Cuphead: How To Beat Grim Matchstick

Few games are as arduous to complete as the indie darling, Cuphead. One of the most challenging experiences in the last decade is its crushing difficulty and brutal skill curve. Players could spend hours hunting down that perfect run, repeatedly failing along the way.

While the bosses leading up to Inkwell Isle Two’s climax are tough, few bosses are as hard as Grim Matchstick. This colossal creature offers one of the highest skill curves in the game, asking players to platform while they fight—only those who are calm, collected, and well informed and overthrow this unforgiving titan. Check out our tips and tricks to take this boss down without pulling out your hair in the process.


Before heading into Fiery Frolic, Cuphead will need to equip a unique set of tools to combat Grim Matchstick’s troublesome moves. Head to the hub world and equip the Charge Shot, Roundabout, Smoke Bomb, and Super I. If you’re missing any of these items, head to one of Inkwell Isle’s Run and Gun levels and snag a few coins to spend at Porkrind’s Emporium. With these items ready, head in and begin the boss battle.

Phase One

Grim Matchstick’s boss battle is unlike any before it. Cuphead must platform on the clouds throughout the level. These clouds will move forward continually as the fight ensues. This means players will have to divide their attention between finding their footing and attacking the boss. It might take some time to get used to this format, so take a few lives to get acclimated to the format if necessary. Once you feel comfortable with the arena’s layout, it’s time to fight Grim Matchstick in earnest. Equip your Charge Shot in the primary weapon slot and get ready to go.

At the beginning of the fight, Grim will use Hyper-Beams to fire three lasers at Cuphead from afar. Evade these beams by fleeing to platforms out of their path. They’ll fly to where Cuphead was when they were launched. Be on the lookout for the last beam, as it’ll be pink and can be parried. Use your charge shot to take calculated shots at Grim in between his assaults.

While the Hyper-Beams are one tool at Grim’s disposal, they aren’t the only attack he’ll show in Phase One. Next, he’ll launch off fireballs with Fire Frolic. This move will loop from the top to the bottom of the screen until it exits the screen (shown above.) Use your Smoke Bomb ability to dash out of the way of this attack if it gets too close. Make sure you dash to a platform, as falling off the map will cause Cuphead to take damage. Keep using the Charge Shot in between attacks until Grim adds another move to his arsenal, signifying the next phase’s start.

Phase Two

In Grim Matchstick’s second phase, his Hyper-Beams will now fire four beams as opposed to three. The final beam will still be pink, so try to parry when possible to boost the EX Gauge.

Fiery Frolic is also improved, shooting two fireballs at once. Use Smoke Bomb if they cut Cuphead off to avoid taking damage.

The ‘Heads or Tails?’ attack (shown above) pokes Cuphead with Grim’s tail. Keep using Charge Shot on Grim, and he’ll eventually retreat.

Phase Three

Phase Three introduces one of the most challenging phases of any boss in the game. Here, Cuphead must continue to run forward to avoid Grim’s Fire Nose while his minions, the Magma Marchers, cover the bottom of the field, continually marching forth from his mouth.

Every few seconds, one of these minions will hop up at Cuphead. If they touch him, he’ll lose health. Keep moving to lessen the likelihood that these enemies will hit Cuphead. Their jump pattern is unpredictable, so focus on finding your footing and dashing away with the Smoke Bomb when they get too close. You’ll know they’re about to jump when they close their eyes and grunt.

For this phase, use the Roundabout, an attack that loops back and deals additional damage when it returns. Fire away from the dragon and let the shots loop back to rush this phase. Keep in mind that Cuphead can only damage the boss when he is standing on the first three levels of clouds (shown above.) Any higher, and the shots will miss. This is also an excellent moment for those with enough EX Gauge buildup to unleash their super. Once this phase ends, Grim Matchstick will transform, starting the Final Phase.

Final Phase

The final phase of this boss encounter will see Grim sprout two more heads. During this phase, Grim will still be stationed behind Cuphead. He’ll have to keep running forward on clouds to avoid falling. Grim won’t just stand by and watch while he platforms, though. Here, Grim will use Spit Split, an attack that launches a fireball that splits should Cuphead’s shots hit them. For this reason, it’s a good idea to swap back to the Charge Shot, as its fire is more controlled than the Roundabout. Fire off calculated attacks when these fireballs don’t block your path.

While Spit Split is dangerous, Grim’s most deadly attack in this phase is Torched Torture. This move will turn the middle head into a flamethrower. This weapon will fire a beam that covers the middle of the stage with an extended fire blast. When this attack winds up (shown above), get above or below the nozzle and wait out the burst. Try to avoid getting trapped in an area with no forward platforms like in the above picture. This will leave Cuphead no space to run, and he’ll fall to his doom or take blunt damage from the dragons when they close in on him.

Focus on careful and calculated attacks in this phase while preserving health, and you’ll make it through. Soon Grim Matchstick will fall, and Cuphead will earn the soul contract for the toughest boss in Inkwell Isle Two.

Next: Cuphead: How To Beat Djimmi The Great

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Tai Hofmann is a gaming guide writer for TheGamer and list writer for GameRant. You can find him on Twitter @MI2_PICKLES

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