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Great Moments in Gaming: ‘Cuphead’s King Dice and His Legion of Bosses

Cuphead is positively brimming with some of the toughest retro-style bosses in all of gaming but King Dice and his lackeys take the cake.



Cuphead’s King Dice is definitely among the best, and most challenging, bosses of all time…

Great Moments in Gaming is a column wherein we look back at some of the great gaming moments that have made a significant impact on our view of this medium and how we have come to understand it. This week, in celebration of Cuphead’s PS4 release, we’re looking at the best boss fight in the game: the showdown with King Dice and his army of sub-bosses. 

Cuphead has flown, stomped and chaotically careened it’s way onto the PS4 this week and, now that even more players have access to this absolute gem of a game, it’s the perfect time to talk about the crowning jewel of all these fantastic boss fights: the ruthlessly unfair King Dice.

Of course, it seems sort of natural that the manager of a casino run by the devil himself would stack the deck against you in a fight, but that doesn’t make it any less of a pain in the ass. Rather than fighting you outright, King Dice challenges you to “a game.” The game in question? A game of dice.

The repercussions of each roll can make or break the fight, as each number rolled will decide which of a group of 9 sub-bosses the player will have to best in order to even have a chance at taking down King Dice himself. In a game where the stakes, scope and challenge of each battle are continually upped over the course of the campaign, this is Cuphead‘s most sadistic trick.

No matter how good you get at predicting how to roll the dice, you will have to fight at least three bosses before getting a match with King Dice. To make matters worse, even those good enough to nail the timing of each dice roll will miss by a split second occasionally, meaning you’ll have to familiarize yourself with all 9 of King Dice’s lackeys if you want to have a chance at cleaning his many-dotted clock.

All casino-themed in nature, ths sub-bosses of Cuphead‘s most devious foe range from the games of chance themselves (say, a stack of poker chips or a roulette wheel) to the various vices that gambling denizens might partake of while they gamble (a cigar or series of drinks, for example). They also range wildly in their level of difficulty, depending on a player’s mastery of sub-weapons and general use of strategy in the game.

All players will find favorites, meaning bosses they can easily beat, in hopes of besting King Dice for good. For my trouble, I found bosses 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 the easiest to overcome, but everyone will need to decide for themselves which 3-5 bosses they wanna aim to take on in their battle for casino supremacy.

Either way, once players have finally taken out the last boss between them in King Dice, Cuphead has one more brutal trick to punish your aching thumbs with: a “start over” space on the game board. Luckily, for those unfortunate enough to land on this space, bosses already complete will be exempt. However, this does mean players might end up having to fight even more bosses in order to reach King Dice.

Once you finally do reach the King you’re gonna need to have your parrying game at its absolute height if you wanna achieve victory. King Dice’s single move is simple by nature but very hard to master, particularly with the pressure of having to repeat all of those fights upon failure hanging over the player’s head.

As King Dice shuffles a set of cards across the table, players will have to predict and aim for which cards will be pink, marking them as an object that can parry off of. If you can do this 4 times in a row over a series of 4-6 repetitions, you’ll be able to land enough hits to bring down King Dice. You’re gonna have to bring your A-game, though, as you may have only a couple of HP left after the gauntlet of bosses you’ve been forced to tackle in order to get here.

Still, bastard that he is, King Dice is an absolute masochistic joy to battle. Challenging player’s mastery of nearly every skill they’ve used to make it this far, Cuphead‘s most intense battle is also its most memorable. Whether the upcoming Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course will offer a battle even more punishing remains to be seen but with a studio as exacting as MDHR at the helm, all bets are off!

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.