Altered Beast: First Genesis game released.

I’ll bet you thought it was Sonic the Hedgehog that came bundled with the Sega Genesis system when it was first released. Oh my, you are so wrong. If you recall the commercials put out by Sega, it was Altered Beast that was featured rather than a blue hedgehog in need of some ritalin. Altered Beast was actually released in the arcades in 1988. The Genesis version came out in 1990. There isn’t much of a difference between the two. This console was made for colorful 16-bit titles. More programming, real looking characters and environments (compared to Nintendos standards anyway) but in the case of Altered Beast, is lacking more levels.

Tackling the game one step at a time, let’s talk about what the heck you’re doing.

An evil wizard takes a young girl, and her father who I believe is named Zeus, brings you, a warrior with great powers back from the dead. What great powers are these, you ask? You can transform into powerful animals, such as a werewolf, a dragon and a bear. Permit me to do my ludicrous nitpicks here. The werewolf sound is borrowed from the movie “An American Werewolf in London” and what kind of powers can you get playing as Smokey the bear?? Starting forest fires??? Sorry folks, couldn’t save that for the end. All kidding and picking aside, this is not a bad game. Short? Yes. Bad? No. Once you rise from your grave as illustrated by the voice clip, other graves will crack open and zombies arise to make sure you stay dead this time. You can just punch or kick these pushovers, and proceed with little hassle. As you are pushed along by the automatic scrolling screen, a white….boar is what it looks like, will charge at you. Hit it, and a power up will appear, and you’ll instantly grow pectoral muscles without a trip to the gym. It starts to look silly after the second power up, cause apparently, your head is still the same size. Once the third power up is taken, you will morph into the werewolf. You can become the wolf for the first, third and fifth level, but there is a cheat to change that. I forgot it now, but even if I did, this is a review, not a cheat session! Now that you have these powers, throwing fireballs, and charging your enemies, you can easily plow your way to the end of the level. At every levels end, the evil wizard awaits, and begins the fight by saying “Welcome to your doom”. He then morphs into a monster and the action resumes. Once the monster form is defeated within 35 seconds, the wizard opens a hole into the next level, and steals your powers away, but fear not, you’ll get them again in level 2. This time, it’ll be a dragon with electric powers. That’s original. Most dragons just spit fire. Ask Godzilla. Well, again, once the dragons abilities are acquired, it is clear sailing to the end of the level, and you’ll face off with another of the wizards monster forms. In level 3, you’ll transform into Smokey…I mean, a bear. He can do this jumping spin, and can turn the enemies to stone. Nifty! Besides there not being enough levels, or animals to morph into, the levels end too quickly. For the beginning game players, this is a nice game to get yourself acquainted with, then graduate to Sonic, and then wait 6 years for Mario 64, and another 6 for Mario Sunshine. The game is simple. Plot is thin, but it plays nice for those who just like kicking zombie ass. Here’s what I thought about the whole game.

I’m torn. Either Altered Beast for Genesis, Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo? Do my homework for school?

If you want a game that will kill 30 minutes to an hour, play Altered Beast. If you want a game that has at least 100 levels in it, play Super Mario World. The choice is obvious, but I am not really bashing Altered Beast. I think it’s a fine game if they had only put more into it to separate it from its arcade brother. The graphics are excellent. We’re dealing with more colors now that we’re in the 16-bit world. Its atmosphere is gloomy on some levels, and the enemies are well designed and have a bit of intelligence about them. We’re not limited to bad guys walking back and forth, or walking off a cliff. Enemies will fly and charge at you, so keep alert as much as you can here.

Music has that ancient roman god feel, and you’ll love the cracking bones of the zombies you’ll beat up. The realism factor is quite high in that department. At least it doesn’t sound like a Kung Fu movie with FX of slabs of meat being hit. Moving this guy around isn’t hard. You make him walk, jump, punch and kick. I’m going to say that again because it sounds important. You make him walk, jump, punch, and kick. You’re not replacing a broken hip. You’re not struggling with New York traffic. You can relax, my friends.

Control is not an issue, but the Challenge is. 5 short levels. The same boss character taking on different forms is not all that exciting. But if you remember how easy it was for us to be entertained back then, you’ll understand why you’ll most likely come back and play this game a second time. You didn’t want to do that Homework!!

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