A.W. : Phoenix Festa – Review
Follow Genre: Dating Sim, Brawler, Management
Developer: APLUS Co., Ltd.
Platform: PS Vita, PS TV
Tested on: PS TV

A.W. : Phoenix Festa – Review

Site Score
Good: Simple to learn, Short and fun
Bad: Fairly basic for veterans of both genres
User Score
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

While we don’t always want to admit it, ‘dating sims’ are a guilty pleasure of many, one that often proves to be very addictive and time consuming. Nonetheless, these games often follow the same formula, making them unoriginal after a while and unattractive for those who never bothered playing the genre anyway. A.W. : Phoenix Festa tries to combine the mechanics of a dating sim, with an arena brawler and in many ways the game succeeds surprisingly well, if you don’t mind some flaws hither and thither. Dive in the exciting world of picking up anime chicks and punching those you don’t like in the face…

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A.W. : Phoenix Festa has two different storylines, one being with a scripted character, Ayato Amagiri, where you follow his quest of qualifying in the Phoenix Festa, a tournament between different schools, where wishes are granted to the victors. Nonetheless, you only have fourteen days to find a partner who will stand by your side, but you also wonder what happened to your sister, who happened to attend the same school in the past. She suddenly vanished after stating she loved you and was never seen again.

In the second story option you’ll attend the same school, but you have a bigger timeframe to register and come out as the victor of the tournament. Nonetheless, there isn’t truly a bigger plot behind this mode, you’ll simply press on to get to know your fellow students more and learn about their backgrounds. You also have more time because you aren’t as skilled as Ayato Amagiri in his storyline.

Overall both story modes don’t have massive underlying plots, but you are able to get to know the girls better, what drives them and why they would want to win the tournament. Depending on who you team up with, the story changes, but it’s not that easy to play through the game with every different character. Nonetheless, the story itself is rather short, as it only spans several hours, making it easier to try out different routes upon revisiting the game after you’ve cleared it.

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A.W. Phoenix Festa will not immediately blow your socks off, but the game does have pleasant visuals, albeit rather simplistic ones. For the most part of the game you’ll be digging through menus and conversations, in a visual novel-like fashion. The backgrounds are pleasant, and the characters are all well created, be it in their 2D and 3D forms. Nonetheless, during the conversations the background often remains the same, and the different characters don’t hold that many different facial expressions, making the characters a bit more static than you’d like.

The battle sequences look equally as simple as the rest of the game. You’ll be fighting in tiny arenas, with not that much clutter and basic backgrounds. Nonetheless, the characters, their moves and skills all look quite good for the PlayStation Vita. Overall, the game is a mixture of some good visual novel portions and decent 3D battle sequences, all tied together with simple but esthetically pleasing backgrounds and menus.


All characters, except your own, are properly voiced and while there aren’t truly that many different leading roles, there’s a handful of side characters that come with the same qualitative voice acting as well. You’ll have to make do with the Japanese voices, but this should not be a problem for those who are into this kind of game.

Everything is accompanied by some rather cheerful, upbeat and catchy tunes. While many of the tracks are being looped or simply ‘overused’, they never truly become a bother and tend to fade to the background when you get used to them.

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A.W. : Phoenix Festa is a hybrid dating sim/action brawler where you’ll spend most of your time training your character, strengthening your bonds with your female fellow students and battling in arenas in a 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 format. That being said, you’ll quickly notice that navigating menus and training will be the biggest portion of the game.

When starting a new file you can either select to play with Ayato Amagiri, or your very own character. The latter will hold a few customization options, but they are hardly worth mentioning. Both gameplay formats are also the same, but as Ayato you’ll join the school only two weeks before the tournament begins, while as your own character you’ll have a bigger time slot to work with, but a lot lower skills, forcing you to level and train a lot more.

Training is quite simple, you simply have to select which stat you wish to level up, and you’ll skip a few hours ahead and see the fruits of your labor. During a single day you can only do two training sessions and they will also come at a cost. Every time you train, you will chip away a bit of your general condition, thus you will become fatigued over time. Resting solves your fatigue problem, but it will again consume several hours. Outside of training you can also challenge fellow students to duels, granting you some experience. If you’re more of a pacifist, you can opt to have dates with the different girls, but be warned, duels and dates can be declined, and you will still lose your precious time planning for something that will never happen. The system behind this is rather sketchy and so random, that actually planning things can be frustrating and tedious, but you will be happy when someone finally wants to go on a date with you.

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Dating itself is very simple, and during our first playthrough we weren’t even able to give someone a present on one of such dates. The dates are very superficial, and it seems that fighting and other things actually allow you to grow closer to one of the girls than most of the dates do. Nonetheless, we weren’t able to unlock or do anything spectacular when on a date, they ended up being rather fun and cute anyway.

Combat in A.W. : Phoenix Festa is like the rest of the game, very simplified. Your character (or your selectable partner) will have a basic attack, a heavy attack and a special skill, all while you can lock-on targets and dodge or block attacks. You can either win by breaking the enemy team’s school sigil (never happened during our playthroughs) or simply by depleting the HP bar of your foes. There’s only one peculiar thing in the entire combat system, namely the usage of the special skill. As long as you have enough stamina, you can keep spamming the skill over and over, making some fights very dull, if you can time your skill right. Overall the combat is quite easy, if you decide to max out your attack stat first.

You can also upgrade and optimize your weapon(s) but you can perfectly beat the game without ever touching these menus, making them lose their charm a bit. The upgrade system does need a bit of polishing, and in many ways some extra explanation is needed as well as the game only gives you a basic rundown, which is not close to properly explaining how everything works.

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Those who are intrigued with the battle system can always opt to play solo battles in the main menu, and when doing so you’ll also get to play with characters you can’t control during the story mode. Overall a simple extra gimmick, but a fun one.

Overall this game and its mechanics are so simple it might scare off those who are looking for a challenge or a very complex and expansive dating sim. Nonetheless, the game does have its quirks and original trinkets, allowing even veterans to find many fun elements in this title.

Only one thing seemed to be wrong, namely when starting a new playthrough, after completing one, the game asks if you wish to transfer your skill info. Even if you select yes, the game does not transfer a single thing, making you start over from scratch again, making a second playthrough a tad less attractive.


A.W. : Phoenix Festa is a great attempt of combining two completely different genres, an attempt that nearly hits its mark. Some might be a bit bothered by the very simple mechanics of both the dating sim aspect and the combat portion of the game, but others will cheer upon the easily accessible mechanics and gameplay. If you’re expecting world renewing gameplay and a very complicated plot, this one might not be your pick of the week, but if you are looking for a lighthearted game to play in-between titles, this one will keep you occupied for several hours.

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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
A.W. : Phoenix Festa - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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