Of the many one-on-one fighters released on Neo Geo (and now filling up the Switch eShop), World Heroes was far from top of the pile. It could still entertain however, and its colourful cast of characters inspired by historical figures helped it stand out. World Heroes 2 provides the same best of three rounds fighting action, while also making a few improvements.
The eight playable characters from the first game return as well as shape-shifting boss character Geegus, or rather Neo Geegus who this time morphs into the six new characters. These newcomers include pirate Captain Kidd, American Football player Johnny Maximum and mask-wearing shaman Mudman. After dispatching Neo Geegus there’s a final challenge in the form of new boss Dio.
As before there is a button to punch and one to kick, with the length of time held determining which of two strengths of attack is used. A third button is used for throws and when out of throw range it is used to taunt your opponent. If you are just out of throw range this can of course lead to an untended taunt and a smack in the face. There’s not as many moves as in other games, but each character has some special attacks that add to your options during a fight, whether trying to keep someone at bay or render them unconscious.
The 14 characters would also feature in World Heroes 2 Jet along with two more and a new boss character replacing the two from this game. Jet would also further increase the speed and add a dash ability. One thing not included in that game--or final instalment World Heroes Perfect for that matter - is the Death Match mode.
Death Matches were also available in the first game, but where there they played the same as the regular fights with hazards thrown in, here the mode has been reworked to give it a more distinct feel. Rather than 99-second rounds there is a single 199-second bout of play and also a single energy bar. A marker starts in the middle and shifts left or right as the combatants take damage. Should it reach one side that fighter doesn’t instantly lose, but they must engage in button bashing and joystick waggling if they wish to beat the referee’s 10-count.
The shifting energy bar gives a different feel to fights with many more going the distance and the hazards also give you something to consider during the fight. There are a number of different death matches during your playthrough including ones with spiked sidewalls, landmines and a circular sawblade that moves through the arena. While being something you have to keep an eye on and avoid, these hazards can prove extremely useful if you can knock your opponent on to them.
Whichever mode you play through, defeating Dio will reward you with your character’s ending, so there’s some replayability if you’d like to see them all. Get to know your character’s moves and the CPU fighters are not too difficult to beat, but as usual the difficulty can be increased, up to level eight (from the default four) if you’d like more of a challenge. As always there is an online leaderboard you can move up as you replay and improve your score, with further leaderboards available in the one-credit Hi Score and five-minute Caravan modes – although these can only be played with regular fights, not death matches.
If you are fed up with CPU opposition, a second player can buy-in to the arcade mode at any time to challenge you to a fight. After selecting your characters both players can chose the type of match; a coin toss deciding if you vote differently. Although you can’t pick a specific type of death match it can be any of the types available in the game and not just whatever you were fighting on when the second player joined in.
Offering a simple three-button setup World Heroes 2 may not offer quite as many offensive options as other fighting games, but there's a good range of fighters and bouts can still entertain. Subsequent games in the series would add to the gameplay, however, with the already available World Heroes Perfect being the top World Heroes option for best of three round fights. What this game does have over the next two instalments is the revamped Death Match mode that provides a fun alternate way of playing as the energy bar moves back and fourth during the battles and you avoid the hazards or try to use them to your advantage. Fights can often go the distance with the marker shifting to the victor in the final moments. World Heroes 2 may not be the best fighting game available on Switch, but it can still entertain.