A platformer is only as good as its control. Where games like Super Meat Boy have a little bit of 'slide' and momentum to take into account, Yacht Club's immaculate Shovel Knight lets you let off the stick and drop straight down - which is perfect when you need to make an about-face and dodge some enemy attacks.
For Cuphead it's the latter, and alongside responsive jumping and shooting is an infinitely usable dash - which can be upgraded to grant invincibility for a few frames - a duck to get some low shots in, a parry and two types of special moves.
Brilliantly, the parry is an in-air animation you trigger by bouncing off anything coloured pink (pellets, parts of enemies, environmental obstacles etc.) letting you gain an instant notch on a five point meter. This meter also builds up from dealing damage, but factor in the parry and you can burn a point to pull off a quick high-damage blast (with the starting weapon, anyway - more on them later) or save up all five for a more screen-filling spectacle.
Combined you've got a solid set of abilities to call your own, alongside such proficient weight and momentum to Cuphead's general movement that his animations are never the cause of death. That... comes from everything else.