Blast From The Past: Altered Beast (SEGA Mega Drive)
Rise From Your Grave!
In Altered Beast you are a Roman centurion who previously died in battle. Wait, you’re a dead guy? Well, kind of. The centurion is resurrected from the dead by Zeus and ordered to save his daughter Athena from the sorcerer/Demon God, Neff. in the Underworld. Having just being brought back from the dead the Centurion is ill equipped to take on the evil hoards that attack from every direction. This is where the main plot comes in to play.
When collecting four spirit balls on each level, the last one will transform the Centurion into a human/beast hybrid, depending on the level you find yourself on. These spirit balls are acquired when a blue variation of an enemy is beaten. On the first level (The Cemetery) you transform into a wolf. This character has a far ranging fireball attack as well as a very effective vertical boost. Other beasts include a Dragon, Bear, Tiger and lastly a Golden Wolf. The Dragon shoots electric beams from its mouth and surrounds itself with an electric banner. The main advantage of this character is the ability to fly across any area of the level. The Bear has a poor close range attack than looks like a blank speech bubble coming out of its mouth. This attack turns enemies to stone that makes them easy to destroy with the secondary attack where the bear vertically rolls into a ball, destroying anything that it touches. The Tiger shoots a slow moving projectile that floats across the screen. The character also has an effective vertical boost similar to the Wolf. The final character is the Gold Wolf which is the same as the regular Wolf only more powerful and faster.
Welcome To Your Doom!
That’s it. Five character variations across five levels. Altered Beast is a very short experience. With each level comes a boss fight which sees Neff transform into a unique monstrosity that attacks in a varying manner. Neff takes on the form of everything from a giant Moldy Snail to Van Vader – an armored humanoid rhinoceros. These boss fights start off as very easy and end off overly challenging. The problem is that none of them are well designed. They each have an algorithm to work out but once that has been done the experience proceeds to be sadly mundane.
The visuals and sounds are what you would expect from a Mega Drive title. A big step up from the previous generation of consoles but in this case barely touching the power the console was capable of. It was a launch title on the system and ended up being one of the flagship titles. Sadly, the game as an overall package hasn’t aged well in any respect. Adding the short time it takes to complete the game it might only be worth playing if found on a compilation disc of retro classics.