Altered Beast review

Zeus is angry, and angry gods are not to be messed around with. His daughter has been kidnapped, and he demands that you free her. To your help you have your shape shifting abilities. Acquiring powerups you turn from a rather thin hero into a burly bodybuilder, a giant and finally an altered beast. In this beast state he has the power to hurl projectiles, and turn himself into a shockwave of hurt. Depending on the level our hero transforms into different beasts. As the evil Demon God Neff throws all he has at our hero those abilities will certainly come in handy.

img_2121Altered Beast is a classic side scrolling beat ´em up. Enemies mostly appear from the left or right, as the screen scrolls on forcing you onward. Some enemies also attack from the top, and below. There are two control methods available for movement: touch or accelerometer. I have not managed to get anywhere using tilt, and the touch controls work quite well for the most part. Two attack buttons, and a jump button constitute your arsenal. The buttons combined with the movement controls produce different attacks. For example the upward kick is executed by pulling down on movement, and pressing the kick attack button. Attacks can also be combined with the jump button.

Altered Beast is a hard game, and there is no continue or level select option. For anyone into hardcore games from the past it will be a relief to know that the game has kept the original difficulty. Actually the iPhone version is perhaps harder than the arcade original. If you play in full screen your thumbs cover the entry point of new enemies making it harder to plan ahead. The downsized window version is small, and enemy projectiles is hard to spot.

img_2120The game is old, and it feels old. 22 years ago the graphics, and sound were cutting edge. Now it stands as a testament to the achievements of the past. It flows well though, and if you focus on the gameplay it isn’t all that important looking at the limited colour palette. The synthesized sounds from the original are all there in their cracked glory. To me this is retro goodness in full glory.
Two player local Bluetooth has been injected into the game as the only modern intrusion. I have not been able to try it out so I can only imagine that it is a great way to relive the classic action with a friend.

Altered Beast is one of the most playable beat ´em ups of the era. Some aspects of the port spoils the experience, and the presentation feels old. If you enjoyed the original you will get many hours of fun out of this one. Newcomers might not enjoy it as much, and it is definitely not for those not up for a real challenge.

Final Rating


Altered Beast $0.99 Sale
Version: 1.0.0
Seller: Sega America

Second opinion: Nigel Wood

Altered Beast is an arcade classic adventure/beat’em up originally released in 1988. It’s up there with Ghouls and Ghosts as a devil of a game to beat. It’s arcade roots ensures that it’s hard from the get go, obviously designed to encourage players to keep pumping coins into the arcade machines.

You take on the roll of a muscle bound shape shifting hero. The main mechanic of the game is the power up, brought on by defeating special coloured dogs, from which you collect a floating orb. The orbs power you up to the next level of strength, turning you into a musclebound Arnie type. Once at the right level, the orbs begin to transform you you into various beasts, from werewolves to flying dragons, and even werebears. At this stage you are not only stronger, but also exhibit special powers of attack. Generally you’ll need these powers to defeat the end of level bosses, which are some of the trickiest bastards seen in video games. It’s imperative then that you collect as many orbs as you can before the levels’ end.

As with Virtua Fighter 2 before it, and in fact all of SEGA’s Megadrive/Genesis series on iOS, the game features the same onscreen multi-directional D-Pad and three action buttons, allowing you to punch, kick and jump, as well as unleash you special moves when transformed. Attacks come from both the left and right sides, as well as from above, for which you can perform vertical kicks by combining the down direction on the d-pad and a kick, a must if you are to survive.

There are five levels in all, each culminating in a boss battle with Neff “welcome to your doom”, who also transforms into various hideous states. Eventually you reach your final confrontation with him in his full form, though if you have got this far then you are some sort of gaming Jesus!

As Megadrive/Genesis ports go it’s a good’n, especially when you consider how much you could pay in coins at the arcades! Still, $2.99 is a little high. And be prepared for this particular classic to kick your butt. A nice feature is the ability to play co-operatively with a friend over bluetooth, and you might just need the extra muscle.

TwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksDiggStumbleUponShare
  • Nigel Wood

    Loved this on the Amiga!