There’s a title which in my mind is a classic of the gaming of yesteryear which has suffered from the modern fad of critiquing Retro Games. Altered Beast is now often panned for it’s technical faults, lacking graphics and apparent ‘basic’ gameplay mechanics.
But once this was a classic, a title, which when ported to home consoles and computers was pride of place in many gamers libraries. With this retrospective, I intend to readdress the balance.
This game succeeded in bringing top class, high octane action to the arcades and injecting it with some unique ideas which helped it stand out amongst the other beat em up cabinets which littered the dim lit, smoky arenas we all used to visit. The plot concerns the daughter of Zeus who has been kidnapped by the evil Neff and must be rescued. Zeus resurrects the body of a fallen, noble Centurion (or two Centurions if the two player option is selected)
The first level of this horizontally scrolling beat em up is set in the graveyard, this particular level is infested with zombies who are also popping out of their own crypts. A punch to the rotting face or a kick to a skeleton rib cage will soon put them back in the ground. Later you begin to encounter Zombies who retaliate with a vicious right hook and once you encounter a few of those, you will soon see some of your precious energy bars begin to disappear.
Not all the creatures who you destroy are just there for increasing your score, some blue, two-headed wolves roam the levels. When destroyed they leave behind energy power up capsules. Collecting these enable the player to grow in power (visibly – you grow muscles until the third powerup collected) collect enough of these changes the player into a were creature of some kind. In some cases, it’s a werewolf or a were-dragon with special powers and skills which are essential to defeat the end of level bosses.
It was one of the most inventive concepts in a beat em up game and it’s one of the reasons I adored it at the time, and periodically return to it once or twice a year. I still find it fairly tough, though it’s more the slog through the level attempting to gain the power ups, encountering the never ending enemies whittling down your health, rather than the boss battles. I really recommend this title for anyone who has never played it before, it’s available on the Android and IPhone and various Sega collections on the PS3 and XBOX 360.
It is a classic of yesteryear and will give you many hours of pleasure and fantastic two player action from the golden age of Sega greatness