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Monday, June 18, 2007

Altered Beast Review

Originally a game brought out for the MegaDrive/Genesis in 1988, Altered Beast has appeared on virtually every gaming system known to man! Currently enjoying its Billionth reincarnation on the Wii's Vitual Console, it was ported to the wonderful Master System in 1989.

Despite a restricted amount of levels (4), and besieged with in-game slowdown at times... This side scrolling beat 'em up is still a lot of fun. The whole game has a very mythological theme and you play as a dead Roman Centurion, who has to battle the undead, monsters, animals, giant wasps and whatnot, to rescue a Goddess.

As you defeat your enemies, you collect power ups in the form of pulsating orbs which allow you to transform into... you guessed it, an Altered Beast! Your greater size and power then allows you to more easily defeat your enemies! (Which is good because as you progress through the game, the bad guys come thick and fast... )
And what would a beat 'em up be without a boss fight at the end of each level? This game has everything you want from a video game... Proof of its brilliance is that it is still being downloaded by Wii owners today. A quick read of this Wikipedia Article will explain more than I ever could...


I actually own both the Master System version, and its 16 bit incarnation, which was released on The Dreamcast's wonderful US only "Sega Smash Pack".

I'll try and post a bit of video above...

15 comments:

gnome said...

Ah, another brilliant review in such a short time! Impressive, most impressive Father.

elderly said...

(sucks in gut.....) it's held up well for it's age.... satisfying review oh FK....

Anonymous said...

The master system version of altered beast is a fun game which gets unfairly criticized by people who dont give it a chance. It is impressive what they did with what they had.

Anthony Burns said...

Definitely the best 8-bit version of this game, pumping out large, high-res, colourful sprites at a rate which the Master System can barely cope with (hence a ton of slowdown and flicker, as tended to be the case in its more ambitious coin-op conversions). Not a very deep game, true, though not as mindless as often claimed: it takes a fair amount of strategy to out-manoeuvre the enemies and not be overwhelmed, while panic and button-hammering will spell your doom. At any rate, it takes a tried a trusted formula (basically Kung Fu Master) and gives it a weird and wonderful gothic atmosphere ... and how satisfying it was to plough through advancing ranks of zombies in a fiery wave of energy, and watch them explode in a shower of little sprites. ;)

gnome said...

It's such insightful and well-written comments that make me wish I (well, we) updated the SMS Junkyard more often. Oh, well. Thanks for dropping in Anthony. From what I've seen I quite agree too...

Anthony Burns said...

Don't mention it. :) This game has, for some reason, attracted a lot of slating over the years, which I could never really understand. I would imagine the SMS programmers were (justly) proud of how much of the look, sound, and feel of the system-16 arcade game they managed to squeeze out of a console designed for nothing more strenuous than "Wonder Boy". The C64 version doesn't even have in-game music and only has half of the beast attacks, yet it never seems to attract the same vitriol as the SMS version. I actually prefer it to the Genesis version, which suffers from rather pathetic enemy death sequences and a general sense that it is aiming below what the console can achieve: exactly the opposite to the over-ambitious SMS version (but I admire programmers who take on even an unwise challenge ;) ).

gnome said...

Great! Now, see what you've done? You got me hunting a cartridge... Heh.

Anthony Burns said...

In that case, I should probably in all justice address the game's flaws. ;) The slowdown, flicker, and choppiness that are required to squeeze in all those graphics give them game a Spectrum-esque clunkiness that leaves little leeway for error, and the game's biggest problem (IMO) is that there is no invincibility after taking a hit, which means that if you are overwhelmed by enemies (which often happens, until you know the attack patterns) you are more than likely dead. Also, if you miss too many of the power up balls, you are most assuredly dead (although that I consider part of the necessary tension ;) ). In short, it can be a pretty frustrating game to get into, though that can be ameliorated by using the extra energy and continue cheats (http://www.gamegenie.com/cheats/master/alteredb.html). However, I think the flaws really stem from the original game design, and this conversion was as good as it could have been, given the hardware.

gnome said...

And in that case I could ask you to write for the Junkyard if you so wish. I mean properly and for the blog... Care to?

Anthony Burns said...

I don't mind giving it a try, if you had a particular subject in mind. :)

gnome said...

That's great, though I can't suggest any subjects... It would be out of character... I can though add you the blog's writers and you can post as and when you wish...

Anthony Burns said...

Certainly, if you like. :) I can't see myself managing more than game reviews, though (I also have a Sega Saturn). If there are any particular games you would like reviewed, please let me know and hopefully I will have them (or can emulate them, anyway). Are there any details I need to send you in order to be added to your list?

gnome said...

Yes, yes, reviews would be more than fine Anthony. All I need is an email really. Just post it here and I'll delete it asap.

Anthony Burns said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gnome said...

Added. Thanks!