Best Games Like Cuphead

Anyone who picks up Cuphead expecting a feel-good Saturday-morning cartoon is quickly reminded they’ve come to the wrong game. Arguably one of the most difficult 2D action platformers ever released, Cuphead feels like a love letter to classic run-n-gun games like Contra III, Mega Man X, and Gunstar Heroes.

Aside from its ability to take players on a rollercoaster of pain, frustration, and occasional bliss, what truly sets Cuphead apart is its unique 1930s cartoon-inspired visuals. Every animation in the game was hand-drawn frame by frame, a grueling process that developer Studio MDHR claims was the most challenging aspect of designing Cuphead

Here, we will be highlighting the best games available on PC/current-gen consoles that incorporate similar gameplay mechanics as Cuphead and feature captivating visuals.

Make sure to check back as we will be updating this list in the future with new entries and if you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:

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Yacht Club Games took the indie scene by storm when they released Shovel Knight back in 2014, with the game going on to become one of the most revered 2D platformers of the generation.

Aside from having a charming 8-bit retro aesthetic, the game features some of the best platforming mechanics in recent years, centered around the titular hero using his shovel blade to bounce on obstacles and enemies’ heads.

Much like Cuphead, a critical part of Shovel Knight’s appeal stems from its addictive gameplay, which sees you combining different gadgets and tools to defeat bosses and traverse environments.

This has been developed over the years through new expansions such as Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment, which introduce new characters with their unique abilities.

If you’re looking to recreate Cuphead’s headache-inducing difficulty, Hollow Knight is a great alternative. Released by indie developer Team Cherry in 2017, the 2D Metroidvania managed to catch many by surprise for both its stunning visuals and high degree of challenge. 

Set in the dark and treacherous Hallownest, the game sees you playing as a sword-wielding knight as he sets off to unlock the mysteries of the kingdom.

Whereas Cuphead tries to lure players into a false sense of security with its bright and poppy visuals, Hollow Knight leans completely into its haunted atmosphere, depicting murderous insects and morbid environments.

While it may not be a 2D platformer, Enter the Gungeon delivers the same amount of chaos and action as Cuphead does through its twin-stick shooter gameplay.

Categorized as a bullet-hell rogue-lite, the game sees players diving further and further into “The Gungeon,” a sprawling procedurally-generated labyrinth brimming with bullet-shaped enemies and powerful weaponry.

The game’s difficulty continues to skyrocket as you unlock new parts of The Gungeon, with each section culminating in a challenging boss fight.

Similar to Cuphead’s arsenal of game-changing weapons and abilities, ETG features four distinct character classes with exclusive skills such as lock-picking, quicker reload speed, and a dodge with extended invulnerability.

Blazing Chrome is a lot closer visually to the retro run-n-gun classics that Cuphead draws a bulk of its inspiration from.

Additionally, the 2D side-scroller also happens to support local co-op for up to two-players, allowing you and a friend to team up once more. However, instead of Cuphead and Mugman, you’ll be playing as a badass rebel soldier and her mohawk-wearing robot companion.

The game takes place in a Terminator-esque future where AI machines have taken over the world, and a small group continues to survive in hiding. You’re sent on a suicide mission to infiltrate and destroy an AI-controlled power plant using an arsenal of advanced weaponry.

If you enjoy challenging platformers like Cuphead and Super Meat Boy, then Neon the Ninja may be the perfect game to scratch that itch.

The game features vibrant, punk rock-inspired 2D visuals, rewarding skill-based gameplay, and fluid controls reminiscent of classics like Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man.

You play as a ninja with the ability to hide in plain sight by blending into colorful environments to stealthily assassinate enemies once they’re in range.

Similar to Cuphead, the game functions primarily as a boss rush, with each level pitting you against powerful enemies. Each boss bottle includes multiple phases and rewards you with unique game-enhancing abilities that carry over.

Furi is another boss rush style game that’s sure to offer the kind of difficulty Cuphead fans will appreciate. While it ditches 2D in favor of a more immersive 3D presentation, you’ll find its neon-bright visuals and addictive gameplay deliver an equally satisfying experience.

You play as a hero looking to regain their freedom and escape from an elaborate prison guarded by overpowered villains.

Combat sees you learning enemy attack patterns and identifying openings to strike using your sword and gun. Similar to Cuphead’s parry maneuver, Furi provides you with a dodge ability that is pivotal for surviving the onslaught of unblockable attacks bosses will throw at you over and over again.

Released way back in 2012 for Xbox Live Arcade, Dust: An Elysian Tail is a stylish Metroidvania that ended up slipping under the radar for many players. Similar to Cuphead, the game features a distinct art style in which environments, characters, and cutscenes are all highly-detailed and crafted with a noticeable amount of care. 

Set in a fantasy world populated by anthropomorphic creatures, the game sees you playing as a swordsman suffering from amnesia who stumbles upon a sentient weapon called the Blade of Ahrah along with its protector, a flying fox-like creature named Fidget.

Eventually, you find yourself on a quest to protect the natural world from evil forces using an array of brawler-style combat abilities.

Titan Souls is a top-down action game with tough-as-nails boss fights that give Cuphead a run for its money.

Set in a mystical world where massive titans lie dormant in scattered ancient ruins, the game sees you taking on the role of a small hero tasked with awaking and defeating each creature to piece their world back together.

The difficulty stems from enemies possessing the ability to 1HKO you with ease in addition to your character’s limited use of a basic bow and arrow. This forces you to take your time and memorize each titan’s unique attack patterns as you frantically dodge a series of hellish attacks.   

Bleed 2 is a phenomenal shoot ‘em up that incorporates features, and mechanics fans of Cuphead will immediately recognize. This includes vibrant 2D visuals, support for two-player local co-op, fast-paced combat with bullet-reflecting parries, and tons of challenging boss fights consisting of multiple phases.

Additionally, Bleed 2 has received a great deal of post-launch support from developer Ian Campbell. Since its 2017 release, new modes and features such as daily challenges and randomly-generated levels have been added, drastically increasing the game’s replayability.  

Last up we have The Bug Butcher, an intense shoot ‘em up with a unique twist: instead of shooting horizontally like you would in Cuphead, the game sees you aiming shots vertically at enemies who constantly jump and attach themselves to the ceiling.

It’s a design choice inspired by the classic arcade game Super Pang! and goes a long way towards setting TBB apart from other games in the genre.

What you end up with is a fun, arcade-based shooter that emphasizes using power-ups and ridiculous weapons to dispose of a massive alien bug infestation plaguing a research facility.

TBB’s use of humor and cartoonish visuals are also worth mentioning as they do an excellent job of establishing the game’s lighthearted tone.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.