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Matt Bassos
12 Jul, 2009

XBLA: Altered Beast Review

360 Review | Wise fwom your gwave.
Altered Beast was an arcade classic way back when it released in 1988. Ported to a plethora of systems over the years, we finally have the complete arcade translation available over XBLA. Though unless you are highly nostalgic about shape shifting beat 'em ups, it’s probably best you leave this one to the grave.

Back in the day, Altered Beast was one of the first titles to hit the Sega Mega Drive. It was an exciting time as you could actually own a home port of an arcade game. Unfortunately, looking back at Altered Beast today only makes you realise just how far we’ve come. Controlling a resurrected centurion (despite the setting of Ancient Greece), you are commanded by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena from the Demon God Neff. To save her, players must battle through hordes of undead until they encounter Neff for an end of level showdown.

It’s basic even for a side scrolling beat 'em up, but does contain that hardcore arcade difficulty. Timing is everything. You have to be precise with your strikes or you’re going to die – a lot. If you get hit there is no stun break or moment of invulnerability like games of today. When you take damage, be prepared to keep fighting or watch your life deplete faster than you can say welcome to your doom.

What a headache.

What a headache.
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To aid the player, power-ups in the form of Spirit Balls will need to be collected. They transform the hero into stronger forms, granting better punching and kicking abilities for a good 'ole undead arse whopping. The main goal then becomes to collect three of these Spirit Balls, shapeshifting the hero into a ferocious beast. In this altered state, Neff will challenge players and grow into a level boss. If defeated, he will drain your current power and send you into the next stage. Rinse and repeat and you have the gist of the game.

Being an arcade game that is quite punishing you’d be right to think the game length would be short. There are five levels in total and the entire adventure can be over in less then 20 minutes. It really depends on how good you are at snatching those Spirit Balls, as the only way to progress is achieve the beast transformation and await Neff’s appearance. If the player still hasn’t morphed, Neff will scoot off and the level will continue to drag on.

The levels themselves are still somewhat interesting to play through. Some of the setting resembles Ancient Greece, with ruined temples and plenty of Ionic columns. The undead opponents come in a few variants and each requires patience in learning their attack pattern. The final ‘beast’ form makes dealing with them much easier and each level the player will change into something new. Whether it’s a fireball shooting werewolf or a somersault jumping brown bear, even after all this time, its still the main attraction to the game. Despite its age there is still some fun to have here, however it just gets old very quickly.

You must be so proud.

You must be so proud.
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A bonus for the XBLA version is that the coding is based of the arcade release of Altered Beast. This means you’ll get better sound, animation and visuals over the Mega Drive port. The Xbox release also includes HD support, network play and online leaderboards. Of course, you can still play the game with two players locally, which makes the overall experience that little bit more enjoyable.

The main problem is unless you’re really keen for this type of arcade genre or are nostalgic about the past, Altered Beast does not contain enough content. It’s good for a quick time killer, but unless you desperately need it for your collection or have very fond memories, it’s hard to justify even with its small price tag. Altered Beast will always be a classic and for some people that is enough even 21 years later. Everyone else can probably look the other way.
The Score
A quick time diversion and better left for those with strong nostalgic memories only.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 Comments
4 years ago
LOL - we used to say Wise Fwom Your Gwave when this game first came out!!

It was a real classic! But... has not aged well at all.
4 years ago
Phreakuency wrote
LOL - we used to say Wise Fwom Your Gwave when this game first came out!!

It was a real classic! But... has not aged well at all.
Yeah, this was one great game in it's time. But, having recently played it in an arcade, i can say it's really aged badly. It's a shame that the remake flopped, (I think it was last year?) because the beast-altering thing is still a great concept.
4 years ago
It was one of those games that looked awesome, with the way your character would evolve and such, but was actually really quite dull to play. Plus the basic concept has been done better in about a thousand games since then.
4 years ago
Altered Beast III was freaking amazing though, I want them to release that bad boy, it was more exploratory and stuff.

I've got this on the Sega Mega Collection so I won't bother with the XBLA option.
4 years ago
Downloaded demo, played for 5 mins and loved to memories but daaaamn it was definitely unforgiving...
4 years ago
I loved this classic game. One of my all time favourites and it's sad to see it with such a low score. I think with a update or graphics and sound (not just HD) it could be a great small game like pixelmonsters because for $10-$15 everyone would just have to pick it up.
4 years ago
Okay but 3.5 out of 10?? The review text doesn't seem nearly harsh enough for that score imo

Anyway I'm glad to see they ported the arcade version. The Megadrive one is nowhere near as good.
4 years ago
I think the score might also factor in the price, as you have to think is the game really worth about 12 bucks now? Especially when it's easily accessible in a number of compilations?
4 years ago
Its a fun game packed full of nostalgia, but its only worth about $2-$4...
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/06/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Sega
Genre:
  Beat-'Em-Up
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  2

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