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Video Game / Criminal Girls

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Criminal Girls is a turn-based, dungeon crawling JRPG developed by Imageepoch and published by Nippon Ichi. Initially released for the PlayStation Portable in 2010, an Updated Re-release for the PlayStation Vita titled Criminal Girls: Invite Only was published in 2012, and was the only version ported to the west in 2015.

The plot focuses on an unnamed main character called to lead a group of delinquent girls through Hell in order to overcome Four Trials that will cleanse them of their sins and allow them to return to life redeemed. Unfortunately, the girls do not want to fight and have to be properly "motivated" into action.

The project immediately begins to have things go wrong as several girls escape, numerous convicts begin wandering around, and all means of communication with Hell's operating committee are cut off. The main character and the girls can only continue their ascent while trying to figure out what is going on.

The sequel, Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors, was released in the US in October 2016.

This game contains examples of:

  • An Adventurer Is You: Each girl fills one of the archetypical party roles.
    • Ran is The Tank, wielding a sword and shield and having a variety of defensive support abilities, including a taunt and counter attack.
    • Sako is The Scrapper, dealing high damage at high speed while providing some minor support spells.
    • Kisaragi is The Jack of All Trades, with reasonable power and defense and a wide variety of situational spells like poison, stealing, and paralysis.
    • Alice is The Nuker, possessing the most powerful damage spells in the game, but having nothing in terms of support or durability.
    • Tomoe is The Blademaster. While she lacks durability and speed, her physical damage is unrivaled and all of her abilities are dedicated to dealing damage.
    • Yuko is a mix of The Status Effect Guy and The Healer. In addition to having the best healing spells, she has a lot of stat buffs and debuffs.
    • Shin is The Petmaster, with a twist. Her "pets" are the other party members, who get to use some of their spells for free if they do so in concert with Shin.
  • Aerith and Bob: The nicknames of the girls are usually derived from their real names in some fashion, which are Japanese. Yuri Mizuna is the only exception who goes by the name Alice.
  • Animal Motif: The costumes worn during Edgeplay. Appropriately enough, Tomoe's is a cow.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Toward the end of the main game, the player has to make a choice among the seven girls that will affect the ending, and, unlike other Nippon Ichi games, this game has no New Game Plus feature. Luckily, the game tells you this right off the bat twice (the second time using red letters to emphasize this), and recommends that the player make multiple save files if he/she wants to see all the endings.
    • There are also a few helpful signs warning of tough stretches ahead that remind the user to be fully prepared before continuing.
    • While the money cap is only 99,999 CM, Kisaragi learns a skill to automatically increase CM earned in battle while Miu has a field skill that ups earned CM by 50%. In the post-game dungeons, you earn so much money you quickly run out of things to buy with it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Unlocking the girls' first-tier skill sets involves spanking them with a riding crop, electric shocks for the second-tier, dripping cold lotion onto them for the third-tier, and tickling for the fourth-tier. The final tier for use after a girl becomes a Knight is meant to be more akin to romantic cuddling.
    • The first three blocks, a dangerous jungle, molten ruins, and an icy mountains are typical places one would expect from an RPG and the latter two fit with most conventional views of Hell. The fourth block? A high school setting. It Makes Sense in Context, as the block was designed to be the place where the girls face their sins and their sins are mostly tied to their school life.
  • The Atoner: The purpose of the Reformation program is to turn each candidate into one.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some of the Bond Attacks, particularly Shin's, get into this.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Averted in the original Japanese release as the brand name accessories found during Kisaragi's trial are real. Played straight in the Western translation of the Updated Re-release, where each brand is off by one letter.
    • The brand name of Shin's laptop is Martianware. Totally not related to the Alienware gaming PC line.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Ether Zone 437.
  • Bowdlerise: The punishment segments, localised as "motivation", have additional pink steam even when fully completed, especially around the crotch, and removes the girls' moaning and groaning.
  • Broken Aesop: Ran learns that as horrific as her experience with another man was, she should not take her anger out on every man out there, which the main character helps her realize by being patient with her and caring for her and the other girls. Unfortunately, the nature of the game's Motivation mechanic, which is a requirement to gaining new skills and advancing Ran's relationship with the Instructor, makes her epiphany less triumphant than it should because the Instructor had already done plenty of perverted things to her. This can be a problem for all the girls, but it's especially jarring for Ran's Character Development.
  • But Thou Must!: You need to use Ran for the tutorial segment. This is most likely because Sako and Kisaragi would have a chance of losing, and Alice could barely scratch it before going down.
  • Censor Steam: Added to the motivation segments in the Western release, though it ends up making some scenes look even more naughty.
  • Cosplay: The girls are put into various outfits during "Motivation Time."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The party is on the receiving end twice.
    • On the first floor of the Inferno Block, an especially powerful Convict blocks the party's progress and they can't even hurt him.
    • The final boss shows up before their actual fight on the first floor of Purgatory and completely trashes the girls.
  • Dark Reprise: Done visually with the post-game Garden of Memories, a rotten and dilapidated version of the Education Block.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Whoever placed the "No teleporting back to the Infirmary" restriction in the Bonus Dungeon didn't account for the fact that Ran's field skill to avoid random encounters is still usable.
  • Fake Difficulty: Done well, if you can believe it. Due to being unable to directly control the girls' actions, it both shows them as Delinquents and how they don't trust you, as well as prevents the game from being too easy.
  • Fanservice: The "motivation" mini-game.
    • The outfits that the girls wear upon becoming Knights count too.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The only three elements in the game.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: If your Vita enters sleep mode on the tutorial screen on any Motivation screen, it won't allow you to continue to the actual game if you press X. Though this is thankfully easily fixed by pressing the home button and going back into the game.
    • The bottles in Slippery Slope occasionally don't turn to the side regardless of what you do. However, it's easily fixed by removing your finger from the touch screen and putting it back on.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The attack that the final boss uses to attempt to kill the party with in a cutscene makes a return in the true final boss fight, and it will one-shot the party if they don't protect against it.
    • Himekami gets access to all the spells she had as the final boss, and they are just as powerful against enemies as they were against you, but it takes a little motivation to unlock them.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Character Development the girls gain towards trusting the main character completely ignores the fact that he regularly punishes them by forcing them into embarrassing outfits and basically torturing them.
    • Partially Handwaved when the protagonist is required to choose the first girl to motivate during the tutorial, where he is clearly just as unenthusiastic about hurting the girls to "motivate" them as they are.
  • Genre Savvy: Shin is well aware of certain gaming conventions and is able to pick up on things more quickly than the others. Makes sense since she was a gamer in the mortal world.
  • Heroic BSoD: Every girl experiences one when coming face-to-face with their sinful past. All of them require a physical MacGuffin to help break them out of it and move on.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Alice fights with a book, Yuko fights with a broom, and Shin utilizes cards. But given all three are mages and, it makes sense they don't have anything heavier or sharper.
  • Informed Ability: Alice's psychic abilities are shown to the party when they need to hunt down a convict... that ran into a space where it can't leave without passing by the party and has four dead ends. Alice is wrong three times, but this is somehow enough to convince the party she is despite the fact that it should only convince them that she's not.
  • Karmic Reform Hell: Hell was designed in such a manner so that the souls there can confront their sins and reform enough for a second chance at life.
  • Konami Code: Played with. A code very similar to it is needed to unlock the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Lazy Backup: It doesn't matter if the three reserve characters are at full health and fully powered up; if the four active members are all knocked out, it's game over.
  • Level Grinding: The team will need to grind on occasion in order to earn enough money to teach all of the girls their next skill set, especially since a girl must have all of her first four skill sets complete to become a Knight and unlock the fifth. The experience that comes with that keeps the party on top of the level curve.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: Promoting one of the girls to Knight causes Motivation Time to become "Sweet Time", which is implied by the dialogue and change of music to be more akin to making love than punishing them. Additionally, the final Motivation, Aftercare, is explicitly referred to as "sharing the bed" and doing so unlocks the girls' most powerful abilities and fourth Wish, which is more or less a date followed by a Love Confession.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The Motivation Time and Sweet Time tracks are surprisingly lengthy, considering how short the minigames themselves are.
  • Marry Them All: The additional ending added in the Updated Re Release. The girls get together to decide on a birthday present for the instructor and decide to take turns dating him over the course of the week and all get together for a party at his place on the day off.
  • Medium Awareness: Shin immediately recognizes Ether 437 as a Bonus Dungeon.
  • Mission Control: The player character during battle, though Shin has a few skills that will cause her to order another girl to attack in tandem with her too.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: The Reformation Program is designed to be this for the people who go through it, as, while they were delinquents in real life, they died before they could have committed a serious enough sin or crime to damn them to Hell for eternity.
    • This goes double for two people in the post-game, as both have already failed the Reformation Program once, and end up getting a second chance to try to complete the program.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Ran learns a skill that makes everyone Invincible for two turns. However, they're still susceptible to status ailments.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: After defeating the post-game final boss.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Each of the girls, along with the main character.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The trial in the Frost block is intended to see if the girls are forged strong enough bonds of trust to overcome a series of misunderstandings.
  • Promoted to Playable: Miu and Himekami in the remake, but only in post-game.
  • Rape as Backstory: The game does everything short of actually stating that Ran was raped when she was in elementary school, which led to her severe distrust of men.
  • Rules Lawyer: The AI system that runs the Reformation Program up until its defeat in the Warden's Block.
  • Shout-Out: The fourth Trial in the Reformation Program, the Education Block, forces the girls to confront shadowy copies of themselves that mock and belittle them about their insecurities and wrongdoings, and goes berserk and attacks them when they refuse to accept it.
  • School Swimsuit: What the girls must wear in the mini-games that unlock their 3rd skill sets.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The group's attitude all throughout the post-game dungeons.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Each girl represents one, though some are less obvious than others.
    • Greed: Kisaragi, made very obvious by her introduction in which she asks how much your clothes cost and some of her skills involve stealing from enemies. In life, she engaged in Compensated Dating so that she could buy expensive name-brand clothes after being bullied for being too plain.
    • Wrath: Ran. She makes it very clear that she hates men and often uses violence to deal with her frustrations. An incident with a man in elementary school (more than implied to be rape) caused her to violently lash out at men for the smallest of offenses.
    • Sloth: Yuko. She often acts like she's too tired or weak to do anything and often asks others to do something for her, mostly Sako. In fact, her numerous academic achievements were things Sako did for her and she took credit for them since she enjoyed the praise she got. The only reason Yuko got away with it was because of Sako's sin.
    • Lust: Sako. She loves Yuko and would do anything for her. Her sin is that she let this damage her image of herself, making herself look dumber than she actually is so that she can always be with her. On top of that, it saddled Yuko with unnecessary responsibility and ended up letting Yuko's sin go unchecked.
    • Gluttony: Tomoe. In this case, her gluttony is her excessive desire of breaking people's hearts. Her biggest sin was causing her cousin's fiancĂ© to disappear on her wedding day.
    • Envy: Shin, due to her self-loathing of being a high school drop-out and a Hikikomori. Her arrogant personality (based on the type of character she played in MMOs) is her view of what she wanted to be.
    • Pride: Alice. She loved being called special by her parents and did many things for their admiration. So much so that it eventually led to her having her own church, but many of the feats she performed were fabrications.
  • Sexual Euphemism: "Sweet Time", which is implied by the dialogue and change of music to be more akin to making love than a punishment. Additionally, the final Motivation, Aftercare, is explicitly referred to as "sharing the bed".
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The girls do enjoy some of the "motivation" methods used on them. Come the end of the game, none of the girls complain about "Motivation Time" anymore, regardless of what's used on them.
    • Sako deserves special mention, because she isn't phased by anything, even at the start. By the the time you reach the Third Trial, she's practically volunteering for more Motivation and is actually disappointed it doesn't last longer.
  • Underground Monkey: Several enemy types return as color palettes on higher floors, such as the Mermen and Bees from the Morass.
  • Updated Re-release: As mentioned above, the original game was released on the PSP. The Vita version was released about two years later with the subtitle Invitation, which was then later released outside of Japan under the subtitle Invite Only. The re-release adds Himekami and Miu to the party roster once you finish the main game, adds some extra dungeons for you to explore, and allows you to promote ALL of the girls to Knights.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There are several instances throughout the game where the player has the choice to say incredibly mean things to the girls at no real penalty besides being required to choose the correct option to continue.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Himekami upon being defeated.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kisaragi and Shin even after Character Development.
  • We Have Reserves: After the post-game dungeon, the girls believe they've destroyed the AI that ran the Reformation Program, only for the old prototype to reveal itself as being the backup program.
  • Wham Line: In-Universe, the instructor delivers at least one to each girl once he figures out their sin. It's necessary in that it gives them a wake-up call to stop making excuses about it.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Yuko and Tomoe staying behind to hold back a Convict that continually revived and was chasing the group in the Frost block.