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World Heroes is a series of historical fighting games which originated on the Neo-Geo. The franchise has had various ports and original games on many other systems as well including arcades, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, TurboGrafx CD, SNES, Sega Saturn, Game Boy, and Virtual Console. In addition, the entire franchise was ported to the PlayStation 2 in the game World Heroes Anthology. World Heroes was originally released during the time of Street Fighter II's reign, so World Heroes was mostly ignored by the general public. Because of this (and the fact that ADK, the creator of the franchise, has gone out of business), the franchise is unlikely to return.
World Heroes' background asserts that a scientist named Dr. Brown creates a time machine and to assemble many of history's greatest fighters. Due to this, there are many characters in the World Heroes franchise that are based off of legitimate historical figures.
The World Heroes franchise has gameplay similar to other traditional fighting games of the time. One of the major differences is the fact that World Heroes only uses three of the four Neo Geo buttons. Each of the three buttons preforms a specific function, be it kick, punch, or throw an opponent. In addition, the buttons can be held down for a larger effect. This three-button layout changed in the SNES version of World Heroes, and in later World Heroes games starting with World Heroes Jet.
World Heroes Perfect adds a special move that can be triggered by holding down the A, B, and C buttons simultaneously. Each character has a different special move, with each one having a specific strategic use. For example, J. Max has a special move that allows him to catch and throw back thrown objects.
- Hanzo - Hanzō is considered to World Heroes what Ryu is to Street Fighter. He even uses many moves similar to Ryu's. Hanzō later appeared in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, where he was a playable character. Hanzō is based off of a famous samurai of the same name.
- Kotara Fūma - The "rival" of Hanzō, Kotara shares many moves with him. Kotara appeared in two other SNK games: Aggressors of Dark Kombat and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. In both, he was a playable character. Kotara is based off of the real Fūma Kotaro, who is believed to be killed by the real Hanzo.
- Rasputin - A Russian philosopher who dabbled in alchemy and sorcery as well. Rasputin discovered a way to expand the reach of his fists and feet, making him able to fight at a distance. Rasputin is based off of the historical figure of the same name.
- Jeanne D'Arc - Jeanne D'Arc was born in a circus (which she protects fiercely), and is supposedly one of the best fencers of all time. She is out to prove that women are more powerful than men. She is based off of Jeanne d'Arc.
- J. Carn - J. Carn was a bodyguard and general of Genghis Khan. In his boredom, he joined the World Heroes tournament. He respects his rival, Ryofu, despite the fact he respects him only for his power. J. Carn is actually based on Genghis Khan,
- Brocken - Brocken is a German android. It is unknown on who he is based, but fans speculate that he is either based on Stroheim, a character from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, or Brocken Jr. from the anime Kinnikuman. Brocken could also be a toned down version of Nazism.
- Kim Dragon - Kim Dragon is a martial arts master, as well as a well-known actor. When it is claimed that he has no actual fighting skill, he decides to join the World Heroes tournament. Kim Dragon is based off of Bruce Lee.
- Muscle Power - Based off of Hulk Hogan, Muscle Power is a huge American wrestler. For unknown reasons, the similarities were removed in World Heroes 2. Muscle Power accepts the invitation to the tournament because he sees it as a challenge to his power.
- Geegus - Geegus is a mysterious alien whose purpose in the tournament is to destroy earth. The World Heroes tournament is organized to prevent him from this ultimate goal. Geegus has the ability to transform into any of the eight other characters, and use any of their moves.
- Captain Kidd - Captain Kidd is a pirate based on the real-life pirate William Kidd. Captain Kidd has special moves that relate to things such as ghost sharks, pirate ships, and a rope hanging.
- Erick - Erick is a Viking based off of Erik the Red. All of his moves are based in Norse mythology. In many, he summons the power of Norse gods such as Odin, Thor, and Aesir.
- Johnny Maximum - Johnny Maximum is an American football star based off of Joe Montana, a famous real-life football player. He calls himself a killer machine, with special moves such as throwing a football at his opponents.
- Mudman - Mudman isn't specifically based off of anyone, but rather is a simple Pacific Islander. He wears a large wooden mask and displays the same stereotype as other primitive races. Mudman appears as a playable character in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum as well.
- Ryoko Izumo - Ryoko is a young girl who is only in the tournament to prove her strength. Hanzo and Jeanne D'Arc are her role models in the game. Ryoko is based of off the real-life Ryoko Tamura.
- Shura - Shura is a Thai fighter based of of a legendary Thai fighter named Nai Khanom Tom, as well as Joe Higashi. Shura is in the tournament to show that he should be as feared as his older brother.
- Dio - Dio is the boss of World Heroes 2. Dio later is a boss in World Heroes Perfect, as well as a boss and playable character in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
- Ryofu - Ryofu is a Chinese warrior. J. Carn is his rival (although the two respect each others power). Ryofu is based on Lu Bu, a Chinese warlord.
- Jack - Jack is based on the serial killer Jack the Ripper. He has claws on his hands, much like Vega from Street Fighter. In his special move, he flies all around the screen, attacking whoever is there multiple times.
- Zeus - Zeus appears to be an alien warrior, who may be based off of the Greek god. Zeus is also a boss in Ninja Commando, another game by ADK, in which his name is Spider.
- Son Gokū - Son Gokū is based of off Sun Wukong. Son Gokū loves adventure more than anything, and thus searches it out. His staff, the Mind Stick, is his primary weapon.