Achievements in games aren't for everyone, but they are (almost) everywhere. PlayStation has its trophies, Xbox has achievements, and Steam also has achievements. One place where they don't exist is on Switch, and no matter how good the Switch games lineup is, or how awesome the console is as a whole, the lack of achievements will always feel like a missing feature for me.
However, that's all changed (a little bit) with the addition of Cuphead to the Switch's library. Now, Cuphead on Switch is a marvel in many ways, not only because it's beautiful 1930s cartoon graphics belie it's devilishly tricky run-and-gun gameplay. This is actually the first flagship Xbox One exclusive to make its way to the Switch, which signals a potentially huge new friendship between Microsoft and Nintendo, two of the biggest names in the gaming industry.
Achievement unlocked: A Switch port
One of the major clues to this blossoming new friendship is that some of the Xbox Live features have made the jump to Switch along with Cuphead. When the port was announced, Xbox said that it was "partnering with StudioMDHR to investigate bringing Xbox Live features beyond Xbox and PC to Nintendo Switch. Yes, this means that fans will now have the opportunity to experience StudioMDHR’s award-winning debut game on Nintendo Switch with Xbox Live!" What exactly those features extend to at present isn't known, but what it does mean is that the Switch has now had its first taste of real achievements.
For the first time ever, you'll actually earn achievements for your gaming prowess on Switch. Cuphead's achievements have been ported straight from the Xbox One version, complete with title and description. They'll pop up as you tick them off the list, ranging from the relatively simple 'Take a Name' for defeating one boss, to nope, no thank you levels of 'Beat the Devil at his Own Game' for completing the game on expert, in amongst some secret achievements.
The only difference between earning Cuphead achievements on Switch compared to via Xbox is that they're not accruing towards a total gamerscore. They're actually tracked only within the game, as part of the opening menu screen, or via the pause menu in-game, rather than within the Switch's own UI. This is very much an Xbox thing, a Cuphead exclusive, rather than a new Nintendo feature.
Game by game rather than a major overhaul
But that doesn't stop it from being an interesting experiment into how achievements could work on Switch. This far into the Switch's life cycle, introducing a new achievements system would most likely annoy more players than it would appease. Could you imagine how irked you'd be if Nintendo added Zelda: Breath of the Wild achievements now, after you've sunk hundreds of hours into the open-world adventure, for example? But introducing them in this way, on a game by game basis, feels like a way of adding them to the existing Switch offering – particularly if more Xbox One ports are on route and the rumours of Game Pass arriving at some point are really true – without disturbing the status quo.
Being rewarded for pulling off a particular feat always feels good, regardless of whether you're a trophy hunter obsessed with platinums, or maxing out your gamerscore. Getting a little acknowledgement every now and then is a real endorphin boost, and I always find them helpful as a guide to knowing that I'm getting the most out of every game I play.
Of course, it helps that Cuphead is the first game to introduce achievements to the Switch. Not only is it a game that can sometimes feel unrewarding, particularly if you're having a duff run, but it's also a perfect match for the system. It's built around that core pick-up-and-play mentality that works so well for Switch titles. Quick burst gameplay – be that from the compact level-based structure of Cuphead, or the fact that I die all the time so need to take angry breaks – means that in handheld mode, Cuphead works incredibly well. Plus, you've got drop in, drop out two player co-op where the second player can leap in to help you pull off that top grade boss defeat. Pass the second Joy-Con multiplayer at its very best.
But of course, this is just one woman's obsession with being told she's doing a good job. What do you think? Does the Switch need achievements? Have a little vote below: