Cuphead - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-30 23:09:21
Microsoft and Nintendo: if it's not love they are at least pampering. There is a strange air around the relationship that the two giants of the video game are forging, without haste but unequivocally. A feeling that in some ways refers to the turn of the century, when Sega landed his finest pieces on the consoles of the competition.

Here, of course, the starting point is different: there is no commercial tragedy of a failure that has marked the story (the Dreamcast) and in hindsight Cuphead is not even a Microsoft game, having been developed and produced by Studio MDHR . But it is Microsoft that has welcomed and pushed him, promoted and pampered for a long time, until he became a standard-bearer of the indie world within his stables. And it will be Microsoft to help Studio MDHR to implement part of the Xbox Live services in the Switch version of Cuphead.

The game of the Moldenhauer brothers arrives on the Nintendo console in full form. One would say "without a shot wound", if it were not that he is ready to leave on the ground, stunned, who knows how many other players. Because the essence of Cuphead has remained unchanged in this year and a half since its first release for Xbox One and PC. It is still, proudly, a cruel, cynical and bad shooter. It hides his desire to beat very strongly behind an artistic direction that has few equals in the history of video games, with that perfect quotationism to the prehistory of animation and simply perfect jazz accompaniment.

But when you take the controller in hand, or the entire Switch if you choose to play in portable mode, the reality is bittersweet. So much is uncontrollable and tumultuous the love that flows and pours on every animation, on the amazing pastel colors, on the visual effects that pretend to "eat" the film, how infamous and evil is the desire to continually put the player under stress. Most of the time spent in Cuphead sees clashes with huge enemies taking place on the screen. Removed a handful of levels with horizontal scrolling (on foot and occasionally in the air), Cuphead is a long succession of challenges against real bosses. Bosses who have various stages, always, to study and memorize before they can take home the "KO!" final that decrees success. A point of arrival that is long coveted and welcomed with a mixture of nervous laughter and wiping sweat from the forehead.

The most interesting mechanism of the game, which for the rest certainly does not try to reinvent the rules of the genre, is linked to the possibility / need to parry and absorb strokes and elements characterized by the pink color. One way to load the bar that handles loaded and more powerful attacks faster. Then there are different types of shots and skills to buy and select before facing the various bosses.

As already mentioned, the version for Switch is practically unassailable: everything moves perfectly, fluidity is guaranteed and the graphic impact remains that already enjoyed on Xbox One and PC. Of course if you switch to the game in portable mode the resolution drops to the 720p allowed by the Switch screen, but it is not necessarily a limit of the game. From the console of Nintendo, rather, Cuphead receives as a dowry the opportunity to play anytime and anywhere, absolutely not to be underestimated and which goes well with the genre of belonging and with the rhythm and style of the MDHR game. A "style" made of repeated attempts. It is less good when you feel like throwing everything on the ground: here the risk of taking out the equivalent of a few hundred euro notes is all there. Also appreciated the freedom to play with a friend by "splitting" the two Joy-Con.

There are, however, no significant changes compared to the version of Cuphead that we have known to date. Removed the possibility to select at the beginning of each fight which of the two protagonists to use, or the novelty of the translations in many languages (excellent one in Italian) and the appearance of a series of new animated sequences and a handful of extra animations.

Cuphead on Switch therefore remains identical, for better or for worse, to the game of 2017. It is not free from faults and defects, above all a very limited sense of progression, poor power-up management and especially that desire (at the limit of the actual antipathy) of wanting to slap the players. Always. But as said in the review of the first edition, everyone is called to make his choice conscious of what he will go (or will not go) to buy.

I played Cuphead on Switch (both in portable mode and on a Samsung KS7000 TV) thanks to a digital code received by the development team. I tackled two of the three islands that make up the entire game, which I had already thoroughly tested on Xbox One and PC.