Cuphead has been creating all sorts of pain and torture for players since it was released at the end of September. In case readers haven't heard, it's quite difficult. But while it causes unending agony for the casual player, the speedrunning company has looked at StudioMDHR's cartoon throwback as a challenge.
Arguably no other speedrunner has embraced the Cuphead challenge more than Piotr Delgado Kusielczuk, better known to fans as The Mexican Runner. The Mexican Runner holds multiple speedrunning records and has become a staple at events like Games Done Quick. He wasted no time getting into Cuphead and has been consistently setting world records, shaving milliseconds off of each of his runs by the day.
"The most difficult part in a speedrun is staying focused during the whole run," Kusielczuk explained to Shacknews, "sometimes when you know you're having a good run that adds extra pressure. Also there are some glitches that depends on RNG element of the bosses to hit them or not and that can cost a lot of time. You need to change strategies on the fly according to your health, etc."
That focus helped TMR immensely when attempting to complete a run on Expert difficulty. (Yes, this game has an Expert mode, because it just wasn't hard enough!) On Wednesday evening, he was able to post a video of him completing this masochistic endeavor in 30:38, a feat that can be seen below. (Understandably NSFW language, of course.)
When it comes to speedrunning Cuphead, there are a couple of ways to get ahead. Weaponry is important and TMR has experimented with both a weapon's power and its cooldown.
"There is an exploit similar to Contra III that we use that lets you switch weapons, avoiding the cooldown time of the shots for each weapon," said TMR. "Thanks to that, basically any combination of two weapons deals a lot of damage. For the speedrun I personally use the Roundabout (Boomerang) and the Lobber (Bubbles) since both are long range."
Another seemingly obvious tip would be not to get nailed by any enemies, since there seem to be few invincibility frames after every hit. However, TMR notes that there are still enough invincibility frames to not only manage, but also enough to make purposeful hits an actual strategy.
"I use the invincibility frames to help me deal damage closer to the bosses," he said. "In fact, I get hit intentionally to kill faster bosses and minibosses."
These are a few tips that have helped The Mexican Runner stay on top of this record, along with other records in games like Contra and Battletoads. It's in precision execution. But luck is also a major factor, especially when it comes to bosses and RNG patterns.
"Yeah, in top playing speedruns you need to keep you execution on point and hope for the best RNG," TMR said. "A lot of grinding is required. There is no shortcuts for speedrunning, that is why I love it. It's an art."
After completing his Expert world record, TMR has opted to settle down on this category for the time being. But with the speedrunning community as competitive and active as it is, it should be fascinating to see whether anyone will take up this tall task and set a new record themselves.