Altered Beast (Arcade) review
"As I pick through the mind of retro gamers and those who dig “old school” I have never found a fan of Altered Beast. “Boy! That game stinks!” is usually the response I get and when I defend it I get something like “What the **** are you on?” It seems, now the mist has well cleared and the cobwebs have now settled on this archaic action classic and most people are now ready to forget it, despite Sega’s attempts to re-launch it on more up to date systems. "
As I pick through the mind of retro gamers and those who dig “old school” I have never found a fan of Altered Beast. “Boy! That game stinks!” is usually the response I get and when I defend it I get something like “What the **** are you on?” It seems, now the mist has well cleared and the cobwebs have now settled on this archaic action classic and most people are now ready to forget it, despite Sega’s attempts to re-launch it on more up to date systems.
Anyway, the original arcade version of this game probably has either been moved for the world entirely or it lurks in the dark and dreary caverns of the arcade. Pushed out of the way for the new generation and left for dead, played only once a month by the obsessed retro freak who is probably nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon. So, in other words if you find it now consider yourself lucky.
As in the famed Genesis port, the game is set in ancient Greece. The evil sorcerer Neff (or in this case, sorcerer’s) has stolen Athena, the daughter of Zeus, the God of Greek gods. Zeus, being the lazy deity that he is decides to resurrect his greatest warrior (a.k.a YOU!) to go and fight Neff, thus rescuing the damsel in distress. If Zeus was so great I’m sure he could have used his godly powers to trash Neff but as we all know gods tend to be less sufficient than what they should be.
Of course, you don’t have instant powers or immortality but you do have one new power that remained absent in your previous life. As you “awake” in a graveyard surrounded by a creeping cluster of zombies you realise that your punches fail to do much damage and as you shatter the head of the oncoming automaton. Another hit will see the body only to see another group of zombies and other flying beasts that don’t seem to stop coming at you. You are helplessly outnumbered by them and all of sudden you feel that you were risen a little too prematurely.
Then it happens! A two headed dog, flashing white, unlike the others of its kind who stay a dreary brown colour leaps out of nowhere and with grace leaps over a tombstone. One tremendous punch sees the dog crumple and a small ball of energy emerges, on contact with this mysterious force your muscles bulge, ripping your clothes off like the macho motors that they are. With one punch the creatures fall and as you hit larger and more dangerous enemies they are banished back to underworld.
As another dog appears, you leap high and with a stiff kick you grab the released energy orb you feel your muscles increasing and finally after a third contact the hidden power is unleashed and you become the Altered Beast. In this case your hair grows, your teeth enlarge and you control new and limitless powers, hurling a fireball from your palms and charging around with a force field. With your ability you are promptly approached by Neff, the antagonist who in a seemingly Scottish accent (starring Billy Connolly as the voice of Neff) appears and in an instant transforms into a huge creature which challenges to a duel, unfairly balanced to his advantage and after a rip-roaring battle where you will hopefully prevail you will have your power stripped and will have to trek through another environment performing the same mission.
In the five levels of the game, which follow a similar theme in a different environment you’ll become a dragon, with the ability to fly and spark electricity, a bear that can turn enemies into stone and smash the statues with curling up and leaping onto the foe. Then you’ll become a tiger, contrasting to the werewolf you’ll become a tiger, which can emit slower fireballs from his palms and can also create a force field except that you’ll be thrown vertically instead of horizontally. Finally, you become the golden werewolf, a palette swap of the original wolf except that his attacks are probably stronger. Playing the different beasts is fun the first time and testing out the abilities that they have is also interesting the first few times round but when you know what to expect the passion runs thin.
If you even come across Altered Beast in the dark, dank corner of your local arcade it can’t hurt to give it a go. However the game can be excessively hard and you may find yourself spending a bit too much money on trying to finish it and with only s three bars of health and two lives the gameplay may be limited. An unskilled gamer would last five minutes but grizzly veterans will finish it in 20 minutes. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you are but if you’re ready for a rip roaring, action adventure that follows a fairly simple concept and executes it in a fairly amusing way although it’ll only give you a few minutes of entertainment and after that you’ll not be bothered with it. Although this version looks more advanced than the Genesis port I highly recommend you play the Genesis version than play it in an arcade.
Community review by goldenvortex (June 24, 2004)
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