While Cuphead has a handful of run and gun platforming levels, it’s a boss rush at its core. Each of its 19 bosses is immaculately rendered in the 1930s cartoon art style so ingeniously designed by StudioMDHR. It’s simply a dream to look at and watch in motion.
If you haven’t heard, though, this isn’t a Saturday morning cartoon you can sit back and relax with. Cuphead offers a serious challenge almost immediately and only gets harder as Cuphead and his brother 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.
For more on Cuphead, make sure to check out our beginner’s guide.
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 choreographed 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-choreographed 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.