Well then. Waifu Uncovered is certainly a thing. A thing I never expected Nintendo to allow, in this state, onto the Switch. Publisher eastasiasoft certainly deserves credit for somehow making that happen. To stop beating around the bush, Waifu Uncovered is strip SHMUP, and while it doesn’t go quite as far as you can with the PC version there is, in fact, plenty of the nudity you’d expect in a strip game.
To make no bones about it; this is a cheap game. As far as the SHMUP action goes, it’s exceedingly simple and the enemy designs are those kinds of random pictures of cat faces and flying poo emojis that you’d expect of a Game Maker student project. The screen fills with bullets and enemies, as you’d expect from a SHMUP, but there isn’t the precision patterns and interesting boss battles that come from the better examples of the genre. Most critically, in the later levels, where you’ve got a fully-upgraded ship mowing through really massive hordes of enemies, there are even moments of slowdown. I’m by no means concerned with framerates in most of the games that I play, but I know it’s important (very, very important) to the SHMUP genre in particular, so that needs to be noted. In short, if you ignore the backgrounds (we will get to those shortly) Waifu Uncovered is entertaining enough for what it does, but it’s so amateurish that it would not deserve to be a commercial product.
Of course, none of that matters because no one is playing this thing for the gameplay. They’re playing it for the increasingly-naked anime girls, and as far as that side of things go you can instantly tell that all of the development resources and budget went into that. The girls in Waifu Uncovered act as giant wallpapers in the background, with the action playing over the top of them as it scrolls across various parts of their bodies. As you defeat certain numbers of enemies, the stage progresses, and the girls lose bits of their clothing.
These character portraits are attractive. They’re a little on the simple side in comparison to the top-flight anime fan service stuff (and by that, I mean they’re not of the calibre of Marie Rose or Neptunia quality art), but they’re detailed, there’s plenty of variety between the characters, and the pin-up poses that they adopt are exquisite. The game itself is built around giving you opportunities to admire this art, and finds the right balance between action where you need to concentrate on the screen, and the bits where you get to play voyeur.
Waifu Uncovered knows what it is, and doesn’t try to hide under any pretences. It’s light-hearted and silly in tone, and I don’t believe it’s trying to be titillating, erotic, or “sexy.” However, I also don’t think it’s trying and contextualise itself as overt satire like you’d see in a Dead or Alive or D3 Publisher fan service game either. To be more blunt about it, it does come across as objectification without being subversive. Now that doesn’t make me uncomfortable, personally, but it’s obviously an ongoing conversation in this industry and should be noted, as I do know there are a lot of people out there that enjoy anime fan service, nudity, and sex, but draw the line between what is and isn’t contextualised. I would generally encourage developers to aim for a bit more subversion in their games while depicting fan service, but nonetheless, I personally had fun with the game in viewing it as a silly anime pinup homage.
Waifu Uncovered does have less content than clothing on the backs of these girls, though. It doesn’t bother me, as it has been nice to play a game that hasn’t taken dozens of hours of my time and hasn’t then required that I sit and write 5,000 words about it in review, but it’s worth noting nonetheless for people who may forget just how cheap the asking price is and go in expecting more. There are eight girls to undress, and while there’s a leaderboard, I don’t think the game is mechanically tight enough for many people to really care about those high scores. Once you have undressed the girl, you unlock her in a gallery, which lets you cut straight to the chase and skip the gameplay entirely. There are a number of different ships to play with and even co-op (which I wasn’t able to test), but again I don’t necessarily think people coming to Waifu Uncovered are there for that. The replay value in this one would have been in having more girls to play with.
And that’s it. I don’t have much else to say about Waifu Uncovered. People who come to it looking for a quality SHMUP are going to be disappointed. It’s functional, but that’s really not the point. The point is the fan service and pin-up aesthetic, and while Waifu Uncovered is limited there, as a cut-price hour or two of fun, as someone who enjoys anime and fan service, I had more fun with this than I should probably admit in public. Also, I really am genuinely impressed that eastasiasoft has paved the way for anime nudity on the Switch. There’s hope for the Dee Dee visual novels to debut on console yet.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb
The critic was provided with a copy of the game for the purposes of review