Do you ever play a handheld video game and think to yourself “I’m glad no-one can see me playing this…”? It’s something I couldn’t help but to think during my time virtually spanking a group of females and seeing their almost bare breasts bounce around the screen on Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. Never have I ever been more appreciative of the discreet, easily hidden Playstation Screen whilst playing a video game, and believe me, this is a voice of experience – I’ve played Senran Kagura…
Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is the sequel to last year’s Playstation Vita release, and much like the original it tasks you with taking a group of female criminals (known as ‘delinquents’) and… uh-hum… ‘motivating’ them to change their ways and become better members of society. There is a big twist this around though; one of the delinquents is a ‘convict’, a twisted and evil delinquent with no hope, who is out to sabotage your group’s attempt at rehabilitation. Oh, and the main protagonist is suffering from amnesia, so you’ve got that to deal with too.
It’s all odd, quirky and a little perverse, yet at them same time there’s something incredibly charming about the whole thing. You know what you’re letting yourself in for when you’re playing a game called ‘Criminal Girls’, so you’ve got to embrace the titillating, quirky nature of the game and enjoy it for what it is. It’s certainly very original.
For those who haven’t played the original game, Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors tasks you with leading a party of females through a series of maze-like dungeons, all whilst taking down a ton of enemies in a RPG style battle system and progressing the story along the way. There’s a surprising amount of depth to the story and the characters of the game; they’re not just a bit of cartoon eye candy, but rather well developed characters with their own unique personality. Sure, their clothing is revealing and they’re designed to appeal to a particular audience, but there’s a real sense of distinct personality to be found with every character that helps bring out plenty of entertaining interactions in the game. Admittedly there are a few cliché stereotypes to be found, but it doesn’t really matter when everything comes together so nicely. The script is well written too, mixing up moments of humour with those that actually feel deep and meaningful, even if they are interlaced with a lot of smut. I could appreciate the silliness of it all and the fact that it never tries to take itself too seriously.
On a visual basis Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors looks pretty sharp with the Playstation Vita screen absolutely full with vibrant colours that you wouldn’t expect to see in the depths of Hell in which the game is set. Character sprites are great too, their chibi-like appearance fitting in well within the RPG dynamic of the game. Their actual illustrations are incredibly well drawn too, especially during the motivation scenes where the artists have managed to… erm… create some pretty interesting situations. Enemy design is neat and well varied, but they lack any animation – everything felt fairly static during battles, so enemies never felt particularly imposing. It’s something we’ve seen in RPGs for a long time though, so it’s not really too much of an issue.
The combat itself in Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors could be a bit of a drag though. When I play an RPG I like to have full control of my team to issue commands and tactically plot my way to victory. In Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors you’re simply given one of four different commands for each character – ‘Attack’, ‘Skill’, ‘Support’ or ‘Heal’. You can then choose which character gets to use their action each turn.
Whilst there were moments when it worked quite well, I really wished I had more control. I had no choice as to what commands came up, so sometimes when I wanted to use a high damage skill I instead had to settle for a standard attack, even if I did have full MP. It ended up leaving me a little frustrated; I’m a bit of a control freak and like to carefully manage every aspect of battle in RPGs.
It doesn’t help that the game has some insane difficult spikes that’ll leave you tearing your hair out. Whilst working through the game you’ll take down standard enemies with minimal fuss, however, when a boss battle came along they would absolutely pummel me. This was every time too; there wasn’t a single boss that didn’t absolutely destroy me multiple times before I was able to eventually take it down. The only solution was to find a save point and grind battles to make my team stronger; something which I don’t normally mind all that much in an RPG, but given the lack of control in battles could feel like a more drawn out process than it already is.
There are multiple ways to make your team stronger in Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors though – you can level up via constant battling or by ‘motivating’ your delinquents. You can do this through different means; scrubbing them, spanking them, throwing goo at them… you get the picture. Each time you unlock a method of motivation it brings with it a new skill tree, meaning continued motivation will unlock new abilities and stat boosts. You can’t do it willy-nilly though, with each form of motivation requiring a specific amount of CP to use (which is unlocked from winning battles).
Motivation utilises the Playstation Vita’s touchscreen, tasking you with rubbing, tapping and sliding against a variety of illustrations of the girls in varying revealing poses. Though technically a form of punishment, the girls seem to like it, plus you unlock boosts from it so it’s win-win I guess. It’s titillating and even borders on absurd in some ways, but I actually enjoyed the motivation system – and no, that’s not because I’m a guy. The mini-games were a fun and unique way of levelling up, whilst they’re also quite comical in some ways. You’ve got to look at it all with an open mind; if you’re adverse to the perverse then you’ll want to stay well away from Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors.
There are certainly a lot better RPGs out there, but there’s something oddly charming about Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. The battle system could frustrate whilst the grinding and difficulty spikes felt outright annoying, yet the great visuals, interesting story and entertaining character interactions made sure the experience as a whole was enjoyable.
It’s titillating, perverse and completely silly, but there’s something likable about it too. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but if you want to get some masochistic RPG action then it’s worth checking out Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors – just don’t expect any of game’s RPG mechanics to blow you away.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: 23/09/2016
Format(s): Playstation Vita