Chips, dips, chains, whips
Hell is glorious! In my time spent there I’ve met seven smokin’ hot beauties that literally begged me to have my way with them. I’ve scrubbed, shocked, whipped, flung gooey substances, and oddly enough, squeezed bouncy balls that just so happened to be on risque parts of their bodies. Sometimes they’d let me do these unspeakable acts to two of them at the same time as they caressed each other with the hope of easing the pain or rather sharing the pleasure that I was gleefully providing. So, if you’re still reading this and not offended, I’m assuming you either love this type of game and you’re really interested in my opinion, or you’re disgusted with me and are interested in seeing how much of a fool I can make of myself as I try to review this game and convince you that I’m not a complete pervert.
Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is a solid JRPG at heart but many may not realize that just by glancing over the cover art or watching the game’s numerous sexy trailers. The story hooked me from the get-go and had me completely enthralled every moment of the 30 hours it took me to complete the campaign. I haven’t had a game that made me care about the characters this much in quite some time, and even though it sounds odd, the strange sexual acts you perform on the girls cultivates a bond like no other. It’s something most developers wouldn’t dare to attempt, but developer Nippon Ichi Software took a chance and it works nicely!
The story starts off in the depths of Hell Spire, a labyrinth in the underworld that consists of several floors that are used for semi-sinners as a rehabilitation program. If these semi-sinners pass the “Resurrection Program”, they will be granted passage back to earth to repent. The term “semi-sinner” is used to describe a person who has yet to commit a major sin, but is right on the cusp of doing so. So many of these girls don’t even know why they’ve been sent to Hell Spire and will figure it all out during the trial. This is where you come in. Your role in the story is that of a coach or instructor, and it’s your responsibility to help each of these girls face their fears and make it to the top of the spire. Seems like a straightforward task, but there is a wrench that gets thrown into the mix. The tower’s adviser, who transmits messages by way of radio, informs you that there are only supposed to be 6 semi-sinners, meaning that one has already committed a sin and it’s up to you to figure out who doesn’t belong.
The dungeon crawler aspect of Criminal Girls 2 is reminiscent of any other game in the genre. You will freely walk around a floor and the map will update on the fly, but at random intervals a battle will break out and it’s up to you to choose the girl’s attacks in a turn-based format. Actually choosing your attacks is where Criminal Girls 2 changes it up a bit. In any given fight you will start off with four (sometimes three in parts of the story) of the seven girls and you are able to switch to a different girl during your turn in the battle. You can only swap one girl per round, so it becomes a juggling act if you have multiple girls fall in a single turn, but that’s not where the change comes in though. To spice things up a bit you only get to choose one of the four girl’s attacks for the round. The girls recommend what attack they want to perform and it’s up to you to pick the best one for the job, but their recommendations cannot be changed and are sometimes not even remotely helpful depending on what situation you’re in. You must remember that these girls are pissed that they’ve been sent to Hell, and they’re not really keen on listening to you or anyone else who has any input. So how to you get these girls to fight to the best of their abilities and more importantly, gain your trust? You need to motivate them, of course!
The girls will gain experience points and level up automatically in the midst of their trek up Hell Spire, but the only benefit of gaining a new level is increased HP, MP, and a few stats. To gain new fighting abilities such as magic and powerful physical attacks the girls will have to be motivated one by one, and this is where the fun comes in. Currency earned in battle can be used to purchase items in the shop, but can also be used to unlock each character’s new abilities by using techniques such as the aforementioned scrubbing, whipping, etc. Motivation mini-games that are simplistic in nature and utilize the Vita’s touch screen, will have you poking and rubbing each girl in various spots on their bodies while they are in numerous sexy positions. The sheer act of doing this was fun but what made it come full circle was hearing the girls yell some random Japanese phrases after you’ve “finished” had me laughing and shaking my head every time. It’s the similar feeling I got when forcing a girl into complete ecstasy in Gal Gun, and it just never got old even though I’ve done it hundreds of times in my playthrough. There are a total of five motivation techniques that have four levels of unlockable attacks each. When you do get to choose an unlockable attack you better remember what that attack does, as a description for what the action actually does is nowhere to be found while in the battle. I did get a bit frustrated toward the middle of the game because there were so many attacks to remember and sometimes their names didn’t really convey what the attack did. Thankfully, toward the end of the game I used certain attacks so often that I eventually memorized the important ones. Having a description during the battle sequence would have made things a lot easier though and I wonder why attack explanations aren’t implemented.
Deciding of which of the two attacks to choose from once completing a motivation will take some planning. Attacks are in either an S or M (Sadism or Masochism) category. Depending on which one you pick will determine on how a girl responds to how you coach them during a battle. For instance, if a girl is more into masochism, she’ll be granted a temporary attribute boost if you choose to demean the girls during fight. This adds a bit of strategy on how you will approach an enemy, as it’s sometimes smart to have all girls that you selected sadism attacks together so your coaching affects them all in a positive way. If you have a mix of two sadism girls and two masochism girls together, two of the girls will get a boost from your coaching preference and the other two will take a penalty to their attacks. Like I said, there is a solid RPG built into this game that requires just the right amount of planning and thinking.
Let’s get to the girls! At the start of the game they are all very standoffish and want absolutely nothing to do with you or Hell Spire. A few of them completely refuse the Resurrection Program and wish to remain in Hell for eternity, but a few occurrences early on in the story help them change their minds pretty quickly. The connection you will feel with each girl won’t just come from performing dirty acts to them, but will mainly surface once you understand the hardships each one had to go through leading up to this point. Something drastic is going on in each of their lives; enough to cause them to commit a sin so heinous that it’s granting them an express ticket to Hell. These girls all need to understand that they can change, they just need to comprehend that what their doing could potentially ruin other people’s, oftentimes their loved one’s, lives. You will slowly see them warming up to you and even inviting you to motivate them, towards the end even begging you to. Doing favors for them such as finding particular items that they’re in search of will earn their trust quicker and provide advantages such as motivation not costing as much currency or increased HP & MP. The game handles the relationships between you and the girls at a very nice pace that somehow doesn’t feel out of place considering everyone’s situation. Arguments between the girls happen quite often and it’ll be your responsibility to step in to settle difference and take sides in a few instances. These small elements really add to the story and closeness that you will feel toward the game’s cast of leading ladies.
The artwork in the game is simply stunning. The girls are fully clothed in the motivation sequences, but the artist has made sure they’re in just the right provocative positions with body parts that either jiggle or flinch when the respective areas are poked or rubbed. Minigames start off in landscape mode for the first two unlockable abilities giving the player a glimpse of just half of what’s available to be seen, with the final two abilities forcing the player to hold the vita vertically to get a full screen shot. Enemies, on the other hand, are not as detailed or interesting as the girls with many being pretty bland and forgettable. Bosses are a tad more memorable than standard baddies, but not by much, and dungeon floors aren’t anything to write home about. The chibi-style characters are all very detailed and incredibly cute, with small intricacies standing out for each one. The graphics overall are good where they need to be, but could have used a bit more fleshed out details when dealing with objects other than the girls.
Criminal Girls 2 had a pretty memorable soundtrack, with the motivation music being the ultimate stand out. The same track plays over and over during motivation and never changes throughout the game. You’d think it’d get annoying, but for some reason it just fits and never seems to get old. Stage music will change and different tunes will accompany highs and lows in the story fittingly. There isn’t an English dub in the game as it’s all in Japanese with English subtitles. The limited edition of Criminal Girls 2 comes with a CD soundtrack that I immediately added to my iTunes library.
I’m really happy I got to play Criminal Girls 2. At first I put it off at just a simplistic RPG with a novelty mini-game, but I was so wrong. There is a deep game here with tons and tons of content. It’s found a perfect home on the PlayStation Vita and I hope Nippon Ichi Software continues to ship this type of content to the West. In conclusion, I highly recommend Criminal Girls 2! It’s sexy, it’s smart, and it’s engaging.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Vita (reviewed) ; Publisher: NIS America ; Developer: NIS America ; Players: 1 ; Released: October 11, 2016 ; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $39.99
“Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors given to HeyPoorPlayer by NIS America.”