Cuphead preview co-op PAX East 2019

Cuphead, Studio MDHR’s highly anticipated action/platformer is finally available on Nintendo Switch. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the title a full month in advance. After sinking an abundant amount of time into the game, I’m happy to say the Switch port is nearly flawless.

Switch Differences

Cuphead for Nintendo Switch surprised me. While the game doesn’t push the hardware, it does have a lot going on during gameplay. From various enemies, projectiles, and moving environments, the game really impresses in the visuals department. Which is why this port impressed me. I didn’t experience any technical issues on Switch. This is as close to a one-to-one port as it gets. The developer did tweak the coloring of the game a tad with slightly brighter graphics all-around. Aside from that though, this is the same experience across Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and I can’t complain about that.

The Nintendo Switch version will also be adding the ability to earn Xbox Live achievements in the coming months. But don’t fret, you can earn them in the current version of the game. I assume a when the patch goes live, you’ll be able to sync your achievements to the network.

Portable mode: Portable mode doesn’t suffer from any technical issues either. The game keeps a smooth framerate and I experienced zero graphical glitches. I personally recommend using a controller that has a real d-pad though, rather than the Joycon buttons.

The Rest

Cuphead isn’t a very story heavy game. In short, Cuphead and his brother Mugman make a deal with The Devil, that’s a matter of life and death. The Devil tasks our heroes with hunting down those who owe him a debt. Following this objective, Cuphead and Mugman venture on a quest to fight these bosses and collect the contract that The Devil has on each of their heads. It’s a simple story concept that works wonderfully.

From the stellar visuals (reminiscent of old-school Disney animated shorts), the catchy tunes, and the intense gameplay, Cuphead has a lot of appeal. What I loved the most about Cuphead had to be what the game became notorious for, the difficulty. I’m not usually into games with extreme difficulty. However, Cuphead manages to keep you engaged thanks to its completion gauge. You always know how close you were to beating the level or boss. When you find out you were only a few seconds away from success, you immediately want to jump back in. While I felt frustrated, my determination never wavered. I would hit retry every time and attempt to destroy the boss who stood in my way.

Cuphead is broodingly difficult but it does offer a “simple” mode. Don’t let that fool you though, this mode is far from simple and still takes a hefty amount of skill and determination.

Cuphead features over 15 boss battles with various degrees of difficulty and gameplay mechanics. In a way, Cuphead is a rhythm game. After you learn enemy attacks, you have maneuver around the level with perfect timing. There are also other levels on a plane that are fantastic representations of the bullet hell genre. Cuphead looks to the past for inspiration but does enough modern things to make the game feel fresh. Every boss has its own unique personality and attacks to compliment their appearance. Just when you think you’ve grasped everything the game offers, something new is thrown your way. This results in excellent pacing so you’re always engaged and intrigued about what’s next.

Cuphead can jump, duck, shoot, aim, dash, use a super attack, and an ultimate move. While you can unlock new moves by visiting Porkrind, the vendor, none of these abilities require different button inputs. Since the game is challenging enough, it’s great that regardless of your setup, you’ll never have to learn a unique control scheme. Some abilities have caveats though. For instance, you can purchase a passive ability that increases your health count, but comes at the cost of your damage output. There are a variety of moves that grant you boosts, but disciplines you in other ways. The path to success is to mix and match abilities and new weapons that fit your playstyle.

From a technical standpoint, Cuphead is sensational. The visuals are crisp, appealing to the eyes, and it wonderfully brings a nostalgic factor for fans of classic cartoons. There’s also a grain filter used that made me feel as if I was in the 30’s. I adored the visual aesthetic. Studio MDHR should also be commended for developing a game without technical issues across three platforms. As I mentioned before, I never experienced lag or slowdown during my time with the game.

Final Thoughts

Cuphead feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. The boss battles are challenging, breathtaking, and most importantly, fun. I’m excited to see what Studio MDHR is planning next. The developer absolutely knocked it out of the park with this port. If you skipped Cuphead for Xbox One and PC, don’t miss out on this definitive portable version.


Do you plan on picking up Cuphead for Nintendo Switch? Be sure to leave all of your thoughts in the comments section below, or join the discussion over on our Facebook page.

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written by Brett Medlock and Andrew Gonzalez

Brett Medlock
Brett Medlock is Nintendo Enthusiast's Editor-in-chief. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll

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