Short Version: If games like Final Fantasy, Persona, and Earthbound appeal to you then this may be the game for you. It’s a Traditional JRPG at its core covered in some delicious fanservice, that is what we can consider the perfect target for “social justice warriors”. It’s technical, dirty, tough, entertaining fun all rolled up into one package.
THIS IS NOT A GAME FOR EVERYONE!!
I made sure to write that in full caps with two exclamation marks for added emphasis. The Sequel to the also controversial Criminal Girls is a great game for the people that like these types of games. It may try to avoid going too far so as not to offend too many people, but it’s not fooling anyone. It’s a dirty old sailor and I love every bit of it.
Long Version: Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is a JRPG developed by Nippon Ichi Software for the PlayStation Vita. This sequel to Criminal Girls: Invite Only, is very much a traditional JRPG in the way it’s core elements operate, as in its dungeon crawling elements, random encounters, gorgeous 2D art style, and its turn based battle system. Like its predecessor, it may have a few nuances to other traditional JRPG. However, all RPG vets will see are reasons to grind until all their characters are above the basic enemy’s levels, then proceed to the end of the current dungeon to face the boss, who will, and I say will, smack the living daylight out of your party to teach you the meaning of their title: Boss!
The game has an easy-to-follow plot about seven girls who are sent to the depths of Hell, and your character must guide them through a Reformation Program to ultimately clear them of their reasons for being there. There is however a twist. One of the girls in your group of isn’t quite what she seems, and this is one of the core elements of what makes this game so interesting. You see the main theme behind Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is trust, specifically the one you have with your companions. But, when you’re not sure who to trust, let’s just say it makes for an interesting time.
As for the gameplay, it should be really easy to grasp after a couple minutes of play. You will also find a few hidden complexities the more time you invest in the game. In battle, you are allowed to choose one suggestion per turn from the girls on your party of 4. I say “suggestion” because they each present you with one option per turn for what they want to do, then you decide which girl’s suggestion you want to use. You can also use items, swap characters or coach the girls during a turn which adds a bit more to the mix. After you “motivate” (it’s what they call the skill tree in the game) the girls a bit, they will gain access to more attacks and abilities, which means more possibilities during battle. These suggestions change depending on the girl’s status, and the status of the rest of your team, as well as available moves.
E.g.: My version of Tsukasa had healing and offensive magic, so she was more likely to suggest healing her teammates if their health was low, or using powerful magic if everyone was in good shape.
The girls are also able to use team attacks depending on who’s in battle with them, so experimenting with different party configurations may mean the difference between a tough or easy battle.
Outside of battle you explore dungeons collecting items via treasure chests, which can be used in battle or sold at a camp for CM. CM is the currency you use in the game to buy items or for motivation. Once you have enough CM you can motivate the girls using different methods such as spanking, brushing and even throwing slime at them. This part of the game’s system is where some people may find an issue. As for me, I’ll just say; either you like it and buy the game, or you don’t and just leave it alone. It’s not a game for everyone, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. Just like I don’t expect games like MOBAs to tailor their systems towards the likes of those like me who find no interest in them, while at the same time potentially alienating their core audience. This particular title has been censored a bit which I consider unnecessary, but possibly this was done to avoid unwanted attention from social justice warriors. The changes are subtle ones, like the girls audio during motivations being completely removed from the version we played for review. My hope is that there may be some DLC or patch that includes these removed audio files post release.
Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is a game for fans of anime, and JRPGs period. It features a great 2D style, interesting gameplay mechanics, good fan service, and a cast of unique girls who each have their own quirks like Lily’s tsundere mannerisms or Yurine’s klutzy, but likable traits. They’re all different, but not anymore complicated than your typical anime harem archetypes. This I found to be very familiar and likable, something that other fans of JRPGs or anime are more likely to also feel. Those outside of these fandoms are probably not going to be able to relate, much less stomach this type of game, so if you’re not already invested in these types of games, I’d recommend giving this one a pass. For the rest of you, I already know you have your copy in the mail, and is just reading this to pass the time while you wait for your copy to arrive.
A copy of Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors was provided by NIS America for this review.