Altered Beast Header Image

A poor warrior of battles past, dies defending his country (presumably) and now… That selfish git Zeus has resurrected him to rescuse his daughter. He is a god after all, why can’t he rescue his own daughter?

The one being who can release a Kraken can’t save Athena by kicking the crap out of a demon god of the underworld (who I assume is called Neff)? What a wimp. Lucky for us Sega was there to capture all this and bang together a game out of it.

The Game

Altered Beast was an Arcade game developed and published by Sega in 1988. It was later ported to Sega Master System, PC Engine, NES and Famicom, Atari ST (and a host of other personal computer formats), MS-DOS and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.

Welcome to your Doom!

The unknown warrior has to first fight his way out of the graveyard, which is now infested with the walking dead and other creatures hell bent on having your guts for lunch.

because that sounds healthy

Instinctively, anything that has primary colours in, and is moving quicker then a shamble, needs to be dispatched as soon as possible.

it IS a game from the late 80s, after all

Turns out that the blue two headed wolf, on death, releases a spirit ball. Instant power up for your warrior.

Talk about getting swole!

The power up does in seconds what half a year at the gym would struggle to do, not once but twice. You go from a average guy to a power lifter body then a serious body building body. Get three, and depending on the level you’re playing, you transform into a werewolf, a dragon, a bear, a tiger, or a golden werewolf.

any one else notice that the spirit ball looks like the Sega Saturn logo?

Telegraphing future console’s aside, what happens next?

Each stage has a time limit of sorts, three to four appearances of Neff

I reckon his name is Neff because calling a demon god Jeff wouldn’t inspire dread in the hearts of mortal men

then it’s boss time.

Plenty of chances to kick and punch the crap out of the dual headed wolf are given, but if you are unlucky enough the get to the end of the stage without transforming then you have to take in the boss as a mortal man. Whatever level of buff you are, taking on the boss without transforming isn’t impossible however it’s not a walk in the park.

or graveyard, I guess

You’ve teased enough, tell us more about the transformations!

Okay fair enough, no more teasing.

After demolishing the brightly coloured two headed wolves three times you get a transformation sequence. This shows our reluctant hero in a head shot transforming from a mortal man into various creatures.

Jay: take a look at this image, from the X-Gamer YouTube channel to see them all, side by side

Altered Beast Header Image

As would be expected, the transformed you is faster and more powerful then the human you, regardless of whether you are the Werewolf, Tiger, Golden Werewolf, Dragon, or Carebear.

Each transformation has different powers and abilities: from punching flaming fireballs to zooming across the screen in an electric charge, and from flying and shooting electric lasers to petrifying enemies with bad breath

one of the lesser known abilities of the Carebears

Each power and each transformation is unique to it’s own level.

With the exception of the bear transformation, the abilities gained are useful for fighting the different versions of Biff/Neff/Jeff the Demon Git, Lord of the underworld!

Okay, hold up. Why are you hating on the bear?

I’m not, or maybe I am. But I’m not hating as much as you think. The bear level, which takes part in a cave

a cave of wonders, filled with treasures beyond your wildest dreams!

doesn’t sit well with me.

You see the bear has two abilities, petrify your enemies with it’s breath and a powerful spin jump attack then can knock any would be enemy on its arse.

I suppose that it’s the petrifying breath that I have a problem with, it could have been so much more. Maybe a whirlwind projectile perhaps?

But as it stands you’ve got a higher chance for survival by spin attacking everything.

Do you keep your powers between levels? Werewolf all the way for me!

Sadly no – there would be no challenge, then.

At the end if every stage Git Biff takes all of your Saturn logos, stripping you of your swollen buffness, and you jump into a pit progressing onto the next level.

Jay: pretty much how each Metroid game begins

If I had my choice I would play the entire game as the tiger. It reminds me of a certain wrestler from a different game. One who also kicks all sorts of arse.

Jay: here’s a clue -> The King of Iron Fist Tournament

Okay so back to the plot, what happens later on in the game?

The game boils down to having five levels, the last of which is the same graveyard from the beginning with a red sky.

I think, I’m running on memory here

Kind of an “it started here, it’s gonna end here” vibe to it.

The difficulty curve having been well established by this point, you know the mechanics of the game, you’re pumped up with more blue swirly Saturn power ups then you know what to do with, and you’re ready for the boss.

Continuing the vibe, you’re transformation this time is the werewolf – but now you’re a golden colour. Along with the sky, the simple palette swap denotes end of game status.

Jay: again, it’s from the late 80s, remember

Time to kick some demon dipstick butt!

As ending levels and bosses go for games if this type, it’s tough. Put simply, more of a challenge than other levels and bosses; but all in all it’s not impossible.

Altered Beast Cover Art
The Cover Art is pretty bad ass, too

Anything for completing it?

You get an ending screen and credits, that’s about it.

There is a way, from the start screen, for to access a menu letting you change things like difficulty, lives and player health. Making the overall demon-god butt kicking experience more or less of a challenge for each player new to this beat ’em up style of classic game.

So what the final verdict on this title then?

Hang on just a moment, I’m not through yet.

Anyway, Altered Beast is what I call Streets of Rage lite. Less depth of movement and overall attacks but a very nice, yet slightly more challenging introduction to old school beat ’em up which anyone can just pick up and play. Easy to learn and quite rewarding overall.

Beating the living snot out of forces of evil/underworld/just doing there job/possibly having a bad hair day is both satisfying and very therapeutic.

Guessing you like battering the forces of evil then?

I like to think of it as high fiving them, with my fist.

…In the face!

So now is it the final verdict?

Yes it is, but first one or two facts about the game:

  • The DOS version of the game had blue ox’s instead of wolfs for the power up orbs.
  • The master system version only had four levels and was single player.
  • The Famicom version had you transforming into a lion and a shark!
  • The arcade version of the game had the protagonist called “Dis”, he was a centurion and the credits for the arcade version had images, during the ending credits, of actors dressed up like the characters in the game to make it feel like a movie of sorts.

And the last fact?

This game is as old as me.

man that makes me feel old!

As for my final thoughts on the game

If you have never played things like Goldenaxe, Final Fight, Streets of Rage or any other side scrolling beat ’em up, this game is a really good introduction to it.

Yes it only lets you go left and right and it’s an auto-scroller of sorts, but the challenge and the story are good and entertaining. If you have played it before it’s a good way to pass some time, a fun way to pass some time, and it’s not like this game isn’t on a lot of different formats (including Android and iOS).

So no excuses go beat up Neff the git, beat up some two headed wolf and get hairy, powerful and mad at those bosses!

Did you ever play this game back in the day? What was you favorite transformation? Did you not like the bear like me? Did you manage to save the girl? Let me know in the comments and as always I sahll catch you some other time.


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Who am I you ask? I'm one half of the Taylor boys, Marks the name and Djstump's the handle. Am I an actual Dj? Nope but back on topic. I play video games and solve problems... I currently have orange hair, spend most of my free time playing Resident Evil games over multiple platforms and like to listen to the odd Discworld audio book from time to time.