Finding Catharsis in Cuphead's Inkwell Isle

Time to roll the dice

Finding Catharsis in Cuphead's Inkwell Isle
Source: Nintendo

I didn't think I'd make that much progress in Cuphead. The game is hard, and I'm about six years late to the party since it came out in 2017. Despite that, I went back to the game during this summer while traveling. I paused after facing the dragon but then went for Wally Warbles and Djimmi. They took a few days each, but I reached that beloved "KNOCKOUT!" I also learned how to jump and collect pink items, which the game calls parrying. Shocker!

It is August, and I have gotten through four bosses on Inkwell Island 3 as well as the mausoleum for a power-up. The last two include the train and the robot plus his inventor. I plan to watch tutorials for them so as not to spend weeks before going to the Devil's Casino in the last world. My goal is to not buy the DLC until I can prove to myself that I can beat the main game.

Source: Nintendo

The Return to Catharsis

Why did I go back to Cuphead? The game does have addictive qualities, that you want to rise from every loss stronger, to show that you understand the game and will not let hand-drawn animation or jazz dominate you.

I keep telling my friends that I will choose an easier game. Then something stressful happens, and I return to the third Inkwell Isle. There is something satisfying about seeing that you get better.

Boss Assessment?

How are the bosses on Inkwell Isle? How satisfying were they? I list them below in terms of difficulty and fun.

Source: Cuphead Wiki

Captain Brineybeard

Brineybeard by far was the most fun boss. I love his soundtrack which is feel-good despite the dire circumstances, and Brineybeard clearly is enjoying the ham as he whistles for dogfish and squids to splatter you with ink. The ship also has great sound effects.

Catharsis Factor: Very fulfilling when you hit that knockout. I also had to master parries on this to persist and to decide on the right charms.

Rumor Honeybottoms

Source: Cuphead Wiki

The bee lady sucks. Let the record stand on that. She was really hard to beat, and her laugh was annoying.

Rumor Honeybottoms is a tough platformer boss because you cannot say in one spot when facing her. You have to keep climbing upward as honey and nectar cover the floor. If you mistime your jump, you can suffer fall damage.

Catharsis level: I felt the catharsis mainly when going for her bee mooks in the first phase. They were pretty easy to shoot while I was mounting my self-defense, with the worker bees and drones trudging through the battle. Her second phase was more difficult.

Cala Maria

Source: Cuphead Wiki

While her music is great, she is a difficult boss. Her first phase alone has lots of levels of difficulty, as you need to dive and dodge her attacks. Then in the second phase, getting turned into the stone risks getting hit.

I did find places on the screen where you could hit Cala Maria in phase two without being turned to stone. As a result, it took longer to beat her in said phase, but that strategy worked for me since I don't dodge well.

Catharsis level: Once I made it through phase three, it was awesome to finally launch an attack that brought her down. Cala Maria was a worthy opponent. Defeating her was very fulfilling.

Sally Stageplay

Source: Cuphead Wiki

By far she was the easiest one. Sally telegraphs all of her attacks. As a result, you can use the smoke bomb to dodge her, and her parries in phase one are rather easy to acquire as long as you time the jumps.

Sally Stageplay is also a fun ham. Her laugh is amusing, and I adore how she moves around the stage. It's no wonder the show gave her a spotlight episode where she hosts auditions for a new play.

Catharsis level: I love the theater. Making it to Sally's fourth stage and not dying was quite an accomplishment because phase two is difficult to ensure that you dodge all of the miniature missiles like baby bottles.

Werner Werman

Source: Cuphead Wiki

This guy is considered one of the easier bosses. It is not true. Even if you can see the attacks being telegraphed ahead of time, dodging them requires a lot of practice and knowing where you want to go.

Werner Werman's parries were also the second-most difficult, after Cala Maria. You have to time them perfectly or you take damage instead.

Catharsis level: I admit that this boss wasn't as satisfying to beat. While the final phase doesn't feature a real animal, the meows were heartbreaking.

Overall, Inkwell Isle 3 has been good at equally causing stress and helping a person deal with real life. I also found I've become a better gamer as a result. My dodging and parrying is better.

With that said, the next game will be much easier. There are limits to how many addicting hard games will foster that adrenaline.


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