Grab your travel mug, “Cuphead” is on the Switch

The run-and-gun platformer finally makes its debut on Nintendo’s latest console.


(Cuphead Promo Logo/Studio MDHR)

Don’t make a deal with the devil or else you may find yourself collecting souls for him. This may include fighting assorted vegetables, a living Zeppelin and two frogs who become a slot machine. Turn your head to a cup and you have the plot of “Cuphead,” now available on the Nintendo Switch. Players can now take Studio MDHR’s run and gun platformer with them wherever they go with the Switch’s handheld mode.

The majority of gameplay consists of running back and forth on screen as you shoot energy bullets from Cuphead or Mugman’s fingertip. New types of basic attacks can be unlocked from the shop and swapped at any time in the overworld.

As Cuphead and Mugman’s attacks connect with the boss and their minions, a power meter, displayed as five playing cards, fills up. Each card can be used as one more powerful attack. Once the meter is completely full, a super attack can be used. Super attacks are unlocked by completing mausoleum.

The majority of levels are “boss battles.” Because of this, the game is much more challenging and you will progress much slower. Each level feels unique and ranges from aerial battles to a brawl on a steamboat. You will even battle against the devil himself. While it may be cliche to compare games to “Dark Souls” in terms of difficulty, this game definitely comes close. 

There are two modes that boss levels can be played on, regular or simple. Regular is considered as the main game, for the levels can only be truly beaten in this mode. Players can expect to have to play levels multiple times before they claim victory and the boss’s soul.

Simple mode is essentially a practice mode that, while easier than regular, is still quite challenging. Players can expect to beat this mode possibly on their first try, but this is due to shorter levels and, in many cases, different boss moves.

Most levels take between two to three minutes to complete, but hours may be spent on any one level because you’ll say to yourself, “I’ll do it next time,” or “One last try! If I don’t beat it, I’m taking a break.”

“Cuphead” does offer a two-player mode that can save players from having to continuously play the same level. Should one player be defeated, the other player can save them before they float off the screen. Saved players come back with one hit point, so after being rescued, they likely won’t be a game changer.

Between bosses, players can try run-and-gun levels that mix up the usual gameplay and offer players a chance to gain coins that can be used to buy power-ups. These levels are less challenging but are not easy.

There are five coins in each of these levels that require mastery of all controls and skills players have at their disposal. Levels fit the theme of the overworld location where the level is located. For example, the first area is a woodland, so those two run-and-gun levels take place in forests.

“Cuphead” has a beautiful art style and soundtrack that is reminiscent of early cartoons. The game looks as if it were designed by some of the early Disney or “Looney Tunes” animators. The game is designed to look as if it is on film and being projected on the Switch screen or TV screen.

Each level has its own background music that pulls it together. When listening to the game on mute there is a noticeable absence of charm. The gameplay is still just as good, but the overall experience is lessened.

Having first been released on the Xbox One in 2017, the jump to the Switch has not diminished the game in any way. The visuals are beautiful and the soundtrack is a jazz-based jam. The challenge offered, while difficult, always feels as if the goal is just within reach.

Even when players inevitably get stuck at one of the levels, this game is as enjoyable as when players can complete a level with ease. However, the greatest moments come when players finally triumph over that one boss who seemed unbeatable.

Email Patrick at [email protected].

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