By Steve Baltimore / September 22nd, 2016
|Title||Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors|
|Release Date||September 22nd, 2016|
|Platform||Vita, PlayStation TV|
When I decided to review Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors I did so with one goal in mind; to objectively inform users about the game. NIS America has been very forthcoming about changes made to the game for Western release, so it’s no big shock that some of aspects of the mini game have been censored. While these changes do have an impact on the game, there are more aspects to Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors than just a mini game. If you have decided to abstain from purchasing this one because of the censorship, I doubt there is anything in the review that will change your mind, and I respect that. For those still on the fence and wanting to know more, this review will cover every aspect of the game just like any other review on the site. So without further ado, let’s go to Hell!
Those who played the first game will start off in familiar territory as, once again, you are tasked with reforming a group of “Delinquents.” These girls have met an untimely demise before actually committing their crimes and were sent to the Hell Spire for “Reformation.” It’s your job as the instructor to guide these girls through the many trials that await them on the way to the top of the spire. There is one little issue, though – there were only supposed be six “Delinquents”. However, there are seven girls present. Is one of these girls really a Convict?
The seven girls all have very unique personalities. I will go into a little detail about each girl but I want to keep this pretty light since discovering their stories is a lot of the fun. Lily is very much a spoiled princess character and very tsundere. Kuroe is very shy and withdrawn, only speaking with the instructor via her doll Baron. She is very intelligent and did a ton of studying when she was alive. Her story is likely the most tragic of the bunch, it hit me right in the feels. Mizuki is the resident ball of energy. However, she lacks confidence because she feels unwanted. I can relate to her story on some levels myself. Sui is very straightforward and speaks in a very educated manner. She can be easily flustered which leads to some pretty funny scenes. Yurine is very flaky, and she seems to be pretty self-centered as well. She was my least favorite character of the bunch. I felt her story and character were very cookie cutter and not nearly as well done as the other girls. Tsukasa is the caring pervert of the group. She is always teasing the instructor and others in various ways. The crazy thing is she is the most over-the-top in some ways, but also the most level-headed girl of the group.
Overall the story is really quite interesting with plenty of twists and turns along the way. I was not quite sure what was going on until the very end, but the story does come to a satisfying conclusion. NIS America has done a really good job with the localization of this title and the writing really brings these characters to life. There are a lot of emotional scenes as you watch the girls grow throughout the story and by the end some of their stories will leave a lasting impact on you.
Graphically the game looks very similar to the last one. The character portraits are all nicely done, and the 2D sprite work is very solid as well. There aren’t a lot of combat effects to speak of; it’s mostly just your typical fire balls and lighting effects. They get the job done, but don’t expect anything too flashy out of them. The mini game features live 2D art once again, but it is much improved over the last game. The girls will wiggle around as your perform various motivations to them and the animations are pretty simple, but very fitting.
The mini game is where things get very dicey. As I mentioned in my opening, some of the aspects of this have been censored for the Western release. All of the bonds found in the Japanese version have been removed, as well as the nipple bumps found on some of the girls, and there have been some other alterations as well. The bonds being removed really hurt the immersion of this title. The whole premise here is you’re supposed to be in Hell punishing these girls. With the bonds removed the girls look like they are stuck in funny poses some of the time with nothing holding them there, though sometimes they did add a rope for them to rest their hands on so they were not just floating in mid air.
The alterations to some of the clothing are honestly kind of mind boggling. Like almost every other game that has been censored, some of these changes are completely unbalanced. In some cases girls’ clothes have been made to cover more in one motivation only to not be censored in a later one when there was even more skin showing. The worst edit was done to Mizuki’s Shocking Motivation. In the Japanese version she was suspended by chains in the air. They had to edit this heavily since they were removing all the chains so they have her sitting on the floor now. Which would be fine, if that matched up with the theme presented in all the other girls’ Shocking Motivations, but sadly it just feels out of place now. Though even with all these edits, at least NISA had the art redone this time instead of just putting some pink smoke in that looked like someone added it with MS paint. In the end, even with all these changes I don’t think the art is necessarily a deal breaker, but it definitely takes away from the overall experience.
*The Screenshot of the Japanese version was obtained from YouTube user Tetsuhiro_K Games Let’s Play Video.*
The soundtrack found in the game is pretty catchy. Each stage has a different theme and they all fit the areas really well. The Forest Maze has a soft piano theme that makes it seem somewhat mysterious, while the Hell Fire Dungeon has a more upbeat and heavy theme. All of the lines are voiced in the game and the Japanese cast does a fantastic job bringing these characters to life. The worst part of the game in the audio department comes from the mini game edits. They removed the vocal tracks from the motivations once again. This breaks the immersion in the mini game and makes it feel like it is incomplete. No developer would ever purposely design a mini game like this with limited audio. The slap in the face though is at the end of the mini game, each girl has a short voice clip that plays, and those were left in. This is just a tease of how great this would’ve have been if it were left unedited. Of all the edits made to this game, this is by far the worst and takes the most away from the experience.
The combat is virtually the same as the last game. The girls will be given random commands they use each round to attack enemies in a turn based fashion. The four girls in your active party will begin a battle, but they can be switched out at anytime during combat for inactive members. Playing the motivation mini game will grant them new skills and abilities to use during combat, though some of the special bond moves will be found in the treasure chests. There are some new additions to the combat system, the new Coaching and S & M system. Coaching will allow you to scold or praise the girls during combat giving them various bonuses depending on if they have an S or M affinity. This affinity is determined by which skills you choose to teach the girls during motivation. Choosing the right skills is very important to success here and will require a bit of trial and error to get the best setup. You will want to pay close attention to which skills the girls have equipped at all times since some of these moves will allow other characters to perform follow up attacks. Choosing the right EX Skills will make your life a lot easier as well. These moves are just performed at random and will provide free healing, extra attacks, and a variety of buffs for your party.
I really enjoyed the combat because with its random nature you never know exactly what skills you will have to use each round. This really keeps you on your toes. It can completely screw you over at times, but it is very satisfying to worm your way out of a sticky situation using the four commands you are given each round. The later bosses will destroy you with status aliments so keeping a healthy supply of healing items is a must, but sometimes it will be pure luck that gets you by rather than skill in these battles.
In the end Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is good game, but like the previous game, it is held back by the bonds of censorship. The story is deep, engaging and well written. The combat is fast, fun, and with random attacks each round you really never know what to expect. The problem is that the mini game is what makes the game unique from some of the other run of the mill RPG’s found on the Vita, and in its current state it’s just immersion breaking. So what you end up with is a potentially great game that is now only an average product because its most unique feature has been broken a bit. If you can get past the mini game edits and enjoy games of this type, then at the $39.99 price tag you get around 40 hours of RPG goodness. Personally I hope NISA reconsiders their position of putting these games on Steam censored. Criminal Girls is a great series, but it can never live up to its full potential while being shackled by censorship.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
BDSMCensorshipcriminal girls 2ecchihellMotivationNISNISARPG