Cuphead for Nintendo Switch: The ultimate guide

Cuphead Switch Hero
Cuphead Switch Hero (Image credit: Studio MDHR)

Way back in 2014 a little game known as Cuphead was announced to the general public. While it would not be released until 2017, the excitement around this little indy title was immediate and palpable. On visual style alone, Cuphead garnered a large following before it was even playable. While other platforms got Cuphead first, it has finally made its way onto the Nintendo Switch as well. If you are curious about this unique game, here's what you need to know.

What is it?


Cuphead (Image credit: Studio MDHR)

Cuphead is a run and gun platforming game created in the animation style of 1930s cartoons featuring the titular Cuphead and his friend Mugman, who make a huge gambling bet with the Devil himself...and of course, lose. In order not to lose their own souls, they must travel around the Inkwell Islands and collect the souls of others who owe the Devil. If they can collect all the souls in time, the Devil will release them from their contract and let them continue their peaceful lives.

The two characters can run, duck, jump, and fire tiny bullets out of their finger guns to attack enemies. They also have special moves that charge based on certain conditions and can be used to fire a huge blast. Finally, various pink items, enemies, and attacks can be parried with a special move that charges Cuphead and Mugman's special meter, and can give them an advantage against bosses.

What makes Cuphead so interesting is less about gameplay and more about the art style. Taking all of its cues from cartoons of the 1930s, Cuphead has absolutely stunning graphics that make it stand out completely. Every moment of the game looks as if it was hand painted on animation cells way back in the '20s or '30s. While there have been other games to adopt an animated style, I personally believe that none have done it quite so well or with such success. In short, it is an absolutely gorgeous game.

What about the gameplay?


Cuphead (Image credit: Studio MDHR)

Cuphead includes two different types of levels. The first are "Run and Gun" stages that function as normal platformer levels, but are stuffed full of enemies. You'll need to make it to the goal at the end of the level without losing all of your health or falling in a pit in order to succeed, either by shooting down or avoiding the enemies that assail you.

The second type of levels are boss stages where you'll be pitted against a boss enemy and have to bring its health down to 0 through a multi-stage battle. The bosses have no health meters to be seen, but you can get an idea of how far you've gotten in the fight any time you die, as a meter will show you how close you were to the "goal" of beating the creature. Like the run-and-gun stages, you only have a small amount of health to work with, and too many hits will send your soul to the devil before you can accomplish his dirty work! Fortunately, you have infinite lives, and thus infinite attempts to bring down each foe.

Despite how brutal the game can be at times there are rules and it never feels unfair. But you will have to burn a few lives in order to learn the patterns and tells of a boss in order to finally come back and put them in their place. It's all about patience and persistence here, my friend.

Can I play with a friend?


Cuphead (Image credit: Studio MDHR)

Another great addition to the mechanics of this game is that you don't have to go it alone if you don't want to. If you have a friend that is interested in taking on this tough but incredibly fun game you can play in couch co-op, though only locally on the same Nintendo Switch. One of you can play as the titular character while the other can play as Mugman.

The biggest advantage to playing with a friend is that you can use either player's "parry" ability to revive your friend if one of you dies in the middle of a level or boss battle. If you work together, you can survive infinitely even in the face of the game's trickiest fights, but you'll have to react quickly to do so.

What's new in the Nintendo Switch version?


Cuphead (Image credit: Studio MDHR)

The Nintendo Switch version of Cuphead includes a content update that also hit all platforms that the game is on. This content update includes the following:

  • Character selection - The ability to play as Mugman, even in single-player mode
  • Animated cinematics
  • Localized text in a number of different languages
  • New animation and art

Also, StudioMDHR is currently working together with Microsoft to find ways to incorporate Xbox Live features into the game. Though these won't be present at launch, keep an eye out for future updates that may include things like trophy support!

How much does it cost?


Cuphead (Image credit: StudioMDHR)

If you are super stoked to get your mitts on Cuphead for your Nintendo Switch, you can rest easy because the game was released on April 18, 2019 and it only costs a mere $20.

I played a ton of Cuphead when it was initially released and I have to say that I enjoyed it so much that I bought a second copy on the Nintendo Switch to be able to play it on-the-go. If it looks even the slightest bit interesting to you, I would suggest that do yourself a favor and buy it.

April 2020: All of this information is still up-to-date.

Jaz Brown