Girls' Frontline (simplified Chinese: 少女前线; traditional Chinese: 少女前線; pinyin: Shàonǚ Qiánxiàn) is a mobile strategy role-playing game for Android and iOS developed by China-based studio MICA Team, where players control echelons of android characters, known in-universe as T-Dolls, each carrying a distinctive real-world firearm. The game was released in Mainland China on 20 May 2016, in Hong Kong and Taiwan on 18 January 2017, and in South Korea on 30 June 2017. The global English version was released on 8 May 2018, while the Japanese version was released on 1 August 2018 under the title Dolls Frontline (ドールズフロントライン) due to the Girls' Frontline trademark in Japan already being held by another registrant.
Girls' Frontline Taiwanese release logo
|Genre(s)||Strategy role-playing game|
The game is a prequel of another game developed by MICA Team, Codename: Bakery Girl, released in 2004. Two television anime series based on Girls' Frontline have been produced, and an official manga is serialised monthly.
The gameplay involves the acquisition of T-Dolls through gacha game mechanics, which can then be assembled into squads known as echelons, and sent into battle to complete combat missions, simulations, or logistics support tasks. The T-Dolls are female moe androids each specialising in and inspired by one real-world small arm, which are categorised into combat classes such as handguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns and shotguns.
Missions consist of a turn-based strategy puzzle where the player directs echelons across a map consisting of linked nodes, with the goal of fulfilling pre-determined mission requirements, such as capturing an enemy command node or rescuing hostage units. Players are able to deploy, move and retreat echelons during their turn by expending action points, and likewise, the AI-controlled enemy team is able to move units during enemy turns. If a player's echelon meets an enemy unit on the same node, a combat sequence is initiated; combat is largely automated, and involves the player activating offensive and defensive skills specific to each T-Doll in real-time, along with moving individual T-Dolls across a formation consisting of a 3×3 square grid. The position of T-Dolls within the echelon's starting formation provide stat enhancements to other T-Dolls, and the individual stats and abilities of the T-Dolls altogether determine the outcome of the battle against the enemy team. Some missions, known as night-time battles, will additionally handicap the player with a limit to the number of turns possible, in addition to a fog of war mechanic restricting visibility over the strategic map. A high-score based ranking map is unlocked at the end of every major in-game event, where players can compete for rewards based on their highest score relative to other players during the duration of the event.
Additional T-Dolls are acquired through random drops after battles, or through the construction component of the game, where the player inputs a desired allotment of in-game resources to construct new T-Dolls, and the amount of resources set affects the chance of different T-Dolls being constructed through the gacha mechanic. T-Doll stats can be complimented by equipment, which are also obtained via a gacha-based construction system. Tactical fairies are non-combatant support units that can be added to echelons to provide status buffs to T-Dolls and either in-battle abilities or skills that can be used on the game map; in-universe, they are described as AI-equipped tactical drones. Closer towards the end-game, the player will gain access to Heavy Ordnance Corps (HOC) units, which are dedicated fire support units such as mortar teams and anti-tank weapons that can be moved around the map to provide supporting fire to echelons in combat from a distance. The end-game content also introduces the Protocol Assimilation system, where enemy Sangvis Ferri units can be captured, interrogated using electromagnetic pulse bursts, and then sent into battle once successfully assimilated.
Outside of combat, the player is required to manage their supply of in-game resources, level up facilities within the base to gain economic bonuses or access to different features, and improve the combat stats and abilities of T-Dolls through skill training and other character-raising mechanics. Cosmetic items such as T-Doll costumes and furniture used to decorate the dormitories of T-Dolls are obtained through another separate token-based gacha system; decorating dormitories also provides an additional effect of raising T-Dolls' affection stats. Additionally, some event-limited cosmetic items can also be purchased through real-world microtransactions. When a T-Doll's affection stat reaches 100, the player is able to give them an OATH ring, which may be purchased through the in-game shop. Their affection cap will increase to 150 and they will receive a slight stat boost.
The game is set in a war-torn future where tactical dolls, more commonly known as T-Dolls, are almost exclusively used for combat in place of humans, some having been repurposed from their previous life as civilian androids. The majority of the world is uninhabitable due to contamination from the Collapse Fluid, and much of humankind is dead. In 2062, the artificial intelligence of Sangvis Ferri spontaneously rebels, with their T-Dolls and robots killing their human masters and taking over nearby areas. In response, the private military company Grifon & Kryuger is hired to contain and eliminate Sangvis Ferri forces; the player assumes the role of a recently promoted G&K Commander. The base storyline focuses on the adventures of this commander and the AR Team consisting of M4A1, ST AR-15, M4 SOPMOD II, M16A1, and RO635. Other main characters include the commander's logistics officer, Kalina, AK-12, AN-94, and Angelia of Team DEFY and Team 404, made up of UMP45, UMP9, 416, and Gr G11.
The game has had several collaboration events with other game companies. On 4 September 2018, the PlayStation 4 rhythm game DJMax Respect introduced three songs from Girls' Frontline as DLC, while time-limited DJMax Respect mission events were added to the global release of Girls' Frontline in May 2020.
A collaboration event for Honkai Gakuen took place in November 2017 for the Chinese release of Girls' Frontline, and featured characters from that game as guest T-Dolls. On November 20, 2018, Girls' Frontline featured a crossover event with Arc System Works where Noel Vermillion and Elphelt Valentine from BlazBlue and Guilty Gear respectively would appear in the game as recruitable allies. In 2019, the game featured a collaboration event with VA-11 HALL-A, which included the addition of mission events and VA-11 HALL-A characters as obtainable T-Dolls. In 2020, a collaboration event with the Gunslinger Girl franchise took place where 5 of the cyborgs were obtainable T-Dolls with added mission events and puzzles themed after the franchise.
MICA Team originally started as a dōjin circle consisting of three people, however during the development of Girls' Frontline, gradually expanded into a company of 117 employees. The game began as an inspiration work based on Kantai Collection, however with the premise of anthropomorphized warships replaced with that of firearms, based on the team's anticipations that similar moe anthropomorphism games would become popular in China.
A television anime series featuring 12 short episodes titled Girls' Frontline: Healing Chapter (どるふろ -癒し編-, DoruFuro: Iyashi-hen) began airing on Tokyo MX and BS 11 on 5 October 2019. A second series of animated shorts titled Girls' Frontline: Madness Chapter (どるふろ -狂乱篇-, DoruFuro: Kyōran-hen) began streaming on Bilibili in October 2019, and later commenced airing on Tokyo MX and BS 11 on 28 December 2019. The Bilibili releases of both series are voiced in Mandarin Chinese, while the Japanese broadcast versions are voiced in Japanese.
An official manga series titled Girls' Frontline: The Song of Dolls (ドールズフロントライン 人形之歌) and illustrated by Miharu is published online monthly in Chinese by Bilibili, and serialised in Japanese within the Monthly Comic Rex. There are also four official manga anthology volumes published by Dengeki Bunko titled Dolls Frontline Dengeki Comic Anthology (ドールズフロントライン 電撃コミックアンソロジー) consisting of one-shots by various manga artists, and another manga anthology by Ichijinsha with four volumes titled Dolls Frontline Comic Anthology (ドールズフロントライン コミックアンソロジー) with its own separate collection of one-shot manga releases.
The theme song of the game, "Frontline!", is performed in Korean with vocals by Guriri and composition by M2U; the full track is included within the soundtrack CD bundled alongside the official artbook titled The Art Of Girls' Frontline Vol.1. A second theme performed in English titled "What Am I Fighting For" features vocals by Akino and is included within a 31-track original game soundtrack released on July 24, 2019. The game's soundtrack also features guest tracks composed by Basiscape. English and Japanese versions of "Frontline!" were later included in the second original soundtrack released on June 17, 2020; the limited edition release of this soundtrack also included a Blu-Ray for the Girls' Frontline Orchestra: Dolls with Lycoris radiata (Chinese: 人形与彼岸花) concert events which took place in Shanghai and Tokyo.
Girls' Frontline was the 3rd top grossing game by revenue on Google Play and the 5th top grossing game on the Apple App Store for the South Korean region in 2017. The perception that the game doesn't force players to use pay-to-win microtransactions compared to other mobile games, along with its encouragement of player interaction during automatic battles, are often-cited reasons for the game's popularity in South Korea, where it is the first Chinese-developed game to be able to compete with domestically created rivals.
Spin-off games and sequelsEdit
The tactical role-playing game Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery (Chinese: 逆向坍塌：面包房行动) developed by MICA Team and published by X.D. Network has been announced for Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, and smartphone platforms. Set 30 years after in the same universe as Girls' Frontline, it is a remake of the original dōjin game Code Name: Bakery Girl featuring new art, character voices, story, and game mechanics.
A sequel titled Girls' Frontline II: Exile (Chinese: 少女前线2：追放) was announced in May 2020 for release on smartphone platforms, alongside two spin-off games titled Girls' Frontline: Glitch (Chinese: 少女前线：谲境) and Project Neural Cloud (Chinese: 云图). Exile will still follow the core design of strategic combat, however will introduce 3D modelling for the characters.
- Azur Lane, a shoot 'em up game featuring moe anthropomorphisms of World War II warships
- Kantai Collection, a Japanese fleet management game which originally popularised the concept of moe anthropomorphism collection games
- Upotte!!, a Japanese manga series and television anime featuring anthropomorphized firearms as schoolgirls
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