The fighting game genre as a whole can often be divisive as a whole. Either you have a game that's too beginner-friendly and disappoints the hardcore experienced players who make up the group that'll play your game in the long-run, something in the middle that feels like it doesn't know which side it wants to belong to, or a game that caters so much to the hardcore that newcomers feel rejected and bow out early on.
If you've read through some of my prior fighting game reviews, you may recognize the developer of Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel. Developer Examu was responsible for previous fighting games such as Arcana Heart 3, which in my review I thought had a good mix of mechanics that catered both to beginners and experienced players alike. So how does Nitroplus Blasterz fare?
If you played last year's Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax, the initial outset of this title may feel somewhat familiar. Like that game, Nitroplus Blasterz takes characters from properties company Nitro+ either owns or has worked on in the past and pits them together in one-on-one brawls. The difference here is that unlike Dengeki Bunko, most westerners will find it hard to recognize most of the characters, outside of Nitro+ mascot Sonico or the ever-popular Saber from Fate/Zero, as most of the other characters are from more obscure visual novels.
There are two more recognizable characters in the form of Homura (Senran Kagura) and Heart (Arcana Heart), but both characters are DLC and aren't included in the base package. Granted they're available for free for a short period following the game's western release, so there's probably some contractual reason for them not being in the base package, it's nice that the publisher gave them out as a bonus for early buyers.
In terms of controls, you have five main buttons that control your actions. Four of them are relegated to attacks, with the fifth assigned to an evasion move. The genre staple ability to throw an opponent is activated by a two-button combo. Pretty standard stuff, but the game also includes some additional extras such as a burst mechanic called "Infinite Blast" that lets you interrupt enemy combos. Unlike Arcana Heart 3, though, while you occasionally go into the air for some attacks and combos you generally stay on the ground most of the time in this game.
And for you more advanced players out there, there's a "Variable Rush" mechanic which locks you into a combo which requires a series of button presses to pull it off, but if you do so successfully you'll deal a ton of damage in the process. So it's a nice risk-reward mechanic for those feeling brave enough to take the risk of opening themselves up while doing so. But if that sounds too technical for you, especially for newcomers, there's also a "Lethal Blaze" mechanic that uses up all of your meter in exchange for triggering a super-powerful move accompanied alongside some nicely detailed character art.
Similar to Dengeki Bunko, there's also an assist mechanic at play in Nitroplus Blasterz. You select two assist characters before battle, with the game indicating which two characters it suggests are the best pair-up for your current character. Some of them activate basic attacks that are useful when dealing combos, while others are more of the effect variety to create stage hazards and the like.
As far as the game modes go, it's your essential standard fare. There's your basic story mode, which unlocks the "Another Story" mode upon its completion. That mode has more of an in-depth story, but the narrative might be a bit too thick to follow properly unless you're a hardcore fan of the series its referring to. Outside of that, there's survival, training, offline and and online versus modes available.
I liked the game's overall presentation and battle HUD, which felt really easy to follow and reference when things got hectic in heated matches. The graphics, while not as detailed as a game like Street Fighter V, is still exceptionally clean and detailed for a sprite-based fighter and the overall lighting system does a lot to help hide some of the flaws. The voices didn't feel grating on the ears, although I couldn't say the same for the in-game music which felt middling as best.
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is a fighting game that probably will fly under the radar for a lot of people this month, especially with the release of the grand-daddy of the genre Street Fighter V coming in the same month. But both experienced and casual fighting game fans will find a surprising amount of depth in this title if they just give it a chance.
|There's enough mechanics at play for both beginner and advanced players to appreciate and learn from.|
|Overall presentation and battle HUD is easy to follow, which is good when matches get hectic.|
|Nice choice by the publisher giving the DLC characters away for free for a limited time following the release.|
|Narrative may be a bit hard to follow if you're not a hardcore fan of some of the more obscure series referenced.|
|Music is pretty forgettable.|
|It has your basic standard fighting game modes.|