This third arcade vertical-scrolling bullet hell shooter by Neko Climax Studios and Hammerfist Studios features King bear again on his new fantasy-themed bike. King bear is mysteriously brought to a fantasy world of Hentalia by Mufasa to battle with space ships, human, elf and monster girl waifus in order to find a way to return to his world.
Over 12 levels, gameplay involves destroying enemy ships and collecting stars to build score up to 5 stars. You accumulate stars by shooting at various relevant parts of each girl's clothing (where hitboxes with a number will be shown) until it reaches zero which causes a tear or hole to be created. When the clothes or underwear are torn sufficiently, it will flash with each hit until it breaks off entirely. Earning 5 stars in a level will unlock additional levels, while reaching progress of 100% by breaking off all available girl's clothing will enable one-handed mode (auto-fire mode) on King bear's bike making it easier to score more points and unlock certain achievements.
As King bear questions each waifu (anime girl featured in each stage), he will unlock various items to gain entry to certain waifu's stage and winged creature bikes that will have different modes of fire.
The game closely follows the same gameplay and graphics with its earlier titles DEEP SPACE WAIFU and DEEP SPACE WAIFU: FLAT JUSTICE as a standalone title. It is an arcade old school retro shooter with pixelated graphics which look similar to the EGA(Enhanced Graphics Adapter) 16-colour graphics used by computers nearly 3 decades ago in the 80s. It also has equally fun and interesting gameplay where in addition to shooting at enemy spaceships and a boss ship, an additional optional goal in each level are to shoot and deal enough damage to break off each girl's clothing where there is sufficient clothing, shape and scripted level route variety in each girl's stage.
One major change in this game is the implementation of an open-world top-down 8-bit pixelated map for King bear to choose the stage to play at. For those who are familiar with the open-world retro RPGs in the 80s, it may appear nostalgic. Sadly, this feature suffers from problematic bugs where certain stages will not start, or King bear gets mysteriously stuck at a certain stage and is unable to move to choose another waifu's stage unless the player changes to another mode of input (ie. from controller to mouse or keyboard). Fortunately, the stage selection screen can also be reverted to the side-scrolling list view that is similar to the earlier titles of the series and doesn't have such bugs.
For players who prefer a more challenging arcade bullet-hell shooter, players can also choose to play the stage in Gentleman's Mode where the stage will immediately be over if any part of the girl's clothing is torn or a hole is created. This challenging game mode is entirely optional and is not required for Steam achievements or additional further unlocks.
Having played the earlier titles of the DEEP SPACE WAIFU series, the game appears to be even harder now where there are more enemy enemy spaceships with additional new enemies and enemy weapons such as turrets. There seems to be more bullets on the screen now such that in many stages, I am hardly able to follow the progress in the stage percentage completion or to see the status of the waifu's clothes, although it is still relatively easy to complete and get all achievements.
The Steam achievements feature cute anime girl portraits and pink letter icons, making it attractive to showcase on profile.
For players who prefer to uncensor and play with the adult content, it can be done easily by simply creating a blank text file with a certain name in the game's data folder (published Steam community guides are available to describe and walk players through the method).
DEEP SPACE WAIFU: FANTASY is a short casual game with fan service, decent amounts of tongue-in-cheek humour, nice vaporwave background music (BGM) and a song with vocals by Funny Death which are both pleasant and stirring and is appropriate for the 80s arcade themes. Regarding the plot and storyline, there is a bit of humour in this game as King bear questions each waifu, levels up and obtains quest items to find his way out of Hentalia, although they are not to be taken seriously as the game is intended as a parody rather than as a fantasy roleplaying game. There also seems to be a few errors in the text and dialogue.
BGM with soundtrack list on YouTube by Wasted Dealer
Overall, this game's main attractions are its casual arcade shmup gameplay, compelling BGM and artwork featuring monster girls and medieval fantasy-themed characters (For those who prefer to play the game censored, all girls will have mist covering certain parts to hide all adult NSFW content). The plot felt disjointed and difficult to follow such that after reading a storyline once, I ended up skipping it when I had to replay a stage in one-handed mode to get an achievement on each waifu's stage. This is because most of the waifus appear to be fillers and only a few are important to the game's main theme and storyline.
Despite a few problems I've encountered in the game, I would still recommend the game with soundtrack DLC for its attractive price and because the developer also appears to be responsive to fan feedback, bug reports and offers by fans to translate the game into additional languages. As such, the game has more than 330 positive reviews at the time of this review.
Initial gameplay video with author commentary on YouTube by GamersVoice