By Justin Guillou / August 25th, 2016
|Title||A.W. Phoenix Festa|
|Release Date||January 28, 2016 (JP), July 26, 2016 (NA)|
Today I am here to talk about A.W. Phoenix Festa for the PlayStation Vita. Based on the anime Asterisk War, Phoenix Festa is a visual novel dating sim with some fighting game aspects to it. Even though I was not very familiar with the anime, I felt the game is a decent way for you to sample the series.
You have a Story mode and a Battle mode. The Battle mode is straightforward, just pick some characters and jump into the arena and fight each other. Of course the main draw with this game is the Story mode and you are given two options. Either Play as Ayato, the main character in the anime, or your own custom character. In Ayato’s story, he is searching for clues on the disappearance of his sister and enrolls in Seidoukan Academy. Seidoukan is one of six academies that hold tournaments called Festas. Many of the students believe that they will be able to fulfill their dreams by winning this tournament. The battles in this tournament are two on two, meaning the students have to find a partner to join them before the registration begins. It’s the same kind of story you often hear in many fighting games and anime, and quite frankly won’t win any awards. The whole partner aspect really just serves as a way to set up a typical Harem scenario.
If you go the custom character route, you are given more time to prepare for the tournament and more time to find a partner. What’s actually kind of cool is Ayato’s arrival at the academy is an event in this mode and you even get to fight him. I found this route to be far more interesting as a result. Also it gives you more time to get used to and take advantage of the mechanics. If there is a problem with the custom character, it’s that the options for hair or facial features are extremely limited and because of this, I don’t enjoy making too many characters because they end up looking too similar. I did attempt to recreate some video game characters so there is fun to be had, but I still wished there were more options.
The general game flow is that you will pick what activities you want to do each day. These range from increasing stats, working a part time job, buying gifts for potential dates, upgrading and purchasing weapons, participating in duels to increase your class rank, or going on dates with one of the women on campus. Every day you have time to do two things during the day and one in the evening. In order to participate in a duel or go on a date, you have to spend time scheduling it. If the character turns you down, that part of the day is wasted and unfortunately this seems to be random. This can be annoying as you can potentially waste several days because you keep getting rejected. There is a real life lesson buried in there somewhere. Should you go on a date, you will be able to pick one of three locations and you two will go on said date where you can talk and learn more about each other. This is great however, each time the dialogue is the same, heck they even ask you the same stuff. More variety with the dating could have done this game wonders. There are 5 potential choices for dates which can eventually lead to them becoming your partner. My favorite of the bunch was Kirin as she was really adorable and can definitely hold her own when it comes to combat.
Speaking of combat, these portions are simplistic but kind of enjoyable. For starters there is a nice variety of weapons your character can become proficient in. These include swords, lances, guns or fists. Each provides a unique move-set and series of special moves for you to perform. Battles take place in a 3D arena and the goal is to either defeat the opponent or break their school badge by countering their attacks. Each time you attack or dash, you drain some of your stamina. Use up all your stamina before it recovers and you will be temporarily stunned, leaving yourself open to a lot of punishment. The battles were not too challenging overall, since by the time you start doing them you will likely be very powered up thanks to your training. A cool mechanic is that when you are with your partner, their affection for you can rise in battle. Sometimes they will speak to you and compliment you on your attacks and you will get a temporary buff. It was kind of neat to see you and your partner grow stronger and more comfortable around each other.
That’s really the bulk of what Story mode has to offer, other than the occasional exam you have to take in school asking you questions about the Asterisk War lore or the special event with your partner when you reach a certain level of affection with them. It sounds like a lot but honestly, you will see most of what this mode has to offer fairly quickly. The good thing is that it does not overstay its welcome. Either option you pick for the Story Mode will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete. Some of you may say it’s short, but I think it’s just right. Truth is Asterisk War has a lot of good ideas, but most of them are not developed well enough for them to truly shine and if the story mode lasted any longer, the flaws will really start to become noticeable. At least there is some replay value with the Battle mode, where you can play as any character in the story, including the ones you made. There are even alternate outfits but only for the date-able women, which is disappointing. I would have liked being able to give some of the guys or the other characters alternate outfits as well.
A.W. Phoenix Festa looks and definitely feels like a budget title despite the $39.99 price tag. While the polygons look decent and have enough color to give them a distinct look, they lack a lot of detail. The music is also very forgettable, I honestly can’t comment much more on the music than that. Yet despite the flaws, I actually kept coming back and playing this one. The combat was basic, yet addictive enough that I wanted to keep scheduling them. The dates were stupidly simple, yet I still wanted to go on them. The characters had really cool artwork and the game gave me just enough to want to continue learning about them. I guess you can say this one is becoming somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. If you do pick this up be sure to watch the credits sequence all the way through. I will not spoil it, but it is one of the best things I’ve ever seen done in a credits sequence. It’s little things like that which add to this game’s charm in spite of its problems. All in all if you liked the anime, there is plenty for you to enjoy here. Otherwise, I would recommend waiting for a sale or watching some game play before you decide to buy this one.
Review copy provided by Publisher
A.W. Phoenix FestaanimeBandaiBandai NamcoNamcoPSN