The first fighting game by Alpha Denshi, World Heroes pits many of history's greatest fighters against each other in a martial arts tournament (thanks to a time machine by scientist Dr. Brown). It is known for its unique premise (a fighting game based on historical figures), its simplistic control scheme (two basic attack buttons, which can be held down for stronger attacks, and a dedicated "throw" button), and its "Death Match" mode (an optional game mode where each arena has a variety of obstacles. It received three sequels throughout the early '90s.
Along with a release for the Neo Geo AES (on September 11, 1992), the game was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (by Sunsoft on September 1993) and to the Sega Genesis (exclusively in North America by Sega on July 1994). It was also ported to the Neo Geo CD (with an arranged soundtrack) on March 17, 1995. The original game was digitally re-released by D4 for the Wii (via Virtual Console) on September 28, 2007 and by HAMSTER (as part of the Arcade Archives series) for the PlayStation 4 (on January 26, 2017) and Xbox One (on February 23, 2017). It was also included in the 2008 World Heroes Anthology compilation for the PlayStation 2 and is an unlockable game in the SNK Arcade Classics V.1 compilation for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Wii.
World Heroes plays like a traditional 2D fighter. Along with two standard attack buttons (one for punches, one for kicks), the game features a dedicated button for throwing (making the character vulnerable if they whiff the throw).
Holding down either the Punch or Kick buttons makes the attack stronger, while simply tapping the button gives a quick strike. This can be modified in the SNES version so that each attack strength is its own dedicated button (making the controls more responsive).
- Wall Traps - All three traps function the same: touching both edges of the arena cause the player character to become damaged and knocked away towards the center of the arena. High Energy stages, where the ropes are electrified, are used in Hanzo's, Rasputin's, and Geegus's stages. Needle stages, where both sides of the arena have spiked walls, are used in Brocken's and Fuuma's stages. The Fire stage, where the ropes are on fire, is used in J. Carn's stage.
- Floor Traps - The floor may be covered in one of two traps: Oil (slippery puddles that slide characters around as they enter it) and Minefield (which periodically spawn exploding mines at the feet of each character, causing damage and knockdown). Oil stages are used in Dragon's, Fuuma's, and Rasputin's stages. Minefield stages are used in M. Power's and Geegus's stages.
Instead of traps, Janne's stage is "Hair Splitting", which means that the losing character must shave their head (as shown in the post-match versus screen). Regardless, all stages use the same music (as opposed to the regular mode, where each stage has their own music).
- Hanzo (Japan, based on 16th century ninja Hattori Hanzou)
- Fuuma (Japan, based on 16th century ninja Fuuma Kotarou)
- Kim Dragon (China, based on 20th century martial artist Bruce Lee)
- Janne D'Arc (France, based on 15th century saint Joan of Arc)
- Julius Carn (Mongolia, based on 13th century emperor Genghis Khan)
- Muscle Power (U.S.A., based on modern-day professional wrestler Hulk Hogan)
- Brocken (Germany, based on the fictional Nazi cyborg commander Rudol von Stroheim)
- Rasputin (Russia, based on 19th-20th century mystic Grigori Rasputin)
- Geegus (based on the fictional cyborg T-1000, the final unplayable boss who shapeshifts into one of the other eight fighters at random)