Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is a great fighting game. With an interesting story mode, a varied selection of characters, and one of the most enjoyable battle systems I’ve used in recent memory, there’s a lot to like here. Nitroplus Blasterz’ premise isn’t all that different from last year’s Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. You take a bunch of characters from one Japanese media conglomerate’s war chest, and then you shove them all into a 2D anime fighting game where you can duke it out in character combinations that were previously relegated to the imaginations of fan fiction authors. As far as the concept goes, the only major difference between Fighting Climax, and Heroines Infinite Duel lies in the title – “Heroine”. Every character in the fighting roster, hell, every character that takes place in the story sans some ending scenes, is a female.
Characters like Saber (from the Fate/stay night franchise) and Saya (from Saya no Uta – translated literally here as “Song of Saya”) take center stage along with a myriad of other fighters and a large amount of possible partner characters. Each character is almost entirely unique aesthetically and in terms of gameplay, which makes for a lot of variety. For example, the aforementioned Saya is a slow and meaty character with an emphasis on grappling, while a character like Ein is focused on quicker attacks and emphasizing her ranged abilities. Playing through the game’s “second” story mode gives you a good taste of how every character feels to play, and by the end of the affair I was left wholly impressed by just how fun each and every character is to control.
The area that the game excels most in by far would have to be its combat. You’ve got your standard light/medium/strong attack trio, each with different attacks based on the direction you input at the time. You’ve also got heavy attacks that can be charged up to potentially break through an enemies defenses and deal more damage. Besides the anime fighter staples of double-jump, air-dash, and an emphasis on faster movement speed, Nitroplus brings its own mechanics to its defensive play. Alongside the “hold back to block attacks” gameplay that’s standard to fighting games as a whole, players can also assign a button to an Escape Action. Depending on the position that the player is holding the d-pad/analog stick/arcade stick in when they press it, the player might either dodge in a certain direction (either forward and potentially through the enemy, or upwards into the air) or perform a super powerful block that can protect against most attacks.
Nitroplus Blasterz does bring a variety of other mechanics to the table. Much like Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax, you have access to partner characters that can aid you in battle. Unlike in that title, where you chose one partner character who could use one of two different attacks, Nitroplus allows you to choose two partner characters, each with preset actions. Characters have access to a burst mechanic that is also similar, giving characters an automatically filling special attacks gauge when active, as well as knocking back the opponent if they were close enough to you at the time of its activation.
Yet another comparison to Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is the ease of inputting special attacks. Like in that title, Nitroplus Blasterz‘ inputs for special attacks are standardized, with any attack that would take up the same amount of bar sharing the same inputs between characters. A standard 1 bar special would be either a 412 AB or a 236 AB input. A character’s special super powerful Lethal Blaze attack shares the same command with every other character’s Lethal Blaze.
With all that being said, this highlights one of Nitroplus Blasterz‘ major problems. The game has a very deep set of mechanics, but it lacks any sort of tutorial outside of the manual. You’ve got your standard training mode with a variety of settings, but it’s fairly limited. You can see your inputs and set the position of the enemy on the screen, but if you really want to train offline, you’re stuck with either versus mode (with another player!) or the game’s arcade mode.
The game’s presentation itself is OK at most times. Character animations are nice and fluid, and some CGs in the game’s Another Story mode are interesting, but there’s nothing that really stands out about the game’s aesthetic. The main menu is bog-standard with a relatively simple background, the only real unique part of it being an animated Super Sonico on the right side of the screen. Music, while not bad, isn’t as memorable as it could’ve been. Backgrounds range from bland to somewhat interesting. Everything just feels a little generic outside of the story mode.
The game’s story, despite what the game states, doesn’t really begin until “Another Story” mode is unlocked after clearing one of the playable character’s Story Mode. Whereas the game’s first story mode is basically a glorified Arcade Mode with no real exposition at play, the game’s “Another Story” mode instead takes the form of a miniature VN. Chapters are separated based on who you’ll play as in each chapter, and although it’s not the longest story mode for a fighting game out there, it’s still an enjoyable two to three hour “what if” storyline revolving around the games’ numerous characters.
Online Multiplayer is bog standard. Netcode works fine, and you have the standard fighting game trio of player, ranked, and friend matches. You have the option of entering training or just waiting in the room for the next available opponent between ranked matches. There aren’t any lobbies or avatars with customization options like in BlazBlue or other fighters with higher budgets, but that’s a tertiary complaint at best.
If you can get past Nitroplus Blasterz’ somewhat steep learning curve, and obvious budget, you’ll find a lot to love. It’s hard to say just how active the game will stay in the long run, but for fighting game veterans it’s definitely a title worth playing.
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel released in the US on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on Feb. 2nd 2016. This review was conducted using a digital PlayStation 4 review copy provided by the publisher.
If you can get past Nitroplus Blasterz' somewhat steep learning curve, and obvious budget, you'll find a lot to love. It's hard to say just how active the game will stay in the long run, but for fighting game veterans it's definitely a title worth playing.