Escaping Hell is never going to be an easy business and the game puts in a mighty block of grinding gears for you to get through, if Yurine, Tsukasa, Shinoa and company hope to beat the end of level bosses. Fortunately, you can turn down the difficulty if you simply want to run through the game without worrying about extracting every last bit of experience from a level through deeply repetitive battles. Don't worry, it still puts up a fair old challenge.
Battle Mode of Not-Quite MayhemCombat itself is initially fun, with a new Coaching mechanic adding an extra element where some girls will perform better in battle, but others will get the hump. Enemies are bright, crazy designs with some fun quirks, but there are way too few of them.
There are attack, magic, support and healing tactics to use, plus potions, and you can swap fighters in or out at will. However, you'll soon be praying for an auto-battle button to get through the thousandth battle of the day. There just aren't quite enough monsters to make it interesting or enough tactical variety to get your teeth into.
The annoying battle mechanic of random attackers is still there, your main party of four can attack two, three or four times as they increase in power, but that's no good when your weedy mage decides to hit the perfectly healthy dragon while your axe-wielding Yurine wastes her mighty blow on some trivial minion with a few hit points left.
Automatic EX attacks and sweeping special magic moves help out later on, as the enemies toughen up, but that leaves physical attacks way behind in usefulness. Realistically, you need to save all your MP and potions for the end of level boss, so escaping battles or fighting conservatively also takes some of the fun out of it. Outside of battle, new Field Skills can help patch up the party in-between visits to the camp, where all the "fun" stuff happens.
Tickle and Splat A Criminal GirlThe Motivation sequence visuals feel a bit more polished that the firsdt game, and there's some new lady tickling events, but they too soon get very repetitive. You may have qualms about beating some of the distinctly underage looking characters. like Mizuki who I just left at level one skills all game. Otherwise there's a mild dose of soft skin, some girly cuddling and tantalisingly wobbly oiled side boob to gawk at, but nothing to get your local vicar's pants in a twist.
The game's saving grace is the catty interplay between the girls, as they bitch and moan their way around the levels. The script is actually pretty funny and, I'm assuming, well translated or improvised. This nudges the game up a few points over the likes of MeiQ, which failed to shine when it came to the characters.
Throw in a few Girly Wishes that act as tiny side quests, and excuses to revisit previous levels, and you have a neatly compact RPG which is no where near as risque as it likes to think it is. Bright, breezy with some great little tunes, but hardly in the running for RPG of the year. There's a bunch of endings for completionists, but you'd have to be very disciplined indeed to go for all those trophies.
To be completely honest, you could go and take a look at the original Criminal Girls: Invite Only review, and not much has changed. There's a slight twist in one of the girls isn't all she seems, but that doesn't change the core game much.
If you liked that little spank inferno, then this is more of the same. That could either be a shame that the developers didn't try to push the harsher edges of the game further, or is a sign that inevitable third game will have to really ramp things up. It is fun to watch the girl's progress in the later stages of the game, but you as their guide really don't seem to have much to do with that.
Note, CG2 isn't the most complex of games and is incredibly linear, but if you need some tips, here you go!
Price: £29.99 Amazon
Publisher: NIS America
Progress: In Lily's Garden