Cuphead’s announcement on the Switch came as a complete surprise. Once a Microsoft exclusive it has now dashed its way onto Nintendo’s handheld with its ceramic content intact all thanks to their recent partnership.
There have been a few additions included (also now included in the PC/Xbox version) such as the ability to play as Mugman, fully animated cutscenes and some new artwork and animations to boot. Not to mention that it runs incredibly smooth on the Switch, this port has been crafted very well indeed. All of this makes it a great time to jump onto the Cuphead bandwagon.
Cuphead is presented in a beautiful artistic style that is heavily inspired by cartoons from the 1930s, everything is hand drawn down to the finest details. Coupled with a soundtrack that blasts catchy jazzy jazz into your ears, it sounds like it was ripped straight from the animations which the game draws its inspiration from, even down to the crackling of the screen. This is a great touch which wasn’t necessarily needed, but it goes to show how much love the developers have for that era of animation. It is both a joy to look at and to listen to.
If this is your first foray into Cuphead‘s world then here is a small breakdown of what little story there is; After Cuphead and his brother Mugman lose a bet to none other than the Devil himself, they must save their souls by becoming the Devil’s debt collectors, with the debt that needs collecting being certain residents of Inkwell island’s soul contracts. Each soul that needs collecting form the games boss battles, each with larger than life individuals which need bringing down using your finger zappers and quick reflexes. Boss battles are kept fresh with multiple forms and attack styles, keeping you on your toes at all times, with one early boss attempting to smite you as its own gravestone.
As well as the boss levels, Cuphead features Run ‘n’ Gun missions to hone your skills in. Essentially these missions are a get to the end of the stage alive affair, whilst making sure the enemies don’t take your precious HP. Make sure you collect those coins floating about, as you can purchase upgrades and more from the local vendor. Purchasing new abilities is a great way to better purge those pesky enemies such as the Deadly Daisies and mountain goats, but you’ll get the best use out of them on the bosses.
Don’t expect an easy ride with Cuphead though, this game is tough. You will more than likely die a few times, yet there’s something about the way this is handled which doesn’t feel terrible. You’ll see an image of how close (or not so close) you were to complete the level, you’ll start learning from those costly mistakes by utilising your ducking and dodging skills to be able to best that boss which once stood in your way.
If you come to terms with the fact that Cuphead is a hard game then you’ll be hard pressed to find fault with it. It’s looks and plays beautifully. For me, who played in short bursts as to not go into the kitchen and smash all my cups, this game suits the handheld nature of the switch perfectly.
Here’s hoping the planned DLC ‘The Delicious Last Course’ expands on what makes this game so great when it launches sometime later this year.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*