Cuphead has a handful of run-and-gun platforming levels, but it’s all about the boss battles. Each of its 19 bosses is immaculately rendered in the 1930s cartoon art style so ingeniously designed by StudioMDHR.
This isn’t a Saturday-morning cartoon you can sit back and relax with, though. Cuphead offers a serious challenge almost immediately and only gets harder as Cuphead and Mugman collect soul contracts.
All Cuphead bosses have multiple phases, making each one a perilous fight that requires twitchy movements and keen pattern recognition. Now that Cuphead has been ported from Xbox One/PC to Nintendo Switch, we decided to rank the boss fights by difficulty, from easiest to hardest, at least until The Delicious Last Course DLC launches later this year.
19. The Root Pack
Out of the gate, two boss fights are unlocked on Isle One. The Root Pack, a battle against three rather large vegetables, is one of them. The Root Pack serves as a perfect crash course in Cuphead, as it shows off the multi-phase format without overwhelming the player. In the first phase, a potato spews clumps of dirt at you. In the second, an onion incessantly cries, forcing you to dodge the tear shower from above.
The final phase, a psychedelic carrot, demonstrates how many bosses will soon have more than one move per phase. The carrot shoots homing baby carrots in your direction and shoots hypnosis rays from its eyes. It’s a fairly easy fight once you get used to the flow of Cuphead, but since it’s first, it still poses a challenge.
18. Goopy Le Grande
Goopy Le Grande is the other possible first boss. The blue glob starts off small, bouncing around the stage and occasionally ballooning into a thunderous punch. Then it becomes enraged, growing to a massive size while retaining the same core moves.
The final phase sees Goopy’s tombstone shimmy across the screen as he tries to flatten you like a pancake. Goopy Le Grande is trickier than The Root Pack because it’s harder to dodge the moves. You have to really have control over the dash ability. Even then, Goopy is a proper introduction to how much of your success relies on trial and error and recognizing patterns — which can take several attempts (or more).
17. Werner Werman
Werner Werman is an oddity. The rat who dwells in a soup can is located in Inkwell Isle Three, the final stand before Inkwell Hell. He should be one of the hardest bosses in the game simply based on location. He winds up being one of the easiest, however.
In his first stage, Werner slings various projectiles your way, but all of them move slowly. The second stage sees a column of retractable bottle caps on each side of the screen with Werner in the middle on a spring-loaded flamethrower seat. You simply have to get either below or above Werner and dodge any incoming bottle caps.
Everything is telegraphed and slow-moving, so it’s not much of a challenge. A large cat controlled by Werner ups the challenge a bit in the final phase, but the ghosts who throw the projectiles can be easily dispatched. Considering that to get to Werner, you have to beat about a dozen boss fights, the rat is a startlingly benign encounter.
16. Cagney Carnation
Cagney Carnation quickly turns from smiling flower to angry killing machine with the ability to shoot damage-inducing seeds into the air from a machine gun. Cagney Carnation, though an Isle One boss, can be a bit tricky. It’s the first boss that really emphasizes the importance of parrying pink projectiles simply because dodging all of the seeds that turn into flying plants that chomp (like Pac-Man) can be a pain.
Cagney’s physical attack, an alarming lunge, can be dodged easily. Cagney’s final phase is all about dodging with Cuphead’s dash move and avoiding the roots that threaten to impale you if you’re on the wrong hovering platform.
15. Hilda Berg
Some Cuphead bosses take place in the air, with Cuphead commanding an adorable tiny plane. These bosses are generally some of the hardest in their respective Isles, simply because you’re forced to dodge much more. You do have a fuller range of motion in flight, but that doesn’t necessarily make the multi-phase fights any easier.
Hilda Berg has a neat design, a mix between a helicopter and blimp while riding an airborne unicycle. Avoiding her “Haha” projectiles and bullets in phase one can be daunting at first. Then she turns into a bull, then an archer, and finally a crescent moon with a face. UFOs, for some reason, threaten you from above along with projectiles. It’s a lot to manage, but once you get into a groove, it’s possible to get through this fight almost entirely unscathed.
14. Ribby and Croaks
This pair of boxing champ frogs represent the hardest challenge in Inkwell Isle One. In the first two phases, you must dodge projectiles from both Ribby and Croaks. If you use the Chaser, you can blow through these phases. The real challenge comes when the slot machine enters the screen. Parrying the handle while dodging coins is hard enough, but the real test comes when the slot machine opens.
You can get one of three results: Frog, Bull, or Tiger. The Tiger attacks are by far the hardest, as you have to dodge swift-moving platforms and bouncing balls all at once. To compound matters, you can only deal damage to the slot machine when it’s open and attacking you. Some luck is involved here, as rolling the Tiger even once can mean death if you aren’t nimble with jumps and dodges.
13. Phantom Express
Phantom Express is the last fight before Inkwell Hell, so it’s surprising that it’s really not all too difficult. The most difficult aspect of it is that you’re confined to a rail cart that needs to be parried on either side to move it. You’re up against a ghost/skeleton throughout four phases.
It’s one of the lengthier fights, but it’s fairly easy to avoid most of the projectiles and well-telegraphed moves. As long as you parry the rail cart ahead of the attacks, you shouldn’t have much of an issue dodging what the spirit throws at you. The final phase is a bit tricky since you must parry the contraption’s tail to open up the engine, but it’s a short phase.
12. Sally Stageplay
Sally Stageplay has a grand show to put 0n for her audience, but this Isle Three boss doesn’t pose enough of a threat to keep you from seeing the curtain call. Sally’s first phase is one of the easiest in the entire game, while her second stage is all about moving to the right spot and continue shooting.
This second stage is the hardest, forcing you to dodge little RC cars and baby bottles dropped from above. Her third phase brings in props that can easily be dodged, and her encore is equally weak. Considering it’s an Isle Three boss, the skills you’ve amassed up until this point will make it somewhat of a breeze after you get the second phase down.
11. Baroness Von Bon Bon
Baroness Von Bon Bon, the lovely candy queen, throws a variety of sweet-toothed minions your way before you have a chance to take her down. Like Ribby and Croaks, this fight has a chance involved. She has five minions but you’ll only see three of them per run. Minions like Sir Waffington III and Kernel Von Pop make it harder, while Muffsky Chernikov Sargent Gumbo Gumbull makes it easier.
And yes, Baroness Von Bon Bon and her minions have the coolest names in the game. The final phase sees candy wheels and flying projectiles attempt to save the queen. It’s a fight that takes trial and error and learning each of her minion’s movesets.
10. Captain Brineybeard
Captain Brineybeard has a nice boat that he doesn’t want to share with anyone else at all. He’s also capable of conjuring sharks, octopus, and shoot wrecking balls from said boat. At first, Brineybeard is an overwhelming foe, simply because he has so many different tools in his arsenal.
You have to contend with the squid gun projectiles and barrel that periodically drops from above at all times. There’s just a lot going on, which makes it tough. Brineybeard’s second phase sees the ship’s mouth open. It’s a short phase, but dodging the projectiles and avoiding the huge laser beam attack can be difficult for sure. Brineybeard is best beat with a combination of the Chaser and Spread weapons.
9. Cala Maria
Cala Maria, a plane boss, has a solid one-two punch in her first two phases. You have to dodge various projectiles throughout the whole first phase. Getting through this portion unscathed, however, is crucial considering that she has the power to turn you into stone in the second phase.
Once that happens, you have to spam on the buttons to break free before getting hit by electric bolts sent from her storm of eels. Her final phase is thankfully easier, as you simply have to shoot her head while maneuvering through a tunnel, avoiding projectiles and obstacles.
8. Djimmi The Great
Djimmi The Great is also a plane boss, spanning across four phases. His first two phases have a mix of homing projectiles that are hard to avoid without shrinking your plane. In his coolest phase, Djimmi takes control of a puppet that looks like Cuphead.
Once you get through that, you have to fight a giant head while three pyramids that shoot out beams in all directions circle around you. It’s a tough finale. Like other plane fights, avoiding damage early is key.
7. Wally Warbles
Wally Warbles is an angry caged bird who Cuphead has to take on through the air in Isle Two. Wally slings eggs in your direction in the first phase. These eggs break off into three pieces that are hard to dodge. The key here is sticking to the left edge of the screen, which protects you entirely from the broken off pieces of the eggs. Wally then flaps his wings furiously, unleashing a sea of feathers that must be nimbly dodged.
The third phase requires you to move about the entire screen, avoiding the eggs that circle around a now mostly hairless Wally. Wally’s final phase isn’t as long as the others, but you have to dodge a string of projectiles while shooting grenades on Wally’s ailing body below. though Wally is an Isle Two boss, we’re ranking him as the second hardest aerial fight.
6. Beppi The Clown
Beppi The Clown has one of the most benign movesets in the game — in isolation. The problem here is that these moves stack together throughout the clown’s four phases to make him a grueling marathon. The first phase is very simple, but in his second phase, you have to avoid balloon dog heads and the rollercoaster that passes by.
In his third phase, you deal with Beppi on a carousel horse, spewing horseshoes either in a swaying motion across the screen or in a timed sequence straight down. Because the rollercoaster is still present, you can get stuck in seemingly impossible situations if you aren’t careful.
The final phase is equally challenging because you have to jump across the Ferris wheel while avoiding baseballs thrown at you from below. If you make contact with the ground, it’s hard to avoid damage.
5. Grim Matchstick
Grim Matchstick, an Isle Two boss, has a reputation for being exceedingly difficult. And while this is obviously true based on the dragon’s placement on our list, it’s really only the third phase that is incredibly trying. The first two phases, with practice, can be beaten without taking any damage fairly routinely.
The final phase, however, is really, really hard. Here you have to avoid the fire orbs that gravitate towards you. If you accidentally shoot one open while trying to hit Grim, the fire goes north, south, east, and west. And if you’re right next to the orb? You’re getting hit. Not to mention you have to be on the top level of the clouds when he shoots his flamethrower. The final phase is probably the second hardest boss phase in the whole game.
4. The Devil
Cuphead‘s final boss is certainly challenging, but it’s not the hardest fight in the game. The first phase is all about recognizing patterns and getting a bit lucky with the randomized sequence of attacks. Some projectiles are easier to dodge than others.
The second phase drops you below ground to face off against The Devil’s giant head. This phase can be a challenge if you don’t properly situate yourself on the platforms to avoid the bomb blasts. The third phase is where things get really tough, as you have projectiles flying at you from everywhere but below, and you have very little space to work with.
The final phase has somewhat of a “gotcha” moment. Makes sense seeing as the Devil plays tricks on people, right? In this phase, you only have one small platform to stand on. Dodging the remaining tears and fiery rings can be a head-scratcher unless you remember to coordinate your jumps to move away before landing back on. It’s actually a really simple final phase, but it’s just as easy to get tripped up by it.
3. Rumor Honeybottoms
Rumor Honeybottoms, an absolutely brutal queen bee, meets you at the start of Isle Three. All throughout the fight, the screen moves up, forcing you to jump from platform to platform avoiding attacks. The first phase isn’t too hard, as you simply have to eliminate a worker bee while avoiding a few projectiles.
The second phase, however, is awfully challenging. Rumor either plunges down left, right, or in the middle of the screen. If she’s left or right, she’ll use one of two attacks: large floating orbs, or triangles that start literally on top of you and shoot pellets out of the corners. If she’s in the middle, she’ll shoot missiles that trace the platforms.
It’s a huge challenge simply to get to her final phase. Then, of course, it’s not over. Now an airplane, Rumor sends flying fists to chase after you. She’ll also use huge circular saws to slice across half of the screen. Keep in mind, you still have to navigate the moving platforms, too. Fighting Rumor Honeybottoms is like getting stung over and over again.
2. Dr. Kahl’s Robot
Dr. Kahl’s Robot is by far the hardest aerial fight in the game. From the start, it’s maniacal. You have to take out the ray gun attached to its head and two compartments on its frame. The robot’s lower cavity shoots out Galaga-esque ships while the chest cavity unleashes a contraption that creates a perpetual laser from the top of the screen to the bottom that must be parried.
Even after taking out these three weak points, you have to destroy the heart. A magnet makes the bolts and screws coming your way a challenge to avoid — not to mention the homing missiles. The second phase has you avoiding the robot’s detached head and missiles at the same time. If the missiles get close to you, they’ll explode.
Finally, you’ll face off against Dr. Kahl himself. Throughout the duration of the fight, you’ll have to avoid little electric currents that litter the screen and steer through electric barriers. Dr. Kahl’s Robot is a ridiculously challenging fight from start to finish.
1. King Dice
King Dice, the nefarious casino owner who does The Devil’s bidding, is a boss rush in itself. There are nine mini-bosses here, and you’ll have to fight at least three of them before squaring off with the King himself. Each boss is tied to a spot on the table. Roll the dice, land on a boss. For reference, here are the nine mini-bosses, in order:
- Tipsy Troop
- Chips Bettigan
- Mr. Wheezy
- Pip and Dot
- Hopus Pocus
- Phear Lap
- Mr. Chimes
Regardless of whether you face Phantom Express or Dr. Kahl’s Robot, it’s possible to face each boss and emerge victorious as long as you take things one step at a time. Each boss only has one phase, and if you land carefully during the fight, you can earn an extra hit point to pad your health numbers a bit. The trickiest part is keeping all of those health points until you get to the boss fight. If you take any damage before the battle, you could end up losing against King Dice.
While King Dice might seem like an insurmountable wall, don’t forget that he only uses one move through the whole encounter. When he moves his fingers across your screen, he summons a walking deck of cards. The only way to avoid being hurt is to parry the pink cards.
Because of the way these pink cards group up, you’ll have to use Cuphead’s dash ability liberally throughout the fight—they’ll leave small gaps for you to move through safely. You’ll only have short windows of time to attach King Dice’s head between the card attacks. However, if you can multi-manage all of these things at once, you’ll quickly find yourself mastering one of the most grueling boss fights in any modern game.