The timeless World Heroes and speedruns

The next 12 Hour Challenge event for speedrunning has been announced, putting us approximately one year from the previous summer event. Last year, I threw my hat into the ring to play World Heroes for a total of 12 hours, and since the original arcade release of the game was 27 years ago today, I thought I would briefly break that experience down.

Running with the Street Fighter II hype, World Heroes was one of the many new fighting games that would get pages of magazine coverage. I would say World Heroes justified that exposure, though, as it put forward two mechanics that were pretty unique for its time: 1) It put its own spin on the concept of historical figures (and I’m a huge fun of the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), and 2) it implemented a separate fighting mode that filled the stages with traps and/or gimmicks.

My Neo-Geo MVS stomping grounds growing up was our local bowling alley, which featured an arcade vendor route that did supply many of the newest MVS carts to the location. I very much enjoyed playing the game, but no one else bought into the hype, and my World Heroes experience during its release window was brief.


I still took in the beautiful magazine screen shots of entries such as Jet and Perfect growing up, but pretty much any in-person trace of the series was void in my life. However, it experienced a weird sort of “resurgence” late in the PlayStation 2’s life – SNK dropped a World Heroes collection of games with a $10 price tag, and I was an early adopter of the company’s Neo-Geo Battle Colosseum game when it launched in Japan (I saw it being played at a retro gaming convention and just had to own it).

Being a little more seasoned with games at this point, I took in the very unique quirks of tick throwing the CPU into submission and using the death match stages with the floor slicks to slide forward and keep jab combos going even longer. I’d admit the later entries do a lot of fighting mechanics better, and I do love me some World Heroes Perfect, but the odd duck original game will always stand as my personal favorite in the series.

The July 2018 12 Hour Challenge event came around, and it presented the optional theme of running a game that has never been showcased at a Games Done Quick event. World Heroes had never had this honor, and I was further spurred by a few other speedrunners’ efforts to pick up the game.


Multiple characters in the game have some certified jank to help them win, but it became quickly evident how BUSTED Brocken’s crouching quick attacks were. His kicks are more reliable to land against the CPU, but his punches do massive damage and stun. In the home versions of the game, the damage on these attacks were nerfed, but his punches still have that crazy stun to them, allowing players to easily redizzy the opponent.

Throughout my 12 Hour Challenge, I took a look at the standard and death match modes, along with the default and maximum difficulties in the MVS, AES (through World Heroes Anthology and the SNK Classics Collection Vol. 1) and Super Nintendo versions. The original MVS is my certified pick, but the other versions are still very playable despite the rebalancing.

I recall getting three full streams of World Heroes gameplay during that weekend, but then moved to some offline runs to finish out the 12 hours. I figured watching the game over and over wasn’t too appealing, but I recorded some sets personally, and, go figure, this is where I reached my best time in the standard difficulty category for the main game mode. Here is that run:

Now I am looking at the August 2019 12 Hour Challenge, which features the optional theme of “As Seen on TV,” which presents the task of picking a game based on a television show. As of today, I haven’t made a final decision, but I do have a few Game Boy titles in mind. For the sake of some sanity, I think I’ll find a non-fighting game to tackle!

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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