"World Heroes Anthology makes no excuses for itself: its a simple, brutal fighting game optimised for the multiplayer experience. Comparisons between it and the Street Fighter series are inevitable, especially since the latter has released compilation packs of its past titles before. World Heroes Anthology follows the same schema of thinking, featuring all four World Heroes games bundled together onto the same disc for the PS2. Its really good value if you and your friends have gotten bored of button-mashing in other games of the genre, but don't expect WHA to come equipped with the same flair that's found in more polished games. "
World Heroes Anthology makes no excuses for itself: its a simple, brutal fighting game optimised for the multiplayer experience. Comparisons between it and the Street Fighter series are inevitable, especially since the latter has released compilation packs of its past titles before. World Heroes Anthology follows the same schema of thinking, featuring all four World Heroes games bundled together onto the same disc for the PS2. Its really good value if you and your friends have gotten bored of button-mashing in other games of the genre, but don't expect WHA to come equipped with the same flair that's found in more polished games.
The story is kept far simpler than some of the material found in its peers, for example. Certainly, trying to follow the cheesily-narrated lore that meshes the likes of the Soul Calibur series together may be a pain to many; but at least each character's strange escapades actually motivate them to fight against people as crazy or scantily-clad as they are. In World Heroes Anthology no such reasoning is given. Instead, the premise stems from the peculiarly-named 'Dr. Brown' creating a time machine and travelling through history to gather icons from each era and make them participate in his twisted tournament. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Goodnight and have a safe drive home.
Alright, so there's more to the design than that: Players can choose between various historical figures, ranging from Rasputin to Joan of Arc. Unfortunately, despite the diverse range of fighters, World Heroes rejects the opportunity to bring in any new elements to gameplay. You shouldn't expect anything more from a 2D beat 'em up than the usual formulas of button-mashing and waggling your stick randomly in vain hopes of pulling off that stunning combo which will win you the round. But still, there's no real novelty. What exactly is stopping Hanzo Hattori from transforming into the demon that myths spoke of him to be and stirring things up a bit in the final stages of a round? The concept for WHA allows for almost unlimited creativity to be put into making the game (as long as it was kept balanced) but instead we're shown a title which is mediocre at best.
The graphical elements boast a quality that is just as lacklustre as the character design; World Heroes has aged with all the grace of a 90-year-old burlesque dancer. Whilst its peers from decades ago are still as easy and simple to play now as they were then, WHA retains a incompetent element. Not only are the sprites poorly animated and the backgrounds uninspired, but the movesets are highly limited. There will never be a move which leaves both players slack-jawed at the end of a fight, never a tactic that is impossibly hard to pull off, but when done properly leaves your opponent as a smoking crater. The designers here have opted for creating a safe but unsatisfying experience. This may have worked at appeasing easily-impressed arcade regulars in the early 90s, but when trying to sell the same game to these kids almost twenty years later, they'll find the titles unfulfilling, especially compared to the exciting offers other recent re-releases make from the same publishers (Hello, Art of Fighting!).
What World Heroes Anthology needed was for someone to apply a bit of polish and cynical thinking before even considering tossing it out to the market. Instead, we got a direct, rushed port onto the PS2. It wasn't as if fans of the franchise were screaming out for their old favourites to be released (in fact, this is the first I've properly heard of World Heroes since way back) so why couldn't the developers spend a little time over perfecting the game/s? A translation which is a little more fluent or thorough stories for each of the characters would not have gone amiss. Perhaps they even should have thought about a reskin of the models or some trendier sound effects. Either would have been a nice start.
World Heroes Anthology is a collection of titles that should have been buried a long time ago, never to be touched again. Unless you made love to the machine back in the arcades or spent your college funds playing the thing when it was new, then I cannot see why anyone would voluntarily pick up the compilation (especially on a console which is now essentially last-generation). WHA is best reserved for those obsessed with the nostalgia from the 90s or real historiographers.
Freelance review by Freelance Writer (October 20, 2008)
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