European Mega Drive box art
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Arcade system||Sega System 16|
|Display||Raster resolution 320 x 224 (Horizontal) Palette Colors 6144|
Altered Beast[a] 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. In order to save his daughter, Zeus transforms the centurion into beasts 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 Mega Drive/Genesis, for which it was a pack-in game.
Altered Beast is a side scrolling beat 'em up game with light platform elements. 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 a 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. 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, though the boss will also appear regardless of whether or not the character is transformed if the player takes too long to complete the level. Upon the boss's defeat, Neff appears and removes the transformation orbs.
A Roman centurion who died in battle is resurrected 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 Master System, PC Engine (in HuCard and CD-ROM² formats), Family Computer, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, and MS-DOS. The 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 version, 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 Famicom version. The Commodore 64 version was severely rushed, being programmed in only 7 weeks.
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, before it was taken down in 2015. In 2017, Altered Beast was rereleased on iOS and Android as a part of the Sega Forever collection.
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.
However, the Mega Drive release has received somewhat negative reception. In 1997 Next Generation commented, "Altered Beast was a dreadful Genesis game. It sold thousands because it was one of the only games available [for the Genesis], but that doesn't make it a classic." Mega placed the game at #10 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".
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.
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.
Characters from Altered Beasts are playable in the IOS and Android game SEGA Heroes.
In popular culture
In the 1990-93 series Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Season 1, Episode 16, Jerry Stein becomes addicted to video games and is seen playing and having nightmares about the Sega Genesis version of Altered Beast.
The popular true crime podcast, The Last Podcast on the Left, utilizes sounds from the game in their podcast intro.
In other media
- Jūōki (
獣王記, lit. "Beast King's Chronicle")
- "Altered Beast". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Ending for Altered Beast(Arcade)".
- "Vintage Is The New Old".
- "SEGA Vintage Collection 2 is out!". Sega. 2009-06-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
- "Altered Beast for Genesis". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
- "Altered Beast for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
- "Interview with Howard Lincoln". Next Generation. No. 29. Imagine Media. May 1997. p. 47.
- Mega magazine issue 1, page 85, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
- Kasavin, Greg (2006-11-19). "Altered Beast for Wii Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
- Thomas, Lucas M. (2006-11-19). "Altered Beast for Wii Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
- Hatfield, Daemon (2009-10-09). "Altered Beast for Xbox 360 Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
- "Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2006-07-06.
- Kelly, Christian: King of Pop, Spin, September 1995.
- "Breaking Benjamin release Altered Benjamin flash game | TheyWillRockYou.com - For the love of music! Serving Boston and Greater New England". theywillrockyou.com. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
- "Wreck-It Ralph Trailer Goes On An 8-Bit Adventure".
- Marc Graser (December 11, 2014). "Sega Taps Evan Cholfin to Adapt its Videogames for Films, TV, Digital Platforms (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
- Dave McNary (December 5, 2016). "Sega's 'Altered Beast,' 'Streets of Rage' Games to Be Adapted for Film, TV". Variety. Retrieved 2016-12-05.