Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is not necessarily a new game. Having been released in February 2016 on consoles in the West, it is likely that some players in the anime scene have played it quite extensibly.
However, Examu, in collaboration with their publisher Marvelous USA, have opted to bring the title over to a platform that a lot of the lesser-known anime titles are enjoying reasonable success on–Steam. Is this worth the buy?
Before we go any further, what kind of hardware are you going to need to run this game? The short answer is: poverty level.
The long answer is a little easier to understand. I have a Lenovo Z50, boasting an i7 2.6 GHz processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a nVidia Geforce 840m graphics card inside on Windows 10. This setup ran Nitroplus without breaking a sweat, and is well above what the recommended specs are. The minimum requirements ask for a Core 2 Duo processor, a Geforce 7900 GT or higher, and 4 GB of RAM. So most people with a modern computer will be able to run this, and anything around what I am using or higher could definitely stream this game without any hiccups.
Further, I have tested this game using PlayStation4 and PS3 sticks, both of which work in this game. Whatever issues you’ve dealt with in Street Fighter V with your gaming hardware is not an issue here.
Having only dipped my feet in the anime game craze with brief appearances in BlazBlue and Melty Blood, I have yet to really touch any of Examu’s offerings before this. Knowing that Arcana Heart is well known for having very deep and versatile gameplay, with vast possibilities in your character choices, I anticipated that Nitroplus would offer similar.
I was not let down. This offers as much extensibility as the former, and possibly then some. With 14 main characters to pick from, and 18 assist characters to select two from, you have multiple ways to play whatever characters you want. I was very quickly able to find strong combos with my chosen character–Heart–and quickly was able to hunt for at least one assist that could allow me to extend combos in various ways.
However, in match, this can become an issue if you don’t pay attention to the system mechanics. Each assist takes time to charge up before being accessible in combat. This doesn’t allow for the frenetic pace of other assist games such as Vanguard Princess, Marvel Vs. series, or Skullgirls, and requires you to at least know your solo bread and butter combos before even thinking about utilizing assists.
But further, some of the assists are lackluster, confusing and seemingly useless. I found multiple assists on the board that when called, seemingly did nothing but show up on the screen. While my initial thought was that they are just similar to Dan’s taunting, I know that cannot be possible.
This brings me to one of my biggest gripes about the game–lack of documentation. Whereas a lot of titles lately are including tutorial modes and trial modes, Nitroplus lacks this. Further, there exists no guide, no manual, or anything of that nature to explain the various assists and nuances of the game–thus leaving players to fend for themselves.
Not having played any of Examu’s titles before, I have been able to catch matches here and there of Arcana Heart and Aquapazza. Both titles are visually stunning.
This one is as well, but it leans more on the lackluster side. While the foreground and character designs remain stunning, the backgrounds and stages do not grab your attention like other titles are able to. Staying mostly static, there is hardly any animation behind the action to really wow you. While this isn’t a make or break for the game–and definitely allows for less resources to be used on your PC–it also doesn’t really give you the excitement that you’d expect either. It almost feels at times as if no matter what stage you’re playing on, you have chosen some sort of training room stage.
Online play seems to be limited in this game to Japanese players, as they currently are the only ones really digging into the game. With the one player nearby I was able to find, I experienced a three bar connection (out of four). Where the game will inherently add a few frames of lag like any other title, the online netcode will add even more. I was constantly experiencing at least a half second of input lag to the game on a near-local connection.
While throws were techable upon reaction, blocking mixups were difficult, and parrying attacks were nigh impossible. Waiting for hit confirms into magic series combos into launchers were also impossible due to the low hit stun on lights, leading me to go in with slow startup moves, or just mash out the series anyway and hope that I confirm.
Having heard glowing reports of Examu’s netcode in Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX and Aquapazza, I was expecting that they would have similar in this game. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and it seems that they have went SNK Playmore’s direction in cheaping out on their lesser titles.
One thing to note was that on the Player Match screen, it had a slot for hardware, and showed “PC” listed for both players. This may allude to cross-platform play with PlayStation 4, despite the store page for this game not directly mentioning it. However, if the netcode is not patched, or 4-bar connections do not become a norm, this may be inconsequential.
Nitroplus has all the trimmings that one would expect from your typical anime fighter. It has two story modes, one of which being just regular arcade mode, and one being a fully-fledged story mode a la BlazBlue. While arcade mode won’t take you long to finish, the actual story mode can take upwards of 4 hours to complete. However, given that this is an amalgamation of various visual novel, manga, and anime series, the story at times is a hodgepodge of nonsense that may leave even well-read anime fans scratching their heads–even if they are well-versed in the Nitroplus Universe.
Also featured is the usual score attack mode, as well as a strong training mode that will allow you all the various options you need to become accustomed to your character’s varied setups.
Final Score: B-
Overall, the gameplay is great, the cast allows for a lot of replay value and depth in the engine, and the game is genuinely fun to lab up in. The various single player modes will be great if that’s something that pulls you in.
However, this is a game that will also push people away with the learning curve that you are under without a tutorial system and no guidance whatsoever other than your own fighting game acumen. Moreover, trying to actually learn the game without having anyone else nearby that’s interested is a fool’s errand, as the netcode–unless patched later–leaves you feeling like you’re playing underwater.
If you’re interested in anime fighters, and want a new one to toy around with at local fight nights and meetups, it’s definitely worth the buy. If you’re looking to take this seriously and learn from players you can find online, you might have to move to Japan just to have the network scenario conducive to it.
[Editor’s note: Marvelous USA provided Shoryuken with a review copy.]