23rd Apr2019

‘Cuphead’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat


Surely, by now, I don’t have to tell you anything about the game but here it goes: Cuphead is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles. Inspired by cartoons of the 1930s, the visuals and audio are painstakingly created with the same techniques of the era: traditional hand drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz recordings. Play as Cuphead or Mugman (in single player or local co-op) as you traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn powerful super moves, and discover hidden secrets while you try to pay your debt back to the devil!

Like many of you I’d heard the stories about Cuphead. A beautiful to look at, yet hards as nails game. With the kind of difficulty level that echoes the era of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, where developers – who were running short of time to meet release deadlines – would make levels so difficult to beat that the were literally impossible… because there was no more game beyond that point! Of course Cuphead is a complete game but at times the sheer difficulty of the boss battles can make it feel like an impossible task. It’s not. In fact its like playing old NES games, where memorising patterns and rhythms is the key to winning.

If I had to compare Cuphead to any other game series it would have to be Megaman. That franchise was known for its ridiculously hard boss battles – of which Cuphead is mainly comprised – and also some tricky levels. Because Cuphead is NOT just about the boss battles, there are some run and gun levels a la Megaman and yes, they are just as tough as any Megaman game you’ve ever played. And like Capcom’s eponymous hero you need to make sure you have enough energy, and lives, to survive the boss battles AFTER you’ve attempted the run and gun levels… Lets just say frustration levels can be running high here!


Of course porting an Xbox One game to the Switch could have brought with it a whole heap of problems – especially when it comes to frame rates etc. – however this iteration, in both docked AND handheld mode, plays perfectly; and that’s probably down to the current “love in” between Microsoft and Nintendo. Both companies seem to have taken a stand of mutual co-operation in the face of Sony’s current domination of the gaming market – why else would a former Xbox exclusive game now be appearing of the Nintendo Switch? And why else would this particular version of the game apparently be getting Xbox Live integration (and the ability to get Xbox achievements) for a Switch game?

This edition of Cuphead also comes with some new features including being able to play as Mugman in single-player from the get-go, new fully animated cutscenes, never-before-seen art and fight intros, ten additional languages, plus bug fixes and more. DOn’t get too excited though, these aren’t exclusive to the Switch the same changes are being added to the Xbox and PC version through an update.


So why choose the Nintendo Switch version over Xbox or PC? Well for one you can spend hours and hours trying to perfect your game without hogging the TV; and secondly, its great to see a hards-as-nails NES-esque platformer at home on a Nintendo console!

Cuphead is available on the Nintendo Switch now via the eShop, with a physical release coming later in the year.


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