HUGE thank you to NIS America for providing us with a review code for this title!
NSFW WARNING!! MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
Whips, chains, ropes, brooms, and more are in store for you when you boot up Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors from NIS. Fanservice is no stranger to Japanese video game titles; exaggerated, voluptuous women have adorned box art, been playable and unplayable characters, and featured as intrinsic story points for years. But very rarely has a game like Criminal Girls been released here in the West. The concepts of bondage, sadism, and masochism, while slowly becoming more mainstream, are still very taboo. When you take a dungeon crawling role-playing game and give it a BDSM injection, what do you get? Well, let’s take a look with Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors for the PlayStation Vita!
You’ve Been Naughty
You play as the new program instructor in the Hell Spire, tasked with seeing a number of naughty girls through the ‘Reformation Program’. In doing so, you will save them from spending eternity in hell. Throughout the course of the game you will get to know each of the girls and what crime they’re guilty of. You’re even tasked with discovering which of them is actually a Convict (the demon enemies in the game). Each of the seven girls has their own unique quirks and personalities that show throughout the course of the game, through a plethora of dialogue and banter exchanged between the girls. (Kuroe, for example, is incredibly shy and prefers to speak through her stuffed animal, Baron.)
Rub And Motivate!
Criminal Girls 2 is 80% typical dungeon explorer RPG, and it’s well suited to the handheld Vita platform. A majority of your time will be spent exploring floor after floor, buying items, leveling up your girls, and grinding. Combat is turn-based, where you control four girls at a time. Like Final Fantasy X, you can swap out your party members on the fly, adding a dimension of combat tactics through party adjustment and giving the game some welcome depth. Criminal Girls 2 adds a unique twist: On your turn, each girl is randomly assigned an action to perform from the overall pool of skills they have learned. There’s an extra tension to the battles when – for instance – you can’t fully rely on your healer to be able to patch up the party in those dire moments. It forces you to think and have multiple plans of action ready just in case.
Now we get to the part that completely sets Criminal Girls 2 apart from most other games you’ve probably played, and also why this game has a Mature (bordering on Adults Only) rating. In order for your girls to learn their abilities, they first have to be Motivated. In this case, you motivate them by engaging in (consensual) sadomasochistic play including the likes of spanking, rope bondage, and scrubbing via the touch screen on the Vita. After earning CM through combat, you can to take your girls into the party tent (which is bright pink and just so happens to have a giant circle bed) and Motivate them, letting them learn a variety of talents. For each level of motivation they gain, you select a skill to add to that character’s skill pool. Depending on your personal tolerance for fanservice and sexual behaviors, this system will either make or break the game for you.
C Cup Worth
To keep this sexy train going, if Criminal Girls 2 was a pair of breasts, I’d say it would fill a C cup with its content; it doesn’t skimp, but it isn’t Pamela-Anderson-bursting-at-the-seams either. There is a good amount in this package and it’ll take you around 20-25 hours to complete depending on the amount of grinding you decide to do. There are seven endings (one for each girl), lending the game some replayability.
My, What Large… Eyes… You Have
The 2D art for this game is incredibly well done, if not incredibly disconnected from itself. In combat and dungeons, the monsters, girls, and player character are all cute little chibi sprites. Each of the girls’ sprites are well detailed and great representations of their non-chibi portraits. These potraits, some more exaggerated than others, are well drawn and do a great job conveying the personality of the girls. When it comes to the motivation scenes, they were actually made LESS sexual than in the original Japanese release, with the art being redrawn for western censorship restrictions and guidelines. These are still rather graphic – though there is not actual nudity or explicit sex – and drawn very well with blushies and heavy breaths complementing the moving artwork. The dungeon itself is rather standard fare, taking the back seat in presentation. It’s there, it doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t add much more than simply being what the cute chibi girls are walking on.
Time For The Climax
I went into Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors with a discomfiting unease. I knew the general idea and themes that were present in this series. I’d seen the art, and I’ve always been one of those anime fans who’s uncomfortable with gratuitous amounts of fanservice just for fanservice’s sake. But to my surprise, I found myself really enjoying this title. There is no two ways about it: Your enjoyment of this game is based COMPLETELY on how comfortable you are with sexual situations in your video games. The dungeon exploring and combat is surprisingly rewarding, with systems that reward planning and developing your party. If you get highly uncomfortable with overly prominent fanservice in games or anime, then this isn’t the game for you. The motivation system is too important and integrated within the game, so you can’t really avoid it and hope to get very far. Hell, you won’t even be able to use party members in combat until you motivate them once to learn the attack command. If you don’t mind (or dare I say, enjoy) the BDSM scenes, then I think you are in store for a title that will surprise you. I might advise turning off your Vita if your mom or dad walks by, though.
- Unique twist to the established turn-based combat formula
- Cute and well done art from the chibi version of the cast
- And well done and rather graphic art for the motivation scenes
- Enjoyable banter and dialog between the girls
- The requirement of the motivation scenes makes the players tolerance for sexual situations a make or break deal
- More love could have been given for the dungeon itself
- Can be a grindfest