The Vita is certainly having a great year when it comes to JRPGs. Does this sequel to the controversial Criminal Girls have what it takes to live up to the competition? Get your riding crop ready and let's find out.
Before I start with the review, I should mention that this is a very niche game in that it deals with subject matter of a sexual nature. I'm not one to judge anyone's preferences, but it's safe to say that torturing seemingly underage girls won't be everyone's cup of tea. Criminal Girls 2's excuse for these mini-games is that it's your job to keep these naughty girls in line. Some will find this far too creepy while others will delight in its off-the-wall depiction of sadomasochism. Personally, I don't really care either way. I wasn't completely put off by these scenes but I also didn't particularly enjoy them. I found myself laughing at times but that's the only reaction that I experienced besides complete indifference. Anyway, all of that being said; let's discuss the actual game. Hopefully, it doesn't feel like torture.
The story begins as you wake up in a mysterious location with amnesia. You know, like almost every other JRPG. You quickly realise that you're in charge of leading a group of female prisoners. But, this is no ordinary place as you find out that you're in hell. Well, things just got slightly more interesting. As you lead the gang of misfits, you'll slowly start to understand each one of them as their back-stories and personalities begin to flesh out. That's probably the best part of Criminal Girls 2. It's awesome how unique each girl is and the dynamics between them can be quite intriguing. The voice acting is in Japanese and it's alright, I guess. Some girls can be incredibly annoying to listen to while others provide a more nuanced tone. Their artwork is well-done, too, in both their chibi and normal portrayals. Finally, I found the music to be mostly generic, unmemorable, and repetitive. Overall, Criminal Girls 2's presentation is a mixed bag.
When it comes to gameplay, there are four distinct parts: exploring, talking, battling, and motivating. Exploration is extremely tedious as dungeons consist of simple layouts of rooms that link to each other via short hallways. Even when you enter a new area, the only significant change is the background art. There's a lot of talking involved and it can be rather engaging if you care enough about the cast. You make decisions as well which seem to only have an immediate effect on the dialogue.
The battle system mainly involves choosing from four options at each turn. Basically, each girl in your party proposes a move and you select one. The available moves depend on how much you motivated each girl but I'll talk more about that in a bit. Before you select a move, you can also switch party members, try to escape, coach your team to provide bonuses, or use an item. Considering the battle system is so basic, it gets tedious almost immediately. On top of this, the enemy designs are just plain boring. Most of them look like lifeless cardboard cut-outs so beating them up is far from satisfying. To make things even worse, you have to grind a lot if you want a chance to beat the overpowered bosses. You could switch to easy difficulty, but doing so to avoid grinding is pretty lame.
Motivating your party entails taking part in sadomasochistic mini-games that consist of such tasks as scrubbing bubbles off girls, spanking, throwing slime, and shocking the girls with electricity. As I've previously mentioned, these scenes can either be seen as offensive, erotic, or simply boring (as they were for me). In order to gain just one new move for a girl, you have to perform the same mini-game about 2 or 3 times. You can choose whether to use the controls or touch screen but no matter which method you prefer, the fact that you have to do the same motions over and over again gets ridiculously repetitive... unless you love watching the girls squirm.
Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is one of the most monotonous JRPGs that I've ever played in my life. That being said, if you're excited by the idea of performing sadomasochistic acts on anime girls then you need to add this to your collection. However, those who just want a decent JRPG will definitely be disappointed in the overall experience.
- + Cast of girls are interesting to learn more about as the story progresses
- + Well-done character art
- - Tedious battle system and generic enemies make fights extremely boring
- - Way too much grinding is required
- - Uninspired dungeons get monotonous