PAX East 2019: Cuphead on Switch is still tough, even with a co-op partner

Cuphead preview co-op PAX East 2019

I was so happy to find a demo for Cuphead on Switch at PAX East 2019. I have seen YouTubers scream in agony at its difficulty, as well as witness TheMexicanRunner make it look easy at AGDQ2019:

Therefore, I was eager to try out Cuphead, a title I had never actually experienced. Another PAX attendee/partner behind me grabbed the second controller, and we began our co-op adventure.

Two (Cup)heads are better than one


Having just watched a pair of dudes attempt a side-scrolling level, my partner and I decided on a boss battle for our first Cuphead foray. In addition, since we were both pretty new to the game, we chose Simple Mode instead of Regular Mode. The name of the baddy fought was Hilda Berg; yes, Cuphead leans heavily into puns. You’ll notice clever wordplay on the retry screen every time you die. Which will be often.

When the boss clash began, I immediately noticed my temporary friend was not only new to this game, but to the run-and-gun genre. He died very quickly. Thankfully, Cuphead has a mechanic where, if one player is close to the other’s ghost when they perish, they can rescue them from death with a parry move. Clever gamers will keep close to their ally at all times in order to save them from the afterlife since an extra player means double the firepower. I wish I had followed my own advice initially because I had failed to defend my partner and died a few minutes later.

Beautiful and difficult

From my limited time with Cuphead, two things were clear: The indie is every bit as gorgeous as it is on Xbox One, and it’s a hard game. Even on Simple Mode. Bosses like Hilda Berg must be continuously fired upon, players must parry every pink object thrown at them in order to build up a special meter, and super moves must be employed at strategic times during boss phases in order to achieve maximum damage.

Did I mention phases? All of Cuphead‘s bosses have various attacks and forms. Hilda didn’t turn into that terrifying moon thing pictured above, but she still had a few different transformations. Every player is going to have to learn enemy attack patterns and adjust on the fly. You will move up, down, left, right, clockwise, and counterclockwise in order to dodge anything that comes your way. Achieving a perfect offense and defense with a friend is going to be twice as hard as doing it solo.

Thankfully, my buddy and I conquered Hilda on our second try. I made sure to stay close to him so I could resuscitate his spirit when needed, and she was beaten within a handful of minutes. Jubilantly, we looked at each other, and he said to me, “That was all you, dude!” While 100 percent accurate, don’t sell yourself short, man.

In conclusion, Cuphead on Switch is a wonderful challenge. It doesn’t look like it has changed much gameplay-wise from its journey from the Xbox One, but if you have never played it, want to experience it on the go, or are looking to destroy a deeply rooted friendship, this is the version to buy.

Cuphead will launch on Switch on April 18, 2019. Whoa, that is the same day as Katana Zero! Let us know if you are picking up either indie in the comment field below.

Arthur Damian
Arthur Damian is a writer, editor, educator, and lover of video games. Based and living in Brooklyn, NY, he has been gaming since the age of five, from the NES to the Nintendo Switch. His favorite system is the SNES, his favorite game is Chrono Trigger, and you cannot convince him otherwise. He loves dogs, rainbow cookies, Spider-Man, and songs with intricate drum patterns. Arthur is also the Editor-in-Chief at That VideoGame Blog.