If there has ever been a game I would call impeccable, it would have to be Cuphead. It flew under my radar when it originally came out and I only really got to it after the buzz died down quite a bit. Still, it became one of my favorite games ever, not only because I’m a huge animation dork and fan of its art design, but also due to how damn good of a game it is. Its execution is incredible in my mind, and I would be remiss in my position of writing about games if I never got to talk about it in an article. Luckily for me, what was seemingly impossible happened: a Microsoft-funded game came out on a non-Microsoft console, and thus Cuphead can be played on a Switch.
Switch port-begging has become a staple of Internet comments and message boards, and it’s no wonder it’s such a hot topic: the Switch is a great portable system and everyone wants to play their favorite games on it. Cuphead felt like a perfect title to hit Nintendo’s system, but due to it being an Xbox One and PC exclusive, it seemed like a far-fetched dream to the many posters and Switch owners. That’s in the past now, though, so the only question that should be answered now is: is Cuphead on Switch any good?
Well, Bob’s your uncle, that answer is a resounding yes. It’s one of the best pickups you could ever make. Cuphead’s made its way to the Switch and it hasn’t missed a beat. It looks sharp on it in portable mode, and as good as any of the other versions on a TV screen. Its 1930s cartoon aesthetics just pop, and thanks to the fantastic animation done by the duo at studio MDHR, the action feels fluid, and it’s an absolute blast to play.
Granted, the Switch’s directional pads usually aren’t suited to quick-paced games, but they do the job admirably for Cuphead, and even when it comes to doing the infamously tricky dodge, it works as well as any of the other versions. While i wouldn’t come close to calling myself good at the game, I have managed to get even further into this port than any of the others I’ve played, and it’s been months since I last attempted a stage in this game. My muscle memory definitely plays a part, but there’s surely something to be said about playing the game comfortably in bed, it helps me keep my cool, which goes a long way into helping me do better.
For anyone not immediately familiar with the game, it’s a run n’ gunner modeled off of the likes of Gunstar Heroes, only it’s set in a cartoony world ripped straight out of a Max Fleischer cartoon, where two friends, Cuphead and Mugman have gone too far during a betting spree at the Devil’s casino, and now owe him their souls. Unless they pay up, they are screwed, so they pleaded and the dark one tasked them with collecting the debt off of a bunch of different crazy creatures — ranging from anthropomorphic animals to even vegetables — that have fallen out of grace.
The action plays out on a 2D plane, and levels are either boss fights or action stages, depending on what you pick by moving either Cuphead or Mugman armed with finger guns across an equally colorful and charming map screen. You’re able to invest the coins you pick up along the way into power-ups, such as bigger pellets, extra health, or even bombs, which go a long way into helping you conquer the game. It goes without saying that Cuphead doesn’t pull any punches, serving up one of the most challenging (but fair!) arcade shooter experiences around. There’s a flow of play in every level that carries the action along and helps you in a way learn the patterns if you’re paying attention, an element that’s so very tricky when it comes to designing games, one that Cuphead excels at with every new ridiculous stage it throws you in.
Cuphead also happens to be an incredible game to be played with a friend in tow, something that the Switch is specifically designed for. Get a pal and break (read: VERY CAREFULLY disconnect) your Joycons and you’ll find that it’s an even more natural fit on the system than you’d imagined, down to the option to play in portable mode on the small screen, so practically anywhere you go. Ten year-old me would have killed to be able to play a game like this with my brother, but we had to settle for Tetris. This is bananas.
There’s little else to be said about this port that hasn’t been tirelessly said about the game when it originally came out. Cuphead is an instant classic that is a mandatory buy to anyone who’s looking for a fun and lasting game to play on their Switch, or in just about any other of the systems it’s on. There’s simply no excuse not to play this now.