The best run and gun games like Cuphead strike a perfect balance of fair but challenging 2D shooting. Created by StudioMDHR, this critically loved indie release is a true stylistic homage to 1930s cartoons in both sound and animation design. The premise of Cuphead is simple: you take control of either Cuphead or Mugman who are out to win back their souls from the evil King Dice. You fight a series of difficult boss battles, earning contracts along the way whilst levelling up your skills, weapons, and movements. There’s tons of blasting and platforming action as you try to dodge incoming attacks from an onslaught of crafty enemies.
Already beaten Cuphead? Well, we’ve put together a list of some of the best run and gun games like Cuphead available. NOTE: Many of our suggestions do not have the same cartoonish art-style of Cuphead. Some also vary in their areas of gameplay emphasis (e.g. more shooting, less dodging, etc.). Nonetheless, Cuphead fans will be happy to know that all these addictive releases are guaranteed to offer you hard-but-rewarding degrees of challenge.
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Additional Articles: You may also want to check out our lists of unique games like Undertale or side-scrolling games like Ori and the Blind Forest.
1. The Mega Man series
No list of best run and gun games like Cuphead would be complete without the legendary Mega Man series. The Blue Bomber enjoys a huge catalogue of classic 8-bit releases along with modern iterations with updated graphics and gameplay. Similar to Cuphead, you’ll select stages filled with tons of baddies to kill, eventually facing off against epic bosses of varying difficulties / attacks. Killing them unlocks new upgrades and powers, each having their strengths against different opponents. You also have a good amount of careful platforming, which adds to the overall challenge. Top everything off with memorable chiptunes and you have yourself a complete franchise of timeless 2D side-scrolling action (albeit with some misfire releases). Not to be missed by any Cuphead fan!
2. The Metal Slug series
The Metal Slug series offers some of the best run and gun games like Cuphead ever. The franchise is renowned for its addictive shooting, tough dodge-or-die gameplay, and blink-and-perish boss battles. All titles are made up of unique stages filled with hordes of baddies that you’ll kill from both within and outside of your powerful tanks. Weapon upgrades are plentiful, even as movement is intentionally more grounded than Cuphead. You’ll also die often, which is part of the natural appeal. Overall, whilst old, the Metal Slug series will please most Cuphead fans looking for challenging gameplay that fairly rewards persistence and practice.
3. Bleed 1 & 2
Similar to other best run and gun games like Cuphead, Bleed 1 & 2 are all about non-stop run-and-gun action. Main heroine Wryn is an acrobatic heavy weapons wielder who seeks to dispatch a whole assortment of enemies and bosses, all with varying difficulties. Showcasing polished pixelated art, the game is rich with challenging platforming, bullet dodging, and side-scrolling action that’s bound to appease Cuphead fans. Want an even tougher test? Try Challenge Mode that puts you against multiple bosses at once! Everything is accompanied with classic 8-bit music and sound effects. All in all, both Bleed 1 and 2 are highly affordable indie gems that sit comfortably in our list of best run and gun games like Cuphead.
4. The Bug Butcher
The Bug Butcher is a must-try if you’re looking for the best run-and-gun games like Cuphead. You take control of Harry – a pest controller with a penchant for killing mean bugs with his arsenal of lethal upgradable weapons. Rocket launchers, laser beams, lightning strikes, and all sorts of cool attacks are unlocked as you strive to dodge enemy melee strikes and projectiles. However, there are a few things to note. First, unlike Cuphead, you’re confined to shooting upwards (i.e. kinda like space invaders). Second, whilst there’s plenty of running and gunning, each level is restricted to smaller arena-like spaces. On the plus side, The Bug Butcher offers you a stiff but fair challenge, with epic boss bottles that’ll keep you on your toes. The game also has excellent adrenaline-pumping music and solid sound effects.
5. Savant – Ascent
Savant is a little darker in tone than most of the best run and gun games like Cuphead. The story begins with an evil orb that casts Savant out of his magical tower, transforming the world into a dark and dangerous place. Fast-moving enemies fill the stages, all vying to take you out with swift melee attacks and projectiles. You’re equipped with various powerful and upgradable weapons that fire in all directions. The game is also packed with challenging dodge and shoot sections, sleek animations, and a fantastic dub-step soundtrack. In addition, like most games like Cuphead, Savant is an inherently challenging game. This means you’ll be dying and restarting often. The game is admittedly short – but is well-priced at a mere $1.99 on Steam. Definitely worth looking into!
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