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3D Altered Beast Review

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On 01/24/2014 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

Rise from your grave! And embark on a mediocre adventure!

For fans and historians only.

Altered Beast was Sega’s showcase game for the Genesis debut, doing its best to attract extreme-minded 90s teens with its muscular protagonist who could transform into kick-ass werewolves and dragons. Although I was smack dab in the middle of the game’s focus group at the time, I was dorkier than Sega ever imagined and wasn’t interested in the least. With M2’s 3D conversion of Altered Beast hitting the 3DS, I figured it deserved another chance, and boy am I completely indifferent about my experience.

Since I wasn’t a Genesis owner, I have very little nostalgia for Altered Beast, and dipping into it with intentions to play through the whole thing was a little troubling at first. Your character has a rod jammed straight up his hindquarters all the way up to his miniscule head. Not only are his movements incredibly stiff, but his range of motion is laughable. Luckily, when you collect orbs to power up, your reach is artificially extended by a flashing blue something-or-other. Eventually, I adjusted and settled in to plow through the five levels, which turned out to be pretty tough to do.

It’s obvious that the difficulty is set high to make the short game last a lot longer for new Genesis buyers. With only two lives to spare, no healing items, and no extra lives lying around, punching and kicking through the whole affair is pretty challenging. Even with the single save-state provided in this port, it takes a lot of work to make it to the end.

There are interesting things in Altered Beast that I never noticed when I dabbled in it previously, like the fact that you will run into the boss for each level periodically but can’t battle him until you’ve collected enough orbs and transformed into a half-man/half-animal. This means that if you collect all the orbs, the level is about three or four screen-widths long, but if you miss one it stretches on until the next possible encounter.

The bosses are pretty tough to defeat too, but beating them in this port may provide incentive for fans of the game who have fought these battles countless times already. M2 has added an option that the beast you transform into is randomized on each level, which mixes up the standard order of things. This means you can try fighting the bosses with different critter abilities, sometimes making it extraordinarily easy, and other times making it difficult or impossible. It’s a nice feature to liven up the game but still keep things within reasonable bounds.

If you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for this game that you spent many hours with twenty years ago, you might want to pick this port up to remember what it was really like. If you’re curious from a historical perspective, there are some interesting things to experience. From the notable voice sampling, strange level design, and attempts at creepy bad guys, there are some real console-defining elements that are worth checking out, and if you want to get extra old-school, there's an option to play in a simulated CRT. If you want to play a fun action game and have no Altered Beast nostalgia or historical curiosity, then you should just keep searching the eShop for something else.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




01/24/2014 at 02:06 PM

Two stars?!?!?! Welcome to your doom! Just kidding man. Somebody had to say that lol. I don't think Altered Beast holds up that well after all these years either. I really like the voices, but that's about it. I heard there was a GBA sequel or remake or something that was pretty good though.


01/24/2014 at 02:41 PM

I never thought it was all that back when I played it on my Genesis, and having played it again on whichever compilation disc I have for the 360, it really hasn't held up well.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

01/24/2014 at 04:25 PM

Damn, 2 Stars.  Well, it IS pretty bad.  But my nostalgia goggles are like "What??"



02/12/2014 at 05:47 PM

Between this and Golden Axe I preffered Golden Axe. But for its' time it was pretty impressive! Truthfully not many arcade games age well. They were designed sparsely with very few "extras" when in comparison with console games today. But now we have rampant DLC cut out from the "whole game" to be sold separately so eh,guess it's not that different afterall. Tongue Out

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