A fun and wacky platformer worth committing to.
The concept of the damsel in distress is nothing new, especially when it comes to video games. Think for a moment…what’s probably the single most famous story in all of gaming? We all know it: Bowser has once again kidnapped Princess Peach, and Mario has got to get her back. It’s been done so many times that it’s become something of a cliché, and you might even find it a bit boring. That doesn’t mean the idea has to be abandoned, though. Instead, we might ask what would happen if the formula was shaken up a bit? EastAsiaSoft has striven to do just that with their wild and raunchy platformer, Wife Quest. You won’t find a man trying to save the princess from a giant monster here. Instead, Wife Quest features a sword-wielding woman on a mission to rescue her hapless husband from the clutches of a band of seductive monster girls. These lethal ladies are looking to claim a piece of the man for themselves, and they’ll stop at nothing to retain him.
Wife Quest tells the story of Mia, a mighty warrior, and her mild-mannered husband, Fernando the farmer. The two live together in marital bliss, save for constant attacks from the aggressively flirtatious monster girls that roam the countryside. Their sole mission is to kidnap the innocent Fernando, as he appears to be the only man in all the land. Luckily, Mia’s talent with a blade allows her to keep her husband safe with bombastic overprotectiveness. Even Mia has to sleep sometimes, though, so when her husband is captured in the middle of the night, she sets out with sword in hand on a quest to get him home safe and sound.
Mia’s adventure sees her navigate a series of side-scrolling stages broken up into multiple sections, all with platforming challenges and vicious monster girls. At the start of the game, you have nothing more than a simple sword swipe to defend yourself with. At the end of each stage, Mia will acquire a new weapon of some sort. These range from a shield for use in blocking enemy attacks and reflecting projectiles to a pair of wings which allow you to glide across short distances. Each subsequent stage is built around Mia’s most recently-acquired ability, ensuring the game stays challenging even as your arsenal grows.
Wife Quest has a great level of difficulty, hitting that sweet spot where the gameplay is hard, but not frustrating. No challenge in Wife Quest ever feels insurmountable. The solution to any given problem is always right there if you’re willing to look for it. This leads to more difficult sections that make you want to keep trying, rather than give up.
For example, boss fights are long, multi-staged affairs, so they’re quite the endurance test. They’re kept fun, however, due to their reliance on clear patterns that can be memorized to achieve success. The multiple attempts usually required to overcome bosses don’t feel frustrating, since each attempt helps you realize that you’re slowly getting better.
Some of the game’s platforming sections are quite difficult, but it’s always evident which path you’re supposed to take to move forwards. The challenge isn’t in the drudgery of trying to figure out where to go, but in the quick reactions necessary to make it to your goal. In a wonderful touch, levels are filled with tons of checkpoints, so even if you do die repeatedly, you probably won’t get sent back too far.
Wife Quest’s gameplay is pretty stellar overall. Combat is dynamic and encourages a lot of moving around to find the best opportunities to attack. Every new ability blends with the others seamlessly, leading to your character feeling more and more complete as your skill increases. I did find myself wishing that Mia’s base movement was a little bit more dynamic, perhaps with different jump heights or wall jumps, but overall, there isn’t much to complain about.
The enjoyability is certainly improved by the game’s charming pixel art, which looks really nice. It’s relatively bright and colorful, with crisp outlines that keep objects and characters from blending into the background, and particularly great lighting. A number of other touches add some nice visual flair, with my favorite being how Mia’s icon in the top left corner changes her expression when you attack or take hits. It isn’t the most impressive pixel art I’ve ever seen, but it’s very solid and has a lot of personality to it.
Speaking of personality, Wife Quest has personality to spare, and a very distinctive personality at that. While its core premise seems to be an attempt to invert a somewhat sexist trope, I’m not sure I’d say the execution comes off as particularly respectful towards women. All of the female characters present (so, literally everyone except Fernando) don’t really have any character traits or motivations outside of either claiming a man for themselves or protecting the man they’re already with. Every interaction Mia has with a monster lady is basically just them fighting over Fernando and insulting each other, calling one another ‘dirty’, ‘flat-chested’, ‘insects’, ‘ugly’, and of course, ‘bitches.’ I’m kind of torn on this; it gets to be a bit much sometimes and I didn’t always feel great reading the dialogue. That said, there are some absolutely great lines to be found here, and the game clearly isn’t trying to make any super serious point about anything, gender roles or otherwise. Wife Quest is ridiculous and over the top just for the sake of it, and that will either work for you or it won’t.
Wife Quest is also relatively raunchy, but in a cartoonish way. There’s a bit of implied sexual activity at the end and some innuendos along the way, some monster girls with moderately risqué designs, and of course a bit of light cursing, but nothing that would make your mother blow her lid if she walked passed.
Probably the most genuinely inappropriate thing present here is the gratuitous violence, funnily enough. Whenever you defeat an enemy, you’ll have the option to kill them as they lie dazed and beaten on the ground. Each enemy type has a unique animation showing Mia killing them in her own brutally creative way. Every time you choose to kill a new enemy type, you unlock their death animation, which can be viewed later on the menu. Once you’ve unlocked a kill animation for a type of enemy, there’s not much real benefit to going through with the deed other than maybe catharsis, but there’s no penalty for it either. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy doing, go crazy.
Wife Quest is like an insanely comfortable jacket that has a bunch of scantily-clad anime girls printed on it; I’m not sure I love the outward appearance, but I can’t deny I love wearing the jacket. The graphic violence and cattiness can be equal parts weird, funny, and uncomfortable, and for me, the humor doesn’t outweigh the off-putting feeling. This is definitely a brand of humor that works well for some people, however. What matters most for me is that the gameplay is challenging, engaging, and just plain fun. Thanks to these elements, I can overlook a lot of the more subjective issues and simply have a great time playing it.
Wife Quest takes around ten hours to complete, so it’s a lot of fun in a pretty short amount of time. If you’re in the market for an excellent platformer and you either enjoy/can look past the odd vulgarity, you’ll probably have a monstrously good time with Wife Quest.
Brendan Trump is a features writer and game reviewer for GoNintendo. His opinions about everything are entirely correct.