How to wallop Cuphead bosses with 3 upgrades

Three upgrades can make Cuphead’s brutal boss battles a little more manageable.

Last week, Cuphead finally released on PC and Xbox One, and many are finding the game to be a grueling experience. Thankfully, the handful of run-and-gun platforming levels offer coins that make knocking out bosses easier than ever. These coins can be taken to any of the Porkrind’s Emporium locations scattered around Cuphead’s hub worlds.

It’s important to remember, however, that only a few modifiers can be applied to Cuphead at a time. After you buy a particular upgrade, you have to equip it. To do this, hit the “Y” button anytime you’re navigating the hub world.

Smoke Dash

Smoke Dash is by far the most essential upgrade you can get for Cuphead, and the sooner this upgrade is bought, the easier your life will be. With this upgrade, Cuphead disappears briefly and reappears in the direction you’re holding the stick. Smoke Dash functions exactly the same as the regular dash, but it makes Cuphead invulnerable to enemy damage while he’s in the middle of a dodge. The biggest benefit of this upgrade is the ability to simply teleport behind enemies and bosses rather than having to jump and risk getting hit by other obstacles. Smoke Dash does have one disadvantage: when Cuphead disappears mid-dash, it can be disorienting to find him again while trying to keep your eye on upcoming projectiles. With a little practice, Smoke Dash will totally change the way you play Cuphead and make dodging a heck of a lot easier.


Charge Shot

Charge Shot is the second essential upgrade for Cuphead. This upgrade changes the way you fire and shots take roughly 2-3 seconds to charge. While the fire rate is definitely noticeable, Charge Shot is powerful enough to eat through some boss phases in as little as eight shots. Charge Shot isn’t recommended for use during run-and-gun levels, but it’s extremely effective against any of Cuphead’s bosses. Charge Shot can only be purchased after you buy the “Chaser Shot,” so you’ll need to be conservative with your coin usage when it comes to buying other items. Remember that you can back track and replay earlier run-and-gun levels to pick up coins you might have missed before. For those who are perceptive enough, there are a few NPCs in the hub world that reward you with a coin for completing various challenges.

Spread Shot

Spread Shot was my second upgrade in Cuphead, and it was easily my favorite to use against some of the tougher bosses. Built like a shotgun, Spread Shot has a wide area of effect that can quickly cut down bosses. The range is extremely limited, so you’ll want to be right on top of bosses to get the most out of the upgrade.  The biggest drawback of the Spread Shot is the damage fall off. The weapon is best when you’re literally pressed up against a boss ensuring they take every bit of the shot. Standing a dash or two’s distance away will mean your shots will register intermittently. Watch for the boss’ slight flashing when they take damage to make sure your shots are connecting.


Charge Shot and Spread Shot use the same slot in Cuphead’s equipment inventory, so you’ll have to swap them out in the hub world between boss battles.

In addition to these three essential upgrades, there are a number of other upgrades that change Cuphead’s shot type and even health buffers. They each offer a trade off and impact the effectiveness of your attacks. Every upgrade in Porkrind’s Emporium can be purchased in a single play through, but it will require you to collect every coin in run-and-gun levels and earn each of the coins offered by NPCs in the hub world.

What upgrades do you think are most effective in Cuphead? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments below or on Twitter!


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