Enroll in Seidoukan Academy, hone your combat skills, and fight to win the Phoenix Festa with a partner of your choice.
A.W.: Phoenix Festa
Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: PS Vita
MonsterVine was provided with a PS Vita code for review.
A.W.: Phoenix Festa is based on the light novel series and anime The Asterisk War. Although it gives little context, the premise is that you are a student at Seidoukan Academy. Your goal is to win the Phoenix Festa, a tournament fought between pairs of students.
Each day, you can choose between several actions: training to increase your stats, working a job to earn money, shopping, upgrading your weapons, requesting duels or dates with other students, or resting to regain health.
The combat system is simple. You have a basic attack, a block, and a few special moves. Your stats increase after each fight. For players who particularly enjoy it, there is also a Battle Mode with a wider pool of playable characters.
At certain points, you’ll have a chance to interact with other students. This is where the dating sim elements come into play. As you increase your intimacy with each of the characters, you affect not only your relationship with them, but also their level in battle as your partner. Four possible partners are available from the start, with a fifth unlocked once you complete all four.
When you start the game, you can play as either series protagonist Ayato Amagiri or an original character. While the game mechanics are the same, each plays quite differently.
Ayato’s story is for all intents and purposes Easy Mode. He starts out with high stats, a powerful weapon, and high intimacy values. Unfortunately, this makes it rather dull, since you don’t need to delve deeply into any of the systems.
Likewise, the story leaves much to be desired. In theory, Ayato wants to learn about his missing sister, but this plot point is only touched on a handful of times. The girls’ motivations and personalities are all that set their routes apart, and the romantic elements are light.
The original character’s story is challenging, which makes it more satisfying as an RPG. You have a longer time to play before the Phoenix Festa begins, and you need to put effort into all the various systems. However, it has even less plot and romance than Ayato’s routes.
Random events sprinkled throughout the game add variety, but there aren’t enough to keep them from becoming repetitive. There are three possible dates, and they’re virtually identical across the five routes. Dialogue also doesn’t change during repeat events, leading to awkward situations such as the characters exclaiming that they never expected to go on a date no matter how many dates you’ve already sent them on.
There are some interesting ideas and cute moments, and the battle system has glimmers of fun, but both halves of A.W.: Phoenix Festa struggle to rise above mediocrity.
The Final Word
A.W.: Phoenix Festa combines the action RPG and dating sim genres, but unfortunately doesn’t excel at either. There’s nothing egregious here, but it’s unlikely to appeal to players not invested in the Asterisk War storyline.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 3 out of 5 – Average