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First Impressions: 3D Altered Beast

Posted by Damien McFerran

Wise fwom your gwave

Altered Beast occupies a strange place in Sega's library; when it was first released it garnered a lukewarm response, and its choice as a pack-in title for the freshly-launched Mega Drive / Genesis was a curious one — although its large, bold sprites were impressive for the time, it certainly wasn't strong enough in terms of gameplay to "sell" the console to the masses.

Even so, the fact that it was the first Mega Drive game that many Sega fans experienced has gifted Altered Beast a lofty status, and has no doubt gone some way to ensuring its inclusion in Sega's 3DS-based 3D classics range — which is currently exclusive to Japan, but is expected to find its way over to the west in due course.

Like 3D Super Hang-On, 3D Space Harrier and 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, 3D Altered Beast is basically the original game with some minor modifications. The 3D effect is quite subtle and (as was also the case with Sonic) feels less effective than it did in Space Harrier and Super Hang-On — largely because their "into the screen" perspective works better. Even so, the 3D lends Altered Beast a fresh dimension that is undeniably pleasant to behold.

Like 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, you can also opt for a bizarre CRT imitation filter, which makes the game look as if it's being played on an old television set. Significantly more useful is the opportunity to use save states, although the game is so short that you may not require them. Also included is a two-player link-up mode and the option to switch the order of the beast transformations; for example, the dragon becomes level one's monster and the wolf level two's. It's an interesting change and one that we admit we could have done with back in the early '90s, as it lends additional longevity to what is a painfully brief experience.

Outside of those new features, this is essentially the same game you completed in the space of an evening back in the days of your youth. Even the most dedicated Sega fan will admit that Altered Beast — despite its fame — isn't a particularly brilliant video game, and certainly represents the weakest entry in Sega's 3D classic range so far. Also, we're not quite sure why the developer picked the domestic port over the coin-op original, which would at least have offered fans a version they weren't so intimately familiar with.

We'd be willing to bet that most Sega lovers would have rather have seen After Burner, Golden Axe or Alien Storm updated for the 3DS eShop rather than this. As it stands, 3D Altered Beast will tickle your nostalgia bone if you've got a soft spot for the original, but it hasn't aged well at all.

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User Comments (44)

Sjoerd

#1

Sjoerd said:

I've never had a chance to play all these SEGA games, I'd really like it if they would realease them in PAL regions.

MAB

#2

MAB said:

A Megadrive game on 3DS... I don't care if it's rubbish I will still get it just to support future releases.

Chakan 3D will hopefully be mine one of these days ;)

PvtOttobot

#4

PvtOttobot said:

All I see is a bunch of naked men/pterodactyls running about kicking things... sounds fun!
sarcasm

FiveDigitLP

#5

FiveDigitLP said:

I played this game on a Sega collection a few months ago for the first time. It was pretty trippy (not to mention that the voice-overs seemed a little cheesy to me). I found it to be fairly laughable, but I didn't realize it had such a cult status until recently.

DualWielding

#7

DualWielding said:

don't care about this one but will get the Sonic 3D if ever released in the west, I don't actually care about the 3D either, Genesis VC would be good enough for me... Sega is finally doing what Nintendon't.... Bringing 16 bits to the 3DS

DualWielding

#8

DualWielding said:

don't care about this one but will get the Sonic 3D if ever released in the west, I don't actually care about the 3D either, Genesis VC would be good enough for me... Sega is finally doing what Nintendon't.... Bringing 16 bits to the 3DS

Tasuki

#9

Tasuki said:

Still have this game for my Sega Genesis and I still play it every now and again for a retro fix. Would be nice to have it on the go.

Cesco

#10

Cesco said:

I dreamed of having Power drift! That was my all-time Sega favourite game!

WhiteTrashGuy

#12

WhiteTrashGuy said:

@MadAussieBloke

Chakan FTW!

I was a Genesis kid (sold my NES to upgrade) mainly because of their licensed titles. I would love to see some SEGA CD titles make the jump to 3DS or Wii U. But, yes, AFTER BURNER and ALIEN STORM would be sick. As well as SONIC SPINBALL and VECTORMAN seems tailor-made for 3DS!

Blue_Yoshi

#14

Blue_Yoshi said:

I want to see all the Sega 3D games in America. I'm just getting into Sega now and realizing that all their IP's are pretty good like how Nintendo always guarantee's a good IP.

datamonkey

#15

datamonkey said:

This was the first game I ever completed back in the day! Looks shocking now but it was great 100 years ago! ;)

deKay

#18

deKay said:

@Alphack3r It's my tagline! They stole it! https://twitter.com/dekay01/status/339652752663801856

Also: "Also included is a two-player link-up mode and the option to switch the order of the beast transformations; for example, the dragon becomes level one's monster and the wolf level two's. It's an interesting change and one that we admit we could have done with back in the early '90s, as it lends additional longevity to what is a painfully brief experience."

That facility was in the original Megadrive game!

aaronsullivan

#19

aaronsullivan said:

I remember first seeing this in the arcades. It was so OUT THERE at the time and the graphics were pretty stunning. It definitely worked as an arcade game because you just wanted to see what other crazy imagery there was.

The game was never any good besides the visuals and it has aged very poorly as the rest of the world has become pretty accustomed to this type of wacky stuff from Japan (and elsewhere).

pamplemousse_mk

#22

pamplemousse_mk said:

@iPlayNintendo I already read the article, and I just read it again. Sorry, but this not clear in the article. It explains how most of people know Altered beast, e.g. as bundled with the Genesis. But it does not explicitely say that the 3D version is based on the Genesis.

But deKay answers me indirectly.

Ristar42

#23

Ristar42 said:

I first remember playing the game on Atari ST 'back then', of the Megadrive port, it’s funny to think how much a game that looked similar to an arcade seemed impressive when you were more used to 8-bit conversions on the Commodore.

Having said that, the gameplay didn’t impress me even at the time, and time has not improved it. I got the arcade version when it released on Wii VC, and it is visually nicer than the Megadrive at least. Your character also looks pretty funny as he ‘powers up’.

Really hope SEGA bring the 3D classics to Europe soon, I think their consoles were quite popular here after all!

iPlayNintendo

#24

iPlayNintendo said:

@pamplemousse_mk "we're not quite sure why the developer picked the domestic port over the coin-op original, which would at least have offered fans a version they weren't so intimately familiar with."

Arcade games are coin operated in case you didn't know.

iPlayNintendo

#25

iPlayNintendo said:

If you have never played this game, hence no nostalgia being involved, and you buy it then you are likely to be extremely disappointed. I am not envious of Japan in this case

GeminiSaint

#26

GeminiSaint said:

They chose the inferior Genesis version over the original arcade version?
Well, that's a deal breaker for me. Thanks a lot, Sega.

chiefeagle02

#28

chiefeagle02 said:

Cool to see Sega's answer to the 3D NES remakes. Wouldn't mind seeing Streets of Rage 2 reimagined for the 3DS.

DamoAdmin

#30

Damo said:

@deKay It was? I don't recall it being in there. Was a cheat code required?

EDIT - Just checked, it was a cheat. In this version, you can select the option from the menu.

Mikau94

#31

Mikau94 said:

I've got this one in a box somewhere in my basement. Cool concept but the gameplay has some flaws. I'd like to see more Genesis games on the eshop like Phantasy Star and Gargoyles.

Ryon

#33

Ryon said:

Weakest Entry?!
Blasphemy!
Altered Beast is one of my favorite games of all times.
I memorized the enemies attack patterns.

OGGamer

#34

OGGamer said:

Support this to ensure a future release of lightening force/Thunder force 4 (yes it was spelled lightening for the u.s.)

MrCharles77

#37

MrCharles77 said:

Last time I play this game was on ZX Spectrum...amazing how things turn out for videogames.

Nomad

#38

Nomad said:

It's good to see SEGA adding 3D to their MegaDrive EShop releases. I'd like to see Golden Axe 1- 3, the Monsterland games ( Wonderboy ), the Phantasy Star games, and the Shining Force games also get released.

Nomad

#39

Nomad said:

Can we get the Gameboy Advance game Altered Beast: Guardian of the realm, while we're at it?

kurtasbestos

#40

kurtasbestos said:

Man, I loved this game. Also, it really was kind of not all that great, now that I really think about it.

LastResort

#42

LastResort said:

As much as I want a NA release I cannot help but be disappointed that this is based on the graphically inferior Mega Drive / Genesis conversion instead of the original System 16 arcade version.

Wii Virtual Console got the MD/Genesis Altered Beast,
yet (outside of NA it seems) the arcade version was in fact brought to
Virtual Console Arcade.

Here's a video of the arcade version on Wii:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf_qMouRKZI

sleepinglion

#43

sleepinglion said:

Thank you for the review! I've got the original arcade port on my Wii and PS3 so I'll pass on this one, though if it had been the arcade version I would DEFINITELY picked this one up.

drexegar

#44

drexegar said:

You know I may be late on this but the genesis version has more music and parallax scrolling backgrounds and less annoying sound effects then the arcade version.

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