Visual novels are exactly that, novels in video game form. They don’t require a lot of skill or dexterity on the part of the player. At most, all you need is emotional sensitivity, common sense and perhaps a good memory. The abilities learned there don’t exactly apply to fighting games. Fortunately, Examu and XSEED Games’ Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel recognizes this and does its best to court visual novel fans.
It all starts with the character designs. Putting together attractive, memorable characters is key in a visual novel. You need people who look pretty, unique and offer hints about a character’s personality and capabilities at a glance. Nitroplus Blasterz does exactly that. Each heroine is impeccably detailed, with their outfits from their respective series perfectly recreated in the game. SIgnature weapons are retained. Appearances from non-playable characters hint at emotional connections.
Examples of this abound. Fate/stay’s Saber’s full armor is intact and she always strikes very confident, proper poses. Demonbane’s Al Azif’s master, Daijuuji Kurou, appears in her victory pose. Sonico’s bandmates show up for her attacks to fight for her. Homura, from Senran Kagura, has all the swords. When we first see Saya, from Song of Saya, before a match, she’s, well, eating some sorts of organs. Examu did a wonderful job of capturing important elements of what makes these characters who they are and providing hints to their true natures in fleeting moments before, during, and after matches. Visual novel fans will pick up on and appreciate it.
They’ll also appreciate the consideration Nitroplus Blasterz’s extends to button mashers. There’s a lot of depth to the game. People who know what they’re doing will appreciate Variable Rushes that allow them to launch into complex and overwhelming combos, different sorts of guards and counters to break opponents’ strides and super combos. It can be a technical game, where people are always wondering how to create great combos or interrupt ones being used against them. But, that doesn’t mean people who are beginners or unfamiliar with fighters will be overwhelmed. Wailing on the controller while frantically twisting and turning the analog stick can very easily create an incredible, 10 hit assault or prevent someone else’s attack.
This is aided by a universal command list. In all fighting games, there are certain button presses that trigger special moves for characters. Each character can have his or her own more impressive attacks, launched by moving the analog stick a certain way, then pressing specific action buttons. In Nitroplus Blasterz, almost all commands are identical for each characters. Knowing one person’s specials means you know everyone’s. Triggering a Lethal Blaze for each character is usually as simple as pressing down, then down forward, forward, down, down forward, forward, medium attack and closing with a heavy attack. Knowing what you need to press is the most daunting part of any fighter; Examu eliminates that with Nitroplus Blasterz.
Nitroplus Blasterz: Infinite Heroines Duel is one of those fighting games that’s good for all audiences. People who are capable of throwing down with the professionals will love this installment’s delicate nuances, but, more importantly, the people who love the visual novels these heroines come from will find it equally inviting. It’s immediately available for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, though you can only get a physical copy of the PlayStation 4 version.