Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors Review (PS Vita)

Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors Review (PS Vita)

The more I think about the premise of Criminal Girls 2, the more awesome it is. The concept is really cool. In this version of Earth there are delinquents, classified as such because they died before they could become true convicts. Basically destined to be criminals, but died too soon. They are sent to the Hell Spire where you, as a programme instructor, are to guide them back to Earth and let them be reformed. It’s a cool modern day Japanese Sci-Fi thing and I really like it.

That’s not everything though. Something goes wrong with the programme and you and your group are suspected of being involved. Why? Well, your record states that you are supposed to be guiding six girls to reformation but you have seven instead. One of them is a convict in disguise. Your punishment is getting straight to the depths of true hell. Not content with staying here. You want to guide your group all the way through Hell, back to the Hell Spire and then finally freedom.

It’s a very interesting story that has enough twists and turns to keep you entertained. I will say though that early on the bickering between the girls as to who the traitor is does get tiresome at times and it does feel like you’ve witnessed the same dialogue more than a couple of times.

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The characters are all uniquely distinct from one another and despite the large cast given right from the off, you get to know them all pretty much instantly. A downside to this is that they are really quite stereotypical anime characters. You have the immensely shy one, the super intelligent one, the rich snob, the ditzy one, the plucky one, the promiscuous one and the perfect one. It’s hard to look past that at first, but as you go further into the game I really do think there is some nice development for the girls and you learn why they are as they are. It’s one of the strengths of the game for me.

The main gameplay element of Criminal Girls 2 is walking around the dungeon and fighting battles in a standard JRPG way. While they look really nice and cool, dungeons themselves can be unremarkable and as I said in the preview quite flat-pack, the corridors and rooms tend to be the same elements reposted. Saying that there are a fair few environments the further you go up the dungeon floor, so you’re not looking at the same scenery for too long.

The battles system is really quite simplistic and enjoyable. Out of the seven girls at your disposal you can have four in battle at once, spread to the four corners of the screen. Each of the girls have unique abilities from each other although in your turn you can only select one girl to act. Even then, the girls have one randomly selected move to use. So basically during your turn you can select only one of four random abilities. There is a little predictability for what could come up, especially if someone in your party needs healing then a healing ability is almost guaranteed to make an appearance. You can’t help but feel that having all the moves your fighters know would be nice, but I suppose this way adds more variety to the random battles.

One thing I like about the battle system is that it allows you to also use one item and switch a team member per round, without taking away your precious ability use. I found items incredibly useful, especially against boss battles and they can add a lot of strategy to the game, something that other RPGs generally fail at.

One of my biggest complaints about Criminal Girls 2 is the grinding. Normally I don’t mind a little bit of grinding, but the difficulty spike between end of dungeon bosses and the random battles is often insane. You can often breeze through the normal battles without too many worries, even upon entering a new area with more dangerous foes. Once you get to the boss however, you can guaranteed to be wiped out almost instantly. Gaining levels for the boss is a must, as is stockpiling items and teaching your girls new abilities (something which I’ll talk about very soon), and it really is soul sucking. Sure the battles are over in a matter of seconds but walking up and down near the restore point really can take a lot of the fun out of the game. If you don’t enjoy grinding, you probably should avoid Criminal Girls 2 and that is a shame.

There has been a bit of a fuss surrounding Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. Despite some localisation edits, the game was still refused classification in Germany due to its content, some of which is enough to make grown men blush. What is this content? Motivation. Which is basically a euphemism for S&M. In order to teach the girls new abilities you need to punish them in supposedly sexual ways, although instead it comes across as silly and childish. These Motivations come in the form of mini-games that are gradually unlocked the further you progress. The first involved scrubbing your girls with a brush, before moving on to spanking and even drowning them in goo. You can’t do it as much as you please since you need to spend the games currency every time, and the more they learn, the more expensive it is.

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Do I find it offensive? Not really, it’s more of a shake of the head and a “oh you!” kind of thing. I think the localisation team have done a good job with it. A lot of people have cried out against censorship but to be honest, would you be happy tying a 13 year old girl up against her will and spanking her sexually? At least in this localisation they’ve kind of made it more of a mutual decision and done away with chains and things, which is a thumbs up from me. They’ve toned it down to a somewhat acceptable level.

Visually the game is quite nice to look at. The characters are well drawn, the environments are distinct and appealing. Each area contrasts in colour from each other and so you’re always looking forward to seeing the next section. The music in the game is pretty good although I’m not sure I can fully get behind the main battle theme which I find slightly off. The dainty violin doesn’t do anything for me. Aside from that it’s a good listen.

Did I enjoy Criminal Girls 2? Surprisingly, yes. I enjoyed the story and the character development; the battle system is also quite fun. The Motivation sections didn’t bother me, although I suspect I would never play it in public. The generic dungeon layout is disappointing although can be overlooked as you often move to different locations. The one big downfall of Criminal Girls 2 is the grinding. It really brings the game to a halt and at times you feel you could be doing something more enjoyable with your life. Obviously it won’t affect everyone but anyone averse to grinding should stay clear. There is an easy mode but I’m not quite sure how it affects the situation to be honest. Aside from that Criminal Girls 2 is a solid game for your Vita, just don’t play it while on the bus.

Good points

  • Nice Story
  • Character development
  • Fun battle system

Bad points

  • Grinding

Game provided by NIS America

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