Why fight demonic animations with a mouse and keyboard or game controller when you can just dance all those troubles away instead?
Alright, so speedrunner PeekingBoo doesn’t exactly defeat Goopy Le Grande or Captain Brineybeard by dancing per se, but he does do it by stomping—patiently, methodically—until each is dead. You see PeekingBoo isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill speedrunner. He’s finished a lot of games quickly, and even set respectable records in a number of them, but his true calling card is beating games while hitched to a Dance Dance Revolution arcade cabinet. He plays them on a PC that’s connected to the DDR machine with the pad buttons programmed for the particular keyboard inputs of whatever game is being attempted.
When Cuphead came out then it proved an irresistible next target for PeekingBoo’s unique skills. “Cuphead has been making the rounds lately because of how players have reacted when faced with a difficult challenge, I aimed to shed some light on the argument to see whether the game lived up to the hype by seeing if I could beat it casually with Dance Pads,” he said in an email. “After doing so in around 6-hours I decided to kick it up a notch.”
That’s ultimately what led to the 1:24:40 run above. In the Cuphead speedrunning category of All Bosses, solo and on regular difficulty, PeekingBoo is currently 16th out of twenty. “Speedrunning the game combines the stress of waiting for the right moment to attack with the amount of time that gets lost in a run if you die at the very end of a fight, having to do it all again,” he said.
“In order to do any action I pretty much have to sacrifice all of my others, so to dodge attacks I can’t jump or shoot. To switch weapons I have to press a switch on the arcade cabinet itself. The whole setup for play relies on having the best weapon selected before starting a stage and having a lot of foresight for the upcoming attacks to allow enough time to react.”
Doctor Kahl’s Robot proved especially hard given how long the bullet hell phases go on. Like all of the others, however, he too eventually fell.
While the conversation surrounding Cuphead’s difficulty has probably hyped it up to a point over and above what it actually is (the game is challenging but not so much that you should be afraid of trying it or anything) using DDR pads is just a whole other level. Of course, it would be somewhat more shocking of if this were PeekingBoo’s first rodeo, but it’s not. He’s submitted speedrun records for a bunch of other well known games, all of them completed under similar idiosyncratic conditions. His two hour, eleven minute completion of Super Mario Sunshine is particularly aw inspiring.
Not surprisingly, PeekingBoo’s obsession started out as an idle distraction. “I bought the machine nearly a decade ago when I was really into rhythm games,” he said. “Kinda just got bored of regular DDR over the years and naturally progressed over to playing games in general as a bit of a joke.” It turned out to be a rewarding challenge in the long run though so he’s been doing it ever since.
Before he moves on to his next game, PeekingBoo hopes to get his personal best Cuphead time down to under an hour.