Hilda Berg bares a rather stylized design to her physical appearance in contrast to a few of the other females in the game.
She is a moderately tall, slender figure appearing as a blimp-like, humanoid-zeppelin hybrid. She has pinkish, fair-colored skin and very short, maroonish/ebony-colored hair in a finger-wave haircut with a prominent hair-line in the center. Her facial structure consists of a long, pointed nose, thin, black eyebrows, and salmon eyelids.
Hilda's wardrobe is generally simple, with a zeppelin touch. She wears a cherry-red shirt with a darker-red lower half, and crimson, puffy sleeves, as well as a salmon skirt and matching ballet flats.
On the top of her head, Hilda a tan-colored weather vane with gold accents. She also wears simple, white opera-gloves and glowing gold bracelets.
As a true blimp/zeppelin, her body becomes the blimp's body with the same color scheme as her dress; cheery-red and darker red and the main body, and crimson on the fins, while retaining her salmon skirt and shoes. She now has a propeller on the back and a unicycle under her body, consisting of a tan handle, grayish violet pedals, and a white tire with a single, yellowish patch.
In her constellation phases, Gemini, Taurus, and Sagittarius all have visible skin similar to her default form, but with bodies made of clouds, gold accents on their accessories, and stars for pupils in their eyes. The Gemini twins resemble female humanoid sirens sporting bikinis, Taurus resembles a general bull with a large nose ring, and Sagittarius resembles a masculine centaur with a golden, luminescent tail.
Hilda's third and final phase form is by far the most terrifying. She takes on the form of an enormous crescent (waning/waxing crescent) moon with her face, strikingly similar to versions of the moon depicted as having a face in certain popular culture.
The moon itself is entirely the same red color as her dress from her default form with several craters on parts of it and the upper curve being longer than the lower curve, while possessing the same curls as her hair on the area of her forehead.
In this form, Hilda's face is significantly more detailed, almost resembling that of a stereotypical witch. Her eyes have visible, thick, black eyelash lines and matching eyelashes, and the now-visible irises are shown to be two different colors; yellow on the outside and red on the inside. Her nose is longer and noticeably curved in a zig-zag-like fashion and visible markings can be seen on her nose and face.
Whenever she pops her face out to unleash her UFOs, several golden, steampunk-esque gears are visible, indulging the one attaching her face to the moon itself.
Hilda Berg is said to have a mischievous personality. She seems fairly rude when it comes to pestering her enemies, as indicated by how she teases the brothers on how far they'll get to actually beat her on the second phase death screen and will even call them a wimp as seen in her death message on the first phase.
She can be seen acting like a bit of a temperamental lunatic, partially because she appears to be completely insane in her final form, with her glowing eyes and psychotic laugh, but also because she takes the form of a crescent moon.
Snoring noises can be heard in the over-world prior to starting the fight, implying that she is nocturnal (or often falls asleep) and only wakes up during the day whenever disturbed.
Hilda Berg is first seen sitting on a cloud when she suddenly inhales it, turning her into a zeppelin with her arms, legs, and face. It is also very hard to see Hilda on her cloud, as she swallows it almost immediately.
"Fitting, isn't it? I'm a blimp -- you're a wimp."
—Hilda Berg, Phase 1 death screen
Hitpoints = 220/130/150
In this phase, Hilda Berg flies up and down on the right side of the screen while small purple toy zeppelins appear from behind her to shoot a single bullet at players, which are sometimes able to be parried. Hitpoints = 10/10/10
She will attack every few seconds by laughing, which sends a physical onomatopoeia of her laughter across the screen that can damage the player(s).
Phases 2 and 3
"You won't get too far... it has been foretold in the stars."
—Hilda Berg, Transformation death screen
Hilda Berg's second and third phases are each divided into 2 notable sections, defined by whether or not she transforms. In these phases, Hilda Berg will begin using a new attack that will temporarily turn her into a zodiac constellation, each with its unique attacks.
Hilda Berg will inflate with a deep breath, propelling herself across and off the screen's left edge making a constellation. She will reappear, moving backwards to the right side. In a cloud of smoke and stars, she transforms to use new attacks. Throughout this phase, Hilda Berg will transform into one of three constellations, which are as follows:
- Taurus - Hilda Berg transforms into a huge horned bull made of clouds and stars. She still moves up and down, but instead of spouting out onomatopoeia, Hilda will swiftly jab her horns across the screen every few seconds, when the player is parallel to Hilda Berg. She will always use her Taurus form the first time she transforms, but the following one(s) are random. She stops for a moment before she attacks. This form is not used in Expert mode.
- Gemini - Hilda Berg turns into a set of cloud-wearing female twins that circle around a swirling crystal ball. They'll pause to raise their arms and make an indecipherable incantation, summoning a spinning fireball vortex on the player's side of the screen. The vortex will launch a line of bullets while rotating, forcing players to maneuver around the fireball to avoid damage. The vortex disappears after making a complete rotation. In Expert mode, the line of bullets rotates faster.
- Sagittarius - Hilda Berg becomes a masculine centaur with a bow and arrow that will shoot a giant arrow across the screen. In addition, the launch will sprout a trio of stars that will home in on the player. The stars can be destroyed by the player's own bullets (but not the arrow). This form does not appear in Simple mode. In Expert mode, the stars home in for a longer time. Hitpoints = 8/10/10
In Simple mode, her transformation will always be Taurus then Gemini.
Hitpoints = 550/550
In Regular Mode, her transformation will either be Taurus then Gemini, or Taurus then Sagittarius. Hitpoints = 468/468
In Expert mode, her transformation will always be Gemini then Sagittarius.
Hitpoints = 450/480
After taking enough damage in each constellation form, Hilda Berg will return to normal for a short time before transforming again. During this time:
- Hilda may create and launch a mini-tornado that will swirl towards the player's general direction before disappearing off-screen.
- Hilda will continue to use the laughter attack from her first phase, spitting "HA" projectiles at the player. The projectiles will be fired in a straight line.
- In addition to the purple toy zeppelins, new green-colored toy zeppelins appear, and in increasingly greater quantity. These toy zeppelins will fire four bullets at once in a crescent shape towards players. In Simple mode, the green toy zeppelins fire only three bullets. In Expert mode, they also appear in the first phase and they fire five bullets with increased speed. Note that the green zeppelings never have any parryable bullets. Hitpoints = 10/10/10
After Hilda's second transformation, the green toy zeppelins will stop appearing, but the purple ones will start to appear in pairs. In Expert mode, only the green toy zeppelins appear after Hilda's first transformation, and they are paired up with the purple toy zeppelins after her second transformation.
First return hitpoints = 440/338/390
Second return hitpoints = 440/312/360
After taking enough hits, Hilda Berg shudders and shakes erratically, groaning and yelling in pain. The sky turns to night, and Hilda Berg swirls around, transforming a massive crescent moon with her face, before chuckling sinisterly.
In Simple mode, the fight ends with Hilda shaking, without entering the final phase.
"You lost too soon and I was only half moon!"
—Hilda Berg, Phase 4 death screen
In this phase, Hilda Berg fills more than half the screen, giving players much less room to move around in. Intermittently Hilda's face will spontaneously extend outward, damaging players that touch her face, as she grins while laughing psychotically. When she does this, golden steampunk-style gears are shown from where her face popped out.
In this form, she cannot directly attack, but a line of UFOs will come out from the hole where her face would be an attack with vertical laser beams. The different colors of UFO attack differently; Red UFOs won't attack until the player is under them, and gold UFOs attack just in front of a player. In Expert mode, the UFOs' lasers last longer.
Finally, replacing the toy zeppelins are shooting stars that fly from right to left at fluctuating speeds. Occasionally, a pink one will appear. In Expert mode, the stars fly much faster and are harder to dodge.
Once defeated, Hilda will have a dazed expression while her crescents and nose appear crippled, broken, and empty. Hitpoints = 884/1170
|Hilda Berg's introduction.|
|Hilda Berg attacking by laughing.|
|Hilda Berg attacking as Taurus.|
|Hilda Berg attacking as Gemini.|
|Hilda Berg attacking as Sagittarius.|
|Hilda Berg's painful transformation.|
|Hilda Berg extending her gears out.|
|(Unused) Hilda Berg saying "Coleman" before turning into a zodiac.|
|Normal Mode||Expert Mode|
- Out of all the constellation transformations, only Gemini matches Hilda's female gender (despite the actual version of Gemini being of male twins).
- Strangely, Hilda calls herself a "half moon" in her final death screen even though she is a crescent, suggesting that she has the ability to switch to her normal form, but never got the chance, due to unknown reasons.
- Hilda Berg's old death phrase was "Looks like you're out of air!", as seen in footage from the 2016 demo.
- Another old death phrase was "Got to be nimble, got to be quick, when you mess around with this lunatic.", possibly foreshadowing Hilda's Transformation in the 3rd phase, given the origin of the term "Lunatic".
- Her unused phrase "Coleman" is a reference to her designer, Joseph Coleman. It is used whenever she turns into a zodiac. She can still be seen mouthing it during her transformations.
- Hilda Berg's voice appears to echo during the 3rd phase.
- Hilda Berg is the first boss in Cuphead that is assisted by miniature helpers.
- The UFOs have health and used to be coded to be able to take damage and break, it will break into gears and some of them can be parried, which means the scraps would have damaging hitbox as well.
- Taurus is the only constellation transformation that does not use projectile attack.
- Gemini is the only constellation transformation that can appear on any difficulty setting. Taurus does not appear on Expert Mode, and Sagittarius does not appear on Simple Mode.
- The weather vane on Hilda's head could be a nod to her weather/sky theme.
- In the overworld, Snoring noises can be heard when in close proximity to the observatory landmark where the level can be started.
- Aside from Pip and Dot, she is the only female boss that does not wear lipstick.
- Threatenin' Zeppelin's original name was "A Threatenin' Zeppelin".
- Joseph Coleman has confirmed that she can turn into other signs as well.
Inspirations and similarities
- Hilda's first phase attacks were inspired by everything from Street Fighter character M. Bison's Psycho Crusher attack to the projectiles shot out by Birdo from Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 2.
- Her word attack is a nod to early Felix the Cat cartoons, where a character's words would come alive and cause mischief.
- The idea for Hilda's final phase transformation to a moon with a face goes all the way back to Georges Méliès' film, A Trip to the Moon.
- Hilda Berg's hairdo seems to take inspiration from Betty Boop.
- Gemini's orb attack looks similar to the the crystal ball transforming in the Betty Boop cartoon "Is My Palm Read"
- With her prominent nose and lanky physique, Hilda Berg looks similar to Olive Oyl from Popeye.
- Her name is a pun on the Hindenburg, an infamous German zeppelin that crashed in a New Jersey field in 1937.
- Hilda Berg's first death phrase might be a reference to the movie Animal House, as the rhyme "A Wimp and a Blimp" originated from said movie.
- The animation for her "Storm Caster" move is a reference to Andy Bogard's Geki Hishoken move from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers.
- Hilda's constellation and cloud transformations in the 2nd phase may be inspired by the boss battles in Three Wonders: Chariot or Contra: Hard Corps.
- Hilda's final phase has a striking resemblance to Hypnos from Three Wonders: Chariot.
- Her UFO helpers may be a nod to Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, which was famously mistaken by some listeners for news of a real alien invasion.
- Hilda Berg seems to take inspiration from witches, from her elderly-sounding voice to her long nose as well as how she seems to use "magic" to transform into zodiacs.
- Astrology and the zodiacs themselves are often associated with witches and magic.
- The name Hilda could be inspired by "Broomhilda".
- The Art of Cuphead, Hilda Berg, page 56
- The Art of Cuphead, Hilda Berg, page 58
- The Art of Cuphead, Hilda Berg, page 60