I’ve watched a lot of anime but Asterisk War hasn’t been one of them. As you’ll now read in my Phoenix Festa review, however, I’m now much more interested in checking out the anime as I’ve grown to like the characters and world that has been created, and this game is a great way to settle into the series.
The game itself isn’t particularly outstanding in any way, but there’s a decent amount of fun to be had and I’m sure bigger fans of the series will manage to get more out of this than I can right now. You can create your own character and bond with the characters from the show as you train to compete in the Phoenix Festa, a tournament held with a big cash prize, or play as series protagonist Ayato Amagiri as you do more or less the same thing, but it’s a fair bit shorter – he shows up about mid-way on your custom characters route. The game is both a dating-sim and a fighting game, and so there are multiple routes with different endings as you can choose to be with different girls – Claudia clearly being the one to go for.
The dating-sim element is better than the fighting element, but neither do a great job past offering plenty of fan-service. You can play as a wide-range of characters from the show and attempt to date several too, as you spend all of your time training and battling until the Phoenix Festa. With the dating-sim part of the game, you choose the girl you wish to pursue and offer her gifts and spend time with her to raise her appreciation of you, then you can ask to go on dates which they can accept or decline – they seem to decline a lot but a lot of the dates re-use content, so this might be for the best. You can then ask the girl to partner up with you for the Phoenix Festa, which sees you participate in 2v2 battles, and continue on to achieve their unique ending.
Training is as simple as picking an option from raising your health, strength, defence and other stats and then watching your character briefly exercise, and then you rinse and repeat. The actual duelling is more immersive and takes place on a fully 3D field, where you can fight alone or with an allied AI. You have weak and heavy attacks, a dodge and guard button and can pull off a couple of special moves, but overall it’s very simple which is great for fans who may not be very familiar with gaming or fighting games, but a bit of a let down for those hoping for something a bit meatier to sink their teeth into.
Visually it does a brilliant job with the 2D animations but not quite as great with the 3D visuals which come across as a bit flat and expressionless – this is in stark contrast to the enthusiastic 2D portraits. The CG images, as expected, as lovely and give a decent reason for fans to complete each route. It’s not one of the best looking titles on Vita, but it seems like there’s been effort in keeping it true to the series.
Unsurprisingly there’s no English Dub although there’s a fair bit of speech, but the Japanese voice-actors do more than a good job in bringing their characters to life. The opening video is pretty rad with a decent tune accompanying it, although the soundtrack as a whole didn’t impress nor disappoint me – it’s there, it fulfils its purpose, but it’s not something that stuck with me after the final note had played.
A.W.: Phoenix Festa is a solid game that doesn’t excel in any aspect and it’s definitely something made for fans, but it does a good job in introducing you to the world of The Asterisk War. The trophy list includes loads of grinding such as participating in 300 battles in Free Battle mode, and so I didn’t end up with many of them and I can’t see many bothering unless they feel the urge to Platinum a game based on a series they love, or they’re an obsessive trophy collector! There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but the game becomes pretty repetitive after a few hours. If you’re a fan of the series then this is likely worth buying, but otherwise you might want to check the anime out first or wait for a sale.
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