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Retro Fire

Written: 7.28.07
Acquired: 1.27.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $4.74

Pub: SunsoftSept. '93
Dev: Sunsoft16 MEGS

15 years ago today, it was the blistering summer of '92. July 28, to be precise. But excessive heat alone marked that summer of sin not. For on that fervent day, a little fighting game by the name of World Heroes, would propel itself head-first into what was affectionately known as the "Golden era of 2D fighting games." I'm lucky enough to say that I lived through that era, and, from where I sit, quite frankly, there hasn't been anything like it since. And there never will be

My favorite gaming franchise of all time

In 1991 Capcom's ground-breaking Street Fighter II took the video game world by storm. Much like any other business venue, whenever a successful formula is found, rival companies clamor
to clone it; hungry for a piece of the pie. World Heroes was one of the earliest competitors eager
to dethrone Capcom. Did they succeed?  Well... no, but it did spawn three sequels and gave us some of the craziest fighters the video gaming world has ever seen. FOR better or worse!  (Wait until you see Rasputin and his antics as the series progressed and you'll know what I mean!)

I am a big time HUGE fan, unashamedly. I bloody hell grew up with the series. My old best friend Nelson was as crazy about it as
I was. While the entire nation was intoxicated with Street Fighter II fever, I was perfectly content playing ADK's brawler. And let them wait in line -- I was having too much fun impaling my opponents into spiked walls and setting bodies aflame

To put it simply:

Street Fighter II I liked

World Heroes I loved

I remember the first time I played it. It was at Game Hunter -- a hot shot upstart hardcore video game/anime rental store that quickly developed a diehard and cult-like following in my home town amongst us gaming freaks. You can read about Game Hunter more at Memories of Renting

It was just like any other Saturday afternoon. We were at Game Hunter. While my dad was checking out a game, an arcade cab caught my eye. I pulled a quarter out of my pocket,
plopped it in... and the rest, as they say, is history

Indeed. I selected Brocken, beat my 1st opponent Rasputin, but lost a hard-fought battle to Fuuma. As my dad walked over and signaled for the door, I looked back at the "countdown" scene and a bond was forever forged. Somehow, I knew I'd be back for more...

A few weeks later, my brother came home from hanging out with his friends at the local shopping center. This center had a library, grocery store, cool trading card shop Triple Play (Marvel '91 series FTW!), Pizza Hut and one of my favorite mom 'n pop rental stores growing up: US Video

"Steve!  They got this new fighter in!  You gotta check it out"

"What's it called?"


I lit up like a Christmas tree. As documented in Memories of Renting, US Video was where I played World Heroes to death... including the time a cocky 20-something challenged me. The article above talks more about that..

Indeed, the summer of 1992 saw some fantastic times. The arcade scene was buzzing, the Genesis was kicking ass, and the Super Nintendo, now with a year under its belt domestically, was about ready to take off. It would be the following year, September of 1993, that World Heroes finally came home


Select from 8 warriors, ranging from time periods 1198 to 1984, most of whom are based
off a famous historical revolutionary, such as Joan of Arc, or a pop culture icon, such as
the IMMORTAL Hulk Hogan


25 years old
Japanese Iga Ninja

Essentially the Ryu of World Heroes
lore. I always thought him to be one
of the better Ryu clones around. His
Dragon Punch is easily one of the
coolest looking special moves in
fighting game history. To no one's
surprise, Hanzo lives for the fight

                                                              Battle outside a bustling marketplace

I love these wacky birds
scavenging for crumbs at
the beginning of each round

     ... and flapping off to
     safety as the battle

Double Hadoken motion for dual action. Hanzo's ninja star pierces the heart of his rival

      Calling upon his agility and
      grace, Hanzo propels himself
      through the air like a whirlwind.
      Those blades are no laughing 

Ah yes, Hanzo's beautiful,
MAJESTIC Dragon Punch.
Really makes Ryu's look
like crap, no?  That's what I
thought, anyhow, back in '92.
Soaring through the air, his
body is wrapped by the spirit
of an Iga Dragon

                                       25 years old
                                       Japanese Fuuma Ninja

                                       This hot-headed warrior went undefeated
                                       for years until the fight with Hanzo. Ever
                                       since, a boiling rivalry has existed between
                                       the two. Just like Ryu and Ken, whatever
                                       Hanzo knows, so too does Fuuma. He will
                                       not rest until vengeance lies in his bloody

On a cloudy day in front of Mount Fuji, THEY WATCH...

Like his more level-headed contemporary, Fuuma knows the art of shuriken

Fuuma is as dangerous
as he is flamboyant. This
truly defines the phrase
"Blades of Glory" !

                            As head of the Fuuma Ninja
                            clan, he is a sworn enemy of
                            Hanzo's. To counter Hanzo's
                            Dragon Wave, Fuuma too is
                            able to surround his body with
                            that of a dragon spirit on a
                            whim, making the ardent
                            warrior extremely formidable

26 years old
Chinese Martial Artist

Before Fei Long, before Law, before
any of those cats, there was Dragon!
His Dragon Kick is right up there with
Hanzo and Fuuma's Dragon Punches
as coolest looking special ever

                                                           Monks scout carefully while students train

Through years of strenuous training,
Dragon discovered he was able to
unleash a non-stop flurry of lethal
supersonic punches. Or, as the
Hollywood-enamored martial artist
puts it so eloquently: "unleash....

Thank you, Dragon 

Actually Dragon possesses no fireball, but he does one hell of a throw!

Use this wall-jumping technique to throw off your opponents

If the scoundrels take off to the skies, make them pay for it dearly!

                   A fall from the Heavens is
                   one your opponent likely
                   won't soon forget

The power of the Mighty Dragon
of the Middle Kingdom surges
through his body and explodes
in a mega kick. The kick alone
would send any normal man to
an early grave. Combined with
this flaming dragon spirit, no
man stands a chance!

                                                18 years old
                                                French Fencer

                                                The sole female combatant in the
                                                tournament, Janne is out to dispel
                                                the theory that men are superior in
                                                the line of fire. Armed with her
                                                mystical sword, as well as the
                                                power of the Phoenix, she just
                                                might be damn right

Circus workers look on as combatants wage war under the bright lights

Light and Fierce produces different looking fire birds. Exxxxcellent

When things get too hot
and heavy, Janne has the
great equalizer...

                ... THE FLASH SWORD!

                     [I like to see her flash
                     something else -Ed.]

Perfect as an anti-air
deterrent, or finishing
off combo's with! Ace

                                                      Her sword pogo makes you cringe a little, eh?

35 years old
Mongolian Marauder

Bet 'cha can't guess who Julius
is based off of. Carn is a vicious
leader of an ancient Mongolian
empire. For some people, being
the conqueror of a continent just
isn't enough. Carn seeks the best
the world has to offer. He's confident
that his Mongolian Dynamite will
destroy all who dare oppose him

                                           Duke it out in the grimy Mongolian battlefield. The sun sets

Do not let his portly
build belie his agility.
Carn uses this to his
advantage, with his
Mongolian Tiger Crush
reaching foes before
they could even blink!

Using his unmigitated strength, Julius Carn pounds the ground....

... and causes a wall of fire to
erupt! His prized Mongolian
Dynamite, he believes, will
assure his ticket to the claim
of GOAT: greatest of all time 

                                MUSCLE POWER
                                38 years old
                                American Pro Wrestler, BRUTHA!

                                The biggest competitor in the tourney, this
                                wrestling icon believes he is unequivocally
                                "numbah wahn." And when it comes to sheer
                                strength, he certainly is. A lumbering brute, it
                                will take a skilled and patient fighting game
                                veteran to effectively utilize the vast untapped
                                potential that lies beneath his rough exterior

Suspended high above, the ring is ominously covered by unforgiving steel


Like J. Carn, you might be surprised by the speed of this powerhouse. And remember kids, graffiti is bad, very bad

[Yes, I read that somewhere... spray painted on a wall -Ed.]


                                   MUSCLE BOMBER!

                                   And no, I'm not talking about
                                   the japanese name-sake of
                                   Saturday Night Slam Masters!
                                   Hey... hmmm, interesting...

Drop it like it's hot, big man!

[Oh LORD. Hey... have you
been playing Elevator Action
Returns, again? -Ed.]


What, Papa Shango?!

Huh!  Ultimate Warrior music?  WHAT THE FLYING --


Er, sorry, I was having a bad WrestleMania VIII flashback there...

Just like Capcom's Zangief, Muscle Power's "money move" is the most powerful special move in the game:

TORNADO BREAKER!  First comes disorientation, then dislocation!

                                                                             yeah... let us move on, then...

30 years old
German Super Soldier

Ah yes, the first fighter of choice for yours
truly the first go-round. And indeed, I never
did look back. Brocken is a sentimental
favorite of moi. He can set the competition
on fire, or electrocute 'em. Brilliant. He bears
more than a slight resemblance to M. Bison
(as well as Inspector Gadget), and plays a
bit like Dhalsim

                                                   It scrolls vertically, much like Rolento's SFA2 stage

Brocken's greatest form of
offense, as well as defense,
are his extendable limbs

       Not so quick there
       are we, Dragon?

While people have often thrown around
names the likes of Dhalsim, Inspector
Gadget and M. Bison (all understandably
well), the ONE guy that never gets any
mention and to me may well be Brocken's
source of inspiration... M. BLASTER from
Combatribes fame. Keep in mind, the
arcade was released in 1990....

                                   UHHHH HUH....

Brocken really doesn't
play like Bison, sans
this flying attack. The
cool thing is, you can
control its path of flight!


                      I love this move: the way
                      it looks, the way it makes
                      a little buzz sound as it
                      emits from his hand... all
                      lovely stuff

                      The Hurricane Arm will
                      disband you of jumpy
                      competitors in a hurry

The best damn looking electrocution in fighting game history, period

He has something up his sleeve all right, and I got news for ya -- it ain't good!

                                               Age Undisclosed
                                               Russian Sorcerer

                                               If you can't guess which historical figure
                                               this bozo's based off then I've got a bridge I
                                               want to sell ya!  As the series progressed,
                                               Rasputin was made more... well, you know.
                                               But in the original, he's quite all business,
                                               with not so much the crusader of love and
                                               peace malarky as in later entries. I dare
                                               say I played quite a mean Rasputin back
                                               in the day, yes sir I did 

A near perfect replica of the arcade, mice scurries across the background

                                 Although he doesn't quite have
                                 the reach of Brocken, Rasputin
                                 uses magic to enlarge various
                                 parts of his body

                                 Quiet, you

                                 [What? -Ed.]

I'm glad we're all mature enough
to get this far without some lame
joke being thrown around

[You know what they say about
guys with big feet don't cha? -Ed.]

Why do I even bother...

                               Also like Brocken, ole Raspy is one
                               of my dear favorites. He, Brock and
                               Hanzo were my top three guys back
                               in the day. I can't believe it's been 15
                               years already... gawd damn

This simple yet effective standing
strong punch is one of my favorite
regular moves

                       Ah yes, and then this. Back in
                       '92, you understand, this was a
                       fairly mind-blowing sprite, at least
                       to me it was! I love every aspect
                       of this move. Visually it was more
                       impressive than a naked Jessica
                       Alba (OK maybe not...) and the
                       feeling that you're crushing their
                       feeble body... AHAHAHAHAHA!

Black magic allows fire to leap from his fingers. Slow, but deadly

Harmless bath robe?  HA!  In an instance it becomes a pernicious asset

You can control it, too.
I dunno what's worse...
the wrath of the robe or
the wrath of seeing
his bare grapefruits!


Any fighting game in those days (or now, even) worth their salt required some sort of definitive end boss. World Heroes was no different...

Looks totally bad-ass, but he's a pussycat. I love this breaking up animation


Just like end bosses, any fighting game worth a damn had endings for each fighter. Here are just two...

Hey what's going on here?  GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!

Much like the game itself, some are serious, but most are rather light-hearted. It was assumed that Fuuma was not real by some folks due to the ending seen here, but later in the series it was confirmed that the fiery ninja does indeed exist


In addition to the main fighter who lives for the fight, his eternal rival, a token female, a token strong man, and assorted freaks to round out the cast you had proper bosses and endings. To complete the classic 2D fighting game formula was the so-called bonus round, a quick break from the action to, well, break a stationary object within the time limit to earn extra points

Muscle Power looks a
little mad there, eh?

                            No, not the head! Fer
                            pete's sake man the
                            bottom the bottom!! 

Who would have guessed 15 years ago that one would
have his own reality TV show, the other governor of


If you've never really seen this game until now, you might be thinking what a blatant Street Fighter II rip-off. But hang on -- here's perhaps the coolest thing to ever come out of the
World Heroes brand, and it was.... the DEATH MATCH!

Death Matches see both competitors thrown into a ring strewn with danger at every step of the way. Some hazards maim, others hinder, and one in particular... well, it's straight out and out humiliation!  There are nine in all:

You gotta appreciate ADK's sense of dark humor. Look who they gave the mine stage to...

Ah, it never gets old...

This stage, pardon the pun,
burned itself into my retina
15 years ago. On the ole
SNES it still amazes. Those
flaming ropes are wicked! I
loved using Brocken here.
Much sick pleasure was
derived from shocking 'em
near the burning cables...

           ... and which leads
           to this! The simple
           pleasures in life and
           video games *sighs*

             You want ultimate satisfaction?
             I give you ultimate satisfaction!

             1st, send 10,000 watts coursing
             through every bone in their body

Let the mine
work its magic

     Oh LORD!
     about ye ole regular

My favorite Death Match, it's so sadistically fun

Ya really gotta lay off them prunes, man, really

The Hair Match is a classic. While no actual hazards are present in the ring, it's AFTER the battle that counts here. The winner is given every opportunity to gloat and rub it in. Check it out!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. All part of the cheesy charm!

Regardless of your thoughts on the game, whether you hate it, love it or don't care for it, you have to admit the Death Match was a great concept, and the Hair Match... absolutely priceless

Speaking of priceless....


More (dark) humor ensues...

Woo hoo I won! Er, where are the brakes on this thing?!

Brocken gets a taste of his
own medicine here!

Even if your opponent has lost
all of his health, this aftershock
will still affect your health
if you make contact with it. So
be careful, for it could lead to a
draw contest

And say you beat Rasputin, if
he happens to touch the hazard
POST match, the game will STILL
register it as a "live" moment. And
in SLOW MO, he'll suffer the FULL
blunt of the aftershock attack. It's
the greatest little guilty gaming
pleasure in the world for me

15 gawd damn years later, I still
enjoy it as much as I ever have

All in slow mo. Their death cries ringing in
mah ears OH YES!!! ..... Ahem *adjusts tie*

Does it make me a bad
person to intentionally kill
off my guy in the process
of beating the other guy?
Well then, I'm guilty as

[Naw, it just makes you
a damn fool -Ed.]

                                     Another favorite way of
                                     mine on ending a match

You know...... I could use
some shock therapy right
about now


[*gunshot* -Ed.]


Remember how back then fighting games only took 3 moves to dizzy your opponents?  If you miss those days then you'd be right at home here. World Heroes is more combo-friendly than your local Mickey D's. Here are my favorite dizzying combo's from all 8 heroes...


Come in with a jumping
strong kick...

                                             ... quickly do a crouching
                                             light kick...

... and give 'im the ole heave-ho!


Fuuma, Hanzo, one works
just as well for the other of
course. Another jumping
strong kick...

                                                ... followed by a quick
                                                standing uppercut...

  This combo will get
you all the hot girls, I guarantee* it

You have to pull off the Dragon Punch
before the standing uppercut animation
expires. If you do it right Fuuma will go
only halfway with his uppercut and then immediately explode into his DP

*results may vary

The shuriken variant. Still gotta cancel the uppercut halfway to pull this off

For extra cool points check out this groovy combo!

                                                    So Annie are you okay? Are you okay AN-NIE?

Oh I'm sure he likes
it from behind...

                                              .... but rest assured...

... He ain't gonna like it this time! 


The master of the easiest dizzy
combo's in the world lies here

Execute a deep jumping strong

And then a simple standing strong 2-hit finishes it off... talk about easy!

And here's the foot version:

Ryu?  Ken?  Bueller?  Anyone?  Hey, it's so easy a caveman could do it!


If you didn't know by now,
chick with stick = bad

Cross up fatty here with
a jumping strong kick 

                                              Crouching light...

... Followed by a swift
kick to the temple!

                                           Another jumping
                                           strong kick...

Another crouching light...

                              Now that's a combo!

Quickly chain a light punch with a strong...


Shoot a bird
up that foo's

  • J. CARN

Jumping strong... standing light... 

Carn polishes Raspy
off with a fierce mule


Power's got some sweet
combo's. See if you can
end one with his Tornado
Breaker for major damage

Cross him up here with a
jumping strong punch

                                                    Standing strong...

... Mighty Boot of Doom!

Muscle Bomber special... standing strong...

... Mighty Boot of Doom!

Er, again


Jumping strong... standing strong... then rapidly hit the punch button...

10,000 mega watts of raw
Oh how I love this combo


                    Fuuma gets bitch-slapped... literally

                    Come in with a jumping strong...

Light punch into strong. Easy as 1-2-3!


As someone who poured countless quarters into the arcade game, I anxiously awaited Sunsoft's SNES port release with bated breath. Nelson, too. He was as fanatical about World Heroes as I was. They say there's nothing like having a best friend growing up. I can certainly vouch for that. I didn't buy many SNES games back in the day. If my brother Kevin and I were lucky, we'd receive three games a year. Just as how my brother always made me rent the games HE want rented, it was a foregone conclusion that most of the purchase decisions HE made. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of Super Nintendo games I actually bought while they were relevant!

You'd think World Heroes to be one of those scant few BUT NO. Oh no. My best pal Nelson bought a copy the week it came out, and since we practically hung out every day of the week, there was no need really to buy the game

Nelson and I were about as evenly matched as you could make two T's look. If he didn't come over lugging his copy with him, I'd be at his place having dinner with his family, and afterwards, we'd retire to his room for an evening of serious World Heroes competition. Occasionally, we had our other friends over and we'd all have a go at it. There's no doubt in my mind that we squeezed the game for everything it was worth. And like a best friend would do, Nelson graciously loaned me his copy from time to time....

In the Fall of '93 my uncle
from Texas visited my folks.
He was full of life, a veritable
ball of energy. I hadn't seen
him since the late '80s. I can
remember Kev and I teasing
him about how his favorite
came up short that year in

That same weekend I happened to borrow Nelson's copy. It was the first night he came to town, he was a bit jet-lagged so he kicked back on the couch and watched me play. My uncle was not a gamer but somehow he fancied World Heroes. I used Dragon. My uncle cheered me on as I tackled the two ninjas.... Hanzo and Fuuma. I recall explaining to him how they were the two main stars of the game. My uncle really took a shine to Dragon...

         "Pffft. If you ask
         me, THAT'S who
         the star oughta
         be!  He's Bruce
fer cryin' out
         loud!  How can
         you beat that!?"

It was around 5:45 PM roughly, because I remember the sun starting to fall in the sky, and as
I advanced to fight Janne, my mom called me and my uncle to help prep dinner. But, the game really captivated him!  Him!  Someone with NO interest in video games whatsoever

"Relax sis, we'll be there in a second. First we gotta handle our business though, right Steve?"

I've always had a special bond and connection with the World Heroes franchise, but it was at that moment in time where I really felt the game was something extra special. I'll just never forget that moment

Oh yes he did!  We got mom to agree to let me have this one last match, which was against Janne, and my uncle was calling the plays/attacks from the sidelines. He kept yelling "Dragon Kick here!"  Even my mom stopped to look on with a strange smile on her face. It's a memory and image that has stuck with me to this day

On that night World Heroes became more than just a game to me

One final memory I want to share about the SNES port... again it was Fall of '93. I remember it well. It was Thanksgiving weekend of '93. Back then, I had my best friend Nelson, I had my other grade school friends, and then... I had my diehard out-of-town gaming group buddies. Oh what good times we had. If there was a list of "Most Legendary Sleepovers In The History of Mankind"
I reckon we'd be in the top ten. Just imagine 3, 4 different families all partying under the same roof til the wee hours in the morning, the parents doing their thing, the kids theirs

On this particular get-together, and indeed, sleepover bash, I begged Nelson to lend me his copy for the weekend. He obliged. And later that night, there was a World Heroes tournament of sorts held

My friends were good, but I was better. They might have owned me in Street Fighter II, but when it came to World Heroes I had no equal. And that evening I proved it in the tourney

Indeed, I played one mean Rasputin back then. No matter who they used, what tactics they tried, I always came out victorious

                                                    I used this sweep kick to perfection that night!

I beat the five guys who
dared challenge me about
five times each. So bad
that they quit and popped
in Super Bomberman instead.
Would you believe me if I told
you that I didn't win a single
Bomberman match that night?

I didn't

And yes.... it was worth it


  • EGM: 8, 6, 6, 6
  • Super Play: 77%


Ah, God Bless EGM and their dead-level honest opinions. They sure did ruffle some feathers the wrong way back in the day when they were worth a damn. The rating dealt to the SNES port was met with some backlash by the very producer of the SNES product!  Pulled from the November 1993 issue #52


Dan's letter and EGM's earnest reply filled up the whole page!  Two issues later, January '94 ish #54 EGM printed a World Heroes review PRO and a World Heroes review CON letter from fans. This too filled up an entire page, which was quite rare of the mag. It was certainly an entertaining read back in the day, and has aged gracefully

Well Danny my boy... if you're out there somewhere in the vastness of cyberspace... if you somehow happen to see this, I do want to tell you... YES, you made a HELL of a port... and
I know when you read the EGM ratings you felt like you wanted to....

But hey....

Just kidding, Dan. Great job, buddy

[Don't you ever "buddy" me again -Dan MacArthur]


Last year I finally bought
a copy of SNES World Heroes for myself. For one, Nelson doesn't have his copy anymore and two, we sadly by and large lost touch when I moved in early '96. Booting this game up, a part of me feared that fond memories had gotten the better of me. Or that maybe the game had aged horribly. Thankfully no!Everything from the spike/laser/flames aftershock effect in the death matches to the birds that fly off in the beginning of Hanzo's stage -- this game just brings me back to my childhood. Suddenly I'm duking ninja stars and exchanging dragon kicks with my best friend Nelson again, homework is light and totally carefree winter days, ahhhhhh
If I could just go back to those days for five minutes...

As a fighting game, of THAT era, I genuinely think it plays well. The game has a lot of critics. Is it slow?  Yes. Are the characters lame?  That's subjective. Compared to Street Fighter II, this falls flat on its rear end from both a technical and overall standpoint eleven times out of 10. But I play games for their fun factor, and for me, World Heroes has it in surplus

The port itself is amazing. Dan and his boys get a standing ovation from me. As a veteran of the arcade, I've always felt the SNES port came as damn close to it as one could hope for. Sure, it's not a pixel-perfect port, but for fans of the arcade who couldn't afford a Neo Geo back in '93, this was our salvation. And a damn fine one it was, too

Graphics made a seamless jump to the SNES. These fighters are HUGE!  Although the port is every bit as slow as the arcade was, there is no slowdown. Special moves which made my jaw drop the first time I saw 'em in the arcade have all been faithfully translated, from Hanzo's majestic soaring Dragon Uppercut to Rasputin's unforgettable gargantuan hand crush. Even the Aftershock Effect remained intact!
It's dark humor at its best. World Heroes is serious yet at the same time very light-hearted, and I love that sense of balance
Although the sound effects lack the oomph you'd like from a fighting game, some of those tunes are jammin'. Dragon's theme is stuck in my head right next to the Death Match! The announcer does a good job, and those death cries are among the best fighting game death cries I've ever heard*
Dragon Punch meets the Dragon Kick -- a sheer thing of beauty!

* And everyone knows -- if you can't get excited about that, you might want to check that pulse 

All sarcasm aside, I think World Heroes is [Numbah Wahn!? -Ed.] one of those games where if you really want to "get," you really had to be there from the beginning. And if you were, and you didn't like it back then, I get that too. It seems you either love it, or hate it. From the first time I played it I fell in love with it, and top to bottom it's my favorite video game franchise of all time. Memories, gameplay, longevity -- all those combine to make it so

                                                World Heroes franchise will always be #1 in my book

The SNES port does fans of the arcade proud. It's not everyone's cup of tea, sure, but you just might find a decent alternative here with a dash of dark humor, as opposed to the usual. I admit though, I mainly play this for the nostalgia. The sequels blow the doors off this sucker, but the original
will always hold a soft
spot in my gaming heart

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 9

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award

Check out the amazing sequel review here: World Heroes 2