Format reviewed: Neo Geo
Developer: Alpha Denshi
Submitted by: Richard Moore
The original World Heroes was touted as a rip-off in the eyes of the Street Fighter II loving public which, in all fairness, is an acceptable view given the glaringly obvious lifting of Capcom ideas on the part of Alpha Denshi. The game did have some unique points however such as the quirky Death Match mode and the character roster itself which consisted of warriors based upon historical figures such as Joan of Arc and Genghis Khan.
While still not completely original in terms of concept, the first sequel did a good job of building on the original game; combat retained an air of clunkiness but felt much more satisfying this time around. Equally as satisfying were the new abilities of reflecting projectiles (with a well timed guard) and reversing an opponent's throw (by performing a throw of your own just as the opponent grabs you).
The Death Match was also much improved with bouts no longer just about the stage hazards but also about winning a dominant share of a single energy bar. The result is a frantic face-off as both both players attempt to gain superiority before the clock reaches zero, making it a truly interesting alternative to the standard arcade mode.
It wouldn't be a beat em' up sequel without some new characters and World Heroes 2 boasted six new faces including Captain Kidd the pirate, Erick the Viking and Ryoko, a female 'judo queen'. The expanded roster brought more interesting special moves and bad victory dialogue to the series, being reasonably well balanced against the original eight who also received a few slight moveset tweaks of their own.
Visually, the game saw some noticeable improvements over the first World Heroes. Stage backgrounds are a lot nicer in terms of detail and design for starters. Another welcome improvement are the game's menu/selection screens which finally look the part in contrast with the scrappy looking efforts of the previous title.
Overall, World Heroes 2 is a very solid game that doesn't deserve to be so overlooked. Arguably one of the best series installments (especially when compared with the next sequel released a year later), it's well worth experiencing for yourself.