BY HUDSON, 2003
25 WORDS OR LESS:
Legendary characters from Konami, Hudson and Takara do battle in a fight for supremacy.
Also on PlayStation 2
Battle of the ’80s relics
Two years after release, Super Smash Bros. Melee finally has its first copycat. You’d think it would take mere months, but no. Hudson has taken it upon themselves to "honor" Nintendo’s classic party fighter, but as history has shown, sometimes you just can’t touch the champion.
Instead of just pitting one or two companies’ characters against each other, World Fighters brings together three stables of heroes and heroines from the conglomeration of Hudson, Konami and Takara (it just so happens Konami owns a fair share of each). Hudson’s cavalry has all their well known heroes like Bomberman and Takahashi-Meijin, Konami has Simon Belmont, Twinbee and others, and since Takara is known best as a toy company, they’ve included Transformer Optimus Prime and Licca-chan, the Japanese Barbie. It’s an eclectic mix for sure, and I haven’t even mentioned the other 5.
But with every great fighting game comes the selection of hidden fighters. And while World Fighters isn’t great, its unlockable characters do add some more flavor to the game, and unlike Smash Bros., they’re not as samey as the existing roster. First and most interesting is Solid Snake, who can attach C4 to opponents in a slight Battle Royale-type situation; a Moai head from Gradius and countless other Konami games; Transformer villain Megatron; Cy Girl Aska from Takara’s toy line (and Konami’s game coincidentally); Manjimaru from Tengai Makyou II and finally Momotaro’s bare-butt foil Binbokami. Unfortunately, aside from Snake and maybe Manjimaru, the extra fighters are kind of dull selections. We would have loved to see Bonk or Goemon tear up the arenas as well, but at least the existing lineup isn’t so bad to begin with.
Fights are decided rather uniquely in World Fighters, although still not too far removed from Smash Bros.’ percentage system. Every time a hit connects, heart coins fly out of the character and can be collected by your opponents. A meter on the bottom of the screen shows your level of hearts compared to the others. Get beat up too much and you get in a "Pinch"; get pummeled any further and you lose your life in the form of a glowing heart, and if someone reclaims it before you do, you lose. After death you become miniature and can further beat up and annoy the surviving fighters.
Apparently, the only plan Hudson had to try and convince people this isn’t Smash Bros. was to just switch up the control scheme. The A button is for jumping and B, Y and X for attacks. They even stole the bubble shield! Naturally, being honed on Smash Bros. for a while, it took me some practice to get used to the new setup, If anything puts it above SSBM, it’s the gracious ability to use the D-pad for more precise movement. The visuals are definitely not as detailed as SSBM’s realistic bent, either, but far from outright ugly. Such are the perils of trying to transpose characters that are simplistic looking to begin with (Bomberman, ahem) to a medium that demands some modicum of detail.
World Fighters has a few modes, and I mean that literally. The main single-player outing is found in the World Fighters mode, which barely lasts long enough to get fun. There’s no difficulty settings, only 7 levels and the AI opponents are so rock stupid that no match should last longer than 3 minutes — 4 if you’re not paying attention. Caravan is like SSBM’s Events; character-specific minigames that open up successive ones once you beat the high score. It’s a noble way to try and extend the single-player experience, but like the main mode, it just takes a little practice to completely conquer it. Survival is the only multiplayer mode and is just a no-frills battle.
If you’re a frequent party gamer and/or SSBM obsessive, then getting the hang of and enjoying World Fighters won’t be so difficult. Otherwise, the nonexistent single-player challenge and lack of variety leaves little more than a venue for cheap laughs; If you can’t stand going through life without seeing Snake and Optimus go at it, then you should hurry and get this. It’s not necessarily a broken game, or at least no more broken than Smash Bros., it’s just tragically empty. Here’s hoping for a better sequel. —Ray Barnholt
World Fighters official site