• **Updated on January 25, 2017 to reflect our thoughts on the PC version.**

    Criminal Girls originally released back on the Playstation Portable in 2013. Since the US market for PSP Games had pretty much dried up, it was passed for localization. Nearly 2 years later a Vita port was released, which added some new character’s and story, among some other tidbits. The game has finally made it to the West, but maybe the wait wasn’t exactly worth it, as the game feels a bit lacking even with the additions.

    The game’s plot focuses on the your protagonist, who is a disciplinarian for a prison in Hell. His task is to lead seven girls through several cell blocks in order to face trials to redeem them of their sins, all while occasionally administering discipline to ‘motivate’ them to do better in the trials. This is where the game’s main gimmick for the gameplay kicks in. Motivation Time is where you can spend CM earned through combat or treasure chests to have the girls learn new abilities. The catch is that there is a rather ‘racy’ mini-game segment you need to complete to do this. Punishments are typically of the unusual variety and range from paddling to tickle or water torture. To add to this, the girls are also dressed in cosplay outfits depending on the type of punishment. Oh, and they do this while in compromising positions with clothes that seem to be falling off. Did I mention that three of the girls are around 13? Nothing too serious, but it certainly could be discomforting to some.

    Although NISA apparently thought that censorship was a good idea. Only it might have had the opposite of it’s intended effect. As you work through the levels of the mini-games, the pink fog obscuring the girls dissipates, but the final levels had more fog the sticks around, whereas in the Japanese version these levels had no fog by the end. The extra fog instead covers parts like their lower extremities, which actually make the game look more suggestive and dirty. One could ask NISA why they felt such a measure was necessary, considering games like Senran Kagura have gotten away with arguably worse. But ignoring all that, the mini-games themselves aren’t terribly engaging on their own. And depending on your finger size, it might be hard to perform certain tasks, as doing anything with the lower touch screen can prove difficult. Thankfully on the Playstation TV you can emulate the touchpad functions with the analog sticks and trigger buttons. And the game doesn’t make a distinction between rear touchscreen functions or front touchscreen functions, making it easier to clear the games.

    Combat is setup like a traditional turn-based JRPG. The twist comes from how turns are decided, and how actions are performed. The game will let you take on of 4 actions depending on the girl selected. You can swap out party members or use items, but you can only do one of each per turn. It kind of forces you to think more carefully about how players will conduct themselves in battle, sometimes this means being at the mercy of the somewhat random battle script. Characters can also eventually use link attacks for powerful skills, although only specific characters can actually use them. The battle system is pretty fun to play, but perhaps grinding could have been made easier to do. As least battles in the latter half of the game can go by quickly.

    The game has been ported to Steam, and it’s actually a somewhat weak port at the current time. The game was a straight port of the Western Vita version, right down to the resolution. Since the assets weren’t upscaled to accommodate resolutions higher than 800×600, increasing the resolution blows up the screen, magnifying the lack of bilinear or trilinear filtering. As a result, sprites look terrible while moving on the field, although character art looks unchanged. This is bizarre, as the vita version looks fine when played on a PS TV. Although this version certainly offers better control, replacing touch controls with mouse controls during the mini-games helps out a lot. And since this is a port of the Western Vita version, the censored content remains intact. Thankfully NISA has allowed intrepid modders to restore the Japanese versions content, and the modding scene has restored most of the edited material. It’s only a matter of time before they restore everything, but it would have been nice for NISA to do the work themselves. Perhaps the sequel’s seemingly inevitable Steam port will have more effort put into being uncensored on that front, if enough people demand it. Otherwise this port of the first game is a decent alternative to the PS Vita version. And hopefully NISA can do some update to address the resolution issues.

    While the game does have a somewhat interesting plot, the writing in the game leaves it feeling like the game’s story was not fully realized. While you do learn about the pasts of the girls and what their sin is, you never learn how they died to get to hell to begin with. Or that the character development leading up to their romance with the protagonist is virtually absent. Voice acting is only in the Japanese audio track, and the music isn’t something players will humming to, but they are both serviceable. While the game is still enjoyable, all these setbacks make for an experience that sets it slightly above mediocrity. Definitely not easy to recommend paying the full price for, especially considering it’s slightly risque content.

    Criminal Girls: Invite Only - Review
    Our Score6.5
    Positives
    • The concept behind the game is interesting.
    Negatives
    • Concept never feels truly realized.
    • Completely unnecessary mini-game certain to make some players uncomfortable.
    6.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
    0.0