Friday, January 28, 2011

Canon Video Game Review: Altered Beast (Sega Genesis)

Today's review comes from an idea from reader Ben W. Mr. W was playing Altered Beast as part of the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Playstation3, and then suggested that I should do a review about this game. At first, I wasn't very receptive of this idea, but after thinking about it for more than five seconds, I couldn't think of a reason not to do it, so here we are. Altered Beast was the first 16-bit game to be released on home video game consoles, in this case being for the Sega Genesis. Published and Developed by Sega, Altered Beast was originally an arcade game before being ported onto the Genesis in 1989. So, while Altered Beast is a historically significant game, is is a very good game? Here is the cover for Altered Beast, courtesy of

In Altered Beast, you are a dead Roman solider brought back to life by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena from the clutches of the nefarious Neff. Why Zeus decides to revive a dead guy instead of getting somebody else to rescue his daughter, or even do it himself, is a mystery. Anyway, you RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE, as Zeus commands you in a voice that sounds like a 14 year-old talking in a deep voice. Along the way, you must do battle with zombies, two-headed werewolves, and other mysterious creatures. If you hit enough werewolves, you get a power-up, where you turn into a slightly more powerful human. After the third power-up, you go into BEAST mode, becoming a werewolf or a tiger or some other powerful beast depending on what level you're on. After becoming and altered beast, the boss of the level will appear, so you have to do battle with that and defeat him to move on, where some Leonard Nimoy looking dude will strip you of your powerups before advancing. With each level, the process repeats itself. Get three power ups, fight the boss, move on. Simple enough, right?

Your ability to defeat your enemies is severely compromised by the fact that your character can't really do a whole lot. He can punch, kick, and jump, and that's pretty much it. This would be acceptable if your character didn't have the range of Mini-me. Therefore, you have to get really close to your opponent and hope that your punch lands before his does, basically. As for kicking, well our hero seems to favor the leg kick, because that's all he does, besides the non-effective 'lie on your back and kick straight up'. method. If you are to do a ducking attack, I'd recommend just doing a low punch instead, as at least you have range with that attack and it looks like you are punching your opponents in the family jewels. With each power-up, your strikes become more effective, and once you enter beast mode, you really start to kick ass, as now you can throw stuff at your opponents and do crazy flying attacks as well. Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of time, because the boss shows up pretty quickly after you turn into a beast. At each level, an Uncle Fester looking wizard will transform into some hideous creature and he'll start firing crap at you as well. At the first level, the guy turns into a hideous ogre and throws screaming heads at you. Yes, I said screaming heads. Here, take a look from this picture courtesty of

As far as graphics go, it's not too bad considering it was the first 16-bit game to be released. Of course, there would be other 16-bit games with superior graphics later on, but at the time it was probably rather remarkable. The animations were a bit clunky, and I noticed a few issues with collision detection. Sound-wise, I must say that the score of Altered Beast was actually pretty good, and really added a lot to the atmosphere of the game. The voiceovers were kind of silly, and it got rather tiresome to hear "Welcome to your doom" at the end of each level. There are only five levels, sou if you know what you're doing, you could beat the game in 20 to 30 minutes. The controls are very simple (A punches, B kicks, C jumps), but I found them a bit sluggish at times, as I'd often times have to hit the punch button three or four times in order to get one punch in. At first, I thought it might be the controller, but after playing a couple of other games and having no trouble, I realized it was the game instead.

Overall, there are some people that seem to consider Altered Beast as a timeless classic. Well, even though it might be historically significant, I wouldn't consider it a classic by any means. The levels are repetitve, the controls are sluggish, and it really offers no replay value after the first time you beat it. For its time, Altered Beast was a great achievement, but time has passed this mediocre side-scroller by. Overall, I'd give it a 4.7 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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