Genre: Fighting Developer: Sega Midwest DD Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Let’s begin this review by stepping back in time to the year 1991. Street Fighter 2 was the reigning champion in the arcades and all the major game developers wanted to cash in on this new fighting genre with their own take on the formula. Enter World Heroes, which was released by SNK in 1992 and then ported to the Sega Genesis in 1994 by the Sega Midwest Development Division. The storyline, or what passes for a storyline in these types of games, centers on the eccentric inventor Dr. Linus Fracas who constructs the world’s first time machine with the sole purpose of discovering who the greatest warrior on Earth is. Taking some of history’s best fighters from the past, Dr. Fracas sends them into combat against their modern day counterparts. It’s an interesting premise that doesn’t live up to its full potential though.
After starting up World Heroes you’ll select the level of difficulty to play on from easy, normal, hard and MVS. As the difficulty level increases, so does the amount of damage you take from your opponents and there’s a slight difference in how the A.I. fights on each one. MVS is the most challenging of the lot and is the only setting where you can fight a clone or mirror match of yourself in single-player.
At the character selection screen you can pick eight fighters from the past and present that hail from various countries. Representing Japan are Hanzou and Fuuma of two opposing ninja clans who are doing their best impersonations of Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter 2. In China we encounter the fast and furious Dragon, who is overtly based on Bruce Lee, all the way down to his victory animations. Next is Janne, the armor-wearing swordswoman from France. In Mongolia is the burly and powerful J. Carn, who apparently blazed a path of destruction with Genghis Khan back in the day. Also on the burly and powerful front is the pro-wrestler champion Muscle Power from the United States. Any resemblance in appearance, special moves and mannerisms between him and Hulk Hogan are purely coincidental, I assure you. In Germany is the cyborg soldier Brocken who has been augmented with cybernetic arms, legs and weapons like a certain Bionic Commando we all know. Rounding out the diverse cast is the famous monk and seer Rasputin who uses fireballs, force fields and magically enlarged hands and feet to defeat his foes.
After you’ve selected your fighter, you’re given the option of fighting in a normal match or a death match setting. In a normal match, the fight takes place on a stage that represents each opponent’s home turf. By selecting death match you’ll fight in arenas that range from a boxing ring with electrified ropes, a WWE-style cage replete with spiked walls on the left and right hand sides and a second boxing ring whose ropes have been set ablaze with fire. If you run into or are thrown into either side of these arenas you’ll suffer massive damage, but so will your adversary if you can knock them into these hazards.
World Heroes follows the same set of rules that most other fighting games do. Win two matches and you’ll advance to your next opponent. If you lose two matches, you can continue playing up to three times before the game finally ends. Winning a match gives you the opportunity to rack up bonus points for amount of time and health you have left. Twice during your fight to the top you’ll be entered into a bonus round where the object is to demolish a large rock to unveil a statue of some guy flexing underneath in set amount of time. Spamming a special attack is all you’ll need to get through these stages.
After smashing your way through the competition the inventor of the time machine, Dr. Fracas prepares to crown you as the greatest warrior of all time when something completely out of left field happens. An alien super being named Geegus arrives on Earth aboard a spaceship with plans to exterminate the planet unless you can stop him. You’re then transported aboard his ship for the final confrontation that will decide the planet’s fate. Geegus is a strange hybrid of the T-1000 from Terminator 2 and Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat fame. Once the match begins he’ll immediately transform himself into any of your former opponents, including yourself complete, with all their abilities. If you’re thinking that this guy is the ultimate test of your fighting prowess, don’t. Geegus is a pushover on all difficulties, and after he’s been bested you’ll be sent to a dull ending where a statue is erected in your honor and the development team’s credits roll in a sharp departure from the arcade game. There’ll be more on that later.
Graphically, the game is good with the characters and stages represented well enough from the arcade version, although the colors seem slightly washed out. Character animations for normal and special moves are also decent. In the audio department, the soundtrack is for the most part forgettable with the exception of the infectious title screen music and the themes from Janne’s French circus stage, and the electrified boxing ring arena in death match. Sound effects are decent and the limited voice samples are the typical muffled fare you’ve come to expect in most Genesis games. Fighting against the CPU can be hit or miss due to the A.I. being utterly ruthless on one stage and acting just plain stupid on other stages.
The controls in World Heroes are a mixed bag. The game supports both the six and three-button controllers and will automatically detect which is pad is plugged into the controller port at the title screen. Both control setups work fine but I’d recommend the six-button controller for its versatility. The D-Pad controls all your standard movements while the A, B and C buttons handle punching, kicking and throwing. Buttons X and Y on the six button controller handle hard punches and hard kicks respectively.
Mastering the basic moves is easy enough compared to some of the special attacks that each character has. The two worst offenders are Hanzou and Fuuma with their Dragon Wave/Dragon Spiral attack. To pull this off you’ll have to press the D button toward, down and away from your enemy, then roll the down and toward buttons towards your enemy, and finally press the A button to complete the move. The rest of the cast is manageable with one a few button combos to execute their special attacks.
Earlier I mentioned one of the differences between the arcade and the Genesis port. Some of these omissions make sense while others don’t. Gone is the announcer’s voice along with the on screen word “fight” to signify the start of a match. Destroyable objects in the backgrounds of certain stages and were also excised. Also eliminated is the second bonus round where you’ll try to destroy as many clay pots as possible that are raining down from the sky. The most bizarre change is the complete dismissal of all the individual ending cut scenes for each character. Despite being very short, a few of them were quite humorous like Janne’s search for the perfect husband or Rasputin’s theft of the time machine and all the troubles that ensues. To me they added some character to a game that was already severely lacking it.
In conclusion, World Heroes is an average fighting game at best. It doesn’t do much to tinker with the Street Fighter 2 formula except for the inclusion of the death match option and once you’ve mastered each character’s normal and special attacks you can expect to finish the game in about fifteen to twenty minutes each time around. If you’ve played every other fighting game on the Genesis and are willing to overlook some of its flaws, World Heroes is a decent game to play if you can find an inexpensive copy.
SCORE: 5 out of 10