Retro Review – World Heroes
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Okay, Doc Brown from Back to the Future uses his DeLorean to kidnap two famous samurai’s, the 13th century sorcerer Rasputin, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, a Nazi android, Bruce Lee, and Hulk Hogan. They are forced to fight in a battle to the death by the seemingly insane Dr. Brown, until eventually Jesus shows up and challenges the last man standing.
World Heroes is a game developed by ADK and published by SNK back in ’92 to capitalize on the Street Fighter craze of the time. The game may not feature the amazing cast of characters mentioned above (sorry), but it does contain characters who resemble them fairly closely (Jesus is actually an evil robot named GeeGus). Although World Heroes was never as well received as Street Fighter, it did have a small cult following when it came out. Is the devotion of this small group of followers justified?
World Heroes was recently released on the PSN as a part of the ongoing Neo Geo Renaissance on the PlayStation Network. When we look back to the past with our rosy glasses of nostalgia, games are usually deemed awesome just on the sheer fact that we used to play them a long time ago. These retro re-releases seem to me to be an attempt to capitalize on our memories and make a quick buck. Some games work and can still stand on their own in today’s market, while others just remind us that we were probably stupid children.
World Heroes suffers from the mere fact that it was re-released. It is a Street Fighter clone that doesn’t have nearly as tight gameplay. The combo system in World Heroes can be very temperamental, as most hits don’t register when they should have, and the lag leads to odd timing when attempting to string combos. Additionally, the floaty character animation makes it hard to time things; for example, jumps that you would think should be tiny and quick are large and overdrawn, much like a gentle tap to a helium balloon can send it soaring away. I understand that back in ’92 combo systems were very rudimentary, but at least they were easy to execute. This game just isn’t as tight or as responsive as the original Street Fighter, and controls are essential to successful fighting games.
Another key to success is a great look. This is something that World Heroes might have, depending on how you view it. The art direction is standard for late 80’s anime fare. Most characters look like they were ripped straight out of Fist of the North Star or Dragonball without many changes. It’s refreshing to see this kind of art again, but it can get rather bland if you play the game a lot. Character animations get very choppy if too much is going on on-screen, but that is just indicative of the lack of power the Neo Geo had. The stages are very vibrant though, with each stage representing a different World Hero. When it comes to the art, the stage backgrounds are the best part in my opinion.
However, the game developers introduced some interesting features when it comes to game play. The bonus rounds in between levels are extremely novel. One bonus stage has you beating up a rock to chisel out a statue of a buff dude posing. Who needs to trash a car in Street Fighter when you can do that? Along with this, the game also includes an incredibly fun Death Match mode. The mode has the same play mechanics as the regular game but the stages are completely changed to include things like oil or burning ropes. These things can inflict damage on opponents or alter the way you play the game. It’s an awesome concept and makes the game a million times more fun. I’d play exclusively in Death Match mode if I were you.
At the end of the day however, we can’t fault an old game for archaic game design. It is a re-release and we must understand that World Heroes is almost 20 years old. Some things will be not as good as we remember them to be, while others will seem campy to our modern palette but if we understand that then it’s all good. We can revel in the fact that the game is crap and enjoy it on that level. We can laugh at all the odd design choices or campy phrases included in the game. Playing World Heroes is a good time, especially with friends. Whether it’s the kind of good time the developers intended is questionable, but who cares, when you can beat up robot Jesus as Hulk Hogan?
This game gets a 4/5
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