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How To Defeat Cuphead's Toughest Bosses

Cuphead is a tough game even when you are just running and gunning through its levels. At one point during development, there were no levels, however. It was a boss rush game where you move from big encounter to big encounter, each one a little more difficult than the last.

Bosses are still very much a focus now, even though the game has platforming sections between them, and these towering enemies are likely to stop you in your tracks on at least a couple of occasions. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the toughest bosses and some strategies for beating them.

Cagney Carnation

The first main boss in Cuphead, Cagney begins as a tall flower who telegraphs its attacks. While Cagney is one of the easiest Cuphead bosses, it will still seem difficult since you are learning the ropes as you fight it.

Learn its patterns, and you’ll soon feel like you’re firing off weed killer. Watch out for its lunges. If it’s crouched, stand on the platforms before it fires it off. If it stands up, duck underneath. When Cagney fires off seeds, watch the order that they land in and take them out as soon as they sprout.

Grim Matchstick

This is a fight that takes place in the skies, but without your trusty biplane. Instead, you are limited by where you can go because you are forced to stand on tiny floating clouds that randomly spawn. There is an element of RNG here - if luck isn’t on your side, it can be very easy to die quickly.

For the dragon’s eye laser attack, it’s worth remembering that his final laser will always be pink. Dodge the initial barrage, then jump into the last one and press jump again at the point of impact to perform a parry. Another attack allows the dragon to create a vertical wall with his tail. If you see the tail wiggling beneath you, move. When the dragon looks ill, he’s about to spit out some fireballs. Get over the other side of the screen so you can gauge where they are going, then try get over the top of them when they dip down.

In the dragon’s second phase he will sink to the bottom of the screen and fireballs will dance along his tongue. You need to sit on the bottom layer of clouds and fire away. Watch out for the flames leaping up to get you. The best defense is to occasionally change position, but always keep firing and he will go down in no time.

Grim’s final phase is easily the most difficult. One of his heads - he has three now - will keep spitting out fireballs. If shot, these turn into even more fireballs. Do not shoot the fireballs. When one mouth opens wide, you are about to get flamethrowered. This attack affects the center of the screen, so get yourself to the top or bottom layer of clouds as soon as possible.

Phantom Express

This battle is more complicated because you are stuck on a moving platform. A pink valve to either side of the carriage can be parried to move you left or right, or you can rely on a floating pumpkin to drop bricks on the valves to move the carriage for you. However, this pumpkin will drop bricks constantly, so you need to shoot away those bricks if it’s about to send you into the path of some enemy projectiles.

You just need to juggle this with doing damage to each of the boss phases. In the first phase, just do constant damage and shoot any incoming eyeballs. For the second phase, slide your carriage all the way to the right of the screen and stand to the left of the skeleton’s left hand. You are safe there, so fire away. In stage three, keep your carriage over at the far right, but shuffle to the right of the carriage, standing right near the edge of the screen. Shoot the enemy closest to you first, and keep any ghosts away from you with a hail of bullets.

Dr. Kahl’s Robot

This battle takes place in the skies, fighting the towering machine from the cockpit of your plane. The robot has three sections: a head laser that needs to be avoided; a chest launcher that you have to parry; and a hangar in its stomach that fires out drones you need to shoot down. Each of these sections of the robot can be destroyed, and it morphs into a new weapon when you do.

The head laser becomes a shotgun which you can avoid with careful weaving. The chest is replaced by an arm that either fires bullets at you or sucks you in with a magnet - either avoid the bullets or pull back against the magnet. The hangar starts firing out homing missiles that explode on contact, even contact with your bullets. Keep as far away as possible and dispatch them at range. When you have shot off all the first pieces, a heart will appear from the robot’s chest - do enough damage to that and its head will fly off, kicking off the second phase.

The second phase is the robot’s head. It flies in and out of the screen, all while those explosive homing missiles track you. You need to use hit and run tactics to win. If you have saved your super, this is the perfect time to use it.

Phase three is by far the most difficult. The screen fills with emerald projectiles and walls just from the sky or below. It is a long encounter, and it will test your flight skills to their limit. The only trick here is to not get hit. Good luck!