After its success in the arcade in 1988, Altered Beast was ported to the Sega Genesis in 1989 in North America and bundled with the console at launch. The game has received a lot of flak over the years, and until recently, I have never played it. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I decided to write an Altered Beast review and see what all the fuss was.
Altered Beast Plot:
First, what is the plot of Altered Beast? Well, according to good ole’ Wikipedia, you are a roman centurion who died in a legendary battle. Besides the dying part, The God Zeus was so impressed with you that he decides to resurrect you from the dead to save his daughter Athena, who has been captured by a demon god called Neff.
Now to withstand the incredible journey and battles that this unnamed centurion will have to go through, Zeus grants this warrior the power to transform into a creature with incredible fighting powers once three spirit balls are collected.
This centurion warrior must go through five levels to rescue Athena from Neff, with each level ending with a boss fight.
So there’s the plot…I don’t see any issues with that. I think it’s pretty cool. Fighting in ancient Greece, being resurrected by Zeus himself to free his daughter from a demon god? Being able to transform into different creatures to combat the enemy forces? Hey, I’m all in! So on paper, it sounds good, but how does the actual game hold up?
Altered Beast Gameplay:
The game begins with Zeus speaking to you from the heavens.
Are we sure this is a bad game?
Well, it might not be a bad game, but it’s certainly an easy game. I’m not very good at beat ’em ups but I had no issues beating Altered Beast. Once you collect the three spirit balls on each stage, it’s pretty easy. You transform into a hybrid of a beast, and your attacks become very powerful. I loved the transformations, they just scream the 90s! (Yes, I know this was made in the 80s) You can transform into a werewolf, a dragon, a bear, a tiger, and even a golden werewolf. Once you can transform, the level becomes extremely easy.
Something that I’m grateful for is the health system in Altered Beast. You won’t die if you take a hit, but you can take multiple hits as your health declines. That helped a lot when getting the levels down.
Altered Beast Bosses:
One thing that I think makes video games so fun is the boss fights. I love working my way through a level and finding a boss waiting for me at the end. There’s just something in knowing that you’re about to face the final test at the level. Boss fights were interesting to say the least and I enjoyed writing notes from them for this Altered Beast review.
While the boss fights are pretty easy, I at least applaud Altered Beast for having them in there. Sega must have had fun coming up with the ideas for the bosses as the creativity oozes from the developers here. The bosses look like a combination of creatures and nature that the developers just threw a dart at and combined them. Unfortunately, there aren’t good photos of the bosses, so you’ll just have to imagine them by my descriptions or play the game yourself.
The first boss looks like he is detaching his head and throwing multiple heads at you while he grows them back. Interesting strategy. The next boss looks like a giant plant that grows eyes balls and shoots them at you. The third boss is a sandcastle snail dragon? Not to be outdone, the fourth boss is a floating lava crocodile, and finally, the fifth boss is Neff who transforms into what I assume is a character from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I found Neff somewhat challenging. I think it took me three to five times to defeat him, but once you know his pattern and when to mash the buttons, he falls pretty easily.
Altered Beast can be beaten in like 20 minutes, so I think that’s where the gripe is. I’m sure plenty of kids had fun with it for a day or two, but afterward, there’s not much replay value. The sound effects were awesome though, I love all the voices especially when Neff yells out “Welcome To Your Doom”!
I don’t have any memories of Altered Beast growing up. I never played it as a kid and didn’t play it until reviewing it a few months ago. I just know that it got ripped on a lot, but I have to say I’m a little surprised by all the complaining, sure it’s an easy game, but it’s not terrible! I’m sure if I played this as a kid I might grade it a bit higher, nostalgia tends to blind me.
Altered Beast Review Score:
This game is a wonderful beat em up for the arcade, and I get why it was popular in Japan. Unfortunately, great arcade games don’t always transfer into great console games. I think the shortness of Altered Beast hurt it, but I do love the dialogue sounds. You won’t hear me complain about that! Altered Beast would have benefited by adding in a few more levels for the console release. When you beat an easy game in twenty minutes, how much replay value is there? Not much.
Altered Beast scores a 6.1 out of 10.
What would you write in your Altered Beast review? Were you around when Altered Beast came out? Do you remember playing it for the first time and did you find it easy? Did you have a favorite transformation or boss fight? Did Altered Beast come packed in with your Sega Genesis? If so, I want to hear your thoughts on it, does Altered Beast suck or is there some charm to it? Let me know your thoughts and comments below, I’d love to read them.