Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel Review

If it were up to me, there would be no male characters in any beat 'em up. Who needs them anyway? The last time I mained a male fighter was Hwoarang in Tekken 3 almost 20 years ago (gosh, I feel old writing that!). Since then I've grown so tired of pointy-haired angst-ridden males venting out their tensions with knuckles and feet. That was one of the reasons I was interested in an all-girl fighter Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel.

As has been a custom with PC conversions of Japanese games, the Steam release of Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is the most complete home version of the brawler. Unlike its conversions to the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, this is based on the latest revision of the arcade original and includes all previously released DLC. Technically the game is fantastic on PC and runs in a smooth 60 fps. The internal resolution is only 720p and anything beyond that is upscaled but that's not a issue for the hand-drawn character sprites and animation which looks absolutely terrific.

There are 14 girls to choose from and another 20 support characters that can be summoned during a fight to deal quick damage. Most of the cast of characters are lifted from the visual novels published by Nitroplus. There are some exceptions: Aino Heart was first seen in the Arcana Heart series by Nitroplus Blasterz developer Examu and Homura is one of the luscious ninja babes in Sengran Kagura games, making an appearance on the behalf of publisher Marvelous/XSEED Games. Super fun Super Sonico is the current virtual idol for Nitroplus and the only girl who can be selected both as a fighter and a support.

Majority of the game's cast stars in "eroge" (that's an erotic visual novel for the uninitiated) but Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel isn't just another excuse for some uninhibited voyeurism.  Even though you can choose to fight in undies with some of the girls, everything's done with a good taste - a couple of obvious boob jobs notwithstanding. So, why are all these girls from different stories suddenly appearing together under one banner? Why, they were summoned by the magical book Al Azif Ex-Mortis to fight and bleed for Hellhazard. The story is bolstered by the individual plot lines each girl brings with them as well as the silliness that comes with trying to cope with an alternate dimension.

An alternate story is unlocked after completing the story mode with any girl. It plays out more like a murder mystery visual novel over the course of ten chapters with some fighting in between. The writing does come with erotic overtones but there's no graphic nudity to ogle. There are also a traditional Versus mode that can be played against the game AI, a local partner, or online via a rudimentary network play option. I had difficulty finding players online and when I eventually got into one, the lag was terrible. So much so, that it rendered fighting on even terms impossible. Maybe that's due to my location in Northern Europe and there being not enough players in the nearby territories.

Difficulties in online play made Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel a single player brawler for me but that's fine. There's enough content and characters to keep the player entertained. The game is fun and has easy-to-grasp fight mechanics. Special moves are also relatively easy to pull off so the game is ideal for the newcomers to the fighters as well. A beat 'em up junkie like me appreciates the free-flowing nature of combos. There are no rigid set of moves as such, instead you can creatively experiment chaining weak and strong attacks together. That's something I'd like to see in every beat 'em up instead of them being frustratingly keen on predetermined attack strings. Also, meters for special moves and partner attacks reset after each round so you don't need to save your more destructive powers only to the decisive seconds.

Oh, about the fun factor. You might think otherwise when you meet Al Azif Ex-Mortis at the end of the story mode, who takes the form of an innocent-looking Al Azif from the character roster. In a style more akin to The King of Fighters, the boss can throw anything at you in an instant because she doesn't need to input commands unlike human players who desperately grasp the controller in sweaty palms. It takes perseverance and fixing the game plan with a guard and a nifty safety roll to defeat Al Azif Ex-Mortis. It may take longer with some fighters, though for the likes of Homura who use long-reaching and dexterously chainable attacks the boss really isn't even a challenge.

It might sound crazy but I find Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel a better brawler than more widely known Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, also an anime-style beat 'em up just recently converted to PC. I really appreciate the clean and crisp nature of Nitroplus Blasterz, both in presentation and gameplay, while Guilty Gear seems too often a blundering mess of too many effects and things happening at the same time, making the player feel a bit lost. As I have understood, the freaky Saya alone from the visual novel Saya no Uta (The Song of Saya) as a playable character is a reason enough for many fans to get Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel. Why not, and there are lots of other cool and fun to girls to play with!

Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.