Games based upon animé are a strange medium of entertainment to enjoy; usually consisting of a multitude of tired tropes that most fans can identify at the offset,
to the point that when anything even remotely different is released it feels new and innovative.
Unfortunately, Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa from Bandai Namco Games
for the PlayStation Vita subscribes to the former method of game design.
In Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa you play as generic animé protagonist Ayato Amagiri, who upon arriving - newly transferred of course - at
Seidoukan Academy, manages to accidentally walk in on a girl changing and instantly gaining her attention for the rest of the game - because that sort of
stuff happens all the time.
Shortly thereafter you are introduced one by one to each of the heroines within Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa, all of whom will inexplicably
find Ayato’s blandness absolutely magnetic and will vie for his affections throughout the cliché story.
The overall plot of Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa is also your fairly standard animé gruff: There has been a cataclysmic world event, that
for whatever reason the normal government's of the world couldn’t deal with, which obviously means that the Integrated Enterprise Foundation is
founded to lead the way - go figure. The Seidoukan Academy holds a tournament called Festas between students, with them wielding superpowers referred
to as Genestella.
I need to say that as of this review, that whilst I am a connoisseur of the medium I haven’t seen the Asterisk War animé this game is based upon, but from
what I’ve read it aims to follow the plot of the show - which is itself an adaptation of a light novel series - as best as it can.
The bulk of Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa is played in the form of a visual novel, with occasional battles between characters taking place
whenever the story dictates.
The visual novel aspect of the game unsurprisingly focuses on the wooing one of the game’s multiple heroines through regular contact, conversation and the
showering of gifts that in turn increases that particular girls intimacy score with the protagonist.
The aforementioned battles usually take place in the form of your rather basic hack ‘n’ slash, either as one-on-one or two-on-two combat within an open 3D
arena. Your character has a choice of two attacks, a block, a dash ability and a jump; with the option to combine two of those into a stronger attack that
uses a chunk of your special meter - which also replenishes during the battle. Also, the developers decision to bind lock-on mechanic to the triangle button
of the PlayStation Vita instead of having another much needed ability in its place seems like a questionable decision on the developer's part.
All of this combined tends to make what is Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa's only challenge quite the simplistic fare, as the battles will do
little to challenge your gaming prowess. These individual fights themselves have also been added as a separate battle mode - which is accessible from the main
menu. This allows the player to customise their match against any of the game's various characters.
Whilst the graphics during the battle scenes in Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa work well enough for their purpose, they are slightly lower
resolution and jaggy than what I feel the PlayStation Vita is capable of, this results in scenes that visually look quite underwhelming.
The visual novel segments on the other hand are as you would expect; well drawn, if clichéd static characters in front of slightly blurry backgrounds to
illustrate the location for that particular scene - it’s all fairly standard fare for this genre of game.
As you progress through Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa there are numerous unlockables to collect and/or purchase. These can include weapons
which you can upgrade to more powerful versions - although I never personally found the need once you acquire Ayato’s main weapon during the story.
The ability to upgrade your weapons will become useful if you decide to play the game’s other mode though, which puts you in the shoes of a player-named
protagonist who enters the school. This particular mode follows a different story path and allows for more customisation than during the main game, giving you
even more of the battle gameplay if the standard story wasn’t quite enough for you.
The ability the play not only through the main story but also as a different character entirely will please fans of the show. However,
Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa is ultimately a very generic affair, riddled with tropes that will do little to draw in new fans to the series
and will likely leave most gamers not familiar with its content confused.
I’d recommend any gamer interested in playing Asterisk War: Phoenix Festa to first first familiarise yourself with the animé upon which it is based.
Review copy provided by the publisher for the PlayStation Vita.
30th August 2016
- 3 Out of 5 Stars
Cliché story & characters
Subpar graphics in battles
Solid if uninspiring gameplay
Plenty of content for fans of the animé