There were several clones released in the wake of Street Fighter II’s 1991 debut, many trying to add their own twists on top of SFII’s proven formula. One of these games was ADK’s World Heroes, which came out in 1992, and has now just been re-released on the PS3 as part of SNKP’s NeoGeo Station collection.
The port itself offers the same options that all NGS ports so far have offered – you can scale the screen to any size you want and add smoothing and scanlines, so you can get the game looking acceptable on your high-definition television. You can configure your controls however you want, and there are the usual online play options that the other ports have had. There are no loading times, and the game runs properly with no framerate drops. That said, there are some reasons as to why you should think carefully before shelling out your money on this particular port.
Overall the sense you get when playing World Heroes is that it feels very clunky. Not really surprising given that the game is almost twenty years old at this point, but there are a few aspects of the game system that give me pause. For one, the game uses only three buttons – a punch, a kick and a throw button (the last of which is actually redundant since you can do throws by inputting f + punch). Not necessarily a big deal, except that you need to use short or long presses to get weak or strong punches, which adds unnecessary complexity to the input system, especially given that the Neo-Geo has four buttons to begin with.
The game also has some truly weird inputs that threw me off when trying to play. For instance, some characters’ uppercuts are done by pressing f, db, df + P, which proved to be a major pain when trying to get some anti-air defense going. On top of that they don’t knock down grounded opponents, which seemed really off to me. The game’s speed is also really slow, with floaty jumps, which takes a lot of getting used to when going for combos (which this game does seem to have, although like most old games there isn’t a combo counter). I found myself doing jump attacks that I thought were sufficiently deep, and then getting grabbed as soon as I hit the ground.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Of course the game is slow and the jumps are floaty and the controls are weird. This game came out in 1992!” And you’d be right, up to a certain point. But when you consider that this game’s contemporaries in 1992 were Street Fighter II Champion Edition (and later Hyper Fighting) and Fatal Fury 2, you do begin to realise that it doesn’t quite measure up. To be fair, this game does do a few things that are kind of unique. Some characters can double-jump anywhere on the screen, for instance, which was certainly something unusual for the time. There’s also a ‘Death Match’ mode that amps things up a bit by introducing environmental hazards like electric fences and slippery floors into the mix. While not necessarily something that high-level players would appreciate, they’re still something that sets it apart from its brethren.
That said, World Heroes still feels like a stepping stone on the way to something better. Don’t forget, World Heroes went on to spawn a number of sequels, so this is like playing Street Fighter 1… don’t expect anything more than punch, kick and special move; while fun, that may be too little for the modern fighting game enthusiast. If you do buy it, it’ll be for nostalgia, adding to your collection, or for a history lesson, as an example of the places our beloved genre has been over its long and storied history.
The game has also been released on the PSP, should you prefer to have some meaty floating fights in the palm of your hand.