Cuphead – REVIEW (Nintendo Switch)

Cuphead – REVIEW (Nintendo Switch)


The mere fact that Cuphead is available to
play on the Switch feels like a miracle. This is a game that was always a highlight
of Microsoft’s press conferences at E3, and it made me absolutely jealous of Xbox
owners. While I did eventually pick it up on the PC,
I never had the time to play beyond the first couple of bosses. I had fun with them, but I had no idea what
lay ahead or just how brutal the game could get. Cuphead tells the story of the titular character
and his brother Mugman going to the Devil’s Casino and getting blinded by the promise
of riches. Instead, they end up losing their souls to
the Devil himself, but upon pleading with him, they’re given a deal. Collect the souls of those who ran from him
and he’ll let the brothers go free. Unfortunately for Cuphead and Mugman, the
citizens of Inkwell Isle won’t go down without a fight. There’s not really any surprises when it
comes to Cuphead’s plot. The basic idea is laid out and that’s the
goal you work toward until you win. But winning isn’t exactly that simple. At its heart, Cuphead is a shooter where players
take on a series of collectively more difficult bosses. And right from the beginning, all of Cuphead’s
moves are available. He can shoot eight directions, perform a dash,
duck, and, most importantly, perform a parry on any pink object on the screen. The parries not only protect Cuphead and Mugman
from incoming attacks and add extra height to a jump, but fill their special meter, represented
by a hand of up to five cards. A single card allows the player to perform
an EX Special, which is different for each of the 6 shot types available. However, a full deck of five will allow the
player to use a Super attack that can really save you in tight spots. It didn’t take long for me to wrap my head
around these abilities, which is good, because the difficulty can be absolutely punishing
at times, especially in the 2nd half of the game. Most of Cuphead focuses on the various bosses
and learning their patterns in order to defeat them. All of them have multiple forms that change
up their tactics as you lay on the damage. In the beginning, it’s tough, but there’s
never too much to keep track of. I was able to focus on each boss’s moves
and take them down. It still took me a while, but it never felt
impossible. And that’s the case for the 2nd half of
the game as well. The problem is that everything becomes much
more complex. There’s so much more to dodge and keep track
of on a extremely busy screen. I had to not only keep my eyes on the boss,
but make sure I was hitting them in the right spot, dodging the smaller attacks they would
send out, and keep an eye out for the hints of their major attacks. It’s telling that each boss can be defeated
in less than three minutes at most, yet it still took me roughly 16 hours to finally
beat the game. It is a constant set of trial and error until
the patterns are drilled into your head. Fortunately, despite the focus on these bosses,
there is a surprising amount of variety in the game. Not every boss is on a static screen as some
require constant movement and platforming while fighting them. In addition, some bosses are fought while
in a plane, similar to bullet hell shooters. This changes up not only Cuphead’s weapons,
but the way things must be dodged as he can shrink to avoid incoming attacks. Parries are still possible but the EX and
Super attacks have changed as well. Then there are the Run N’ Gun stages which
play a bit like Contra or Metal Slug with enemies constantly coming at you while you
platform. More importantly, they contain coins which
allow players to purchase different shot types and Charms. These significantly change up how these bosses
are taken on. Do you use the Spread which has good damage
but poor range? Or the Chaser which takes aiming out of the
equation but isn’t that powerful? Or maybe the Charge which can’t be rapid-fired
but the charged attacks do deal massive damage? Each one affects how you approach a boss and
some are better than others in certain scenarios. Fortunately, two can be equipped and swapped
between at a time allowing you to best prepare for what the bosses dish out. In the same way, the Charms affect your tactics
as well. One gives an extra hit point at the cost of
your strength, another automatically fills your Special meter, and then there was my
personal favorite which prevented Cuphead from taking damage while dashing. On paper, Cuphead is fantastic. There’s plenty of options, a moveset that
isn’t too complex, and the general feeling of accomplishment that comes when defeating
each boss. The problem is that eventually I started feeling
less and less accomplished with each victory. I would spend hours on certain bosses, learning
their patterns and trying to accomodate for the variations. Eventually I would get it, but it would only
be a brief moment of relief before it was time to bash my head against the next wall. I could appreciate it, but it wasn’t fun. I needed some kind lull in the gameplay to
make it feel worthwhile. Modern games like Bloodborne or classic titles
such as Castlevania could be hard, but there were always moments that empowered you, that
made the difficult moments feel worthwhile. Cuphead doesn’t really have that. It’s just a gateway to the next boss. Now there is an easier difficulty available
which makes bosses shorter, have less attacks, and overall makes them more manageable. But it never felt like a true option to me
because you can’t beat the game like this. The bosses must be beaten on Normal in order
to see the end. It’s possible to use the Easy mode to learn
the basic attacks, but it just felt more efficient to take them on normally. In addition, once the game is beaten a new
Expert difficulty is unlocked which makes enemy attacks faster and more numerous. It’s certainly a challenge for those who
want to fully master Cuphead. Local co-op is also available in Cuphead which
can make the bosses a little easier to fight. Not only are you laying on twice the damage,
but if one player loses all their health then the other can rescue them with a parry. There’s something naturally fun about working
together toward a tough goal. However, that doesn’t mean co-op is significantly
easier than single player. Bosses are given a sizable health increase
and it can be tricky keeping track of yourself when there are double the projectiles flying
across the screen from both you and your partner. That said, if you have a friend to share in
the struggle, it’s well worth trying out. Unsurprisingly, it’s the visuals that make
everything pop. Character designs are straight-up throwbacks
to the 1930s era of cartoons and seeing the way everything moves can be jaw-dropping at
times. There are so many little details that might
be missed in the chaos of the fights and seeing how the bosses react to defeat can be a real
treat. The game is straight-up gorgeous. And by that same token, the music serves as
another throwback to the era with kicking tunes that highlight the personality of each
boss. However, the presentation is not without its
hiccups. One of the biggest issues I had is that it’s
not always obvious when you’re doing damage to a boss. It’ll briefly flash white, but amongst the
chaos, it’s easy to not realize that the part you’re shooting is doing nothing to
it. In addition, the Switch version has longer
load times for each boss. This isn’t normally a problem as retries
are still quite quick. However, it does drag down the fight against
King Dice as the game has to load each of the mini-bosses you face leading up to him. But really, this is the only time it matters. Overall, Cuphead runs impressively smooth
on the Switch, but there was one Run N Gun level that always gave it trouble. The game would stutter and skip a lot of frames
that almost always resulted in me getting hit. It’s frustrating, but thankfully it was
the only level this ever happened in. I’m glad I finally had the chance to play
Cuphead. Visually, there’s precious few games like
it and the controls are incredibly responsive. But in the end, the game simply isn’t for
everyone. This isn’t like other difficult games where
there’s a bit of downtime between the truly hard fights. Those brutal encounters are the point of Cuphead. And while I had fun initially, it eventually
devolved into a chore where I enjoyed seeing the ideas on display but not actually playing
them. I like Cuphead, but if you’re not a person
who finds fun in learning patterns and perfecting boss fights, then it likely isn’t for you. Thanks for watching and be sure to subscribe
to GameXplain for more on indies and other things gaming.

100 thoughts on “Cuphead – REVIEW (Nintendo Switch)

  1. Finally an honest review… This game is visually stunning but it's just meh in general. Very repetitive imo. Definitely not everyone's game as you said and definitely not mine. Played it on PC, no way ima pay 20 bucks again on swtich, which is pretty much the same thing

  2. I just bought it last night and i already beat it on pc a while ago, but I’ve been playing it since last night and this morning and I already got to the devil. The game seems the same in most ways, but I beat every boss on regular mode with relative ease. I don’t know if they changed the difficulty for this game at all even in regular mode or not, but the game just seemed a lot easier. Maybe because I was playing it on a larger screen(tv) or maybe because it’s my second playthrough of the game, idk.

  3. You don't have to sit for hours and memorize patterns if you have skill. This isn't meant as an insult, you just need to be at higher skill level to enjoy this game.

  4. This game is terrible in handheld mode. The lack of a good dpad really hurts. If you are good using the joystick then you’ll be fine but I prefer dpad for this game. I have to use the pro controller otherwise I do terrible. Really want an official joycon with a proper dpad now.

  5. I dunno man, there were definitely lulls in the game. Some of the bosses are much simpler and easier than others, even in the final areas. I wound up getting all the achievements on Xbox One and didn’t find it too overwhelming. It definitely took a while but it was highly rewarding.

  6. I know cup head is a great game and all but another game came out on the same day and was kinda shafted. Mother fuckin katana zero, seriously this game is a masterpiece go play it before cuphead because I personally enjoyed it more

  7. Reviews: Talk about the good and bad.
    Preview: Talk about the mechanics of the game.
    Was this a review or a preview?

  8. As an old guy (37) with a wife and daughter, I don't get a ton of time to game in one sitting. Half an hour at a time is usually the best I get. My problem is that in that half hour I want to feel like I accomplished something, got a few moons in Mario Odyssey, completed a couple quests in fill in the blank RPG. A game like this, regardless how charming it is, isn't for me. Twenty five years ago….definitely, this would have been my summer and I would have bragged going back to school in September that I completed it. Now though, nothing pisses me off more than when I play a game for half an hour and I accomplish NOTHING. Thanks for the review. As much as I want to buy it, I know it's definitely just not for me!

  9. I finished the game today and I haven't had a single frame drop in any stage or boss, everything was super smooth, and believe me, as a digital foundry subscriber I would know… The only complain I have with this port is the loading time, everything but this is super b

  10. Overall the review is great. Game is for sure not for everyone, it takes a special kind of self hatred to get through this game. However I seriously dislike the "this game is so hard and there are no lulls in the gameplay" review of this game. Like, a game that was solely advertised as a crazy hard boss fighting game with no luls in the gameplay, is hard and has no lulls in the gameplay, what a shock…

    If only they would have advertised it that way from the start! /s

    I get wanting to touch on this topic, and that's fine, but let's not act like you didn't know this going into the game.

  11. I love this game!! I beat all bosses on expert and got a S rank on a few!! The style and music is just fantastic and when you add the great gameplay you almost have a perfect game!!

  12. Cuphead is not a game that I ever intended to buy, but because of all of the hype and positive reviews I bought it. 10/10.

  13. Cheers for your review mate. Cuphead really is a labour of love, even if I don’t find it to be an amazing game.

  14. I think it is great this game is on the Switch. It is great to look at but honestly, the difficulty of the game after awhile just makes it un-enjoyable to play. I guess if you are into masochism game play than it is right up your alley. For me not so.

  15. I absolutely loved Cuphead! Having never played it on Xbox, I got it day one for Switch. The visual style and soundtrack hooked me in right away. I think they are one of the only reasons I never got mad even though it was very challenging. I couldn't help but want to keep playing. It took me about 4-5 days to complete, and now I'm up for DLC when that releases!

  16. Best part is that it’s only $20. Pretty fun game to binge for a while and forget about later. It never really felt too repetitive if you don’t play it from beginning to end in long sessions

  17. TL;DR.
    The reviewer feels pacing is too intense. "All gas, no brakes." Also, the visual art style sometimes makes it difficult to read the bosses. If you prefer an eb and flow to combat, this game isn't for you. If you want a hotline miami/FURI kind of game, where every fight is tooth & nail, pick it up.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Okay. A couple points, since I just finished the game and S Ranked a couple Expert bosses as well.

    Yes. Cuphead isn't for everybody, but that shouldn't be a flaw. Bloodborne also isn't for everyone, and yet, it is still a great game. The Zelda series isn't for everyone, but it's one of the most revered game series of all time.

    Diversity in games is a must to keep the pool of games interesting. Personally, I love difficult action platformers. The NES era was one of my favorite gaming eras, and it was loaded with painstakingly difficult games, from your Ghouls and Goblins to your Bionic Commando.

    Cuphead, however, is fantastic for a couple reasons; 1) The art direction and music and 2) Giving the player a real sense of satisfaction to pushing through, learning the bosses, and finally taking them down. Very few games I've played in the past 10 years have made me jump out of my chair in excitement the way Cuphead did when defeating bosses for the first time or A+ or S Ranking ones for that extra challenge.

    But Cuphead isn't perfect, and as a fan of this genre, I hate when games make me blame the system for error. I recently played Celeste for the first time as well, and it's BRILLIANT. Not once did I ever feel like the game "cheated" me. I knew very clearly that all of the deaths were my fault. In Cuphead, though, there are a couple bosses that can feel incredibly unfair based solely on RNG. Grim Matchstick is one in particular that infuriates me. The cloud patterns, the rate of the jumping fires, and the frequency of the fireballs in the last phase all change drastically from retry to retry, which really makes this boss fight feel cheap.

    It doesn't take away from the full experience, but it definitely doesn't feel as fair as other solid action platformers out there. I love Cuphead, though, and I definitely recommend it for those interested. Solid game with tons of value.

  19. Ive been playing on Switch since release day, and have not experienced any lag or frame stutters during gameplay. Not sure if it may have been the pre release version that he played for review or maybe his specific console, but just wanted to throw it out to anyone apprehensive about the game because of that part of the review. It’s ran crystal clear for me all the way through.

  20. I always thought this was going to be a game that would never be played until the Xbone was $100 or less. Its crazy that im playing it on the switch.

  21. If anyone hasnt played cuphead yet, theres not many levels of platforming. In fact the majority of the stages are made up of boss fights. The game is still great especially as a $20 game on the switch. but I cant deny that I was slightly let down that the game is %80 boss fights.

  22. I’m so bad at that game 😂 I just got the game on my switch and I just beaten only one boss since I bought it, but I’m still having fun even though I’m dying all the time

  23. I honestly don't know why everyone's so shocked that it's on the Switch. I took one look at the game when it first came out and thought, "Yep, that'll be on the Switch before long."

  24. Not many games make me double dip but, this is worth every hard earned penny. I'll buy the physical edition too.
    A battle with the wife is surely brewing…..

  25. For the majority I agree with you other than the lack of a calm moment because the mausoleums (as short as they are) felt like nice moments for my brain to relax a bit from brick smashing with my skull

  26. Idk every moment of this game so far has been a blast, but I don't play it in huge burst. I play it until I'm too frustrated then come back later.

  27. I’ve played that stage a lot (from failing so much, haha), and it never skipped a frame. Hope your Switch isn’t melting

  28. Adding a few more things to do in the overworld that unlocks with each boss defeat would be a good way to give the player a break and something to do after spending hours on a boss before entering the next one while not taking anything away from the main difficulty.

  29. "I needed a lull in the gameplay to make the hard boss fights worth it."

    This game was never meant for you to take a breather. That's the entire appeal of the game. It's tough as nails and it takes pride in that.

  30. Bruh you just spoiled all the bosses. but I guess gamexplain has never cared about spoiling things so I shouldn't be surprised

  31. I think Derrick would have enjoyed the game more were he not reviewing it. It’s fun to play the game when you feel like it. Oftentimes bosses benefit from simply stepping away, and returning with a fresh mind. Game is very enjoyable in short spurts and one’s eyes crave the game’s aesthetic while away.
    I don’t consider this game to be more difficult than Tropical Freeze, for example. But it’s concentrated like Derrick says. You need to be able to take a break.

  32. It looks so good, like an old Disney movie. But that might mask the gameplay to an extent. Thanks for the honest review! Unsure if I want to get it or not. Switch Eshop doesn't give much info either.

  33. Lol, yeh let's make comparisons to Castlevania on NES when discussing satisfying difficulty in game design. Also, go play a Platinum game and see if that makes for a better example than Bloodborne (it will).

  34. Hopefully maybe when the physical version is crafted, the load times and that one frame skipping stage issue will be panned out. There's a sale for this right now for $16.99, and while it's tempting, I feel it might be worth waiting for what we might get extra in the packaging.

  35. I beat the devil last sunday! The game is really fun.
    Ive even beat a few bosses in expert- with S ranks for root pack & goopy.
    It’s gonna be hard to get all S and P ranks but I will try!
    Personally, I disagree with your opinion- I felt amazing when I beat the final few bosses, but I can see where you’re coming from.

  36. Anyone looking for the guy talking about how to game runs on the switch, just click this time stamp…
    7:11

  37. Ok so gamers we got a situation I bought this game on xblob for like 20 pound but i want it on switch and I don’t know how to get a refund so i cant buy it on switch so wtf do i do?

  38. What a beautiful masterpiece of a game. I want so bad to play it just for the visuals, but I'm absolutely horrible at these kinds of games.

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