Written: 7.28.07 Acquired: 1.27.06 Status: Cart only Price: $4.74
15 years ago today, it was the blistering summer of '92. July 28, to be precise. But excessive heat alone marked that summer of sin not. For on that fervent day, a little fighting game by the name of World Heroes, would propel itself head-first into what was affectionately known as the "Golden era of 2D fighting games." I'm lucky enough to say that I lived through that era, and, from where I sit, quite frankly, there hasn't been anything like it since. And there never will be
My favorite gaming franchise of all time
In 1991 Capcom's ground-breaking Street Fighter II took the video game world by storm. Much like any other business venue, whenever a successful formula is found, rival companies clamor to clone it; hungry for a piece of the pie. World Heroes was one of the earliest competitors eager to dethrone Capcom. Did they succeed? Well... no, but it did spawn three sequels and gave us some of the craziest fighters the video gaming world has ever seen. FOR better or worse! (Wait until you see Rasputin and his antics as the series progressed and you'll know what I mean!)
I am a big time HUGE fan, unashamedly. I bloody hell grew up with the series. My old best friend Nelson was as crazy about it as I was. While the entire nation was intoxicated with Street Fighter II fever, I was perfectly content playing ADK's brawler. And let them wait in line -- I was having too much fun impaling my opponents into spiked walls and setting bodies aflame
To put it simply:
Street Fighter II I liked
World Heroes I loved
I remember the first time I played it. It was at Game Hunter -- a hot shot upstart hardcore video game/anime rental store that quickly developed a diehard and cult-like following in my home town amongst us gaming freaks. You can read about Game Hunter more at Memories of Renting
It was just like any other Saturday afternoon. We were at Game Hunter. While my dad was checking out a game, an arcade cab caught my eye. I pulled a quarter out of my pocket, plopped it in... and the rest, as they say, is history
Indeed. I selected Brocken, beat my 1st opponent Rasputin, but lost a hard-fought battle to Fuuma. As my dad walked over and signaled for the door, I looked back at the "countdown" scene and a bond was forever forged. Somehow, I knew I'd be back for more...
A few weeks later, my brother came home from hanging out with his friends at the local shopping center. This center had a library, grocery store, cool trading card shop Triple Play (Marvel '91 series FTW!), Pizza Hut and one of my favorite mom 'n pop rental stores growing up: US Video
"Steve! They got this new fighter in! You gotta check it out"
"What's it called?"
I lit up like a Christmas tree. As documented in Memories of Renting, US Video was where I played World Heroes to death... including the time a cocky 20-something challenged me. The article above talks more about that..
Indeed, the summer of 1992 saw some fantastic times. The arcade scene was buzzing, the Genesis was kicking ass, and the Super Nintendo, now with a year under its belt domestically, was about ready to take off. It would be the following year, September of 1993, that World Heroes finally came home
Select from 8 warriors, ranging from time periods 1198 to 1984, most of whom are based off a famous historical revolutionary, such as Joan of Arc, or a pop culture icon, such as the IMMORTAL Hulk Hogan
HANZO 25 years old Japanese Iga Ninja
Essentially the Ryu of World Heroes lore. I always thought him to be one of the better Ryu clones around. His Dragon Punch is easily one of the coolest looking special moves in fighting game history. To no one's surprise, Hanzo lives for the fight
Battle outside a bustling marketplace
I love these wacky birds scavenging for crumbs at the beginning of each round
... and flapping off to safety as the battle ensues
Double Hadoken motion for dual action. Hanzo's ninja star pierces the heart of his rival
Calling upon his agility and grace, Hanzo propels himself through the air like a whirlwind. Those blades are no laughing matter!
Ah yes, Hanzo's beautiful, MAJESTIC Dragon Punch. Really makes Ryu's look like crap, no? That's what I thought, anyhow, back in '92. Soaring through the air, his body is wrapped by the spirit of an Iga Dragon
FUUMA 25 years old Japanese Fuuma Ninja
This hot-headed warrior went undefeated for years until the fight with Hanzo. Ever since, a boiling rivalry has existed between the two. Just like Ryu and Ken, whatever Hanzo knows, so too does Fuuma. He will not rest until vengeance lies in his bloody hands
On a cloudy day in front of Mount Fuji, THEY WATCH...
Like his more level-headed contemporary, Fuuma knows the art of shuriken
Fuuma is as dangerous as he is flamboyant. This truly defines the phrase "Blades of Glory" !
As head of the Fuuma Ninja clan, he is a sworn enemy of Hanzo's. To counter Hanzo's Dragon Wave, Fuuma too is able to surround his body with that of a dragon spirit on a whim, making the ardent warrior extremely formidable
DRAGON 26 years old Chinese Martial Artist
Before Fei Long, before Law, before any of those cats, there was Dragon! His Dragon Kick is right up there with Hanzo and Fuuma's Dragon Punches as coolest looking special ever
Monks scout carefully while students train
Through years of strenuous training, Dragon discovered he was able to unleash a non-stop flurry of lethal supersonic punches. Or, as the Hollywood-enamored martial artist puts it so eloquently: "unleash.... hell"
Thank you, Dragon
Actually Dragon possesses no fireball, but he does one hell of a throw!
Use this wall-jumping technique to throw off your opponents
If the scoundrels take off to the skies, make them pay for it dearly!
A fall from the Heavens is one your opponent likely won't soon forget
The power of the Mighty Dragon of the Middle Kingdom surges through his body and explodes in a mega kick. The kick alone would send any normal man to an early grave. Combined with this flaming dragon spirit, no man stands a chance!
JANNE 18 years old French Fencer
The sole female combatant in the tournament, Janne is out to dispel the theory that men are superior in the line of fire. Armed with her mystical sword, as well as the power of the Phoenix, she just might be damn right
Circus workers look on as combatants wage war under the bright lights
Light and Fierce produces different looking fire birds. Exxxxcellent
When things get too hot and heavy, Janne has the great equalizer...
... THE FLASH SWORD!
[I like to see her flash something else -Ed.]
Perfect as an anti-air deterrent, or finishing off combo's with! Ace
Her sword pogo makes you cringe a little, eh?
J. CARN 35 years old Mongolian Marauder
Bet 'cha can't guess who Julius is based off of. Carn is a vicious leader of an ancient Mongolian empire. For some people, being the conqueror of a continent just isn't enough. Carn seeks the best the world has to offer. He's confident that his Mongolian Dynamite will destroy all who dare oppose him
Duke it out in the grimy Mongolian battlefield. The sun sets
Do not let his portly build belie his agility. Carn uses this to his advantage, with his Mongolian Tiger Crush reaching foes before they could even blink!
Using his unmigitated strength, Julius Carn pounds the ground....
... and causes a wall of fire to erupt! His prized Mongolian Dynamite, he believes, will assure his ticket to the claim of GOAT: greatest of all time
MUSCLE POWER 38 years old American Pro Wrestler, BRUTHA!
The biggest competitor in the tourney, this wrestling icon believes he is unequivocally "numbah wahn." And when it comes to sheer strength, he certainly is. A lumbering brute, it will take a skilled and patient fighting game veteran to effectively utilize the vast untapped potential that lies beneath his rough exterior
Suspended high above, the ring is ominously covered by the unforgiving steel cage
Like J. Carn, you might be surprised by the speed of this powerhouse. And remember kids, graffiti is bad, very bad
[Yes, I read that somewhere... spray painted on a wall -Ed.]
And no, I'm not talking about the japanese name-sake of Saturday Night Slam Masters! Hey... hmmm, interesting...
Drop it like it's hot, big man!
[Oh LORD. Hey... have you been playing Elevator Action Returns, again? -Ed.]
MIGHTY LEGDROP OF DOOM YES!
What, Papa Shango?!
Huh! Ultimate Warrior music? WHAT THE FLYING --
OH MAH GAWD NO WAAAAI!!!!
Er, sorry, I was having a bad WrestleMania VIII flashback there...
Just like Capcom's Zangief, Muscle Power's "money move" is the most powerful special move in the game:
TORNADO BREAKER! First comes disorientation, then dislocation!
yeah... let us move on, then...
BROCKEN 30 years old German Super Soldier
Ah yes, the first fighter of choice for yours truly the first go-round. And indeed, I never did look back. Brocken is a sentimental favorite of moi. He can set the competition on fire, or electrocute 'em. Brilliant. He bears more than a slight resemblance to M. Bison (as well as Inspector Gadget), and plays a bit like Dhalsim
It scrolls vertically, much like Rolento's SFA2 stage
Brocken's greatest form of offense, as well as defense, are his extendable limbs
Not so quick there are we, Dragon?
While people have often thrown around names the likes of Dhalsim, Inspector Gadget and M. Bison (all understandably well), the ONE guy that never gets any mention and to me may well be Brocken's source of inspiration... M. BLASTER from Combatribes fame. Keep in mind, the arcade was released in 1990....
Brocken really doesn't play like Bison, sans this flying attack. The cool thing is, you can control its path of flight! Suh-weeeeeet
I love this move: the way it looks, the way it makes a little buzz sound as it emits from his hand... all lovely stuff
The Hurricane Arm will disband you of jumpy competitors in a hurry
The best damn looking electrocution in fighting game history, period
He has something up his sleeve all right, and I got news for ya -- it ain't good!
RASPUTIN Age Undisclosed Russian Sorcerer
If you can't guess which historical figure this bozo's based off then I've got a bridge I want to sell ya! As the series progressed, Rasputin was made more... well, you know. But in the original, he's quite all business, with not so much the crusader of love and peace malarky as in later entries. I dare say I played quite a mean Rasputin back in the day, yes sir I did
A near perfect replica of the arcade, mice scurries across the background
Although he doesn't quite have the reach of Brocken, Rasputin uses magic to enlarge various parts of his body
I'm glad we're all mature enough to get this far without some lame joke being thrown around
[You know what they say about guys with big feet don't cha? -Ed.]
Why do I even bother...
Also like Brocken, ole Raspy is one of my dear favorites. He, Brock and Hanzo were my top three guys back in the day. I can't believe it's been 15 years already... gawd damn
This simple yet effective standing strong punch is one of my favorite regular moves
Ah yes, and then this. Back in '92, you understand, this was a fairly mind-blowing sprite, at least to me it was! I love every aspect of this move. Visually it was more impressive than a naked Jessica Alba (OK maybe not...) and the feeling that you're crushing their feeble body... AHAHAHAHAHA!
Black magic allows fire to leap from his fingers. Slow, but deadly
Harmless bath robe? HA! In an instance it becomes a pernicious asset
You can control it, too. I dunno what's worse... the wrath of the robe or the wrath of seeing his bare grapefruits!
Any fighting game in those days (or now, even) worth their salt required some sort of definitive end boss. World Heroes was no different...
Looks totally bad-ass, but he's a pussycat. I love this breaking up animation
Just like end bosses, any fighting game worth a damn had endings for each fighter. Here are just two...
Hey what's going on here? GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!
Much like the game itself, some are serious, but most are rather light-hearted. It was assumed that Fuuma was not real by some folks due to the ending seen here, but later in the series it was confirmed that the fiery ninja does indeed exist
In addition to the main fighter who lives for the fight, his eternal rival, a token female, a token strong man, and assorted freaks to round out the cast you had proper bosses and endings. To complete the classic 2D fighting game formula was the so-called bonus round, a quick break from the action to, well, break a stationary object within the time limit to earn extra points
Muscle Power looks a little mad there, eh?
No, not the head! Fer pete's sake man the bottom the bottom!!
Who would have guessed 15 years ago that one would have his own reality TV show, the other governor of KAH-LEE-FOUR-NAAAAH!
'TIL DEATH DO US PART
If you've never really seen this game until now, you might be thinking what a blatant Street Fighter II rip-off. But hang on -- here's perhaps the coolest thing to ever come out of the World Heroes brand, and it was.... the DEATH MATCH!
Death Matches see both competitors thrown into a ring strewn with danger at every step of the way. Some hazards maim, others hinder, and one in particular... well, it's straight out and out humiliation! There are nine in all:
You gotta appreciate ADK's sense of dark humor. Look who they gave the mine stage to...
Ah, it never gets old...
This stage, pardon the pun, burned itself into my retina 15 years ago. On the ole SNES it still amazes. Those flaming ropes are wicked! I loved using Brocken here. Much sick pleasure was derived from shocking 'em near the burning cables...
... and which leads to this! The simple pleasures in life and video games *sighs*
You want ultimate satisfaction? I give you ultimate satisfaction!
1st, send 10,000 watts coursing through every bone in their body
Let the mine work its magic
Oh LORD! Talk about ye ole regular TRIPLE WHAMMY!
My favorite Death Match, it's so sadistically fun
Ya really gotta lay off them prunes, man, really
The Hair Match is a classic. While no actual hazards are present in the ring, it's AFTER the battle that counts here. The winner is given every opportunity to gloat and rub it in. Check it out!
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. All part of the cheesy charm!
Regardless of your thoughts on the game, whether you hate it, love it or don't care for it, you have to admit the Death Match was a great concept, and the Hair Match... absolutely priceless
Speaking of priceless....
THE ADK AFTERSHOCK EFFECT
More (dark) humor ensues...
Woo hoo I won! Er, where are the brakes on this thing?!
Brocken gets a taste of his own medicine here!
Even if your opponent has lost all of his health, this aftershock effect will still affect your health if you make contact with it. So be careful, for it could lead to a draw contest
And say you beat Rasputin, if he happens to touch the hazard POST match, the game will STILL register it as a "live" moment. And in SLOW MO, he'll suffer the FULL blunt of the aftershock attack. It's the greatest little guilty gaming pleasure in the world for me
15 gawd damn years later, I still enjoy it as much as I ever have
All in slow mo. Their death cries ringing in mah ears OH YES!!! ..... Ahem *adjusts tie*
Does it make me a bad person to intentionally kill off my guy in the process of beating the other guy? Well then, I'm guilty as charged!
[Naw, it just makes you a damn fool -Ed.]
Another favorite way of mine on ending a match
You know...... I could use some shock therapy right about now
Remember how back then fighting games only took 3 moves to dizzy your opponents? If you miss those days then you'd be right at home here. World Heroes is more combo-friendly than your local Mickey D's. Here are my favorite dizzying combo's from all 8 heroes...
Come in with a jumping strong kick...
... quickly do a crouching light kick...
... and give 'im the ole heave-ho!
Fuuma, Hanzo, one works just as well for the other of course. Another jumping strong kick...
... followed by a quick standing uppercut...
OH YEAH BABY! This combo will get you all the hot girls, I guarantee* it
You have to pull off the Dragon Punch before the standing uppercut animation expires. If you do it right Fuuma will go only halfway with his uppercut and then immediately explode into his DP
*results may vary
The shuriken variant. Still gotta cancel the uppercut halfway to pull this off
For extra cool points check out this groovy combo!
So Annie are you okay? Are you okay AN-NIE?
Oh I'm sure he likes it from behind...
.... but rest assured...
... He ain't gonna like it this time!
The master of the easiest dizzy combo's in the world lies here
Execute a deep jumping strong punch...
And then a simple standing strong 2-hit finishes it off... talk about easy!
And here's the foot version:
Ryu? Ken? Bueller? Anyone? Hey, it's so easy a caveman could do it!
If you didn't know by now, chick with stick = bad
Cross up fatty here with a jumping strong kick
... Followed by a swift kick to the temple!
Another jumping strong kick...
Another crouching light...
Now that's a combo!
Quickly chain a light punch with a strong...
Shoot a bird up that foo's ass
Jumping strong... standing light...
Carn polishes Raspy off with a fierce mule kick
Power's got some sweet combo's. See if you can end one with his Tornado Breaker for major damage
Cross him up here with a jumping strong punch
... Mighty Boot of Doom!
Muscle Bomber special... standing strong...
... Mighty Boot of Doom!
Jumping strong... standing strong... then rapidly hit the punch button...
10,000 mega watts of raw power MWAHAHAHA! Oh how I love this combo
Fuuma gets bitch-slapped... literally
Come in with a jumping strong...
Light punch into strong. Easy as 1-2-3!
MEMORIES OF THE SNES PORT
As someone who poured countless quarters into the arcade game, I anxiously awaited Sunsoft's SNES port release with bated breath. Nelson, too. He was as fanatical about World Heroes as I was. They say there's nothing like having a best friend growing up. I can certainly vouch for that. I didn't buy many SNES games back in the day. If my brother Kevin and I were lucky, we'd receive three games a year. Just as how my brother always made me rent the games HE want rented, it was a foregone conclusion that most of the purchase decisions HE made. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of Super Nintendo games I actually bought while they were relevant!
You'd think World Heroes to be one of those scant few BUT NO. Oh no. My best pal Nelson bought a copy the week it came out, and since we practically hung out every day of the week, there was no need really to buy the game
Nelson and I were about as evenly matched as you could make two T's look. If he didn't come over lugging his copy with him, I'd be at his place having dinner with his family, and afterwards, we'd retire to his room for an evening of serious World Heroes competition. Occasionally, we had our other friends over and we'd all have a go at it. There's no doubt in my mind that we squeezed the game for everything it was worth. And like a best friend would do, Nelson graciously loaned me his copy from time to time....
In the Fall of '93 my uncle from Texas visited my folks. He was full of life, a veritable ball of energy. I hadn't seen him since the late '80s. I can remember Kev and I teasing him about how his favorite team the PHOENIX SUNS came up short that year in the NBA FINALS
That same weekend I happened to borrow Nelson's copy. It was the first night he came to town, he was a bit jet-lagged so he kicked back on the couch and watched me play. My uncle was not a gamer but somehow he fancied World Heroes. I used Dragon. My uncle cheered me on as I tackled the two ninjas.... Hanzo and Fuuma. I recall explaining to him how they were the two main stars of the game. My uncle really took a shine to Dragon...
"Pffft. If you ask me, THAT'S who the star oughta be! He's Bruce Lee fer cryin' out loud! How can you beat that!?"
It was around 5:45 PM roughly, because I remember the sun starting to fall in the sky, and as I advanced to fight Janne, my mom called me and my uncle to help prep dinner. But, the game really captivated him! Him! Someone with NO interest in video games whatsoever
"Relax sis, we'll be there in a second. First we gotta handle our business though, right Steve?"
I've always had a special bond and connection with the World Heroes franchise, but it was at that moment in time where I really felt the game was something extra special. I'll just never forget that moment
Oh yes he did! We got mom to agree to let me have this one last match, which was against Janne, and my uncle was calling the plays/attacks from the sidelines. He kept yelling "Dragon Kick here!" Even my mom stopped to look on with a strange smile on her face. It's a memory and image that has stuck with me to this day
On that night World Heroes became more than just a game to me
One final memory I want to share about the SNES port... again it was Fall of '93. I remember it well. It was Thanksgiving weekend of '93. Back then, I had my best friend Nelson, I had my other grade school friends, and then... I had my diehard out-of-town gaming group buddies. Oh what good times we had. If there was a list of "Most Legendary Sleepovers In The History of Mankind" I reckon we'd be in the top ten. Just imagine 3, 4 different families all partying under the same roof til the wee hours in the morning, the parents doing their thing, the kids theirs
On this particular get-together, and indeed, sleepover bash, I begged Nelson to lend me his copy for the weekend. He obliged. And later that night, there was a World Heroes tournament of sorts held
My friends were good, but I was better. They might have owned me in Street Fighter II, but when it came to World Heroes I had no equal. And that evening I proved it in the tourney
Indeed, I played one mean Rasputin back then. No matter who they used, what tactics they tried, I always came out victorious
I used this sweep kick to perfection that night!
I beat the five guys who dared challenge me about five times each. So bad that they quit and popped in Super Bomberman instead. Would you believe me if I told you that I didn't win a single Bomberman match that night?
And yes.... it was worth it
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
EGM: 8,6, 6, 6
Super Play: 77%
STIRRING UP SHIT
Ah, God Bless EGM and their dead-level honest opinions. They sure did ruffle some feathers the wrong way back in the day when they were worth a damn. The rating dealt to the SNES port was met with some backlash by the very producer of the SNES product! Pulled from the November 1993 issue #52
Dan's letter and EGM's earnest reply filled up the whole page! Two issues later, January '94 ish #54 EGM printed a World Heroes review PRO and a World Heroes review CON letter from fans. This too filled up an entire page, which was quite rare of the mag. It was certainly an entertaining read back in the day, and has aged gracefully
Well Danny my boy... if you're out there somewhere in the vastness of cyberspace... if you somehow happen to see this, I do want to tell you... YES, you made a HELL of a port... and I know when you read the EGM ratings you felt like you wanted to....
Just kidding, Dan. Great job, buddy
[Don't you ever "buddy" me again -Dan MacArthur]
Last year I finally bought a copy of SNES World Heroes for myself. For one, Nelson doesn't have his copy anymore and two, we sadly by and large lost touch when I moved in early '96. Booting this game up, a part of me feared that fond memories had gotten the better of me. Or that maybe the game had aged horribly. Thankfully no!Everything from the spike/laser/flames aftershock effect in the death matches to the birds that fly off in the beginning of Hanzo's stage -- this game just brings me back to my childhood. Suddenly I'm duking ninja stars and exchanging dragon kicks with my best friend Nelson again, homework is light and totally carefree winter days, ahhhhhh If I could just go back to those days for five minutes...
As a fighting game, of THAT era, I genuinely think it plays well. The game has a lot of critics. Is it slow? Yes. Are the characters lame? That's subjective. Compared to Street Fighter II, this falls flat on its rear end from both a technical and overall standpoint eleven times out of 10. But I play games for their fun factor, and for me, World Heroes has it in surplus
The port itself is amazing. Dan and his boys get a standing ovation from me. As a veteran of the arcade, I've always felt the SNES port came as damn close to it as one could hope for. Sure, it's not a pixel-perfect port, but for fans of the arcade who couldn't afford a Neo Geo back in '93, this was our salvation. And a damn fine one it was, too
Graphics made a seamless jump to the SNES. These fighters are HUGE! Although the port is every bit as slow as the arcade was, there is no slowdown. Special moves which made my jaw drop the first time I saw 'em in the arcade have all been faithfully translated, from Hanzo's majestic soaring Dragon Uppercut to Rasputin's unforgettable gargantuan hand crush. Even the Aftershock Effect remained intact! It's dark humor at its best. World Heroes is serious yet at the same time very light-hearted, and I love that sense of balance Although the sound effects lack the oomph you'd like from a fighting game, some of those tunes are jammin'. Dragon's theme is stuck in my head right next to the Death Match! The announcer does a good job, and those death cries are among the best fighting game death cries I've ever heard* Dragon Punch meets the Dragon Kick -- a sheer thing of beauty!
* And everyone knows -- if you can't get excited about that, you might want to check that pulse
All sarcasm aside, I think World Heroes is [Numbah Wahn!? -Ed.] one of those games where if you really want to "get," you really had to be there from the beginning. And if you were, and you didn't like it back then, I get that too. It seems you either love it, or hate it. From the first time I played it I fell in love with it, and top to bottom it's my favorite video game franchise of all time. Memories, gameplay, longevity -- all those combine to make it so
World Heroes franchise will always be #1 in my book
The SNES port does fans of the arcade proud. It's not everyone's cup of tea, sure, but you just might find a decent alternative here with a dash of dark humor, as opposed to the usual. I admit though, I mainly play this for the nostalgia. The sequels blow the doors off this sucker, but the original will always hold a soft spot in my gaming heart