Altered Beast is an action platform beat 'em up developed and published by Sega for the arcade in August 1988. It was built for the System 16 arcade board and was later ported to about a dozen platforms.
The game is set in ancient Greece. Zeus' daughter Athena has been kidnapped by an evil magician named Neff. Zeus resurrects you, a dead centurion, to fight your way through Neff's henchmen and rescue Athena. In each stage, if you defeat two-headed white wolves, they will leave behind a power orb which will make you stronger. If you collect a third orb, you will transform into a powerful beast like a werewolf or dragon and gain special attacks.
I saw first saw this game in the arcade room of Lakeland Arena in the late 1980s, and I initially thought the game was called "Alter Beast." Although I never played it at the time, I loved to watch other people play the game, and I remember seeing kids get as far as stage 3. I was really impressed by the graphics and the idea of turning into a werewolf seemed so cool. Years later, I found a System 16 emulator online and played the game all the way through. The process took tons of credits, and the last stage was so hard I wasn't even able to get enough orbs to transform before having to fight Neff. This kind of disenfranchised me to the game.
I do not own the game, and have never beaten it.
Best Version: Arcade
— This section contains spoilers! —
- For the time, the game was very impressive. It used top of the line hardware both in audio and video.
- The entire game is very creative. Being able to morph into fireball-throwing werewolves, electricity slinging dragons, and the rest is fantastic. Enemies like the skull-holding skeletons, head leeches, and rattlesnake dragons are all really interesting and beautifully rendered, and the bosses are especially impressive. Aggar, the head-hurling dead body boss of stage 1, is one of my favorite bosses in video game history.
- The graphic effect where body parts of slain enemies expand toward the screen is really cool.
- The game's music composed by Toru Nakabayashi and sound effects are good, and digital speech was still impressive in 1988.
- The arcade game has a wonderful attract demo.
- The ending is pretty cool.
- The NES port, though horrible looking, adds two new stages to the game where you change into a shark and a phoenix.
- The game punishes mistakes brutally, especially in later levels. It seems like Sega designed the game, not so much to be fun, but to drain quarters.
- The game is really short. When playing at an expert level, the entire game takes less than 15 minutes to finish.
- The player's body grows with power orbs, but his head doesn't, which looks ridiculous.
- The attacks in the later transformations are kind of silly. A bubblegum blowing bear? I bouncing ball throwing tiger? WTF?
- In the last stage, you're short-changed by transforming into a werewolf again rather than a new beast, but the game tries to play it off as a new transformation by calling it a "gold werewolf." Nice try!
- The morphing animation is only drawn for the wolf. All other morphs just flash between the two rapidly.
- The foreground bodies in the final stage look great, but the artist ruined the seriousness by adding the The Thinker and The Scream into the mix.
- The "rise from your grave," intro speech sound sounds a bit... off.
- A rescue the princess story line, how original.
- None of the boxes have very good art work.
- The game's controls are terrible. The player's attacks are sluggish, and jumping is especially bad. I always feel like I'm struggling with my player more than the monsters.
|Japanese||獣王記||Juuouki||Beast King's Chronicle|
- segaretro.org/Altered_Beast - Sega Retro.