At first glance, Altered Beast isn’t really that bad. It’s a decent, if unoriginal beat-em up in which you play as an ancient soldier, whom Zeus raises from the dead to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Athena. You travel from right to left across five stages punching and kicking an endless horde of identical monsters. The longer you play it, though, it stops feeling mildly generic and seems more like its ripping off one game in particular. At first, this is hard to pinpoint. “When have I played this before?” you think. Was it Golden Axe? No, that game allowed limited movement along a 3rd dimension, and had enemies that could take a few hits.Altered Beast is strictly two dimensional, and almost all the enemies die after being hit once. Was it Ninja Gaiden? Nope, Ninja Gaiden had some platforming, whereas AB’s jumping is limited to the occasional area where you can hop up to a second plane. And then it hits you…
Altered Beast is exactly like Bad Dudes.
At the time Altered Beast was released, few other games allowed you to breakdance.
Well ok, it’s not EXACTLY like Bad Dudes.In Altered Beast’s favor, you get to turn into a Werewolf (or dragon, or bear, or other animal depending on the level), which is kind of cool.On the other hand, Bad Dudes has one of the greatest storylines in video games – President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas.If you were only going to steal one thing from Bad Dudes, it should have been that.
And it’s not as if they replaced it with a storyline that was equally good (as if such a thing were even possible). Why would Zeus need your help rescuing Athena? Did he run out of lightning bolts or something? And wouldn’t he have gotten Hercules Perseus, or Jason to do it? Zeus didn’t even like Athena – he saw her as a threat to his power. And here’s one other serious flaw with the narrative: Athena isn’t the princess from Mario – she’s the Goddess of Wisdom AND War. Good luck with that, potential kidnappers – it’s going to take a lot more than some candy and an unmarked cargo van to pull off that abduction.
Silly storyline aside, Altered Beast is an average, if derivative, beat-em up. That’s not really so bad, but what earns Altered Beast a spot on this list is that it was the original pack-in game to come with the Genesis. Which means that for the first year or so, every single person who bought a Genesis was essentially forced to buy a copy of Altered Beast as well. They might as well have packaged them with an apology letter while they were at it.
Graphics:Altered Beast is one of the best looking games to come out in the Genesis’ first year. In terms of winning contests with impossibly low standards, that’s kind of like having fewer “Calvin pissing” stickers on your car than anyone else in Ohio.
Sound:It’s kind of hard to take a game seriously when the very first thing you hear is Zeus commanding you to “wise fwom your gwave!”
Control:Each level allows you to turn into a different monster, each with its own special attacks. These attacks generally fall into two categories – “projectile” and “run right into enemy and take damage”.
In a more perfect world, suggesting this… whatever the hell it is… as the Level One boss would get you fired.
Final Verdict: When you’re the first to come out with a revolutionary next-generation system, and then have the audacity to name it after one of the books of the Old Testament, you’re making a bold statement. And that statement should not be “Buy a Genesis and get a free copy of Altered Beast! It’s just like Bad Dudes, except with werewolves!”