World Heroes Anthology PS2 Review

For the uninitiated, World Heroes was a 2D Neo Geo fighting game in line with the likes of Street Fighter and King of Fighters that featured a roster of characters consisting of Bruce Lee, Hulk Hogan and M. Bison, or at least people that bare a strong resemblance to them anyway. It never had the strong following, nor historical significance that the aforementioned games did and still do, which makes the existence of World Heroes Anthology a bit strange, though it has to be said that it does have a minor cult following that will be glad that their beloved series has received such special treatment. Good for them.

Most people know that story is hardly of any real importance in a fighting game, people play them to beat other people up after all, and indeed most plots (if they can even be called that) in such games are paper thin. The same can be said for all of the World Heroes games, though they deserve a mention for their silliness alone, which sees a professor build a time machine for the purpose of gathering together warriors from contrasting time periods to beat each other up, ultimately finding out who the greatest warrior ever is.

The original game is horrifically dated today, with ugly sprites and a lethargic pace of play. The characters are essentially just carbon copies of either real people or famous game characters and not one of them has the personality of legendary personalities from the best 2D fighting games on offer.

The modes are largely of the traditional kind, though the Death Match mode, that sees various hazards (all of which hurt) placed around the arenas, is fairly unique, though nothing more than a novelty really, most likely being implemented to get the game noticed over its more famous counterparts. It has to be said though that pushing a likeminded opponent into walls of fire and the like, still never fails to entertain.

World Heroes 2 is a noticeable improvement over its prequel. It was a much faster paced game and as a result much more pleasurable to play. Throwing manoeuvres were overpowered in the first game, but in this one you’re able to struggle free, via good old button mashing, but care must be taken as your reversals can also be reversed. Projectile attacks can be countered too, blocking them at the right moment and sending them right back from whence they came.

The Death Match mode from the first game had some attention lavished upon it, making it a far more appealing and strategic prospect than the slightly gimmicky version introduced in the original game. There was plenty more opportunities to hurt your opponents (of course the same applies to your good self). The mode has further changes, not least of which is the presence of just one lengthy power bar shared between the two combatants, of which brought a tug-of-war like mechanic into proceedings. If any fighters manage to get the bar full of their respective colour, their opponents will hit the deck and have ten seconds to struggle back to their feet, before he or she is knocked out.

World Heroes 2 Jet was the first in the series to run at a completely satisfactory pace and introduced backward and forward dashing commands, whilst the characters were refined resulting in combatants that were far more satisfying to take charge of.

Perhaps the biggest change was the games structure. This time around you have to take on adversaries in teams of three, though thankfully not altogether, but rather one after the other, at least two of which must be defeated before you’re able to further advance in the tournament.

World Heroes Perfect is the best in the series, fittingly so as it was the final game. The speed is even brisker than World Heroes 2 Jet, whilst move-lists have been further expanded and super moves were added to each characters repertoires. For moves that are supposed to be “super” these are woefully underpowered and actually less effective than many of the combos. As a result they’re a rather pointless inclusion, that will only be used by those that want to mix their game up a little, or those looking for a bit more flash in their battles, but otherwise they’re barely worth the effort to execute.

World Heroes Anthology may not contain the best 2D fighting games, but all but one of them are at the least enjoyable enough distractions from the better games. Fans will defienly get a kick out of having all the games neatly together on a single disc, whilst the low price point makes it entry worthy for even the most faintly curious of people.