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February 2023

Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Examu
Release Date: Feb. 2, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PS4 Review - 'Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel'

by Brian Dumlao on March 2, 2016 @ 12:05 a.m. PST

Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is a 2D fighting game that features intense and balanced fighting action sure to delight players of all skill levels.

The initial popularity surge of the PS4 and early support of some big developers have made it this console generation's choice for fighting game fans. Mortal Kombat X and Street Fighter V are there, while the more niche experiences like Divekick, Guilty Gear Xrd and Skullgirls are alsorepresentation. Based on that, it only seemed like a matter of time before a more fan-specific fighting game showed up. What makes Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel more fascinating is that the audience isn't really here in North America.

Part of the appeal of a crossover fighting game is that fans can take their favorite characters from anime, manga and video games into a different genre. Capcom used that to great effect in its vs. Capcom series, which featured participants from the Marvel and Tatsunoko universes as well as familiar characters like Arthur, Mega Man and Phoenix Wright. The recently released Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax may not have characters that are instantly recognizable, but the entries from Durarara!!, Kino's Journey and Sword Art Online have enough of an audience here thanks to their anime and manga being published stateside. There may be characters from more niche properties, but there are enough recognizable people here that fans will have a connection to some of the fighters.

In that regard, Nitroplus Blasterz comes in with a fair disadvantage. Most people will be familiar with Fate/Stay Night thanks to the anime and PSP game, and fewer people may also know about Psycho-Pass or Phantom of Inferno, but the rest are much more obscure. Unless you're a big fan of importing PC visual novel games, names like Full Metal Daemon: Muramasa, Kikokugai: The Cyber Slayer, and Saya no Uta might not mean much to you. This isn't to say that the character designs aren't memorable. There are characters that might use housecats as weapons, walk around with a giant crucifix, or become a living weapon due to mutated flesh. Since the characters aren't as familiar, it falls on the gameplay to hook players.

The basic fight mechanics are similar to lots of the other fighting titles. You have three attack buttons, each one with the standard strengths from light to heavy. You have an evade button, which is your dodge if you don't engage in standard blocking. There's also a heavy action button, which is another attack that's specifically intended to launch opponents in the air for combos or pushing them back to give yourself some breathing room. As in other fighting games, your special moves are performed with Street Fighter-style joystick and button movements while the super moves are done with double joystick movements and two buttons simultaneously. Aside from that, runs and dashes alleviate the slow default walking speed.

Nitroplus Blasterz also features a number of special mechanics thrown in to deepen the system. There's a combo breaker move that can be initiated by the press of a button, but it comes at the cost of one section of the power bar. The Variable Rush system lets you easily dish out combos without mastering move timing and proper inputs for each attack. The Vanishing Guard system is like an advanced version of the parry; hitting the evade button at the correct moment gives you a tremendous chance of a counterattack. You also have your two assist characters that can come in and throw down moves of their own, like a horde of zombies that run across the screen to hit the player, or a rain of missiles from the sky. Interestingly, the game resets all of the meters between rounds. It can seem annoying to lose a round with a full super meter and not be able to use that in the next round, but when you consider the speed at which you can rebuild the meter and the fact that a button can refill it, the loss isn't that big of a deal.

If you're a seasoned fighting game fan, you may notice that Nitroplus Blasterz doesn't introduce any new mechanics to the genre. You've played with these systems in other fighters before, so all you're doing here is playing them with unfamiliar characters. The fighting is still solid, and the inclusion of the familiar mechanics means that more players can sit back and enjoy the game rather than spend lots of time learning new moves. It also means that you'll spend more time finding the right combo of assist characters.

The offered modes are pretty standard. Versus is self-explanatory, as you can either go up against a human or CPU player. Score Attack lets you fight in an arcade-style mode, but it lets you upload your total score to online leaderboards. Training mode lets you practice all of your moves, access a list of the moves and gives you basic info on their damage. The mode is very vanilla, so you can't customize it to have your dummy opponent perform specific moves while you learn to react to them.

There are three major modes that Nitroplus Blasterz pays attention to. Story mode is very similar to the Arcade mode of most fighting games. You pick your main character, your two assist characters, and you go through eight fights before you wrap up your character's story path. The stories are serviceable, and the inclusion of cut scenes adds some meat to the plot. What is fascinating is that the difficulty level doesn't scale in the typical manner. The difficulty increases incrementally as each fight progresses, but you'll only notice when you reach the end, when things spike up considerably. Even then, you aren't going to quickly jump to an overly punishing fight, so meeting up with the end boss doesn't mean you'll be up against something impossible.

Completing the Story mode opens up Another Story mode, and things get more interesting. A continuation of the tale told previously, the game shifts from being a fighter to a full-on visual novel that goes through all of the characters in one go instead of letting you play through the same thing multiple times. The fights have predetermined characters and partners, so you have no choice about who you're fighting as. If you wanted a more authentic visual novel experience, you can even turn off the fights and rely on your text choices. Though a strange choice for a fighting game, it makes sense when you consider that Nitroplus is pretty proficient in this genre in Japan.

The last major game mode is online play, and the usual trappings are here with both ranked and unranked modes available for play. Though the game may not be cross-buy, it does feature online cross-play in that you can fight against PS3 owners both domestically and worldwide. The online performance is fine but imperfect, since lag can creep in depending on the distance between players, but the real issue is the lack of a player base. The lack of immediate popularity for these characters combined with the fact that the game was released so close to Street Fighter V contributed to this, so if you're going to play this game online for the foreseeable future, make sure you have friends who are willing to do the same.

Graphically, the game looks quite nice. The character models for the main fighters look great, and they animate nicely in every situation. The support characters also look good, but their animations are more limited, so they're a little less impressive. The game does a great job with the special effects, and it also does well in rare situations where all six characters are on-screen with all of their abilities going on simultaneously. The backgrounds look fine, but it is here where you wish they broke away from the visual novel roots. With no moving elements, the stages quickly become dull and give you no reason to seek out a specific one.

The first thing you'll notice about the audio is that it is rather quiet, as the levels for all of the elements are rather low by default. Boost that up to an acceptable level, and you'll find that the game hits all of the expected points in this category. The effects maintain the status quo for a fighting game; the hits, moves and effects all feel significant. The voices are in Japanese, and there are plenty of areas where they appear. The music is also great, as the rock tracks are a nice fit for combat.

Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel isn't going to be an instant classic for gamers. It doesn't provide anything new for fighting veterans, and it doesn't have characters that will immediately draw in players. It does provide a good fighting experience with an assortment of modes that provide familiarity – but nothing new. While it may not be the first choice for fighting fans, it remains a good choice for those willing to explore more than just the big names in the genre.

Score: 8.0/10

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