cup fans have been waiting five long years for the game’s expansion, The delicious last course, and it’s finally almost here. The add-on will be released on all platforms in June. One of the expansion’s new bosses, Mortimer Freeze, brings new challenges and new gameplay systems to cup‘s style of run-and-gun fun, and Polygon recently spent the better part of an hour trying to take him down at a hands-on event.
Mortimer Freeze is a three-phase boss that we briefly glimpsed in his first form in the cup DLCs trailer release date announcement end of 2022. We saw the second and third phase of the boss during the Summer Games Fest 2022 live stream† At the Summer Game Fest Play Days event in Los Angeles, I decided to battle the boss until I beat him, which took dozens of tries in about 45 minutes.
Before the fight I piloted Mrs Chalice, cupthe new DLC character. She brings several new abilities to the table compared to Cuphead and Mugman: she has an extra HP point, an inherent double jump that is independent of parry, and an dodge throw, plus her dash can act as a parry when you connect to a pink object. These abilities give her an edge over the game’s original characters, making it easier to take down tough enemies.
Playing as Mrs. Chalice isn’t an automatic win button, though; it takes time to master her skills, especially the dodge roll, which requires you to press the dash button while holding the joystick. That’s not so easy to perform in the heat of battle, but the invincible frames it offers make it worth working into your repertoire.
The Mortimer Freeze fight seemed meant to show off Mrs Chalice’s evasive roll and dash parry. In his first form, Mortimer flew like a wizard above her head, throwing tarot cards, dropping icy minions and hitting the ground with a large fish from above. The tiny ice creatures he sent down were especially hard to avoid, as their trajectory was unpredictable. When I tried to jump out of their way I was killed several times until I learned to use Ms Chalice’s dodge roll to keep them from taking damage. Meanwhile, it felt satisfying to use her dash parry to earn Super Art energy from the slow-moving pink Tarot cards.
In phase two, Mortimer takes the form of a Abominable Snowman-like creature with a bucket on its head. It rolls from one side of the screen to the other, sometimes stopping after one roll, sometimes stringing three together, often launching into the air for the last roll. As a result, attempting to jump over him was unwise, as it was difficult to predict when he would take to the air instead of rolling on the ground.
The snowman shape also has several other deadly attacks. When it turns into a refrigerator, it spits out ice cubes that shatter and bounce around after hitting the ground, creating multiple projectiles to avoid. It also unleashes flying popsicles that come flying at you during subsequent attacks, adding to the already significant mayhem of the fight. And the boss periodically summons several sharp blades that come out of the snow. When they arrived at the same time as I was dodging flying popsicles, I often got a blow or two.
It took me dozens of tries to get to stage three, and when I finally did, I found it to be the most challenging form yet. Mortimer became a giant flying snowflake and the arena rolled up into the sky, the ground falling out from under Mrs Chalice. I had to quickly jump to a series of floating platforms that quickly turned in a circle, making the battlefield treacherous and deadly.
In snowflake form, the boss throws buckets from one side of the screen to the other. As soon as they hit the wall, they spill little crescents that bounce off the arena. Mortimer also sends an electric eyeball that flies across the room, opposite the floating platforms. The eye shoots multiple vertical bursts of energy before returning to the boss, making it extremely difficult to avoid damage. The snowflake shape also summons sharp ice cream cones that form a circle around your platforms before moving toward the center and meeting in the center of the screen.
Fortunately, Ms. Chalice’s other skills made handling this shape a little more manageable. Switching to her alternate Chaser Gun, which fires green stars that nestle at the boss no matter which direction I looked, made it easier to focus on dodging his unpredictable projectiles as I jumped across the fast-moving snow platforms . (This attack isn’t new to the DLC.) Additionally, I’ve gotten into the habit of saving Mrs. Chalice’s Super Art, a highly damaging vertical beam of light that extends above and below her, for the third and most difficult stage of Mortimer Freeze. †
After dozens of attempts, I conceded defeat and, despite our best efforts, was unable to defeat the boss. That was, until the end of the event, when I got the… cup drive empty and unattended. I looked around, sat down and decided to keep trying until the desk clerks or security kicked us out. After several more attempts, including a crushing defeat so narrow that I screamed out loud, I finally sent Mortimer Freeze packing. Unsurprisingly, this was the most rewarding thing I had done all day.
Cuphead: the delicious last course coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC (via Steam and GOG), and Xbox One for $7.99.