Revisiting the Waifu Uncovered series

Blissful Death: Celebrating the Shoot 'em Up

For no reason in particular this week, I found myself craving the company of One Hand Free Studios’ two “strip ’em up” games Waifu Uncovered and Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy. I hadn’t played either of them for a while, and something just got me in the mood to take another look at them — and particularly to determine the most notable differences between the two of them.

For the unfamiliar, Waifu Uncovered and its sequel are shoot ’em ups in which you blast enemies in order to acquire collectible items, which in turn gradually destroy the clothing of a girl in the background of the stage you’re playing. The narrative justification for this is that the girls’ clothes are “infected” by evil aliens, and thus the only logical solution is for a ninja horse named K. Vaio to miniaturise himself and shoot down the baddies responsible, who take the form of some rather silly bosses that conclude each stage.

Waifu Uncovered

Each stage apart from the first begins with a phase similar to the “Challenging Stages” in Namco’s classic Galaga series, in which enemies appear in preset formations and your aim is to shoot as many as possible down. Successfully nail all the enemies in this phase and you’ll get a big score bonus — with the bonus increasing considerably for each of these phases in succession you beat over the course of the whole game — as well as unlock “Clear View” mode for the subsequent main phase.

This means that, depending on the “censorship mode” you’re playing the game in, you’ll reveal more of the girls as you progress — up to and including complete nudity in the European versions of the games.

The main difference between the two games is the way they are structured. While both present you with a choice of two stages — one recommended, one noticeably harder — at a time, Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy provides an additional gameplay element in the form of its power-up shop. Here, you can use the money you acquire during stages to upgrade your ship’s capabilities — and causing some mischief in the shop is also how you can unlock some of the game’s secret content.

Waifu Uncovered

Waifu Uncovered, meanwhile, takes a much simpler, more arcade-style approach in that enemies drop power-ups at random as you progress through the stages. Both games feature a variety of selectable ships, each with their own starting stats and potential maximum capabilities, and both feature a system where you have to “level up” your ship as a whole before being able to increase those maximum capabilities, but the difference between grabbing power-ups and strategically purchasing them between stages makes a surprisingly substantial difference to how the two games feel.

In both games, the playable ships make a huge difference to how things unfold, too. Some ships are set up for rapid fire and wide multishot capabilities; others are designed to have slower, more powerful, precise shots. Some are capable of hosting “assistants” or “drones” that support the main ship’s firepower, while others are reliant on their own capabilities. These aren’t just gimmicks; playing through either Waifu Uncovered or Waifu Discovered 2 with the different ships provides a ton of replay value.

Multiple difficulty levels provide some longevity to the experience, too, even if you’re a “once and done” kind of player. The Beginner and Normal modes are accessible and relatively easy to clear, but you don’t get to see all the girls on offer. The true Waifu Uncovered and Waifu Discovered 2 experience comes in the form of the challenging Arcade mode, which features the full 8 stages plus a noticeable increase in challenge factor — particularly in the original Waifu Uncovered, which starts throwing two bosses at you simultaneously in its later stages, making for some pretty hair-raising encounters.

Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy

Simultaneously the best and worst thing about Waifu Uncovered and Waifu Discovered 2 is how they completely subvert the expectations set by their titles. It would be completely understandable for anyone to pass up these games on the assumption that they are shovelware based on the titles alone, since there’s certainly no shortage of garbage on both Steam and the Nintendo eShop with “Waifu” as a prefix. But no; both Waifu Uncovered and Waifu Discovered 2 are genuinely solid games that have a good sense of humour, a good sense of game design, some cracking music and some attractive artwork — though it’s worth noting that the art in Waifu Discovered 2 is significantly better than in the first.

Certain aspects of both games give the impression that the Waifu Uncovered project as a whole may well have started as a simple meme game — the presence of “asteroids” with various rage faces would seem to back this up — but gradually grew into something much greater as the creators really got into what they were making.

Regardless of how the development process actually went, the two games are eminently worth playing — and I was pleased to rediscover that Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy doesn’t completely replace Waifu Uncovered, either. Waifu Uncovered presents a more straightforward, arcade-style experience that you just sit down and play, while Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy’s added depth provides a little more meat on the bones as well as some additional polish to the experience as a whole.

Waifu Uncovered

Now, the big question is: will we ever see a third one? One Hand Free Studios initially released Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy in Early Access on Steam before polishing it up and working with eastasiasoft to port it to Switch in 2021, but we haven’t seen anything completely new from them for a while, aside from a brief teaser in November of 2022. I know I certainly wouldn’t object to a new game in the series, perhaps with a new distinct theme. Waifu Recovered 3: Sci-Fi Fantasy, perhaps?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But in the meantime, if you’re yet to play either Waifu Uncovered or its follow-up Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy, I encourage you to give them a go. They’re both great shoot ’em ups and great lewd games to boot — and solid work like this is always worth our support.

Waifu Uncovered is available for PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch. An uncensored physical version is available via FunBox Media. Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy is also available for PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch, and likewise has an uncensored physical version available via FunBox Media.

Disclosure note: Pete’s name appears in the end credits for Waifu Discovered 2: Medieval Fantasy. This was added as a thank you for our previous coverage of the games in the series, and did not involve any special favours or preferential treatment.

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Pete Davison
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