Video Game Review – Altered Beast (Genesis)

Every cover in America, Europe, & Japan used this image;
while a re-print showed more art to the left.


       Altered Beast is one of the Sega Ages line being re-released on PlayStation Network. It was originally a game packaged with the Sega Genesis in 1989 (it was pre-dated by an Arcade game that same year). It was just released on PlayStation network on September 6, 2011.

       Altered Beast was the first Genesis game I ever played, and all I can remember about it is punching zombies, and the phrases, “Power Up” & “Rise From Your Grave.” So, is it still fun after all this time?

       The game starts off with you as a small man, who has just arisen from your grave to start beating up zombies and wolves. You won’t know why you are doing anything until you watch each cutscene and the plot unfolds.

       Your basic controls are to punch, kick, and jump. If you hold down while hitting the kick button, you will kick straight up into the air, which is an easier way to hit airborne enemies. Pressing down and attack only makes you punch while ducking. You can also jump half your body size, unless you hold up and jump, then you can jump nearly the entire screen to get up to a platform.

       Altered Beast plays on two different levels. There is always a lower level, but most of the time there is a platform up top for you to move in-between (or run away) from enemies. There is normally no deviation from this except in some platforming elements in a cave level.

       Your first objective is to collect white orbs that you must retrieve by punching white wolves. Once you collect your first orb, your chest explodes outward and rips your shirt apart. A 2nd orb does the same to more extreme (with your character’s head not changing, leading to a funny site). Collecting a 3rd orb transforms you into a Beast.

The white wolves actually flash white and red.

       There are five different beasts you transform into, each according to what level you are on.

Level 1: A Wolf that shoots fireballs and has a fire dash; your speed also increases.
Level 2: A Dragon that constantly flies. You shoot electricity from your mouth, and you have an electric charge attack that surrounds your entire body.
Level 3: A Bear that has a jump spin. The weakest of the 5 forms.
Level 4: A Tiger that shoots bouncing fireballs, and has a vertical dash.
Level 5: A Golden Wolf with the same abilities as the Level 1 Wolf.

       You normally want to become a beast as soon as possible, because being human sucks: You are slow, and the controls are stiff. Sometimes your controller takes a half second to respond to your input.

       Once you’ve encountered the Demon man for the 3rd time, he transforms into a boss. However, if you are already a Beast when you meet him for the 1st or 2nd time, the Boss fight will start early. If you are human when you reach him for the 3rd time, well, let’s just say you might want to pray. Once you have defeated the boss, you are turned back into your weakest form and must repeat the process.

These monsters get harder and harder, as you must be only a pixel
ahead of him to punch first. Usually, you will be hurt.

       New PlayStation Network Features:

1) You can see the controls and assign any button to any thing you want.
2) They also included a Smoothing option to make the old graphics look better.
3) A scoreboard exists to track the highest point totals.
4) You can play multi-player in your own house or online.
5) Trophies. Yes, there are trophies. They are all easy to get.
6) You can play the original difficulty settings of Easy, Normal, Hard, & Hardest with the original Genesis continue and life bar options, but you also customize your lives and continues for each difficulty option.
7) You can save your game at any time (like an emulator Save State) up to 3 times

Score Breakdown

       Story: 5 out of 10

You have been resurrected by Zeus to rescue Athena (though this is nowhere in game). The story is told in pictures through the graphics with no dialogue between levels.

       Challenge: 7 out of 10

Altered Beast is hard. If you want to try the hardest difficulty setting, you will be playing for a bit, but it is easy to learn the game and beat it in just a few playthroughs (you can also Save State Spam if that is your thing).

       Music: 3 out of 10

The points are for the phrases the people speak (a cool feature at the time), as I don’t remember a single song or even notice it’s there.

       Fun: 10 out of 20

The game can be fun, but it gets a little frustrating on many occasions due to the punching demon enemies that always seem to hit you first. Sometimes the white wolves are placed n the most annoying of locations.

       Controls: 5 out of 10

The controls are a little stiff when human, but they are an early Genesis game, so that should be taken into account. The controls get easier to manage when you are a beast.

       Graphics: 6 out of 10

The boss graphics are huge and take up a large portion of the screen while still looking good. However, most of the enemies keep getting re-used.

The bosses are really large and hard to dodge.

       Replay: 3 out of 10

Once you’ve played it, you might want to play it again on a harder mode, but once you’ve done that, that’s it. It was fun to replay a 2nd time, but after that you won’t want to.

       Extras: 5 out of 10

There are no extras to speak of on the original version, but due to the extra modes added to the Playstation Network, it gets half the needed points.

       Bonus Points:

       +3 Enjoyable Ending

Most games had pretty pathetic endings at this time, and Altered Beast has a fun ending, as after the credits, it will show the characters in the game taking off their monster costumes as if the game you just played was a movie.

       Total Score: 47 out of 90

Altered Beast can be a fun game, but it is a little frustrating at times. However, it is one of those games that can be fun to play as a guilty pleasure for half an hour.

You will never beat the game unless you read
the hints in the helpful, 3 page rulebook.

This review is also available at:
       VideoGameGeek / RetrowareTV / GameFAQS


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