Synyster Graves

Altered Beast

by on Apr.26, 2010, under SEGA Mega Drive

Altered BeastAltered beast was a scrolling beat ’em up game originally released in 1988 on the Master System/Mega Drive. SEGA had re-released the title on Xbox Live Arcade and while I was brewing with nostalgia, I decided to purchase for 400 Microsoft points.

After staring at the screen with anime style moon eyes as I regressed back to being ten years old again, the subterfuge dissipated as the revelation crept back into my mind that this game was essentially crap and bloody difficult!

So it starts in Ancient Greece, you play the protagonist known as “The Centurion” who is resurrected by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena whho has been captured by the underworld sorceror Neff. Why Zeus can’t just fry the bald fuck with a lightning bolt is anyone’s guess, I assume he was on holiday or some shit. So yeah the Centurion is resurrected to rescue Zeus’ daughter from her descent into the underworld. While I’m tempted to draw parallels with Dante’s Inferno, please let me remind you all that this game was designed for 8-bit platforms so understandably the graphics and audio are consistent with the technology back then. However on the Xbox Live Arcade release, SEGA obviously wanted to keep the nostalgia flowing by not touching up the graphics or sound. So at the beginning, Zeus still hilariously commands you to “Rise from your grave” whilst sounding like he’s talking with a mouth full of Jelly Beans whist talking into a pillow. And yes 20 years on, that’s still funny.

So the centurion marches on to the underworld through hordes of undead minions on his quest to rescue Athena. The power of this game was the upgrades, as packs of multi-headed wolves attack (which look more like Asterix style Wild Boars) and the albino one will drop a wildly rotating orb for you to collect. It goes in stages, the first one will cause your shirt to fly open, as if your nipples acquired the same polarity as your shirt, the second turns in you into Charles Atlas and the third will cause you to morph into a beast (hence the title!).

First beast is the wolf who has a dash attack and a hadouken attack. Second up is a flying electric dragon which punches lightning bolts Rayden style and creates a forcefield. Thirdly is the brown bear who has a hilrious halitosis attack which freezes the enemy in forzen carbonite and the other beast is the Tigra from Thundercats who has a vertical dash attack and a bouncy hadouken. (Last level is the wolf again). Now the game will scroll on forvever until you become a beast whereby Neff shall pounce from doing his electric pong attack and turn into a monster himself, proclaiming “Welcome to your doom”. Again 20 years on, this is still funny.

Ranging from giant piles of turd with disposable heads to multiple eyed plants, Neff is usually defeated by carefully dodging his ridiculous attacks and spamming him with whatever projectile attack you have. Upon defeat Neff’s head will float up, rob all your orbs and then you descend down again. Each cut scene shows Neff putting Athena is various kinds of bondage devices which I suppose is sexy assuming you’re from Austria.

So in summation, Altered Beast was better when you were a child as it wasn’t as frigging hard back then and the sounds still crack a smile as you battle on. It did suffer from the 2D enemies off the screen were impervious to attack yet could kill you in three cheap punches. Altered Beast is a good challenge and funny as hell in parts but can get infuriating to the degree of controller launching but nevertheless don’t ignore that fact that it’s over twenty years old!

We play the game in the RetroLOLs section. Check it out here


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