Review by: Thomas King (updownupdown.net)
Being a gamer in the western world most of the time, I wonder about those titles that are only getting released in Japan. Some of those games do eventually make their way over here and when they do…boy is it a bunch of culture shock. Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors for PS Vita is one of those games. How do I put this properly? It just oozes of Japanese culture. CG2PF is a classic JRPG with anime style graphics, a strong male protagonist surrounded by an extremely sexualized female cast, and some really T&A mini-games that will make you forget there is more to the game.
In CG2PF, you play the lead as a male performance instructor attempting to help delinquent girls reform themselves so they do not fall into the depths of hell. You have to use everything at your disposal to get them motivated to reform. It includes scrubbing, spanking, and sliming? Yeah, there are some serious innuendos at play in this game, and I have to say I was quite delighted. CG2PF is an interestingly playful take on JRPGs, with tons of great game play to keep you entertained for hours and just SO MANY BOOBS.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a male in late 20’s and do I love myself some T&A, but holy hell does it take you out of the experience in short bursts. Any player could spend hours grinding their way into tons of points they could spend “motivating” their delinquent girls into submission and become totally awe struck by the amazing…graphics. Honestly, this game has some superb styling when it comes to looks. It has an amazing anime look and feel that really seats you in the setting. Vibrant colors mixed with gray and black across the board to give every single area its own unique feel. Even the girls in every shot look 100% incredible and it is easily distinguishable from every other game in its genre. One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that the graphics really flex their muscles…most of those being chest or gluts. As much as I believed they tossed in all those scantily clad female cut scenes just to attract people to the game, it was really just to show off that NIS knows what they are doing.
As much as I could go on all day about some of the gorgeous women in CG2PF, its progressive systems stick out even more. While leveling you characters you also teach them skills based on their S&M system (YUP) which essentially boils down to offense and defense. Using the previously stated motivation you play mini-games to test your testicular fortitude in cleaning and punishing these girls in order to make them better at fighting. Once you’ve done that you can pick skills based on S or M and roll into a certain path for each of your seven players or just mish-mash however you deem necessary. This is the way you can create synergy between your party members so they don’t just all act like lone wolves. This game requires each player to develop certain skill sets that work as one cohesive unit, this aspect makes the S&M system that much more paramount and require attention to small detail. At first glance it seems very simple, but once you begin switching up members to form your own voluptuous Avengers it becomes that much more complex. I found myself switching out abilities I thought were necessary, only to find out a few hours later they were completely useless in the build I was attempting to achieve. Of course, nothing is ever created without flaws. This system proves very advantageous allowing you to switch up skills depending on further bosses making it very versatile. At the same time the amount of unholy grinding you must accomplish makes it seem more like the main focus of the game than something mainly there to create your ideal squad. Now again, I can’t stress enough that I enjoy seeing the girls laid up in provocative poses waiting for their motivation, but those mini-games just take a toll on you after a while. Tap the touch screen, drag across the touch screen, and launch globs of slime at half naked women while they lay on each other in ways that would only make a man think about…I digress. Part of me wishes this aspect of the S&M system was a little re-worked before launch. Sure its ultra-sexy and border line bone inducing, but it gets tedious after about 100 times within the first couple hours. A video game that has such great game play should not be bogged done with so many mini games…yes we get it they are sexy and dressed like $5 hookers, but get us back to the good game play.
Turn-based battle systems have been used before and to great success, but no game has ever used it in this fashion. CG2PF allows 4 players on your team with 3 others you can switch out to at any time during battle. You start your turn with choosing the best of 4 options for one of your players to execute while the others stand by and wait for their time to shine, with randomly generated moves you must strategize whether it’s smarter to attack with two players at once or lower the enemy’s magic defense to set up the next. Yes, you saw correctly. Normal attacks can sometimes utilize one or more other party members at the same time, but that isn’t always the best option and you have to discern the difference quickly. The other aspect that really makes you think is that you can only switch out characters and use items once per turn, meaning if you don’t have a healer and all your members are low on health, you are in a lot of trouble. Add to all of the previously stated: Coaching. While in battle you can give certain members temporary stat boosts and depending on how you do so, either your S or M players will be boosted or nerfed. Adding all of this together makes for a very beautiful and complex tactical system that creates a great battle atmosphere. Once you get settled in your teams chemistry they always seem to throw a boss at you that will totally destroy your ideas, but boss battles are something completely different all together. Now they don’t necessarily change the mechanics, but the fact that they are 100 times the difficulty of the rest of their area is just unbelievable. Multiple times I found myself blazing through the initial areas and advancing far quicker than I most likely should have, and by the time I made it to the boss I would get my ass handed to me to the point where I had to level grind for over an hour to take a second shot at it. This infuriated me to no end, no matter how many revives I had and switched up my strategy I was never doing enough damage, this did change later on in the game but not by much. This significant jump in difficulty for each level just made no sense what so ever and was honestly the only complaint I have about the game play, scaling would have been a well-deserved mechanic to round out the balance in the battle system.
Next to gameplay, the most important fragment that makes up a video game is the story. CG2PF is a little convoluted when it comes to its story. From my perspective many features of the story almost seem to clash with each other. You fade in from white, camera focusing on your protagonist who is attempting to remember who he is or where he is. Enter your team, 7 delinquents that refuse to take orders from you regardless of the fact that you are their leader as they have been locked away in some spectral prison. Over the radio a voice tells you that you are their instructor and you must reform them if they ever hope to return to their home, or they can just be completely disorderly and then do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and go straight to hell. It immediately becomes clear that some serious business is going down and you all need to work together to survive killing all the enemy convicts along the way, and off you go on your grand adventure through the depths of hell. Characters that are very timid and even scared for their lives become your strongest fighters and for some reason, your best mage is the toughest S.O.B that ever lived and begins randomly attacking people…with swords. I admit, it has some very good hooks put into place. You must build trust and motivation with the group so they can stop bickering like high school seniors over the same prom dress. It even goes so far as to make you believe there is a traitor amongst you, but the girls are not easily swayed by this because one minute they are arguing about who it is, and the next they are all caring for you when you become wounded protecting them. These extreme shifts in story telling happen frequently and often make you jump from concern to concern lightly covering the more intriguing story of why you can’t remember anything. Now granted having a main protagonist and seven other people in your party to worry about makes for an already daunting way to tell a story, but what could make that more annoying? How about stopping at multiple check points to force you to speak to them about the current situation and not being able to progress forward until you have talked to all seven of them? I now know how Snow White felt living with those damn singing dwarves all day. This game attempts to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in tits and it just needs to decide what kind of game it really wants to be.
All in all, Criminal Girls 2 Party Favors is more than a solid game with great game play, eventually it keeps tugging at you until you play it to its entirety. The story does shuffle back together at later parts, and it does begin to answer some of the most looming questions. It just does so late in the game leaving the first half to being a Jackson Pollock of video games. The game play can stand on its own as one of the more creative and interesting features of CG2PF, showing us that there are many more ways you can play an RPG battle system. If only those damn mini-games were either fleshed out a bit more or removed all together (even though I would totally miss the girls reaction to their motivation training). One thing I can say unequivocally is the art style of this game really set it apart in its tone and environment, something no other game may achieve if they set out to be so wonderfully anime and sexual at the same time. No single area taken from another, all speaking to you on a different plane of existence…utterly breath taking. CG2PF absolutely deserves your attention and even barring some flaws turns out to be a fun ride with out standing art direction and solid mechanics, making this a game to pick up for the PS Vita.
Final Score: 3/5