Cuphead is hard, but I beat it. I don’t think I would’ve enacted my revenge on the devil if it wasn’t for Microsoft’s Xbox cloud sync, though. This enabled me to pick up from where I left off on the game whether I was playing on my desktop, laptop, or Xbox One, and I’m not just using this as an excuse to tell everyone that I beat Cuphead … which I did do.

Syncing saves in t`he cloud isn’t some groundbreaking concept. Steam and many of the consoles have had it for years, but I love the way it works with the Xbox app across Xbox One and PC. I got Cuphead through the Windows Store, and that meant I also could play it on Xbox One as part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere program. That came in handy a few weekends ago when I took a roadtrip out of state and got that Cuphead craving in my hotel room. I was happy that it ran on my laptop, but I was even more thrilled that logging into my Xbox Account forced the game to sync and bring up my game in the exact state I left it back in Denver.

I use Steam cloud saves, but Microsoft’s system is even more streamlined (and also works with games like Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and any of the other Play Anywhere games listed here). For example, in a lot of Steam games, you get the option to save your game in the Steam cloud, but it’s not always an automatic process. I’ve repeatedly had situations on Steam where I thought I could keep playing a game on another computer, and then it turned out that none of my save data actually transferred.

With Xbox and Windows games, the cloud syncing just works. It really fulfills the promise of the Play Anywhere program. It’s not just that you can access your games on Xbox or PC, but you can access your personal play session anywhere.

But the reason I think it helped me beat Cuphead is that it gave me one persistent cloud-saved progression. I started it on my 4K desktop upstair, I beat a number of bosses on my laptop in that hotel in Utah, and then I complete the game while sick and lying on my couch in my family room.

I never would’ve booted Cuphead back up if it required me to go upstairs or boot up my laptop while I was suffering from a nasty cold. But I already had the Xbox One on to watch Netflix, and luckily the joypad was within arms reach. And I knew I could just boot it up and continue collecting soul contracts without having to start anything over.

Over the next handful of hours, I was able to run and gun my way to the last boss.

The easy cloud saves aren’t enough to get me out of the Steam ecosystem, but this and Play Anywhere have contributed to me finding something of a truce with Microsoft. I’ll buy some of my games through Windows if they’re Play Anywhere. I can see the advantages of that now, and I hope Microsoft keeps adding cool features like this.

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