It wasn’t too long ago that I was singing the praises of Fatal Fury Battle Archives vol. 2 for bringing great, classic fighting games back, and allowing everyone the chance to experience some of the best fighting games of years past. While SNK did the world a service by bringing the Real Bout Fatal Fury games back, I personally don’t think they did much good in bringing the World Heroes games into the twenty-first century. While FFBA2 offered some insight into past games which were unique and influential, World Heroes Anthology doesn’t have the same lasting value its other compilation counterpart had.
World Heroes Anthology, as the name suggests, contains the entire World Heroes series, which consists of World Heroes, World Heroes 2, World Heroes 2: Jet and World Heroes Perfect. What set the series apart from the many other Street Fighter clones and quality SNK fighters, at the time, was…well…I don’t really know. Aside from possibly the worst cast of characters I’ve ever seen in a fighting game (which includes a few ninjas, a homosexual Russian who fights by Cossack dancing, a robotic Nazi, Hulk Hogan, Joan of Arc, a football player and Bruce Lee), the three-button charge-heavy gameplay, which lacks the typical SNK flare, just doesn’t feel particularly great in any of the four games. It all feels generic. There’s a notable progression between the games, and they certainly aren’t bad…but when stacked up against many of the other games at the time that have lasting value…there’s just not much there. Getting back to the characters, as a King of Fighters fan who first got interested in SNK through that series, World Heroes is pretty much totally void of any presence outside its own series, so while Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Metal Slug, and so on and so forth are either ongoing series or have been immortalized in the timeless King of Fighters series…World Heroes ended, and that was it, making it feel like nothing more than a relic of little value. Because of this, I just wasn’t as engaged in the game. There are some really lame characters in the King of Fighters series that were carried over from past series, like Fatal Fury’s Duck King (a break-dancing, Mohawk-headed, cargo shorts wearer with a pet duck) and Psycho Soldier’s on-again-off-again schoolboy in a green unitard, Sie Kensou, so the laughably bad World Heroes crew might’ve been more appealing if they weren’t an isolated cast of weirdoes…but we’ll never know now.
As with other SNK games, World Heroes was made on the 1990-borne Neo-Geo arcade technology. As such, it’s not that impressive when it comes to graphics or sound by today’s standards. The sprites are decent, with good shading and distinctive looks for each character (no Scorpion, Subzero, Smoke, Noob stuff) and the backgrounds are all nicely done. Voice acting is grainy and weird, as is to be expected and the music is repetitive and annoying on its own. As I’ve said in other SNK reviews…they were good for the time, classic hardware, blah blah blah. You either like it or you don’t at this point, or you don’t care. No matter what, you know you’re not getting anything especially nice to look at here.
So here we are again. The end of another fighting game compilation review. I usually like these fighting game compilations. I enjoyed the two Street Fighter combo packs, and I liked the Fatal Fury compilation. But not this one. Personally, I’d say that between King of Fighters XI, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, King of Fighters 2006, Fatal Fury Battle Archives, King of Fighters Neowave, Street Fighter Alpha Collection, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, the upcoming Samurai Showdown and King of Fighters compilations, the nice-to-dabble-in Fatal Fury Special on the Xbox Live Arcade, the upcoming remake of Street Fighter II, the being-tested-in-Japan Street Fighter IV, the drool-inspiring King of Fighters XII, and so on and so forth…there’s just lots of better fighting games to be had. Get this one if World Heroes was a major part of your childhood. Maybe. Everyone else can steer clear, and pick up one of the many other quality titles from SNK if you want a fighting game fix.