Cuphead DLC boss with secret final phase

One of the Cuphead DLC bosses has a secret phase

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Fans are flying through Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course, and I don’t blame them — it’s been a long time coming, and the new bosses are an audio-visual treat, as expected. The urge to burn through the gauntlet and circle back around to improve the grades is high.

That said, it pays to take it slow and appreciate the finer details. One of them, a secret alternate boss phase in the Cuphead DLC, is low-key blowing my mind for a few reasons.

First off, it’s been a while; I forgot that alternate boss patterns were even on the menu for Cuphead. Naturally, Studio MDHR would carry it forward for The Delicious Last Course, right?

While I’m not sure what else is lurking out there (I’ve seen… some stuff, but I’m sure there’s more), players have discovered at least one neat secret that I never would’ve found on my own. Even if you know how to trigger it, it’s a little tricky to pull off.

**Spoilers below**

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course island

The boss in question is The Howling Aces in “Doggone Dogfight.”

Rather than pilot a plane (like in the shmup bosses), you fight on top of one.

Here’s how the boss fight normally goes:

  • In the first phase, dogs throw tennis balls, bones, and even heat-seeking hydrants at you while you take pot-shots at the bulldog in charge.
  • Then, in the second phase, four jetpack-wearing pooches swirl around your plane, chucking projectile “B,” “O,” and “W” letters at you.
  • In the final phase, the ring leader brings out the big guns and even flips the screen on its side and upside-down. It’s… a lot. I have to physically tilt my head to keep up.

As it turns out, there’s a secret third phase for this Cuphead DLC boss.

Here’s how to activate it

How to reach the Cuphead DLC boss secret phase

In the second phase, instead of unceremoniously gunning down the jetpack dogs, you can whittle down their health until they’re all nearly knocked out. The keyword: nearly.

The trick is to shoot the dogs just enough so that their smoke trails turn from white to gray — but if you push it too far, they’ll spiral off the screen. I have a tip.

I’ve had the best results with the Charge shot. Try to fully power up your shots and hit each of the jetpack dogs once, then hit them all again with a single weaker, non-charged shot. That should do just enough damage to turn the exhaust gray without overdoing it.

There’s a lot of chaos, so it’s ideal to know precisely how many shots you need to take.

The Howling Aces’ secret alternate phase

The Howling Aces secret phase

Thanks to your extra effort in the second phase, instead of dealing with lasers and screen-flipping shenanigans in the final round, you’ll have a (comparatively) calmer time.

With the alternate phase, you mostly just have to worry about pineapples (try not to shoot them!) while you focus your shots on the ring leader, who pops up in different spots.

If you can play methodically, it’s easier than the default path. Neat game!

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Image of Jordan Devore
Jordan Devore
Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random.