Exploring Ecchi: The NSFW History of D3 Publisher’s Bullet Girls

 

D3 Publisher’s ode to ecchi & Japan’s fascination with fanservice!

Machismo. Dominance. Blood and gore. These are probably some of the things that come to mind when you hear about third person shooters like Bullet Girls Phantasia – but normalcy isn’t the path chosen by video game developer Shade and D3 Publisher! Leave it to Japanese developers to take the familiar, add school girls and violence, and end up with an entirely new take on what makes the genre appealing! Come explore both the old and new as we delve into the history of Bullet Girls, and what makes the game appealing!

This article covers the complete history of Bullet Girls, including all games in the series. Skip to each section to learn more about the release of each game:

For the uninitiated Bullet Girls is a series of third-person shooter video games which were first offered on the PlayStation Vita, but have since expanded to the PlayStation 4 following the success of the franchise. The game was first released by gaming publisher D3 Publisher and developed by Shade in 2014 with both companies continuing to update the popular ecchi franchise to this day – including the latest title releasing for both PS4 and PSV: Bullet Girls Phantasia.

Bullet Girls has definitely started to take root in the minds of Japanese and Western fans alike due to all it has to offer up its sleeve–and skirt. Let’s take a peek into how it all began, and where this ecchi shooter is going, in the naughty yet noteworthy history of Bullet Girls.

D3 Publisher: the ecchi extraordinaires

Before we get any further, there are two important concepts that need to be understood in order to appreciate the world that Bullet Girls comes from. Those two concepts are “ecchi” and “fanservice” in video games, and are key to understanding the correct way to approach media of this nature.

Ecchi (エッチ) is a term used in Japan that refers to playful sexuality. The word has connotations of being dirty or naughty but lacks the common Western association with perversion. For fans of Japanese media the word ecchi simply refers to content that has strong sexual overtones. Be careful not to confuse this concept with hentai, which features actual sexual intercourse and is considered perverse, even in Japan.

Bullet Girls as a series is defined by its no holds barred approach to both the ecchi themes and not-so-subtle fanservice that can literally be found at any point in the game. Keep in mind these types of features are intentionally unavoidable and are meant to define the experience of gamers who explore the digital world of exploding clothes, cute girls, and dangerous weapons.

While the gameplay itself is genuinely solid, the main discussion point surrounding Bullet Girls has always been the “clothes degradation” mechanic. This is where battle damage reveals specific parts of the girls’ clothing; which can be targeted to specifically reveal a desired area – including cut-in erotic images to truly bring the sex appeal up to 100.

Fanservice (ファンサービス) is a term that originated from anime & manga fandoms in Japan. The core idea of fanservice is to give fans exactly what they want, and very often in Japanese video games this comes down to teasing the audience with suggestive artwork and character design. While less common in Western media fanservice exists in the form of cheerleaders at football games, or Marvel’s Swimsuit Specials.

With thousands of customisation options for everything down to the pattern of the underwear worn, Bullet Girls was by no means D3 Publisher’s first dip into the sometimes controversial pool of sexuality and gaming. The developers are no strangers to the genre having released equally tantalising titles in the past such as the Natsuiro High School, where players are encouraged to take “up skirt” shots with their in-game camera, and School Girl/Zombie Hunter, which follows five young girls in their scantily clad battle for survival.

With even more games on the way nothing seems to be able to stop D3 Publisher’s ecchi invasion!

Bullet Girls Phantasia, ecchi interrogation in English!

The Bullet Girls franchise has existed for just three years and yet in that short period D3 Publisher and Shade have had the opportunity to expose the fans of Japanese media to an ecchi wonderland.  The latest instalment in the franchise: Bullet Girls Phantasia will be the first title with the opportunity to expose the entire world to ecchi magic. For the first time ever H2 INTERACTIVE have been announced as the official localisation team behind the PSV and PS4 versions set to release Spring 2018! What that means is for the first time the Bullet Girls series will be available in English! We’re also very happy to report that the content found in the ASIA/English version will be exactly the same as the Japanese version, unlike similar situations in the past.

Bullet Girls Phantasia brings school girls & fantasy together!

Schoolgirls meet fantasy, meets … tanks?! 

Bullet Girls Phantasia switches up the formula used in the previous releases, and takes things from the classroom to the fantasy land of Midgard when the members of the Ranger Club are mysteriously transported to a new territory. That means players will be entering a land of orcs and elves, where huge numbers of dangerous creatures are ready to take their life – and their clothes! Fear not, because despite the new setting you’ll still be rolling through enemies with modern weapons like rifles, shotguns, and… tanks! The more traditional fantasy fare like swords will be present as well, but the efficiency of destruction provided by a tank is too much for this fan to give up!

The clothes come off in Bullet Girls Phantasia

Bullet Girls Phantasia will be the first game in the series to release with English language options thanks to H2 Interactive! All content will be identical to the Japanese version!

One thing that will never be changed is the clothing destruction mechanics found in every Bullet Girls title released! The monsters that players fight can inflict destruction on the girls’ clothing, in a truly interactive health bar. The items of clothing covering the backs, arms, and other body parts of the characters corresponds with their current stamina. If certain areas are continuously attacked, those areas will take damage eventually revealing the bare skin underneath.

All clothing in Bullet Girls can be destroyed, and that without a doubt means underwear as well. It would make sense that if a skirt can be torn off then so can a bra, and D3 Publisher seems to agree. After an intense battle it isn’t uncommon for the girls to be left naked on the battlefield. So no matter the outcome, victory or defeat, everyone leaves a winner.

Sometimes ripping clothes off in the heat of battle doesn’t fit the mood, and that is where the Bullet Girls “Pantsu Chirari Action” system comes into play. The PTA is a feature of Bullet Girls titles where players can sneak a peek up the skirts of the characters throughout various in-game scenes. That means that when the Bullet Girls crawl, engage in close-range combat, emergency evade, and even dash, players can expect to catch a glimpse of what is to come.

The monsters may not enjoy the wonders of the PTA, but us fans of the ecchi genre can’t say no!

Bullet Girls Phantasia takes interrogation to a full 360°

The interrogation training has continued to develop over the years, with the introduction of Sub and Dom roles in Bullet Girls 2 along with new and exciting tools to use, to where it is now in Bullet Girls Phantasia. Players will be able to interact with characters from the game in a full 360° camera angle environment, providing a whole new angle to the information retrieval and punishment processes in the game.

Previous iterations of the game gave players a great view, but only allowed for limited viewing angles. Now we can finally check the unique experience of a 360° digital sex dungeon off our 2018 bucket list!

Meet the newest fantasy girls in Bullet Girls Phantasia!

Apart from Aya Hinomoto and Yurina Kanezono, who are the original Bullet Girls, you will also meet two of the most sought-after girls in the all new Bullet Girls Phantasia releasing in April, 2018.

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Bullet Girls Phantasia is available in multiple languages, including ENGLISH and Traditional Chinese. This title does not currently have release plans for regions other than Japan and Asia. All content found in the complete Japanese version is also fully available in the Multi-Language Asia release. Pre-orders are now available for the April 2018 release date.

Bullet Girls Phantasia is available to pre-order now! PS4 & PSV in April 2018! 

Bullet Girls Phantasia (Multi-Language) (PlayStation 4, ASIA) US$ 55.99
Bullet Girls Phantasia (Multi-Language) (PlayStation Vita, ASIA) US$ 55.99

PRE ORDER NOW

The original reception of Bullet Girls for PSV

Bullet Girls originally debuted in August, 2014 following a plethora of fan commentary surrounding the sexual nature of the both the imagery and gameplay. Despite moderate controversy, Bullet Girls offered fans a unique experience and would remain a moderately well received Japanese-only PlayStation Vita exclusive for both the first and second releases, Bullet Girls and Bullet Girls 2, until just recently breaking out into the English and home console market in the form of a PlayStation 4 release in the ASIA region!

Bullet Girls was fairly well received by critics with a 30/40 review score given by popular Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, alongside gameplay comparisons to that of paintball from Western gaming sites such as Gematsu and Siliconera. The title sold 29,690 physical retail copies within its first week of sales in Japan, bumping it up to the overall third place software sales – a comfortable position for a brand new Japanese-only franchise.

During the first week of release Bullet Girls was the third most purchased software title in Japan. Selling a total of 29,690 copies in that week!

During the promotion of Bullet Girls, D3 Publisher went the extra mile and released a full rock theme song, including a music video, that featured an overflowing pool of voice talent including Sachika Misawa, Kaori Fukuhara, Aya Uchida, and Aya Suzaki. D3 Publisher also offered a pre-order bonus for Bullet Girls that included a variety of in-game character costumes.

This trend of pre-order bonuses would continue and improve with every subsequent release in the franchise, including the latest Play-Asia.com physical exclusive for those who pre-order Bullet Girls Phantasia!

The public questions the interrogation tactics…

If you’re unfamiliar with Bullet Girls, you probably have a certain image in mind when you think of “interrogation.” Perhaps you are referencing a James Bond villain, or maybe your mind goes to US-run detention camps in Cuba but regardless of what you’re picturing – take that thought and add some intense ecchi sexual overtones. The extraction of critical information from the opposing side in Bullet Girls is synonymous to groping, touching, and generally feeling up the ladies with multiple tools to …*ahem*… help the process along. Overall the interrogation scenes introduced in the very first Bullet Girls were more surprising than offensive, and set a whole new bar for tantalising your fans.

The interrogation scenes in Bullet Girls sparked minimal outrage, primarily from Western critics, but dodged any intense criticism largely due to the fact that it was a title manufactured solely for a domestic Japanese audience. Due to the absence of any localisation the game remained under the radar of many ecchi fans and gamers alike, allowing it to incubate in its ideal market. This cultural sensitivity to video games has been present in the West for multiple decades, forcing Japanese publishers to make hard decisions when it comes to localization. Play-Asia.com is no stranger to such critics, being big supporters of misunderstood titles like Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 which Koei Tecmo had reservations about releasing in the West due to the political climate at the time. 

Many ecchi games face difficulty localizing for non-Japanese audiences due to different cultural sensitivities to sex. This uncertainty paired with high costs is enough to force publishers into a difficult decision when it comes to international releases.

The interrogation sessions acted as mini-games throughout the story that allowed players to interact with the girls while maintaining absolute control. These sessions allowed players to choose how and where the girls were touched, and as the master of their fate you got to decide how naughty or nice they had been and administer the appropriate punishment. Interactions could range from tickling and caressing to the extreme of forcibly feeding them objects such as bananas, popsicles, and fish sticks. With a team like D3 Publisher and Shade at the helm high attention to detail is par for the course, as illustrated by the inclusion of 1,600 underwear patterns that could be customised by the player.

Meet the original Bullet Girls…

Now, without further ado, let’s meet some of the main cast of the very first release of Bullet Girls and why they’re the kind of girls you’ll want to rough up for some valuable information….

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Bullet Girls is still available and in print under Sony’s PlayStation Vita the Best series. Experience the first entry in the series on PSV!

Bullet Girls (Playstation Vita the Best) (PlayStation Vita, JPN) US$ 29.99

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Bullet Girls 2, the ecchi adventure continues

Just like its predecessor, the Bullet Girls 2 continued D3 Publisher’s quest to join fanservice and eroticism with massive weapons and wholesome schoolyard fun and destruction! Bullet Girls 2 followed its predecessor by remaining a Japanese-only PS Vita title, which obviously limited international exposure to this goldmine of ecchi, but did allow both D3 Publisher and Shade to continue to tailor the content for the less restriction domestic Japanese market. It is difficult to say whether or not that strategy served the publisher well though, as Bullet Girls 2 undersold the first week sales of the original by 9,000 copies, however still made it to the number four position in software sales for that week. The lack of sales progress, despite international recognition, likely played a large part in the decision to bring the game to a multi-language audience.

D3 Publisher brought all the big features from Bullet Girls back into the sequel, but flipped the interrogation elements on their head by allowing the player to choose to be in the dominant or submissive role. We hope you were playing nice in the first game, because now you could be on the receiving end… and karma is coming for you!

Tweaking the formula: Doms and Subs

If there is one thing D3 Publisher does well, as a titan of the fanservice industry, that is listening to fans! The interrogation scenes needed something more, but what makes sense? …How about a little role reversal? Bullet Girls 2 brings you into the world of a submissive! Interrogation scenes in Bullet Girls Phantasia will allow the normal player-dominated arena, but now allows for players to receive a taste of the punishment themselves. The “Reverse Interrogation” mechanic will allow players to be on the receiving end of the domination, opening themselves up to the same whips, chains, and fishsticks they’ve used against the ladies in the previous games!

Bullet Girls 2 Features:

  • 3rd Person Shooting Action!
  • Girls, Guns, & Fan Service!
  • Reverse Interrogation!
  • 14,400+ Customization Options!

Outside of the typical interrogation mini-game the girls will now take turns punishing the player, each time gradually becoming more audibly and visually excited! The ladies will take your tools and use them against you! Prepare for a cream pie to the face, a jet of water from a super soaker, being covered with sticky natto beans, and everyone’s favourite – force-fed a chikuwa (fish sticks)!

Uncovering the secrets of Bullet Girls 2

While the combat is great fun, and the interrogation brings your (dirty) imagination to life, the main appeal of the Bullet Girls franchise is the clothing destruction mechanic. Once again D3 Publisher made a point to one-up their previous release in both customisation and the revealing nature of the clothing.

Just like in the previous Bullet Girls title players could build a collection of clothes by destroying the corresponding parts of enemy targets during missions. However, in Bullet Girls 2 the clothing selections were no longer just cosmetic with over 120 different variations of bras and panties that offered stat and gameplay bonuses. With over 14,000 possible combinations total Bullet Girls 2 made the clothing choices of players even more than just eye candy and provided a multitude of ways to min-max your school girl seductresses.

Remembering the ladies of Bullet Girls 2

Bullet Girls 2 followed the ladies from Eldagakujin Private Institute, adding lots of new faces and personalities to interact with…

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Experience the unique gameplay found in the first game, and turn it on its head in the second! With the addition of new character designs and setting the title is a wild ride – regardless of your fetish.

Bullet Girls 2 (PlayStation Vita, JPN) US$ 59.99

BUY NOW

 

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1 Response

  1. 2018-02-18

    […] – from a partnership between D3 Publisher and H2 Interactive. Play-Asia seems to have been promoting the game heavily, suggesting the retailer expects it to be as successful as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was in […]

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