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World Heroes (ワールドヒーローズ) is a fighting game series created by ADK for the Neo-Geo, though some of the games in the series were also ported to the Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Boy. The general premise is that a scientist, Dr. Brown, having perfected a time machine, organized a tournament for various fighters throughout all of history to combat each other. True to this plot, many of the fighters are based on actual historical figures.
The first game was re-released through Nintendo's Virtual Console download service in Europe and Australia on October 26, 2007, and in North America in June, 2008 and included in SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 for the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable in North America on May 1, 2008.
The game plays like many other fighting games, but instead of a 6-button layout, the original World Heroes uses only 3 of the standard 4 Neo-Geo buttons: one for punching, another for kicking, and the last for throwing. The former two buttons can be held down longer in order to deliver stronger attacks, similar to the first Street Fighter control scheme, with only two levels of strength and using standard buttons instead of pneumatic buttons. In the SNES version (and later games, starting with World Heroes 2 Jet), it is possible to assign the 4 basic attacks to different buttons. In World Heroes Perfect, each character had a traditional four-button attack layout, but could also achieve stronger attacks by pushing down two respective punch or kick buttons at the same time.
In World Heroes Perfect, every character has an ABC Special Move that can be activated by pressing the A, B, and C buttons at the same time. Moves vary by character, though they all require strategic use and are easy to activate, allowing for more tactical battles. For example, the character Fuuma's ABC Special allows him to fake a special move; J. Max's ABC Special allows him to catch, hold onto, and throw back projectiles; and Kim Dragon's ABC Special allows him to perform counters while blocking.
Aside from the normal tournament mode, there is also a popular Deathmatch mode (which was removed in World Heroes 2 Jet and World Heroes Perfect). In it, the arenas are filled with different kinds of traps that can change conditions in the bouts or even damage the characters (such as spikes, bombs, greasy or sticky floors, etc.). Deathmatch mode may have been inspired by the growing popularity of deathmatch style professional wrestling in Japan at the time, mostly made famous by Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling.
Created during the years when Street Fighter II was at its peak in popularity, many dismissed World Heroes as another generic "SF clone." Though it has some unique concepts, the clunky controls and its "ripoff" reputation harmed sales. Due to this, the series was discontinued with World Heroes Perfect, although it has received a cult following, mainly around Neo Geo fans.
Since World Heroes Perfect, ADK has gone out of business and all intellectual properties and copyrights to the games and characters have passed to SNK Playmore. Some World Heroes characters returned in the fighting game NeoGeo Battle Coliseum as a result.
- World Heroes (July 28, 1992)
- World Heroes 2 (April 28, 1993)
- World Heroes 2 Jet (April 26, 1994)
- Originally released for the Neo Geo. Also ported onto the Game Boy by Takara.
- World Heroes Perfect (May 25, 1995)
- Originally released for the Neo Geo. Also ported onto the Sega Saturn.
- World Heroes Anthology (October 18, 2007)
- A World Heroes collection for PlayStation 2, featuring all four World Heroes games and online multiplayer capability. It was released in the US on October 18, 2008 and in Japan on March 11, 2007 under the name World Heroes Gorgeous.
This section lists the characters in the original game, and characters added or removed in subsequent releases.
- Template:Country data USA Dr. Brown
- The existence of this unplayable character and his connection to the concept of time travel appear to pay homage to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future film trilogy.
- Template:Country data Japan Hanzo (Hanzō Hattori)
- Template:Country data Japan Fuuma (Kotaro Fūma)
- He is considered the rival of the main character Hanzo Hattori and as such they both share many similar moves (albeit using different names). Fūma also appeared in both Aggressors of Dark Kombat and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum as a playable character. He is based on the actual Fūma Kotarō, who allegedly killed the real Hanzo. In the ADK universe Fūma is portrayed as a fun-loving bandit who is willing to adopt new ideas, sometimes he will stay in the modern era after the time-traveling, a fact not lost on his Aggressors of Dark Kombat appearance.
- Template:Country data Russia Rasputin
- A philosopher of 13th century Russia, was also a known alchemist and sorcerer. He discovered a way to expand his fists and feet so he could fight at distance. He accepts the chance to fight Geegus because he sees Geegus as a fallen angel. He keeps pleading that loving one another is important and won't give into people who don't listen to his constant persuasion. He is based loosely on the actual person with the same name.
- Template:Country data France Janne (Jeanne D'Arc)
- She is a 15th-century feminist, who protects the circus who raised her and has proven to be one of the toughest fencers of her time. Accepted the invitation to defeat Geegus, only to prove that women are tougher than men. She puts all her worries about getting married into her blows. She enters the later tournaments to try to seek a husband, but finds out that guys are intimidated by her strength as a fighter. She is loosely based on Joan of Arc.
- Template:Country data Mongolia J. Carn
- One of the top officers and personal bodyguard of Genghis Khan, was fierce and merciless in hand-to-hand combat. He joined the World Heroes tournament to fight Geegus out of boredom. He's become a tyrant and wants to be victorious by hurling his raw brawn. He and Ryofu respect each other's power. He is loosely based on the actual Genghis Khan.
- Template:Country data Germany Brocken
- Brocken is an android, and his moveset contains techniques involving mechanically-extended limbs and missile 'fists'. Since he is billed as coming from Germany, it's possible his gimmick is that of (watered-down) Nazism, but a cyborg in Nazi Germany is clearly an anachronism. Some fans debate on whether he is based on Stroheim from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Brocken Jr. from the anime/manga Kinnikuman or some combination of the two.
- Template:Country data South Korea Kim Dragon
- Dragon is a famous martial artist and a star of martial arts films. Accused of lacking real skill, he accepted the invitation to fight against Geegus. He is based on the real life martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, but is South Korean instead of Chinese. In the first game his nationality is indicated Chinese and the Chinese characters used to spell his name in World Heroes Perfect translates to "Gold Dragon". In the later games his moves are more and more paired to techniques used by Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star. Similar to the situation with Balrog from Street Fighter II, he is listed as Korean in non-Japanese arcade versions of the game to avoid likeness infringement of Bruce Lee. However, he is still listed as Chinese in Japanese versions of the game and even in the Super Nintendo port released outside Japan. Another reason why he is from South Korea is his first name was named after Kim Kap-hwan, founder and president of Viccom, the South Korean distributor of ADK's parent company, SNK.
- Template:Country data USA Muscle Power
- An American wrestler from the 21st century, was the first competitor to win every Heavyweight Championship from every wrestling association. He accepted Doc Brown's invitation to fight Geegus because he took Geegus as a challenger of his multiple belts. He was based on Hulk Hogan but his looks were slightly altered in World Heroes 2 and subsequent titles to tone down the resemblance. His hair is golden blonde in the SNES and Mega Drive games, but is dirty blonde in the arcade and AES games. Some fans have also found a slight resemblance to Lex Luger, promoted at the time as a "pure American" wrestler; however, whenever Muscle Power wins, he shouts "Number One!", which was based on Hulk Hogan's Japanese nickname, "Ichiban" (lit. "Number One").
- Geegus is an extraterrestrial who can shapeshift into any of the eight fighters and use their moves at will. Geegus wants to destroy the Earth, so the World Heroes tournament was created to stop Geegus' evil plans. Before the final battle, Geegus asks for the Champion to fight him with the threat of destroying the entire planet if he is refused. Geegus appears in World Heroes 2 as Neo Geegus, the sub-boss of WH2. In this game he is not as vulnerable in his normal form but can only transform into either of the six new characters of this game: Kidd, Erick, Ryoko, Mudman, Shura and Johnny. Also he cannot be harmed while he is shape shifting like he can in the prequel. While it may be a mistranslation, he is also into American politics. In one of his win quotes in WH2 he comments about his beliefs in Justice and adds that he feels the Democrats can save America. Geegus' design and abilities may be an homage to the T-1000 liquid metal cyborg made famous by the Terminator film series. Geegus makes a cameo appearance in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum as part of one of Neo Dio's desperation moves.
World Heroes 2
- Template:Country data United Nations Captain Kidd
- Template:Country data Norway Erick
- Template:Country data USA Johnny Maximum
- A devilish American football player who describes himself as a "killer machine". His design is based on the famous football player Joe Montana. In his World Heroes Perfect ending it is revealed that he has a son, who wants to be like him, though Johnny doesn't approve of that. In his first appearance, he could throw "ghost" footballs at an opponent, but after World Heroes 2, both of these special moves were mysteriously eliminated in favor of a command throw move.
- Template:Country data Papua New Guinea Mudman
- A generic Pacific Islander wizard with a large wooden mask and no real historical basis apart from appearing primitive. Also appeared in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum as a playable character. Mudman attacks using blue spirits and flying mask-spinning attacks.
- Template:Country data Japan Ryoko Izumo
- Ryoko is a 16 year old girl and a master of Judo and wants to prove her power against the rest of the fighters of this tournament. She admires Janne and Hanzo, considering them her role models; Janne for her beauty and strength, Hanzo for his skill. She is based on the famous real-life judoka Ryoko Tamura (now Tani). Ryoko has more throw moves than any other character in the game, even Muscle Power. She isn't related to the Ryoko that appears in Fighter's History, a game developed in the same years by Data East.
- Template:Country data Thailand Shura (Naï Khanom Tom)
- Template:Country data Italy (Neo) Dio
- He is the boss of World Heroes 2 (then known as Dio) and later reappears in World Heroes Perfect, also as a boss, with the name Neo Dio. He is inspired by the main character of Baoh and shares similar attacks to him. He is also a boss and playable character in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum. The Super NES version lists his occupation as "Ultimate Being".
World Heroes 2 Jet
- Template:Country data China Ryofu
- Template:Country data UK Jack
- Template:Country data Byzantine Empire Zeus
World Heroes Perfect
- Template:Country data Japan Son Gokū
- World Heroes at Museum of the Game
- World Heroes at GameFAQs
- World Heroes review at Neo-Geo.com
- World Heroes 2 review at Neo-Geo.com
- World Heroes 2 Jet review at Neo-Geo.com
- World Heroes Perfect review at Neo-Geo.com, Review 2
- World Heroes Anthology Press Release at SnkPlaymoreUsa.comfr:World Heroesja:ワールドヒーローズ