Clay Fighter (SNES)

Pub: Interplay | Dev: Visual Concepts | November 1993 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Interplay | Dev: Visual Concepts | November 1993 | 16 MEGS

Many fond memories come to mind when I think of Christmas. So much so that I even wrote a special article dedicated to just that. There are certain things that I’ll always associate Christmas with, for better or for worse. For me, Clay Fighter will always be linked with Christmas. Released 25 years ago (damn where does the time go), this Street Fighter II parody is but a minuscule footnote in the annals of SNES lore. But to me, Clay Fighter represents something beyond that, even if the final product isn’t all that good. It represents a time of true innocence, a time of allegiances and a time of change. Not to mention learning how to navigate expectations and disappointments even in the smallest of ways. Indeed, Clay Fighter was one of my childhood games. As such, I’ll never forget it. Especially whenever Christmas comes rolling around…

ONCE UPON A TIME…

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It was the summer of 1993. 2D fighting games were all the rage, and seemingly everyone and their brother were getting in on it. From Kaneko to Konami, everyone wanted a piece of the pie. It was the fighting game era, and 1-on-1 brawlers was a booming business. One idyllic summer day in ’93, my mom took me to the local grocery store. As per usual, I browsed the VHS rental section while my mom bought food. I remember seeing cheesy horror movies like Leprechaun (oh Jennifer Anniston…) and Critters 4 (oh Angela Bassett) before making my way to the magazine section. It was there that I picked up a GamePro issue and first laid eyes on Clay Fighter. It was love at first sight.

Classic cheesy stuff
Classic cheesy stuff
Good old VHS days
Good old VHS days
Talk about nostalgia!
Talk about nostalgia!

There was just something special about growing up in the late ’80s to early-mid ’90s. From cheesy horror movies (with badass memorable box art) to hundreds of fun 8 and 16-bit video games, it was the perfect time to be a gamer who loved horror movies to boot. I miss those halcyon days where my mom would drop me off at a store and I would just spend a good 30 to 45 minutes browsing the various boxes and back covers of horror movies and the latest video games. Truly a special time in our lives (for those lucky enough to have lived it).

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But I digress. As the months went on, the Clay Fighter hype train gained more steam. Gaming magazines previewed the hell out of it, and the comedic aspects of the game really appealed to a 10 year old kid. It promised to be WACKY!, WEIRD! and WILD! I mean, what more could you want?

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The fighters had their own unique charm.

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Not only was it a parody of Street Fighter II but it was also a parody of many other things such as Elvis, The Blob and The Headless Horseman among others. Clay Fighter was Parody City.

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The unique claymation graphics made it stand out in a crowded genre. I couldn’t help but be drawn to its unique look, even if the aesthetics were a bit sloppy. Hey, it was 1993 and I was 10. Clay Fighter looked super cool in my book back then!

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And then came the ads. And boy, were there a TON of ads. Clay Fighter had one of the most robust and memorable ad campaigns in 16-bit history.

They mocked a lot of famous fighting games
They mocked a lot of famous fighting games
Shots fired!
Shots fired!

One of my fondest memories came in the Fall of 1993 when I stayed home from school due to being sick. I remember just hanging out in my room, playing a demo song on a Casio keyboard a relative recently gifted me and gawking at that Clay Fighter ad above and flipping through the preview. There’s nothing like looking at a few blurry screenshots and letting your imagination run wild. The possibilities were endless and more often than not, your imagination made the game way better than the actual end product. Still, it was all part of the fun of gaming back in those days.

Huge 2 page blow out ads introduced us to the fighters
Huge 2 page blow out ads introduced us to the fighters

Filled with puns galore, I couldn’t help but love it.

They really made the characters feel special
They really made the characters feel special
Just a sign of the times
I even submitted my own #1 reason why!
They even went after my precious World Heroes
They even went after my precious World Heroes
Nobody was safe!
Nobody was safe
Damn, Tiny even took M. Bison's cap. NO MERCY!
Damn, Tiny even took M. Bison’s cap. NO MERCY!

THE CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT NEVER WAS

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December 1993. One fateful evening my cousin called me asking what I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t hesitate to tell her all about Clay Fighter. By the end of the phone call I was assured that Clay Fighter would be mine come Christmas morning. Alas, for whatever reason, it wasn’t meant to be. My cousin got me something else (I can’t even recall what she got me). My Clay Fighter dream went up in smoke. POOF.

THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS 1993
~RENTAL REDEMPTION~

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Noting my abundantly obvious disappointment the night prior, my old man decided to take me to The Wherehouse to rent Clay Fighter as a consolation prize. I wanted to buy it instead, but I happily settled on renting it. I remember running to the game section, seeing the box on the shelf and taking it down from its resting place nestled up top. I admired the front cover and couldn’t get enough of how cool I thought it looked. Bad Mr. Frosty coming right at ‘chu as Tiny stretches poor Taffy (oh the irony). It fit in perfectly with the times we were living in… that whole attitude era of the early-mid ’90s.

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I then flipped it over where I must have stood there for 5 minutes reading over the back cover and being completely convinced that Clay Fighter would only be a tier below Street Fighter II, in terms of gameplay.

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I love how 16 MEGS was considered a big deal back in 1993. I miss when meg count was a thing and people got hyped partially because a game contained a certain amount of megs. There was something charming to that. Even though we knew game quality wasn’t based on a game’s given meg count, it always served as fun playground chatter with your friends. It brings back memories of the Neo Geo and their fighting games containing 100+ MEGS, as well as the 16-bit console war. Wait, Super Street Fighter II on the SNES only has 32 MEGS while the Genesis copy boasts 40 MEGS?! Good times.

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I got a kick too out of the humongous 1 OR 2 PLAYERS graphic. It just added a certain pizzazz to the back of the box and it’s been burned into my memory bank. I can still see that giant logo in my mind to this day. The whole package just hit all the right notes. I handed the game off to my dad who then walked to the counter to make the magic happen. I was only a 5 minute car ride away from finally experiencing Clay Fighter.

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On the ride home I admired the beautiful color instruction manual. The artwork was pretty banging, and I studied that little booklet for all it was worth. That was part of the fun of renting video games back in the ’90s: combing over the instruction manual on the way home.

I was convinced Clay Fighter was going to be ace
I was convinced Clay Fighter was going to be ace
Great humor
Stop — HAMMER TIME!
Great humor and creativity
Great humor and creativity

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I remember being a little worried when I got to the character bios. They looked great and I loved the detailed description of their special moves but one thing greatly bothered me. At a glance, it seemed as though you had to press all three punch buttons to do projectile-based attacks. I thought to myself “Please don’t let this be” and “Damn what a terrible decision if so.” Thankfully, it turned out not to be the case. The colored buttons there simply depict either of those buttons would suffice.

The coolest Ryu type clone in fighting game history
The coolest Ryu clone in fighting game history

THE DISAPPOINTMENT

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After popping the game in for the very first time, it took me less than 5 minutes to realize Clay Fighter was a bit of a dud. A dud in the sense that it came nowhere NEAR my level of expectation. It wasn’t unplayable, but it wasn’t very good. I remember thinking thank God I didn’t waste one of my few precious video game buys on this. Thankfully I rented it instead and picked out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters to buy the following week. COWABUNGA!

Thank God I bought this instead
Thank God I bought this instead

THE GAME

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The lit bomb acting as a timer was creative. I liked that it wasn’t just another typical countdown from 99 seconds as was the case for most fighting games back then.

I love when companies cross over their games. Those little critters come courtesy of Claymates
I love when companies cross over their games!
Those little critters come courtesy of Claymates

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Once a mild mannered snowman, this devious spawn of winter lives for the icy cold of the far north. The good manners of snowmen no longer mean anything to Bad Mr. Frosty. He believes in the cold of winter and little else. He lives to see an eternal winter, where the snow never melts; and enjoys sharing his keen weather sense with all those around him.

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This malleable clay fighter really goes for the clay. Once a simple glob of salt water taffy, he has been transformed into a mean spirited ball of solid sugar. Emerging from the sugary goo which spawned him, Taffy took an oath, “The Circus will be mine, and every clay fighter will require new fillings when I get there.” Taffy’s stretchable body allows him to make long range attacks. These moves can surprise opponents who believe they are out of his reach.

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The buffest of the clay fighters, Tiny works out whenever he isn’t pounding the clay out of the other players. A member of the WCWA (World Clay Wrestling Association), he truly loves to wrestle and fight. He is not very bright, so he relies on his massive strength to win. He is proud of his physique and will smash anyone who laughs at him.

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Once the meteor was done mutating the clay fighters into their present forms, there were bucket fulls of radioactive clay left over. Not wanting to be thrown away like common garbage, the clay rolled itself into one elastic mass. The ball of clay developed intelligence quite quickly and named itself Blob. Studying goojitsu, Blob has become a force to be reckoned with among the clay fighters.

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The radioactive clay meteor has given this middle aged circus freak delusions of grandeur. Once a respected member of the circus, his great arrogance has turned the rest of the world against him. Believing that he is the king of rock and roll, he croons to the masses from his porcelain throne; sickening many and scarring the rest. Taking time off from his busy movie career, he has joined in the fight to control the circus. When not doing battle he focuses much of his time on his hair. To him there is nothing cooler than his groovy doo.

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Every circus has its share of ghost stories; the lion handler who didn’t train his cats enough, or the clown who never came out of the little car. The coming of the clay meteor brought one of these haunts back from the ethereal plane and gave him substance. The circus ghost, Ickybod Clay, has come to rule the circus for those who are halfway between our world and the next. While existing in our world, Ickybod Clay is able to tap the ethereal plane for power.

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From the far north, this Viking woman has earned the title of Valkyrie from her people. She is looking for another arena in which to compete and is planning to take control of the circus. With her Viking heritage has come special powers from the gods. Thor and Odin have granted her abilities no other clay fighter could even hope of mastering. Many of these abilities are to offset her one vice; eating. She lives to eat, and often has a hard time breaking away from a clay salad sandwich.

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A previous employee of the circus, Bonker was caught sleeping under the Big Top when the meteor landed. Once a friendly clown, Bonker has become as hard as clay. His other motto is to keep them laughing as he pounds them into the ground. This has turned many of his old clown tricks into dangerous attacks. What may have been hilarious to a 4 year old now brings other clay fighters to their knees.

Battle N. Boss at the end. Geddit
Battle N. Boss at the end. Geddit
Crappy text endings
Crappy text endings

HOMECOMING

I remember it like it happened yesterday...
I remember it like it happened yesterday…

January 26, 2006. I just recently got back into all things Super Nintendo. On that fateful Thursday night I decided to revisit the town I grew up in. It marked 10 years since I moved from my childhood home. 10 years. I wanted to swing by the old crib and also check out the Game Crazy hub inside my childhood Hollywood Video, which still stood at the time. Being less than two weeks into my SNES resurrection and having a wish list of over 200 games meant there was a good chance I was going to find at least one game to add to my ever growing collection.

My childhood Hollywood Video, taken January 2006
My childhood Hollywood Video, taken January 2006

Early 2006 was a good time to get back into the SNES scene. Prices had yet to explode and real life stores like Game Crazy (a chain tucked inside Hollywood Video locations) actually carried a decent selection of SNES games. So many times as a kid my dad took me to this very Hollywood Video location and I would spend hours browsing the SNES and horror section. There was nothing like admiring the art work on the front covers and reading the description on the back of the boxes. It’s a shame that kids of today will never know what that feeling is like.

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That evening I bought Art of Fighting, Mortal Kombat II, Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 and got Clay Fighter for free. These games represent the crux of my SNES comeback to a tee; two games I liked playing as a kid and two I always wanted to play but never did. But now I could. Such is the beauty of the hobby. In a lot of ways, retro gaming is the closest thing to a time machine.

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Clay Fighter came free because Game Crazy used to run a Buy 2 Get 1 Free promotion for retro games. Early 2006 was a glorious time to be buying SNES games. I beat the nostalgic train by several years and was able to scoop up all these old titles for bargain basement prices. Great times they were :)

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How fitting it was to get Clay Fighter free on the day of my 10 year anniversary since I moved from my childhood home. With another bag full of old childhood favorites and curiosities, I made a beeline toward my old house. There was no way I was ending this 10 year reunion trip without seeing my old house live in the flesh.

It was more than just a Super Nintendo comeback...
It was more than just a Super Nintendo comeback…

Exiting the premises of Hollywood Video around 6:30, my hometown had been devoured by darkness. As I drove back to my old neighborhood where I grew up, I took full inventory of all the sights, sounds and smells that assaulted my senses. I remember those roads. That old street corner. The little hill where my brother, our friends and I used to play tag and flag football. The smell of the crisp cool night air. The soothing sounds of the grass and leaves swaying gently in the calm of a quiet January evening. It was a little slice of paradise.

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At last I spotted my house. Memories came flooding back like a tidal wave crashing over me. It was an ordinary house, like any other house in America, in a suburban neighborhood just like any other. But it was home. My home. Or at least, it once was, anyhow. Somewhere in the depths of my heart though, it will always be to some degree. I turned off the engine and radio. I sat there for a quiet minute, admiring my house from across the street in the dead still of the night. Has it really been 10 bloody years?! Gawd DAMN.

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I ended up going inside and talking with the lady who now lives there. Crazy shit. It was one of those serendipitous moments. After 10 minutes of being back in my childhood home, I slipped back in my car. I took a quick glance at my new SNES games resting on the passenger seat, turned down the windows, cranked up the radio and put the pedal to the metal. It was one of the best drives of my life.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Clay Fighter earned good to great reviews. It’s one of those weird games that got rated really high at its time of release but such glowing praises have since been rescinded over time. EGM scored it 8, 8, 7 and 7. GameFan gave it ratings of 97, 92, 90 and 90%. Super Play rated it 85% (very high by their strict standards). The reviews at the time cemented in my mind even more that Clay Fighter must have been can’t miss. Sadly, if only that were the case.

Perfect example of GameFan overrating games
Perfect example of GameFan overrating games
Even Super Play gave it a rather glowing review
Even Super Play gave it a rather glowing review
It sold well enough to earn two sequels on the SNES... Well if you count this pseudo sequel Tournament Edition
It sold well enough to earn two sequels on the SNES…
Well, if you count this pseudo sequel Tournament Edition
24 MEGS OF POWER!
24 MEGS OF POWER!

They mocked Capcom with the HYPER tagline and refusal to number up this pseudo sequel. Nice!

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Clay Fighter 2 however was a legitimate sequel featuring a slew of brand new characters (although sadly they did away with many of the original fighters). I like how it played off the title T2: Judgment Day. Even though C2: Judgment Clay was several years late to truly capitalize on this marketing ploy, you gotta give them credit for creativity.

It got rid of Ickybod Clay and Taffy though. BOO!
It got rid of Ickybod Clay and Taffy though. BOO!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I was obsessed with Clay Fighter. From studying the magazine previews to asking my cousin to buy it for me, I certainly have quite the storied history with this game. There’s a ton of nostalgia but when it comes down to it, it’s all about how well a game plays. And I’m sad to say Clay Fighter does not play very well. The characters are way too big for their own good, the physics feel off and the characters have a strange weight to them. It’s kind of hard to explain but it’s one of those things that you immediately recognize the second you play it. In a nutshell, Clay Fighter tries to get by on flash and style, but underneath the fancy coats of paint, there just isn’t much substance. It’s very much a product of its time. There are so many better fighting games you can play on the SNES instead. This one is strictly for collectors and those with nostalgic memories.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not unplayable. Some enjoyment can be had but it’s very lightweight and even if you approach it with the proper mindset, its novelty act grows old fast and you’re left with a mediocre fighting game, at best. Clay Fighter just doesn’t scratch my fighting game itch. Play one of the Street Fighter games or SNK brawlers instead. That said, there will always be a place in my gaming heart for Clay Fighter. It just takes me back to a place and space where a one page colorful ad with a few rinky dink screenshots could blow your mind. Where seeds of hope are harvested and then later realized, or crushed, by reality through renting, borrowing or blind buying. It was all part of the magic back then. So here’s a toast to Clay Fighter, who did more with its 15 minutes of fame than most other average games. Happy Taffy 25 years!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 6

Overall: 6.0

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Power Moves (SNES)

Pub: Kaneko | Dev: System Vision | January 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub: Kaneko | Dev: System Vision | January 1993 | 8 MEGS

Power Moves, believe it or not, turns all of 25 years old this month [said no one ever -Ed.]. Hey! I just said it! [Like I said, said no one ever -Ed.]. Ahem, at any rate, 2018 is a crazy time. A lot of our favorite (and not so favorite) SNES games from 1993 will be turning 25 years old. Power Moves didn’t move the needle at all back then, and it’s a safe bet you won’t be seeing many (er, any) “Happy 25th Anniversary” messages for this game. Nonetheless, it stands as a critical game in my SNES fandom. I have a ton of nostalgic memories tied to this game even if it isn’t any good. Why is that? Well, let’s fire up the DeLorean…

THE YEAR WAS LATE 1992…

My brother was too shy to go rent video games so he would always ship me to do his dirty work. 90% of the time he gave me a specific game to rent. On this particular Saturday morning however, he didn’t have a choice title in mind. It was one of those rare “just rent whatever looks good” weekends.

Bow to the glory of imports
“I’M NOT WORTHY!”

Around this time a hot new rental store called GAME HUNTER burst onto the scene. Game Hunter prided itself on catering to the hardcore. No movies, just video games. You name it, Game Hunter had it. NES, Genesis, SNES, portables and even Neo Geo. But best of all were the imports galore! Walking in seeing a wall plastered by exotic Super Famicom boxes was mind blowing especially back in late 1992. Game Hunter had a HUGE cult following in my area and for damn good reason. They were, simply put, gaming paradise personified.

My very first import experience ever :)
My very first import experience ever :)

Strolling the SNES aisle I was taken aback by the countless rows of boxes on display. It was a visual feast! A game by the name of POWER ATHLETE eventually caught my eye. A Street Fighter II clone, eh? I was sold. Sadly for me, I didn’t realize until I got home that it refused to play on my SNES. My brother snapped at me. Not only did I waste my dad’s money and time, but now we had a game we couldn’t even play for the weekend! I immediately called Game Hunter to explain the situation and they told me about the special adapter that would allow an American SNES console to play Super Famicom imports. Thanks guys — a little warning in advance would have been appreciated! My dad, being a great father, drove me all the way back to rent that damn adapter.

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Some 40 minutes later, all systems were GO. And the rest is history. Power Athlete was my first import experience. My brother’s best friend came over that weekend and he loved the game. I liked it for what it was, and so did my brother. We had fun with it that weekend. It was no Street Fighter II but it has a cheesy charm to it. Now granted, I think we all knew it wasn’t good per se, but we still enjoyed our time with it. After all, kids have a funny way of making the most out of any given situation.

Nothing like playing a game months before it hits the US
Nothing like playing a game months before it hits the US

***13 YEARS LATER: JANUARY 2006***

Saturday night fever? Psst, I had SNES fever!
Saturday night fever? Psst, I had SNES fever!

During my winter break of December 2005-January 2006, I developed a nagging feeling I could no longer ignore: it’s time to get back into the SNES. On January 17, 2006, I logged on eBay to search SNES. The first auction ending (in 38 seconds) was none other than Power Moves. What were the odds? It was fate. How fitting, too, that my first import rental ever would become the first game purchase of my SNES comeback.

Of these 51 games, which one to play first?
Of these 51 games, which one to play first?

By the time the SNES came on January 30 I already had 51 games in my possession. Can you guess the first game I chose to play? Of course… POWER MOVES.

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Seeing the old sights and sounds for the first time in 13 years was rather surreal. A lot I’d remembered precisely like certain stages, special moves and the cheesy fighters. It was quite the neat little trip down memory lane of a bygone era.

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The graphics brought a smile to my face. They’re decent in some places while lacking in others, all while having a semi-nice (nostalgic) look to it all — if that makes any sense. The images of Warren and Baraki’s stages were burned into my retina 13 years ago. Warren’s stage features a big raft sailing across a ocean. Floating high in the air in the background is a blatant and shameless KANEKO blimp. Sure, it may look largely unappealing today, but back in late 1992 it was quite a sight.

"FIRE!"
“FIRE!”

Baraki’s stage, located in the exotic outreaches of Kenya, sees the fight taking place on soiled ground full of foliage. Littering the background quite nicely are a pair of huge dinosaur remains. A small river flowing about can be seen beyond all this. 13 years later, it still looked pretty damn cool to me at least.

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Each character has two special moves. These are executed by holding punch and kick, and tapping forward or back then forward, etc. Control could have been better. They can be somewhat difficult to pull off in the heat of battle at times. Sound and music is generic but passable.

Meet Average Middle of the Road Joe
Hey look, it’s Average Joe

The 1 Player mode only allows you to control Joe. You must build up stats in various categories as you progress through the ranks. It’s an interesting idea in theory but not so in execution. It’s a shame too that you can’t pick from any of the eight fighters in this mode. Only the 2 Player mode allows you full access.

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The combo system is very basic and simple. It’s nothing special, although it does feel sweet to jump kick someone deep followed by connecting a hard punch straight to the jaw. Like I said, there’s sort of a weird nostalgic charm to this game. Let’s meet the characters now.

POWER ATHLETES

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Meet Joe [Black -Ed.]. You better get used to liking him because he’s the only fighter you can control in the 1 player mode. One of the most generic and forgettable Ryu clones of the early-mid ’90s, Joe is obsessed with being the best in the world. Hmmm, where have I heard that before…

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Hadoken? No, meet the Ken-Do-Ha! That’s not its official name of course; I just like to think of it as such. To Joe’s credit, his Dragon Punch is pretty cool and looks different from most other Dragon Punch variants. The Rising Dragon Palm is Joe’s ticket to victory.

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Baraki is what you’d get if Blanka and Baraka had a love child. This savage beast hails from Kenya so he’s near and dear to my heart (see my Kenya adventures for more). Baraki’s stage is quietly underrated. The huge dinosaur bones littered about and the quaint little river flowing in the background blew my mind when I first saw it 25 years ago in December of 1992.

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“FIRE!” shouts the savage each time you unleash his Sonic Boom-like fireball. Not creative, but cheesy and charming in its own weird Power Moves way. He also rolls up in a ball and launches himself at opponents with no regard for human life. A goofy Blanka clone with a fireball? Yes, please.

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I remember calling Warren “The Old Muscle Man” as a kid.  He’s got one of the creepiest looking portraits I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. Imagine running into Warren down a dark alley. No thank you!

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Warren is a dangerous and capable adversary in spite of his goofy looking ass. The Hawaiian brute is deceptively agile and quick.

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Hey look, it’s Discount Chun-Li! Reayon is your standard token female fighter. Nothing about her really stands out — she’s pretty forgettable. I couldn’t even remember her name until I went to write this review. Considering my memory, that’s saying a lot

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Shades of Sonya Blade!

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Kabuki fighters weren’t too uncommon in fighting games back then. Kyoshiro from Samurai Shodown is probably the most famous one, but Buoh came out about seven months prior. He’s nowhere as interesting, though.

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Teleport and use Buoh’s long hair to your advantage. Battles take place in front of a Japanese shrine complete with a Torii gate.

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Shades of Neo Geegus from World Heroes, anyone? This mutant is the strongest fighter in the tournament.

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Vagnad is the king of the double attack. This includes a double piledriver and a double rushing punch. Combatants duke it out on a roaring train. The scrolling was rather impressive for its time to a nine year old kid, anyhow. Dreary as hell, which suits the character perfectly.

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An elite athlete, Nick spent years honing his craft. He tried to channel all his inner energy to unleash a fireball but he could never muster enough chi. Fed up, one day he realized, “Shit, I could just use daggers.” And the rest is history.

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Flamboyant and graceful, Nick uses his breakdancing skills and deadly daggers to inflict barrels of pain unto his opponent. His stage is reminiscent of Rolento’s from Final Fight. Nice looking sunset!

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China, known for its savage warriors, has produced Gaoluon — Master of the Bladed Tonfas.

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Gaoluon’s deadly tonfas act like boomerangs and has the ability to hit you twice. He also does one hell of a Flash Kick impersonation.

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After defeating all seven opponents, you face off with the big bad bruiser known only as Ranker.

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Ranker isn’t exactly top tier M. Bison Geese Howard Wolfgang Krauser level but hey, it’s Power Moves. In its own weird little universe, he’s not the worst final boss I’ve ever seen.

BONUS ROUNDS

Piece of cake
Piece of cake
Not so much this one, though
Not so much this one, though

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Not exactly champion...
Not exactly champion…

GameFan, notorious for doling out generously high review scores, gave this game ratings of 80, 85, 87, 90 and 90%. Pretty safe to say they would admit in hindsight that those scores were way too high. Power Moves is often considered a poor fighting game. Coming out roughly half a year after the amazing SNES port of Street Fighter II didn’t do it any favors, either. It would have fared better had it been released a year earlier in January of 1992. Power Moves felt like a massive step down by early 1993. Super Play, ever the reliable voice of reason especially when contrasted to GameFan, rated it 49%.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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I always say when it comes to the SNES that nostalgia is a nice added bonus, but there has to be more to a game than just nostalgia. After all, that will only take one so far. The game still has to be fun to play. Unfortunately, Power Moves falls flat in that department. It isn’t your typical single plane fighting game. Imagine a beat ‘em up playing field, shrink that down and you get Power Moves. This means that pressing up moves your character up instead of jumping. Pressing down moves them down; fighters cannot duck. To jump you must press a button. Thankfully, blocking is still holding back on the D-Pad. While the freedom of movement is certainly unique — it’s easy to avoid fireballs and attacks — this engine sadly doesn’t make for a good 2D fighting game. It’s even more baffling when blocking special moves doesn’t inflict any harm whatsoever. It takes away from the gimmick of the more open ended playing field. Dubious decisions all around plague what could have been a semi-decent fighting game.

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To make matters worse, players can only control (Average) Joe in the 1 player mode. You can only use the seven other fighters when playing against a friend. So whatever limited replay value there was to begin with has been slashed even further. Surely there must be some sort of code? Nope. Not that it would have helped much, but hey, it can’t hurt to have more choices. Speaking of bad, special moves are awkward to implement. If there’s one thing a fighting game absolutely cannot suffer from, it’s bad controls.

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Still, there’s a part of me that will always appreciate what this game means personally to me. It was my very first taste of import gaming at a time when the word “import” still meant something very sacred and special. Nowadays with the internet and everything, gamers can play and buy imports at the drop of a hat. But things were a little lot different 25 years ago in late 1992. Imports back then carried a certain high level of mystique. They were exotic and almost mythical, even. I’ll never forget that weekend I rented Power Athlete in December of 1992, and the stupid fun my brother, our friends and I had with it. In addition, Power Moves became the first SNES game I bought during my SNES comeback 12 years ago in January of 2006. It also marks the first SNES game I reviewed exactly 11 years ago on my original RVGFanatic website. While the game itself borders on being bad (although not entirely unplayable), the rich history it has in my gaming fandom cannot be understated. As such, Power Moves will always have a spot in my gaming heart.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 4.5
Gameplay: 4
Longevity: 4

Overall: 4.0

Fighter’s History (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Data East | August 1994 | 20 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Data East | August 1994 | 20 MEGS

Today marks the first day of August. Can you believe we’re already more than halfway through 2017? Time seems to fly the older you get. Speaking of time, I remember a time when fighting games ruled the scene. Some like to refer to that period as “The Fighting Game Golden Age.” Capcom’s Street Fighter II took the nation by storm in 1991 and a slew of copycats came out of the woodwork in the next several years to come. Everyone was kung fu fighting and seemingly every company wanted a piece of the pie. Hell, even Konami had their own representatives (Martial Champion and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters). Data East joined the fray with their release of Fighter’s History in March of 1993. And it turned out to be one of the most infamous Street Fighter II clones of all time. Capcom even tried to sue Data East for copyright infringement. But more on that later. When I think of Fighter’s History, what I remember most was that very special time in my life. Being that today is the first of August, that means it’s been 23 years since Fighter’s History came home on the SNES. Damn, were the ’90s a special time…

A GOLDEN AGE

What a time to be alive
What a time to be alive

I caught the fighting game boom at just the right time, having been born in 1983. By the time the early ’90s rolled around and leading up to the mid ’90s, I was old enough to appreciate it yet still young enough to take it all in with a sense of wonder that only comes with being seven to 11 years old.

Remember when arcades were THE place to be?
Remember when arcades were THE place to be?

The arcade scene was on fire in 1993, the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis waged war for 16-bit supremacy, and I was just a carefree kid enjoying the tail end of my childhood. Duties included going to school everyday, getting good grades, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and of course, playing a crap load of video games.

Power Instinct (Atlus, 1993)
Power Instinct (Atlus, 1993)

In my book, 1993 (along with ’94) marked the peak of the 2D fighting game in terms of clones appearing left and right. It seemed as if a new fighting game popped up every other week in those days. From Atlus’ Power Instinct to Konami’s Martial Champion, every company and their brothers, or so it seemed, threw their name into the mix hoping to strike the next big thing. Of course, like any other genre, not all of these clones were great. And very few could even sniff the jock of Street Fighter II, much less its enhanced sequels. Still, some served as amusing diversions.

Martial Champion (Konami, 1993)
Martial Champion (Konami, 1993)

But not everyone was happy about it. Although a lot of people loved fighting games in those days, not everyone was a fan. To these folks it was hardly a golden age. The market became saturated seemingly overnight. From arcades to game stores to magazine covers — you name it — a fighting game was probably there. Luckily for me, it was my favorite genre. I greeted every new fighting game with arms wide open. And I’ll never forget that day I first came across Fighter’s History

CYBERSTATION was my jam back in the early-mid '90s
CYBERSTATION was my jam back in the early-mid ’90s

If you were lucky like I was, then growing up you had a close-knit gaming group. I had my best friend Nelson and all, but then I had my boys — an out of town group of family friends whom I grew up playing games with. We had sleepovers every month back in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. One Saturday in early 1993, we made our usual trek to the local mall and headed straight for the arcade hall on the upstairs wing. I’ll never forget that place, CYBERSTATION.

The colorful cab hooked me from day one
The moment I saw this it was hook, line and sinker

A brand new cab caught my eye with its colorful and cheesy art work proudly adorning all sides of the machine. It was love at first sight you could say. Like a moth to a flame, I dashed to the game, fumbled around in my pocket, fished out a quarter and plopped it in. The rest is (Fighter’s) history!

Wait, is that Karnov?! Yes, it is :)
Wait, is that Karnov?! Yes, it is :)

Looking up at the colorful marquee, I saw what resembled Guile on crack, Ken and He-Man’s love child, Zangief’s second cousin (neverminding the fact that Data East’s version is Italian) and wait, was that? Yes! The fat bald Russian himself, Karnov! My uncle bought Karnov for me on the NES back in the late ’80s and I loved it.

Karnov (Data East, 1988)
Karnov (Data East, 1988)

I was instantly sold. I selected discount Guile (Matlok) and never looked back. The ONLY thing I could think about the rest of that day was… not IF but WHEN would Fighter’s History come home to the Super Nintendo…

EGM MADNESS

EGM's annual April Fools joke (April '94, #57)
EGM’s annual April Fools edition (issue #57, April ’94)

Roughly a year later, my prayers were answered. In March 1994, EGM’s issue #57 arrived in the mail, featuring Fighter’s History on the cover. I was so excited as I knew that had to be referring to an impending SNES release. The moment I had been waiting an entire year for! I flipped through the magazine excitedly hoping for a blow-out two page preview or something. But all I got was a half page preview of the import version with a few grainy shots. But I didn’t care — I was too happy to finally receive confirmation of a home release.

Like seeing a big box under the Christmas tree!
Like seeing a big box under the Christmas tree!

EGM issue #58 came in the mail the very next month. Back in the day this was TRULY like seeing a gift with your name on it tucked under the Christmas tree. We had no internet back then so EGM (and other magazines like GameFan) were our major source for gaming news and upcoming releases. It was a magical time of seeing so many games that you knew you could never all play but wanted to anyway. Yup, there was nothing quite like seeing the latest EGM issue wrapped all pretty and ready to go sitting in your mailbox after a long day at school!

Another Fighter's History tease! Be still my heart...
Another Fighter’s History tease! Be still my heart…

I’ll never forget grabbing the issue like it were a drop of water in the Sahara Desert and making a beeline straight for my bedroom. Before tearing the wrapper, I took a moment to gawk at the front cover. The fighting game rage carried into 1994 without blinking an eye and EGM was there every step of the way. What a gorgeous cover! Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat II… whoa wait a second. Fighter’s History?! YES! The month prior saw a half-page preview so I was expecting a BLOW-OUT special. It turned out to be an AMAZING two page mini-feature with a blurb that the SNES port would be coming out later that summer. I was so hyped that I admired and reread those two pages until my brother came home about 10 minutes later. I didn’t even bother to glance over the rest of the magazine! It was only a matter of three or four months now…

FHEGMGuide1

I was in Heaven studying this page for 10 minutes
I was in heaven studying this page for 10 minutes
Fighter's History held its own against the big boys!
Fighter’s History held its own against the big boys!
What a glorious day that Saturday in June of 1994
What a glorious day that Saturday in June of 1994 :)

The North American version was set for an August 1994 release, but as Lady Luck would have it, my best friend Nelson and I came across the import Super Famicom version one fateful Saturday in June. I’ve told this story many times already so feel free to check out The Summer of Imports for more details. But yes, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a blurb about that awesome experience in this Fighter’s History review. Nelson rented Fighter’s History and I rented King of the Monsters 2. These games weren’t out in America yet and needless to say, it was one epic weekend for the ages.

Featured also in Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman
Featured also in Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman
There IS a God
There IS a God

THE STORY GOES…

FHIntro8

Leaving the gym after a strenuous workout, you spot a towering and sharply dressed man stepping out of a nearby parked luxury Sedan. His stoic expression and formal attire conveys that he is all business. You brace yourself as he lurches up to you, handing you a small sealed envelope. His only words as you grasp the note, “For you.” Then the mysterious man left as quickly as he came. The tires screeched as he peeled out of town as fast as a bat in hell.

There’s a strange scent to the envelope — incense? Your name is scrawled on the outside. Inside, you discover an invitation…

FHIntro9

Who is this mysterious K person? What are these so-called untold treasures? There’s only one way to find out for sure…

FHIntro5

FHIntro6

FHIntro7

THE FIGHTERS

That's not Ken and Ryu...
That’s not Ken and Ryu…

Fighter’s History featured an odd nine characters. Back in ’93, most fighting games opened with eight fighters. I always found it cool how Data East “sneaked in” one extra fighter. The cast had its share of “serious” fighters and more wacky looking ones. The roster instantly appealed to me.

A boss code ups the count to 11
A boss code ups the count to 11

It was all the rage back in the day for home ports to include a boss code. Most arcade fighting games didn’t let you control the bosses back in the early-mid ’90s but many home ports did. It was one of the cool things that made these home ports so memorable.

OMG, 20 fighters! Not really...
OMG, 20 fighters! Not really…

The 2 Player mode displays 20 portraits. This always cracked me up as a kid. It was a fun visual, giving you a sense of what a fighting game would look like if you could pick from 20 characters back in 1994. It was just another one of many quirks that inhabited Fighter’s History.

Let's meet the wacky cast
Let’s meet the wacky cast

FH3MIZOGUCHI
27 years old
6’2″ 209 lbs

A survivor on the streets of Tokyo for years, Mizoguchi learned the importance of self-defense after being beaten by the Yakuza as a youth. Ever since that life-changing day, he has been rigorously training to ensure that it never happens again. What started out as a means for mere survival slowly morphed into a thirst for painful vengeance. Finally, that vengeance evolved into honing his incredibly disciplined and unadulterated power. The Yakuza, having seen one too many Taken and John Wick movies, now stay the f*ck away from him.

FH4

Mizoguchi fine tunes his body, mind and spirit on this bridge of tranquility. A peaceful (yet raging) waterfall flows on both sides of the stage. Tassels flap as a cool breeze passes through. The sun is just breaking over the horizon as Mizoguchi continues his quest to be the very best.

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Mizoguchi is the resident Ryu. Except he doesn’t have a traditional Dragon Punch. Instead, he charges with his elbow. His Hurricane Kick variant can connect multiple times, dishing out tremendous damage. Love the way you can break objects in the background! A nod to Street Fighter II, for sure. Mizoguchi channels the power of the tiger spirit to unleash his infamous Tiger Bazooka. Word on the street is… he wiped out five Yakuza members with a single Tiger Bazooka blow. Ever since then, the Yakuza have spoke only in hushed tones whenever talking about him. He’s become something of a “boogeyman” to them…

FH6RAY
26 years old
6’1″ 198 lbs

Ray began studying martial arts as a young boy after being inspired by his childhood hero, the legendary Chuck Norris. When Ray was five, he witnessed his idol’s crushing on-screen defeat at the hands of the iconic Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon (1972). Ever since then, Ray has vowed to one day become the greatest martial artist the world has ever seen. He’s now considered as one of the best fighters at just 26 years old and spends his days traveling the globe in search of true competition. Ray entered this mysterious tournament after hearing the rumors about an unstoppable boogeyman that supposedly even the Yakuza fears…

FH7

Ever the patriotic lad, Ray McDougal likes to entertain the Commander in Chief by showing off his skills in front of the iconic White House in Washington, D.C.

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Looks like Ken but plays like Terry Bogard. Ray’s Big Tornado is infamous for sounding more like “BAKED POTATO!” His Wheel Kick is a decent anti-air attack and his Dynamite Tackle makes good use out of Ray’s high school varsity football background.

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Speaking of background, it’s fun breaking the trash can :)

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Wrestling legend Jake “The Snake” Roberts would be proud. A multi-sport athlete in high school, Ray shows off his wrestling chops with this deadly mid-air DDT.

"Oh shit I think I killed him..."
“Oh shit I think I killed him…”

FH11FEI-LIN
28 years old
5’7″ ??? lbs

Adored by her fans in Asia and renowned the world over for her fighting prowess, Fei-Lin is the top actress in a Beijing traveling show. It’s a wonder how she manages to juggle the two worlds so well. It’s one thing to be good at both simultaneously but it’s another thing to be GREAT. After winning the tournament, she plans to tape her very own reality show “I LOVE BEIJING” (Beijing being her stage name). After all, we all know what a success “I Love New York” turned out to be. Ahem. What a talent and what a classy (albeit dramatic) lady, that Fei-Lin.

FH12

Fei-Lin proudly shows off her heritage. Sitting in the back there is the kid star from Martin Scorsese’s KUNDUN. Fei-Lin attracts all the stars. Rumor has it Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee are both sitting just off camera.

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Beware her Mantis Claw, which can also be executed in mid-air. What happens when you combine Ryu’s Dragon Punch with Guile’s Flash Kick? You get Fei-Lin’s Double Swan. I love the detail of the dragon statue being breakable. Fun fact: the dragon is known as a “Foo Dog” in Chinese mythology.

FH14RYOKO
16 years old
5’2″ 123 lbs

The smallest and youngest competitor in the tournament, Ryoko is a Judo prodigy not to be taken lightly. She’s been known to throw men four times her size! A chippy firecracker, her grandfather (a Judo champion in his heyday) began teaching her the tricks of the trade since she was just three years old. As a result of his diligent teaching and her incredible propensity to soak up knowledge like a sponge, Ryoko has achieved master status of all things Judo. She joined the tournament to be an inspiration to little girls all over the globe and to show that the ladies can do it just as well as the boys, if not better.

FH15

This is where Ryoko trains 24/7. A young boy and an old woman can be seen sweeping and cleaning in the background. Occasionally, a mischievous cat scurries about.

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Jumping against Ryoko is ill-advised…

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Staying grounded doesn’t provide much safe harbor, either. Pick your poison! Ryoko is rather animated with her silly cute gestures and all.

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Rolling attack into her big Mountain Storm slam is incredibly damaging. Breaking the statue only adds insult to injury.

FH19JEAN
23 years old
6’0″ 209 lbs

A French gymnast, Jean possesses fantastic flexibility. For some unknown reason, he seems borderline obsessed with roses. In fact, he even moonlights as a proud florist during his down time. Because of his gymnastic background and penchant for roses, many haters have called him SISSY BOY. They laughed… until he broke their jaws. When it comes down to it, Jean knows how to get the job done and proves that you should never judge a book by its cover. By the way, if you’re thinking he looks like a French version of Guile, you’re not alone. That was exactly my first thought when I first saw Jean back in 1993. He’s nowhere as cool, though. But hey, who is?

FH20

The tables have been cleared, transforming this elegant dining hall into a vicious battle field.

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Normally, a rose is a romantic symbol. It’s associated with love, peace and forgiveness. But for Jean, he uses the rose to inflict pain. His Needle Shower can pepper the opposition and he’s agile enough to move forward while executing the move.

Hmm, where have I seen this before?
Hmm, where have I seen this before?
... oh yeah
… oh yeah

FH23

Have you no shame, Data East?!
Have you NO shame, Data East?!

FH24SAMCHAY
21 years old
6’3″ 168 lbs

There is only one thing Samchay loves more than the spirit of competition: his two younger brothers and little sister. Samchay’s parents are no longer in the picture so he’s been forced to take care of his three younger siblings. He’ll do anything to take care of them. A Muay Thai expert, he’s entered the tournament in hopes of not only proving that he’s the best, but also to win the “untold treasures” to ensure a future of endless possibilities for his siblings. What a guy. As for his parents, rumors swirl about where they could be or what happened to them. One thing is for sure, it must not be good. Samchay declines to comment and instead focuses only on what lies ahead.

FH25

There’s just something beautiful about the simplicity of this stage. It’s exactly what I imagine a fighting game background to look like. Samchay’s supporters cheer him on from a safe distance in this quaint Thailand village. It’s standing room only up on that bridge!

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Samchay has one of the fastest fireballs as well as one of the best recovery times. His lunging knee can connect up to two times, and his Tiger Knee, I mean, Ti Kau Koon, works well as either an anti-air deterrent or a combo capper.

FH27LEE
29 years old
5’9″ 165 lbs

Lee comes from a long family line of world renowned martial artists. He admired his father growing up and often compared himself to his dad. He put a lot of undue pressure on himself to live up to even half of his dad’s legacy. Unfortunately, Lee’s father was killed by a mysterious opponent. After hearing word that this killer is responsible for the tournament, Lee entered it in hopes of avenging his dad’s death at long last. But before Lee can make it to this mysterious organizer, he’s going to have to beat nine other skilled warriors. He believes he’s up to the task.

FH28

So peaceful and serene. This is one of my favorite stages of all time. A fisherman can be seen in the background dipping his line lazily in the water. The clouds high above float through the moss-covered hills in the distance. And those damn ducks — you can’t help but love them.

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Along the lines of Ray’s “BAKED POTATO!”, Lee sounds like he’s screaming “SHE AIN’T GON DIE!” Ah, Fighter’s History, you’re such a silly game. Lee’s Silk Worm Kick knocks opponents out of the air and his Piercing Dagger sees him lunging with all of his chi focused on his fist.

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Nothing like palm striking them through the sign!

FH30MARSTORIUS
45 years old
6’8″ 331 lbs

Father Time is undefeated. It happens to all the greats. Willie Mays. Michael Jordan. Joe Montana. Every star athlete hits a point where their best days are behind them and they must call it a career. Marstorius isn’t quite ready for that moment just yet. A fading pro wrestling icon, Marstorius wants to bask in the spotlight one more time. There’s no better platform to showcase he’s still got it than in this great tournament. He is the strongest fighter in the competition but also the oldest and slowest. He’s got a tough road ahead but his dreaded Double German is the most powerful move in the entire tournament. He hopes it’ll be enough to take him to the top one last time…

FH31

Another favorite of mine, this stage is as serene as it is majestic. Striking statues dot the backdrop and a quaint water fountain flows peacefully as combatants duel to the death.

Fontana di Trevi

Based off the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, I’ve always loved it when fighting games base some of their backgrounds off real life landmarks. Another example that comes to mind is Fei Long’s Tiger Balm Garden of Hong Kong fame in Super Street Fighter II.

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Despite his larger size and older age, Marstorius still has enough spring in his step to deliver two quick striking attacks: the Mule Kick and the Tiger Punch. He can also deliver an impressive Moonsault Press. Not bad for a 45 year old, eh?

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“DOUBLE GERMAN!” He hopes this devastating maneuver will punch his ticket to the Promise Land.

And who says pro wrestling is fake?
And who says pro wrestling is fake?

FH35MATLOK
26 years old
5’8″ 132 lbs

The man, the myth, the legend. Matlok was the first character I chose on that fateful Saturday back in ’93 when I first encountered Fighter’s History. He reminded me of a cross between Guile (Street Fighter II) and Duck King (Fatal Fury). Sold! Based off the Sex Pistols’ bass guitarist, Glen Matlock, Matlok is an aspiring rock star. But in order for him to rock out, first he must simply knock out. His unorthodox offense and unusual body movements are done purposefully in an attempt to throw off his opponent. Matlok hopes to win it all because there is supposedly a legendary bass that will play any song in the world hidden in the treasure vault.

FH36

I love that Matlok fights in the streets. A police officer tries to stop the carnage by blowing his whistle. A punk cheers on the mayhem while a man quietly walks his dog for a mid-afternoon stroll. A mom and pop book shop can be seen in the background overlooking the fighters.

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Matlok’s Spinning Wave to me is a classic projectile. I remember thinking how it was almost as cool as Guile’s famed Sonic Boom. His Overhead Kick is a weird looking version of Guile’s Flash Kick. Even weirder is his Hurricane Kick, which might be the world’s worst anti-air attack. You’re better off using his crouching Fierce. Trust me on that one.

FH38CLOWN
32 years old
5’9″ 141 lbs

Clown is the sub boss you’ll fight before taking on the almighty Karnov. You can knock off his mask (it’s his weak point) but be forewarned… his face is the stuff nightmares are made of. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the world’s ugliest looking dog. That’s what Clown looks like underneath his creepy mask. Clown, of course, believes he’s beautiful. Rumor has it he wears the suit and clown get-up 24/7. It’s a wonder how he’s not sitting in some nuthouse with four white walls yet! He’s also a narcissist and “ambiguously” homosexual. In the original Japanese version, it’s revealed that he prefers younger men. This was removed in North America.

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Fighters are secretly transported to this bizarre dreamlike alternate universe that exists somewhere between Heaven and Hell. It’s all part of his strategy to psych you out before the battle even takes place.

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Clown uses his acrobatic agility to pounce on unsuspecting opponents. You know how every Tarot deck of cards has that one “death” card? That’s the only kind Clown dishes out as he screams, “PICK A CARD!” His Spin Attack can go horizontal or vertical. Shades of Blanka, except Blanka is easier on the eyes!

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Clowns juggle. It’s just what they do. Clown, however, prefers to juggle the human body. A real sick bastard, that Clown.

FH42KARNOV
49 years old
5’6″ 216 lbs

The mysterious K himself… the mighty Karnov! Karnov appeared in several other Data East games before Fighter’s History. In fact, he had his very own arcade game that was later translated to the NES in early 1988. The fire-breathing, ass-kicking Russian has gained great power and many collectible items throughout his travels. Bored, he set up this tournament to seek the strongest of the strong, offering his prized treasures as a gift to the ultimate winner. However, it won’t be easy. Though he may be pushing 50, Karnov is a formidable fighter and will burn you before you can say “BAKED POTATO!”

FH43

They say a desert drives a man insane. If it doesn’t, then Karnov is sure to beat you senseless.

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Karnov has never once skipped Leg Day, and it shows with his 100 Kick. A master of conjuring fire, he can burn you to a crisp three different ways. The fiery animation is decent and reminds me of Street Fighter II.

Remember this?
Remember this?
Good memories
Good memories
There was even a Tiger handheld!
There was even a Tiger handheld!
I got this instead, though. D'oh!
I got this instead, though. D’oh!

ENDINGS

Some of the endings were forgettable but others were so bizarre that I gotta share… (some of which may have been handled with “liberties” taken… ahem)

RAY

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Why cant we be friends?
Why can’t we be friends?

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MIZOGUCHI

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You know, from BLOODY Akira!
“You know, from BLOODY Akira!”

MATLOK

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SAMCHAY

It is I, your older brother! Ah, forget it...
“It is I, your older brother! Ah, forget it…”

RYOKO

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Fighter’s History came out in the arcades March 1993. World Heroes 2 April 1993. Separated by only one month, it turned out both companies created a fighter based off Ryoko Tani. What a coincidence, huh?

FH60

FEI-LIN

Hit so many times she thought she was Chun-Li...
Hit so many times she thought she was Chun-Li…

LEE

FH62

Oi, what an embarrassing misunderstanding!
Oi, what an embarrassing misunderstanding!

THAT HITS THE MARK

FH64

Each fighter has a different weak spot (either a garment or accessory). When hit multiple times, said article will fly off and induce a state of dizziness.

Clown: Mask
Jean: Leg strap
Lee: Knee pads
Karnov: Turban
Ryoko: Headband
Matlok: Sunglasses
Fei-Lin: Breast plate
Mizoguchi: Headband
Samchay: Arm tassels
Ray: Lightning symbol
Marstorius: Leg warmers

[Damnit... -Ed.]
[Damnit… -Ed.]

ANOTHER DISTINCTION?

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You forgot me! [Yeah, I meant to... -Ed.]
You forgot me! [Yeah, there’s a reason why I did.. -Ed.]

BE YOUR OWN BOSS

FH67

COLOR ME BADD

Each character has four different colors
Each character has four different colors
Nice home bonus, Data East :)
Nice home bonus, Data East :)

RANDOM SHOTS

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FH69

Jean didnt know Marstorius  was into flashing
Jean didn’t know Marstorius was into flashing
Big! Beefy!
Big! Beefy!
Why do I feel so weird?
Can’t help it…
Heres my personal invitation!
Here’s my personal invitation!
Uhhh...
Uhhh…

[What is this, PornHub?! -Ed.]
[What is this, PornHub?! -Ed.]
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Actually, almost 30 years now!
Actually, almost 30 years now!

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[F*cking called it -Ed.]
[F*cking called it -Ed.]
[I stand corrected -Ed.]
[I stand corrected -Ed.]
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[YAKETY YAK! -Ed.]
YAKETY YAK!  DON’T TALK BACK

HE WHO LAUGHS LAST…

A MACHO MAN!
A MACHO MAN!

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ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVES

[Hey, this pic was made back in 2008, OK? -Ed.]
Hey, this pic was made back in 2008, ya dig?  :P
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ROLL CALL

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Yeah, drawing is NOT one of my gifts... :P
Wow, I was a terrible artist as a kid :P

CAPCOM SUES DATA EAST

Hmmm...
Hmmm…
I barely see the resemblance.... O_o
I barely see the resemblance… *cough* O_o

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There was a page long Letter of the Month updating the latest on the Capcom vs. Data East lawsuit featured in EGM issue #58 (May 1994). The best part of all this?

Well played. But Data East ended up winning the case
Well played. Indeed, Capcom ultimately lost the case

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Did it score the big victory?
Did it score the big victory?

Fighter’s History fared pretty well with the critics. EGM gave it ratings of 6, 6, 7 and 8. GameFan gave it scores of 80, 82 and 84%. Super Play rated it 85% and thought rather highly of the game. They were especially tough on fighting games so it impressed them well enough to earn such a good mark. Fighter’s History was complimented for its smooth control and exclusive home bonus features (four colors, an elimination mode, playable bosses and even a speed option). I personally think it’s one of the more faithful arcade to SNES translations ever made. It’s really underrated and never got the credit it deserved. Probably has a lot to do with it coming a month after Super Street Fighter II. Talk about piss poor timing. But yeah, you can’t fault Data East here. They did a tremendous job porting the arcade game into a 20 MEG Super Nintendo cart.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

This pic hits me right in the feels. The nostalgia...
This pic hits me right in the feels. The nostalgia…

As far as arcade to home ports go, Fighter’s History is one of the best the SNES has ever seen. I was amazed by the faithfulness of this translation back in 1994, and even still to this day I am impressed with how much Data East was able to mimic the arcade original. Features such as four colors, a speed option, playable bosses and a group battle mode show that this wasn’t just a half-baked effort. They really went all in. While they received some props for it, I don’t think sadly that they ever got all the credit they deserved for it. Super Street Fighter II came out a month earlier and as a result Fighter’s History got lost in the mix somewhat. Some of my best gaming memories came from that scorching summer of 1994. Playing the import version at my best friend’s house and seeing Lee’s bucolic background, with those damn ducks and moss-covered hills, seared itself into my memory bank. I still bust out Fighter’s History to play every once in a while, and whenever I do and I see Lee’s stage, I’m instantly transported back to Nelson’s living room. It’s a hot June Saturday afternoon in 1994. And I’m just taken back to a more carefree time in my life. Fighter’s History is so incredibly nostalgic for me. It’s just one of those games that scream “CHILDHOOD” beyond anything else.

MatRayLock

But nostalgia only goes so far. Thankfully, it still holds up incredibly well. It’s nothing fancy. Being a fighting game from early 1993 meant it came out before Super Special moves became a thing and double digit hit combos were all the rage. Instead, each fighter has three special moves (maybe four) and some simple chains and combos. It’s very basic but also very pure. There’s something “magical” about that. Basically, if you enjoy simplistic fighting games from the early ’90s then you’ll probably like this. Combos and special moves are easy to perform and it’s very straight forward. But there’s a charm to it, at least for me, that reminds me of a time when fighting games ruled the scene. A more perhaps idyllic time in my life when fighting games were all the rage and playing video games with your best friend stood center stage. I have a lot of history, pardon the pun, with Fighter’s History. To me it’s a reminder of the good old days. And I’m thankful that Data East knocked it out of the park with this outstanding conversion. Not much else to say except… “BAKED POTATO!”

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

Until...
Peep the Super Famicom spin-off
See you in the future for Fighter's History Dynamite
To be continued in Karnov’s Revenge

World Heroes 2 (SNES)

Pub: Takara | Dev: Saurus | September 1994 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Takara | Dev: Saurus | September 1994 | 24 MEGS

Yesterday marked 25 years since the original World Heroes hit arcades worldwide. Released on July 28, 1992, World Heroes was one of the earliest Street Fighter II competitors on the scene. At best, it was viewed as an amusing alternative but ultimately fell way short of challenging Street Fighter II. Exactly 10 months later, ADK released World Heroes 2 on April 28, 1993. Six new fighters were added to the fray, boosting the roster count to a whopping 14! Keep in mind this was a good six months before Super Street Fighter II came along with its massive lineup of 16 fighters. World Heroes 2 was a huge improvement on the original game. I loved it in the arcades and started counting down the days until the inevitable Super Nintendo release…

25 YEARS OF WORLD HEROES

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Was it really 25 summers ago that I poured hundreds of quarters into this silly little fighting game? Wow, 25 years. I became a fan from day one. While I loved and respected Street Fighter II, there was something about World Heroes that clicked and resonated with me. Maybe because it was an underdog, or maybe it was the cheese and violent dark humor. Whatever it was, the summer of ’92 was awesome. Lines for Street Fighter II: Champion Edition ran out the door, leaving me to enjoy World Heroes without any waiting or fanfare. My bro bought Street Fighter II for the SNES that same month. So I would play Street Fighter II at home and World Heroes at the arcade. What a freaking sweet summer. 25 years… damn.

Neo Geo Nook!
Neo Geo Nook!

May 1993. It started out as just another innocent night. Accompanying my dad to the local Safeway grocery store, my old man would buy the goodies as I would be off in the corner playing on the one arcade machine they carried — a Neo Geo MVS. Throughout the early ’90s, that spot in the corner was mine. It was there that I played King of the Monsters, Super Baseball 2020, Sengoku and World Heroes more times than I can count. On that night I was hoping to get another solid 10-15 minutes in with World Heroes. With several quarters in my pocket courtesy of my generous pop, I was good to go. I strolled over to that infamous Neo Geo nook. Looked up at the panel where they display the four Neo Geo games, hoping to see World Heroes once again.

But there was no World Heroes.

My jaw dropped when I instead saw World Heroes 2. HOLY SHIT. At the time I had *NO* idea a sequel was even in the works. It totally caught me by surprise! Then I saw the demo. I had to once again pick up my jaw off from the floor.

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The star of the first game, Hanzou, was surveying the new challengers. What a brilliant way to introduce the new cast to your audience. It seemed so larger than life that it absolutely freaking blew me away.

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Dramatically, the scene would shift back and forth from a close-up of Hanzou’s grill staring down the new fighters and then switch back to the new cast as seen from Hanzou’s point of view.

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The speed of the shifting began picking up as we scrolled through the new lineup of contenders. It ended by taking us to the WORLD HEROES 2 title screen. It was the greatest intro I had ever seen up to that point. I was so hyped! The new fighters looked so cool, especially that voodoo man and the pirate. Even the small touch of those ominous clouds was awesome!

Nowadays that intro may seem a bit tame. But back in mid 1993, as a nine year old kid who had no idea a sequel was even in the works, this was a gawd damn work of art.

So many choices...
So many choices…

I remember hoping that my dad would never come back! I even watched the intro twice. Then I dug into my pocket to fish out a quarter. I was overwhelmed by the choice of 14 fighters, but ultimately went with Mudman. I always had a thing for outcasts and weird fighters so Mudman became my guy. I managed to get by Shura before getting my ass kicked by the evil pirate, Captain Kidd. I played until my dad called me over. He had to pry me away from the machine. It was like crack to a kid. I remember thinking two things as I was leaving Safeway that night… 1). I can’t wait to play more and 2). I can’t wait for that inevitable glorious SNES release!

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Fast forward a year. It’s now mid 1994. One night I was at The Wherehouse with my dad to rent a game for my brother. As my dad was checking out the game, I thumbed through the new GameFan magazine they had sitting on the rack. Imagine my ecstasy when I saw the World Heroes 2 preview! I even let out a small cheer under my breath. My wish from one year ago is finally coming true. Soon, I’d be able to play World Heroes 2 from the comfort of my own living room :)

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GameFan was the shit back in the day. Their layouts were legendary. Their World Heroes 2 preview made it look like such an elite game. I was thrilled to see their hype for the game. It was the opening preview in the Planet SNES section. Guess which game was second… Super Metroid! Everything about it blew me away. 1). It was finally coming out on the SNES. 2). It beat out Super Metroid for opening preview and 3). GameFan’s ringing endorsement made World Heroes 2 look like a BIG deal. I studied that two page preview for 10 minutes and held my dad up, pleading with him that he had to buy this game later that summer. The old man was nice enough to humor me.

The hype train rolled on
The hype train rolled on

A couple months later GameFan ran another piece on it. I recall reading through this once again at The Wherehouse and eagerly shoving the magazine preview into my dad’s face. As great as the summer of 1992 was, the summer of ’94 was even bigger. I had just finished 5th grade, it was the best year of my childhood, my best friend Nelson and I were thick as thieves, the SNES was at its peak, and so was the bond between me and my out of town gaming crew. Now we had a whole summer before us to enjoy all these wonderful things. I remember Nelson and I spent a large chunk of our time playing World Heroes on SNES that summer as a way to prep ourselves for the sequel. It was simply a great time to be a kid.

Yes, this is my actual Takara card!
Yes, this is my actual Takara card!

To prep myself even more, I joined the Takara Masters Game Club. I wanted any insider news I could get on World Heroes 2 and all other future Neo Geo SNES ports. The bottom of the card states, “The bearer of this Takara Masters seal is a unique and praiseworthy gamer. Anyone who presents this card should be shown the utmost respect and offered all the privileges due to a game player supremo.” That shit always cracked me up.

Back side of the Takara Club card
Back side of the Takara Club card

I called Takara one day in the summer of 1994 to specifically inquire if the arcade intro would be included in the SNES port. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I finally hung up. It saddened me a bit when I first fired up the SNES port and found the intro missing. Hey, there’s only so much from a 146 MEG arcade game that you can cram into a 24 MEG Super Nintendo cartridge!

[Don't forget us! -Saurus]
[Don’t forget us! -Saurus]
1994 was indeed a banner year thanks to hits like this
1994 was indeed a banner year thanks to hits like this
It had WAY MORE features than the arcade
It had WAY MORE features than the arcade
To be specific, this is for the Death Match
To be specific, this is for the Death Match

FUN TIP: If you choose seesaw for life gauge and you play the 2 player mode under Normal Match, it can serve as sort of a Practice Mode ;)

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New to this sequel is the ability to send an opponent’s projectile back at them by blocking at the last possible second. This can go back and forth several times until the projectile disappears into thin air.

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I never liked this change all that much. It prevents you from advancing after a slow fireball. On the bright side, it gave fighters without a fireball more of a fighting chance. It added extra balance to the roster, making guys like Muscle Power and J. Carn more formidable.

COLOR ME BADD

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Each fighter has six colors to choose from. This is exclusive to the SNES port. Great job, Saurus! Some of the new colors are even better than the original colors… while others are a bit more… ahem, bizarre. More on that later.

Not only do outfit colors change but some special moves match the color of your costume! For example, take a look at Hanzou and Fuuma’s Dragon Uppercuts below.

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Having six costume color choices is awesome, sure. But it’s made even more awesome when some of the fighters’ special moves are color coordinated.

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Saurus you crazy bastards, you! :P

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Hanzou’s ninja stars even changes colors accordingly! Nice.

He's green with envy [Oh no you dih-ent -Ed.]
He’s green with envy [Oh no you dih-ent -Ed.]
16 fighters. Six colors each. You had a whopping 96 combinations to toy around with. It was all part of the fun and something I wasted hours on back in the day!

MEET THE HEROES

Love the way the newbies stare down the originals!
Love the way the newbies stare down the originals!
12 was the biggest number prior to World Heroes 2
Anything more than 12 back then was big
Super Street Fighter II introduced 16
Super Street Fighter II introduced 16 in late ’93

Most fighting game sequels back in the mid ’90s featured two or four new fighters. Not so here. You get SIX. 14 fighters made this the biggest fighting game roster back in April of 1993. It felt like ADK went all out and didn’t hold anything back. This is how you do a sequel right!

Fuuma's eternal rival
Fuuma’s eternal rival

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One of my favorite backgrounds, combatants battle in a bamboo forest on a moonlit night. Brown leaves drop from the sky as the warriors scratch and claw for victory. A couple gravestones can be seen to the far right. Hanzou’s parents, perhaps? A nice touch to add mystique and intrigue to this beautifully atmospheric stage.

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Master of the Iga Ninja arts, Hanzou can throw a shuriken, or three. His ever reliable Dragon Uppercut and Spinning Blade are back as well. New to his arsenal is the Leg Lariat. It works well as a long range anti-air attack.

Hanzou's eternal rival
THE RED DRAGON RAGES!

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Fuuma loves to show off his superior fighting expertise in front of his friends. It’s a nice stage but I do miss his funky monkey pals from the first game.

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Fuuma and Hanzou’s moveset began to receive some differentiation here. Fuuma’s Spinning Blade attack now moves in a wild up and down fashion, which perfectly fits his more flamboyant fighting personality. He can also throw opponents in mid-air as well as perform his Dragon Uppercut in mid-air.

The ORIGINAL Bruce Lee clone!
The ORIGINAL Bruce Lee clone!

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Like Fuuma, I prefer Dragon’s previous stage. It’s hard to beat fighting in front of a Shaolin Temple after all. On a side note, Dragon was billed from China in the first World Heroes. ADK however changed Dragon’s birth place to Korea starting with World Heroes 2. But somehow the SNES port shows China’s flag instead of Korea’s. In my heart, Dragon will always be Chinese, damnit!

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Dragon can still punch fools into oblivion as well as throw them in mid-air. As if that wasn’t enough to convince them NOT to jump, the Dragon Kick will surely make them think twice. His new attack is a nifty lunging kick. Oh, and don’t you love the Incredible Hulk version of Kim Dragon? I know I do. Bruce Banner meets Bruce Lee…

Invisible walls don't hit back
Invisible walls don’t hit back
The Ferocious Leader of the Mongol Empire
The Ferocious Leader of the Mongol Empire

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This little backdrop does a great job of evoking memories of all those classic old kung fu flicks you watched as a kid on lazy Sunday afternoons. I almost expect to see Jet Li or Donnie Yen come flying out at any moment…

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Sadly, the portly Julius Carn got a bit gypped here. No new special moves to speak of, although he did receive a pretty cool new throw and his Mongolian Dynamite looks better than ever. Still irks me though that it doesn’t set his victims on fire. ADK finally fixed this in the fourth and final game, World Heroes Perfect.

She's a real swinger. Sword swinger, that is
She’s a real swinger. Sword swinger, that is

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Travel right back to the 15th century with this great looking stage! Much prefer this over her traveling circus backdrop from the first game.

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Janne’s Aura Bird comes in baby or adult form. I always loved how the World Heroes games changed the size of their projectiles based on the strength of the button pressed. It wasn’t just speed that came into play but size as well. That was pretty unique for its time! Her new move, the Justice Sword, is a solid anti-air attack that can hit up close or from a distance. Again, depending on the button you use. ADK never got credit for giving a single move multiple purposes. The classic standbys are back as well: the Flash Sword (another good anti-air attack) and arguably the most painful looking move in the game, the Sword Hop.

Told 'cha she's a swinger
Told ‘cha she’s a swinger
WHAT CHU GUNA DO, BROTHER?!
WHAT CHU GONNA DO, BROTHER?!

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ADK’s attempt to reduce Muscle Power’s resemblance to Hulk Hogan didn’t stop with the slight alteration in his look. In an effort to further differentiate the two, ADK dropped the wrestling ring in favor of a construction site. Boo! The wrestling ring inside a steel cage suspended high in the air was the perfect over-the-top background for Muscle Power. Oh well. As Hulk Hogan himself would say, “What chu gonna do, brother?!”

Ever saw Hogan hit a dropkick?
Ever saw Hogan hit a dropkick?

The good old Muscle Bomber running elbow is back. His new trick is an impressive leaping dropkick that serves as a pretty decent anti-air attack. Proving you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Not sure about that pink hair color, though. Midlife crisis, hmm?

Tornado Break is aptly named
Tornado Breaker is aptly named
Strongest move in the game
Strongest move in the game
Speaking of swingers...
Speaking of swingers…
Round and round he goes
Round and round he goes
Where he stops...
Where he stops…
NOBODY KNOWS!
NOBODY KNOWS!

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Indeed I do. After the first World Heroes came out on the SNES in late 1993, my best friend Nelson held a neighborhood tournament. I played a pretty mean Rasputin in those days but decided to branch out and challenge myself. So I selected Muscle Power. Well, I got my ass handed to me pretty hard. I walked home that day thinking to myself over and over, “Just wait ’til World Heroes 2 comes home next year. His new Giant Swing will be the difference maker. Just you bastards wait!” It’s strange the memories we vividly recall, huh? And that’s the beauty of fighting game sequels. Just one new special move could be a game changer, no pun intended. Good times.

Ah, Raspy. You silly bastard you
Ah, if it isn’t ol’ Raspy. You silly bastard you

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Some people think the purple building in the back reminds them of the castle from Aladdin. But for me growing up, it looked a lot more like the building seen on the cover of Goosebumps book #25, Attack of the Mutant (November 1994). As a kid I liked to think that R.L. Stine was a huge World Heroes 2 fan and was inspired by Rasputin’s stage when he penned Attack of the Mutant. I know, I was weird… [Was? -Ed.]

aladdin-castle-disney

#CHILDHOOD
#CHILDHOOD

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Rasputin could enlarge his hands and feet, making him sort of a pseudo-stretch fighter. His classic giant hand crush returns but brand new is the hand swatter. This might be the greatest anti-air attack in the history of fighting games. Certainly back in 1993 and ’94 it was! Simply press strong punch while standing and Rasputin will knock anyone out of the air. It can also attack the opponent while they’re standing. It was a game changer for sure!

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Rasputin was a trailblazer. The first World Heroes introduced air projectiles to the genre. Not only is Rasputin’s air fireball back but now he can also perform his Spinning Robe in mid-air.

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Being a trailblazer, he didn’t receive just one new special move but rather two completely different moves. The first is the deadly Thunder Ball. It “feels heavy” and hits accordingly so, inflicting more damage than Rasputin’s regular fireball. It also shocks the competition, which is always a fun visual. His second new move is the Cossack Dance, which acts as a bit of an anti-air attack. Speaking of new, a magical glowing aura now surrounds him while standing still. Awesome!

Ah, the first Hero I ever used :)
Ah, the first Hero I ever used :)

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A heavy tank comes plowing through the wall early on as the fighters duel to the death. It creates a great war atmosphere. Bonus points for the ominous red skyline as well. Good shit.

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Brocken’s extendable limbs give him the best reach in the game. Brand new however is when you press down-diagonal and attack in mid-air, Brocken raises his leg upward instead. It’s nice to have that option to keep opponents honest!

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Brocken can now fire missiles from his kneecap. And he’s still the only fighter that can produce both fiery and electrocuted animations. Always loved that about him. His useless but amusing Flying Torpedo is back for shits and giggles. You can see his classic Hurricane Arm in the last shot there, as well as the wall before the tank comes barreling through.

Controlling the flight is 90% of the fun!
Controlling the flight is 90% of the fun!
The Rowdiest Rebel of the High Seas
The Rowdiest Rebel of the High Seas!

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An animated zombie skeleton watches the fight from a large mound of gold. He even loses his head at the end of each round. The gold glitters and glistens. It beckons to the heart of the greedy. A proven distraction, Captain Kidd uses this to his advantage.

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Captain Kidd was the first fighter I can recall to have two different projectiles. And I’m not talking about a cheap high and low Tiger Shot. A shark and a ghost ship?! Blew my mind back in the day! His Shark Upper is a great anti-air deterrent and his Hyper Kick is good at surprising the opposition. Slightly reminiscent of Guile’s Flash Kick, Kidd’s Spiral Kick is a dandy two hit number.

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My theory as a kid: ADK couldn’t decide on giving him a shark or a ghost ship. Both fit him perfectly. In the end they didn’t have the heart to scrap either so they said screw it we’re reinventing the rules — who says a fighter can’t have two totally different fireballs? And it’s not just for cosmetic purposes, either. Each one serves a different purpose! The Shark Knuckle is done Sonic Boom style and the jab version allows Kidd to follow up. The Pirate Ship Blast is done Hadoken style (no charging required!) and due to its insane amount of coverage can nullify both low and medium projectiles, making it arguably the greatest projectile ever. It’s no wonder everyone loved Captain Kidd back in the ’90s, even the most ardent of World Heroes critics admitted that he was a great addition to the franchise.

You can get caught in some insane projectile wars!
You can get caught in some insane projectile wars…
HELL F'N YEAH IT DOES
HELL F’N YEAH IT DOES
The Raging Warrior of the North
The Raging Warrior of the North

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I have such fond memories of this stage. I remember seeing this stage first thing upon walking into the arcades with my best friend Nelson. At the time World Heroes 2 and Super Street Fighter II were fighting for arcade supremacy, and I just remember walking into that arcade hall only to be greeted by the soft Norwegian tune and seeing Erik kick the stuffing out of his opponent all over his viking ship. A long line formed behind Super Street Fighter II but World Heroes 2 respectably held its own. It’s just one of those childhood memories that stick with you for some bizarre reason. So anytime I see Erik’s stage or hear that soft Norwegian tune, I’m instantly transported back to that innocent Saturday afternoon at the arcades with my best friend circa late 1993 :)

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Another fighter with a weapon, ADK wasn’t afraid to make up their own rules. I always liked Erik’s mini Tidal Wave projectile. It was the first projectile I remember executed with a kick button as opposed to the traditional punch. Bizarre! Also loved the way it crashed into opponents; hey, a tidal wave is no joke. Erik makes good use of his horns and is the only fighter in the game able to shock and freeze the competition. A fun addition to the roster!

Japan's Teenage Prodigy
Japan’s Teenage Prodigy

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Don’t get caught admiring the beautiful cherry blossom trees. If you do, Ryoko will throw you before you can say Bonsai.

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Ryoko is a tough target to hit, being so small. Her quick Flip Kicks strike fast and have two variations. One acts more as an anti-air while the other serves as a lunging strike. It all depends on whether you press the light attack buttons or the strong ones. She can bounce off walls and is able to ignite a ball of energy from the palm of her hands.

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Ryoko can throw fools with the best of them. I like how ADK flipped the script here on your typical stereotypes. This big throw is as damaging as Muscle Power’s Tornado Breaker. Probably didn’t expect that from a 16 year old girl, eh?

Muay Thai Master of Mayhem
Muay Thai Master of Mayhem

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A rather peculiar stage that perfectly epitomizes how the World Heroes franchise has never taken itself TOO seriously. At first glance it appears to be a normal looking “serious” stage until you notice the monks scurrying in the background. Not only scurrying with their quick feet (an animation that was cut from the SNES port due to lack of storage) but leaping for no reason other than to make you scratch your head and go, “Heh, OK then.” World Heroes wasn’t afraid to mix in some humor but they never overdid it to the point where it became more of a parody (see Clay Fighter). It was this fine balance they struck that really resonated with me.

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Shura is a bit on the slow side, which is surprising considering he’s supposedly a “Muay Thai Master of Mayhem.” Especially given his build as well, I always expected him to be faster. Nonetheless, he has two striking attacks that are reminiscent of Balrog. He also has a running jumping fist strike that is a bit awkward and can leave him in a vulnerable state. Speaking of vulnerable, while his Tiger Kick is definitely cool looking, Shura soars to the sky and it takes him a second or two to land. This also leaves him in a vulnerable state. Maybe it’s just me but I kind of felt he was a pseudo-joke character when I was a kid. Not quite on Dan’s level, mind you!

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Forget about having two different projectiles, having two anti-air attacks is where it’s at! Eat your heart out, Captain Kidd. Actually, while the Muay Thai Kick is definitely badass looking, it only counts as one hit. It looks like Shura hits them a second time but he doesn’t. It’s the longest animation in the game and doesn’t exactly leave him in a good position following usage of said maneuver. So let’s quickly recap. He’s got two different anti-air special moves, but both are flawed and leave him rather vulnerable. He’s also oddly slow for being a supposed Muay Thai master. All signs point to “joke character,” sadly. Even his ending, which I won’t spoil, treats him as a bit of a joke. Huh. A most curious creation, indeed.

The First and Only Football Fighter
The First and Only Football Fighter

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Just when you thought you had seen it all, along comes J. Max AKA Johnny Maximum. A quarterback, he’s most likely based off Joe Montana (one of the greatest QBs the NFL has ever seen). Players fight on a seedy street outside a local bar. Drunken hobos cheer on the mayhem and strut the night away. Many people (myself included for a number of years) mistakenly assume that Takara developed this port. Nope. Saurus did. And they weren’t afraid to include a little sign of self promotion, either!

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Johnny Maximum sold me the first time I witnessed his high and low Pigskin Thunder Shots. A quarterback not afraid to take the hits, his Shoulder Crash shows off his ruggedness. Don’t be so jump happy against him or else the Lightning Tackle will put an end to that. The Head Crash, which sees J. Max burying his head through his opponent (and into the ground even), makes me cringe each time I see it.

Mighty Friend and Ally of the Earth
Mighty Friend and Ally of the Earth

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Mudman’s stage is easily one of my all-time favorites. I mean, just look at it. It paints such an atmosphere scene. The dancing natives, the shining stars, that gorgeous evening skyline and the flickering fire all add up to leave a lasting impression. Mudman is such a likable character and the first fighter I used the first time I played World Heroes 2. He’ll always be one of my guys.

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Perhaps the strangest “Shoto” fighter you’ll ever see, I love how Mudman incorporates his Spirit Buddies into the fight. There are two versions. The little shy Spirit Buddy or the streaking bold one. His Mud Gyro is one of my favorite anti-air special moves — I just love the way Mudman looks with his giant mask spinning around like that. The Mud Cutter is one of the most unorthodox looking Hurricane Kick variations I’ve ever seen, which suits him perfectly. One of his throws involves a ring of his Spirit Buddies dancing around the opponent. I’ve always loved that, as well as the way his projectile nullifies another. You get a glimpse at his ugly mug whenever he blocks. Brilliant!

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Mudman, what is this? This isn’t the set of Thriller!

Michael Jackson's iconic Thriller
Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller
The MAD Morphing Man!
The MAD Morphing Man!

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He was embarrassed in the first tournament but now he’s back for revenge. This time he battles in front of a captive crowd at a Coliseum in Italy. A massive Geegus statue has been erected. In his mind, there is only one true God to be worshiped and feared…

IT'S MORPHIN' TIME! ... sorry
IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME! … sorry

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Geegus can now blow himself up, setting his opponent on fire in the process. The drawback of this new move however is it takes him a few moments to recompose himself which leaves him wide open. This should be used strictly as a last ditch effort.

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Geegus is gone so you’ve won the tournament, right? Not so fast! Meet the new final boss, NEO DIO. In the arcade, he was infamous for being one of the cheapest fighting game bosses of all time. Thankfully, Saurus scaled him way down for the SNES port. Mercifully!

The Mysterious Supreme Fighting Machine
The Mysterious Supreme Fighting Machine

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Dio arrives in a blaze of glory. Dude sure knows how to make a dramatic entrance! If you think about it, Dio just lowkey committed genocide. The entire crowd of spectators are wiped out in the blink of an eye. Wherever Dio goes, destruction follows. The Geegus statue has been obliterated. There’s only room for one supreme being!

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Having a fetish for slicing and dicing, Dio’s Sonic Saber and Gran Saber rips through the competition. The Rolling Smash shows off his graceful agility. Dio doesn’t have a fireball but he can create a static ball of energy that lasts for a couple seconds.

FIGHT TO THE DEATH

It randomly selects the mode if players don't agree
It randomly selects the mode if players don’t agree
This mode is on fire. Sorry
This mode is on fire. Sorry

The ingenious Death Match is back. Sadly, World Heroes 2 was the last game in the series to feature the Death Match. Unfortunately, the original game had better Death Matches. For example, I loved the ring with the burning ropes in the first game. The sequel had grenades on the ropes instead. It just didn’t look as cool.

See? It's just not the same...
See? It’s just not the same as burning ropes…
Still a hoot, though. Don't get me wrong!
Still a hoot, though. Don’t get me wrong!

Also a shame that ADK’s infamous “Aftershock Effect” is gone. That’s part of what made the first game’s Death Matches so compelling. Few things in gaming match the sheer pleasure of watching a guy get roasted in slow motion even after you’ve dealt the final blow. These are just minor gripes, though. Overall, I’m glad the Death Matches returned even if they’re slightly watered down. Let’s take a closer look at the eight different Death Matches below.

Barbed Wire Bomb Match
Barbed Wire Bomb Match
Spiked Wall Match
Spiked Wall Match
Thunderbolt Match
Thunderbolt Match
Oil Match
Oil Match
Saw Blade Match
Saw Blade Match
Metal Mesh Match (Dawn)
Metal Mesh Match (Dawn)
Metal Mesh Match (Daytime)
Metal Mesh Match (Daytime)
Metal Mesh Match (Dusk)
Metal Mesh Match (Dusk)
I! I LIVE AMONG THE CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
I! I LIVE AMONG THE CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
Land Mine Match
Land Mine Match

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ABSOLUTELY priceless. Poor Shura had to get this stage, eh?

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Giving the guy with no fireball the land mine stage? Classic ADK. The new projectile deflection definitely helps, though. I always appreciated the subtle sense of dark humor that these games have.

Haircut Match
Haircut Match

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NOT SO HAPPY ENDINGS

I’ll share a few of my favorites…

FUUMA

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JANNE

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Gotta love all the weird Old English words ADK used...
Gotta love all the weird Old English words ADK used

RASPUTIN

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BROCKEN

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MUSCLE POWER

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CAPTAIN KIDD

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Classic moment courtesy of Capcom's Final Fight
Classic moment courtesy of Capcom’s Final Fight

ERIK

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RYOKO

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JOHNNY MAXIMUM

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Maximum’s quite the fine athlete, no? :P

AN AGE-OLD RIVALRY RENEWED

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Hanzou and Fuuma have their own specific post match quotes devoted to each other. Did Ryu and Ken have this back in the day? No sir. This rivalry was LEGIT!

One last match to settle the score once and for all...
One last match to settle the score once and for all…

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To be continued... of course
To be continued… forever. Of course

SWEET SIXTEEN

The two bosses are available in 2 Player mode
The two bosses are available in 2 Player mode

2 Player mode allows you to use the bosses up front. You now have a whopping 16 fighters to select from. But there’s also a secret code that lets you use the bosses in the regular mode.

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Solid cast of weirdos, freaks and badasses!
Solid cast of weirdos, freaks and bad asses!

RANDOM BITS

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Poor Dragon
Poor Dragon

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Whoa whoa WHOA! Um, let's move on
Whoa whoa WHOA! Um, let’s move on

BETA VERSION DIFFERENCES

SURF NINJAS, anyone? [Yeah, no -Ed.]
Ride the wave! SURF NINJAS, anyone? [Yeah, no -Ed.]
Around 2010 I discovered that the SNES beta version of World Heroes 2 differs from the final product. I was blown away because the beta version actually plays more like the arcade. There are some bugs, though. The biggest difference is that combos are easier to do in the beta version. This is where owning some kind of SNES flash cart (like the PowerPak for example) is super handy…

  • Hanzou and Fuuma have different Dragon Uppercuts in the beta version. In fact, they much more accurately represent their arcade forms, whereas in the final version their Dragon Uppercuts are identical. Not to mention, the animation is a bit lackluster. In the beta version, the animation on the Dragon Uppercuts looks much better
  • Game speed in the beta version mirrors arcade speed more
  • It’s possible to chain several jabs together in the beta version. You really can’t do this in the final version. Try Hanzou’s Leg Lariat followed by a Dragon Uppercut. You can pull off this sweet chain in the beta version with the greatest of ease, but you can’t in the final product no matter how hard you try.
  • Unfortunately, Mudman’s Mud Cutter in the beta version in an unfinished move. It works but only the first frame. Also, Geegus’ exploding attack is missing.
  • Endings in beta have slightly different text
  • There is an option to listen to the sound effects and music tracks in the beta version

WHY SO SERIOUS?

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I love that this game never took itself too seriously. The Death Match was a brilliant feature and lended the first two games a subtle yet satisfying sense of black humor. Wacky fighters like Brocken, Rasputin, Mudman, a towering football titan with red glowing eyes, and a Hulk Hogan knock-off bring a certain level of quirk to the game that I’ve always appreciated.

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Yet it’s also really cool how the game does take itself seriously, too. It strikes a good balance between having outlandish characters and more serious ones, such as the rival ninjas, Kim Dragon and that swashbuckling scourge of the High Seas, Captain Kidd. It’s a mix that worked really well in my book.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

It held its own against Super Street Fighter II
It held its own against Super Street Fighter II

Similar to how the first World Heroes came out a month after Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES, World Heroes 2 came out a month or two following Super Street Fighter II. Not exactly the best timing in the world, especially given how World Heroes 2 was in the arcade a good six months before Super Street Fighter II. Nonetheless, the heroes held their own and fared rather well with the critics. EGM crew gave it scores of 6, 7, 8, 8 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 80, 80 and 84%. Super Play rated it 80%. Most people agree it was a great port. Sure, it’s missing the intro, some animations, bonus stages, referees and so on, but it really was a fantastic port by 16-bit standards. It’s just a shame it didn’t come out a few months before Super Street Fighter II. That stole a lot of its thunder.

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I agree with EGM. Great job, Saurus!
I agree with EGM. Great job, Saurus!
Missing
Missing
Also missing
Also missing
But no biggie. All in all, an impressive port!
But no biggie. All in all, an impressive port!
Just too bad we didn't the Japanese style box art
Just too bad we didn’t get the Japanese style box art

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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All the cool SNES extras — speed options, six colors, four button layout and playable bosses — make this game a winner in my book. Saurus did a very good job, although I do wish it were more combo friendly. You can rip off combos in the arcade game pretty easily but it’s very hard to here. The first World Heroes on SNES was way too easy in terms of pulling off dizzying combos, but the sequel goes the opposite end. It’s really my one glaring flaw with this port. Other than that and slightly small sprites, it’s a pretty bang up job. The colors are fairly vibrant and it’s pretty amazing to consider how much of the arcade game’s look they were able to translate to the Super Nintendo. This is as good as anyone probably could have made World Heroes 2 on the SNES to be. The sound is a little weak but the death cries are awesome. The music varies from decent to very good. Some of those tunes I can still hear when I close my eyes.

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At 16 fighters and 24 MEGS, World Heroes 2 was one of the biggest fighting games of its time. Yet sadly, World Heroes 2 kind of flew under the radar. In my view, it strikes the perfect balance between being serious and a little silly. Where else can you send Hulk Hogan flying into a spiked wall one moment and the next be swapping projectiles with Joe Montana? It’s cool how each fighter was based off a historical figure. Although it’s a pretty blatant Street Fighter II clone, it also did its fair share of unique things such as the Death Match, air fireballs (Rasputin was the first fighter to have one), throw counters, projectile repelling and so on. An unsung hero of the SNES library, World Heroes 2 is definitely one of the better fighting games on the SNES not named Street Fighter II.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 9.5

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

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World Heroes (SNES)

Pub Dev: Sunsoft | September 1993 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Sunsoft | September 1993 | 16 MEGS

The clock just struck midnight as of this writing. It is now July 28, 2017. That means only one thing to me: World Heroes has officially turned 25 years old. Wow. Released on July 28, 1992, World Heroes was one of the earliest Street Fighter II clones to hit the arcade market. If you don’t know by now, I kind of have a thing for World Heroes. I loved it from day one and have been a fan of the franchise ever since. In fact, when I began posting on video gaming forums in early 2001 I even used a Hanzou avatar. Ask different gamers what their favorite franchise is and you’ll hear your usual suspects: Metroid, Zelda, Castlevania, Street Fighter and so forth. But me? I would be lying if I didn’t cite my (sentimental) favorite of all time is probably indeed World Heroes. I know that sounds crazy but man, 25 YEARS. There’s no better way to honor the milestone than to look back at one of the most underrated arcade to SNES ports of all time.

IN THE BEGINNING…

Neo Geo Nook!
Neo Geo Nook!

I’ll never forget that summer day back in 1992 when my brother came running home and told me all about this hot new arcade game. He said it plays like Street Fighter II but it has crazy “Death Matches” or something. He said there was freaking Hulk Hogan in the game! Of course, being a Hulkamaniac at the time, I was sold. Hell, I was sold at the mention of Street Fighter II.

I instantly became a fan for life
It was love at first sight

I can’t tell you how many quarters I wasted on this game. In fact, while the lines ran long for Street Fighter II, I was more than content playing World Heroes on the opposite end of the store. It was definitely an underdog and that made it even more appealing to me. I’ve always been drawn to the more obscure or less touted games, and World Heroes was no exception. My best friend Nelson and I loved it to death. We loved Street Fighter II too but there was something about World Heroes that we really identified with. When Sunsoft released the SNES port, Nelson was all over that bad boy and we spent so many nights in late 1993 playing the game until the cows came home. Some of my fondest gaming memories came from that fall and winter of 1993 just staying over at Nelson’s and playing World Heroes until our thumbs went numb.

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Seeing the title screen scroll on and on as the cheesy tune blared is forever embedded in my soul. ADK developed the arcade game but it was Sunsoft that reprogrammed it for the Super Nintendo. Sunsoft did such an amazing job with the translation and they never got the proper credit for it. But more on that later.

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Advantages of having a six button SNES controller, eh? The arcade version had a funky control scheme where you had to tap the buttons to produce a light attack, but press the buttons normally to use a stronger strike. Well, the SNES fixes this and allows you to assign each attack to a specific button. This made playing World Heroes smoother than ever before.

I wrote this 10 years ago exactly. Make that 25, not 15
I wrote this 10 years ago exactly. Make that 25, not 15
Damn right!
Damn right!

THE HEROES

WH5HANZOU
8.10.1555
5’9″ 152 lbs

Essentially Hanzou is the Ryu of World Heroes lore. Confession time: I always thought he was a lot cooler than Ryu. I mean, the Hadoken is timeless but Hanzou throws ninja stars. NINJA STARS! Ruy’s Dragon Punch is legendary but Hanzou’s version actually has a freaking dragon wrap itself around him! The Hurricane Kick is deadly but what if you added ninja blades on each end? My heart still would go with Hanzou if the two ever met in a fight, even though I know Ryu would beat him because it’s Ryu.

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Love this background. Especially how the pigeons fly off at the start.

See? Its the little details!
See? It’s the little details!

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Hanzou can throw up to two ninja stars at a time (always thought that was so cool how the projectiles in this game vary whereas the projectiles in Street Fighter II were “static”). He uses his blades to cut deep into his opponent while spinning like the rotor blades of a helicopter. His best special move however is the majestic soaring Dragon Uppercut. It’s easily my favorite special move in the history of fighting games. I was instantly sold when I first saw it back in the summer of 1992.

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4.2.1555
5’9″ 154 lbs

If Ken were made into a ninja, this is the end result. I love me some Ken but a ninja version of Ken? I’m so there. Fuuma as you might have guessed is Hanzou’s eternal rival. They share a similar moveset (that slowly differentiated as the series went on) but Fuuma is considered the more reckless and flamboyant of the two. You know, just like Ken. His Dragon Uppercut sees a red dragon wrapping itself around his body as opposed to Hanzou’s blue dragon. Did Ryu and Ken have that visual distinction in their Dragon Punches in Street Fighter II? No sir. Just one more reason why I favor these two ninja warriors.

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A beautiful mountain (Mt. Fuji?) can be seen in this stage. Monkeys act a fool in the background. A quirky and rather endearing backdrop if I do say so myself.

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Fuuma’s ninja star can be big or small depending on the strength of the punch button you use. Nice. He’s also got the same Dragon Spin and Uppercut as Hanzou. Their moveset is identical in this first game but began shifting in the sequel(s) to come.

WH11DRAGON
11.27.1967
5’5″ 130 lbs

Long before Fei Long (Super Street Fighter II) and Law (Tekken) there was Kim Dragon! The original Bruce Lee wannabe in fighting games, Dragon strikes hard and strikes fast. His Dragon Kick is easily one of the coolest special moves in fighting game history, right up there with Hanzou and Fuuma’s Dragon Uppercuts. But perhaps most memorable of all are his Bruce Lee-like “HA CHOO!” battle cries.

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Duel in front of some monks and youngsters training to be the next Dragon. Love this temple setting — it fits Dragon perfectly.

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Dragon Kick is a thing of beauty. He’s got faster hands than E. Honda and he can even throw your ass in mid-air. They nailed his Bruce Lee mannerisms nicely. He can even bounce off the side of the screen! One of the most underrated fighting game characters ever made.

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4.5.1412
5’6″ 117 lbs

Honestly, growing up I was never a huge Chun-Li fan. I actually didn’t like using a lot of female fighters. But one of the few exceptions was Janne. Based off 15th century Joan of Arc, Janne was the first female fighter I can remember having a fireball (beating out Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat by five days). Not only that but she fights with a sword — a FREAKING SWORD! ‘Nuff said.

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I used to wonder as a kid, “Why the circus for Janne? What does Joan of Arc have to do with the circus?” Well, years and years later, I found out the Ringling Bros. did a “Joan of Arc at the circus” show in the early 1900s.

Weird but true...
Weird but true…

I love it when a childhood mystery is solved! :)

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Janne’s Aura Bird projectiles vary in size and speed depending on the punch button used. Again, I love this quirk about the game. Not many fighting games did the size difference thing, only the speed. Her Flash Sword is a good anti-air attack. Thought Chun-Li’s head stomp was annoying? Imagine a sword slashing you through the skull instead. Yup, Janne was a bad, BAD woman.

WH17J. CARN
2.19.1162
5’7″ 265 lbs

Based off the founder and emperor of the Mongolian Empire, Genghis Khan, J. Carn fulfills the E. Honda role. As a kid I used to daydream a lot about a Street Fighter II vs. World Heroes crossover. The rosters were so evenly matched that it’s a shame it never happened. J. Carn wears spiky gloves and has a spiky ball on his shoulder that he reveals during one of his special moves. Though he lacks a projectile, he’s not one to take lightly.

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I like the colors of the sky there. Carn’s cronies watch their master dole out the latest beatings here.

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Julius Carn doesn’t mess around. His Mongolian Smash hits you with a spiky ball. Pounding his fist into the ground produces the Mongolian Dynamite. (It irks me though that getting hit by this move doesn’t produce a fiery animation). More agile than he looks, he can slide under fireballs and take out his competition.

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1.1.1955
6’7″ 298 lbs

If you grew up a wrestling fan in the late ’80s then you know all too well who this guy was inspired by. Eat your prayers and train your vitamins (you know the whole spiel), this Hulk Hogan wannabe is the biggest fighter in the game. Hulk Hogan was one of my favorite wrestlers as a kid so I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off the first time I laid eyes on Muscle Power. In the sequels to come ADK made him look less and less like Hulk Hogan so that’s another reason why I’ll always be incredibly nostalgic for the first World Heroes. Muscle Power is in all of his Hulkamaniac glory!

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Duke it out in a wrestling ring seemingly suspended high up in the air! The Statue of Liberty can be seen in the background. A steel cage surrounds the combatants of this war zone. Pretty gnarly.

Hmmm...
Hmmm…
Where have I seen this before?
Where have I seen this before?
Ahhh, mmm hm
Ahhh, mmm hm

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Muscle Bomber shows off his deceptive agility. On a side note, people like to say this game ripped off Capcom so much. Interestingly enough, Capcom made a wrestling game in 1993 that was known as Muscle Bomber in Japan (Saturday Night Slam Masters in North America). I guess what goes around comes around. Speaking of around, the Tornado Breaker is sure to cripple your opponent.

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10.24.1891
6’1″ 441 lbs

At first glance, he appears to be a ripoff of M. Bison and Inspector Gadget, but he’s actually based off Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman anime and manga series. Unlike the other fighters in this game, Brocken is the only one not based off a historical figure. Yes, it might be a stretch to call Hulk Hogan a historical figure but you get the picture. Speaking of stretch, that is one of Brocken’s strengths. As kid I thought he was the ultimate hybrid of M. Bison and Dhalsim. Plus he was the first character I chose when I first played this game so I will forever have a soft spot in my gaming heart for Brocken.

Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman series
Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman series

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This background scrolls vertically, reminding me a lot of Rolento’s stage.

Rolento from Street Fighter Alpha 2
Rolento’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 2

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Brocken is the only fighter in the game who can set opponents on fire as well as electrocute them. I always loved the animations on these effects so it made me an even bigger Brocken fan. His Hurricane Arm is a solid anti-air attack. Of course, stretching his extendable limbs made him a unique fighter. Hell, ADK even gave him a Bison-like torpedo attack. It was a lot weaker and more of a joke but I love how you can actually control his flight. Fun times with that stupid little move :P

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12.29.1864
5’11” 150 lbs

It’s pretty obvious who Rasputin was based off of. As the games went on he was made more and more — how should I put this — homosexual, but I like how they played him pretty straight (pardon the pun) in the original game. But you could definitely see there was something different about him! He’s one of my favorite characters from the franchise. I dare say I play a pretty mean Rasputin. I fondly recall beating my friends in a World Heroes tournament back in 1993 using Rasputin. Good times.

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I love how you can see mice scurrying across the ground. This is one of those haunting backgrounds that I remember seeing in the arcade over and over again.

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Rasputin couldn’t stretch like Brocken but he is able to slightly enlarge his hands and feet, which made him feel somewhat like a pseudo-stretch fighter. I like the look of his fireball — it’s exactly what I imagine a fireball to look like if I close my eyes and had to imagine one. He’s also the first character in fighting game history that I know of who has an air fireball! His Spinning Robe is definitely silly but points to the fact that World Heroes was never afraid to poke a little fun at itself. It was part of the game’s charm. Finally, who could forget his classic giant yellow hand crush? That visual is seared into my memory bank even 25 years later!

MEET YOUR MAKER

Damn Doc Brown, so that's how you get down
Damn Doc Brown, so that’s how you get down
But of course...
But of course…
Oh shit
Oh shit
Hey, he did technically beat Shang Tsung by five days!
Hey, he did technically beat Shang Tsung by five days
Mortal Kombat came out on August 2, 1992
Mortal Kombat came out on August 2, 1992

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Geegus fights in some sort of spacecraft that overlooks earth. He was based off the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The best summer blockbuster of 1991, or ever
The best summer blockbuster of 1991, or ever

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Geegus melts into a pile of liquid-y goo after a one round defeat.

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Morphing into the other fighters, he’s able to recreate any of their special moves. I love how when you beat him the crystals in the background explode into tiny little pieces.

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Geegus implodes at the end. He’ll be back for the sequel…

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Hmmm, now where have I seen this before?

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Seriously? Those ADK lads had no shame!

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Laziest ending for a fighter belongs to Brocken. “Gee, I didn’t even work up a sweat!” I bet the programmer who made this laughed thinking the same!

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Fuuma’s ending pissed me off as a kid, I recall. It made me question if it was a dream all along. No, damnit, FUUMA IS FOR REAL! Ahem, sorry.

The sequel thankfully treated Fuuma as real
The sequel thankfully treated Fuuma as “real”
And we start to see the "cracks" with Rasputin...
And we start to see the “cracks” with Rasputin…

BONUS ROUND

Battle a giant boulder?
Battle a giant boulder?
That turns into Arnold?!
That turns into Arnold?!
Uh, OK then...
Uh, OK then…

‘TIL DEATH DO US PART

This is what set it apart from the rest of the clones
Damn right!

Besides the odd bits of humor and the fighters largely based off of historical figures, what made World Heroes stood out to me as a kid were its Death Matches. My brother wasn’t lying when he called them crazy. You can fight in the regular mode (regular stages with no hazards) or you can duel to the death in the Death Match (combatants are dropped in a wrestling ring with various hazards). This is where dark humor comes into play and made World Heroes such a blast, pardon the pun… ;)

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For the victim, yes. But to the victor goes the spoils
For the victim, yes. But to the victor goes the spoils

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They all have their various hazards and most of these stages have hazards that can inflict extra damage to the fighters. Only the straight up Butter Match (it’s just slippery) and the Hair Match do not cause extra damage. The Hair Match is a hoot because you get to see your defeated opponent shaved bald post-match!

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Insult added to injury! The Hair Match is a classic representation of the dark humor that World Heroes has in spades. It gave you that extra jolt to trash trash your brother and friends. Made for some damn great times.

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Sending your opponent into the hazard to shave off extra health always felt so damn satisfying. Best of all is the “Aftershock Effect.” Beat an opponent and watch him fly into the electric ropes post-match complete with slow motion! It’s a thing of beauty that was sadly removed from the sequel (the Aftershock Effect).

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Brocken was the best to use in Death Matches because you can set them on fire right before they get electrocuted. Hey, it’s all about the small pleasures in life.

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Certain moves should be avoided in the Death Match unless you have enough room. Way to go, Fuuma.

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Whoever designated the Mine Match to Muscle Power was effin’ brilliant. He’s got no projectile and he’s a bit of a lumbering brute. Just stand behind a mine and watch him take himself out! :D

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Electrocuting someone before they bounce off the burning ropes? Priceless.

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Getting a little cocky there, are we, Brocken? One of the funniest things is beating someone with this flying attack but hitting the hazard with next to no health remaining. Can you say Double KO in the most embarrassing fashion possible? As a kid I remember doing this just for shit and giggles.

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Thanks to his reach, Brocken was made for the Death Match. He almost had a built-in advantage due to the length of his limbs.

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Nothing beats the triple whammy. Shock ‘em with Brocken. They land on a mine. Then death by electrocution. Seeing this in “Aftershock Effect” is the way to go.

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Sacrifice knows no bounds.

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“Aftershock Effect” in slow motion never gets old.

COMBO CITY

Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching weak kick
Crouching light kick
Shuriken!
Shuriken!
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Dragon Uppercut
Dragon Uppercut

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Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Gotcha!
Gotcha!
Still stunned...
Still stunned…

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Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Double hitter!
Double hitter!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Double Hitter!
Double Hitter!
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching weak kick
Crouching light kick
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching light kick
Crouching light kick
Justice Sword!
Flash Sword!
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Fire Bird!
Aura Bird!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Muscle Bomber
Muscle Bomber
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong
Spark Thunder!
Spark Thunder!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch

MEMORIES OF THE SNES PORT

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As someone who poured countless quarters into the arcade game, I anxiously awaited the SNES port with bated breath. My best pal Nelson was also a huge fan. I didn’t buy many SNES games back in the ’90s. If my brother and I were lucky, we got three games a year. You might think World Heroes would be one of those scant few purchases. Nope. My best pal Nelson bought a copy the week it came out and since we hung out nearly 24/7, there was no need really to buy the game. If he didn’t come over with his copy of the game then I’d be at his place. Occasionally, we had our other friends over for a tournament marathon. And like a best friend would do, Nelson graciously loaned me his copy from time to time.

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In the fall of ’93, my uncle from Texas visited my folks. He was full of life. I hadn’t seen him since the late ’80s. I remember teasing him about how his favorite team the Phoenix Suns came up short that year in the NBA Finals. He didn’t appreciate that much.

That same weekend I happened to borrow Nelson’s copy. It was the first night my uncle came to town so he was a bit tired. He kicked back on the couch and watched as I fired up World Heroes. My uncle was not a gamer but he had nothing better to do so he just laid there and watched. I went with Dragon and it wasn’t long before my uncle started cheering me on as I tackled the two ninjas, Hanzou and Fuuma. My uncle really took a shine to Dragon. Probably because he was always a huge Bruce Lee fan.

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I remember explaining to my uncle how the two ninjas were the main stars of the game. “What? If you ask me, THAT’S who the star should be! He’s Bruce Lee for crying out loud! How can you top that!?” Huh, being a huge Hanzou and Fuuma fan I never thought of it that way, but my uncle had a point. My same uncle who never played a single video game in his life before. What was happening here?!

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It was around 6 PM or so because I remember the sun starting to set in the sky. I was set to fight Janne next when my mom called me to set the dinner table. But my uncle had other plans, apparently.

“Relax sis, we’ll be there in a second. First we gotta handle our business though, right Steve?” He gave me a wink as I looked back at him laying on the sofa. It’s an image I’ll never forget. World Heroes really captivated him. Him! Someone with NO interest in video games whatsoever. I’ve always had a special bond with the World Heroes franchise but it was at that moment in time my bond with the game went to that next level.

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He sure did. We got my mom to agree to let me have this one last match, which was against Janne, and my uncle suddenly became my coach. Calling plays from the sofa, he kept yelling “Dragon Kick!” Even my mom stopped to witness the mad scene. I saw a strange smile crept across her face as she watched her younger brother and her youngest son bonding through, of all things, a video game. It’s a memory and image that has stuck with me to this day.

One last memory I have to share: it was Thanksgiving weekend 1993. I remember it so well. Back then I had my best friend Nelson, I had my other grade school friends, and then I had an out-of-town gaming group of family friends. We had some of the most epic sleepovers in the history of mankind. Just imagine three or four different families all partying under the same roof until the wee hours of the morning. The parents would reminisce about the good old days downstairs while the kids played video games galore upstairs. It was a glorious time.

On this particular sleepover bash, I had with me Nelson’s copy of World Heroes. My Gaming Crew and I had a World Heroes tournament that night. My friends were good but I was better. They owned me in Street Fighter II but when it came to World Heroes I had no equal. And that fine evening, I proved it in the tourney.

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I played one mean Rasputin back then. No matter who they used or what tactics they tried, I always came out victorious. They had no counter for my Rasputin antics. I even made all of them rage quit on me. We then popped in Super Bomberman and I remember they all ganged up on me. I didn’t win a single Bomberman match that night. But was it worth it? Oh yeah, you know it ;)

Good ol' Raspy and I kicked some serious ass that night
Good times

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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World Heroes didn’t do so bad with the critics. EGM gave it ratings of 6, 6, 6 and 8. Super Play rated it 77%. However, there was some controversy created out of EGM’s less than stellar scores. Personally, I find their ratings to be fair. I can see how a fan would give this port an 8, but I can also see why someone different might give it a 6. It is a great port but keep in mind by the time this came out, Street Fighter II Turbo was already out and that game is a thousand times superior. If only Sunsoft were able to release it closer to mid 1993 then I think it would have fared a lot better. Anyway, the producer of the SNES port reached out to EGM in issue #52 (November 1993) to air his grievances.

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Dan’s letter and EGM’s earnest reply filled up the whole page! Two months later (issue #54, January 1994), 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 magazine. It was certainly an interesting read of both sides of the coin.

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 saw the EGM ratings you felt like you wanted to…

WHAdUS

But hey…

I could not believe the ad used the B word...
I could not believe the ad used the B word…

Just kidding, Dan. Great job, buddy.

[Don’t ever buddy me again -Dan MacArthur]

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Two of the coolest special moves in fighting game lore
Two of the coolest fighting game special moves ever

Gawd damn. 25 years huh. Where does the time go? 25 years ago today World Heroes first hit the arcades. I soon fell in love with it and it’s probably my number one sentimental favorite gaming franchise of all time. The SNES port is vastly underrated. Sunsoft did such a great job bringing home the visual stylings, the brutal Death Matches and the super easy to chain combos. A speed option would have helped but the regular speed isn’t too bad. Being able to change the controls to optimize the six button SNES pad makes this game infinitely more playable and enjoyable as a result. I feel like this port never got the credit it deserved back in 1993. Hell, it holds up rather well even nearly 25 years later.

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The fighters are HUGE! There isn’t a trace of slowdown anywhere. Special moves which made my jaw drop the first time I saw them in the arcade have all been faithfully translated. Even the Aftershock Effect remained intact! Speaking of which, the Death Matches add a touch of dark humor. World Heroes strikes that lovely balance of taking itself seriously enough yet at the same time a bit tongue-in-cheek to create a memorable playing experience. Although the sound effects lack the oomph you’d like to hear from a fighting game, some of those stage tunes are jamming. Dragon’s theme is stuck in my head. The announcer does a good job and those death cries are among the best I’ve heard in the genre.

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Maybe in the end World Heroes is the kind of game you had to have experienced back in the summer of 1992 to truly appreciate. If you were to pick it up today for the first time I can easily see how it may be dismissed after a few rounds and viewed as a poor man’s Street Fighter II. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, it was my jam 25 years ago. I still play the SNES port every now and again and it’s held up remarkably well. Happy 25th anniversary, and here’s hoping there’ll be a World Heroes 3 before all is said and done. But hey, at least we got World Heroes 2.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

 

I marked out when I saw this earlier this year!
I marked out when I saw this earlier this year!

WHRVG

SNES Classic Edition

It's happening
It’s happening

Yesterday news broke that Nintendo would indeed be releasing their SNES Classic Edition starting on September 29, 2017. Last year they released their NES Classic Edition for $60 and it was a smash hit. Rumors began swirling immediately that the SNES Classic Edition wouldn’t be far behind and sure enough, it’s almost here. For the low price of $80 here’s what you get:

  • HDMI support
  • SNES (super) mini
  • Two classic SNES controllers
  • 21 classic SNES games preloaded into the system

SNESClassic

Let’s take a closer look at all 21 games, in alphabetical order.

1. CONTRA III: THE ALIEN WARS

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One of the most intense action-packed 2 player SNES games ever made. Contra III is classic run and gun mayhem. Best experienced with a friend in tow, there’s nothing like blasting alien scum to Kingdom Come as you navigate your way through some of the most memorable moments in 16-bit gaming.

2. DONKEY KONG COUNTRY

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There were three DKC games released on the SNES, with many citing the second (Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest) as their favorite. I actually prefer the first one. Call it nostalgia but it was fresh, mind blowing for its time and the difficulty was just right. A little on the easy side at times, but it cranked it up when it needed to. Mainly, I enjoyed using Donkey Kong in all his glory. Don’t forget those amazing tunes, either!

3. EARTHBOUND

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Take The Wonder Years, Peanuts, Doug, The Goonies, Dragon Quest and put them all in a blender. You’d probably get something like EarthBound. Whimsical, unique and different, EarthBound is charming and captivating as hell. But there also lies some sneaky mature themes throughout, such as the loss of innocence in a corrupt world. A classic RPG any SNES fan should play through before all is said and done.

4. FINAL FANTASY III

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Arguably the greatest 16-bit RPG ever made, Final Fantasy III is an epic adventure. It took me nearly 50 hours to beat back in 2008 when I experienced it for the first time, and I loved every second of it. Memorable characters, plot twists, haunting music… it has it all. It’s too bad the almost-just-as-good Final Fantasy II isn’t also included, though. But if you had to pick just one, they made the right choice here.

5. F-ZERO

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It may seem a little outdated today, especially to F-Zero virgins, but this blew our minds back in 1991. It still holds up well, although it is a bit bare bones. Still a good choice. The music is awesome. You could say that for most of these games, quite frankly.

6. KIRBY’S DREAM COURSE

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Of all the games featured on the SNES Classic Edition, this is the most surprising. I don’t say that disparagingly! Kirby’s Dream Course combines the best of Kirby and golf. It’s a blast to play and addicting as hell. Glad this made the cut. It doesn’t get the props it deserves. Now a larger audience will get to experience this for the first time. As well as SNES fans from the ’90s who somehow missed out on this back in the day. A definite dark horse candidate for “Game I Didn’t Expect To Sink So Many Hours On.”

7. KIRBY SUPER STAR

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Rather than one grand adventure, Kirby Super Star is a compendium of nine standalone games. It’s vintage Kirby, and it’s loads of fun.

8. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST

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A no-brainer. One of the best SNES games ever, nay, one of the best video games of all time. A masterpiece in every sense, this adventure will forever remain timeless and quintessential. Who could ever forget the first time they saw that rain come whipping down?

9. MEGA MAN X

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The best Mega Man game on the SNES. Never before could the Blue Bomber move around like he does here. The ability to scale walls, ride armored machines and even throw a Hadoken made Mega Man X one unforgettable journey.

10. SECRET OF MANA

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The first ever 3-player action RPG, Secret of Mana was a marvel for its time. It’s a great game but one that I do feel is slightly overrated. Still, the ability to play it with two friends made it something special. It’ll be interesting to see if Nintendo releases a multitap for the SNES Classic Edition. 2-player Secret of Mana is still awesome but it’d be a shame not to be able to experience it as a 3-player affair. On a side note, I much prefer the Super Famicom-only sequel, Secret of Mana 2 AKA Seiken Densetsu 3.

11. STAR FOX

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Star Fox was pretty amazing back in 1993. It’s a little rough around the edges today in 2017, but hopefully people will be able to overlook the dated visuals which were considered fairly groundbreaking for its time.

12. STAR FOX 2

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The biggest news of this SNES Classic Edition is the inclusion of never before officially released Star Fox 2. This game was programmed back in the mid ’90s but never saw the light of day as the N64 was looming over the horizon. Of course the repro of this game has been available for many years now, but it’ll be nice to have an official release (especially HDMI-supported).

13. STREET FIGHTER II TURBO

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Some people argue Super Street Fighter II is better, but I’ll take Street Fighter II Turbo. Street Fighter II created a revolution, but it was Turbo that refined it. For my money this is hands down the best fighting game on the SNES. So many sore thumbs and even more sore egos courtesy of this game back in 1993. Good times.

14. SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

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It’s a little slow and the visuals are a bit outdated by today’s standards, but this was the definitive Castlevania game for many folks prior to Symphony of the Night. Being able to swing Simon’s whip in all directions made controlling him a breeze and loads of fun. There’s a beautiful simplicity to this game. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy taking down Count Dracula?

15. SUPER GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS

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Probably the hardest game of this list, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts suffers from some slowdown but still provides one hell, pardon the pun, of a romp through some ghastly levels. I’m glad this game made the list. It’s a classic but often slightly overlooked in lieu of some bigger names such as Super Metroid and Contra III. Well deserved, Sir Arthur. Well deserved. You’ll terrorize a whole new generation of gamers. Congrats, good sir.

16. SUPER MARIO KART

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The Mario Kart franchise is one of the most beloved of all time. It’s so good that it attracts even the most casual of gamers. There’s something very likable about the characters from the Mario universe, the various weapons and imaginative course designs that constantly bring people back for more and more. This is where it all started — it’s the granddaddy of all Mario Kart games. Still playable after all these years!

17. SUPER MARIO RPG: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN STARS

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Mario in an RPG? Nuts. Bowser as a playable good guy? Even more nuts. Yet it all works, to no one’s surprise. Super Mario RPG brings timing to the RPG party as well as some wacky, lovable characters. A good time for sure.

18. SUPER MARIO WORLD

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Released on the Super Famicom’s Launch Day of November 21, 1990, Super Mario World is still as playable today as it was nearly 30 years ago. Shigeru Miyamoto knows how to make a damn good video game, and his fingerprints are all over this one. Great visuals, amazing music and smooth gameplay. Can’t ask for much more.

19. SUPER METROID

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If there were a Super Nintendo Mount Rushmore, anyone who doesn’t include Super Metroid automatically has their list disqualified. You just can’t talk about the very best SNES games without mentioning this 24 MEG GEM. Adventure, atmosphere, gun slinging, exploration, Super Metroid has it all. And that is all.

20. SUPER PUNCH-OUT!!

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Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! was one of the best NES games ever made. Its sequel, Super Punch-Out!!, is also an excellent arcade-like take on the sport of boxing. It’s all about patterns, timing, memorization and execution. While the new boxers here may lack the personality of the NES game, it’s still one of my favorites and I’m happy to see it made the list.

21. YOSHI’S ISLAND

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Aside from baby Mario’s incredibly annoying crying whenever he’s dismounted, Yoshi’s Island is a daring and brilliant deviation from the standard Mario game formula. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I find it equally as splendid as Super Mario World — just in slightly different ways.

TOP NINE SNUBS

The NES Classic Edition had 30 games, but the SNES Classic Edition only carries 21. However, the 21 games here are obviously much lengthier than the ones found on the NES edition. While the 21 games represented are great choices, there are a few glaring omissions. Whether due to licensing or whatever, here are nine great SNES games (in alphabetical order) that are conspicuous by their absence.

Oh, and before we begin, I will refrain from including the following two titles due to the simple fact that it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any sort of multitap with the SNES Classic Edition. While both these games are still great as 2-player games, the real magic comes with a room of 4.

NBA Jam T.E.
NBA Jam T.E.
Super Bomberman
Super Bomberman

1. ACTRAISER

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An early first generation title and a classic one at that. ActRaiser switches seamlessly between side-scrolling levels of good old hack and slash platforming and a simulation mode where you must help build the land and protect the people. It’s a little simplistic but it didn’t need to be complex.

2. CHRONO TRIGGER

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Perhaps the most glaring omission of all, some believe Chrono Trigger to be the best SNES game ever created. Quite a loss, then, not to have one of the very best titles ever made in 16-bit history. Although I do understand at least a little bit since Nintendo already packed in three RPGs. Still, it’s tough losing out on this one.

3. DONKEY KONG COUNTRY 2: DIDDY’S KONG QUEST

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Although I prefer the original Donkey Kong Country, I’ll concede that this does play slightly better. If you had Yoshi’s Island to go along with Super Mario World, you probably should have added this as well. Alas, poor Diddy and newcomer Dixie Kong are left hanging… [HAR HAR -Ed.]

4. THE LEGEND OF THE MYSTICAL NINJA

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Another classic 2-player SNES game from the system’s early days. Perhaps this was a little too offbeat for Nintendo to include for the mainstream, however. If that is the case, that’s a shame because the gameplay shines through and speaks for itself. Note: This game is included in the Super Famicom Classic Edition as Ganbare Goemon.

5. POCKY & ROCKY

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Hard as nails, but also super fun with a friend right alongside ya! It’s too bad this got snuffed… it would have exposed Pocky & Rocky to a brand new generation of gamers.

6. SUNSET RIDERS

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Vintage glorious 2-player gun slinging action. ‘Nuff said.

7. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES IV: TURTLES IN TIME

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Next to Chrono Trigger, this is the biggest glaring omission. Not to mention it would have been the only beat ‘em up on the SNES Classic Edition. That makes its absence all the more egregious. No beat ‘em ups represented?! That’s a crime! But I totally understand it might have been a licensing issue and Nintendo simply not wanting to pay the extra cost for the Ninja Turtles brand. Whatever the case may be, it’s a shame. This defined many of our 16-bit childhoods and is arguably the finest beat ‘em up on the SNES.

8. TETRIS ATTACK

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No puzzle games are represented either, and Tetris Attack is the best as far as I’m concerned. This inclusion would have provided endless hours of cutthroat competitive play, and it saddens me that it didn’t make the cut. Well, at least for the American release. The Super Famicom Classic Edition does include this game but under its Japanese title of Panel de Pon.

9. ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS

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Come on, Nintendo. This is another classic childhood game for many of us who grew up in the early ’90s. Every kid played this game to death that holiday season of 1993. Sure, it may be a little overrated but it’s freaking ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS! Nintendo, you could have even tweaked it to make it better. Think about an easier difficulty setting, a strafe button, etc. A missed opportunity any way you slice it.

10. KEN GRIFFEY JR. PRESENTS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

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This is my honorable mention. I love this game and it was also published by Nintendo. I see why it wasn’t included, though. Fake player names, outdated rosters and so forth. But damn is this game fun. Many people, even non baseball fans, still play it to this very day. It would also have been the only sports title featured in the package.

SUPER FAMICOM CLASSIC EDITION

I THINK I AM TURNING JAPANESE...
“I THINK I AM TURNING JAPANESE…”

In Japan, the system will include Panel de Pon (Tetris Attack)Fire Emblem: Mystery of the EmblemGanbare Goemon: The Legend of the Mystical NinjaSuper Soccer, and Super Street Fighter II. These titles replace EarthBoundKirby’s Dream CourseStreet Fighter II Turbo, Super Castlevania IV, and Super Punch-Out!! from the US model.

Super Punch-Out!! was never released in Japan. Strange but true. I guess they’re keeping true to form 20+ years later…

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Welcome back, dear old friend
Welcome back, dear old friend

For $80 this is an insane bargain. Having 21 classic SNES titles, with HDMI support, in one tiny system is greatly appealing particularly to those who don’t already own these classics. You’re talking less than $4 a game, and that’s not including the system. Sadly, the NES Classic Edition suffered from lack of production and over demand, causing scalpers to swoop in and take advantage. Preorders for the SNES Classic Edition are going fast and resellers are everywhere posed to capitalize. $300 markups would be a safe bet. Of course, when you consider some of these games sell TODAY for close to $300 individually, $300 might still seem like a good deal for 21 games. And it is, at less than $15 a game. But it would be a shame to pay $300 for something that is retailing for just $80. As always, it’s a call only the individual can make. I already own all these games so I’d pass if the asking price is $300, but at $80 I would probably bite. But what are the odds I’ll be able to find one for $80? Probably not high.

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But on a more happy note, I’m just ecstatic that my favorite console, the Super Nintendo, is back in the mainstream spotlight. I expect a ton of nostalgia to overcome young adults in their 30s who see this package and go “Oh wow, I haven’t played these games in 20, 25 years!” It just makes me happy knowing the SNES will once again bask in the glow of the spotlight. Nintendo plans to stop production of these Classic Editions at the end of 2017, so the spotlight will be short-lived, but it’s nice knowing come September a lot of casual people will be buying a Super Nintendo in 20-freaking-17. And who knows, it may lead to something bigger. At the very least, exposure never hurts and it thrills me that younger generations of gamers will have a chance to play and appreciate these classics. That’s a definite win in my book!

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EXTRA EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Speaking of SNES comebacks...
Speaking of SNES comebacks…

By the way, it recently came to my attention that BS Shockman is getting an official Super Famicom release June of 2017! Wow! The SNES scene is booming right now in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. BS Shockman is also known as BS Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero. Check out my review for more info.

Fun 2-player game worth checking out
Fun 2-player game worth checking out

Rock on, SNES. Rock the f*ck on.

Street Fighter II (SNES)

Pub and Dev: Capcom | July 1992 | 16 MEGS
Pub and Dev: Capcom | July 1992 | 16 MEGS

Released in early 1991, Street Fighter II would forever change the course of gaming history. Sweeping coast to coast like a blistering tornado, swooping up everyone ruthlessly in its path, Street Fighter II took the video game world by storm. Gamers cutting classes, thousands of quarters disposed and endless lines — it was all just another day at the office for Capcom’s epochal once in a generation masterpiece. It was more than just a game; it was a phenomenon. Street Fighter II became a way of life for many. Never before did a game offer the endless combinations that Street Fighter II presented. In every pizza parlor, arcade hall, 7-11 — anywhere you could imagine — there was bound to be a Street Fighter II arcade cab with a line of eager players not far behind. Capcom had truly created a monster.

Then came the murmurs. If you put your ear low to the ground, you could hear the rumblings. Capcom was porting their money maker over to the Super Nintendo. The thought of being able to play the game in the comfort of your living room with no lines, no sticky buttons and no quarters? It was every kid’s dream come true in early 1992. That summer we got our wish when Street Fighter II made its home debut with a splash. Capcom pulled out all the stops, making this the first 16 MEG monster on the SNES. It was a glorious summer, indeed.

You've made it when you're on the cover of snacks!
You’ve made it when you’re on the cover of snacks!

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Eight warriors spanning the globe, each with their own special moves, six buttons of varying speed and strength, unique quarter motions requiring some degree of skill, combos… Capcom caught lightning in a bottle.

Anyone who was a gamer and involved in the arcade scene back in the early ’90s has a story about Street Fighter II. This is mine…

SUMMER 1991

Pride comes before the fall...
Pride comes before the fall…

My dad drove me, my brother Kevin and his friends to a 7-11 one hot summer day. We were going to pick up some chips and slurpees to enjoy on this scorching summer day. Inside was a Street Fighter II cab, naturally. One of my brother’s friends, Mike, challenged me to a duel right there in the store. Ahh, Mike was a classic dude. He was a burly 10 year old cocky punk who acted tougher than he really was. I selected Dhalsim because I was always drawn to underdogs and “freaks.” Mike was trash talking even before the match began. I wasn’t yet skilled enough to pull off a special move, hell, I didn’t even know how! But on that day it didn’t matter, for you see, Mike had no answer for Dhalsim’s long limbs. I ended up perfecting him two rounds in a row! It was the upset of the decade! My seven and a half year old self couldn’t believe it, and neither could Mike, who just stood there completely in shock.

My brother and Mike’s other friend were jumping around going “OHHHH!!!” I became the man of the hour, and Mike was never going to live this moment down, ever. I knew then and there Street Fighter II was no ordinary game. It’s a memory that’s never left me. The moment cemented me as a Dhalsim and Street Fighter II fan for life. And to this day, whenever I happen to step inside a 7-11 to pick up a cold drink on a hot summer day, I can’t help but think back to that moment in time.

1991 was a good year. Damn, it's been 25 years...
1991 was a good year. Damn, it’s been 25 years…

My bro, his friends and I used to frequent a local card shop, TRIPLE PLAY, on a biweekly basis. My bro would get 2 bucks to spend, and I’d get a dollar from my dad. I always spent that dollar on a Marvel 1991 trading card pack. My brother would as well, and then he’d use his last remaining dollar on the Street Fighter II cab. Kevin would occasionally spare me a quarter (what a great older brother, eh?) but most of the times I just stood by, happily checking out my new Marvel cards while keeping an eye on the older kids trading fireballs and fists.

Once in a while a game transcends gaming itself
Once in a while a game transcends gaming itself

And as the 8-bit Nintendo was making its final push in the US, word broke out about a SUPER Nintendo. A machine that promised to break all boundaries of modern technology and bring home the next wave of console gaming. Later that year the SNES launched and quality software like Super Mario World, Contra III: The Alien Wars and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past ensured that the SNES hype was real.

Released November 21, 1990
Street Fighter II and SNES — a match made in Heaven

However, as great as those titles were and as much as they contributed to the ascension of the Super Nintendo, to me it was Street Fighter II that truly etched the system’s greatness in granite.

The anticipation built to a fever pitch
The anticipation built to a fever pitch

On a hot summer night in 1992, my brother and mom left to Sears Funtronics with one simple mission in mind: secure and bring home the hottest 16-bit video game. I stayed back and time seemed to slow down to a crawl. The seconds felt like minutes. The minutes felt like hours. Fight fever had officially taken over. When my bro finally made it back with Street Fighter II in hand, I’m pretty sure all my neighbors could hear our cries of joy. It was yet another moment in time of being nine years old, growing up in suburbia and experiencing the best era of video gaming.

sf2introsf2intro2

 

 

 

 

 

Right off the bat we noticed the little intro was missing, but honestly, we didn’t really care. It still felt like we had the arcade in our living room! Or at the very least, a strong slice of the arcade. And at that time, July 1992, that was more than enough to leave a lasting imprint on all of us.

sf2select

sfcontinue
No more quarters needed ^_^

THE WORLD WARRIORS

ryustanceRYU
DOB: 7.21.64
5’10” 150 lbs

The main character of the franchise, Ryu became the face of fighting games. A master of the Shotokan martial art, Ryu lives for the fight and only the fight. While some may consider him to be a little bland, there’s no denying he’s an iconic character who holds claim to some of the most legendary special moves in all of fighting game history.

ryustage

Duke it out on the dojo rooftop. Only the privileged few have ever step foot here. And you were lucky to leave the dojo on your own two feet!

ryusf2ryusf3Ah, the Hadoken fireball. Arguably the most iconic move in fighting game history, you just can’t beat a good old Hadoken.

 

ryusf4ryusf5

The classic Hurricane Kick.

ryusfryusf1

The double axe kick is a good way to polish off combos. It does a fair amount of damage. Your victim even vomits, which was always a fun sight gag.

ryusf7

SHO-RYU-KEN! The Dragon Punch, much like Ryu himself, has often been imitated but so rarely duplicated.

kenstanceKEN
DOB: 2.14.65
5’10” 169 lbs

Friend and foe of Ryu’s, Ken is the more flamboyant of the two. He knows every move that Ryu knows. But unlike Ryu, Ken believes there is more to life than just the fight. In battle he is often times reckless and has a higher propensity to show off. Will arrogance be Ken’s ultimate undoing?

kenstage

Ken loves having an audience, and this boat provides him with just that. Storage barrels line the battle field and break if hit violently.

 

 

"HADOKEN!"
“HADOKEN!”

kensf3

Ken’s Hurricane Kick packs a wallop when administered in succession.

kensf5

“ARE YOU KEN!?” Wait, no, I’M Ken…

kenthrowkenthrow1kenthrow3

 

 

 

Ken and Ryu are virtually identical in Street Fighter II, except Ken’s kick throw sees him tumbling his victim through the air like a circus act. Yup, Ken was always the showoff.

Pretty much!
Pretty much!

hondastanceE. HONDA
DOB: 11.3.60
6’2″ 304 lbs

Edmond Honda entered the World Warrior tournament to prove the legitimacy of sumo wrestling to an unbelieving world. A winner of the “Yokozuna” title, E. Honda also holds claim to having the fastest hands known to mankind. He’s more agile than he looks, reminding one to never judge a book by its cover.

hondastage

A well-polished ring is kept ready for combat whether sumo or street fighting. He forbids spectators as Honda isn’t about spectacle but rather the pure uninterrupted spirit of true competition. Honda likes cooling off in his hot tub between battles.

hondasf2hondasf3His double knee inflicts a good amount of damage. It’s like being whacked by a tree limb!

 

 

Ken may never have kids...
Ken may never have kids…
Nutcracker city y'all
Nutcracker city y’all
Hundred Hand Bitch Slap
Hundred Hand Bitch Slap

blanstanceBLANKA
DOB: 2.12.66
6’5″ 218 lbs

For years natives have reported seeing something strange roaming deep within the rain forest. Although the stories vary, a few things remain consistent. This half man, half beast is incredibly fast, savage and as green as the rain forest itself. The creature became something of a “Brazilian Boogeyman.” The local government refused to acknowledge it and even ordered a media black out. That didn’t stop certain vigilantes however from setting up camp and trying to snap a shot of the wild beast. After years of murmurs and rumors, the creature known as Blanka emerged out of the shadows to win the great Street Fighter II tournament.

blanstage

After hiding in seclusion for years in the Brazilian rain forest, Blanka is now ready to take on the world. The natives are shocked to see the beast in the light of day and snap photos to prove that their eyes aren’t deceiving them. Imagine if this game were made in 2010. Those old cameras would be replaced with iPhones recording the action!

A savage attack befitting of a wild beast
A savage attack befitting a wild beast
He's got an electric personality...
He’s got an electric personality…

blankbite1

We get a hint of blood with Blanka’s face bite. Nintendo of America was very sensitive with blood back in those early days, so mad respect to Capcom for being able to sneak in as much as they did.

blanksf5blanksf6

Double Knee Smasher!

blanksf7blanksf8

Momma always said use your noggin.

guilestanceGUILE
DOB: 12.23.60
6’1″ 191 lbs

During a special mission in Thailand, Guile and his best pal Charlie were captured by a tyrant named M. Bison. Charlie was murdered at the hands of M. Bison, and ever since then Guile has been out for blood. Using a unique blend of Special Forces training and street fighting skills, Guile is one of the most beloved characters of all time. Although Ryu and Ken were the faces of the game, Guile was always that cool alternative protagonist. He had the looks, the moves and who could ever forget his epic stage music?

guilestage

His comrades cheer him on to victory. Wooden boxes shatter like a Spanish announcer table at a WWE event.

guilesf1guilesf2guilesf3

 

 

 

 

 

Guile’s Sonic Boom is nearly just as iconic as the Hadoken itself. In some ways, I even prefer it to the Hadoken. Remember the jab version being so slow that in some cases you could follow it up with a well timed backfist? Super satisfying.

It never gets old, never
It never gets old, never

guilesweepguilesweep1If at first you don’t succeed…

 

 

... then try again!
… then try again!
Suplex City, Bitch
Suplex City, bitch

guileair

guileair1

guileair2

guileair3

guileair4

guileair5

CHUN LI
DOB: 3.1.68
5’8″ Never ask a lady her weight!

The so-called “Strongest Woman in the World” entered the tournament in hopes of avenging her father’s death, whose death she believes is on the head of a mysterious crime lord known only as M. Bison. Her obsession with vengeance fuels her every move, but will her burning passion for blood lust be her downfall? It’s a razor thin line; I wouldn’t want to get in her way! And between Guile and Chun Li, M. Bison better have eyes in the back of his head…

chunstage

In a quaint Chinese village there lies a small but bustling marketplace. As a customary form of travel, many folks leisurely pass by on bicycles. Meanwhile, a man in the background is busy preparing a chicken to be sold to customers. It’s just another hard day’s work to make ends meet.

Spinning Bird Kick!
Spinning Bird Kick!
Tap dance away
Tap dance away
Chun Li with the educated feet
Chun Li with the educated feet

chunwall

chunthrow

chunthrow1

Always a nice touch ^_^
Always a nice touch ^_^

zanstanceZANGIEF
DOB: 6.1.56
7’0″ 256 lbs

The strongest man in the tournament, this Russian wrestler fights bears for fun. And that’s really all you need to know. Zangief is not very user friendly — only the most advanced Street Fighter II players will be able to use him effectively. Man of a thousand holds, he owns the most devastating move in the game: the Spinning Piledriver! Pretty much every fighting game that came after this had a strong man with a similar big move. In that regard, like him or not, Zangief was something of a trailblazer.

zanstage

Zangief works long hours six days a week at this industrial factory in Mother Russia. During his break, as a way to entertain himself, he takes on all comers. His comrades cheer on from the sidelines.

Uh oh...
Uh oh…

The Spinning Piledriver is the hardest move to execute, but it also dishes out the most damage.

zan360shit

Avoid fireballs with the Spinning Clothesline
Avoid fireballs with the Spinning Clothesline
Zangief learned a thing or two from Haggar!
Haggar taught Zangief well

dhalstanceDHALSIM
DOB: 11.22.52
5’10” (varies) 107 lbs (varies)

Ahhh, the first fighter I ever picked. Dhalsim and I bonded from day one. He’s incredibly flexible and has the ability to stretch his limbs to attack opponents from a distance. This makes him a formidable foe not to be taken lightly, despite his lack of speed. Over the course of his long life Dhalsim has sought to unify his mind, body and soul through the discipline of Yoga. Through his meditation he’s able to spew fire from deep within. He makes for quite the hit at summer BBQs!

dhalstage

Dhalsim loves to meditate inside this indoor temple and stretch [Really? -Ed.] to gear up for battle. He’s proud of the rich wall tapestry and finely crafted architecture that represents his heritage.

I don't think he washes his feet...
I don’t think he washes his feet…
Stretch fighters became a staple of the genre
Stretch fighters became a staple of the genre

dhalnogiedhalnogie1The Yoga Noogie is an alternative option to Dhalsim’s regular throw. Instead of forward + fierce you press toward + medium. I liked how the game gave you two options for Dhalsim (and a few others, such as Honda and Guile). Besides, what’s better than pounding on someone’s skull so hard that they’re forced to do squats?

dhalbuttdhalbutt1Up close Dhalsim is not the best striker, but this double headbutt is a notable hit. It’s similar to Blanka’s double headbutt, but it’s much stronger and I love the sound effect it makes. You can really feel the power of Dhalsim’s cranium.

dhalsfdhalsf1The Yoga Fire was always one of my favorite fireballs in all of fighting games. Because it’s literally just that. A fireball! Plus it looks so simple and it actually sets your opponent on fire if they fail to block it. It made Dhalsim extra cool in my book that he was the only fighter who could produce this animation.

Yoga Flame for closer distance and more damage
Yoga Flame inflicts even more damage
Available for summer BBQ bookings
Available for summer BBQ bookings!

THE BOSSES

Originally M. Bison in Japan
M. Bison in Japan
Battle Balrog under the Las Vegas lights!
Battle Balrog under the Las Vegas lights!
Ryu, you're supposed to run before he counts
Ryu, you’re supposed to run before he counts
Mike Tyson > Balrog
Mike Tyson > Balrog
Balrog in Japan
Balrog in Japan
The masked ninja will climb the fence in a pinch
The masked ninja will climb the fence in a pinch
Ryu's eternal nemesis
Ryu’s eternal nemesis
Chest scar courtesy of Ryu from the first Street Fighter
Chest scar courtesy of Ryu from the first Street Fighter
Vega in Japan
Vega in Japan

capebisoncapebison1capebison2

 

 

 

 

 

Bison tossing off his cape right before the battle begins was so badass.

Can you withstand his twisted Psycho powers?
Can you withstand his twisted Psycho powers?

BONUS ROUNDS

The thing about bricks...
The thing about bricks is this…
"BRICKS DON'T HIT BACK"
“BRICKS DON’T HIT BACK”

sfcarsfcar1

sfcar2sfcar3

Best bonus round ever
Best bonus round ever

sfcar6

Simply classic stuff
Simply classic stuff

sfbricktoss1

sfbricktoss2

sfbricktoss

STREET FIGHTER II: THE SILLY WARRIOR

You know what this reminds me of?
You know what this reminds me of?
Mr. Sparkle!
Mr. Sparkle!

sf5onit

shinobi-sf

shinobi-sf1

[Yeah, I blocked this memory out. THANKS -Ed.]
[Yeah, I blocked this memory out. THANKS -Ed.]
Creepy witches...
Creepy witches abound…

sf2limbo

Meditate and maybe you'll be this forgiving, too!
Meditate and maybe you’ll be this forgiving, too…

DIZZY RAMA

ryudizzy

kendizzy

blandizzy

hondizzy

guiledizzy

chundizzy

zandizzy

dhaldizzy

While strikes and special moves are nice, they don’t mean nearly as much as when they’re linked together. Two-in-ones and combos are the heartbeat of true master champions.

An uppercut, deadly in its own right...
Deadly in its own right…
But when chained...
But when chained into another attack…
It becomes absolutely lethal!
It becomes absolutely lethal!

COMBO TIPS AND STRATEGIES

Every kid bought this guide back in the day
Every kid bought this guide back in the day

My brother and I even bought the GamePro Street Fighter II Strategy Guide back in 1992. It was the first guide we ever bought, and to this day it remains my favorite guide of all time. I wasn’t a huge fan of GamePro Magazine, but this guide was awesome. Over 2,000 full color screenshots and combos galore.

RYU

combosfsnesJumping fierce

Standing fierce

Dragon Punch

47% damage

KEN

Jumping roundhouse
Jumping roundhouse
Standing fierce
Standing fierce
Quickly cancel into Hadoken
Quickly cancel into a Hadoken
Opponent still reeling...
Opponent still reeling…
Still reeling...
Still reeling…
A thing of beauty it is
A thing of beauty

E. HONDA

combosfsnes3Jumping fierce

Standing strong

Ducking fierce

44% damage

combosfsnes3bJumping fierce

Standing roundhouse (double hit)

42% damage

CHUN LI

combosfsnes4Jumping fierce

Standing strong

Ducking roundhouse

39% damage

combosfsnes4bJumping jab

Standing jab

Standing strong

Standing fierce

42% damage

BLANKA

combosfsnes5Jumping roundhouse

Standing strong

Ducking roundhouse

41% damage

combosfsnes5bJumping fierce

Ducking forward

Rolling Attack

44% damage

GUILE

Throw a jab Sonic Boom
Throw a jab Sonic Boom
Follow up
Follow up
Spinning backfist
Spinning backfist

combosfsnes8Jumping fierce

Ducking strong

Standing strong

FLASH KICK

60% damage!

combosfsnes9Jumping jab

Standing jab

Sonic Boom

Standing jab

Ducking short

47% damage

ZANGIEF

combosfsnes10Jumping short

Ducking jab

Ducking short

SPINNING PILEDRIVER

63% (!!!) damage

combosfsnes11Jumping fierce

Ducking strong

Ducking roundhouse

41% damage

DHALSIM

Slide right before a fireball
Slide right before a fireball
You slide under and take 'em out
You slide under and take ‘em out
Dhalsim is so skinny...
Dhalsim is so skinny…
... that he can even fit under a Hadoken!
… that he can even fit under a Hadoken!
It's effective against a fireball happy foe
It’s effective against a fireball happy foe

combosfsnes14

Here’s the classic roundhouse fireball “trap.”

Throw a fireball of any speed. When they jump, knock them out of the sky with a roundhouse kick!

combosfsnes15

You can harass opponents by throwing a jab fireball and then quickly executing a ducking fierce for an easy, almost unavoidable hit!

ENDINGS

sfendings

Finish the game on levels 0-2 and you’ll be asked to challenge a harder level.

Levels 3-5 earns you your character’s ending.

Level 6 or 7 will display the credits. You also get to watch your favorite world warriors mix it up in a demo mode.

If beaten without ever changing characters
If beaten without ever changing characters
No swapping, no continues
No swapping, no continues

And should you not lose one round on level 7, then you can press start to make Chun Li say “Yatta!” (Japanese for I did it).

Let’s take a look at some of the endings.

RYU

sfending2

BLANKA

sfending3

sfending4

sfending5

sfending7

sfending8

blankaendg

GUILE

sfending9sfending9b

 

 

 

 

 

 

sfending10

sfending11

sfending12

sfending13

sfending14

sfending15

sfending15b

sfending15c

WHOA!
WHOA!
Please edit that out...
Please edit that out…

KEN

sfending16

sfending17

sfending18

Damn all these beautiful girls...
Damn all these beautiful girls…

sfending20

sfending21

sfending22

"See? She was with me first..."
“See? She was with me…”
"And me!"
“Me too!”
"Who else have you been with?"
“Who else have you been with?”

sfending26

sfending27

sfending28

"Who else have you been with?"
“And then I saw the footage…”

sfending29

sfending30

sfending32

sfending33

Things got rather graphic...
Things get rather graphic…
Moral: Pick the rock, not the ho
Moral: Pick the rock, not the ho
Whoa easy there, pal
Whoa easy there, pal!

“Oh, you’re getting married? Then prepare to be like me. You’ll be choking the chicken night and day, sir…”

Wait, what just happened? Uh, let’s just move on…

FIGHT FEVER

Everywhere you looked, Street Fighter II dominated
Everywhere you looked, Street Fighter II dominated

The pages (and covers) of EGM were dominated by Capcom’s 2D juggernaut. Every month there was page after page of coverage. Overkill? Quite possibly, but as EGM once wrote in an editorial, you go with what sells. And did Street Fighter II on the SNES sell or what! Sales for the first week set new records. Nearly everyone and their brother were drunk with Street Fighter II fever.

Soon thereafter came the clones. Many other companies started putting out their own fighting games in hopes of capturing lightning in a bottle and get their own slice of the pie. The years 1992-1994 were absolutely inundated by fighting games, and it was considered the “fighting game golden age.” I remember fondly a time where each time you visited the arcades, it felt like there was a new fighting game that popped up overnight like a pimple on prom night. It was an exciting and wild time if you loved fighting games as much as I did. But of course, very few came close to even sniffing the jock strap of Street Fighter II.

Here’s an excerpt from EGM’s September 1992 Insert Coin that captures that time frame in a nutshell quite well.

THE STREET FIGHTER II PHENOMENON

Could Street Fighter fever last forever? Yes, it could...
Could Street Fighter fever last forever? Yes, it could…

OK, by now virtually everybody in the country has the mega-hot Street Fighter II. Judging by the hundreds of letters we have already received, player satisfaction with this prime cart is at an all-time high. The impact of this game goes beyond just the software sales. Based on the letters we have received, literally thousands have bought Super Nintendos just to play this. SNK has just brought out a huge 87 meg fighting game called World Heroes, and we see no end in sight. How long will Street Fighter II stay popular? Most likely through the holidays. Or maybe forever. All in all, a big tip of the hat has to go to Capcom for all of the work they did in creating this phenomenon. This could be the Game of the Year!

EGM CREATES AN INTERNATIONAL MONSTER

When an innocent prank becomes legendary
When an innocent prank becomes legendary

EGM ran a joke in their April 1992 issue about how to fight a mysterious character named Sheng Long. Many thought this to be real including Hong Kong publication JADEMAN COMICS, who ended up printing the fake code. It later made its way to England’s GAME ZONE, who not only printed the code but updated it to supposedly work on the SNES port! Talk about lack of research…

The infamous Sheng Long April Fools joke became something of a legend and even infiltrated its way into Street Fighter II lore. EGM would go on to conduct annual April Fools jokes as a reader contest, but they never could quite recapture the magic like they had with the Sheng Long gag.

Check out this blurb from Super Play:

sfending40

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

  • EGM: 10, 10, 9, 9  (won EGM’s 1992 Game of the Year)
  • GameFan: 100, 99, 97, 95, 88%
  • Super Play: 94%

CLOSING THOUGHTS

One of the most iconic and influential games ever
One of the most iconic and influential games ever

Street Fighter II was a happening. When it hit arcade scenes in early 1991 it changed the way we viewed video games. Sure, fighting games had existed before but it wasn’t until Street Fighter II that fighting games became a staple of the video gaming fabric. It spawned numerous clones, some of which were forgettable but a few became heavy fan favorites, and it was thanks to Street Fighter II for largely paving the way. The Super Nintendo port, while far from perfect, sure felt close to perfect back in the summer of ’92 when it originally came out. It was the first game that made me feel like we could finally play arcade games at home. Final Fight did a decent job of that, but there were too many blatant sacrifices. With Street Fighter II, however, it was a glimpse into the future that home systems were now JUST powerful enough to faithfully capture the spirit and essence of an arcade game. Moreover, I just remember the summer and fall of 1992 being dominated by SNES Street Fighter II, blistered thumbs and bruised egos. My friends and I played it to death — it was truly THE game to have back in those days.

Sure, there are far superior ports of Street Fighter II available today, and many do view the Super Nintendo port as obsolete and nothing but a nostalgic remembrance. Call me crazy but I still occasionally play this game and I’ll be damned if I don’t still love it. Even to this day, I find myself impressed by the port, knowing what they were able to squeeze into a Super Nintendo cartridge. Yeah it has the slow speed of the arcade original, and yeah it’s technically imperfect, but as a Super Nintendo game released in July of 1992, it was nothing short of a beast.

Keep on keeping on, Street Fighter
Keep on keeping on, Street Fighter

I feel very lucky that when the Street Fighter craze went down I was young enough to be awestruck yet just old enough to appreciate the magnitude of the event. Capcom hit lightning in a bottle, sparking a cross-cultural phenomenon. For every Hadoken shot around the world, every Dragon Punch, and for every Flash Kick, the Street Fighter legacy rocks on.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Longevity: 9

Overall: 10

Platinum Award
Platinum Award

Hats off to you, Capcom. We’ll never forget the memories of that special time in video gaming when fighting games were all the rage. A time when going to the arcades was the highlight of your week and everyone, truly, was kung fu fighting. No matter how old we shall grow, we’ll always remember those halcyon times and cherish those good old days forever.