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Well, Cuphead and his pal Mugman,
They like to roll the dice.
By chance they came 'pon Devil's game,
And gosh, they paid the price, paid the price...
And now they're fighting for their lives
On a mission fraught with dread.
And if they proceed but don't succeed,
Well... the Devil will take their heads!
Opening Theme
Cuphead: Don't Deal with the Devil is a Run-and-Gun game developed by Studio MDHR for Xbox One, Windows PC,
Steam,, the Macintosh, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.

The game was first conceptualized in 2010, initially announced in 2014, and released on September 29th, 2017, with the port to the Macintosh coming in 2018. The Nintendo Switch port was released on April 19th, 2019note . This version, along with a 1.2 patch, updated the game to include new animations, some extra difficulty in certain boss fights, the ability to play as Mugman in single player mode, and localized text in eleven languages. Afterwards, it was released for the PlayStation 4 on July 28th, 2020.

Cuphead and his brother Mugman, who live in the enchanted Inkwell Isle, wind up on the wrong side of the tracks and come across the Devil's Casino. They go on a winning streak playing Craps and eventually gamble against the Devil himself. Though Mugman tries to warn him as he understood the danger, Cuphead becomes blinded by easy riches. When the Devil bets all his treasure for their souls, Cuphead takes the bet... and loses. Just before the Devil claims their souls, the duo say they will do anything to keep their lives. He accepts their offer, then sends the two out to collect the Soul Contracts of other unfortunate characters who have lost to him. The journey of Cuphead and Mugman will see them travel through trippy environments and face off against equally-trippy opponents...


...and this happens for a good reason: the game is intended to mimic the art style and "feel" of a classic Max and Dave Fleischer cartoon. The developers hand-animated every character and effect in the game to achieve this look, and their devotion to their work shows in every frame. Microsoft's financial backing to the developers after the game's original 2014 reveal — a move that helped expand the game but also delayed it for another 3 years — certainly helped in that regard.

Watch the trailer to see what all the hubbub is about, bub.

At E3 2018, a DLC dubbed "The Delicious Last Course",note  was revealed, which now had the Legendary Chalice as a third playable character called Ms. Chalice. Originally slated for a 2019 release, it was later pushed back to 2020 before being delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus crisis. Eventually things cleared up for work to continue and a trailer for the game was showcased at the 2021 Video Game Awards along with a release date: June 30, 2022.


The game has been followed by a number of different tie-ins in different media (including minor representation in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate). For more information on these, please refer to the Franchise page.

Some tropes are surely brewing! Ready? WALLOP!:

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  • Action Dress Rip: Exaggerated with Sally Stageplay, as she tears away her entire wedding dress before the start of her boss battle to reveal a second dress she's wearing underneath. This outfit then explodes at the end of the second phase to reveal that she's wearing a third outfit, her Angel Costume.
  • Action Girl: Sally Stageplay, Cala Maria, Rumor Honeybottoms, Hilda Berg and Pirouletta fit into this.
  • Afterlife Express: The Phantom Express gives this vibe, being inhabited by all manner of ghouls, such as a ghost and a giant skeleton. The Game-Over Man for the third section claims that the train's only for the dead.
  • Air-Dashing: Both Cuphead and Mugman have the ability to dash in midair, propelling themselves forward after a jump or fall.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Many of the bosses (Cagney Carnation, Werner Werman, Sally Stageplay, etc.).
    • Many of the boss fight scene names (Fiery Frolic, Pyramid Peril, Honeycomb Herald, etc.).
    • All six run-and-gun level names.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted with King Dice, since he has separate sprites for facing left and right in his boss fight; played straight with Beppi the Clown, since his face switches colors depending on which side he's facing in his first and third phases.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Both "Funfair Fever" and "Carnival Kerfuffle". "Funfair Fever" is a Run 'n' Gun level, while in "Carnival Kerfuffle", Beppi will use the amusement park attractions to his advantage. "Funhouse Frazzle" is likely set inside this as well.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game is set in the 1930's, yet one of the bosses in King Dice's game is a monkey with cymbals. You know, a toy that was invented in the 1950's?
  • An Aesop:
    • When you get yourself into trouble, it's up to you to put in your blood, sweat, and tears to get yourself out of trouble. Also, whenever you decide to gamble, it's important to know when to stop.
    • The endings present another one: Don't condemn others for their sins, for you too are a sinner. Cuphead and Mugman handing over the soul contracts to the Devil rather than saving his debtors results in them becoming evil themselves and becoming loyal minions of the Devil, while saving them results in a happy ending where everyone is freed. Condemning the debtors does not make you the good guy, showing them mercy does.
  • Animated Adaptation: One is slated to debut on Netflix.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Keeping with the 1930s theme, practically all objects in the game have a face. Heck, the two protagonists of the game are cups with bodies.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During the Boss Bonanza with King Dice in the Dice Tower, you will notice that certain mini-boss battles grant a "Health Up" when you land on them and give you an extra hit, labelled as heart icons on the roulette board. If you time hitting the dice properly to get the right number, you can move to these spaces to get some of your health back. Also, a patch released for the game now ensures that if a player dies during each battle with one of the mini-bosses in co-op mode, they will automatically return to life at the King Dice board with 1 HP once their surviving partner has defeated the mini-boss. Oh, and the "Start Over" square will now trigger only once per attempt.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: The game delivers you a message to take a break in song form, delivered by the barbershop pole singers once you find the lost member. The name of the song? A Quick Break.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Some bosses have you do this: in particular, the fights with Cagney Carnation and Cala Maria, who only take damage on their heads, and the final phase of Ribby and Croaks and the Phantom Express, which only take damage when they open up their cores (well, the boiler in the Phantom Express's case).
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Many of the bosses practically tower over the two protagonists.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Several instances:
    • All of the airplane boss fights are autoscrolling, as well as some non-airplane bosses, which are Baroness Von Bon Bon's final phase in "Sugarland Shimmy", Grim Matchstick in "Fiery Frolic", Rumor Honeybottoms in "Honeycomb Herald", and the Phantom Express in "Railroad Wrath".
    • The latter part of "Rugged Ridge" has you being chased by a giant à la the beginning of the Mecha-Dragon fight in Mega Man 2.
    • One section in "Perilous Piers" has the player riding on an octopus that has an anchor on its head which you need to parry in order to make it to the end.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The usefulness of health charms (which increase your HP but decrease your attack power) depends entirely on whether or not you're gunning for an A+/S rank, where you have to pull off a No-Damage Run anyway. They're a godsend if you're going for the P-rank on Run 'n Gun stages, however.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Captain Brineybeard doesn't transform at all, he fights you by summoning sea creatures. Then his boat transforms and punts him into the water, or cargo rooms.
    • Dr. Kahl. For most of the fight, he pilots his robot without entering the battle personally, and even during the final phase, he sits back and laughs while the robot summons gemstones to fire at you.
    • Sally Stageplay's pretty much the one boss in the game that doesn't involve some sort of oversized monster at all. She still manages to put up quite a fight.
    • Werner Werman doesn't transform at all, he just uses his can tank and cat robot.
    • The basic enemies in the Run n' Gun levels lack any transformation or special powers. But they are no less relentless than the bosses themselves.
  • Balloon of Doom: Beppi the Clown has a stretchy, balloon-like body, most noticeable with his bulbous head. In phase 2 of his battle, his body is attached to a giant helium pump, and his head inflates into a giant balloon tied to his body with a string. The pump also shoots out balloon dog heads that swarm the arena to attack you.
  • Band Land: The second half of Funhouse Frazzle features oversized musical instruments, microphones, and phonographs in the background, in addition to anthropomorphic tubas that serve as enemies.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Cuphead and Mugman are a literal example, since they actually are brothers, taking on all manner of monsters together with nothing but a Finger Gun and each other (along with magical charms, super arts, and occasionally airplanes).
    • The frog brothers, Ribby and Croaks, also fit this.
  • Battle Intro: Right before boss battles, Cuphead tightens his shorts, Mugman takes a sip from his own head, an announcer blurts out a snappy battle intro blurb, and the baddies taunt the duo, all while the only words ever needed show up. (The Mausoleum levels start out with the same preparations the boys make, but with a spooky announcer blurting out a creepy blurb (patched version), and no baddies taunting them.)
    Ready? WALLOP!
  • Black Bead Eyes: When Cuphead and Mugman are on the world map.
  • Bond One-Liner: The bosses' death quotes, many done in rhyme.
  • Bookends:
    • Minor gameplay example. One of the two bosses the player can choose at the beginning of the game, The Root Pack, has a part where the player fights an onion whose only attack is to cry damaging tears, some of which are pink and can be parried. The final phase of the Devil fight also has him crying damaging tears as his attack, which are also pink and can be parried.
    • The game opens with a shot of a book opening by itself to give out exposition and ends with the same book closing itself.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Inverted, surprisingly enough. "Junkyard Jive", the song that plays when fighting Dr. Kahl, may have originally been the main theme song of the game, given that a piano version of it serves as the theme for one of the game's earliest trailers.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • A lot of players stick with the Peashooter (the first shot type you gain), since it has long range, is easy to aim, and does consistent damage.
    • There's not really any reason to take off Chaser on the first island due to its "fire and forget" homing properties. It's consistently useful until the third island (when bosses begin to have both more health and phases involving more summoned enemies) and makes certain bosses like Grim Matchstick much easier.
    • Smoke Bomb allows you to be invincible during your dash, which is practically necessary for later in the game due to how often you'll be dashing next to bosses in the first place. It is also extremely helpful for earning P-ratings on Run and Gun stages. It's essentially an optional dodge mechanic,note  with the bonus being that the period that you're invulnerable for being plain as day — as long as you're invisible, you're invincible.
    • Two of the power-ups are health upgrades (either one heart or two) at the cost of a tiny bit of power. While you won't get a health bonus if you were hit more than 3 times, people who don't care about high scores can increase their survivability with more health. The damage debuff is less relevant in the Run 'n' Gun levels, where most enemies don't have much health to begin with.
  • Boss Game: Most of the stages are boss fights against the Devil's many debtors (think the two Mega Man arcade games, Power Battle and Power Fighters), almost all of which have several phases. The developers went for a Guinness World Record of 30+ bosses for a Run-and-Gun game to beat the world record of 25 set by Alien Soldier Final count . It was originally intended to only be bosses, but fan feedback suggested that they add the run-n-gun levels to fill out the game a bit.
  • Boss-Only Level: Naturally, the game has tons of these, with many boss fights being comparable to every battle in Senko no Ronde, but the clearest case goes to Inkwell Hell: an entire Boss Bonanza world that has the boss fights for King Dice and The Devil, and absolutely nothing else.
  • Bottomless Pits: Present, but instead of being a One-Hit Kill, they do damage like anything else and then shoot the boys back up to solid ground. They even respect Mercy Invincibility.
  • Brick Joke: In the intro, it's stated that they found The Devil's casino "on the wrong side of the tracks". In Inkwell Isle 3, you must fight the Phantom Express to get a level crossing to raise, allowing you to get to the casino, meaning that it's literally on the wrong side of the tracks.
  • Bring It: Before fighting Cuphead and Mugman, Croaks taunts them via moving his hand towards himself.
  • Bullet Hell: The aerial battles have elements of this.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The majority of the bosses get this treatment to various degrees, but Wally Warbles has it the worst out of everyone; you destroy his house, force him to lose all his feathers, beat up his son while you're at it, then beat him up while two medic birds are carrying him on a stretcher, and finally, said medics are preparing to eat him after his defeat.
    • Captain Brineybeard gets the short end of the stick as well. Unlike pretty much every other boss, the final phase of his own boss battle isn't even against him, but his ship, which turns into a narwhal and throws him into the ocean.
  • The Casino: The Devil himself runs one, and it's where the deal that kicks off the plot happens, as well as the location of the penultimate boss fight against King Dice. It even provides the trope image.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Everyone's unique in their own way. No two characters look alike.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The bosses and platformer "Run 'n Gun" levels have no checkpoints. Die once, and you must start all over again.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: A handful of bosses become weaker in their final phases rather than stronger:
    • Goopy le Grande in his tombstone form has only one attack that is easy to dodge in contrast to his previous forms, that had two attacks: either punching or jumping all over the screen.
    • Cagney Carnation turns monstrous and engulfs the ground in thorny vines, restricting you to the floating platforms, but only has two very telegraphed and easy to dodge attacks.
    • Cala Maria loses her head and floats inside a cave, being only capable of shooting a petrifying gaze; only the environment can cause any real damage to the player.
    • Sally Stageplay doesn't even bother attacking you in her final phase, instead letting her easily jumped-over parasol and some infrequently tossed roses from the audience do the fighting for her.
    • Wally Warbles subverts this. He is hospitalized halfway through his boss fight and still fights you while being carried by two paramedic birds. You'd think he would have been weaker after losing all of his feathers, but nope: he is no less dangerous than before with attacks that are still hard to dodge. If he beats you there, he even taunts you about this.
    • And most surprising of all, the Devil as the final boss turns into this. He is reduced to crying tears in pain and frustration while the arena is reduced to a single platform under his face on which a single chip falls down. Said chip can be dodged without parrying, and these two attacks are the only ones he has at that point. That being said, the Devil can still catch inexperienced players off-guard with these weak attacks, and only having a single platform to work with does complicate matters somewhat.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Cuphead and Mugman have a "Parry" ability that allows them to swat bullets away, stun bosses, or revive your partner, but it only works on pink objects. However, it will work on any pink object you encounter even if the color seems incidental, like Baroness Von Bon Bon's peppermint wheels.
    • Your bullets and characters are also color-coded. Cuphead and Mugman are red and blue respectively, while each bullet has its own unique color. Similarly, the bosses color-code their own bullets, especially the pink ones.
    • The flags marking cleared levels and bosses are color-coded. Getting an A-minus rank or higher changes the red flagpole to gold, and clearing with any rank on Expert changes the silver cup emblazoned on the flag to gold (S ranks replace the cup entirely).
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: The boss stages and shops in the world map.
  • Continuing is Painful: Not for game overs themselves, but for averting a game over. If you're playing in co-op mode, you can revive your dead partner by parrying their ghost. However, the downside is that your partner is revived at 1 HP, and they fly away faster each time they're downed.
  • Conveyor Belt of Doom: During "All Bets Are Off," you fight Pip and Dot while standing on a spike-studded one that's trying to drag you backwards into a wall of spikes.
  • Creator Cameo: Or "Creator Logo Cameo", actually: Throughout the game, StudioMDHR's name appears in the game's Storybook Opening (along with "The Moldenhauer Brothers [Chad and Jared]"), in the Game Over cards ("MDHR Inc. Death"), at the backstage curtain of Sally Stageplay's boss battle ("MDHR Asbestos Safety Curtain"), and in two pictures in each of the memory match cards (one of them being "StudioMDHR. Made in Canada").
  • Credits Gag: According to the launch trailer, the game came out in 1930.note  Played with in an earlier trailer, where the game was said to come out in 1936... plus 80 years.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The song "Coin-Op Bop" from the soundtrack (the song was written for a minigame that was cut from the final game) is a fast-paced tune that sounds like it was played on a fairground organ. The song starts out cheerful, but eventually switches to a minor key, and then gets faster and much more frantic in tone.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: One of King Dice's bosses in the dice maze, Mr. Chimes, is this.
  • Deal with the Devil: A literal one sets off the whole events of the game. Cuphead and Mugman played a round of Craps against the Devil and lost. He agreed to spare them if they did his bidding by hunting down his other debtors.
  • Decade-Themed Filter: The game was made entirely as a Retraux video game made in the early Golden Era of animation, in which designs, fashion and even filters remind this era with the first Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop cartoons. You can even unlock a filter reminiscent of two-strip Technicolor films.
  • Decapitation Presentation: During the final boss battle with the Devil, if you lose during his second phase and onwards, the taunting message that you get shows him holding the lifeless and decrepit heads of Cuphead and Mugman (that theme song at the beginning of the game wasn't kidding).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • According to the opening narration, the Devil's Casino is on the wrong side of the tracks and Elder Kettle warned the two brothers against going there. Most Fleischer cartoons were set in the 1930s, where gambling during the Great Depression was viewed with more criticism.
    • In "Clip-Joint Calamity", one prominent fly in the background is smoking with a long cigarette stick. Nowadays, no self-respecting business would allow smoking indoors. But in the early-to-mid 20th century, smoking in public spaces was common. Likewise, cartoons would sometimes have characters smoke with no negative connotations, mainly due to the lack of public knowledge about the health risks. Despite this, Mr. Wheezy being a lackey for King Dice is because smoking is bad.
    • Sally Stageplay's show features an asbestos curtain. Asbestos is now seen as an environmental pollutant and major health hazard rather than a fire safety measure.
  • Dem Bones:
    • The second phase of the fight with the Phantom Express features a giant skeleton called T-bone emerging from the train cars.
    • One of the bosses in King Dice's gauntlet is a skeletal racing horse. His name is Phear Lap.
    • The Devil's skeleton jumps into a hole after the first phase of his boss fight.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted — like in Contra, it's possible for you to attack diagonally.
  • Deranged Animation: Just like the 1930s cartoons it references, the game's animations are very surreal and unrestricted by realistic physics.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Playing the PC version on the keyboard when you're on the map can show you the simple button commands on speech balloons and screens; but if you plug a PlayStation 4 controller onto your PC, the speech balloons can now give you the simple PS4 commands ("Square", "Circle", "Triangle", "Cross", etc.).
    • Deciding to get behind Djimmi during his first phase will get you skewered by a scimitar.
    • The only way to die in the tutorial level is to hack the game to allow friendly fire and kill yourself with a reflected projectile, but if you pull this off, there's a Game-Over Man death card with an empty portrait telling the player "You are not a warrior, you're a beginner." Since there's no way to view this in normal gameplay, most likely it was only implemented to keep the game from crashing in the event of a player finding some way to die there.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Spread shot does a lot of damage, but requires you to be up close for its highest output.
    • The Lobber shot is affected by gravity and travels in an arc. But it's exceptionally powerful, and is extremely useful on slow or stationary enemies. A crafty player can also use it to place traps for enemies approaching on foot.
    • By rapidly switching between weapon types, you can have the damage output of both, which can actually skip phases on certain bosses. Of course, that does require coordinating spamming the weapon switch while dealing with everything else around you.
    • The Roundabout works like a Battle Boomerang, but incresases power and range as it reverses course. To take advantage of this, you need your back turned to the boss as you fire.
    • The Smoke Bomb charm makes you invincible while you dash, but it also makes you invisible — with no visual cue for where your dash will end, it becomes a lot easier to launch yourself off platforms or directly into other enemies. Even so, the invincibility is almost always worth the extra trouble.
    • The Super Art in flying battles where the boys transform into a Fat Man-style bomb to ram the boss. Getting hit by anything will cause the bomb to go off early, and getting close enough to easily hit the boss can leave you open to their attacks. The payoff is a massive chunk of damage to the enemy.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: Parrying counts towards your final score, and bosses that only generate pink enemies/obstacles during certain phases of the fight might not have enough time to do so if you lower their health too quickly.
  • The Dragon: King Dice, a sleazy-looking guy with a die for a head, is the Devil's right-hand man. He blocks Cuphead and Mugman's way until they've given him enough contracts. It turns out he made a bet with his boss behind your back, thinking you would never accomplish the feat before the deadline. And for good reason, because he's savvy enough to know that Cuphead and Mugman would ultimately replace him as the Devil's right-hand man. Show up with the contracts and he battles you.
  • Dual Boss: One stage has you dealing with Ribby and Croaks, two frog bosses wearing boxing gloves.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery:
    • On top of skipping the final phase(s) of the bossesnote , a boss will not grant their contract when beaten in "Simple" (easy) difficulty. And you need all the contracts to pass through the Die Houses and properly start "All Bets Are Off", the penultimate level before The Devil; without them, King Dice will turn you away. Additionally, Simple difficulty is removed from the selection when facing either of the Inkwell Hell bosses.
    • In a combination with Victory Fakeout, most of the bosses' death animations on Simple Mode merely cue the last phases (and accompanying One-Winged Angel transformations) in Regular Mode and up. Anyone who sticks to Simple is in for a nasty surprise the first time they play Regular...
  • Elevator Action Sequence: "Rugged Ridge" has a funicular that goes down while enemies attack you.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Sally Stageplay's theme, "Dramatic Fanatic", utilizes the sound of someone tap dancing along with the regular instruments. There's even a tap dance solo!
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Various animals and people are the things that Cuphead and Mugman have to fight. One of the bosses' Instant Gravestone even tries to kill them!
  • Evil Debt Collector: The Devil hires Cuphead and Mugman to become his, and get back the contracts for the residents of Inkwell Isle's souls.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Some of the bosses do this, particularly the human ones.
    • Rather than taunt you with some sort of punny quip like most of the bosses at the Game Over screen, the last phase of Captain Brineybeard simply laughs at the player.
  • EX Special Attack: By spending one card of your Super Meter, you can shoot a larger and more powerful version of your current weapon. However, if you have a full meter, the same button will instead activate your Super Art.
  • Exact Words: The Devil only promises to spare the boys if they bring the contracts of all the others back. So, of course, if the boys succeed and fulfill their half of the deal, he enslaves them to be his servants/enforcers.
  • Excited Show Title!: "Botanic Panic!", "Junkyard Jive!", "Aviary Action!", "High Seas Hi-Jinx!", and "All Bets Are Off!"
  • Excuse Plot: The creators of the game admit that the plot is just an excuse for the game's string of boss fights.
  • Expressive Uvula: The final phase of the Captain Brineybeard boss fight involves his ship opening its mouth, sending the captain flying. The ship's weak spot is its uvula, which has an angry face which spits fire and an occasional energy beam.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Since the Devil gives the boys until midnight of the next day to bring him the soul contracts, this means that the entire game only takes place within a day or so.
  • Eye Beams: Done by Chauncey Chantenay, Grim Matchstick's first phase, and Djimmi the Great's last phase (all in ring form).
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Blind Specter on the Phantom Express has eyes in its hands and even fires out eyeballs from them.
  • Eyelash Fluttering:
    • Cala Maria's intro in "High Seas Hi-Jinx!" has her adjusting the octopus on her head and playfully batting her eyes with a xylophone "doink-doink!" before preparing to fight.
    • In Pip and Dot's battle intro in "All Bets are Off," Dot looks up at Pip and bats her eyelashes (complete with xylophone tinkling sound) as Pip looks down and tips his hat to her.
  • Faustian Rebellion: Refusing to hand over the contracts the Devil sent you out to get has you fighting him.
  • Feathered Fiend: One of the bosses, Wally Warbles, is a giant bird in a birdhouse that uses Feather Flechettes as an attack.
  • Final-Exam Boss: The King Dice boss fight in general is not only a glorified version of the fight with The Root Pack (one of the first bosses in the game), but also makes use of every skill and gameplay style you've learned to that point.
  • Finger Gun:
    • Cuphead and Mugman fire bullets by putting their fingers in a gun shape and "firing". Wally Warbles also does this by morphing his face into a white glove.
    • Djimmi the Great also does a literal example when transforming into a puppet of Cuphead, with the tip of the finger opening up to reveal a cannon.
  • Fire Purifies: In the good ending, Cuphead and Mugman toss the Soul Contracts into the fiery furnace to incinerate them (since the Soul Contracts indicate that the inhabitants of the Inkwell Isles lost their casino games against the Devil who until now owned their souls, though they skipped out on paying their deals to him and were deep in debt). In destroying the contracts in this way, the boys deliver the grateful inhabitants from eternal servitude to the Devil.
  • Flunky Boss: A few of the bosses summon waves of minions, including Cagney Carnation, Hilda Berg, and Baroness von Bon Bon.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Mugman was the one who tried to discourage Cuphead from gambling their souls for the Devil's loot, but Cuphead was so blinded by greed that he took the bet and lost.
  • Foreshadowing: Billboards for the Devil's Casino can be seen in the "Perilous Piers" Run-N-Gun stage.
  • Foul Flower: One boss, Cagney Carnation, is an enormous flower. When Cuphead first encounters him, he gives him an innocent smile, but quickly switches to a wicked Slasher Smile just before the battle begins. Also, his stem has thorns, oddly enough. He looks absolutely demonic in his final phase. Also, the accompanying platforming section has sunflower-like monsters that parachute from the sky.
  • Four Is Death: Fittingly enough, there are four worlds in Inkwell Isles, and the last one is Inkwell Hell, where The Devil is fought.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The DLC expansion is called "The Delicious Last Course".
    • The Nintendo Switch reveal trailer begins as a PSA from the Ministry of Drink and Health Regulation.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • If you take damage in Werner Werman's boss fight, the ground shakes and everything jumps in the background, including the trophies and the thimble seats.
    • If you take damage in Sally Stageplay's boss fight, Sally's husband will briefly start cheering.
    • The last part of Captain Brineybeard's fight involves his ship going One-Winged Angel... which causes the Captain to be amusingly flung upwards. A second or so after that, you can see him landing in the sea in the background.
  • Fusion Dance: Used by Ribby and Croaks during the final phase of their fight, where one swallows the other and they turn into a huge slot machine.
  • The Gambling Addict: Cuphead has a gambling problem, the Devil offering all the treasure in Hell if he wins was too tempting to pass up, and having lost ends up getting the protagonists into quite a mess.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Even if you kill Sally Stageplay's husband in her fight and get her soul contract following the secret phase, the husband will still show up in the ending with Sally. Because of that, it could be assumed that he was injured instead of killed.
  • Game-Over Man: If you lose to a boss, you get a card with the image of said boss mocking you with a pun related to your defeat. To add insult to injury, it also shows how far along you were to defeating them as well. So if you were right on the verge of getting that last hit before you were taken out, well...
  • Genre Throwback: Visually, to rubber-hose cartoons from the first half of the 20th century. Playwise, to Nintendo Hard Run-and-Gun/Shoot 'em Up games like Contra, Parodius and Gunstar Heroes.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: When you beat Mr. Wheezy, the giant cigar, King Dice, who had lit Mr. Wheezy with a lighter, will now bring his foot down on him and stamp him out.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: A few of the bosses and background characters. One of the numerous bosses that you fight before taking on King Dice himself is a giant cigar. All of King Dice's bosses represent a different form of vice.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: During the second phase against Cala Maria, her eels suddenly shock her and turn her into a gorgon where her octopus hair eventually turns into a nest of snakes, and she starts using a petrifying gaze attack.
  • Gravity Screw: You can reverse your gravity by parrying cards with two arrows pointing up and down in Funhouse Frazzle.
  • Guide Dang It!: Did you know that you can avoid being turned to stone in Cala Maria's second phase by staying completely still and not shooting? Because the game certainly doesn't tell you.
  • Happy Circus Music:
    • Inkwell Isle Two, which is an Amusement Park, has some jaunty orchestral music.
    • The music for the circus level "Funfair Fever" is a light ragtime-esque tune on piano and flute.
    • "Coin-Op Bop" was written for a minigame in the amusement park area. It sounds like it was played on a fairground organ, and it starts out quite upbeat. However, as the song goes on, it does get faster and eventually switches to a minor key, turning it into Creepy Circus Music.
  • Have a Nice Death: Whenever you die, the bosses and enemies will give you a taunt that varies depending on what phase they're in.
  • Head Swap: To keep gameplay balanced, Cuphead and Mugman are identical in terms of gameplay, having the same attacks and hitboxes; the only differences are the designs of their heads and color schemes.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: After you complete the first Mausoleum, or buy something from the Emporium for the first time, Porkrind or the Legendary Chalice will explain that you need to equip your new items in the menu.
  • A Hell of a Time: Hell's Casino looks like a classy joint full of wealthy supernatural entities. The ostentatious luxury and glamour is evident as you battle King Dice. Of course, then you consider that all the spirits here gambled their money and lives away. Lampshaded in the bad ending, where the Devil tells the player they will have one hell of a time. The final battle with the Devil is in fact "One Hell of a Time".
  • Helpful Mook:
    • One of the few mooks that won't hurt you is a trampoline in the Run'n Gun level Funfair Fever; it'll follow you around and let you bounce over obstacles.
    • The octopus on Perilous Piers is this, helping you to get to the end of the stage by breaking rocks that are in the way as long as you keep parrying his head.
    • During the Phantom Express fight, some of the winged jack-o-lanterns will move you out of harm's way if you let them. They also continuously drop Candy you can Parry, allowing you to gain your supers quickly.
  • Hidden Track: On the soundtrack, there's a hidden song two minutes after the Closing Credits theme ends: a very unpleasant-sounding warm-up for every instrument in the band. In-game, this track plays if Cuphead and Mugman choose to become the Devil's servants.
  • Horizontal Scrolling Shooter: There are a few stages where you're on a plane or a rail platform.
  • Hornet Hole: "Honeycomb Herald" takes place in a giant beehive, where mindless worker bees attack as they hover by and a pool of bubbling honey is constantly rising. A bomb-planting bee cop and Rumor Honeybottoms, the queen bee intent on eating Cuphead, are the bosses.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: All examples (so far) also fall under Eye Beams above.
  • "I Am" Song: "Die House" is one for King Dice.
  • I Lied: You didn't actually think the Devil would keep his word, did you?
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Simple fills in for Easy, shortening the battles but not yielding access to the last two bosses. Regular is the normal difficulty, granting access to all the levels and the ending. Expert Mode unlocks after completing the game, which serves as an equivalent to Turbo Mode from Devil May Cry, while also giving bosses a little more health and in some cases altering their attacks slightly.
  • Inconsistent Coloring: Some coloration is deliberately inconsistent, as part of the Inkblot Cartoon Style, as promotional material for black-and-white cartoon were often colored several different ways. Cuphead's and Mugman's gloves are white in most of the game, but yellow on the Results screens. And their shoes are brown in-game, but match their shorts (red or blue) on the covers and promotional art.
  • Inkblot Cartoon Style: Its visuals and overall art style are a homage to old cartoons by Fleischer Studios and its contemporaries, and features characters drawn with wide eyes and mouths, round features, simple outfits, and white gloves. In motion, they all have Rubber Hose Limbs and uses Briffits and Squeans. Several characters visually evoke characters from that era, such as Werner Werman looking very similar to Mortimer Mouse; some reference animation figures from that era, like Kahl being named for Milt Kahl. The animation was even all hand-drawn on cels!
  • Instant Gravestone: After Goopy le Grande's second phase is beaten, he gets crushed dead by his own tombstone. Said tombstone is his final form.
  • Interface Spoiler: If you die on the attack that immediately precedes a boss turning into its next phase, the death screen picture will show the boss as they appear on the next phase, even if you haven't seen it in battle.
  • Jungle Jazz: "Floral Fury" is a Latin jazz-themed piece that serves as a Leitmotif for Cagney Carnation.
  • Kaiserreich: Werner Werman of Murine Corps, who wears a Pickelhaube and speaks with an overly-exaggerated German accent in his taunts.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Averted; once you win a boss fight, any leftover projectiles and obstacles won't hurt you. However, this also works against you: if you lose a fight with bullets still airborne and they manage to knock out the boss, you still lose since you're the one who died first.
    • Played with in Goopy's battle. More than one player has started celebrating prematurely when they see the slime's tombstone crush him, only to be smashed in turn: the battle's not over until it says "A knockout!" The tombstone doesn't even show up in Simple Mode.
  • Kill the Creditor:
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Explicit for Goopy Le Grandenote , heavily suggested for Wally Warblesnote . Neither appear in the Grand Finale
    • Averted with Werner Werman. He's apparently eaten by a cat before his final phase. But when you beat the cat, its face falls off to reveal that it's really a Humongous Mecha with Werner as the pilot.
    • The Root Pack does not appear in the Golden Ending either, but they aren't explicitly or implicitly killed by Cuphead and/or Mugman in their battle, and Ollie Bulb can in fact specifically be spared and not attacked at all. Most likely they could not show up because they're rooted into the ground.
    • Subverted with Sally Stageplay's husband. During the battle, you're given the option of squishing him with a falling light fixture, and the game heavily implies he has died, complete with Sally tearfully mourning him. However, even if you do this, he still shows up in the Golden Ending, apparently unharmed.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Inkwell Isle Two, you find a trio of Barber Poles moping over the loss of their fourth member. Upon finding him, you will be treated to this little number.
  • Leitmotif: While it's not a musical phrase, most of the game's songs are connected by their use of the minor twelve-bar blues chord progression.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: The music abruptly stops when you die, and all that remains is a little tune in the background. Likewise, "Admission to Perdition" ends with the music's descent into deep darkness. Also, "Dramatic Fanatic" does this to end the song.
  • Level Ate: "Sugarland Shimmy" takes place in a land of sweets. It features a fight against Baroness von Bon Bon, the ruler of a living candy castle, and her many confection/pastry-based minions.
  • Limit Break: Filling your energy meter allows you to use a powerful attack. These include a Wave-Motion Gun of moonshine, an Invincibility Power-Up, and a muscular ghost which floats around as he whales on the boss.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "The End" is ironically not happy, but heartwrenching. The piano piece that is accompanied by a snare drum plays over the first part of the end credits of the bad ending, followed by complete silence. It's a Tear Jerker, to say the least.
  • Long Song, Short Scene:
    • Most of the music tracks last far longer than the battles that accompany them.
    • The most notable example is King Dice's theme. It's the only track in the game with actual singing in it, it goes on for nearly 2 minutes, and the game only uses it for the small room in which King Dice speaks to you briefly to either let you pass or remind you of missing contracts, which can easily be over in about twenty seconds.
  • Losing Your Head:
    • Cuphead and Mugman do a special animation that includes removing their heads when getting super attacks.
    • Baroness von Bon Bon removes and regrows her head several times, and in the game over screen, she's holding her severed head.
    • Cala Maria turns to stone and detaches her head in the last phase of her fight.
    • Beppi the Clown turns into a balloon and his head separates from his body in the second phase of his fight.
    • King Dice when he hops up
  • The Lost Woods: Forest Follies. Also where you battle Goopy Le Grande.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Cagney Carnation creates these using seeds that he fires like a machine gun, in both ground and flying variations. Several much larger ones appear in Forest Follies, jumping up from bottomless pits to try to chomp on Cuphead.
  • Mana Meter: Landing shots and parrying pink attacks allow you to stack up energy cards. note  You can then either use one card for your bullets' extra ability, or save up five for your Limit Break.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never quite explained if the Devil has some actual magical power to force others into slavery through deals and contracts (given how many debtors were able to run away with little to no consequences, and the fact that the boys can in the end refuse to honor their part of the deal, it seems he does not), or, as it is possibly hinted by the bad ending, it all boils to the Devil sending his goons to beat his debtors into submission (which the boys proved to be more than able to do, hence why the Devil offered for them to join him).
  • Medium Blending: An interesting example comes from the fights against Djimmi the Great and Grim Matchstick, where there's constantly rotating models of Egyptian ruins and a medieval tower, respectively, in the background. Though it may seem out of place at first, it's actually a reference to Fleischer Studios' Tabletop process, where cels would be placed in front of a scale model to create elaborate 3D backgrounds.
    • Another example occurs for the Switch version's trailer, a black-and-white ad by the Ministry of Drinks and Health Regulation that has Cuphead and Mugman come out of a bowl after the host pours milk in it.
  • Mentor Archetype: Cuphead and Mugman have a mentor in the form of a teapot named Elder Kettle. His relation to the two other than their caretaker is left unclear, but he gives them a magical potion that equips them with the skills they need to take on the Devil's other debtors.
  • Monstrous Scenery: The Tipsy Troop are fought on the table of humongous casino restaurant, where many giant demons and ghosts appear on background as "customers", befitting the nature of The Casino located in Hell.
  • Multiple Endings: There is a good and bad ending based on whether or not the brothers agree to hand over the soul contracts to the Devil.
    • Good Ending: Cuphead and Mugman beat the Devil and burn all the soul contracts, freeing all the bosses from their debts, and are praised as heroes.
    • Bad Ending: Cuphead and Mugman hand over the contracts and become the Devil's servants.

  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire plot is Cuphead's own fault; it was him getting greedy at the Devil's casino and ignoring Mugman's warning that led to the brothers becoming servants to the Devil. Given that the owner of the casino is the Devil, notorious for his deception skills in real-life religious mythology, it wouldn't be far-fetched to theorize that he had used supernatural means to rig the brothers' rolls all along.
  • Nintendo Hard: The developers aimed to capture the difficulty of Run-and-Gun games during the 1980s and 1990s, despite the visuals resembling something from half a century earlier. Even in press demos, very few players cleared some of the bosses' final forms. Indeed, there are no checkpoints in the action and boss stages, and the only free health pick-ups in the whole game are granted on three randomly chosen fights against King Dice's minions. You can, however, purchase an option to start with one or two extra hit points at the cost of slightly or largely decreasing your attack power, respectively. Reflexes, memorization, and careful choice of weapons are absolutely essential to beating this game.
  • No Name Given: Several of the bosses' minions, such as Sally's husband, and Rumor's officer.
  • Non-Human Head: The two protagonists of the game are cups with human-like bodies.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Naturally, there are a few in the Amusement Park-themed Inkwell Isle 2:
    • A juggling clown NPC gives you a coin if you can perform a 4x combo with the parry move.
    • The anthropomorphic barber poles that make up the barbershop quartet, who are glad to perform for Cuphead and Mugman, resemble clowns due to their white heads and red noses.
    • Double subverted with Beppi the Clown. He's one of the game's bosses who made a Deal with the Devil in the past. But in the Good ending, when Cuphead and Mugman destroy the bosses' contracts, he joins the bosses in congratulating the two. Like the other bosses, he seems to be not that bad of a guy when he isn't fighting to save his soul.
  • Noob Bridge: Downplayed example. One of the Devil's attacks is a slap which can be dodged with a jump and a dash, but it's tricky to pull off. Or the player can simply duck under it. Since ducking is never really required anywhere else in the game, many players forget about the simpler option, at least for a time. There are actually quite a few boss attacks throughout the game where ducking is the simple option
    • As of the recent patch, this is no longer true. The Devil's legs cannot be ducked under anymore.
  • NPC Roadblock: King Dice acts as this, preventing Cuphead and Mugman from reaching the next area until they've completed the current one. Oddly and epically, he has a Villain Song explicitly for this role.
  • Obstructive Foreground: One reason it's considered a Nintendo Hard game.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The Mausoleum stages combine organ and theremin music, fitting their haunted nature.
  • One-Hit Kill: Averted. Anything that hurts Cuphead and Mugman does 1 HP of damage, gives Mercy Invincibility, and won't do damage when under invincibility, on all difficulty settings.
  • One-Winged Angel: All of the bosses have multiple forms, but Hilda Berg takes the cake by turning into a gigantic moon.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • In a game where most characters either have a perpetual smile or, less likely, perpetual frown (excluding when they're beaten of course), seeing the Devil change from a smile, to a frown, to outright crying as Cuphead/Mugman beat him down gives the final battle a dramatic vibe.
    • Cuphead and Mugman normally strike a confident pose before they square off against a boss, but they instead panic when the Devil taunts them before his battle, showing how much of a threat he is compared to other foes.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Grim Matchstick is a large green dragon with Eye Beams and the ability to spit fireballs.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Cala Maria is a giant mermaid with an octopus for hair. When she takes enough damage, electric eels bite and shock her to the point that the tentacles of her octopus hair becomes snakes, turning her into a gorgon.
  • Pacifist Run: The Run and Gun levels have the top secret "P Rank", only available if Cuphead and Mugman can get through it without shooting anything. Getting P Rank in all six run-and-gun levels unlocks black-and-white mode and vintage mode, which apply era-appropriate effects to the visuals and audio respectively.
  • Parrying Bullets: Cuphead and Mugman can "parry slap" anything pink, from bullets to bricks and even each other's hearts, gaining energy, making the player jump higher, and/or doing other unique things (e.g., reviving a fallen partner or moving a level setpiece.)
  • The Pawns Go First: Baroness Von Bon Bon's fight is like this. The first three phases are each against one of her five minions, chosen at random (cupcake, waffle, jawbreaker, candy corn, gumball machine). Bon Bon herself only starts fighting during the third phase, firing a shotgun at you, and relies mostly on her living castle in the fourth and last one.
  • Pie-Eyed: Most characters display this. It naturally comes with the territory when you're emulating early golden age animation. The gold coins also have this design.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: In the Nintendo Switch and Patch 1.2 versions, during Sally Stageplay's third phase, the cardboard cutout of her husband (if you squished him via Falling Chandelier of Doom) parodies the Pieta by striking a pose similar to that of the "Rest" part of the Statue of the Gods in Final Fantasy VI (see Shout-Out).
  • Pirate:
  • Platform Battle:
    • Cagney Carnation's final form does have a floor, but it's covered in thorns, making it just as useless as a Bottomless Pit. You need to hop from platform to platform to avoid his attacks.
    • Grim Matchstick's boss fight has you jump on moving cloud platforms in the air.
    • Rumor Honeybottoms' boss fight is a Rise to the Challenge scenario where the giant hive's apartment balconies serve as platforms.
    • The Devil's second and later forms take place in an arena with no floor and an ever-decreasing number of floating platforms.
    • For the dragonfly miniboss in Treetop Trouble, the boys jump from leaf to leaf being held up by friendly mosquitoes. The dragonfly breathes fire that can burn the platforms, making them unavailable until the mosquito for that leaf fetches another.
    • The hot dog miniboss in Funfair Fever fires condiments at the boys, who must make their way across a series of platforms to get close enough and destroy it.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: When Cuphead loses his and Mugman's souls in the casino, both brothers get on their knees and beg the Devil if there's anything they can do to save their souls. The Devil agrees to give them a chance, tasking them with collecting the soul contracts of everyone in debt to the Devil in exchange for their lives.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Bosses are wracked by repeated explosions after being defeated, although they aren't physically destroyed.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: While the game otherwise sticks to emulating classic cartoons to the T, the developers made a conscious decision to avoid references to the racial caricatures that often appeared in the cartoons the game is based off of.
  • Protagonist Title: The story revolves around two heroes, but only Cuphead gets top billing (most likely because he's the one that gets them both in trouble).
  • Protection Mission: The mausoleum levels are this. None of the Mooks can directly hurt you, but if they reach the urn in the center of the screen where the Legendary Chalice is imprisoned, it's an instant Game Over.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: The second stage of Cala Maria's boss battle begins with two of these zapping/biting and turning her into a Gorgeous Gorgon. Loads of these eels proceed to help her until the final stage is triggered.
  • Rabbit Magician: One of the members of King Dice's Court that can be fought with in the level "All Bets Are Off" is Hopus Pocus, a Killer Rabbit that attacks by conjuring up playing card symbols and rabbit skulls.
  • Rank Inflation: You can achieve S-Ranks for defeating Expert bosses perfectly, and P-Ranks for a Pacifist Run, which in turn raises one's completion well over 100%.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Get killed, and you hear one of these followed by a slower version of that area's background music.
  • Regional Riff: "Pyramid Peril", theme of Djimmi the Great, features a brief modified section of "The Streets of Cairo".
  • Resourceful Rodent: Werner Werman fights by using a tank that's been made from various household junk (a tin can, rubber bands, and wood) and he was able to turn a bottlecap into a buzz saw.
  • Retraux: The whole game is inspired by 1930s cartoons. There's even a grain filter and simulated 24 fps frame-rate to complete the effect. Taken further with two hidden visual filters: 2-strip (only red and blue hues) for getting many A-grades and then talking to the fork character in Inkwell Isle 3, and black-and-white for completing the pacifist runs.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Most of the death quotes, and some of the boss fight scene names that aren't alliterative (Botanic Panic, Dramatic Fanatic, Ruse of an Ooze, etc.).
  • Ridiculous Repossession: The titular character and his brother Mugman end up being forced to become the repo men for the Devil after losing the bet in The Casino, and were ordered to repossess all soul contracts of those who made the Deal with the Devil. Said repossessions involve fighting said debtors, who are not surrendering their contracts without the fight, in a long chain of painfully difficult boss fights.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Honeycomb Herald requires you to jump up from one platform to another to avoid the rising honey.
  • Roll-and-Move: The King Dice fight is a Boss Bonanza set up as an homage to the Gunstar Heroes Dice Palace, this time modeled after a craps game. In this case, the die is spinning in the air on its own, and you parry it to determine how it lands. (The die spins in a consistent pattern, at a consistent speed, so in this case rolling the desired number is a test of skill, not luck.) Depending on how well or poorly you roll, you fight as few as three or as many as nine minibosses before fighting King Dice himself.
  • RPG Elements: You can collect money in platform stages, allowing you to buy special abilities, charms, bullets, or special attacks.
  • Rubber Hose Limbs: Most of the characters in Cuphead have these, as per the game's artistic inspiration. Some emphasize it more than others, depending on how much Deranged Animation is involved in their battles.
  • Run-and-Gun: The game's genre, of course, taking direct inspiration from Gunstar Heroes. Ironically, the actual Run and Gun gameplay levels were only added into the game after fans suggested it to fill the game out. The game was originally just going to be one boss after the next.
  • Rule of Cool: Some of the bosses' transformations during a fight are really odd, such as the two frogs that turn into a slot machine. But the boss fights are so cool you don't care.
  • Rule of Three: Get hit three times and your character bites it. Averted if you buy a health buddy charm that gives you one or two more hits at the cost of dealing less damage, and the characters can be saved if the surviving partner is quick enough to revive them; however, the window to revive them grows smaller the more deaths they accumulate.
  • Scenery Porn: The 1930s cartoon aesthetics, the scenery, the visuals, the backgrounds... they are all just absolutely gorgeous.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Defying this trope will lead to the game's Downer Ending. Playing it straight leads to the Golden Ending.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: Viewing the bad ending and returning to the title screen will cause the cheery quartet's audio to be played backwards.
  • Sequel Hook: The end of the game proclaims that "Cuphead and Mugman promised to never wander into trouble again... And they didn't — until the next time of course! But that's another story." Likewise, you hear King Dice's laughter after the credits.
  • Sequential Boss: Except for King Dice and his court, every boss has multiple stages to their fight, although the number of stages is reduced if you're on Simple Mode. In fact, there's enough examples that this game now needs its own page.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Cuphead has a cup for a head. Mugman is a man whose mug is a mug. The duo is sometimes referred to as "mugs", a Stealth Pun on "mug" in the metaphorical sense of someone who's been foolishly taken advantage of.
  • Shave And A Haircut: Played at the end of the track, "Winner Takes All".
  • Sheathe Your Sword: An Easter Egg in "Botanic Panic!": Ollie Bulb (the onion in the second phase) won't actually attack unless you hit him first. If you leave him alone he'll simply leave the fight; instead, a radish pops out during the third phase to make up the difference.
  • Shoot the Dog: The whole game, really. In order to save their and everyone else's souls, Cuphead and Mugman have to play along with their deal with the Devil, roughing up every unfortunate person who ran up a debt with the fiend and collect their contracts.
  • Shout-Out: Listed on a separate page.
  • Shown Their Work: You can tell that the team did their research on the style of old cartoons, right down to the color coordination. And lack of color consistency.
    • One of the songs in the game's soundtrack, "Floral Fury", was based on Carmen Miranda's Carnival tunes that composer Kristofer Maddigan was listening to while he was in Brazil with his team of musicians.
  • Smoke Out: An early specialty upgrade is a smoke bomb, which lets the boys turn their Dash move into a Flash Step, bypassing everything between its start and end points.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • To Silhouette Mirage, a similar notoriously difficult 2D Platformer/Shoot 'Em Up hybrid starring a red and blue main character who also uses a Finger Gun that shoots energy blasts as their main attack, with quite a bit of religious symbolism in it, really weird and creative bosses as the main meat of the game, a very exaggerated cartoony style, and an animal shopkeeper that you buy different shots and power-ups from using coins found in the levels.
    • Cuphead has some similarities to Contra as well. And given the doubtful and uncertain future that's been cast over Contra by Konami's executive meddling, Cuphead may be the only great-quality game that can take its place in the 2D Run-and-Gun genre.
    • And to an extent, Parodius. Both are Nintendo Hard Cute 'em Up games started out on Microsoft platformsnote , and share some other similarities as well. Also, like Contra, Parodius' future is uncertain given by Konami's executive meddling, so Cuphead could be a spiritual Video Game Remake of Parodius for eighth-generation gaming systems.
  • Spread Shot: Cuphead and Mugman can use this as one of their weapons; it has a good spread but limited range. Several bosses in the game also utilize this kind of attack.
  • Standard Snippet: "Aviary Action", the boss theme for Wally Warbles, has a tiny section of Ride of the Valkyries around a third of the way through.
  • Starter Villain: The residents of Inkwell Isle 1. They're tough (except for maybe the Root Pack), but not as tough as bosses get later on. While they get some pretty unusual transformations, most of their initial forms and phases are pretty simple.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the credits, King Dice pops in for some parting words:
    King Dice: That's all there is. There isn't any more... or is there? Ha ha ha...
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Chauncey Chantenay of the Root Pack has a Third Eye he shoots laser beams from, referencing how carrots are good for eyesight.
    • Rumor Honeybottoms attacks with a buzzsaw in her final phase. Also, what's a slang term for rumor? "The buzz".
    • Just how did this mess begin in the first place? By making a Deal with the Devil. Why did the characters have to do this? Because they were mug punters.
  • Storybook Opening: The game opens with a live-action storybook cutscene explaining Cuphead's situation, and closes out the same way. (In the Good Ending, at least.)
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The game even makes the same coloring mistakes as its inspirations.
    • The audio quality of certain voicelines (namely Porkrind's) is purposely poor, the same level of quality as in older cartoons.
  • Sugar Bowl: The aptly-named Sugarland from "Sugarland Shimmy", as ruled over by Baroness Von Bon Bon.
  • Surprise Creepy: Most people wouldn't expect a game based on 1930s cartoons to have unsettling imagery. But rather than going for pure character appeal, the developers captured everything that could be considered unsettling about cartoons at the time. Cagney Carnation's Nightmare Face attack is especially notable.
  • Take Your Time: Despite the Devil saying Cuphead must collect the soul contracts before the midnight of tomorrow, players can take much time as they want in the game. They can even have a rematch with the beaten debtors!
  • Technical Pacifist: If it can even be called that. The Pacifist achievement requires you to get through the run-n-gun stages without shooting any enemies. Killing pink enemies by parrying, however, is perfectly fine.
  • The Tetris Effect: Many players record wanting to parry every pink object they see in real life thanks to this game.
  • Threatening Shark: Captain Brineybeard can summon one to attack you from behind during his fight.
  • Throat-Slitting Gesture:
    • During the beginning of her boss fight, Baroness Von Bon Bon runs her forefinger alongside her neck, complete with her briefly losing her head. She also has an unused icon involving her making the same gesture.
    • Cala Maria's first game over card has her sliding her index finger along her neck.
  • Token Human: Captain Brineybeard, Sally Stageplay, and Dr. Kahl are the only human bosses. Notably, none of them have transformations of their own (though Kahl has a giant robot and Brineybeard's ship turns into a monster). Baroness Von Bon Bon looks human, but can detach her head, throw it as a homing projectile and regrow it, and Hilda Berg seemingly starts off as a human before quickly inhaling and transforming into a blimp as the battle starts.
  • Toon: Every character in the game is this as an homage to the animation from the Max and Dave Fleischer cartoons back in the 1930s.
  • Tree Trunk Tour: Treetop Trouble, complete with territorial bugs and birds.
  • Turns Red: Most of the bosses do this, changing their attack patterns and forms drastically as they take damage, usually with separate game over quotes for each form.
  • Updated Re-release: Slightly. The Nintendo Switch version and the 1.2 patch have new features. The mid-story cutscenes are now fully animated rather than be still images as in the original game, Cuphead and Mugman have some new animations when confronting bosses as does Lady Chalice when you encounter her, and three of the bosses (The Root Pack, Djimmi and Sally Stageplay) have extra attack phases if certain conditions are met. To wit:
    • Root Pack: If you don't attack Ollie when you get to him, he'll leave of his own accord. But a radish will pop up alongside Chauncey and attack you on the ground while you're dodging Chauncey's homing carrots and psychic blasts.
    • Djimmi: If you stay shrunk when you reach the Puppet phase in Djimmi's fight, he'll skip that part of the fight but likewise pull out a smaller puppet who will stay during the phase where he goes giant and add additional projectiles to dodge.
    • Sally Stageplay: During the first phase of Sally's fight, there will be some cherub props that can be reached by parrying off the kiss projectiles Sally blows at you. Stand on each of them until it clicks, and a piece of scenery will fall on the husband in the background to end the first act. The second act replaces the home setting with a nunnery, with a nun throwing rulers at you from the windows. The third act will now have the a prop cutout of the husband alongside Sally's, and one of the babies that would've dropped bottles on you in the second phase now appear here pushing out "fireballs" toward you to dodge along with the usual attacks.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: An "Expert" difficulty becomes available for all the levels after beating the game once.
  • Uvula Escape Route: Played with. While at no point does it swallow you, the only way to do damage to Captain Brineybeard's ship in it's final phase is to shoot it's uvula.
  • Vague Hit Points: The bosses have Hit Points, technically, and if a battle is lost, the screen that's displayed shows the boss's Life Meter, but since you're supposed to hold down the fire button and focus on dodging attacks, the Life Meter is more meant as a record of how far the player got instead of acting as a useful in-combat piece of information.
  • Variable Mix:
    • As discussed in this article, each music track has several different solo sections it can go into. They're randomly selected and transition seamlessly between ensemble sections, meaning a song will never play out the same way twice.
    • Additionally, the songs themselves will play differently depending on the circumstances: pausing the game or opening your inventory will muffle the music, using a Super Move will detune and speed it up, and dying will cause a Record Needle Scratch followed by the music slowing to a crawl.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Dramatic Fanatic, standing on both of the cherubs during the first phase will drop a piece of scenery on top of Sally's husband and make her mourn his loss. He's briefly reincarnated during the third phase, but doesn't show up afterwards.
  • Video Game Dashing: Cuphead and Mugman can both dash in any direction to get out of harm's way. They can also buy various upgrades to improve it, such as one that makes them invisible and invulnerable while dashing. Midair dashes (without or without the smoke-bomb) become downright mandatory in a lot of the later missions, since the game has no Double Jump feature.
  • Villain Song: "Die House" is sung by King Dice, The Dragon to the Devil, threatening Cuphead and Mugman and reminding them who's boss. It features many Creepy Jazz Music elements, such as a call-and-response segment, that bring to mind some of the haunting tunes by Cab Calloway, who was a big influence on the game's soundtrack.
    "Don't mess with King Dice! (Don't mess with King Dice!)
    Don't mess with me! (Don't mess with him!)"
  • Visual Pun: The game is chock-full of it.
    • The bees in Rumor Honeybottoms' boss fight fly in front of cells with tiny office rooms inside. They're office drones, as well as literal "worker bees". A police officer, or in British slang a Bo-bee, attacks you during the first phase with self propelled bombs, which could be a reference to buzz-bombs, British slang for V-1 flying bombs. Rumor Honeybottoms also later attacks you with a buzz-saw. While in the form of a Bee-52 bomber.
    • One of Wally Warbles' attacks in his final phase sees his head turn into a trash can and spit its contents at you. He's trash talking you.
    • A blink-and-miss-it moment, but defeating Baroness Von Bon Bon's cupcake guard will make the cherry on top of him explode. It's a cherry bomb.
  • Voice Grunting: Elder Kettle and the few other characters who speak during gameplay utilize this.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: As another nod to the golden age's trend of having cartoon characters morph into inanimate objects as throwaway visual gags, various characters in this game do the same thing. This time around the trope is weaponized, ranging from Cagney Carnation turning his head into a machine gun to Rumor Honeybottoms morphing into a bomber plane to Beppi shapeshifting into an entire carousel.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Cagney Carnation, for sure. He's the first ground boss to start invoking Bullet Hell and will force you to pay attention to not only where the attacks come from, but also stay cognizant of his distinct wind-ups and whatever follows; things you'll need to learn if you want to get far in the game. Fittingly, he's the final boss unlocked for the first world.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: If you stall in pursuing the Devil's skeleton down a hole (with the "GO" arrow pointing downward), the walls of fire will close in on you and push you in by burning force. Basically, they are fire walls!
  • Warm-Up Boss: Goopy Le Grande and The Root Pack are the first two bosses available at the start, and both are pretty simple, with Goopy having only telegraphed melee attacks and The Root Pack having easy to dodge projectiles. Also, as the first shoot-em-up boss, Hilda Berg mostly serves to introduce you to the new mechanics. Much like a lot of the other early bosses, her attack tells are fairly easy to read, any gimmicks she throws out are not very difficult to manage. Even when she goes One-Winged Angel in her final phase, the bullet density is nowhere near as bad as the shoot-em-up bosses are later on.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Captain Brineybeard's ship unleashes one in its final phase with a Make Me Wanna Shout.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death:
    • Cuphead and Mugman's death animation. In co-op, the surviving player can parry the soul to resurrect them, but they're only revived with 1 hit point, and the soul will float away faster after every subsequent death.
    • Parodied during the fight with Sally Stageplay. After beating her second phase, her dress turns into an angel costume and she's pulled offscreen by a pulley.
  • Words Can Break My Bones:
    • One of Hilda Berg's attacks consists of shouting the word "HA" at you.
    • The tubas in the Funhouse Frazzle run-n-gun level attack by projecting a loud "BWAAAAA!!!"
  • X-Ray Sparks: Cala Maria suffers this after defeating her first form, courtesy of Psycho Electric Eel bite.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: Unusually for this trope, Cuphead and Mugman don't need to directly collect any souls, only needing contracts granting ownership of a person's soul.



Cagney Carnation

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

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Main / FoulFlower

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