European Mega Drive boxart
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Arcade system||Sega System 16|
|Display||Raster resolution 320 x 224 (Horizontal) Palette Colors 6144|
Altered Beast (獣王記 Jūōki?, lit. "Beast King's Chronicle") is a 1988 beat 'em up arcade game developed and manufactured by Sega. The game is set in Ancient Greece, and follows a centurion who is resurrected by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena, and to do so becomes able to turn into beasts such as the werewolf with the use of power-ups. After its initial arcade release, it was ported to several home video game consoles and home computers, including the Sega Mega Drive, for which it was a pack-in game. The primary designer was Makoto Uchida, also responsible for the creation of Golden Axe.
Altered Beast is a side scrolling, platform, beat 'em up game. The player can punch, kick and jump. Up to two players can play at once. Each player controls a centurion, fighting undead creatures and monsters in a setting resembling Ancient Greece, with originally five levels, in a graveyard, the Underworld, a cavern, Neff's palace and base at the city of Dis. One of the enemies, a white two-headed wolf (blue in the Mega Drive version, and a blue ox in the DOS version) upon defeat releases a Spirit Ball, a power-up orb which increase the strength and size of the player character. Three orbs turn the centurion into a beast, which in the original version were a werewolf, a thunder weredragon, a werebear, a weretiger, and the more powerful golden werewolf (other beasts can be seen in the Japanese Famicom version). Each beast has its own abilities, such as the dragon's flight and lightning, and the bear's petrification. After becoming the beast, the character can face the end-level boss, which upon defeat causes Neff to appear and remove the transformation orbs.
A Roman centurion who had died in battle is resurrected from the dead by Zeus. The centurion is ordered by Zeus to save his daughter Athena from a Demon God called Neff in the Underworld. To become able to withstand the perils, the warrior gets the ability to collect three spirit balls on each level, the last of which transforms him into a human/beast hybrid of formidable power.
After a series of battles in a journey that ends in Dis, the centurion finally defeats Neff and rescues Athena. In the original arcade game, the end credits are interspersed with images of actors in costumes for the different characters and monsters of the game, implying the whole game was a film production.
Altered Beast was ported to several platforms after its original release in 1988. It was released for Sega Master System, PC Engine, PC Engine-CD, Famicom, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga and DOS. The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version was the original pack-in game for that system in North America, Europe, and Brazil, before being replaced by Sonic the Hedgehog. A hand-held version of the game, made by Tiger Electronics was released in 1988.
Certain differences are seen between the several versions of the game. Some of them, like the Master System one, were only single player and had only four levels. Others provided different beasts to mutate into, such as a humanoid lion or a shark form seen in the NES version.
The Mega Drive version is included in the compilations Sega Smash Pack, Sega Genesis Collection and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, with the latter two also including the arcade version as an unlockable game. The Wii's Virtual Console service offers emulated versions of both the arcade and the Mega Drive port, while the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network have a re-worked arcade version with HD support, online leaderboards and network play. Sega released an official iOS port of the Mega Drive version in late 2010, played on the iPhone and iPad.
The game has also seen a 3D port for the Nintendo 3DS as a digital download on the Nintendo eShop. It retains the original game and local multiplayer, and also features a new mode with random transformations. It is based on the Mega Drive/Genesis port, not the arcade version.
In its initial arcade release, Altered Beast was a well-received game. Its conversion to the Sega Mega Drive was considered inferior to the arcade in terms of sprite quality. However, the Sega Mega Drive version was actually more advanced than the arcade version in one regard – its utilization of parallax scrolling. Mega placed the game at #1 in their list of the 10 Worst Mega Drive Games of All Time. Its re-release for the Wii's Virtual Console was given a lukewarm reception by GameSpot and IGN, describing the game as merely decent with some nostalgic value. The Xbox Live Arcade re-release was even described by IGN as "relic of the arcade heyday that just doesn't hold up today".
A PlayStation 2 title was released by Sega in 2005, known as Jūōki: Project Altered Beast in Japan and simply Altered Beast in Europe. Rather than serving as a sequel to the original game, the newer title features a more modern setting that is unconnected to the original game.
Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms, developed by the now defunct 3d6 Games and published by THQ, is a 2002 sequel for Game Boy Advance in the style of the original arcade game. It adds new features like power-ups, new beast forms and destructible environments.
In popular culture
Neff's Rhinoceros-Man form makes a cameo in the Walt Disney Pictures film Wreck-It Ralph. He is among the villains seen attending the villain support group Bad-Anon. When Wreck-It Ralph expresses interest in not being a bad guy anymore, Neff is among the villains who react to this as he has a frightful reaction where an unnamed sorceress (who resembles Mishaela from Shining Force) comforts him. Sardi's-style caricature pictures of both Neff's Rhinoceros-Man form and the Centurion's Werewolf form appear on the Celebrity Wall at Tapper's.
In other media
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- Marc Graser (December 11, 2014). "Sega Taps Evan Cholfin to Adapt its Videogames for Films, TV, Digital Platforms (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2014-12-11.