World Heroes…maybe it was me, but this series just didn’t have the appeal that King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury, and even Art of Fighting had. The series always stood out as a generic filler at the time and, going back to it now, it feels even more like that. Next to Fighter’s History, World Heroes was always number two in my book, in terms of many similarities, otherwise known as ripoffs, compared to the Street Fighter series. Sure, every game is going to have some similarity to Street Fighter 2..or going further back, to Karate Champ, but World Heroes just had too many similarities and not enough personality of it’s own.
With this Anthology, you are given World Heroes, World Heroes 2, World Heroes 2 Jet, and World Heroes Perfect. While the game definitely was refined over the life of the series, with a few new characters introduced, some new/varied moves for each character, and speed increases, the World Heroes series just never really seemed to take off. Some moves were interesting (such as Captain Kidd using ghost sharks instead of the standard ‘fireball’), but at the time, when Street Fighter 2 – in it’s numerous iterations – was king, you have to come with something more than mostly basic concepts, even for that time period. The additional modes of play present in the series, like Deathmatch in part one, were kinda neat, but the bland cast just detracted too much. Even though the game is old, the graphics and animations were basic, even for the time. The music was boring then, just as much as it is now; same goes for the sound effects. The voices are just as annoying as you remember, so get ready to play some of your own music!
As an emulated game, SNK Playmore did a great job! The title screen is pleasant enough and the menus are easy to negotiate, though it is strange that there’s no music during either screen. All four games play just like they should, plus you can load and save your game. A practice mode has been added, which is cool if you need to practice the rather basic World Heroes fighting system. For people with tons of time on their hands, you can actually edit the color of each fighter to suit your needs – a nice feature, but not for everyone. Additionally, a ‘Focus’ option is present in the display options – the ‘Soft’ mode basically takes the game slightly out of focus, giving the impression that the game isn’t that pixelated, or so they hoped. I felt like the games just went out of focus, like in a blurry, I need glasses sense, rather than helping reduce pixelation. Couldn’t there be a way to sharpen the angles? I suppose it would have been time consuming to take on such a task, so it’s a minor point.
Ultimately, I can only recommend this Anthology to real fans of the World Heroes series. Otherwise, fighting game fans might not want to travel to the World Heroes region of the fighting genre’s golden years. In all fairness to the great work SNK Playmore did with the port to PS2, I’ve decided to rate this Anthology in two parts. As a port, the WHA is excellent; aside from porting a different fighting series, there’s not much to complain about. However, this series is a bland as it gets, so the game itself deserves a much lower score, especially when compared to nearly every other series of fighting games.
As a port:
As a fighting game: