Evo 2010 took place this past weekend in Las Vegas, and with it came blazing matches and gritty dogfights in games such as Super Street Fighter IV, Melty Blood, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which stunned quite a few observers with the energy, smoothness, and excitement generated by the roughhouse specificity of the contests. This week’s Retro Review is of a Sega Genesis game that might surprise players as well. World Heroes, developed by ADK (Alpha Deshi Corporation) for the Neo Geo and ported to several gaming systems including the Sega Genesis, was initially written off as an inferior Street Fighter clone. While it clearly borrows heavily from Street Fighter and isn’t nearly as complex as its contemporaries, hidden within its dull exterior lies a combat system that does make for some rousing matches.
The story is threadbare at best. You are approach a scientist named Doc Brown (*sigh) to go time traveling to fight differing generations of competitors. This tournament was supposedly held to fight fighters to defeat Geegus, an alien who wants to destroy earth. However, this is never referenced in the game until the end when Geegus and his space ship appear from some dark corner of the universe to challenge you. The unimaginative characters do not help shield the humdrum story.
The characters are rather bland and function as deficient Street Fighter discards. There’s the ninja, the wrestler, the Bruce Lee clone, and the guy with the extending arms. All of the characters are based off historical people or literature, with the exception of one: Rasputin. Rasputin is an exact copy of the Russian Mystic we all know and love, complete with giant glowing hands, fireballs, and green energy shield. However, the characters are simply a means to a cause, that cause being fighting is some of the best areas around the world.
The stages in World Heroes are some of the most fun backgrounds in fighting games. In rural Japan, you are surrounded by karate performing monkeys before a breathtaking blue mountain. In New York, you fight atop a skyscraper in a caged wrestling ring with a beautiful view from the heart Manhattan’s skyline, Lady Liberty framed within the Upper Bay. The easiest bonus level of all time has you whittling down a boulder with your punches until it becomes a statue of an unidentified hard-bodied gentleman. Death match levels have the added hazard of the walls being filled with spikes or ropes that have the appearance of being made only of flame. When hit into the wall, you character is dealt damage and flung back towards the center of the ring. The death match levels prevent being pulverized in the corner, which changes strategies for players who like to trap their opponents. Coupled with the game play, these forums make for high-pressured battles.
The controls are chuggy. At times it can feel like your controller was dipped in cherry grenadine. Once through a few rounds however, players can become accustomed to the limitations if one can block thinking about other, superior fighters. The controls may blind hardcore fighting fans from World Heroes’ surprisingly fun game play. While combos seem to be few and far between, there is a system in place that’s seemingly a tad more intricate version of Rock Paper Scissors. Each attack can either be blocked or countered. This mechanic differs for individual characters. For instance, Brocken can parry air strikes with his Diagonal Force Field, Muscle Power is favorable in close range with his wrestling holds, and Dragon has an advantage during aerial fighting because of his jump kicks. A major drawback is that the characters’ move sets are not completely balanced with one another. Nonetheless, the startling depth this game eventually reveals can make for real struggles against competent combatants.
While World Heroes may not bring in the tournament fighter fans of EVO, it is a great stepping stone for people who may be looking to get into fighters or for those put off by nearly impenetrable combo chains and tiered power rankings found in modern releases.
Although initially bland and easily dismissed, level design and an easy yet ornate combat system help World Heroes muscle power its way into a B-