We've nothing against Final Fantasy VII, far from it, but you've got to admit that Studio MDHR's decision to instead base Cuphead's graphics on animation techniques from the 1930s was definitely a wise one.
Studio MDHR's Chad and Maja Moldenhauer spoke on Canadian expo EGLX recently, where they said that Cuphead's gameplay has pretty much been a given from the get go, whereas the art came later.
They said that the '30s animation style was a bit intimidating, prompting them to explore elsewhere, as in Final Fantasy VII. We had to take the mickey here, so excuse the creative liberty we've taken with the Cuphead meets Final Fantasy VII concept art image.
Apparently, the initial idea for the game that turned out to be Cuphead was for players to start off in an elementary school and then progress further. "We had crayons and a hand turkey that eventually evolved into the Slime Bus if you can believe that", they said.
The Moldenhauers also spoke about the development process, claiming they've tried not only to emulate the art of old, they wanted Cuphead's difficulty to reflect that of arcade games. And that they did, to be fair.
They also reflected on the development process, saying that anyone who wants to get in on the game developing action needs to play anything and everything, the good and perhaps even more importantly, the bad. Chad stressed that's how you actually learn what works and what doesn't.
When asked what's next, Studio MDHR said that the next project would require upscaling, i.e. growing the team. A project the size of Cuphead would once again require six years of development, Chad noted, but nothing concrete is in the pipeline as of yet.