one of those kids who was lucky to have saved up enough allowances
from mowing lawns so that I could purchase the Sega Genesis the
day it came out back in 1989. Seeing the demo of the Genesis playing
at the local Toys 'R' Us was more than enough to have me sold on the
system. I remember thinking how it looked exactly like arcade graphics
(and sure enough, it was pretty damned close to the arcade games at
the time) and it was a huge step up in graphics from the Nintendo
Entertainment System. This was one of the few times in my childhood
where I simply didn't care about spending 200 dollars of my
hard-earned money. I was gonna be one of the first people to own a
Sega Genesis; and something like that was worth far more street cred
at school than one could gain from stabbing his teacher in the
neck with a broken ruler.
Genesis was packaged with the game "Altered Beast" - hah,
remember how they used to include games with a system when it first
came out? Yeah, those were the good ol' days. Anyway, Altered Beast
was easily the most graphically impressive game I had seen on a home
system at the time, but to be completely honest; it was far too short.
After playing the game for a few days straight, I was ready to buy a
new game that would give me a better challenge, but I still think
Altered Beast deserves recognition if for no other reason than its
part in getting many people to buy the Sega Genesis when Nintendo
already had such a strong hold on the market. So let's take a look at
the game, shall we?
has just called upon you to rise from your grave and rescue his
daughter, Athena. Why the ruler of Mount Olympus couldn't do this himself is
beyond me. All I know is this: when the king of gods tells you to rise
tells you to rise from your grave and go save his daughter, you had
damn well better hop to it. This was also one of those moments where I
remember thinking, "this is gonna be great!" simply because of
the cheesy digitized "rise from your grave!" voice that it
played. And yes, like many other people at the time, I would always
pronounce it as "wise
fwom your gwabe!"
those of you who've never played it before; each level has a boss that
you have to defeat, and each boss is actually the evil demon god
"Neff" (or "Neffy, the evil floating head" as I prefer to call him) in
some twisted form. Before Neffy will allow you to fight him, however,
you must collect three power-up spirit balls. You collect the spirit
balls by killing blue three-headed wolves whenever they appear on
screen. Makes sense.
power up makes you a little bit stronger, but what's truly funny about
it is while your character grows in size and strength like the Hulk,
the size of his head remains the same and his loins (thankfully)
remain covered. But it's not until you achieve the third power-up that
the game abandons its bold homoerotic undertones and enters a world of
first level is easy enough as it is, what with the
zombies in the acropolis graveyard who walk towards you
slower than the elderly cross the street while you punch their heads
off. But when you become the
Werewolf, none of the enemies even stand a chance of doing any
damage. As the Werewolf you can shoot flames out of your fist and you
can speed right through your enemies. Each "altered beast" seemed to
have one decent move and one move that you would simply mash the
buttons so you could do it over and over again. For the Werewolf, it
was definitely that
triangular dash which blasted
right through your enemies. (on a side note, if you were in a 2-player
game, the player 2 werewof was green! That's like combining a
werewolf with the creature from the Black Lagoon, and it doesn't get
much better than that, now does it? So yeah, if you play the game with
somebody, be sure that you get to be player 2.)
you've become a beast, Neffy allows you to fight him. But like you,
he's gonna change forms as well. After saying another fan favorite
Altered Beast line, "Welcome
to your doom!", he becomes Aggar - an ugly
monster who likes to throw his limitless supply of faces at you. He
may look tough, but he's no match for the Werewolf.
werewolf, however, is apparently no match for Neffy's fat-assed
floating bald head. Neffy removes the 3 spirit balls from your
werewolf, turning you back into the pimpled weakling you were at the
start of the game. And now it's onto level 2 we go - The
underworld has some of my favorite enemies in the game, none moreso
than the little purple blobs who get all excited and jump onto your
head in an attempt to suffocate you. They're pretty easy to kill, but
damned if it isn't fun letting the lil' buggers jump on your head a
few times before you do so.
also Chinese-style dragons with rattlesnake tails that appear from the
top and bottom of the screen, but thanks to their rattling warnings,
they're very easy to dodge. There's also the chirpy chicken lizard
creatures that try to smack you with their tails. Again, very easy to
avoid and kill. If this creature seems familiar to you, it's probably
because it also appeared in another one of my favorite arcade/Genesis
games - Golden Axe:
Separated at birth?
continue through the underworld killing enemies left & right until you
get that final spirit ball so you can once again become an altered
beast. And this time, it's a really, really good one.
Dragon, you can fly anywhere you like on the screen and your two
powers are you can shoot a bolt of lightning or you can electrify
your entire body and kill anything that comes into contact with you.
Gee, I wonder which power I'm gonna use more here...
welcomes you to your doom once again and transforms into Octeyes
- a plant-like creature that shoots poisonous eyeballs at you. While
this is easily my favorite boss of the game, the sad fact is that it's
by far the easiest one. While Neffy is transforming, you can position
your dragon just above where Octeyes will appear and then just hit
your electrify power over and over, you'll kill poor ol' Octeyes in
less than 3 seconds. No joke. But that's what you get for having
eyeballs fight an electrified dragon. That's like throwing Jell-O
jigglers at Godzilla and hoping it'll do some damage.
level 3 we go - The Cavern of Souls!
encounter your first enemy, the walking wasps, pretty quickly as they
come charging at you. And there's simply no denying the fact that
these things look like they're trying to attack you with the power of
huge swollen prostate.
Fortunately, kicking them in the prostate does what it would do to
anybody; it takes 'em out of commission.
other enemies is a big goat-horned zombie guy who takes two punches
instead of one and a turtle. The turtle really appears to just be
minding his own business, but you still gotta kill the poor lil' guy
cuz he'll get in your way if you don't. The goat-horned zombie guy
does this great celebratory move though if he hits you:
fighting your way through dancing goat men, prostate bugs, and
ferocious turtles, what is your reward? Why, you get to become...
is surprisingly more agile than you would think. Fact is, he can jump
with ease and spin into a deadly ball of grizzly ferocity like you've
never seen. Even stranger, he can stick his paw out to turn his
enemies into stone.
don't understand it either, but there ya have it: a bear that turns
people into stone. The medusa bear.
time around, Neffy turns himself into Moldy Snail - part dragon
and part snail. Why you wouldn't want to be "part snail" when you're
already a dragon is beyond me... I can't really think of a snail
power that would be useful against an acrobatic bear. And sure
enough, this boss is quite easy to defeat simply by using the same
spinning bear-ball of death move over and over again. Onward to
level 4 we go - Neff's Palace.
palace, while a nicer joint, is mostly a rehashing of characters from
the levels you've already played on. There is one new character, the
flying hammer demon, who can really get in the way at first, but once
you've gotten a power-up, he's pretty easy to get rid of. So what's
the next beast you transform into?
may sound exciting, the Tiger plays almost exactly like the Werewolf
except that his fireballs are slower and more wobbly and instead of
having a horizontal power-dash, his is a vertical one. Think the
creative department was running out of steam by this point in the
game? Yeppers, I think it's a safe bet.
least the boss wasn't some mutated blob that was stuck to the ground,
this one could actually move. Neffy has become the Crocodile Worm
- a monster with a belly full of fire who can also spit out
mini-dragons that will seek you out and cause some extra damage. While
still not a big challenge, he's at least a little more difficult than
the previous boss, so that's an improvement.
we travel to the final level - The City of Dis.
as the level goes, they pulled out all the stops on this one. The
foreground consists of the bodies of tortured souls. The background is
appears to be made of pink ooze, bones and faces with their tongues
sticking out. And of course the sky is green with evil. On top of all
that, they've added four new enemies, and some of them can be a
real pain in the ass. First we have the Gory Goats who are no mere
billy goats. They bounce back 'n forth with the agility of a kangaroo
and can easily take some energy off of your character.
tougher enemy that you'll encounter is the Rad Boar. I guess he's "rad"
because he has metal saw hands? I dunno, the word "rad" just doesn't
seem appropriate for a game involving greek mythology. Back in those
times, they would have called these creatures "Prodigious Boars" or
something along those lines instead.
are the Saw Fishes. I really like these guys, because they'll approach
you as harmless little fishes (that just happen to swim in mid-air)
but when you get near them, they turn into angry spinning buzz saws
that will hunt you down. Still, they're pretty easy to just hop over
but not least, we have the Dark Unicorns. Not only are they dark, but
these unicorns can actually do flying jump kicks! That's right, it's a
goddamned Unicorn Ninja or as we used to call it: Ninjacorn!
You know, a lot of people have said this game is extremely homoerotic
and it's at times like these when you can see why. When your game has
a muscle man wearing nothing but a speedo while fighting a unicorn,
calling it gay might be an understatement.
we're on the final level against some tough competition. Clearly we're
gonna need a beast like we've never seen before to take them on! So
what's it gonna be?
The... Werewolf again?
Apparently it required too much mental effort for the creative team to
come up with another beast that you could turn into, so they have you
turn into the Werewolf again. Oh but it's still different!
time it's a GOLDEN Werewolf! And since it's a different color,
that clearly makes it a completely different beast. Ok, so it is a
little more powerful, but come on. You play through the whole game,
only to be rewarded with turning into a different colored version of
the same beast you were on Level 1? Weak.
well let's bring on the big bad boss of the game Neffy himself!
yeah... we don't get to fight his floating head. Instead, we fight him
as an angry Rhino guy. Speaking of which, why wouldn't we have
turned into an angry rhino instead of a golden werewolf on the last
level, huh? Well anyway, Neffy does his angry rhino charge at you and
you just keep blasting away at him with your golden werewolf dash
until he's dead.
he's dead, a bluebird flies up from the underground. Say, that's no
ordinary bluebird! That's Athena, the daughter of Zeus! Mission
are we left with in the end? Well, your character is apparently now
going to be a golden wolf forever and he and Athena are going to get
it on. I guess this means that everybody was wrong about the game
being gay. It's clearly about bestiality........ altered
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