Cuphead: How to beat The Howling Aces

Having a ruff time with the Howling Aces? Take out these doggone dogfighters with our guide!

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course brought several new bosses for fans to overcome. The third boss in this new gauntlet is The Howling Aces’ Doggone Dogfight. Here, players take to the sky and battle canines atop an airplane. It’s one of the most brutal battles in the DLC, so you’ll need all the help you can get to best these bulldogs.

Before taking on The Howling Aces, we recommend tackling the Glumstone The Giant and the Moonshine Mob. After you’ve bested both bosses, head down to the airstrip and confront the next set of enemies in The Delicious Last Course.

Weapons and Charms

Cuphead Crackshot Chaser
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Before entering Doggone Dogfight, we suggest the following weapons and charms when you fight The Howling Aces:

  • Primary Weapon: Crackshot
  • Secondary Weapon: Chaser
  • Charm: Astral Cookie
  • Super: III (Ghostly Barrage)

While Chaser is a weapon from shops in the base version of Cuphead, Crackshot is a new item available from Porkrind’s Emporium on Inkwell Isle IV. Head over to the shop and grab these items before starting the battle. Ms. Chalice’s Super III: Ghostly Barrage is available to all who complete Mausoleum III on Inkwell Isle III.

Related: Cuphead: How to beat the Moonshine Mob

First Phase

Doggone Dogfight takes place in the air with Ms. Chalice riding an aeroplane piloted by Canteen Hughes. How you stand on this plan influences how it moves. Standing on the left side steers it to the left, while driving to the right will veer the plane to the opposite side.

As the fight starts, take a few seconds to acclimate yourself to the controls. We recommend using Crackshot to begin the battle.

Cuphead Howling Aces Doggone Dogfight
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

The first phase of The Howling Aces boss fight sees a Fighter Pilot Bulldog leading the charge. The Fighter Pilot Bulldog uses several different attacks. The first sees him fall to either side of the screen, flexing his muscles three times. Each flex sends a Bone Cross toward the opposite side of the stage. Some of these bones are pink and, therefore, parry opportunities. Duck down to avoid the last Bone Cross and dash into the pink Bone Crosses for extra super energy.

The boss also has four Yankee Yippers that appear from the four panels at the top of the plane. When they rise, they’ll toss three tennis balls down. Avoid these items, as they’ll hurt you. The Yankee Yippers only have one attack during the first phase.

Cuphead Howling Aces
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Another attack in the Fighter Pilot Bulldog’s arsenal sees him appear on either side of the map, shooting three balls of yarn from a cat’s mouth. Duck down on the plane to avoid taking damage from these projectiles. Watch for falling tennis balls from the Yankee Yippers while the boss attacks. Keep firing even when evading, as the Crackshot will target the boss automatically.

Cuphead Howling Aces Phase 1
Screenshot Tai Hofmann

At the end of the first phase, Flying Fire Hydrants will join the array of attacks. These items home in on the player, so keep using the Crackshot to dismantle them and clear the air for your fight with the Fighter Pilot Bulldog.

Cuphead Howling Aces Phase 1
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Once the Yankee Yippers eject and the plane falls apart, the first phase is over. Keep your eyes open for the above animation.

Second Phase

The second phase of The Howling Aces is the shortest and arguably the easiest, so we recommend saving your super for the final phase. Crackshot and Chaser are viable options for this phase, so choose your preference as soon as the plane disappears.

Cuphead howling aces phase 2
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

While players fight in phase two, the four Yankee Yippers rotate around the plane, attacking from a distance. Keep the aircraft steady in the middle of the map to give yourself ample room to operate. Once you’re ready, let the bullets fly!

Cuphead Howling Aces phase 2
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

During this phase, the Yankee Yippers shoot Bs, Os, and Ws, spelling ‘BOWWOW’ out. These projectiles can hurt, so avoid the letters when they draw near. Keep firing on the puppies, taking them out one at a time. Focus on a single enemy until they expand and explode like the dog shown above.

Cuphead Howling Aces phase 2
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Some of the letters the Bulldog Puppies shoot are pink, so parry them when possible for super energy. You’ll need it for the final phase of the fight. Once all the puppies are down, a dog-shaped plane will fly in and grab the screen, starting the final phase.

Related: How good is it? Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Final Phase

The final phase of The Howling Aces boss battle is the most strenuous, so save your super until later on in this encounter. Switch to Crackshot for the beginning of this phase, as its damage output outclasses Chaser.

Cuphead Howling Aces Final Phase
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

The final phase of The Howling Aces sees Chinook Pilot Saluki take the field. The flying fortress Chinook shoots Laser Beams out of its paws in varying patterns. Each beam has a short startup animation, so act quickly to avoid taking damage. Maneuver the plane carefully to avoid these rays, using dodge rolls, double jumps, and dashes to stay out of the way. Rays can spawn in each of the six paw pads, so keep your eyes open.

Cuphead Howling Aces parry laser
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

The beams spawned on the bottom paw pads are pink, so parry them if you can. Ms. Chalice’s dash parry makes this a bit tougher, but a parry is possible. If you’re uncomfortable parrying, use your double jump to avoid the laser entirely.

Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

After the Laser Beams, Chinook will twist the screen and open its mouth, revealing Saluki, the pilot. Controls are different during this attack, so try to stand as still as possible. Saluki mashes buttons during this formation, summoning two types of Dog Bowls. Each Dog Bow crosses the screen horizontally at a different height.

  • Yellow: High
  • Red: Low

Thanks to Ms. Chalice’s short hop, you can skip over Red Bowls when they come. Make a careful jump in the air when they approach, standing on the plane when Yellow Bowls appear. Continue firing your Crackshot here to maintain damage output.

Cuphead Howling Aces Phase 3
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Chinook will turn the screen upside down next, returning with the Laser Beams. Your controls are inverted here, so take care to dodge the lasers with care. Hop in place whenever possible. Remember to parry lasers when you can for the super meter.

Cuphead Howling Aces Final Phase Super
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Use your super meter during the Saluki formation to deal substantial damage. The Ghostly Barrage will shred the boss’s health and expedite this fight. You’ll likely have to go through a few phases of the Saluki and Chinook before the boss falls, and they’ll alternate for the rest of the fight.

Cuphead Knockout
Screenshot by Tai Hofmann

Continue firing Crackshots off until the boss finally falls. You’ll see the ‘A Knockout! screen once the fight ends.

Want to see our A+ run of The Howling Aces? Watch the video guide below for a visual walkthrough:

For more on Cuphead, visit our other articles on Press SPACE to Jump!

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Tai Hofmann
Tai Hofmann

I'm Tai, the New Games lead, Writer, and Editor for Press SPACE to Jump. My first memory is forcing my parents to play 50-round games of Mario Party on the N64. Now I love games on all platforms and hone in on new releases. Some of my favorite titles include Final Fantasy XIV, Cuphead, God of War 2018, Persona 5, and Smash Bros.

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