Sometimes when I’m out in the city I end up getting hungry, and decide to grab something at a random food joint. When risking a cheap sandwich like that it’s great to get what you pay for. It becomes a bit more amusing when you find unnecessary thought and care put into it. This is one way to sum up my feelings of Deep Space Waifu.
Deep Space Waifu is a shoot ’em up about one called King bear, who spends his time browsing a galactic equivalent of Tinder filled with giant girls. The unique dating style of King bear is all about shooting off the girls’ clothes with his laser bike while fighting aliens. This storyline is contained within the two poorly written lines of English on the game’s storefront. All of this is brought to us by the Japanese developer Neko Climax Studios and publisher Hammerfist Studios— both newcomers to the gaming industry.
Even though the store page might not be appealing, I was actually fine with picking this game up. Mostly because I adore me a good shoot ’em up and any excuse is good enough. The story tidbit about girls actually being giant is an explanation for why they serve as backgrounds of the levels. A sign of extra care that I will get to later. Deep Space Waifu offers a total of 13 girls (each being a separate level), and six different bosses (with two of them heavily re-used).
Deep Space Waifu is made in Unity, and though the game is a simple one, it doesn’t share issues commonly associated with Unity’s ease of access. For some bizarre reason the game’s resolution options are limited to a 16:9 ratio, but it still managed to look fine in fullscreen mode on my 16:10 display. Additionally, there’s options for six languages: English and Japanese are made by the developer; while Chinese, Russian, Korean and Portuguese are fan-made and currently in beta. Though, given the minimal amount of text found within the game this shouldn’t make much of a difference.
The menu screen is rather cool and inviting
A satisfying laser show
In a good bullet hell the player character has one specific weak point — get hit there and you lose a life. Naturally, Deep Space Waifu follows suit. The space bike working as the player’s character sprite visually explains the tight but floaty movement mechanics. Meanwhile, the actual hitbox is the pilot’s head. King bear serves as no more than a dot allowing for some rather decent dodges among the multitudes of laser beams and bullets. My only nitpick is that by moving forward while shooting I would hide the head under my own stream of lasers and lose sight of it.
There isn’t much in terms of customizing your play style. You’re offered three different types of bombs: a classic clear, a slow, and a speed plus damage boost. Game controls work with a gamepad or keyboard and mouse setup; the latter working well enough. Unfortunately there’s no preset for the numpad, so those of you whom are good at Touhou will have to do diagonal movements like the rest of us mortal folk. Deep Space Waifu even allows for mouse-only controls in its easiest difficulty mode because, well, it’s just so much easier. You can also change the preferred speed of motorcycle’s movement and set your joystick’s dead zone.
The gameplay loop is rather simple: pick a girl, choose your difficulty, and shoot bad guys. The screen goes up and down with the girl laying there in the background. There are only about five different common enemies present in the game, and each with a different attack. Spread across 13 levels it’s a passable amount of variety. Most of my attention was devoted to shooting off the girls’ clothes anyway. That had a surprising depth.
Levels don’t usually last all that long. You get to see the girl from top to bottom usually no more than once before the boss spawns. Kill the boss and the level ends. This means that if you weren’t good enough at stripping down the girl you will have to settle for a less than nude one or dodge the boss long enough to finish what you started. In some cases it resulted in me doing my best to not accidentally kill the boss while aiming for a bikini strap. The issue of not shooting in a shoot ‘em up is even more amplified in the game’s hardest difficulty mode — the gentleman’s challenge. In the gentleman’s challenge if you shoot even one article of the girl’s clothing off you lose the game.
This is something I rarely get to see in shoot ‘em ups or bullet hells. Usually there’s no good reason for the player to stop shooting. The existence of the trigger button in most Touhou games was always a mystery to me. By providing you with, depending on your game mode, an incentive or a requirement to shoot precisely the game gains a bit of originality. It also shows that it wasn’t made as a shovelware: there was some thought put into the design holes typical to the genre.
The fire button is also used as a sort of punishment to the player. Doubling down on the absurdity of having to tell a game to shoot in a game about shooting at everything, auto-shooting is treated as a reward. By completing a girl’s stage with high enough score and undressing her completely the level can be replayed again with the game shooting for us. This is supposed to free the hand for other things, though I wouldn’t exactly call Deep Space Waifu great fap material.
With all enemies dead attention goes to the plot
A collection of puddles
There is a selection of 13 girls, each portraying a different cliché. However, it serves more like a series of checkmarks. When selecting a girl the game shows us a brief bio, about as long as a Twitter post, telling us all we’re ever going to learn about said waifu. There are a few that occasionally say something during the level, but it’s not nearly common enough. In fact, aside for the final level, the main game can be simply called a filler.
The most imaginative levels are the bonus stages. There’s only two of them — both added in updates — but they really show what the game could’ve been. Over-the-top parodies have actually gotten a chuckle or two out of me, few of them as there were. I mean, how many games do you know that let you shoot money at a streamer until she’s naked?
This lack of interaction presents itself in the lewd content as well. The only prize you can get is seeing the girl nude if you shoot off all her clothes and kill the boss. You could say there are some variants if you leave some clothing on the girl, but that really doesn’t count. That is assuming variants ever counted at all, nearly always amounting to padding and recycling. Since you don’t even get to know them, the whole cast amounts to less than a hunie pot of girls.
The art itself is sadly on the lower end of the spectrum. In fact, the girls originally looked rather awful, resembling someone’s first attempt at coloring with inkscape. Thankfully these pictures have been shoved away to what the game calls “retro mode.” The new “HD mode” versions are good enough but rather basic, with dull poses and some simple coloring work. There’s basic censoring in the game that can be turned off simply by creating a file named “nude.patch” in the data folder. It determines whether girls have their final bits in place, being nipless by default.
I’ll see myself out later.
Still more than I wanted
There’s very little lewdness, only five common enemies, half as many bosses as there are girls — and I only found two of said bosses interesting. Even with that I had plenty of fun. I may be overvaluing the idea of not shooting sometimes, maybe. Though, if you feel like playing a shoot ‘em up there’s no reason not to grab this game at its low price. Otherwise, there’s not much to be found in Deep Space Waifu.
Would you choose to play the game you can also enjoy a rather good soundtrack. The electropop tracks made by Funny Death are very easy to listen to and might be one of the best parts of the game. The rest of the sound effects in the game are rather negligible, much like the game’s third-rate sprite work.
Deep Space Waifu can be found on Steam for $1.99 USD or your regional equivalent.