Several wasteland legends persist that Festus is a centuries old guardian of the Sunset Sarsaparilla treasure. The legends are technically correct, but the fact that Festus is an animatronic automaton made by RobCo Industries, that was shipped to and installed in the Sunset Sarsaparilla Company's headquarters in Las Vegas takes away some the mystique. He was in fact designed as an interactive display for visitors and tourists.
Unlike most other robots in the wasteland, who operate with a degree of autonomous artificial intelligence, Festus is a simple machine that only responds to a set of about a dozen designated command phrases and answers with prerecorded responses. More Festus-model robots were intended to be purchased by Sunset Sarsaparilla and shipped to the company's regional offices located around the United States. This never happened due to the Great War of 2077.
After centuries of wear and tear, Festus is barely operational. The wooden cabinet holding the robot is falling apart, having been shot several times and damaged by water, and the animated rancher himself has been shot as well, taking his right arm and right eye. His speaker is also damaged, constantly shifting in quality and volume as the prerecorded lines are played.
When first meeting Festus it may be best to respond with "Pleased to meetcha". This option will explain all of the dialogue options available.
If the Courier asks Festus to tell about the "Silly Ol' Advisory," he will list numerous serious health problems associated with drinking Sunset Sarsaparilla. He will ask the player character to repeat themselves twice before finally telling. This may have been programmed into Festus in an attempt to prevent people from hearing the advisory.
After redeeming 50 Sunset Sarsaparilla star bottle caps for the quest, Festus will tell the story of "The Legend of the Star." He will make mention of Nuka-Cola, the principal rival soft drink of Sunset Sarsaparilla. After this, he mentions that to avoid legal action from the Nuka-Cola Corporation, he will inform the Courier that Nuka-Cola is a "swell" drink, but sometimes people just want something "different."
If the dialogue option "I Feel Lucky" is chosen, the Courier has the option to play a variant of blackjack called Lucky Horseshoes. Festus can be asked for instructions on which buttons perform which action.
Number cards count as face value.
There are no face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Jokers).
The goal of the game is to get closer to 21 than Festus in order to win the hand.
Unlike blackjack, going over 21 is not an instant loss.
Players may draw or hold, however once they hold they are done drawing for that hand.
If the players are equally close to 21 (for example 17 - 25), the player who got there first has the advantage.
If a player draws and their new total equals the other player's total, the other player's total is increased (bumped up) by one. This is known as lucky horseshoes, and ensures that ties are not possible.
Each win grants 6% chance of getting a Sunset Sarsaparilla star cap and a 24.44% chance of getting a card for the Caravan deck. Otherwise, the reward is up to 9 bottle caps. The game can be played repeatedly to garner more and more prizes.
A mental tally of the Courier's and Festus' totals must be kept, as Festus does not announce the running totals, except that he will declare when either hand has reached 21.
If the Courier attacks Festus with a melee or unarmed weapon, Festus will stand up, look around, and then return to his idle stance. Any companions following the Courier will then initiate combat briefly before returning to their idle stance(s). Shooting Festus or using explosives will not count as hitting him, as all projectiles will simply go through and hit the wall behind him.
There is an option to "pickpocket" Festus when crouched, but this only initiates dialogue with him.
The story Festus tells about the origins of Sunset Sarsaparilla conflicts with the information he gives: He mentions that before Sunset Sarsaparilla was invented, the main choices people had for drinking was water or Nuka-Cola. The Nuka-Cola Corporation was founded in the year 2044, but according to the logo of the Sunset Sarsaparilla headquarters, Sunset Sarsaparilla was founded in 1918, over 125 years before Nuka-Cola was invented.
After completing Legend of the Star, Festus will begin to tell a completely different version of the star cap origin tale. In this story all major events are mostly the same as the first time, but some happen in a different order (for example, the bar owner receives the recipe before he hears news of the stranger's death).
"Excessive ingestion of Sarsaparilla can lead to deleterious effects including, but not limited to: kidney damage, nausea, digital numbness, anxiety, loss of visual acuity, dizziness, occasional nosebleeds, joint inflammation, tooth decay, sore throat, bronchitis, organ rupture and halitosis."
pcps3xbox360 Sometimes when entering the Sunset Sarsaparilla headquarters a loud metal crashing noise can be heard (like when a robot crashes to the floor), due to Festus having turned 180 or 45 degrees to face the wall. Interaction is still possible even though the player character will only be able to see the back panel. He may eventually turn back if you re-enter. [verified]
xbox360 It is possible to knock him unconscious with the Golden Gloves or boxing tape. If done so you cannot speak to him and he will not regain consciousness. If you do kill him you can walk through him. [verified]
ps3 Sometimes, when entering dialogue, the words may skip to the next line. The next lines will also skip until you are ready to talk. [verified]