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The latest all-girls fighter has arrived for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, with Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel pulling a cast of beloved anime characters into a world where their single goal is basically to beat the stuffing out of one another. But the question remains: How does it stack up against the genre’s heaviest hitters?
The simple answer to that question is that Nitropuls Blasterz doesn’t really need to compete with the likes of Street Fighter, Killer Instinct or Mortal Kombat. Coming from EXAMU, the makers of the popular arcade fighting series Arcana Heart, this latest fighter boasting an all-female cast is more of a niche title, and the folks who have been eagerly anticipating its US launch are likely to be the most pleased by the final outcome.
A mascot fighter, the cast of characters is pulled from visual novels developed by Nitroplus. The problem with that is that only the most dedicated fans of Japanese games/manga/anime are going to know who the vast majority of these characters are. You might recognize a handful of folks from series like Fate/stay Night, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet and last year’s hit series, School Live, but you’ll probably be left saying “who now?” for the majority of the roster’s inclusions.
That’s only a slight knock against the game, though. Whether or not you know who these people are or what their backstory is, you can still enjoy a good fighting game with a healthy list of options and solid mechanics, and that’s exactly what you’ll get out of Nitroplus Blasters.
The story, such that it is, is that all of these characters from various universes have been pulled into a single location by a bored book/deity that has the ability to end all of creation. At least I think that’s what’s going on, anyway. Fighting games don’t typically have strong narratives, and that goes double for Nitroplus Blasterz. Scenes between fights are little more than chains of references to the source material these characters come from, with that pissed off book-god-lady popping up a couple of times to ramble on about how they are going to end the world unless one of these fighters is able to entertain them through battle. Again, I think that is what’s going on. It’s kind of all over the place.
Outside of the story modes, you’ll find several fighter staples waiting to be explored. You can go one-on-one with the computer or a friend or take your game online to battle for a top spot on the leaderboards. A training mode allows you to set up conditions and learn how to use the various characters on your own, and a Score Attack mode gives you another fun way to compete against the rest of the world in a race to garner the most points through stylish fighting.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing resembling a tutorial available, which is kind of a bummer. Fighting games can be tricky to really get the hang of, and it would have been nice if they included a mode that takes players through the systems that set Nitroplus Blasterz apart from the rest of the pack.
Thankfully, those systems are fairly easy to pick up on your own, especially if you’ve played games like BlazBlue, Guilty Gear or the above mentioned Arcana Heart.
Nitroplus has one of those fighting systems that’s easy to pick up and mash your way through while simultaneously offering plenty of depth for the more dedicated fighter fans. Your standard array of attacks can be linked together for easy combos, with a three-tier gauge at the bottom of the screen giving you access to your character’s more powerful abilities. You also have gauges for your two assist characters that, when filled, can be called into battle for an assist, to bridge combos or to just dish out a flashy attack.
Fill up all three tiers of your Power Gauge and you can unleash your character’s Lethal Blaze, a big move that comes complete with its own cutscene. It’s also a nice touch that these big finishers require the same input for all characters, meaning you don’t have quite as many unique button combinations to commit to memory.
There’s also a dash ability that lets you close the distance between yourself and your opponent, as well as a “Blast” system that lets you turn the tide of battle in three different ways. You can use this single-button command at any point during each round to either get the hell away from your opponent, break yourself out of a punishing combo or extend your own combo further. Triggering Blast will also start to slowly refill your health, giving players an opportunity to get back into a losing fight.
All 10 of the playable characters (plus the two that are currently available as free DLC, one each from Arcana Heart and Senran Kagura) offer their own unique move sets, strengths and weaknesses. It might not be as huge a roster as some of the other fighters on the market, but at least no two characters play the same and their moves are full of energy and well animated. There’s also a big roster of 24 assist characters, which adds to the depth and variety of battles you’ll encounter.
But while the characters look nice enough, the backgrounds are a bit on the meh side, and the soundtrack is extremely lackluster.
Still, the handful of weaknesses mentioned don’t really hold Nitroplus Blasterz back from being an entertaining fighter. It’s missing a couple of components that are typically standard in genre titles these days and I really wish something could have been done to introduce these characters to folks who aren’t already familiar with their stories but, again, that doesn’t keep the fighting from being fun.
This review based on a PlayStation 4 copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4