In Criminal Girls: Invite Only you guide a group of sinners through Hell to be reborn. The journey will take players through Purgatory, fiery depths, and an ice dungeon where you’ll battle monsters. One of the twists in Criminal Girls: Invite Only is the characters won’t always listen to your commands. Takuma Tatsumi and Yoshinori Tadauchi from Nippon Ichi Software Japan spoke to Siliconera about developing the game.
At its core, Criminal Girls takes the concept of redemption in a journey through Hell. Why did you want to use this idea as the theme for the game?
The originating theme of this game was the desire to depict men and women overcoming difficulties and growing. There is a drama and movie in Japan called Rookies that shows troubled youth and how they deal with their problems while playing baseball and their growth through it. There is also an American drama “Gridiron Gang” with the same theme. We wanted to show that people who had once committed a crime or sin can still grow as people.
Furthermore, it also gave us the idea of a making a metaphor for people’s hearts changing or “being reborn” as it were. So, when we decided to turn this theme into an RPG, a suitable setting for someone who had committed a sin or crime in the past was hell or purgatory. Even if one’s sins are deep enough to warrant hell, by confronting their sins, they can transform their lives. So, the tale we want to tell is: “Journeying through hell and purgatory to obtain salvation.
The theme feels kind of mature, but the characters have moe artwork instead of dark or serious character designs.
With a theme as dark as this game’s, we thought that if we simply went with dark designs, it would make the game extremely oppressive and turn the player off. Also, perhaps different from overseas, moe is generally received fairly well in Japan and with this art style as our foothold, we felt that we could touch on dark themes for this game. On the other hand, it is common in anime or games for cute characters to experience difficulties and have this kind of dark background, so with this different take on things, we wanted players to feel like these characters as though they were actually living.
Also, our target audience was not adults, but young people, so we used an art style that would appeal to them.
How did you come up with the characters and their back stories? Was their sin the driving force for character design and their story?
We went with, “Realistic and familiar” when choosing their sins. By making the themes familiar, we wanted the player to feel a greater sense of sincerity. When thinking of their past sins, the staff reflected on their own lives and thought of “sins that I may have committed” or “sins that could be occurring near me.” We then thought of characters who could commit sins like that. We figured that this process would lend a sense of authenticity to the title.
Criminal Girls has a unique battle system where characters don’t always listen to your commands. Where did this idea come from and how did you implement it to make fights fair? There could be situations where players get unlucky and the characters don’t listen to them before a boss battle causing them to die.
The characters in this game are troubled girls so they do not listen to what is told to them. Initially, they are rebellious and won’t even act at all. From this attitude they move to doing things only because they were told to and finally they become gentle and show self-initiative. This character growth and transition is shown through the battle system.
As for game balance, even though you are not able to attack freely, at the beginning, the enemies are balanced so that you will not lose easily. As you advance to the mid and later stages of the game, the bonds between you and your party members are stronger, so the AI is programmed to make it so the commands you can issue are appropriate to the situation and will not result in a unreasonable deaths.
Criminal Girls has some interesting ideas, but did the game really need fan service with all of the punishment mini games? I think a lot of people would like a RPG with redemption as a theme, but may not feel the same about this element.
Through the fan service portions, we feel that you can see inner aspects of the characters that you could not see normally. As we’ve said before, in order to make the characters seem more alive to the player, we wanted to really enforce the idea of motivating and encouraging the characters towards renewal and this is one form this idea took. As you say, there might be some players put off by these elements, however in the same way, we feel that these same elements will appeal to others.
Moreover, we hope that the player the game will be able to see that game is far more than simple fan service.