Indie game Enchanted Portals draws backlash over Cuphead similarities

Enchanted Portals is a 2D platformer currently in development by Xixo Games Studio, with a Kickstarter campaign coming soon. The game’s developers have been posting small snippets of animation and details about their game to social media since August. Xixo’s latest trailer has racked up over 28,000 views on YouTube in under a day due to a controversy about the game’s art style and inspiration — namely how closely it resembles the stylish run-and-gun shooter Cuphead.

The concept of Enchanted Portals is that two rookie magicians have lost their way through time and space, and must defeat bosses to find the pages of their spellbook and return home. The game’s trailer shows the two plucky protagonists, and their cat, getting into this pickle in the first place. It’s the gameplay portion of the trailer that has caused a stir on social media, due to its resemblance to StudioMDHR’s Cuphead, released in 2017.

While the first 30 seconds of the trailer are unremarkable, the gameplay portions of the trailer bear a striking resemblance to Cuphead’s signature animation. The two protagonists navigate their way through a variety of settings, including an underwater world and a sci-fi level, shooting Cuphead-style at big cartoonish bosses.

Polygon spoke to Xixo, which is a studio comprised of two people, identified as Daniel, a director and programmer, and Gemma, an artist and composer.

“Yes, of course Cuphead was a huge inspiration for Enchanted Portals,” Gemma told Polygon over Facebook. “We’re both avid fans and we wanted to make something similar, but always from a place of respect and admiration for the original.

“We were prepared for some backlash, but the trailer definitely reached way more people than we could ever anticipate, and all the hate and negativity coming our way has definitely had a huge impact on us.”

The tweet on the official Enchanted Portals Twitter account has gone viral, with fans commenting on the gameplay’s similarity to Cuphead. Other fans have posted side-by-side comparisons of Cuphead and Enchanted Portals in order to demonstrate the similarities.

“That being said, along with all those negative responses, a lot of people have also reached out to us to say they adore the game and they would love to see it succeed,” Gemma wrote. “So we’re trying to turn our attention more towards all those who are supporting us and sending their love for the game.”

Cuphead has been a smash success since its release, even garnering an animated Netflix show starring Cuphead and his brother Mugman. The game’s animations and music were considered a large part of its successful reception. For fans who want a new Cuphead-style challenge, Enchanted Portals may be able to offer that scenario.

Enchanted Portals’ Kickstarter campaign is set to launch on Oct. 24.

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