There has been a pleasantly surprising uptick in the amount of fighting games being released in the West, especially in regards to anime styled fighting games. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise however as many of the characters that tend to duke it out in these titles are well known even among the most common consumer of Japanese media. Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is quite a bit different in that regard but does the title offer an experience worth sinking your teeth into?
As mentioned before, many anime based titles feature characters from light novels or anime that fans have seen in the past but Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is something of an outlier in this regard however and that is because the title pulls solely from titles that Nitroplus has worked on in the past or produced themselves, meaning that this roster is quite unique in the way that even longtime fans of Japanese products may not know who half the roster is.
That being said, players don’t necessarily require previous knowledge of who these characters are before entering the story mode but there are certain tidbits here and there that fans will get a kick out of. The twelve (fourteen with temporarily free launch DLC adding Aino Heart and Homura) playable fighters have been pulled into an unknown area where all but the selected fighter seem to be controlled by an unknown force and battle against one another.
As you progress throughout the story there will be simple cut-ins informing the player about the advancement of the final boss’ plans but a number of encounters throughout the eight battle story mode will feature short story segments that are unique to each character as they interact with their opponent.
Once you complete the arcade story mode, the “Another Story” offers a more in-depth visual novel storyline that fleshes out a few details about the world, though this mode does require players to follow the storyline from specific character’s points of view and fight with only specific partners that are accompanying them in said story. This extra mode does serve as a nice inclusion to help pad out the extremely thin core storyline but unfortunately due to the limited familiarity (with myself admittedly only knowing about two-thirds of the cast) with some of these characters, enjoyment will vary.
Although Nitroplus may not have delved into the fighting game scene before this title, the developer of the Arcana Heart titles, Examu, is who they brought in to help create Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel. As such those who are familiar with Arcana Heart series, or most 2D fighters such as this, will find themselves easily managing to learn the basics of the game’s combat system. This means there are your standard weak, medium, and heavy attacks as well as “Heavy Action” attacks that can send your opponent flying away from you or quickly sweeping their feet out from under them.
This gives the title a very easy barrier of entry for newcomers that can learn some of the game’s more complicated maneuvers while trying to figure out which of the initial twelve launch characters best fits their play style since these characters all play quite differently from one another. As for those slightly more complicated feats, the title offers something of an “auto-combo” called Variable Rush that drains two segments of the player’s power gauge but allows for a fairly damaging combo to be unleashed with ease. Other such features include Infinite Blast, a once a round move that serves as knockback/cancel attack that temporarily refills the user’s health and power gauge, counter raids to guard and attack your opponent at the same time while sacrificing a segment of your power, and even more complicated escape guards meant to avoid certain styles of attack.
This may sound complicated but it is surprisingly simple to grasp as you make your way through the story modes and train against AI opponents. The use of predictable input special moves, super moves, and “Lethal Blaze” finishing moves that, at the cost of a full gauge, unleashes an anime cut-away attack that can turn the tide of a losing battle or bury a nearly defeated opponent by dealing massive amounts of damage make the title’s core gameplay simple to learn and therefore the aforementioned complicated features will begin to come along naturally.
As for the partner characters, players are provided with an extra twenty characters that serve as partners that can be called into combat after their individual meters fill up. The unique thing about this game is that while players can bring two partners into a fight with them, the purposes they serve during combat varies wildly depending on who is chosen. For example, Sonico, when called in as a partner, can release buffs and de-buffs indiscriminately throughout the stage while Yuki will summon a swarm of zombies across the bottom of the screen to deal damage to the opponent. The game does recommend certain partners to fit a character’s fighting style but it is ultimately up to the player to decide as these partners can even provide refills to both fighters’ power gauges, which can ruin your fight if used incorrectly.
The actual fighters are a mixed bunch that come with a variety of play styles. This offers plenty of variety for those looking for something new to try out, especially since characters like Saya can be tricky to learn while Muramasa’s ability to zip around the screen with strings makes for a real treat when used properly and Sonico’s use of her band mates and cats in her special moves makes her a humorous but dangerous opponent. That being said, this variety does mean that the game does feel quite unbalanced at times so it will take quite a bit of testing, especially with the large amount of customization thanks to the partner summoning, to find out just where certain characters land in this game.
As for the gameplay modes, Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is unfortunately rather lacking. The title offers the aforementioned “Story Mode” which is basically the arcade mode, the visual novel feeling “Another Story,” accompanied by training mode, simple versus against AI or count opponents, and then online mode. Unfortunately there are no special unlockables for fans of these series such as artwork from the original material or even voice samples.
The online mechanics serve the title well as players will find that there is very little lag, even when playing against a clearly Japanese opponent. This is essential due to the amount of action happening at times and attempting to find a match is incredibly easy at the moment and it is possible to create rooms of up to six players to fight and spectate together with very little ease, especially since there is even a special mode set aside specifically for fighting against people on your friends list.
Visuals & Audio
Considering the origins of the cast for Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when I say that this the title is handled superbly when it comes to character designs and animation. The cast very colorful and their designs match what fans will know of them perfectly, such as Saber’s glimmering invisible blade and Saya’s grotesque flesh move-set. The title never sees any type of slowdown no matter how many special moves are occurring on the screen at one time, which can be a lot considering you can combine a zombie rushing partner assist and another partner raining laser beams from the sky with a usually screen filling “Lethal Blaze” to create some incredibly hectic action.
The character portraits are nicely handled during visual novel sequences and there are a few new pieces of CG here and there for fans, though as mentioned before don’t expect any special unlockables. The soundtrack for the game is rather fitting while the characters (that I know at least) are all voiced by their original Japanese voice actors and although I would have appreciated some extra subtitles being included as both fighters prepare for battle, the core story is translated well.
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel may not feature a cast that many fans will be able to easily pick out at a glance but thankfully some addictive and easy to learn and fun to master gameplay mechanics make it a highly enjoyable fighting game. That being said, the slim offering of gameplay modes and basic storyline will be disappointing to those looking for a deeper experience, but thankfully the online mode is still there for those who want to take their favorite characters and battle against others in this entertaining crossover fighter.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.