about the midpoint. The fights don’t change much as you progress. There was a gentle arc of increasing complexity across the first four bosses, and for a while there I thought we were headed for an absolutely banana-nuts series of hoops to jump through. Dice have to be stacked. Place any symbol except the one shown. Those kinds of things.

Alas, nothing came of it. I think the biggest missed opportunity here is any amount of player interaction. While the enjoyment factor of hearing your friends swear is significant, the game is no different when played with one versus four. In some ways, I think it might be too faithful to the source material.

A player board with dice matching the symbols on the revealed boss cards.
If you zoom in, you can see that the dice match the symbols on the boss cards.

It’s worth noting that this game, like its father, is hard. The design team clearly understands that part of what makes the original Cuphead such a blast is the blind panic the more difficult bosses elicit. That said, there’s a critical difference between the video game and Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game. The video game is punishing, but it rewards your endurance. There is a tremendous skill ceiling based around pattern recognition and timing. You will die many times on the way to gittin’ good, but git good you shall. 

Fast Rolling Dice Game has no skill ceiling. There was an opportunity to design it with one, but ultimately it comes down to rolling what you roll and not rolling what you don’t. It’s sweaty and a hoot but it’s all sound and fury.

Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game’s bonafides as a first-time experience are substantial. My criticisms mostly relate to its staying power. Games don’t have to hold up to repeat plays to be worth playing. It comes down to the price tag, a whopping $60. The production value is there, but the design isn’t. I wish it were a great slam and then some, but it isn’t quite.

Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game details

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

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