While I may not be the most knowledgeable when it comes to anime, I have it on good authority that The Asterisk War is a sub-par anime series. Luckily for us, video games based off of anime or manga actually tend to be pretty good, as is the case for A.W. Phoenix Festa. A.W. Phoenix Festa is a 3d fighting game developed by Bandai Namco Games for the PS Vita, and bears striking similarities to the gameplay of Final Fantasy Dissidia, but with a little more depth. While the game is simple and easy, it’s quite a lot of fun and there’s a lot to be done in the game, and people who don’t watch the anime can still enjoy it.
A.W. Phoenix Festa takes place at a highschool, where the hero must prepare for the Phoenix Festa. The Phoenix Festa is a tournament comprising of teams of two from different schools, and the winners are granted a wish. Players can choose two story modes: the protagonist of the anime Ayato, or as their own character they create. Ayato has higher base stats but less time to prepare for the Festa, while the custom character is quite weak at first, but can be built up over the long training period. The main goal of the game is to find a partner for the Phoenix Festa, train to become stronger, and ultimately eliminate all the contestants in the tournament. There’s also a battle mode where you can play as all the different characters from the game in a classic 2-on-2 style.
A.W. Phoenix Festa provides solid 3d fighting, along with meaningful customization in order to create a really fun game. The combat is simple, as you have a light attack, heavy attack, jumps and blocking, there’s not a lot of variety to the moves you can do. Most of the combat comes down to you outsmarting the AI, knowing when to strike them to either whittle down their massive health bar, or performing a counter-attack to destroy their school badge. Knowing when to strike is the key to success, along with utilising the weapons of you and your partner, while also countering your opponents weapons. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the gameplay. Most of the game comprises of the player training in order to be effective in battle. Making sure to train, find a good partner and increase your rank encompasses most of the game. It’s surprisingly fun being able to train yourself in different ways to be the best you can be.
Unfortunately, there’s not much else to the game. Apart from the gameplay being fun, the story is pretty lackluster and the characters are only barely interesting. Choosing which character to pick to be your partner is less about you liking them and more about whether or not they are good enough or compatible with you. As far as the whole Phoenix Festa storyline, there’s not really any interesting build-up or conclusion, it just sort of happens and ends. Thankfully, the art and general design is good enough to not take away from the game’s experience. There are also a few framerate issues, which is pretty rare on the vita, but it doesn’t impact gameplay that much thankfully.
A.W. Phoenix Festa has a lot going for it. There’s a ton of content out there if you like perfecting your character and fighting in a 3d arena. It’s just unfortunate that the game isn’t well polished or very interesting, as it could have turned out to be a highlight for the vita.