Criminal Girls: Invite Only - PS Vita

Release Date:

February 03, 2015
6.8

Summary:

In Criminal Girls: Invite Only on the PS Vita, seven delinquents, seven sins, and only one way out. Just hired for a new, mysterious job, you soon discover that this isn’t your normal prison gig. You’ve been entrusted with the care of a crew of girls whose sins have damned their souls to Hell and an eternity of punishment. Their only hope of salvation is for you to recognize their unique histories, and to guide them along the path to redemption. Navigate through the four trials of the Reformation Program, use the touch screen and rear touch pad to motivate your crew of delinquents to learn the skills to redeem themselves.


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Posted:
2015-02-27

Darren_Summerell

Writer

PS Vita

7.0

'Criminal Girls: Invite' is a PS Vita exclusive that was brought over to North America from Japan for fans here in the West. The game features stereotypical dungeon crawling RPG aspects but it mixes with it the anime madness that so many people are going crazy for nowadays. 'Criminal Girls' is geared specifically toward the plushy wielding 'otaku' and it will likely have a hard time landing a resonant hit with more casual anime fans. Still, the game packs a few interesting mechanics inside of its nutty case so we thought it was worth looking over. Keep reading to see if you are a welcome invite to the world of 'Criminal Girl'.

'Fifty Shades' for the Anime Fan.

A brief glance at the back cover of this PS Vita title will reveal that you are in for a staggeringly unusual experience. The game features a premise that is so out of this world that it could only come from Japan. In the game you play a prison guard who is given the task of watching over and training a group of insane, law breaking women. Your gaggle of girl-criminals want to ascend the ladders of redemption in what is quite literally Hell. In order to do that they have to be 'punished' and trained in order to become tough enough to save their souls. So, yeah, we feel that the 'Fifty Shades' comparison is a pretty fair one.

The game instantly calls to mind the classic dungeon crawlers from our youth that relied on hundreds of menus and submenus as well as neat little 8 bit models in an isometric world. The graphics of the game are ripped straight from the screens of whatever popular anime is currently airing. The game pushes onto the player the scandalous and sexualized main characters without taking time to really give them much of a personality or character to grow into. To put it bluntly: you are looking at a crew of characters made specifically to service the fan with slightly erotic artwork. But before we delve too deeply into the look of the game, let's discuss what it tries to do as an actual gaming experience.

So we have discussed the fact that this is a JRPG with anime aspirations. We've discussed that your goal is to help a group of scantily clad anime criminal-chicks ascend the rungs of Hell in order to save their souls. That sounds pretty interesting, right? Well, it should be but it doesn't quite hit the mark and when it does strike a chord, we're not sure if it is the right note.

Unlike those sprawling JRPGs of old (Final Fantasy III and IV comes to mind) the world of 'Criminal Girl' feels restricted and suffocating. Perhaps this is an intentional attempt to mimic the confines of Hell and the fact that you are locked in a prison. Even if that is the case, it is not an enjoyable aspect. Great RPGs tend to make their world seem breathing and alive, vibrant in the way that it is different from our own. We never get that sense in 'Criminal Girls'. Instead we merely feel like we are stuck in a game that is far too small for its aspirations. Our characters trudge through endless mazes of brightly colored tile sets and for hours at a time we can feel like we aren't getting anywhere.

Despite this repetitious aspect there are still plenty of activities to break up the monotony. Fighting is done in the form of random encounters and battles are turn based. You can have some fun developing a strategy, rotating out your characters, and beefing up their statistics. The traditional elements of a functional JRPG make their way to the forefront at these moments in time. The drawings of the characters are eye catching and the colors are used well. There is a slight wrinkle in the gameplay at this point that ranges from frustrating to entertaining. The girls, who are your charges, tend not to always listen to what you want them to do. Much like a Pokemon trainer lacking Gym Badges, the girls will sometimes bridle away from your orders--causing havoc in battle.

Outside of battle there are a host of small mini games that will either delight or disgust you. The casual gamer might find them uncomfortable while the geared audience will find them absolutely wonderful. In the most controversial mini game you will be charged with 'motivating' your characters. In this type of mini game you will be forced to clear away fog that is covering a skimpily clad portrait of your girls. The more you clear away the fog, the more the characters groan (yes, groan), and the more you are inundated with over sexualized cartoon characters. Yeah, not a mini game that you will want to be playing on the bus. It is unfortunately one of the only ways to upgrade the stats of your characters.

As far as Japanese imports go, 'Criminal Girls' shouldn't be near the top of anyone's list. And yet here we are, covering the game. There is an audience for this type of import no matter how putrid the actual content of the game is. Fans of the genre like what it offers and how it caters to their specific desires and, we suppose, we can't fault them for doing that.

For the rest of the gamers out there, 'Criminal Girls: Invite' is a tiring experience. The game is over long and wrought with a tiring, grinding attitude. The few moments of unique gameplay are overpowered by perverse mini games and blatant sexualization of mysteriously aged characters. The graphics in the game are interesting, if only for a few moments, and the character models are well sculpted. The team behind the game tried to implement some interesting elements (motivation, disobeying) but they fall pretty flat. Playing through to the end of this title will feel not unlike being in your own sort of prison, only without any sort of end in sight.

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Release Date:

February 03, 2015

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