Published by NIS America
Reviewed on PlayStation Vita
When the first Criminal Girls was released in the west over a year ago, it was marred with controversy. The focus of the attention went to a certain element of gameplay and the heavy censorship that it had to undergo in order to be released in the west. Some protested that the game was either too vulgar to be taken seriously, while others were mad that the game was not faithful to the intent of its original creators. Although buried in controversy and fan service, it was still a game that did pretty well for itself despite the issues with release. This year, we have the sequel, Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. There’s a new cast of characters and a new story, but how does the game play fare in its second iteration? Once again, looking past the fan service and the controversial censorship, there’s a really fun and addicting game to be found here.
Criminal Girls 2 drops you into the plot right away. You play as an instructor that’s tasked with reforming seven trouble making girls. Just moments after you all wake up, you discover that you’re in a place between heaven and hell. The sooner you gain the girls’ trust and complete reformation, the sooner they all can be revived in the living world and avoid spending an eternity in hell. Each of the girls has a hidden past and you have to try to convince them to open up to you over time. However, during the process, it’s discovered that someone in the group is an already damned soul of hell called a Convict. Upon learning about this, your entire group is literally sent to Hell. Together, everyone has to work together in order to climb their way out of Hell to complete their reformation and be brought back to life.
At the star of each battle you have four of the seven girls fight at a time with the option to switch out characters once per turn. You pick one of the characters to attack, but over time you can set special moves and attributes that will allow other members to attack if certain conditions are met. The character that you control and name is merely the Instructor in the story and doesn’t actively take part in fights. With your guidance, you have the girls work to fight by themselves. It’s turned based and order is chosen based on stats like speed or attack properties. As you fight, you gain CM, the games currency. You use it to buy items or to spend time to “motivate” them into learning new commands and special moves. Motivation involves setting up the girls in compromising positions and to do suggestive things to each of them. They range from whipping them to throwing literal balls of slime on them. These are all done in the form of mini games involving the touch screen of the Vita. The more you play the mini games, the more each girl learns. As you assign the girls their skills at the end of their motivation sessions, they develop either Masochistic or Sadistic alignments. You also get a chance later in the game to “Coach” the girls in battle and, depending on how you choose to coach the group, some get an increase in their stats while other get a decrease. Some girls react to coaching differently; those with positive results get stat boosts based on their S or M tendencies. As mentioned before, you can only attack with just one character at a time, but the more you motivate the girls, the more they’ll work together to initiate consecutive attacks.
There are moments where the game seems far too easy until you hit the big boss in the area. Then suddenly the game’s difficulty ramps up dramatically and the only way out of it is to grind to at least the same amount of time it took to get to the boss. It’s not truly a bad thing, however, because once you get into the swing of playing the game after about an hour in, the game is pretty addicting. The currency used to buy items is the same as what’s used to Motivate the girls and gain additional skills. There will be several moments where you’ve got to choose between Motivating the girls or buying health potions. Once again, this can just be circumvented by playing the game just like normal. There’s lots of grinding in this dungeon crawler, but there is a way to speed up the animations of attacks to make it not seem so arduous. Sure there’s the abundance of fanservice scenes during the motivation games, although it’s not as if you keep seeing them at every turn. If there’s a problem worth noting with the mini-games, it’s that sometimes using the touch screen inputs in the games feels a little awkward. There are parts where you reach a high level version of the mini-game where you have to rotate your Vita to get the picture right side up; in some cases while it’s in that orientation, not every touch input on the screen was registered when pressed.
If you like dungeon crawlers with a different spin on gameplay, then I would check out Criminal Girls 2 for sure. It plays incredibly similar to the first one, but you don’t need to have played the first game to jump right in to the second one. It’s an entirely different cast of characters and it has its own self contained story, so there’s no need to know the events of the first game. If you liked the first game, the slightly improved battle animations and a new story will give you enough of a reason to come back to the series.