Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is a 2D fighting game that has recently received a PC port. The fighting roster is taken from various nitroplus titles, or associated franchises, and what you get is basically an anime stylized fighting game with what could arguably be one of the most niche character rosters in an English speaking country. That being said, I recognized at least half the cast, including the support characters, so I guess I’m fairly niche as well. Don’t let the full female cast mislead you though, most of the playable characters are either primary or secondary protagonists, or antagonists, in their respective series, and I’m pretty sure at least four or five of them would be considered “top ranked assassins”.
So, what sort of gameplay does Infinite Duel provide? Well, to be honest, it’s quite basic, relatively speaking. There aren’t any super special gimmicks or additions that particularly set this game apart from most of the other 2D fighters out there, although that could be a part of its charm. While there aren’t a massive amount of different combo moves at your disposal, the amount the game gives you feels in the range where you aren’t thinking that you need a different move set, but there aren’t so many moves that you’ll most likely never even use half of them, much less see a quarter of the rest. A bit of customization is learned in the fact you get to select two support characters who, as far as I can tell, have a certain cooldown time, and then you can summon them in to either help deal damage or some form of support.
I have to admit, it was rather entertaining having Yog-Sothoth and Another Blood as my support characters when using Al Azif, seeing as their in-universe relationships are a little…strained, shall we say. Other than that, the usual arcade-style fighting mechanics apply: you have a light, medium, heavy, guard break and throw attack, and coupling those attacks with directional inputs will produce various normal, special, or a super move. Holding the direction away from your opponent is the block command, and double tapping a direction gives you either a dash or a short hop in the direction you have chosen. All of these things you need to either know from playing previous arcade fighting games or learn through getting your butt handed to you repeatedly by either another player or the AI, because there isn’t a tutorial to teach you anything here, no “Please teach me, professor Kokonoe” for you. Especially useful for when the characters have different directional inputs for different moves.
The main story mode is a little lacking in exposition, especially because it seems Nitroplus Blasterz expects you to already be somewhat familiar with their characters or franchises. As an example, Al Azif is the character I probably am most familiar with, and she is literally the physical manifestation of a grimoire (yes, the magical books), and if I recall correctly, one of her first lines mentions her being able to sense some of her pages, without giving any explanation to the fact that she’s basically an anthropomorphized book, which I can see getting very confusing very fast for some people. In terms of actual plot, it’s confusing to say the least, but honestly, the main focus should be on the battles, not the dialogue. The dialogue comes into play for the “Another Story” mode, which is closer to an excerpt from a visual novel with the occasional fight thrown in, and I do mean occasional. It feels as if they wanted to get some sort of serious plot in, so they threw it as one large bulk, divided into about ten segments, and left the gameplay for arcade mode. Not necessarily a bad idea, but it can make things quite disjointed.
The game modes available to you are also fairly basic, consisting of: Story, Another Story, Versus, Score Attack, Training, Network, and Gallery. Even booting up the game is really basic, as there isn’t even an opening cinematic; you’re just suddenly in the main menu. Story and another story I mentioned previously, versus and network are your PvP stylized modes, for offline and online respectively. Training is a standard bot that you can set to do various things, such as defend, walk, or occasionally attack, and you can practice combo moves by wailing on it. Gallery allows you to view any story images you’ve seen before. Score attack lets you keep fighting AI until you either get bored or lose. The game is a lot more bright and cheery compared to the usual nitroplus “dark, gritty, and heart-wrenching” that I’ve come to expect. Moves are flashy and the super moves even have cinematic intro sequences.