Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is the latest in a list of mascot crossover fighting games that, against all expectations, have made it to the UK. As it says in the title, “Nitroplus Blasterz” brings together characters (mostly heroines) from properties associated with the game developer and publisher Nitroplus (or Nitro+), such as Super Sonico, in one two dimensional fighting game developed by Examu, who previously brought us the Arcana Heart series.
Nitroplus Blasterz is actually the latest in a slow trickle of similar games published in the UK. Aquapazza, starring characters from Aquaplus and Leaf, and Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax are very similar games that have been published in recent years. If even one of these games had ever been published I would have called it nothing short of a marketing and localisation miracle but now here we are with a third proving that I may have to re-think my ideas on divine intervention.
Nitroplus has a long body of work to draw characters from and a lot of their games have been translated into English as far back as their first famous game: Phantom of the Inferno; so, there should be more than a few familiar faces in the character roster. Not only that but the characters on show go beyond the games, and into the novels and anime Nitroplus has also worked on. This means that along with Ein and Muramasa to play as, there are also appearances made by Akane Tsunemori and even Saber from Fate/Zero.
However this is where we run into the first problem. While the game’s box will boast a total of thirty-two characters to play with, that is debatable. A majority of them are really support characters that you don’t so much play as but instead use as extra moves to compliment one of the fourteen characters you actually control in the traditional fighting game sense. Of those fourteen, three are DLC, so when you buy the game you really only get eleven characters.
Those characters you do get to play as, though, are amazing. The sprites are certainly the best I have ever seen Examu produce and they are gorgeous to look in motion. There are also small animated snippets for everyone’s super-moves that are nice to look at as they are made specifically for this game and can give you an animated look at a famous sequence you have only ever seen before in stills. Little touches of extra effort like everyone having their own dashing sound effect are truly impressive. You really hear the same sound of Saber’s armor when she runs as you hear in the anime.
The music however leaves a lot to be desired. The whole soundtrack sounds like a reject from the previous Arcana Heart game with painfully repetitive tracks. When the characters in your game come mostly from Nitroplus visual novels that are all famous for their use of music would be like someone making a game about the Der Ring des Nibelungen and filling each scene with music from Spandau Ballet.
But the pièce de résistance of Nitroplus Blasterz is the story you unlock by beating the arcade mode. The arcade story is almost identical to previous similar games. Boss summons all the characters to their world, everyone is forced to fight each other, player character beats the boss and everyone is returned to their world and you see how your character decided to process the bizarre adventure they just had. The extra story however is a fully voiced Lovecraftian murder mystery. Where all the characters play new roles with their existing personalities. Want to see what would happen if Ein and Muramasa were elite detectives? Or if Ignis was a university professor with a shady past? Or if Saya was a singer in a circus? Well now you can in a hilarious mode that also ties up the loose ends from the arcade story.
Out of the crossover fighting games available to buy right now, Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel is certainly the best one to buy, but that is out of a very small niche. It makes great use of its admittedly small cast but gives each character a great deal of impact. But as a fighting game, it still falls short of its competition in delivering an enjoyable experience. It still lacks something to compete with the simple fluidity of Undernight In-Birth or the incredible satisfaction of having mastered a Blazblue character. Nitroplus Blasterz fails to bring anything fresh to the table apart from its fantastic characters and a story that, while fun to fans, is too brief and too niche to recommend to anyone else.