This game is a beast. (video and text review)
- Original pack-in game with the Sega Genesis
- Can be played two-player
- Faithful to the original arcade game
- You can turn into a variety of beasts, which is cool I guess
- Clunky and dull
- Only has five levels
- Stages are short and bosses are dull
- Ugly graphics and music
- No continues
- Ultimately, does not stand the test of time
|"Welcome to your doom!"|
The LongAh, 1989. The new Sega Genesis hit the market, ready to punch the NES in the face with its 16-bit graphics and hip new attitude. It was the spark of the console war most gamers will remember best, the face-off between Nintendo and Sega as they tried to gain control of the rapidly growing video game market. So, when you are releasing a system to compete against the all-powerful, game-packed NES, what game do you promote to show off your system's advanced graphics? Sega originally picked Altered Beast, though luckily they quickly saw the light and switched it to the much superior Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sega loves to pack this game into any compilation collection they release (and boy, do they release a lot), and as a bonus also throw it onto modern download services like XBLA, PSN, and Steam. So...after almost twenty-five years, is Altered Beast still as much a classic as other titles?
No. It isn't. I'll just get that out of the way right now.
|Nothing like a dude throwing his face at you over and over.|
Altered Beast is an incredibly simple and slow arcade beat-em-up. Essentially, Zeus has resurrected you to kill Neff, who kidnapped his daughter. For unexplained reasons when you gather glowing orbs (that look more like a sci-fi item than a fantasy ones) your guy gets buffer and buffer, before finally turning into a BEAST. Get it? You are altered into a beast. That's clever title writing, that.Beasts vary depending on levels, from a wolf that can sprint and punch fireballs to a flying gremlin thingy that has electricity to a bear and tiger and...then a wolf again. Yeah, the game has only five levels, and can be beaten in under ten minutes. So don't get too excited thinking you'll be busting through level after level as a bear; it ain't gonna happen.
|You can play two-player, if you want to get bored together.|
The main issue with the game is how incredibly slow and clunky it plays. You have essentially two attacks: a high punch and a low kick. High punches for tall enemies, low kicks for the low ones, and a jump/duck attack for...whenever. Your character walks extremely slowly and the screen is constantly panning to the right, meaning you have to keep up. Enemies spawn from both sides for your kicking and punching pleasure, and then you fight a boss after about 20-30 seconds of this slow scrolling.The first thing you'll notice is the relatively low number of enemies. Considering most go down in one or two hits, there really isn't a whole lot of challenge here. Next, you'll see they are just as slow as you are, taking their dear sweet time jumping or walking across the screen. It's monotonous to just watch.
|Two bad dudes.|
The game picks up very slightly after getting three power-ups and turning into a "beast," but that just takes the game and makes it a cakewalk. And since enemy location never changes, anyone who has played this game more than twice probably has all the enemies completely memorized. There's no variation, no increased challenge, and no real sense of progression. It's just five bland levels punching and kicking weak stuff until the end. All while moving like you are fording a quagmire of molasses.You can play two-player co-op which makes the game a little better (plus enemies drop twice as many power-ups), but let's be honest: who really would want to play this game through with a friend, when there are so many better two-player games out there?
|Punch a dragon-rattlesnake.|
While this might have looked impressive back in 1989, Altered Beast looks downright dull this day and age. Though, thinking back, I honestly can't say this game looked very good then either. It lacks the multicolored punch future Genesis games like Sonic the Hedgehog would have, and despite having more colors I'd say Altered Beast looks substantially worse than an NES game like Castlevania, which was on the "weaker" system. The pixel art is boring to look at and the backdrops, especially, seem to blend together into a horrid mesh of colors. While it isn't the ugliest game I've seen, it certainly isn't pleasing to look at now.Music is the same: unimpressive. While the tunes certainly hold a slight level of nostalgia for me, they are weak when compared to anything else on the system. Everybody knows the "WISE FWOM YOUR GWAVE" voice clip that starts the game off, which sounds particularly bad (and it's weird, seeing as Bases Loaded on the NES was fully voiced and sounds great).
|This game has been a beast to review. Get it? "Beast?" I'm a writer.|
While this game might have been impressive back when it released with the Genesis, looking back on it now it's just a relic that should remain forgotten. It baffles me how often this game gets re-released and re-packaged; you'd think Sega would want to just forget this boring sludge even existed. I am not proud that I own an original cartridge of this game on the Genesis (and a second copy on the 6-Pak), as even the collector in me is ashamed. I highly suggest playing just about any other game on the Genesis before booting this one back up. While it isn't broken, it is completely boring, which in this day and age is almost as bad.One out of five stars.
|Yeah, good luck with that, Sega.|