The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
This year, there’s been one game I’ve covered that has indisputably drawn more traffic to this site than any other. The article (singular — yes, it wasn’t even a Cover Game feature) about it gets an impressive number of hits every day and shows no signs of slowing down; likewise my YouTube video of its gameplay remains one of my most popular videos.
It’s interesting how this works. The game in question is a solid and enjoyable game, of course, it just seems like a strange one to be so popular. And yet people keep coming here to find out about it. Maybe I’m the only reliable source of information about it on the Web? Who knows. Either way, there’s only one clear winner of this award for 2017…
And the winner is…
Deep Space Waifu
Were you expecting that? I certainly wasn’t. Well, I mean, I was, because I’ve been looking at the stats every day, but I certainly didn’t anticipate my one article about this game shortly after its release would prove to be one of the site’s most consistently popular articles.
Now seems like a good opportunity to provide a few updates on that article, then, as since I originally wrote that piece back in June the game has had a number of updates that include completely redrawn artwork, DLC that adds a bunch of new levels and a number of other refinements. (STOP PRESS: I also see there’s now a standalone expansion/quasi-sequel based on the theme of “flat is justice”… I’ll, uh, be right back. For science!)
For the unfamiliar, Deep Space Waifu is a shoot ’em up where you both blast enemies in the traditional manner and also shoot the clothes off anime girls. (Unless you’re playing the hardest difficulty, “Gentleman Mode”, in which you’re supposed to try and avoid damaging your “date’s” outfit.)
This is pretty much all there is to it. There’s not really a story as such, though the girls featured do have a bit of characterisation through their Tinder-esque profiles you can view on the level select screen, and mostly take the form of sly, sidelong looks at common character tropes and conventions found in anime and video games — although there are a few surprises along the way.
The shoot ’em up action is satisfying and rewarding, with enemies exploding into showers of collectible stars as you defeat them, which in turn can be used to power one of several different superweapons that range from a simple bomb to the ability to slow time temporarily. Some enemies also drop power-up items that support your main gun with either a rocket launcher or laser gun; up to three of these supporting modules can be used at once.
While there’s not a huge amount of variety in the enemies themselves, the different formations in which they attack you over the course of the various levels keeps things interesting, and the encounters with popcorn foes are complemented nicely by the boss battles at the conclusion of each stage, each of which have unique patterns and weak points to figure out and learn how to deal with.
The DLC Deep Space Waifu Academy adds a number of additional bosses to the mix, which gives the game much more variety, particularly as on repeat plays you won’t necessarily see the same bosses in the same place. There are also some new collectable weapons to make use of.
The most appealing thing about Deep Space Waifu, aside from its solid if simple gameplay, is its presentation. Sporting a wonderful ’80s-style synth soundtrack (rather reminiscent of other modern attempts to recapture this “sound” such as the score to the movie Turbo Kid) and a neon-soaked visual aesthetic to match, it’s a game that is, in places, a little rough around the edges but nonetheless oozing with style and a clear sense of what it wanted to achieve.
The titular waifus themselves also run the gamut from spoiled princesses to adorable super-girly idols, catgirls and most other common types of waifu you might care to fantasise about in your spare time, and likewise the various outfits on display cater to most of the common anime clothing fetishes out there. In other words, you’ll probably find at least one waifu to enjoy across the entirety of the game, and you even get to snap a photo of her at the conclusion of a level to keep for your, uh, personal collection.
So what of that new standalone expansion/quasi-sequel I mentioned earlier? Dubbed Deep Space Waifu: Flat Justice, it’s essentially more of the same, only with even more features. Most notably, there’s a lightweight story to the whole experience, concerning alien infiltration of a police force that appears to be staffed entirely by flat-chested pettanko girls and lolis, but there are also now different types of bike to unlock, more special weapons, more collectible weapons and a wider variety of enemies and bosses to take on.
There’s also an excellent new soundtrack that maintains the original game’s ’80s synth stylings but provides a bunch of new tunes, including some with vocals. And while the whole experience still has the endearingly rough edges of the original game, particularly in terms of interface design and control, it’s clear that the developers at the mysterious Neko Climax Studios haven’t been resting on their laurels. They’ve been refining and improving their craft, their ultimate intention to provide us with the very best in what they refer to as “casual strip ’em up action, full of colours and girls”.
The thing I think I like the most about Deep Space Waifu is that it has no shame in what it is. It makes no attempt to hide or justify the fact that it is a game about shooting the clothes off pretty anime girls, and it invites the player to jump in and enjoy themselves without guilt or shame. And rather than being just a cheap and nasty piece of Steam shovelware, which it could easily have been, it actually ends up providing a surprisingly solid shmup experience with a decent amount of longevity beyond its initial novelty and comedy value.
So if you love 1) pretty girls and 2) shooting things, firstly, thanks for giving me so many page views over the course of the last year, and secondly, go buy Deep Space Waifu and Deep Space Waifu: Flat Justice as soon as possible. The pair of ’em will cost you less than a cup of hipster coffee, and you’ll have a lot more fun.
Oh, and yes, the “nude.patch” trick still works in Flat Justice, by the way…
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