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3D Altered Beast (3DS) artwork

3D Altered Beast (3DS) review

"No amount of 3D is going to make Altered Beast very good."

Sometimes even M2 quality emulation can just feel like lipstick on a pig.

Altered Beast is the second Genesis game in Sega's 3D Remaster project, and from an emulation standpoint, M2 has done another great job. It has everything that 3D Sonic the Hedgehog would lead you to expect. International and Japanese versions? Yup. Pop-out and fall-in 3D modes? You got it. Really cool classic tube TV graphic filter? Heck yeah! PSG sound chip settings? Yes, even PSG sound chip settings. M2 even went above and beyond with the 3D effect, adding parallax layers where there were no parallax layers before.

The problem is that no matter how much effort you put into creating the ultimate Altered Beast experience, people are still going to be left playing Altered Beast.

The premise of Altered Beast is simple enough: Zeus' daughter, Athena, has been kidnapped by Neff, god of the Underworld. He commands you, an apparently deceased warrior, to “Wise fwom your gwave” and rescue her. Genesis launch games didn't have time for BS.

The game is a beat-em-up, and a shallow one at that. In human form, depth is basically limited to ducking and kicking to do an upwards-aimed attack against swooping, flying enemies. Otherwise, you'll be throwing stiffly-animated, boring punches and kicks all over the place. Every now and then, you'll run into Neff, who will impotently shoot lighting bolts in your general direction for a few seconds before turning around and sliding away with no sprite animation whatsoever.

Things get sort of interesting when you start collecting spirit orbs, dropped by specific white wolf enemies in specific places in the stage. Spirit orbs slowly transform you from a man to a weresomething. Which something you transform into depends on the stage. Each orb you collect makes your character a little bit bigger and brawnier, until the third orb turns you into a werewolf or a werebear or some other creature. Each weremonster has its own special attacks. The werewolf, for example, shoots fireballs from its fists and can do a dashing kick across the screen. There weredragon can fly, puke lightning bolts, and shoot lightning a short distance in every direction.

If you run into Neff in this form (or run into him enough times as a puny human), he'll “welcome” you “to your doom” by transforming into a boss with simple, pattern-based attacks and you'll have to fight him. Once he goes down, he'll steal your spirit orbs and escape further into the underworld, and you'll jump in after him because it wouldn't be much of a game if you just stood around twiddling your thumbs.

There are five levels, and if you collect three spirit orbs as quickly as is possible in each one, they're all incredibly short. In fact, the whole game can be finished in about 10 or 15 minutes. This can be tricky with your three lives (with no available 1ups), limited health (with no way to restore it) and no continues, but if you look in the electronic manual, you'll find a list of cheat codes for things like a level select and a secret “continue” option. This version adds a little bit of replay value with a Random Form mode, which will transform you into a random beast whenever you collect three spirit orbs (or one spirit orb, if you've already transformed). There's also a simultaneous two player co-op mode if you can find a local buddy with their own 3DS and a copy of the game. Otherwise, you'll have seen what little Altered Beast has to offer pretty quickly. Maybe you can go hunting for new glitches. I found one in level 3, when I defeated the boss but Neff didn't appear and I couldn't progress until I loaded an earlier save.

Altered Beast almost feels like a wasted slot in the first wave of 3D remasters. The bland graphics and laughable sprite animations don't deserve the work that has been put into preserving them, and the forgettable soundtrack and quaint voice samples don't require two different sound chips to be properly appreciated. It's as good a version of Altered Beast as you're going to get, and if you already like the game, you'll probably like this version, too. If you don't like it, however, playing in 3D won't change your mind, and it's not really worth checking out if you've never played it before. Instead, try one of the other seven 3D Sega games, because they're all based on games that are much more worthy of the status of “classic” than Altered Beast ever was.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (December 12, 2013)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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