What kind of game is Cuphead?

2nd of November, 2013


Cuphead is a classic run and gun that centers around 1-on-1 fights (2-on-1 in two player mode).

With Cuphead, we aim to evolve the genre by adding new features such as: super arts, infinite lives, a playable world map and hidden secrets. In addition to that, we will have refined controls, additional boss patterns on harder modes and balanced weapons to equip (that you don’t lose!). We plan to release 10-15 bosses per episode and end up with over 30 bosses. If all goes as planned, we will defeat the current “Guinness World Record for Most Boss Battles in a Run and Gun Game”[25 total]).

When developing Cuphead we started with the basics – who knows this better than Shigeru Miyamoto. He set the standard for all 2D and 3D platformers and they are still a great formula for gameplay perfection. Knowing this, we’ve spent a lot of time fine tuning small details like hitboxes, screen movement, player control, weapon balancing, and a ton of small details that may go unnoticed by some.


When we were designing Cuphead, we wanted the game to be more reaction-based than just straight memorization. Great games like Contra III/Hard Corps mainly used repeating patterns that appeared in the same order every time – we feel this pattern formula tends to have less surprise on subsequent replays. On the other end of the spectrum, a game like Mega Man has a lot of proximity based patterns to mix things up – but this can let you take advantage of the boss by forcing the AI into the same series of attacks.

Our approach is to integrate variance by: *some of this is for nerds*

  • Rearranging certain pattern orders on replays
  • Using arrays on individual attack attributes to mix it up (vague example: 1,2,1,3,3,2,1,3,2 instead of 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3)
  • All proximity based attacks will have a variety of options to avoid pattern trapping
  • Using RNG sparingly during suitable situations and not like Holy Diver – (P.S. Funkdoc rules!)
  • Every boss in the game will have 3 ranks of difficulty: each one adds new patterns, visuals and blast processing




The best of the genre always contained a variety of gameplay (Contra III overhead stages not included!). We are aiming to have good diversity by :

  • some fights styled more like a platformer
  • patterns/gameplay themes that haven’t been seen before in a run and gun
  • shmup stages with influences from games like: the Thunderforce series, Radiant SilvergunIkaruga, and Jamestown (which is AMAZING)
  • suits (like Mario 3) that will give the player new attributes/abilities
  • extremely long, unskippable cut scenes :)


Some of our favourite examples:


Gunstar Heroes: Level 2 added a new ability by allowing you to flip to the ceiling (this stage also came with one of the more memorable boss fights – Seven Force).


Level 4 had some joke bosses and a unique stage layout with the Dice Palace. Level 6 was a schmup with an 8-way dash.


Contra III: On level 3, Chrome Dome (wall drill section) is an amazing fight that doesn’t use projectiles and it ends off with an intense Robo-Corpse battle that incorporates wall climbing. Level 4 has one of the best boss battles: Anti-Contra Battleship Dodriguez (even though it has a hint of RNG problems). The last boss, Alien Brain, has 8 patterns that you can select, casino-style. On hard mode there is even a bonus final boss.


Contra Hard Corps: for it’s sheer amount of bosses and patterns. (examples: Mech Walker, Spider Mutant, and a hidden comedy boss: Phish Fan & Mutant Miner & The Overlord)


Batman & Robin (Genesis): Mad Hatter – one of the few 2D/3D battles in the genre that works really well. Mr. Freeze has a interesting take on a schmup/run and gun mix. This game contains some of the highest amounts of pattern variance per boss. The awesome soundtrack by Jesper Kyd doesn’t hurt either.


Mega Man X series: Great improvements on the main bosses (more patterns, better AI). Also, the final stages had a lot of unique & challenging ideas (examples: Megaman X’s Maverick Spider and Rangda Bangda, X2’s Agile).


Hard Corps Uprising: One of the best boss fights in the genre is found in this game – the stage 3 midboss – “573 Tigris”. Genius in its simplicity…it’s too bad the fight is pretty short

Make sure to follow us for updates on Cuphead – many more updates to come. Let us know what type of posts you want to see in the comments below.