How to parry your way to perfect grades and quicker takedowns in Cuphead

Cuphead gets chaotic. Between multiple enemy phases, a myriad of projectiles and obstacles, and the need to constantly shoot at the big baddie standing before you, it can be hard to remember one of your dude’s integral moves: The parry. Learning how to parry in Cuphead isn’t a challenge itself. You have to do it to complete the tutorial by simply jumping once and pressing the jump button again when aligned with pink objects.

Parrying is an extremely useful tactic in Cuphead that can make sections of boss fights a good bit easier if you keep an eye out for the right opportunities. The technique is also built into the grading system at the end of each level. So, if you want the highest grades, you need to parry. Cuphead has been out for a while on Xbox One and PC, but Nintendo Switch users are now just getting to know the stylish game from StudioMDHR. Our Cuphead parry guide tells you all of the parry opportunities throughout the game, as well as reasons why you should do it as often as possible.

What can you parry?

Each boss in Cuphead has attacks that can be parried. Parrying eliminates that object from the screen, making it easier to dodge the other projectiles flying about the stage. Here are the parry opportunities (they are always pink) for each boss. Parrying works the same when in an airplane, except you don’t have to jump first since you’ll already be airborne.

  • The Root Pack: Curled worm in first phase, which always comes fourth after three balls of dirt, and the pink tears in phase two.
  • Goopy Le Grande: The three question marks that arise when Goopy takes his medicine to become large Goopy. You only have one shot at this and you’ll have to parry consecutively to achieve it.
  • Ribby and Croaks: Ribby’s middle flame attack can be parried in phase one. You’ll also have to parry the slot machine lever in phase three, so hitting the parry sweet spot of three will be easy here.
  • Cagney Carnation: Some of the seeds in phase one will be pink and some pollen in phase two will be pink.
  • Hilda Berg: Blimps in phase one will occasionally shoot pink bullets to parry, and the stars in the final phase will sometimes be pink.
  • Baroness Von Bon Bon: Pink jellybean soldiers, pink cotton candy, and the candy wheels in the final phase.
  • Djimmi the Great: Pink jewelry, cat missiles, and swords in phase one, and the pink bullets from puppet Cuphead in phase four.
  • Beppi the Clown: You have a lot of options here. The pink ducks on the top of the screen in phase one, the pink dog heads in phase two, the nose on the lead car of the rollercoaster from phase two till the end, and the pink horseshoes in phase three.
  • Wally Warbles: You can parry the pink garbage and pink pills here.
  • Grim Matchstick: The laser rings in phase one are the only objects you can parry. The pink ring will always be the last one in the attack.
  • Rumor Honeybottoms: Pink stingers from the exploded drone can be parried in phase one. Pink homing balls in phase two can be parried along with the triangle projectiles from Rumor’s other phase two attack.
  • Captain Brineybeard: The pink globs from the Octopus gun can be parried in the first phase. The pink laser can be repeatedly parried in the final phase.
  • Cala Maria: Pink puffer fish, the projectiles from the red fish, and pink electric bullets in the final phase.
  • Dr. Kahl’s Robot: In phase one, the pink cylinder sent from the robot’s chest can and needs to be parried. You can also parry the energy shards in Dr. Kahl’s final phase if they are pink.
  • Werner Werman: The gum from his catapult attack can be parried along with the springboards to launch over him in phase one. The orbs shot by the ghosts in the final phase can also be parried, and you’ll want to do so to avoid having to dodge residual projectiles once they hit the ground.
  • Sally Stageplay: The kiss Sally blows to Cuphead can be parried in phase one. The meteor in phase three can be parried and needs to be to jump over the wave. Finally, you can parry the pink roses in Sally’s final phase.
  • Phantom Express: Parrying is required to move the cart throughout the battle, but it doesn’t count towards your parry score. The ingots dropped by the pumpkins can be parried, as can the pink skulls.
  • King Dice: King Dice is a boss rush of its own. By the time you reach the main showdown, you’ll almost assuredly have three parries locked up. The pink cards need to be parried during the fight to avoid taking damage.
  • The Devil: The pink flames and orbs in phase one can be parried, as can the bombs in phase two, the pink skulls in phase three, and the pink tears in the final phase.

Right and down vs. left and up

While it’s possible to parry while moving in any direction, parrying while running towards an object to the right is easier to pull off than parrying an object that is moving off the screen to the left. The same goes for parrying down and up. Parrying down is significantly easier to manage than parrying an object that is above you. With some practice, you should be able to parry in all directions, but remember that an unsuccessful parry causes you to lose a hit point. Don’t get greedy if you aren’t confident.

Parrying fills the super meter

Parrying obviously helps clear up space on the screen, but it also helps fill your super meter far faster than shooting does. By parrying every applicable object, you’ll be able to use more than one Super Art in a battle. That’s extremely beneficial, especially if you’re struggling with finishing off a particularly tricky boss.

You need to parry for A+ grades

You can beat a boss without getting hit and still not get a perfect A+ grade (or S in expert mode). In fact, you might not even get an A from being “perfect.” This is because your grade is affected by multiple stat categories, including parrying. You must parry at least three times to get perfect scores. You also need to use at least six cards (super meter). Since parrying helps fill the super meter, you can see how the technique is a core part of how to play Cuphead as effectively as possible.

P. Sugar and Whetstone Charms

Two of the Charms Cuphead can equip impact parries. P. Sugar, which costs four coins, allows you to automatically parry the pink objects simply by touching them. Whetstone, which costs three coins, turns the parry into an attack that deals damage to bosses. Both of these Charms can be quite useful. If you’re having trouble timing your parries, P. Sugar will be a lifesaver. Meanwhile, if you’re a parrying pro who rarely misses opportunities, Whetstone can help you inflict a ton of extra damage. Both of these Charms can be purchased from Porkrind’s Emporium.

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