When World Heroes was first released on SNK's Neo Geo arcade and home console system, it was yet another attempt to capture the popularity of Capcom's Street Fighter, this time by developer ADK. While the game featured some unique gameplay and visual features, it was still regarded more as a nice attempt at the genre than any type of hardcore one-on-one fighting game experience. ADK would release two sequels that stepped things up a few notches before finally bringing things together for this fourth release, World Heroes Perfect.
The World Heroes series had generally been more about flash than substance, but ADK obviously wanted to attempt to change this with this final World Heroes release. Not only did they add a fourth button to the mix, they also added in a wealth of new techniques for each character as well as some new special move inputs, namely the pressing of the A, B, and C buttons to execute specials, to make things a bit more fluid and manageable during battle.
You've got your choice of 19 characters, and they are as offbeat and varied a bunch as you've likely seen in a fighting game. In single player mode, you choose a character and fight your way through a host of of the game's fighters in order to earn the opportunity to square off with the boss and see your character's unique ending. Of course a second player can jump into the mix at any time for a little competitive action.
The greater emphasis on combos and the HERO gauge helps modernize the game, but it's certainly still not on par with type of depth seen in more intricate fighting games of the time period. The flashy special moves are still the big draw, but having a more balanced and user-friendly set of controls does go a long way, giving players far more tools to work with than in past World Heroes releases. Just don't expect a lot of extra fluff, as World Heroes Perfect tends to stick with a "less is more" approach.
Few Neo Geo fighters feature visual presentation as eye-popping as World Heroes Perfect. Vibrant colors and screen-filling special moves are abound throughout the game, plus with the solid animation and gorgeous backdrops, there's plenty of eye candy for players who appreciate it. The musical score is equally unique, but as in many Neo Geo fighting releases, the voice announcer goes a bit overboard and sounds a bit too over-the-top at times. Finding good voice announcers for fighting games must be much more difficult than we think.
World Heroes Perfect certainly doesn't stand up to some of the top tier Neo Geo fighting titles like Garou: Mark of the Wolves or the King of Fighters series, but it's still a very capable and enjoyable fighting game experience for those willing to put up with its minor eccentricities. A wealth of over-the-top special moves coupled with flashy visual presentation definitely makes the game worth a try for fans of the genre. It's easily the best of the World Heroes series and a worthwhile addition to the Virtual Console.