Retro101 has always been a fan of SNK and the games they make. Even though the Art of Fighting Anthology disappointed us we are glad to see that games from their history continue to be brought to a new audience. The next SNK franchise to be given the collection treatment is World Heroes.
World Heroes, though not as well known as Fatal Fury or Samurai Shodown, has had its moments over the years. Many people may remember it being used to find the winners on the old video game show 'Games World'. Basically, the games see a collection of people from history brought together for an almighty scrap. If you have ever wanted to see Bruce Lee take on Hulk Hogan or Captain Kidd take on Rasputin then this is the game for you.
This anthology brings arcade quality versions of all four games in the series to home consoles for the first time. The series has never been renowned for being the most technical of fighting games but it more than makes up for this in other ways. World Heroes 1 and 2 have a Death Match mode, World Heroes 2 Jet has a one on three tournament mode and World Heroes Perfect is the most genuine attempt to create a standard one on one fighter.
Though the Death Match mode is present in the first World Heroes, it is refined and improved upon massively in the second game. Death Match mode has two fighters competing over one energy bar in a sort of kung fu tug-of-war. The matches last for only one round but often move back and forth as one player manages to continually hang on to the last bit of the energy bar.
What makes life interesting is that these matches take place in arenas filled with all manner of unpleasant things. One stage may have you jumping landmines, while another will have you avoiding a giant laser or see the edges of the arena replaced with flaming ropes or a wall filled with spikes. These dangerous arenas more than make up for any lack of depth in the normal one on one fights.
Unfortunately, though World Heroes is filled with mad special moves and colourful characters, it does become quite dull and repetitive away from the Death Matches. The early games, for instance, only have one punch and kick button with which to set up attacks. Even though holding the buttons longer creates stronger attacks it can't hope to match other SNK games like Garou: Mark of the Wolves or Samurai Shodown.
World Heroes 2 Jet replaces the Death Match Mode with a tournament mode where you need to beat two out of three fighters on one day to progress to the next round. Without the dangerous arenas though, it soon begins to feel a little dull and it's unlikely that many gamers will be picking Jet to play on a regular basis.
World Heroes Perfect removes all the gimmicks and goes for a straight one on one match. New special attacks and features have been added to try and shake things up and it just about manages to pull it off. The game runs at a break neck speed and the torrent of flamboyant special moves help create a fun, if limited, fighting game. Perfect is certainly better than the normal fighting modes in the other World Heroes games but not a patch on something like Street Fighter Alpha or the later Fatal Fury games.
We here at Retro101 are really glad to see the World Heroes franchise become much easier to get hold of. The games may not be at the pinnacle of the 2D fighting genre but the colourful character list and the Death Match mode still means there is more than enough here for any fight fan to enjoy.