By: Johnny Big Fudge Marcondes
NitroPlus Blazterz: Heroines Infinite Duel isn’t just a mouthful of a title, it’s a hidden gem of a game that needs way more exposure and attention than it’s received so far. Being developed by Examu the dev team behind the Arcana Hearts series, NitroPlus Blasterz follows a lot of the familiar mechanics and overall aesthetic of the Arcana Hearts series. NitroPlus Blasterz much like the Arcana Hearts series is a game made up of entirely female fighters but unlike Arcana Hearts the roster is created of crossover characters from various visual novels, animes and mangas. Each character that appears in NitroPlus Blasterz has at one time or another been a property published by NitroPlus which really gives them a unique and diverse roster that has some of the most interesting characters ready to battle. Being a big anime fan myself when I first heard about this game I was beyond curious and upon seeing the trailer and the inclusion of Saber from the Fate/Stay series sold me on it instantly. However when it first launched in North America back in 2016 it slipped through the cracks for me, fast forward to 2017 when I was checking out the most recent PS4 sales NitroPlus was among one of those titles on sale. Suddenly all the hype I once had for the game rushed back to me as I remembered this game that got away.
NitroPlus is a fighting game that uses two assist characters to back you up in a 1v1 fight, while a fairly straight forward concept the use of assist characters that are their own entity from the main roster helps add a layer of depth to this fighter. Being a 1v1 2D fighter the core mechanics are pretty straight forward, you have your light, medium and heavy attacks along with an escape/evasive command and a burst button. With the exception of the escape and burst commands it plays like any traditional fighter, using the escape command to quickly back out of or dash towards an enemy is something I personally didn’t think would be as handy as it was until I started playing online. One thing that stands out in the game from the second you start playing and getting used to the controls is how quickly you build up your meter for special attacks. Activating your burst command which can be done once per round will send your enemies back while filling the ground with flames. The more damage you do and move around the meter you build up and that’s where the game really begins to pick up speed.
Unlike a few more popular fighters, the use of meter in this game isn’t something players should overthink. In fact meter builds up so fast that NitroPlus almost feels as if it’s encouraging you do special attacks which when used makes every battle seem faster and even more exciting. Each character on the roster has these incredibly smooth specials that line up perfectly with their combos and using meter seems less like an act of desperation for stronger moves and more of a perfect finisher to any combo. Even though the special moves in the game are incredibly smooth and fun to do, the use and value of these assist characters you’re able to choose from are one of the games biggest stand outs. Assist characters in NitroPlus have this important feel to them, being able to turn the tables in any fight and really change the dynamic of a fight in a split second leading you to either come back or completely overwhelm your opponent.
As someone who plays a lot of fighting games most of the time I’m on a console, NitroPlus Blasterz is pretty refreshing to play. A roster filled entirely with strong women characters who are not only unique and fun to play but complex in their own right. NitroPlus has a lot of similarity with Arcana Hearts and Skullgirls, both games have these incredibly unique and fun characters that use a fighting mechanic that is easy to grasp and use but when playing competitively requires skill and become more complex. With only twelve characters on the roster and two DLC characters NitroPlus Blasterz may have a small roster but each character stands out from one another that no two characters plays quite alike. Each character on the roster has their own set of moves and weapons that make each character absolutely fun to play, From Sabers sword strikes to the Ein’s use of a hand gun and knife for rush downs the ability to play each character differently is always available. For example a close range character like Saber can do massive damage up close but with some distance apart she can still use zoning attacks and her super to keep enemies away.
What makes NitroPlus Blasterz so much fun is that atlas with my own personal experience with the game is that it helped me break one of my bad fighting game habits. I mainly play and love fighting games so whenever I play a new fighting I tend to single out one character I like and devote all my time and attention to that character. NitroPlus Blasterz helped me break that habit since all the characters are so incredibly fun I can help but want to play as all of them. From the first time I picked up the controller for NitroPlus I had a hard time just sticking to one character and wanted to divide my attention to everyone even if I had a preference in main character for online battles.
There’s so many layers in NitroPlus that on the surface you would never think about, assist characters completely turn the tide in any match where you can play more aggressively than your characters allow. Playing a zoning or mid range character your assist character if chosen correctly can completely close the gap between you and your opponent allowing your to rush down and chain some well timed strikes for major damage. It’s moments like this where NitroPlus really shows off it’s infectious charm and leaves me with a sense of nostalgia for old arcade fighters. NitroPlus Blasterz has everything I was looking for in a fighting game that offered me a break from some of the bigger fighters currently out like Guilty Gear or Injustice without sacrificing some of the complexity and depth that make fighting games so much fun. By the end of my time with NitroBlasterz it felt almost like an indie game with a big heart, it’s kind of hard to exactly break down just how much I really enjoyed NitroPlus Blasterz without going off into writing a love letter. To sum it up, NitroPlus is the type of fighting game that could easily be overlooked and it’s a shame because it’s something that I could see really growing within the FGC. There’s solid music in the game, a great roster and a ton of content to hold you over from two story modes, score attacks, galleries to unlock and more that really give you a bang for your buck.
Here’s some footage of me playing a few rounds online: