Thanks to NIS America for the review code
Title: Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release Date: 10/11/2016
Taking control of an amnesiac known only as the “Program Instructor”, you’re tasked with guiding a group of deceased delinquents through the Hell Spire, escorting them so they can qualify for Reformation and return to their normal lives! However, your group is warped to the edges of hell, and must work their way back to the spire! You also discover that there’s a Convict hiding in your group, meaning that not everyone is who they claim to be…
When it comes to the presentation, Criminal Girls 2 is self-aware what type of game it is, as most of the time the game is presented in a chibi style, with it only showing the real proportions of the characters during dialogue, cutscenes and the minigames. In a way, it’s amusing how a game that seems like the most suggestive thing ever is actually something that’s more tame, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t suggestive moments to be seen, as there are quite a lot of them, both through dialogue and especially through the minigames, some of which can get really weird.
That’s not much of a knock on the game though, as in all honesty those odd moments and the battle system end up with more effort put into them than what went into the overworld animations, with movements that aren’t as well animated as they could have been along with some dull dungeon backgrounds from time to time. Thankfully the chibi designs of the girls in menus and battles look fine, as they manage to be very expressive.
When it comes to the sound, the usual fare for games of this genre apply, with Japanese voice acting, andmusic that can be hits (Battle themes) or misses, (Some dungeon themes) so there isn’t much extra to comment on in that regard.
Mixing traditional RPG dungeon crawling and some odd minigames, Criminal Girls 2 tasks you with going throughout multiple sections of the Hell Spire, and this is done by choosing a team of four girls to help you with the random encounters you’ll face. Battles are one major part of Criminal Girls 2, and they’re done in a much quicker way than what you’d expect from a typical RPG. Instead of having to go through menus and choose the right move, the girls simply attack based on their attribute (M or S) and their effects from the coaching you give them. (More on that later)
Each girl will have a simple command listed for you to choose from, and you can only select one per turn. For example, one girl may attack an enemy twice in one turn after getting assistance from a party member, while another may dedicate the turn to healing the party. Of course, if you aren’t happy with a current pool of moves, you can switch out one of your party members with the L button, but it isn’t a guarantee that things will be improved through your choice. In a way, this random pool of options helps keep the game fresh, although it can be rather annoying when you’re in a pinch and you don’t have any healing commands or items available for use.
Luckily, that’s where Coaching comes into play. With four options to choose from, (Scold, Praise, Sympathize and Worry) you can motivate or demotivate your current team, which can cause them to get a short power boost or use one of their stronger skills, while doing the opposite for those who get demotivated. In boss battles, this is practically essential for taking them out, and is a skill that must be mastered in order to make progress, though even then these boss battles take an insane amount of time to finish.
That just leaves one other major gameplay mechanic to discuss, the motivation minigames. These suggestive minigames are what you need to do in order to gain new skills and level up the ones you currently have, and you access them by choosing a girl and spending currency known as CM (gained after battle just like EXP) to start a session. These minigames don’t usually last that long, and have will have you using the Vita’s analog sticks and buttons in various ways to do whatever the game asks you to do, from scrubbing the bodies of the girls as quickly as possible, spanking them with a whip, or a few other things that make little sense. Nevertheless, the most “risque” and expensive the minigame, the stronger skills you can unlock when you level someone up. It’s a very odd substitute for simply leveling up your characters in battle, (which still happens and just awards you better stats instead) but somehow it manages to work without being too much of a distraction.
In conclusion, Criminal Girls 2 is definitely a game worthy of the M Rating on the box, and the game is clearly self-aware of this fact, providing a quirky RPG experience that’s easy to pick up and play. Honestly, the only major faults I could find with this game come from features already native to the genre, (repetitive battles and some grinding) and the sole existence of the suggestive content, which is clearly not for everyone. Personally, I was able to tolerate it considering the nature of the story, (helping the girls redeem themselves) but I do realize that the content in the game could be very touchy or flat-out forbidden for some. In the end, this game is really just another run of the mill RPG with a high challenge, and your enjoyment will depend solely on whether or not you mind these mechanics or the themes in the game. I give Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors a 7 out of 10, and recommend it to RPG fans willing to try a darker, tougher RPG.