World Heroes Anthology

   11/10/2008 at 21:20       Joe Bennett       7 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
Turgid, unresponsive and to the Street Fighter series what the Great Giana Sisters was to Mario...



What? You want more? Is it not enough for you that I've put in a couple of hours of my life into this game, without having to spend another hour recalling the awful memory and writing about it? Really? You sadistic sonofa...!

Well then, here goes: World Heroes starts off with a mad professor who builds a time machine (don't you dare nod off, you asked for more) and uses it to gather the world's greatest warriors from all eras, to brawl against each other. That in itself is a lie, as if this is a collection of the greatest heroes ever, where is SPARTACUS? Plus it's completely irresponsible, has he never watched the Butterfly Effect?

Anyway, he firstly travels back to 1991 to observe the cast of Street Fighter 2 and decides to recruit only those fighters that are as close to Street Fighter 2's cast of characters as possible, even down to the finishing moves. He then puts heroes such as Hulk Hogan (renamed 'Muscle Power' for added campness) against Rasputin and Brocken (a camp, WW2 German general Dhalsim rip-off) against Joan of Arc.

They then, very arthritically, (so, considering that most of the characters are either dead or Hulk Hogan, and therefore riddled with rigor mortis either way, at least it's realistic) fight it out against each other. Or, I should say, one character fights it out, while the other crouches in the corner, allowing half of their energy bar to be depleted before coming to life. The original World Heroes is, without doubt, one of the worst examples of the genre with one of the most cumbersome control schemes I've ever witnessed (the harder you press the button, the stronger your attack is).

On to World Heroes 2

Rather than addressing these issues, World Heroes 2 instead introduces a few extra cast members and some new moves. Joining the cast are Captain Kidd (a pirate who fires fireballs in the shape of sharks, hardly heroic), Erik the Red (a Viking) and a character that, despite my limited American Football knowledge, looks a hell of a lot like Joe Montana. Surely Dan Marino is a more worthy 'hero', he was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and everything!

The new moves include being able to reflect a projectile if you time your block just before it hits, and the ability to counter throws. The problem is, this turns the game into a 'who can defend the best' and arguably takes the series a step backwards rather than forwards.

Mmmm, Jet

We then have World Heroes 2: Jet. I must admit I got a little bit excited about this one, until I realised that it didn't include Jet from Gladiators. This time however, instead of just throwing more characters into the mix (only two additions to the cast this time, one being Jack the Ripper, who, unless I misunderstand the meaning of the word 'Hero', is yet another dubious cast member), WH2: Jet vastly improves on many of its predecessor's failings.

Instead of facing foes one after another, you now have to face three of them in a ranking tournament. Win two out of three rounds and you progress through to the next stage. It may not sound much, but it is surprisingly refreshing and feels more like a tournament structure. The speed is also dramatically increased, you have the ability to dash forwards and backwards, and, more importantly, the controls are much more responsive. There are a few additional moves as well. That's not to say that WH: Jet is a must play beat-em-up, as it's still miles behind Street Fighter or King of Fighters, but it's certainly aged a lot better than the previous two.

Far from perfect

Wrapping up the anthology is World Heroes Perfect (which was either a shot at irony or a massive overstatement). Ditching the tournament approach that Jet introduced, and the awkward control system (different strengths of attack are now given their own button), it also introduces feints, the ability to more easily string together combos and the ability to perform midair guards. It also introduces the 'hero gauge', which, when filled, can be used to perform a move that will obliterate your opponents health gauge.

However, despite being arguably the best version of World Heroes, 'Perfect' could also be described as the most unbalanced. Some characters are so vastly overpowered that you can destroy your opponent's health gauge in only two moves, without even using the 'hero gauge'.

'Perfect' certainly has a lot more depth than any of the previous iterations, and is without doubt the best version, but it's still not a patch on most other beat-em-ups from that era.

Round up

As an Anthology, World Heroes is very light on content. There are no unlockables, no concept art, no history, nothing. Just four mediocre-to-awful beat-em-ups. The only saving grace might be that this is likely to be rare in a couple of years as most places don't seem to be stocking it.

If you happened to love World Heroes back in the day, and you're prepared for how badly they have aged, for nostalgia value only, it may be worth a look. For everyone else, considering that only one of the games is even anywhere near worth playing for more than a few minutes and that this is yet another poor quality retro compilation, you'll be thankful that nobody appears to be stocking World Heroes and it therefore won't be appearing in bargain bins anytime soon.
User Comments:

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Funkyd - on 12/10/2008 at 03:47 wrote:
Haha, best start to a review ever!

kentmonkey - on 12/10/2008 at 15:23 wrote:
Thanks Funkyd

Don't forget to digg guys, it really helps bring in the visitors

billdoor - on 15/10/2008 at 13:20 wrote:
SNK have this rep for making "awesome" fighters that I've never really understood.

peej - on 16/10/2008 at 14:39 wrote:
BTW KM, I couldn't find a decent image to use as a feature wrap image - and was a bit pushed for time. So apologies for that. I think in general we're trying to do a feature wrapper for all new reviews features etc, so sorry this got missed off. (looks like rich did a better job than me of finding a decent image to use as a big splash image anyway so it's all good)



kentmonkey - on 16/10/2008 at 21:15 wrote:
Ha ha, that's fine mate. It's probably not worthy of the time investment anyway, especially as nowhere seems to be stocking it (I can't find it anywhere online).

peej - on 17/10/2008 at 12:25 wrote:
Could become something of a rarity :) Weirdly a lot of overlooked PS2 games seem to be going for stupid prices on ebay.

Anyhoo, it's nice to see some Neo Geo stuff being compiled and retrofitted but some of it really does show its age now. Really would love to see Capcom do a rollup comp of all their sideways scrolling duff-em-ups like Captain Commando and Cadillacs & Dinosaurs.

Ace Grace - on 29/10/2008 at 18:03 wrote:
So who is stocking this?

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