A.W. Phoenix Festa (PS Vita) Review

By Eric Ace 08.09.2016

Review for A.W. Phoenix Festa on PS Vita

Visual novels are all the rage in the realm of PS Vita games, and JRPGs in general tend to take the formula of 'attractive anime girls,' add in swords, maybe some magic spells, get some humour or harem action in, and send it out the door. A.W. Phoenix Festa stays true to these guidelines, but it goes in a new direction of trying to merge genres in a novel way that unfortunately does not work as well as it could have.

Based on an anime of the same name, A.W. Phoenix Festa is a hybrid game involving part visual novel dating sim, an RPG training and stat system, and 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 combat. Done well it could provide a pretty interesting change to the distinct genres, but in many cases the depth is never achieved here, and it's unlikely either fans of the show or newcomers will like the entire package.

There are two 'periods' to a day, and the player has a limited number of days to train up their stats and also find a girlfriend to battle with them in this tournament. Each period therefore has to be balanced between picking a specific type of training, going shopping, trying to fight people, or trying to go on a date. Dates play like a visual novel, while duels play like a fighting game.

Screenshot for A.W. Phoenix Festa on PS Vita

At the start of the game, there is a major choice to play the main character of the show, or to make your own character and raise him up. This has significant impact on the story, but little actual gameplay is changed; the reason for this is there simply isn't much gameplay that actually happens. The main character starts jacked out on stats, and stomps his way through every fight and gets a partner easily due to scripted events that boost the love of the girls.

The custom character is mildly more interesting from a gameplay point of view, but shows many of the flaws in the game. Namely, there is simply not much to do, and any choices or experimentation is punished heavily. There is a forced autosave, so any decision becomes locked in, and many of these cannot be undone. For example, the goal is to get a girl interested enough that she will become your partner, so the only major way to do this is 'ask on a date'. This takes an entire half day, and most of the time she will reject you, meaning a wasted time for training. This is one of the more frustrating elements, as it seems entirely random; do they not want to go because they are busy? Because they don't know you? (Which leads to the negative feedback of how can they like you if they never go on a date?) Something else the game is hiding? Besides this, there are a lot of weapon types to pick from, but the inability to experiment means that the player might pick a weapon, blowing tons of cash to get it, and simply have to stay with it because it's too hard to make the money back.

Screenshot for A.W. Phoenix Festa on PS Vita

The visual novel elements are lacking. Sometimes a scene will occur with some girl, and rarely is there a choice what to say to her. Often it is simply the same scene over and over, like "tee-hee I see you are resting again, what would the others think if they knew I was in here with you?" nearly every time the 'Rest' option is picked.

Combat has the potential to be interesting, but fails on many levels, too. It's open, where the character can run wherever, and there are only a few buttons (hit, range attack, jump, dash, block). Often battles become far more 'gamey' than they probably were ever meant to be, such as hiding behind an object, coming out, spamming ranged attacks, and hiding again because the AI can't get around it. Further, if you can close the distance, the knockdown is so strong, enemies can be permanently bashed to the floor and killed with an endless 'hit hit hit wait hit hit hit wait' type of combo.

Screenshot for A.W. Phoenix Festa on PS Vita

The game just feels 'light'. The RPG elements are light, the visual novel elements are light, the combat is light. The coolest part was arguably getting to the end of the five-hour game with the custom character and fighting in the tournament and stomping out enemies that had been around since the beginning. Based on stats, the character actually starts to move faster and hit harder, and this element was actually engaging. Unfortunately, it is buried under repetitious visual novel sections that hardly deserved to be called as such, and endlessly picking 'Attack' for the training option day after day and watching the nameless character do a thousand push-ups.

The elements are here for what could be a pretty cool game: one where the training/RPG section was actually fun instead of a grind, experimentation doesn't cripple the player, a dating sim that at all worked, and combat that wasn't exploitable and simple. A working mix of this could be pretty fun, but this is a game that anyone going into will likely be disappointed.

Screenshot for A.W. Phoenix Festa on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

A.W. Phoenix Festa isn't bad, as some elements are mildly amusing. The building up of the character to compete in the final tournament is a cool element, but the game lacks depth on so many levels while punishing mistakes so hard that the whole thing becomes a grind. There is not much to see, not much to do, and how often scenes repeat is grating. What is seen in the first 15 minutes is in general what the next 5 hours are going to be like, and those first 15 were not that good to begin with. The elements in here have the potential to be a really cool game, but this is more like a framework than an actual game worth buying.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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