With fighting games making a huge comeback in recent years it seems virtually every franchise is trying something unique to draw people in. Mortal Kombat has the gore, Injustice has the DC licences and Marvel vs. Capcom has the tag system. Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite has…. an all female roster of characters from obscure Japanese manga novels and anime.
Okay, granted this might not be the most thrilling hook for all but the most hardcore of anime lovers but underneath it all is a very entertaining, if slightly barebones, game that is worth a try.
Nitroplus is a 2D fighting game with a pixelated aesthetic reminiscent of something similar to King of Fighters. The sprites for all of the characters look great, move fluidly and there are some lovely visual effects during special moves and combos. Sadly, this is let down the static, low-resolution backgrounds you fight across. I appreciate this was probably a concession made to get the game running as smoothly on PS3 as it does on PS4 but it still creates an unavoidable disconnect between the fighters and the backgrounds.
The range of characters is excellent and all have a unique feel to them and cater to specific roles; turtle, rush-down, zoner etc… Once you pick a character to play as you then get to take up to two additional characters into each fight who can assist you at the press of a button. These assists vary wildy from the conventional (firing a laser across the screen) to the downright weird (flying across the top of the map on a paraglider) and knowing which assists to use and more importantly when to use them can be the difference between winning and losing a close contest.
This theme of timing is one that runs throughout the game. Most special moves can be used at the touch of a button or a quarter rotation of the thumbstick at most. This means that even the most novice of players can bust out special moves and get a great feeling of satisfaction from the game. However to really excel you need to learn when best to use special moves and combos to inflict maximum damage on your opponent and it is this that separates the novices from the experts.
On top of the assist mechanics Nitroplus has a few additional special features that can be used to turn the tide including Variable Rush, Vanishing Guard and Lethal Blaze.
Variable Rush is effectively a customisable combo. You initiate it and then the next move you perform in the combo is dependent on which face button you press. It may look flashy but the damage dealt is rarely worth the two to three bars of meter it wears out, particularly if you have the still to execute the combo without the assist.
Vanishing Guard is a much more effective ability. This can be used to negate incoming chip damage and if activated at the right moment can cause a parry which gives the user a key moment to strike back and launch a combo. In fact there are many defensive manoeuvres that fighters can employ such as air dashes, cancels and rolls. This helps to provide a deeper experience that a lot of the more offensively minded fighting games currently on the market don’t provide.
Finally, Lethal Blaze is effectively Nitroplus’ version of Street Fighter’s super combos. Requiring a full meter to perform, it will launch your character into a scripted cutscene combo, dealing huge damage and potentially turning the tide or evening downing your opponent.
So, the core fighting is excellent and provide good back and forth battles but this is all for nought if there isn’t enough to do and sadly this is where my biggest issues with Nitroplus lie.
In terms of modes, Nitroplus offers your basic arcade, versus and score attack modes alongside the ‘Another Story’ mode, which is essentially arcade mode but with small cutscenes in between each battle. Outside of this there is your bog standard ranked and unranked matches online and well… that is about it. There are no collectibles of bonus features to chase and little incentive to keep playing other than intrinsic reward.
This is compounded by the fact that, as it is a niche title, the online lobbies felt very sparse and I struggled to get into a game. Also, as the game has been out for months in both Japan and North America, when I did finally get into a game I usually got trounced by an expert player.
In the end Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite is, at its core, a very deep and enjoyable fighting experience. However it lacks the big name value and supplementary features that the standout performers in the genre offer and as such it feels more like a game that will have a small, dedicated community rather than one that will break through into mainstream success. If you fancy something different from you Street Fighter’s and Mortal Kombat’s though, by all means give this a try. It may just surprise you.
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Michael is a Harrogate based, predominantly console gamer on both Playstation 4 and Xbox One that has been writing for Zero1Gaming since 2012. Purveyor and lover of all things indie, when he is not playing the latest downloadable titles you will usually find him immersed in a myriad of other genres from RPG’s to FPS’s and other three letter abbreviations. Feel free to add him Xbox at Dowgle or Playstation at Juxta-Dowgle or search Michael Dalgleish on Facebook or LinkedIn.