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Every Cuphead boss ranked worst to best

Don't let Cuphead's cutesy, old-timey aesthetic fool you: it's a tough-as-nails boss rush shooter, combining platforming, bullet hell awareness, pattern recognition, and twitch timing. Luckily, Cuphead isn't just a pretty face. The game's substance matches its style: it has received almost universally favorable reviews since its release in September 2017.

In Cuphead, the player takes on the role of the title character (or his pal Mugman). The two have gone into debt gambling at the Devil's casino, and are hoping to keep their souls by hunting down others who have managed to escape the Devil's clutches. Those escapees make up the majority of the bosses in Cuphead, each offering a unique challenge to the player.

Most of the game's success comes from these foes; there's a lot riding on their pixelated shoulders. Here's our definitive ranking of every Cuphead boss from worst to best.

Goopy Le Grande

Cuphead is notoriously difficult, but rarely unfair. That's because it does a great job of easing the player into its mechanics. Unfortunately, that also means that some of the early bosses in the game suffer a bit when compared against some of the late game complexity. This is no more true than in the case of Goopy Le Grande, one of the first bosses you encounter in the game.

Goopy is ... fine. He's a blue slime with a face. He hops around, tries to punch you, and transforms a few times before he is defeated. Many of Cuphead's bosses truly tell a story, though, and Goopy really doesn't. He is just there to teach you how to play the game.

Again, that's fine. Necessary, even. Considering some of the intricate and amazing bosses the game has to offer, though, it lands Goopy on the bottom of our list.

The Root Pack (Moe Tato, Weepy, Psycarrot)

The Root Pack is likely the boss fight that most players start with in Cuphead. It is also generally regarded as one of the easiest fights in the game, and it suffers from similar drawbacks as Goopy Le Grande: it is a bit of a tutorial, rather than a full on fight.

However, there is a bit more personality to the Root Pack. Each "form" of the boss is an entirely different character, each working to take the player down. These giant, anthropomorphic vegetables are also more interesting than a blue blob that hops around and punches you. You can even tell a bit of each character's personality as you work through the fight; for example, take the apologetic Weepy (a giant onion, natch), who feels absolutely terrible that a fight is occurring. This type of subtle storytelling is seen throughout Cuphead, and is introduced in one of its very first fights.

Rumor Honeybottoms

The lowest late-game boss on our list is here because her level breaks the one thing a game like Cuphead needs to succeed: perfect controls. Rumor is a literal queen bee, and you fight her through a constantly-scrolling level. Other levels in Cuphead automatically scroll too, so that isn't the problem.

But Rumor's level scrolls up. And it's the one level where the game's controls don't seem up to the task of giving the player a fair shake.

Cuphead is intensely difficult, but it rarely feels completely unfair. Sometimes you'll take a hit you can't avoid, and it will make you think, "What could I have done to keep myself out of that position?" Far too many of your deaths against Rumor Honeybottoms will have you shaking your head, thinking, "There was no way to avoid that." And that just won't fly in a game like this.

Hilda Berg

Most of the bosses from the opening section of Cuphead feature similar ideas. They are great introductions to what you'll expect to see throughout the game's runtime, but they just can't hold up when you've finally put everything together and bested all that Cuphead has to offer. Hilda Berg, who serves as the tutorial to the game's airplane mechanic, falls squarely into that boat.

Hilda has a bit more substance to her than some of the other early bosses, however. She has some fun transformations, and there is plenty to see in her battle as she shifts between different zodiac symbols. However, it is doubtful that she is a boss players will return to once they've gotten further in the game. Every other plane level is more interesting than this one.

Cagney Carnation

Cagney Carnation is just like the other early-game bosses. He provides a decent challenge early on but, once you've figured out how Cuphead works, there isn't much reason to go back and fight with the flower. However, this dastardly plant has a few elements up his sleeve to help him edge out most of the other bosses from the game's first world.

For one, Cagney is the best teacher of the early bosses in how to quickly read attacks and react. His animations are easy to read, but they require immediate reactions — Cagney is a trial by fire. Also, his idle animation is a joy to behold. That weird, open palmed dance never gets old.

Beppi the Clown

Beppi the Clown is one of the first bosses that truly shows just how crazy the bosses in Cuphead can get. He's got a ton of personality, and his transformation into different carnival rides makes him a lot of fun to battle against. Each form requires a wildly different style and a quick adaptation, and blasting the cackling clown off of his horse (who he refers to as Charlie, of course) never gets old.

Unfortunately, Beppi — like Rumor Honeybottoms, who is encountered later in the game — can also seem unfair on occasion. There are times when the screen will set the player up to take a seemingly unavoidable hit, and it can be absolutely infuriating when it does. When Cuphead's bosses laugh at you, it hits home because you generally know that you made a mistake: you got greedy, you didn't think ahead, you didn't stay focused, etc. When Beppi laughs, sometimes it just makes you want to smash the screen because that stupid clown cheated.

Ribby and Croaks

Ribby and Croaks are a welcome change to the early game formula: even though they ultimately serve as a glorified tutorial, the duo has a few things going for them that make them the best boss fight in Cuphead's first world map.

They introduce the idea of battling multiple enemies at once, meaning attacks can come from any direction. They teach you to experiment with hitboxes and push your abilities to the limit, forcing questions like "Can I make that jump?" or "How quickly can I dodge?" These questions are important to know moving forward into the more difficult bosses.

Best of all, they have a passing resemblance to Michigan J. Frog ... and who hasn't wanted to knock that tapdancing tadpole down a peg or two?

Djimmi the Great

This is more like it as far as airplane levels go. There are definitely better flying fights in the game, but this one takes all the elements Cuphead taught you in the battle against Hilda Berg and allows you to play with them a bit.

Djimmi is a big challenge, but never feels cheap or unfair. There are wild transformations, forcing the player to rapidly adapt and recognize what is coming next. There is also a ton of personality in the battle with Djimmi: the spinning background helps showcase the game's level design, the section where the players have to battle a marionette version of themselves is a blast, and the final transformation is a perfect conclusion to the fight. He's great.

Werner Werman

Werner Werman (it's German, so the each "W" is pronounced like a "V." Get it?) has some extreme positives and negatives, making his spot in the middle of our list pretty clear. On the positive side, he is one of the best examples of Cuphead's aesthetic: an homage to bizarre, early routines. His strange military hat, his ridiculous German accent, his slightly Nazi vibe ... Werner is very reminiscent of the old propaganda cartoons that advertised war bonds and the like. His final transformation is also one of the game's best, as a giant cat invades the screen — a cat that is later revealed to be yet another mechanical marvel controlled by Werner.

On the other side of the coin, Werner is just too dang easy. He doesn't pose nearly the same challenge as his counterparts in Cuphead's final area. It's a shame, because the battle with a giant cat being controlled by a screaming rat should be more epic than it is.

Baroness Von Bon Bon (& Friends)

The battle with the Baroness is a fairly unique one in the world of Cuphead, as there are a variety of ways it can go. This occurs because a substantial part of the fight with Baroness Von Bon Bon is against her subjects, and the game randomizes which ones you will fight. There are five different minions the player can battle against, each candy-themed, and they will only ever face three in a single battle. In addition, the final form of the baroness is frenetic and action packed. It feels satisfying when you finally take her down.

But the randomization aspect of the first phase of the battle is also its biggest weakness: some of the minions are definitely more difficult than others, which can occasionally disrupt achievement or speed runs.

Wally Warbles (and Son)

Wally Warbles is just a sinister Woody Woodpecker, but at least he doesn't have that irritating laugh. Wally, alongside his son, come to battle, and they have a variety of entertaining and clever attack animations that will keep the player on their toes as they try to adapt to the different phases.

The last form, where the de-feathered Wally is brought out in a stretcher, is also pure gold. It's a nod to just how dark classic cartoons could be; when the player finally defeats Wally, the medics that were carrying him put on chef hats and start to season Wally's corpse with salt and pepper. His goose is cooked.

Sally Stageplay

Honestly, Sally Stageplay herself is not the most exciting character in the world. Her personality — an overbearing, angry diva of a stage actress — is not as clever as some of Cuphead's takes on other classic tropes. Her attacks are not terribly difficult to fight back against, and none of her transformations are overly elaborate.

So what keeps Sally from the bottom of the list? Just take a look at everything else going on in her stage.

The battle with Sally takes place over a four act play, with each phase of the fight telling part of the story. Through the battle, Sally gets married, has kids, dies, and goes to heaven. Throughout the entire fight, a raucous audience cheers and jeers as Sally battles the heroes. They even throw roses (which, of course, damage the player) onto the stage while Sally is in her final, angelic form. All the details in the background make it a bit difficult to focus on Sally, but in all the right ways; it's one of Cuphead's most interesting stages.

Dr. Kahl's Robot

One of the most difficult boss battles in all of Cuphead, Dr. Kahl's Robot is basically the Iron Giant piloted by Dr. Wily (of Mega Man fame). Those little nostalgia bombs immediately make the battle interesting, and the huge number of strategies the player can employ to take down their robotic foe make it a blast to try to figure out.

Different sections of the robot fire different attacks, and destroying those sections will open up new attacks. This allows the player to strategize and target specific elements in the order they wish, dealing with the things that give them the most trouble first. Not many Cuphead bosses give the player this strategic option, and it makes Dr. Kahl's Robot one of the most interesting fights in the game.

Captain Brineybeard

Not only does Captain Brineybeard bear a striking resemblance to Popeye's antagonist, Bluto, but he also has two peglegs. Two peglegs! No wonder he's so angry!

The captain also introduces one of the most interesting risk-reward concepts in all of Cuphead: the player has to stand in the center of the screen and aim diagonally to hit him. However, when you're aiming like this, you can't move. It leads to some intense moments of "Just a few more shots ..." as the boss throws everything at you all at once. As the screen fills with danger, you wonder if you can hold onto that button for just a little longer to get a few more hits in. It's brilliant.

Angry sea creatures, a terrifying ship, and a sentient treasure chest are all part of the fun. Captain Brineybeard is one of the best in the game.

Grim Matchstick

Fighting against Grim Matchstick just brings back memories of that darn robotic dragon from Mega Man 2. This beast is one of the game's most difficult bosses; his arena has no floor, forcing the player to constantly hop onto moving platforms and parry in order to avoid damage. Grim makes it insanely difficult by lobbing all sorts of fire attacks at you. There is a ton to keep track of in this stage, making it crazy satisfying when you finally beat it.

Grim's also got one of the more interesting personalities of any of the bosses in Cuphead: he wants to be your friend. Every time you lose to the dragon (and you will lose to him a lot before you finally beat this level), he seems sorry for hurting you and suggests you leave, not in a threatening way, but in an apologetic one. It's endearing, making Grim Matchstick one of the most memorable bosses in all of Cuphead.

Phantom Express

The battle with the Phantom Express would be a blast without it, but the addition of a totally unique wrinkle makes this one of the most interesting fights in the game. The player is trapped on a moving train car with handles on both ends of it. Not only can the player adjust how the car is positioned throughout the fight by using a parry attack on these handles, but the boss will try to steer the player into danger by attacking the handles as well.

This tricky dynamic makes the fight with the Phantom Express one of the most unique in the game, as the battle to position yourself requires constant attention and can quickly end the round if the player doesn't focus their attention right. It's expertly done, and keeps every round with the Phantom Express intense throughout. It also helps make it feel great when the player figures out a working strategy for each of the boss' forms.

Cala Maria

Easily the best plane boss in the game, Cala Maria looks like a combination between Betty Boop and an old sailor tattoo. The way the battle changes as the fight goes on is a blast to watch, and each of Cala Maria's attacks require different reactions and strategies in order to avoid taking early damage.

Avoiding early damage is essential, because Cala Maria's final form can usually score at least one hit against you.

The beast gains an attack in her final form that can turn you into stone, causing the plane to continue flying in a straight line until the player breaks free. It can feel a bit cheap, but it also rewards the player for putting themselves into a good position when the attack arrives. Acing the battle with Cala Maria is incredibly tough because of this attack, but getting through her final form unscathed is one of the most boast-worthy triumphs that Cuphead has to offer.

The Devil

The whole plot of Cuphead revolves around trying to thwart the Devil, so it needs to be satisfying when you finally go toe to toe with Old Scratch. The game's final boss does not disappoint. His variety of transformations are fascinating, difficult to fight, and require precise timing and strategy. Even better, the order of his transformations help to keep the battle intense throughout.

Every time the Devil moves to a new form, his arena gives the player less and less area to maneuver in. A wide open space becomes just a few platforms, which become even fewer. By the time you reach the Devil's final form, the player is left standing on a platform not much bigger than their character, desperately dodging the Devil's attacks and trying to get those last few shots in. It makes every jump meaningful and every dodge potentially catastrophic, which also makes the Devil a fitting final boss for the game. However, he is shown up by just one other ...

King Dice

Cuphead's final foe is shown up only by his second in command, King Dice. Everything about this character is amazingly designed: he wears a purple suit, constantly breaks the fourth wall by winking at the player through the screen, speaks like a hilarious gangster ... there's just so much to like about him. And don't forget that snappy theme song!

King Dice isn't just style with no substance either. The fight with him inserts the player into a mini-boss rush (inside of the giant boss rush that encompasses all of Cuphead), where they have to move along spaces on a gambling table, battling foes along the way, to even take a shot at the Devil's right-hand man.

King Dice is the perfect henchman character. He is seemingly more dangerous, more despicable, and more devious than the Devil himself. That personality, combined with his extremely difficult battle, makes King Dice the king of all of Cuphead's bosses. Do yourself a favor and listen to his theme song, too.