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Altered Beast
250px
Altered Beast European boxart
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Rieko Kodama, Makoto Uchida
Platform(s) Arcade, DOS, Amstrad CPC, MSX, NES, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis, PC Engine CD, Commodore 64, Virtual Console
Release date(s) Arcade
1988
Mega Drive/Genesis
JP November 27, 1988
NA August 14, 1989
EU November 30, 1990
Sega Master System
NA 1989
EU 1989
PC-CD
JP September 29, 1989
NA 1989
NES
JP July 20, 1990
Virtual Console
Genesis/Mega Drive
JP December 2, 2006
NA November 19, 2006
PAL December 8, 2006
Arcade
JP June 2, 2009
PAL June 26, 2009
Genre(s) Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Input methods 8-way Joystick, 3 buttons
Cabinet Standard upright
Arcade system Sega System 16
Display Raster resolution 320 x 224 (Horizontal) Palette Colors 6144

Altered Beast (獣王記 Jūōki, literally "Beast King's Chronicle", in Japan) is a 1988 arcade game developed and manufactured by Sega. After its initial arcade release, it was ported to several home video game consoles and home computers. Makoto Uchida was the primary developer of the game and also was responsible for the creation of Golden Axe. A re-worked version was released for Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade on June 10, 2009 with HD support, online leaderboards and network play.[1]

OverviewEdit

Altered Beast is a side scrolling, platform, beat 'em up game that puts the player in control of a centurion who had died in battle. The centurion has been raised from the dead to rescue Zeus' daughter, Athena. The player battles undead and demonic hordes, controlling the shapeshifting hero. He must fight through several levels in order to save the kidnapped goddess. Although 'Centurion' was a rank in the Roman Army, the game takes place in a setting resembling Ancient Greece, complete with gods, temples and ruined Ionic columns.

The player must battle armies of fictional and undead creatures to defeat the evil Demon God Neff, who is holding Athena captive. Along the way, the player has to obtain "Spirit Balls" (power-up orbs which increase his strength and size) from defeating white two-headed wolves (blue oxes in the DOS version) (it is hinted that this wolf might be the Cerberus dog of Greek Mythology). These enable the player to turn into a superhuman (stage one: "giant man", stage two: "superman"...). When three are collected, the hero transforms into a beast with exceptional abilities.

The game contains several levels which the player must battle through, which can be completed regardless of whether the player acquires the beast form or not. At the end of each level is a "boss" creature, which is Neff himself in different forms. Before Neff transforms at the end of each level, he says "Welcome to your doom!". The enemies the player encounters differ depending on the level as does the beast the hero transforms into. These beasts include a werewolf, a thunder dragon, a tiger man, a bear, and the more powerful golden werewolf (other beasts can be seen in the Japanese Famicom version and the Game Boy Advance version). Each beast has its own special abilities, such as the dragon's ability to fly. Between each level are small animations giving the player glimpses of Athena's peril.

File:Altbeastplay.png

The game was moderately successful, the player's ability to transform into different creatures being a big draw. The game actually does have an ending where the player rescues Athena. At the completion of the game (upon Neff's defeat in the city of Dis), Zeus thanks the player for his help. The credit sequence is rather long and gives the impression that the entire game was actually a film; interspersed in the credits are images of "actors" in various stages of costume for the different characters or monsters in the game. One of the more well-known features of Altered Beast is the quote "Rise from your grave!" said by Zeus. However, the quote has often been humorously interpreted as being "Wise fwom your gwave" or similar variants, due to the inherent distortion/garbling of the digitized voice stemming from the relatively new hardware of the time.

Altered Beast was produced as a standard upright only with custom artwork on the cabinet. In most versions, the game's controls consist of an eight-way directional and three buttons, one each for "punch", "kick" and "jump". The game has single player and cooperative two-player modes.

PortsEdit

Altered Beast was converted/translated (not ported) to several platforms after its original release in 1988. It was released for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Master System, PC Engine, PC Engine-CD, Famicom, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga and DOS. Sega Smash Pack for Windows and Dreamcast, Sega Genesis Collection for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 contained an emulated version of the Mega Drive/Genesis port. The latter two also feature the arcade version of the game as an unlockable. The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version is particularly noteworthy as it was the original pack-in game for that system in North America, Europe, and Brazil. This version is now available for download on the Wii's Virtual Console. A hand-held version of the game, made by Tiger Electronics was released in 1988.

Certain differences are seen between the several versions of the game. Some of them, like the Master System one, were only single player and had only four levels (it also suffered from ongoing in-game slowdowns), while others have different beasts to mutate into, such as a humanoid lion form seen in the NES version, or the bear form seen in the Mega Drive/Genesis version which was also present in the arcade release. The PC-Engine CD version (released only in Japan) incorporated a story mode which you can watch, was only a single player game, and also had the arcade versions sound fx and voices. The character sprites are also like the arcade, where as in the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis release all the sprites had been redone and look slightly different in their animations due to this. The Pc-Engine Hu-card release did not have the story mode, voices, and sound fx the cd version had, but supported 2 players.

ReceptionEdit

In its initial arcade release, Altered Beast was a well-received game. Its conversion to the Sega Mega Drive was considered inferior to the arcade. Its re-release for the Wii's Virtual Console was given a lukewarm reception by GameSpot, describing the game as merely decent with some nostalgic value.[2]

LegacyEdit

Project Altered BeastEdit

Main article: Project Altered Beast

A PlayStation 2 title was released by Sega in 2005, known as Jūōki: Project Altered Beast in Japan and simply Altered Beast in Europe; the game was not released in North America. In Japan, it was rated 17+ for its intensity; however, the PEGI system rated it 12+, while none of the extreme gore animations were censored.

Rather than serving as a sequel to the original game, the newer title features a more modern setting that is unconnected to the original game. The story follows a man called Luke Custer who is a "Genome-Cyborg", which in the game is a human that has had his DNA and other genetic make-up altered so that he can (after acquiring the chip containing the right genes for each creature) transform into a mythical beast. The main creatures he transforms into are a Werewolf, a Merman, a Garuda, a Wendigo, a Fire Minotaur, and a Thunder Dragon. Its storyline differs from the original Altered Beast games where during the game, you gain a serum that allows you to change at will. There are a number of difficult boss challenges and puzzles within the game, plus some extra characters to transform into including a White Weretiger, a Grizzly Bear, and the alien-cloned U.W.H. (Unidentified Weightless Human) for those who finish the game.

Altered Beast: Guardian of the RealmsEdit

Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms
Developer(s) 3d6 Games
Publisher(s) THQ
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release date(s) 2002
Genre(s) Beat 'em up


Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms, developed by the now defunct 3d6 Games and published by THQ, is a sequel for Game Boy Advance in the style of the original arcade game. It adds new features like power-ups, new beast forms and destructible environments. [1]

TributeEdit

Several musical groups have paid tribute to Altered Beast in some form. Robby Roadsteamer's 2008 album "LRP" features a song named "Altered Beast", as does We Are Scientists' second album, Brain Thrust Mastery; the game's name also serves as the name of an LP released by Matthew Sweet in 1993. Additionally, MegaDriver released a single based on the game's music, Metal Beast, in 2004, and Hello, Sailor released a song titled "Hand Vs. Battle Axe" that includes the "POWER UP!" sample.

Altered Beast was also the subject of a skit in the second season of Mega64.[3]

ReferencesEdit

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


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