Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is the latest in a long line of fantastic sleeper hit fighters on Sony systems. It not only features a bizarre title that is impossible to remember, but also some excellent fighting action that is likely never going to reach its full potential fanbase thanks to said title. The game combines a wide array of Nitroplus’ visual novel characters into one game and brings a total 32 playable characters with around 20 support characters – two of those can be used during battle.
Combat is easy to learn, but tricky to master. You have a light, heavy, and medium attack alongside an escape ability and a throw. You can also use each of your two strikers when small meters fill up on the top-left of the screen. The Dual Shock 4 layout is logically used for every command and within 15 minutes of play, you’ll be accustomed to the bare essentials of how to play the game.
After spending some time training, you’ll want to head into story mode – where you’ll realize just how important it is to mix things up. Sticking with a pat hand will result in the AI always blocking, and blending light and medium attacks in with a good dose of heavy ones will whittle an opponent’s health d own quickly. The biggest aids in your quest for victory will be your assist characters.
Trial and error is the name of the game here, but you’ll probably want to try out every assist character unless you luck into a good combination early on. I found that going with a ground-level and then a mid-air attacking character worked best. That allowed me to either use them in a defensive role if I was low on health and have the ground character knock my rival into the sky for a mid-air attack. If I wanted to be bold, I could just implement some triple teaming and attack on the ground myself and then use the others to deal even more damage.
Efficiency is the best way to go about things, because there’s nothing quite as rewarding as scoring a win without taking any damage. The only thing better is doing so against the final boss, who is a tough challenge – but not an insurmountable one. The old SNK Boss trope is largely subverted here as you do face a foe with some unfair tricks, but not so many that the game becomes frustrating. You can just continue and restart the battle without even having to venture back to the character select screen – so defeat is merely a slight setback.
Combat is quick and fluid, and while the roster could be a bit larger, what’s here works really well. You’ve got a solid mix of long and short-range fighters, with some being projectile-based and others being more satisfying to use if you prefer hand-to-hand combat that requires more skill. With that style, you’ll need to be more defensive and make sure that every shot lands – so going for a heavy attack-centric style might be best, especially if you master blocking.
The game features a regular story mode with cutscenes spread out between battles, and beating that unlocks yet another story mode. This one takes the form of a visual novel – fairly fitting given the origins of the franchises contained within the game, but none of what’s featured is all that compelling. It’s a fairly standard “hidden big conspiracy” plot, and very few characters are given much time to shine. Still, it’s a fairly enjoyable affair and adds a good few hours to the single player game.
Visually, Nitroplus Blasterz looks fantastic. For a sequel to a fan-made game, it has a fairly high level of production values to it. Every character looks and feels distinct, with no shared animations between the group. The only instances of limited animation come from the striker characters, who have canned animation that do look a bit cheap by comparison though. Otherwise, the animation is very smooth and every attack looks correct to the eye when it connects – there are no instances of a shot hitting and it clearly missing. The environments could use some more life to them, as they’re entirely static – but what’s there is beautiful and if that was a concession that had to be made to ensure the roster looked good, then it was a smart sacrifice to make.
Musically, the game doesn’t stand out much and that’s a bit of a shame. The opening song is strong, but most of the background music is fairly bland rock and doesn’t get your blood pumping. Luckily, the sound effects help make up for this shortcoming. They’re all nice and violent and get across the damage done to the body perfectly.
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is just the kind of well-crafted 2D fighter that the PS4 needs more of. It’s much like the PS3-only 2D fighters we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years in the sense that it takes lesser-known licensed characters, throws them in a 2D fighting engine, and we wind up with a fantastic game that is pre-destined for obscurity from day one. Luckily, the digital era means that anyone with a desire to play the game can do so without having to rely on a physical copy – and anyone who enjoys 2D fighters should give this one a chance. It plays wonderfully and features an enjoyable visual novel to mix things up a bit.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: XSEED Games
This review is based on a digital copy of Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel for the PlayStation 4 provided by XSEED Games.