(VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Altered Beast (VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Game Review

Altered Beast Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Welcome to your doom!

There’s no two ways about it: Altered Beast is a terrible game. Even here, in a perfect conversion of the arcade original, it’s so horrendously stodgy and repetitive that it makes you wonder quite why anyone holds it in the slightest bit of regard.

For those lucky few amongst you yet to engage in a little beast altering, the game is a side-scrolling combination of platform and fighting, as you control a resurrected hero who powers up whenever he consumes the glowing orbs left behind by defeating certain enemies. When you collect three orbs, you transform into a deadly creature ranging from a bear to a dragon, depending on which level you’re playing. This is where the game actually becomes vaguely enjoyable, to such an extent it’s enough to make you wonder quite why Sega didn’t just make a full game based on the beast parts.

The major problem with Altered Beast is that it’s so damned repetitive. With only punch, kick and jump buttons it’s a matter of walking up to an enemy, tapping the buttons until they die and walking to the next enemy to repeat the same steps. If you fail to collect enough of the required power-up items, the level will extend, prolonging the agony still further. Once you’ve made the change, you can face the game’s boss at the end of the section – the game wants you to work hard to collect the orbs, then rob you of them at the first available opportunity.

Even the beast play gets horribly repetitive, though. In fact, despite the game’s short size at just five stages, the first and last beasts are almost identical, resulting in still more repetition. At least the bosses are reasonably varied, with huge eyeball-spitting watermelon creatures and head-slinging mudmen, although they can all be defeated reasonably easily with your beast’s projectile attack.

At least the game has a decent level of variety in its graphics and sound, with levels based on crumbling ruins, muddy caves and swamplands, and some reasonably pleasing tunes tinkling away in the background. Of course, the most famous aspect of Altered Beast – the digitised speech – is here in its original form, and sounds much better than its Mega Drive equivalent, although you’ll still say find yourself saying “wise fwom your gwave!” every time you play. Old habits die hard.

If you’re finding the game a little too straightforward – and chances are, you will – you can at least tweak it with a reasonable set of options, including health stock, rapid fire and even giving yourself as many as 240 lives, if you’re a real sadist. Bizarrely, the rapid fire is automatically set at the highest level, so you can’t blitz through the game with punch held down, but you can make the game more challenging by using the hard or very hard modes.


On the whole, Altered Beast is a lame dog that should just be left to die. It hasn’t aged well at all, with horribly shallow gameplay that pales in comparison to Sega’s other classic 2D scrollers such as Shinobi, Golden Axe or Streets of Rage. Even the most hardcore of Sega fans will find it difficult to find much enjoyable in this two-dimensional slog.

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User Comments (44)



Damo said:

As much as it pains me to say it, I've got to agree with this review. I have a soft spot for Altered Beast because it was one of the first games I played on the Mega Drive, and I also think the setting is fantastic. But the gameplay is seriously dull and repetitive.



Corbs said:

I'm mixed about it. On one hand, there is a part of me that remembers how much I loved this game when it first hit arcades. But much like Space Harrier, it's not a game that's aged very well at all. So what are you gonna do?

I say if you loved the game originally, it might be worth a revisit. Otherwise run your ass away from this game and never look back!



James said:

I used to play it on the Atari ST (showing my age now!) and used to really like it, but now barring a full frontal lobotomy I can't see myself ever gleaning even the smallest amount of enjoyment from it. It's so archaic that not even nostalgia can save it.

I'm really sorry Sega. I really am.



Dazza said:

I think everyone used to have a bit of a soft spot for Altered Beast at the time, it was even bundled with the Mega Drive in the UK for a while. It's really not aged well though. It's so sluggish by today's standards.

I would really love the arcade version of Shinobi on Virtual Console. Now that's a game that has not aged badly. C'mon SEGA, make my dream come true!



Dazza said:

@Terranigma - Yeah I have it on XBLA, it's so good I would buy it twice! lol

I have all the achievements except for "Score 300,000 points" which is well hard!



Chunky_Droid said:

I have to agree about the Altered Beast soft spot, it was part of a SEGA arcade pack I had on my Commodore 64 that came with E.S.W.A.T. and Wonder Boy in Monster World.

But if I played it now I'd hate it to death!



Terra said:

@Dazza - I can bet it's hard. I've never played any of the Shinobi games so I may pick that up when I get the money,



Corbs said:

I don't think Shinobi would ever get old. I still love those games.



blackknight77 said:

"Even the most hardcore of Sega fans will find it difficult to find much enjoyable in this two-dimensional slog."

No we won't! In fact these classic Sega releases are what keep me interested in the VCA service. Long live Sega and Altered Beast!!! Now can we get Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder



flatspikes said:

I'm not sure what draws me to this and other not aged so well games... I keep buying VC downloads and just bought the Ultimate Megadrive collection which has this on... I think I will play it right through to the end... just because I can!

Hey I might even enjoy it lol!



James said:

A slog is an exhausting effort that's not very enjoyable - working your way through a rubbish game is the perfect definition of a slog

And I'm as hardcore a Sega fan as they come, but please, I don't want any more Altered Beast. Please!



Vendetta said:

Man, I'm so desparate for VCA content that I'm actually considering this. Funny thing is I hated this game in the arcade, I hated this game when it came bundled with the Genesis, and I'm sure I still kinda hate it now.
Where are the quality titles VCA is screaming for?!



Sean_Aaron said:

I really like this game; had no problem buying it on the Japanese VCA last week so I think a 3 is a bit harsh -- it craps all over Space Harrier in the fun and control stakes!



Gizmo said:

Why does the superior arcade versions of games always get a lower (Space Harrier) or the same score as the console port?



Egg_miester said:

i have loved the game and i have to disagree with the review, not everyone has some feelings on what makes a game repetitive. now i can understand if someone has the genesis copy why they wouldn't get this one but i highly suggest that if someone doesn't have any other copies of the game they should get the arcade copy its the best should be higher



Sean_Aaron said:

@Gizmo: It comes down to different reviewers with different tastes who are not bound by previous reviews on different platforms.

I probably would have given this game a 5 or 6, though.

Do use a Classic Controller and do remap the buttons to enable easier jump kicks.



Will said:

Classic, I have the megadrive version downloaded but I'm gonna get this too. That fuzzy bear never fails to make me laugh!!! lol! Welcome to your doom!!



Kirk said:

I've always thought the game was pretty crap so I'm not surprised with this review at all.

It was always pretty cool "RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!" but it was never actually a good game. Not even for it's time.



Sean_Aaron said:

This game was the bomb. The fact that it was a pack-in with the Genesis in America nearly sold me on it, unlike whatever the pack-in was with the SNES (Super Mario whatever?).

Now I sincerely hope that after Sega gets through all this 16-bit stuff they get back to their roots and give us Pulsar and their awesome vector games: Space Fury, Tac Scan and the super awesome Star Trek Tactical Simulator!!!



vio said:

Oy... Why does Sega keep releasing Arcade versions of games already available on VC in their Genesis/MD incarnations? And they aren't even very good games either. Lame..



JimLad said:

da-nana-na dana-na da-daa...
This is a game you love in spite of it's crappiness.



Ricardo91 said:

So even the supposedly superior arcade version is no good these days. Tsk tsk...

This is on SUGC, isn't it?



Ultronator said:

This game is so hilariously bad, I find it entertaining. Now the thing for me is, the worse the port is, the more entertaining I find it to be. I actually thought the arcade version wasn't as good because it didn't have the horrible sound quality and voice overs that the genesis one had. And if you wanna take a step further into the abyss, try playing the genesis version ported to the Dreamcast Sega classics collection. Oh, and how about the ZX spectrum version...search youtube and you will be amazed that they even bothered to port it.



I like Altered Beast. It's simple, very simple, but I think it's a fun game. I like to sit down and play it when I want something mindless to play.



davegorack said:

We've had the virtual console arcade for a month now and so far all we've had are conversions of games no one really wants..... and Space Invaders of whic there are already two superior versions of. When will they pull their fingers out and release arcade games like Street Fighter 3 or Marvel Vs Capcom 2?



President_Leever said:

Loved the concept and the music in this game and I still do. It is damn repetitive, simple, and the controls are pretty bad. Not a good game today, never has been, but I still find it entertaining in 2-player mode.



ICEknight said:

I'm amazed at how a game that's always been considered a classic gets a 3/10 in here and only then people start saying it sucks. The Mega Drive conversion was bad, but this?

This game's quite good for the 9 bucks it costs, very original in concept, has great graphics (the bosses really standing out), awesome music, many cool different characters to play as, and just deserves to be played by anybody who thinks of him/herself as a real gamer.

The only gripe this review has with the game is its repetitiveness...due to there only being two kinds of attacks (when many other games have just one), that the first and last beasts are the same (when there's 4 different beasts you can play as, unlike in any other game), and that you must go to one enemy, tap the buttons so it will die, then repeat? By that logic, almost any 16 bit game is likely to get another poor rating because of this.

So it looks like the point for this rating doesn't make any sense. I demand a re-review. =|

PS: Also, it runs at 60Hz instead of the 50Hz of the PAL Mega Drive version, so it deserves a better rating than that one.



James said:

At least Golden Axe and Streets of Rage have depth of field though, so you have a bit more freedom of movement, and the Shinobi games have multiple tiers and all sorts of other good stuff. Altered Beast is twenty years old now and just does not cut the mustard, especially when you consider it's now 1,000 Points in the US!



Omega said:

Altered Beast is a classic. It isn't more repetive than most other games from that era. I suggest to play it if you are interested and have the points. It's much more enjoyable than the review claims and it's definitely better and much more varied than some Wiiware games that have a score of 6 or 7 on NL.



Caster8 said:

Some say , its a classic (fair enough) i have downloaded it for the 360 only
wouldnt want to waste money downloading it on the VC

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