Altered Beast is one of those games that everybody that starts retro gaming thinks that they want to play. The game starts well, and everyone loves the werewolf form, but how many people have actually played it recently, or actually bothered to complete it?
A dead Greek Warrior is resurrected by Zeus, to rescue Zeus’ daughter Athena (the Goddess of Wisdom) who has been kidnapped by the demon god, Neff.
That’s it. Off you go, punching and kicking things till they’re dead.
Altered Beast is a side scrolling beat ’em up, the game forces you along left to right, so you can’t stop and smell the roses. When you kill a blue pig it drops a powerup, collect three of these and you
Alter turn into a beast. 1st power up gives you a power punch/kick with slight added range, and 2 gives you a super buff dude with slightly further increased range.
You can’t fight the boss until you are in beast form, and the stage will simply loop until you manage to collect 3 powerups.
Each stage gives you a different beast, and each beast varies in its usefulness.
Werewolf: Is the one everyone knows. He can zoom from across the screen killing anything in his path. He also shoots projectiles.
Dragon: Fires electricity, and Blanka style emits a protective/offensive shield of electricity around himself. The Dragon sucks, and the Level 2 boss is the most boring.
Bear: You turn into a shitty bear. The punch button gives you stanky breath that turns the enemy to stone, and a second stanky breath thing will kill the enemy. You also get a spinning ball attack. Spam the spin on the boss and you wont take any damage. The bear sucks pretty hard.
Tiger: Personally, the Tiger is the worst. Punch gives you a projectile that moves in annoying wave pattern, and the kick move is now an upwards zoom instead of side to side like the werewolf.
Golden Werewolf: It is the same as the first level. Just gold…
Each Beast form has a slightly different mechanic, and you have to use them to beat the boss on their respective levels, it isn’t hard to figure out and most bosses are susceptible to cheesing. But tactics tends to be use projectile.
Just isn’t very good. The standard punch distance is woeful so it means you can and will take damage until at least one powerup is gained.
Once you have the first powerup the game starts to become too easy, your range is always greater than the enemies, meaning you’ll only take damage from cheap shots or being shit. By the 3rd level, enemies will spawn above you. This means they will fall onto the screen on you instadamaging you. It is very poor gaming design. Since enemies spawning either side of the screen, and with so little reaction time, you’ll inevitably take cheap damage.
There is also no recovery time when hit either, this is especially annoying on Neff as he stands on your face endlessly punching you to death, but it happens on regular enemies too. You’re also not immune to damage when you enter animations for Beast mode or powerup. You stand still for a 1 second animation, but the enemies don’t. So if the timing isn’t great, you’ll take cheap hits.
Altered Beast is pointlessly hard, but it is also short. And pointless.
You can get extra Health by going into the menu (press C and Start and start screen), but there are no health pickups in the game and you don’t get more health at the start of the level. It makes the whole experience a god damn chore. A complete run will take you about 12 minutes, but it’ll probably take you an hour or two if you have never played it.
The fighting is weak, the bosses are cheap and easy to figure out, and the USP of the game, the Beasts, are pretty rubbish.
I didn’t like this game in 1990, and I still don’t.
Pros: Short, you’ll enjoy the first level, it looked good for a first year Megadrive game…
Cons: It sucks donkey balls
Back in the day:
To my surprise Altered Beast has never reviewed “well”, and is often listed in the list of Worst Megadrive games. I wouldn’t say it is one of the worst, it just isn’t very good.
It currently holds a 40 score on Metacritic.