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, new game+ mode and balanced weapons to equip (that you don’t lose!). We’d love to 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.