Microsoft has had an interesting trajectory this generation. The Xbox has taken many twists and turns, game development and company leadership changed, and interestingly enough, the company began to fund smaller-indie titles with flagship support. Enter Cuphead, an instant classic Boss Rush game with impeccable art design, Contra-esque gameplay, and the production values that are best in class for a 2D Run and Gun game. One year later, we find ourselves sitting at the precipice of some thing quite special- this is Remote Play’s review of Cuphead on the Nintendo Switch.
The story of Cuphead is rather dark. Cuphead and Mugman through some rather mischievous deeds end up needing some money. So what do they do when their down on luck? Make a deal with the Devil. This macabre, twisted story catapults from there into something that is something wholesome enough for kids but dark enough for adults.
Gameplay in Cuphead is relegated to effectively a Boss Rush game with a few platforming levels interspersed. You can fire, jump, dash, and parry your way to victory across the game’s multiple worlds and stages. The gameplay and controls on Nintendo’s hybrid console is the exact same as it’s Xbox one counterpart. I’ve had the best experience playing Cuphead on portable mode. Additionally the game has hidden coins that are used to purchase weapons and upgrades at a shop run by what appears to be a Pirate Pig.
Stages are often multi tiered and transform as you progress. Bosses will have multiple phases that prevents players from getting into a rhythm and encourages pattern adapting. As you manage to get your hits in and parry – a tiny bar at the bottom of the screen fills up. This allows Cuphead and Mugman to perform a devastating super attack that is sometimes necessary to win.
If all this sounds great there is one caveat. Cuphead isn’t easy. You can easily spend hours on a single boss perfecting how to quickly dispatch him before he gets you. An easy mode is also available, however, this mode won’t allow you to see the true ending and only samples the levels. Alternatively a hard mode is also available that changes boss patterns and will truly test your dexterity.
Stage design is one of the coolest features of Cuphead. You’ll find yourself fighting Genies, giant Robots, Evil Vegetables, and even the Devil himself. There is no shortage to just how expansive and varied every thing is. It not only adds charm and visual wow factor – but serves as a template for an over arching story and gameplay cues. A job well done!
The soundtrack is a complete and total fan service to classic House of Mouse and Steam Boat Willie. Pianos will bluster, trumpets will rip, and the sound punctuates at just the right pitch. The Overworld track in particular stands out for setting the tone. Excellent all around.
All in all, Cuphead on the Switch is the definitive way to play. The cutesy yet dark art design combined with short levels that encourage replay are the perfect companions to the modus operandi of the Switch. Thank you Xbox and Microsoft for providing what could be the greatest 2D run and gun game on the Switch.
Developer: StudioMDHR / Publisher: StudioMDHR
Release date: 18/04/2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC
Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
“Cuphead makes a fantastic debut on the Nintendo Switch with all the charm, wit, and gameplay in tact”