Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors is similar to other recent Vita games that ‘celebrate the female form’ – let’s see how it works out in NIS’ latest handheld title.
If the emphasis on female form is on the surface of Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors, then at its core is a dungeon crawler that sees you guide a group of seven young women through several stages of hell – with a huge tower serving as an analogy to Dante’s circles. On every floor/level of the tower, you have to find the key that unlocks the exit and lets you move up, with each level getting progressively harder.
Searching the tower’s dungeons for these keys is made harder by monster and boss encounters, which play our in a simplified JRPG type of fashion. There’s not too much in the way of strategy of battle tactics to be found here, and most battles are determined by you being strong enough for the confrontation or not. As a result, you’ll hit a wall every now and there where excessive grinding is needed in order to level up and progress.
In battle, you can select physical attacks as well as magic powers, and your characters also have special moves that they can use. Upgrading is done at campsites that are to be found in each level, which also serves as a store of sorts. In addition, you can also ‘motivate’ your girls in other ways while at such a site. This is where the surface content of the game comes into play.
In Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors, you need to ‘motivate’ your characters by spanking and scrubbing them while they’re barely dressed. Using the touch screen – and I’m not even joking. It’s hard to come up with a reasonable excuse as to why this needs to happen, even though these girls were obviously naughty prior to their descent to hell. Either way, it made it difficult to take the game seriously as dungeon crawler considering how ‘in your face’ the adult content is here.
Obviously games like this are made with a certain target group in mind, but Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors feels like a niche within a niche. Interacting with teenage anime girls in this fashion felt less than comfortable for me personally, even though I had no trouble playing games like Akiba’s Strip or the Senran Kagura games. I guess I have reached the limits of my comfort zone here.
Things wouldn’t have been so bad if the underlying gameplay was absolutely stellar, or at least a good example of its genre. The Senran Kagura games are actually really decent brawlers underneath their adult exteriors, which makes them worth a playthrough even if you’re not a fan of the source material. There’s a competent brawler there, with a layer of nudity on top to cater to a certain audience. With Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors, it feels like the other way around. The adult content seems to be the main draw, and the dungeon crawler parts feel tacked on to give them a reason to exist. Sadly, you’ll find much better dungeon crawlers on the Vita, so only get this game if the nudity ‘tickles your fancy’.