No matter how you feel about difficulty or challenge in a game, the visual style and charm of Cuphead will keep you retrying many times over. Cuphead on the Nintendo Switch brings the 1930s cartoon visuals to Nintendo’s portable console, along with some new content that further enhances its tough platforming and goofy humor. If you loved watching old Warner Bros. or Disney cartoons of that era, you’ll love the look and subtle details in the backgrounds and character movements throughout Cuphead’s three worlds. While the level of challenge will definitely make anybody’s head spin with frustration at some point or another, Cuphead is still a fun game that will test you thoroughly with each new boss battle and run & gun section it throws you into.
For the Nintendo Switch version of the game, Cuphead has a few additional pieces of content over its previous releases. In addition to playing as Cuphead for the main game solo, you can also play as his buddy Mugman. This can be selected at the start of the game or when you load up a save, so you don’t have to commit to one character or the other. In addition to this, however, a new update for the game makes the cutscenes fully animated, rather than still images.
Everything about the game follows a 1930s animated feature cartoon aesthetic, so the animated scenes only add more good stuff to the package. The story is simple, with Cuphead and Mugman getting into a case of bad luck with The Devil, who tricks them into hunting down debtors who owe him their souls. It’s an easy plot to follow that strings you along through each of the game’s three worlds, but its simplicity compliments the tough gameplay you face in each stage.
Speaking of gameplay, Cuphead can get very difficult but it’s not impossibly hard. You can jump around and shoot enemies in a run & gun stages, as well as take on a variety of creative and crazy looking boss fights that will push your platforming skills to the limit. Recognizing patterns and having quick reflexes to avoid attacks is very important to get through each stage, otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting killed and starting over again and again. If you’re not someone who welcomes the repetitiveness when you fail, then you’re going to get very annoyed and frustrated frequently playing Cuphead.
As great as the many enemies you find look and act in each stage, you might find yourself cursing profusely at those few baddies that catch you when you least expect it. The bosses you face will definitely test your reflexes and your patience. You’ll need to know when to jump and dodge their attacks as they change up their patterns and force you to adapt on the fly. You’re almost guaranteed to fail against them on the first try, but with a few more retries and perseverance, they can be toppled.
Between each stage, you can roam around the worlds to select which area to tackle next, which has you walking around zany places and interacting with characters lingering around. A lot of them have fun personalities that joke on the one-dimensional nature of cartoons from the 1930s, including taking a few shots at Cuphead and Mugman for some laughs. Traversing from world to world requires you to finish stages in order to open up something new on the map. It’s not always clear what will change at first glance, but once you complete a stage in the area something drastic will happen.
It’s here where you can also get upgrades and bonuses to help out in stages, like new types of shots and even abilities to get around attacks. Purchasing them in the shop on the map is easy, but getting all of the coins in each stage to buy them can be difficult. If you’re not smart with your spending on certain abilities, you can make things a lot more challenging for you in later stages when you don’t have access to bonuses that might be very helpful in certain areas.
Multiplayer on Nintendo Switch is great, especially when you can use the joycon controllers detached to play. Local co-op is very fun and can make getting pass some stages a little easier, but they’re still very challenging regardless. There is no online multiplayer, unfortunately, which would’ve been a great option to have and team up with others over the internet. In multiplayer, you have multiple chances to get through stages by rescuing a partner who gets knocked out and preventing a game over.
Using the parry move you have on a player’s ghost brings them back from death and allows you both to keep fighting, while both players getting knocked out causes you to replay the whole stage. If you’re worried about getting through all of Cuphead, then playing with a partner for the whole game is the better way to go.
Cuphead is a very good game with a lot of personality. Playing through the game solo is challenging and satisfying, but is even more fun when bringing a friend with you for the ride. Its visuals are very unique and give a lot of praise for a time when animation was very distinct from other forms of media. It fully commits to what it wants to be and provides a great experience that fans of platformers or co-op games will love. Just don’t forget that you’ll get frustrated a few times because it’s not easy getting out of a deal with the Devil.
This review was based on a digital review code for Cuphead on Nintendo Switch, provided by Studio MDHR.