Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors (PS Vita) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 16.10.2016 3

Review for Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors on PS Vita

The original Criminal Girls caused a bit of a stir when it was released; from censorship woes (to be fair the censorship made it much more risqué), to questions about localisation in general, but other than that it was received reasonably well within the JRPG community. The sequel sets out to expand on the setting of the first by introducing a new cast of characters, and, while it's a little censored, it's relatively intact and close to the Japanese version. With a strong history in making JRPGs, let's see how NIS did with Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors - another new title that didn't localise its name to the UK spelling! (See: Paper Mario: Color Splash)

As a new program instructor, the main character is put in control of a group of seven girls with a view to get them returned to the realm of the living and then get free from the bond of hell, one major wrench in the works being that he has lost his memory, and after reaching the top of the tower he is cast into the main part of hell after trying to protect his delinquents; delinquents that are girls and who have committed or may have committed a crime during their life.

The reformation program involves climbing this tower and opening the doors at the top. It seems like there is something going on in hell - something big, bad and ominous with the release of convicts into the tower, and the operators being captured and tortured. Right information dumped, real speak, this story is actually really good, and the way it's presented over a fairly long and careful "tutorial" level, with plenty of background, and some pretty neat and engaging voice-acting.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors on PS Vita

Visually Criminal Girls 2 is an interesting beast. It uses a system called Live2D, which allows for some very cool interactive 2D scenes, which, given the context of the game, does the system justice. The sprite work is great, and the portraits are just lively enough to show each character's personality. Every system has its own interface, each of which is well designed and easy to follow, and each area is also nice and distinct, since no two feel the same, bar the area setup which is still all corridors and rooms.

The exploratory gameplay is alright. It has free movement, and no Pokémon-style grids. Each character in the party on screen follows the main character around like a weird train, and every now and then those will react to an item pickup or after a fight, something that is usually charming. The story scenes playout via the normal game screen, with character portraits akin to a visual novel. It's pretty and it works well, yet the interactions could have been more interesting if more animation was available in the default sprites.

Battle gameplay is interesting. Before approaching it, however, it's time to cover the Motivation system; Criminal Girls 2's selling point. It involves picking one of the girls in the party and subjecting her to… "motivation" via a mini-game. These mini-games usually involve rubbing the touchscreen, unless the control scheme is changed to buttons only. For example, "Scrubby, Scrubby" involves rubbing sections on the touchscreen as quickly as possible. These are done with a Live2D image of the girl in a compromising position that moves and reacts when you play this. If this is something that sounds good, then this title has something that you can't get in many other places.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors on PS Vita

This, aside from being impossible to play in public, allows the player to unlock new skills for each girl, which can be either 'S' or 'M' (so humorous): S is more attack oriented and provides speed and attack boosts, while M is more magic based, therefore it unlocks magic attacks, boosts defence, and unlocks healing spells. As the everything progresses, motivations get more and more compromising for the characters involved, and the mini-games are changed up. Each motivation type starts at level 1, and as they are 'explored,' the background image becomes more and more revealed, showing more of the character, and creating intrigue that keeps the player interested in unlocking further levels, so they also unlock a larger variety of skills.

As for the battling, it is fun, and the way the skills work is intriguing. First of all, the girls won't do anything for you, since they must be motivated to unlock even the basic attack. The first girl chosen by the player will act as a cornerstone for the whole tutorial section. Once all the girls are motivated the game will pick, at random, a list of attacks and skills for the current party. This adds a slight randomness to the frequent battles which definitely improves their fun factor. Difficulty-wise, this fluctuates quite a lot. There is a huge advantage to grinding a lot to unlock as many skills as possible, as motivation relies on a form of currency.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors on PS Vita

During battles there is also a system called coaching, which gives four choices for either telling the girls off, or egging them on. This has adverse effects on the battles, meaning that each option will have a positive or negative effect on members of the party based on their personality. If the reaction is positive their power can be doubled, and if it's negative, they can have their effectiveness halved. It's an absolute godsend when there is only one girl left to fight, but it can destroy everything up if it's used at a bad time, as once picked it's set in stone for four turns.

Finally, the sound design is also pretty good. The music is entertaining and well themed, the sound effects are great when wearing headphones, and the voice-overs are decent. The majority of the voice actors put on a great performance when needed - and for those who want to know, their… "voice-acting" during the motivation is indeed good, but it's not advisable to play it with the sound up in a public place as it will most certainly draw some questioning stares.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The atmosphere in Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is really good, and the level of mystery built up keeps the story entertaining. For those who want it for the motivation scenes, there are many, and they are varied and very, very perverted. With a long playtime and plenty to discover, a fun battle system and interesting characters, this second entry into the series is well worth a look. Just don't get it if you consider underwear, lewd poses, noises, etc. offensive.

Developer

Nippon Ichi

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Playing this myself.  I actually enjoy it for the story and the combat and find the motivation stuff kind of stupid (and the controls worse).  But its a fun rpg which is rare these days.

Dragon0085 said:
Playing this myself.  I actually enjoy it for the story and the combat and find the motivation stuff kind of stupid (and the controls worse).  But its a fun rpg which is rare these days.

Yeah. I was surprised with how fun this game was! Certainly kept me entertained during my holiday XD

Sui was my fav, I liked how cold and calculating she was.

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