Luckily, Japanese publisher Hamster is bringing classics like World Heroes 2 to Xbox via its ACA NeoGeo series. World Heroes 2 is a fighting game that once gave Street Fighter a run for its money, and now you can earn some easy Achievements while taking a trip down memory lane.
The World Heroes return
When Street Fighter II took the world by storm in 1991, arcade game developers rushed to produce fighting games of their own to cash in on the craze. Fighters were particularly abundant on SNK's NeoGeo arcade hardware, with series like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and King of Fighters popping up around that time.
Another relatively successful series of NeoGeo fighters was SNK and its ADK studio's World Heroes series. The first World Heroes (also available on Xbox One) was a simplistic take on the Street Fighter formula, primarily differentiated by its zany cast of characters. World Heroes 2 is when the series really took on a life of its own, with more characters, humor, and refined gameplay.
World Heroes 2 sports 14 playable characters, six of whom are new to World Heroes 2, as well as two non-playable bosses. The cast includes two Ryu-and-Ken equivalent characters, Hanzou and Fuuma, but otherwise they're mostly varied. You get an American football player, a Hulk Hogan-like wrestler, a Viking, a Joan of Arc-like female knight, and even a South American stereotype named Mudman.
All of these characters have a fair degree of personality and have their own backgrounds, all of which feature lots of detail, animations, and semi-3D floors. The personality and visuals are certainly World Heroes 2's greatest strength. The gameplay relies on just three buttons rather than Street Fighter 2's six, but there's enough to see and do to warrant several playthroughs. Of course, the AI gets terribly cheap as you progress through the single-player game, which can limit the fun a little.
Modes and multiplayer
World Heroes 2 comes to Xbox One via emulation, so you get the arcade game itself with minimal enhancements. That said, there are three modes to choose from: Original, which is the game exactly as you'd experience it in arcades, plus Hi Score and Caravan modes. Original mode is how you'll play two-player local battles – none of the ACA NeoGeo series games have online multiplayer.
One cool feature of Original mode is the choice of Normal or Death Match gameplay. In Normal, each fighter has their own life meter like in any other fighting game. Death Match spices things up by combining both players' health into one shared life meter, tug-of-war style. It also includes completely different backgrounds, many of which have traps like buzzsaws and flames that can damage combatants.
Hi Score is essentially a ranked playthrough of Normal mode in which you can't adjust settings or continue. Caravan works similarly, but the game ends after five minutes. Either way, you're trying to earn the best score you can for the online leaderboards.
Menus and settings
Inexplicably, if you pause the game during Hi Score or Caravan mode, you can't unpause and resume the game. This is by design and mentioned in the help text for those modes. I understand restricting the options players can change mid-game but forcing us to restart if we pause is completely bizarre.
That speaks to a larger problem: the menus are some of the worst I've seen in an Xbox One game. It starts with the main menu, from which you have to select a mode and then start it by pressing the Start/Menu button. Why can't we press A to choose modes like in 99 percent of modern games?
To access the settings during gameplay (most of which are limited to Original mode), you'll press the View/Back button. The cursor is overly sensitive and prone to jumping ahead by more than one position when you press up or down. But the game at least offers a fair selection of settings, including the ability to create a single temporary save which you can resume as many times you like.
The Xbox One version of ACA NeoGeo: World Heroes 2 offers a scant 12 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. The good news is they're pretty easy.
Essentially, you just need to reach a certain high score in Original, Hi Score, and Caravan modes, and upload your score in all three modes. That should only take an hour or two, and you'll walk away 1,000 Gamerscore richer!
Overall impressions of ACA NeoGeo World Heroes 2
ACA NeoGeo World Heroes 2 is a solid home version of the classic arcade game. World Heroes 2 doesn't stand the test of time as well as the later revisions of Street Fighter 2, but it's still worth a quick look from fighting game fans. You get 14 characters, many of whom are unique or funny, lots of great backgrounds, and a cool deathmatch mode. Plus, the Achievements are easy and quick.
All ACA NeoGeo titles for Xbox One, including World Heroes 2, sell for $7.99. The consensus among gamers is that eight bucks is a little pricey for largely unenhanced older arcade games. Still, $8 isn't terrible if you like this type of game, especially for Achievement hunters. And the ACA titles sometimes go on sale on PlayStation 4, so frugal Xbox gamers will probably have a chance to get World Heroes 2 and its brethren for cheap if they wait long enough.
- It has 14 unique characters from different countries and time periods.
- Choose Deathmatch mode to play with a tug of war-style shared life meter in deadly arenas.
- Quick and easy Achievements!
- No online multiplayer.
- Terribly clunky menus.
- A bit pricey for an emulated arcade game.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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