Cuphead: How To Beat Cala Maria
By Tai Hofmann
Published Mar 06, 2021
Those Familiar with Cuphead know that it’s not a game for the faint of heart. Cala Maria is particularly vicious to go up against.
Those Familiar with Cuphead know that it’s not a game for the faint of heart. With unforgiving bosses, randomized encounters, and a skill cap that rises with each boss, only the most determined players will succeed.
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One of the last obstacles standing between Cuphead and his bout with the Devil is the sea-faring mermaid Cala Maria. She may look friendly, but she’s just as vicious as every other resident of Inkwell Isle Three. With an army of aquatic animals at her disposal, Cuphead should be prepared for his most chaotic aerial battle yet. With the right tips and tricks, any player can take this titan down.
Before heading into ‘High Seas Hi-Jinx!’ arena, make sure that Cuphead has the Smoke Bomb ability equipped. This will give him a brief period of invincibility after he shrinks, a boon that proves invaluable in such a tough battle. Weapon equipment won’t matter, as this is a plane level. With this piece of gear ready, load up the level and get ready for one of the game’s craziest boss fights.
Cala Maria’s first phase is filled with minions, each with their own devastating attack. Players can expect to see the following minions in Phase One:
The Puffer Gang
Cala Maria will use multiple attacks at once, summoning multiple minions at once. Be ready for multiple assaults at once.
Cala Maria’s moves allow her to summon The Puffer Gang to the field that rises from the water below. The creatures will injure Cuphead if he makes contact with them, so continually shoot your primary weapon to deflate these minions. Pink Puffers can be parried, so slap them when you see them rise.
Another Minion at Cala Maria’s disposal is Squirty McSquirter, a seahorse known for Spewing Water. This enemy will fire a stream of water from his mouth that forces Cuphead’s plane to the top of the screen. Avoid the stream if you don’t want your movement restricted. He’s still one of two minions that spawn in the water and impede Cuphead while he’s dealing with Cala Maria’s other attacks.
In this phase, the other water level minion is Bombshell Barry, a turtle with Shooting Bombs strapped to his back. He’ll fire off a bomb that splinters into several projectiles once it is level with Cuphead. Stay to the far left of the screen to gain some distance from the projectiles. If the debris is too close together, shrink down to avoid taking damage.
Occasionally, Cala Maria will grab a giant fish from the sea. When this fish is yellow, you’ll know it’s Electrifying Elma. When Maria squeezes Elma, it’ll release an Electric Shark Boomerang that loops around the stage for several seconds, chasing Cuphead. Evade the attacks from this shark, shrinking when necessary. Stay far back, as its electric aura can damage Cuphead as well.
Cala Maria’s next attack calls three waves of Ghost Pirates when she opens her mouth. Each uses a Homing attack that follows Cuphead after a brief stationary period. Once the Ghost Pirates spawn, shrink down, moving up or down to evade.
Cala Maria’s Fire Fred spits six Fire Fishes when it’s squeezed. Stay to the back of the field, as it’ll give these minions time to spread out. Some of these Fire Fishes can be parried, so try to do so when possible. When your EX Gauge is filled, use a super to expedite this phase.
Once Cuphead ends the First Phase, Cala Maria will transform into a gorgon with a host of new abilities and a new set of helpers.
Cala Maria’s Stone Gaze ability lets her petrify Cuphead briefly. Every spot that the green light touches will turn Cuphead to stone. If you’re frozen, move the control stick rapidly to break free of this stone prison. You’ll need to keep moving to escape the next attack unscathed.
Cala Maria will summon Eels to aid her in this phase of the fight. Each of these will attack by sending a Bullet Hell attack flying toward Cuphead. Shift your attention from Maria to the eels, shooting them until they burst. Letting too many of these creatures attack at once will overwhelm Cuphead. Once you’ve dealt with two or three of these enemies, shift fire back to Cala Maria. Keep an eye out for pink bullets that Cuphead can parry. Build up your EX Gauge and try to get a super off before this phase ends.
The Final Phase of Cala Maria’s encounter sees her transform into Medusa herself. She’ll fly backward into a cave filled with coral. You’ll need to navigate carefully through the cavern to avoid taking damage from the surroundings. Watch out for Medusa’s orb attacks. Her snakes will spit out the bubbles shown above.
In this phase, Medusa’s most powerful attack is her Petrifying Poltergeist, an attack that turns Cuphead to stone in this tight space. She’ll often use the attack when there are stone barriers. Because Cuphead cannot avoid this attack, you’ll have to jam the stick rapidly to break free before you collide with obstacles. Failing to do so can be fatal. The easiest way to complete this phase is to focus on dodging while firing continuously. Don’t use your super here, as it can cause a collision with the surroundings.
Instead of using your super during this phase, fire off a few EX Shots to deal out increased damage from range. Eventually, you’ll wear down Cala Maria’s health. With some careful flying and patience, you’ll make it through this phase and secure another soul contract for Cuphead’s collection. This may be the game’s final aerial battle, but there are even tougher bosses to come, including King Dice and the Devil himself. It’ll take all Cuphead can muster to take his soul back in Inkwell Hell, so be prepared for the fight of your life.
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From Tai Hofmann