When asking some members of the NicheGamer community on a odd game I should review I took a big risk. The criteria that I set for the selection was that it had to be a little known current generation game, and it had to have English text as a minimum so I could understand what is happening. So with that, the result for which game I should review was almost unanimous. The result was D3 Publisher’s Bullet Girls Phantasia.
Bullet Girls Phantasia
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Developer: H2 Interactive/D3 Publisher
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstatation Vita
Release Date: August 9 2018
Players: 1 Player
Price: $48.99 (Standard Edition), $109.99 (Special Edition)
Having never played a Bullet Girls game before, I was interested in it and unsure of what kind of ride I was in for. Importing the game from our affiliate Play-Asia, I kept switching between multiple thoughts, such as if it was a worthwhile import, being excited for a new game in my collection, or if I made a big mistake.
Before I talk about the game, I want to make a note about it. It’s highly focused on erotic aspects to the point where its easy to say if this game was planned for a western release, it would of gone the way of Omega Labyrinth Z – which had its western launch cancelled. I have been personally making a big deal about this review, but not only because it would be shunned by most other sites.
To get it out of the way early, my opinion on sexualized games is simple: I don’t care. I play games for fun and if something appeals to me I will get it and play it disregarding the context and content of it. I am not here to tell someone they cannot play a game because it’s something I personally object to. Never allow someone to influence you to not get a game because they are offended, get the games you want and make your own choices.
While I don’t actively seek out games like BGP, I am grateful for the courage of companies like Play-Asia who choose to sell titles such as this, despite potential backlash. I strongly hope that more translated titles that identity puritans will attack and shun become accessible, even if they have to be imported. If highly politicized games they designate should exist, so should one such as this. With that being out of the way, lets discuss the game.
The story begins at Misakimori Academy during a meeting of the Rangers Corps, fighters that specialize in training with military weapons for the purpose of self defense. Mysteriously, a portal opens up, pulling Aya Honomoto into it with the other characters to follow. Transported to a new world, the girls are left unaware of their new location. With a plan to find a way home, and the realization that their training weapons now are fully functional, they begin setting up camp. Shortly after they get tied up with the people of this land. The threat? A black dragon.
Do not expect any type of in-depth story with this game as overall it feels more like season filler anime. It’s overly generic, making it easy for me to become uninterested in the overall plot at multiple points. More often than not I was able to easily say how a specific point in the game would turn out. Luckily for myself, I jumped in with almost zero expectations so I was not easily disappointed. If someone tried to explain the story to me I probably would of completely avoided the game.
The characters, however, do save the game from being a complete waste of time in its storytelling. While the large main cast of characters are mostly based on traditional anime tropes, the conversations and banter between them carried my interest. From Aki’s flirtatious nature, to Aya’s upbeat enthusiasm, the lighthearted tones of each one of them led to some funny and often awkward situations.
The story is told in still frames with 3D animated characters much to the same style as Senran Kagura. The character models have some exaggerated animations in a couple of cases that took a bit to get use to. One of which that stood out the most for me was Aki’s introduction, which had her rubbing up the sides of her body in a seductive manor while speaking. After a while, these storytelling moments I more or less got used to it.
Since this is a translated import game, the one major aspect that seems to suffer quite a bit commonly is the translation. I am happy to say that Bullet Girls rarely suffered from this and overall everything seemed to be well written. Very few times I noticed a couple of issues with the text, but listening to the fully voiced dialog in its Japanese language, which was done very well, I chocked it up to character quirks. I feel it was safe to assume this as some of them happened with specific characters.
The sound design for the game overall works well enough. While some of the sounds such as gunfire or enemy sounds are bit drowned out, its not exactly bad in any way. Most sounds over all come off louder than the backround music in the game which acts as a decent signal of things going on. Its overall passable for the most part but don’t expect anything to really jump out at you. Where the sound hurts the most is the enemy monster noises which you will repeat often and sounds phoned in.
When booting up to the title screen you are greeted with the intro track titled Piercing Bullet, which nicely fits the tone of the game. A few other tracks are also done nicely and sound like they could fit into an anime-based JRPG from the PlayStation era. In some other cases the songs were more silly, like being taken from a comedy anime. In some missions songs try to take a more serious tone, but in the end feel like a short repetitive loop.
The major problem with the music is that it tends to sound a bit inconsistent with the tone it tries to bring to the current environment in the game. While I get that it is trying to put in anime qualities into a video game, there is a point where it becomes to much and in quite a few points this game took it that one step too far or short in shifting with the current actions taking place. This makes it feel a little bit messy. Still, for myself none of the tracks really stood out as being terrible, only a handful ever really became memorable.
Visually, the game is also a mixed bag. Character models for the main cast are done well and have a good amount of cel-shading with some highlights in textures detailing in that anime theme. This goes as far as to extend into their swappable clothing, hats, and even weapons. Likewise, each one has relatively smooth animations, overall they give a very pleasing visual experience. It’s very noticeable how much care went into them due to specific gameplay elements, which I’ll discuss later.
Where it falls flat visually is with everything else. Terrain, enemies, and other assets for levels are all bland and simple. This also remains true with the animations of enemies and bosses alike. Visually this makes it feel similar to the same graphical fidelity of a late PlayStation 2 to early PlayStation 3 game. It’s very easy to tell that this limitation is set due to it being released on both the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. It took a little bit of getting used to but did not disrupt the overall gameplay.
The core gameplay for Bullet Girls Phantasia is done much like D3 Publisher’s other series, Earth Defense Force. Most of the time you are going from point A to point B with an NPC partner while you battle enemies. At times enemy spawn points are represented by gold piles along the way with the occasional boss. Most enemies have a core that is a marker for their weak point. This area does increased damage and allows you to dispose of them quicker. Throughout the game, the majority of the missions I played on normal difficulty could be completed in under 15 minutes.
Throughout the waves of enemies I fought I really had no trouble with them due to the really dumb AI. The vast majority of time enemies would just try to find the quickest way to get to me and attack. I guess not much can be expected due to the enemies mostly consisting of orcs, slimes, golems and the undead. Some ranged attacks would clip through walls, enemies would have trouble pathing to me, in essence it has a lot of elements that could make it a bad game. Even bosses themselves with enhanced speed and different abilities would all suffer faults like these.
Higher difficulty settings didn’t help either, the majority of the time attacks would just become more powerful and some enemies would have different types of attacks as well. Even missions on the highest difficulty would all have these patterns. What’s worse is that when surrounded with no room to escape on almost any difficulty, one hit can lead to your defeat, due to them constantly attacking you with very little recovery time. The same also happens with some bosses, specifically in extra missions.
Each character has some differences besides their looks. While you can simply choose your favorite girl and jump in, each one has a main weapon type they must use, a passive effect, as well as a special attack that is gained over the course of playing. Some of these attacks include area of effect attacks that add a turret on the field, or dropping a tank for you to use. While they don’t have too much of a different feel save a character that prefers melee weapons, most of the time you are free to use who you want unless storyline reasons prevents you from doing so.
Melee weapons, as well as the bow, should be avoided at all costs. More often than not they would get me into a lot of trouble and would leave me open to being hit quite easily. While some of them are powerful, they are subpar as a whole compared to the modern weapons in the game. Even on characters whose specialty is melee, it constantly feels like it under-performs and is more trouble than they are worth. Thankfully, each character can use up to three different weapons as long as one of them is their specialty.
A major conflict I have with this aspect of the game is the same that I feel with Earth Defense Force. The complete absence of polish and disregard of any type of in-depth gameplay makes for a bad game. Adding in the overall mindless nature of the missions and dumb single minded AI, overall this recipe would lead quickly to a disaster of a game. Still, I ended up putting in a lot more hours with the story and sub missions that were available for me to play, and I had a lot of fun doing so.
The game itself is grind heavy for character experience, money, materials, and collectibles. As each character levels up, you are able to give additional bonuses in the same manner as a JRPG style upgrade grid. Materials also add additional bonuses as you equip them using slots that you receive every so often as you level. Money is used for buying new weapons and clothing, which act as armor. While weapons themselves are cheap, clothing is very expensive, especially at the start of the game.
A major part of the grind are the collectibles. Simply put, you’ll find bras and panties with special stats that add more upgrades to your characters. These can range from effects such as experience bonuses, to better attack damage, or adding more defense. While the effects might not be much, every little bit in terms of stat increases helps, especially if you play on the higher difficulties.
Up until this point this review has been tame, however, now I’m purposefully shutting off my filter a little bit to let my inner monologue do some of the talking. So if for some reason you need a damn trigger warning for some reason, there it is. For the people thinking ‘shut up and get on with it’, let’s continue.
As I said previously clothing acts as armor and is its own double edge sword, to a point. While it does protect you from damage, eventually damage to your character will have you running around in bras and panties. You can select your own censoring for covering the girls naughty bits. The standard is clouds which looks just as it sounds. The absolute worst one is dark matter which looks like black scribbles. The one that most of you have or will get the game is light. While it does censor a bit, the most of the female body is shown as you can see band aids covering the nipple areas.
When clothing takes enough damage there is a few seconds of cuts being made to the character, showing their clothing ripping off. This can become insanely frequent and annoying. On harder modes it happened so frequently that I never thought I would yell at my screen “JUST GET NAKED AND LET ME PLAY THE FUCKING GAME!” almost loud enough to make me look like a perverted idiot to my neighbor. Lucky, when I looked in options, I found the developer has decided to add the ability into the game that allows this to be turned off.
When I was asked about this game from another staff writer, Caitlin, if it has a lot of ‘plot’, the best answer I could give was: “Ever want to shove a dick shaped mushroom in a dark elf’s mouth while poking her sister in the tit with a popsicle?” Yes, this can happen in the game, and it’s about 25% of the gameplay. Welcome to the full blown weeb degeneracy that would get this game banned in the west. While Bullet Girls is not a hentai game, it is highly sexual in ways that would cause your family to question your place in society.
Beyond the missions there is Intensive Drilling as a gameplay mechanic. Think of it as a way to interrogate a character, by methods of light BDSM. As you progress through the game more poses, characters, and interrogation devices are unlocked. There are three different mods as well, which include single drilling, double drilling, which involves two characters, and reverse drilling – which puts you on the receiving end. I now understand why our community told me to review this game.
Both single and double drilling has you doing all the dirty work. You select 4 different items to use and find key points on the girls body to poke. Each character has different items and areas they liked to have things done to. They’ll not only show a rating to let you know where the best place is, but also suggestively tell you if it feels good or bad. Each one of them becomes a frantic action puzzle-like guessing game in order to get a high rating and some extra money.
The tools for you to use are also bought with money from the games shop, and all carry a hefty price adding to the grind. You start with relatively simple methods such as groping, rubbing, spanking, and even a tube of condensed milk that, when used, make the characters and screens look like they were covered in copious amounts of semen. However, throughout the game you can get items that cause more effects, such as a mushroom that when inserted in a girls mouth causes your actions to have bonuses, or a popsicle that increases the amount of time you have.
Have you ever wanted to be slapped around by an anime girl in full glorious 3D? Well there is a mode for you my friend! Reverse drilling is the opposite of the standard drilling. It switches to a first person perspective where items are being used on you. The character will choose a preferred item on you and begin having their way with you. This mostly revolves around mashing circle till your finger screams in painful agony, while animations happen to raise a meter. You can adjust the camera to stare at their chests or look away, which hilariously gets them angry. There is also a way to beg for a different item to be used on you, and in a hard or soft manner.
As I played the drilling I would often break out into hysterical laughter due to the culture shock of this game and the constant wonder of what the hell I am doing with my life. Beyond the amount of “why boners” this game attempted to give to me, I have to be honest and say that intensive drilling is not only pure fan service, but it’s a decent mini game. While it does depend on the type of person playing the game in levels of enjoyment, for myself I would say that this was unexpected. The pure amount of laughter I got disputed the required thought draining and emotional soul sucking it took from me to have admitted I was entertained.
One thing to note is that while the game is strong on its sexual themes compared to a lot of titles, many other games show more than Bullet Girls Phantasia does. Yes, when armor is damaged clothing comes off and girls are running around naked (why aren’t they cold?!). It’s true that the intensive drilling is strongly suggestive. Game series such as Mass Effect, Grand Theft Auto, and The Witcher show far more than Bullet Girls does and in the long run when thinking about it, this game seems more tame than mainstream titles. Bullet Girls just seems to know what it is and flaunts that unapologetically.
As I said before, I have the same conflict with Bullet Girls Phantasia as I do with Earth Defense Force. The AI is bad, the story is weak, and overall it should be a bad game. However, they end up being more fun than I like giving them credit for. The flaws they have are apparent right from the start, however everything as a complete package ends up being an arcade-like experience. Even the intensive drilling being somewhat of a gimmick and a joke included in the story ends up being a perverted and fun deviation from the main shooter aspects of the game – even if I cringe at times.
Bullet Girls Phantasia really does fall along the lines of a love it or hate it game. Even now I still sit here wondering how in the hell I had this much fun with a game that I had no interest in but was asked by our community to cover. Make no mistake, this game would be instantly banned and ridiculed by western authoritarians and your only option is to import it. With the oversized but still beautiful special edition copy now sitting on my shelf, I can only hope that people do not look at it and question how much of a pervert I am – for a game I honestly had a great time with.
If you want to get yourself a copy, please check out listings via our affiliate, Play-Asia:
- PlayStation 4: Standard Edition – Limited Edition
- PlayStation Vita: Standard Edition – Limited Edition
Bullet Girls Phantasia was reviewed on Playstation 4 using retail purchased copy from by Play-Asia. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8
- Fun even if somewhat simplistic game play
- Main cast models have a good detail and jump out well
- Hilarious moments throughout keep it interesting even when the story does not keep up
- The moment I saw Aki Saotome dropping in a tank in battle dethroning others as the best girl in the game
- Bad AI with both enemies and bosses
- Predictable and cliche story falls flat often
- Grind Heavy to buy gear, clothing, and interrogation items
- Soundtrack is ok but not great