World Heroes Anthology
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-04-17 PS2 Fighting T (Teen) SNK Playmore

For most lifelong gamers from my generation and the last, many an important memory comes in the form of marathon sessions at the arcade spent jamming quarters into various games from the side-scrolling shooter and fighting genres. Considering the fact that I never spent much time in that environment as a kid, and seeing as how I didn't even become a hardcore gamer until I was a teen, by the time I realized just how great gaming could be, most of the games in this World Heroes Anthology had already been released and mastered by pre-pubescent boys around the world.

That being the case, when faced with the challenge of reviewing the four games from SNK's greatest fighting series, World Heroes, I was, needless to say, a bit apprehensive. However, as with most older games, jumping right in and getting hooked was an incredibly easy thing to do.

World Heroes is based around the evil Dr. Brown who has created a time machine able to bring together fighters from various times in history, with the goal of determining the greatest fighter of all time. As the games focus on different time frames throughout history, some of its characters are based on real people.

For instance, Julius Carn is a loose representation of Genghis Kahn while the psycho punk Jack is appropriately characterized after serial killer Jack the Ripper. Likewise, my favorite character, Janne D'Arc, is based on Joan of Arc, with Janne being able to kick just as much butt as, if not more than, the guys.

After being set lose in one of the four games presented here (World Heroes, World Heroes 2, World Heroes 2 Jet, and World Heroes Perfect), you are able to choose from over 50 characters in the hopes of defeating all in your path to become the greatest fighter in history.

Being that these games were originally created during the era of the Neo-Geo and the original Game Boy, the overall presentation here is pretty simple. Using an easy to navigate main menu, you choose from one of the four games, are allowed to change the difficulty and score saving options, and are immediately sent into action.

Depending on which game you choose to play, you can take part in exhibition matches and tournaments or one fall death matches, along with extras such as mini-mode, which is available in World Heroes Perfect, and which greatly increases the difficulty by removing any access you may have had to special moves, body tosses, etc.

While each game is unique from the next, they all share the same potential flaw (depending on your point of view) found in almost all fighting games, with that flaw being the ability to simply button-mash your way through matches, especially on the lower difficulties.

Of course there are complex button combos to learn here which will satisfy hardcore fighting game enthusiasts, and which come in mighty handy on harder difficulty settings, but luckily, the casual player who doesn't want to spend the time memorizing dozens of moves should feel right at home here.

Likewise, even though this is a game compilation, all were released within such a time frame that the look and feel of each remains pretty consistent throughout. The classic 2D animation here is a true trip down memory lane, with outrageous character designs in bright colors that could make your eyes bleed, but in a good way.

Furthermore, the sound effects and soundtrack itself hold up surprisingly well on the move to the PS2. Like I said, I may not have been exposed to these games the first time around, but after one listen of those simplistic melodies, I could almost see myself cramming change into arcade machines myself.

All in all, the simplicity of this compilation means that this is definitely a game aimed at prior fans of the World Heroes franchise. And while there are far more sophisticated, new fighting games being released all of the time, it's nice every now and again to take a look back at where gaming has been. If you want a bunch of extras like online fighting or in-depth character growth and development, look elsewhere. However, if you simply want a good ol' fighting game to satisfy the urge of punching someone in the face, World Heroes Anthology will definitely do the trick.

Special thanks to David Burno and SNK for providing a copy of this title.