Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors (PS VITA)

No matter how perverted or unfairly censored you may think the latest installment of Criminal Girls is I've personally found myself enjoying it. Everything from the constantly unfolding plot to the mythology revolving around a system of judgment that sends naughty girls to hell before they've ever committed a crime drew me in, and kept me wanting to play the game through to the end. The characters involved, their life circumstances, and their unique assortment of personalities (or personality disorders) brought to the game something more than the presence of the usual heroes, and heroines we are often used to controlling in JRPG adventures. The fact that the girls, or rather "delinquents" are fighting not for the greater good, but are instead fighting to be reformed in order to escape hell along with the program instructor makes the experience all the more intriguing. Of course as the gamer you take on the role of said male instructor, and must cope with your amnesiac situation while doing as you are told by a mysterious person who talks to you through a radio. The prison system's "reformation" program that you'll be applying as appointed instructor includes some lewd motion rubbing motivation via touchscreen interactions, the gaining of trust through given answers, teamwork, and the traversing of the multiple floor dungeon that you are in. Needless to say you will also be fighting baddies in the form of warped convicts who have become monsters through their own sinful deeds. Supposing you, and your delinquent crew makes it to the top floor you are promised a way back home, but whether or not that holds to be true is up to you to find out ...

Gameplay within "Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors" isn't all that complicated, but it is definitely challenging. When the game begins the character you'll be controlling, and playing as awakes with memory loss. He is startled by the voice coming out of a nearby walkie-talkie radio, and basically does as he is told from the start without much reluctance. His instructions mainly being tied to his appointed leadership role, and his unknowingly sworn duty to get hell's new potential delinquents reformed before they are eternally damned. Once you give the instructor a name you'll be tasked with getting acquainted with each of the girls through multiple choice conversations. The goal thereof is to ultimately persuade them to join you in the reformation program. Each of the girls has their own unique background, and personality which you'll have to take note of as you choose one of the answers to their individual inquiries. While some of it can be confusing it's mostly common sense type stuff sprinkled with a bit of psychology. Basically you want to win their trust by giving the best answer that will motivate them to do so.

Once that's squared away you'll have only four of the girls follow you while the remaining three stay behind undecided. As you begin scaling the dungeon-like tower floor by floor, and room by room you'll be informed through tutorials as to what it is you can do in the game. When it comes to traveling along the branching paths you'll find that your goal at first is to find keys, or hit switches that will unlock doors to the next area. These traveling moments are eventually interrupted by plot based character interactions, and stops at camps where you can do a few things to improve upon your party, and their status. The camps, which are located few and far between harbor a save option, a shop option, a motivation option, and a rest option. While the save, and shop options are fairly much self-explanatory the motivation, and resting options may be a little less so. When it comes to "Motivation" you'll be playing a lewd touchscreen mini-game that will have you cleansing the bubbles off of various parts of the 3D representations of each girl in order to level them up, and open up level specific skills. The skills being a crucial part of combat that will allow for things like attacks, defense, magic usage, and healing. The resting option on the other hand will offer you a chance to heal your party up so that you can advance more easily.

After reaching the first convict in the game you will engage in a battle realizing with your current party of four that something is not right. The noted presence of the convict giving that indication. With the current set of girls you'll head back, and pick up the girls you left behind. At first they will unwillingly tag along unless you give the right answer to their question. This means that assigning them party spaces will not be helpful in that they will not be able to do anything. In fact you cannot motivate any unwilling party members so that they can be of use. It isn't until you get a little further into the game that you'll be able to officially win their trust, and have them all become participating party members.

In combat scenarios, which happen both on contact with visible convict avatars, and in random out-of-nowhere confrontations you will command a party of four select, and switchable girls as you battle the enemy or enemies located at the center of the screen. Supposing you've spent some time motivating the girls you'll be able to select their skills that pop-up via prompt description when your turn comes around. Attack actions come in a variety of different forms which include basic weapon attacks that can be doubled up on as well as skill based attacks that use up limited MP (Magic Points). Some characters will also be able to apply such skills as healing, or guarding options depending upon how much they've been motivated, and at what level they are status-wise. The battle itself is turn based, and the four available actions randomly generated. Often times though the enemies get in more attacks than you so using things like potions, and MP refills which can be obtained in battle or bought from the camp shop will help you survive the more grueling engagements. All characters including the enemies have an HP meter which represents their life, and how much damage they can take. Your party members in particular also have an MP gauge which allows them to perform the more powerful or beneficial skills. As you win more battles your meters will grow as will your base RPG stats allowing your select party members to be fit for the more challenging boss type fights.

Another thing tied to combat is the ability to switch out characters on your party's turn. Instead of attacking or using a skill you can opt to switch out a character if they are low on health, or unfit for the battle at hand. This is done using the "Left Shoulder" button when you are prompted for action. Aside from that you can also use an item (Right Shoulder), or press "SQUARE" to coach a character. Coaching is in itself a way to boost performance. Things like attack, and defense will be enhanced according to which method of coaching you use. The effects upon highlighting each of the four options (Scold, Praise ...) will be shown to let you know if they are "good", or "bad" according to each character. The good effects being the more beneficial of the two. The coaching, if played right will help you topple bosses easier, and survive longer in the more difficult situations.

Outside of battle you can also access a "TRIANGLE" menu which will allow you to do a couple different things. These things include party status checking, and party member switching. I feel it's always best to have the proper party members at the ready so you don't have to switch during battle, and this menu option allows you to do just that.

Visually "Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors" is a pleasing to look at spectacle. The art style is cute yet ominous at the same time. The lewd mini games, for what they are worth also harbor their own nicely polished, and more mature art style that is no doubt meant to capture guys' attention or the attention of girls/women who aren't offended by such trivial things. From what I've seen the girls in the mini-games are mostly clothed, but are sometimes posed in some rather provocative positions. Regardless of the perversity it's still a nice game to look upon. The rocking, and symphonic soundtrack only adds to the game's offered pleasantries. I definitely liked the chibi character designs, and the simple yet effective look of the combat scene layout. Those details, and the dungeon details compliment each other quite perfectly. For those of you worried about language options it contains the original spoken Japanese, but has English subtitles for us Westerners to better understand what is going on. I think it blends well, especially considering that I prefer subtitles over English dubs any day.

The Verdict ...

I know there are some of you who are gonna get butt hurt either over this game's lewdness or the lack thereof, but I'm here to tell you the game is still enjoyable regardless. That being said it is not a game for everyone. It's definitely not a game for the underage kids, or those who are so squeaky clean when it comes to sin that they are a saint. The sexual stuff that is included is more or less suggestive in nature, and in no way really shows anything "sexual". How can I say that? Well, the fact is it's your dirty mind that interprets boobs as sexual, or provocative positions as sexual. Plain, and simple. While I have no doubt that the developer had those things in mind the views of the girls that are shown are so off focus, and not really revealing that it can be dismissed by anyone willing to enjoy the other aspects of gameplay.

For those of you complaining about it not being sexy enough the opposite could be argued. Despite the clothes being more covering there are plenty of times in the mini-games where your dirty mind can take advantage of the sexually "suggestive" themes. I will say though that I would have probably drawn a line with one of the younger looking characters had she been displayed in a more lewd, and revealing way. That sort of thing in itself is more indicative of indecency when it comes to sexual suggestion. Thankfully the younger looking character's visual angle, and clothes covered her up enough as to not be overly sexually suggestive, or sexual.

As far as gameplay goes it's simple yet challenging as I said before. All of the elements from the combat to the maze-like travel from area to area comes together in a way that is truly complimentary. The fact that there are stops where character development, and story development is built upon makes the game more than just another objective JRPG grind session. I particularly loved the character's personalities, and the mythology behind their situation. Sure the plot itself is derivative of certain anime with the labeling of a criminal before they are a criminal, but it's done up in it's own unique way. I would personally suggest this game to anyone who is mature enough to enjoy such adventure. It's fun, and as perverted as it may be it is lighthearted. I've seen more mature games then this truly go sexual, and this simply does not go there. It's mature enough to be mature, but actually offers proper gameplay mechanics and features. Buy it, or don't. I leave that choice in your hands. Whatever you do though do not complain about something that is so easily ignored.

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