Game Retrospective: Altered Beast

On the 27th of November 1988, Altered Beast was released for the Sega Mega Drive in Japan; the first home console port of the arcade original, which was released 4 months prior.

Developed by Sega’s Team Shinobi, Altered Beast was the original pack-in game for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in North America, Europe, and Brazil, before being later replaced by Sonic the Hedgehog.

The game casts you as a Roman centurion who, after previously perishing in battle, is brought back to life by the god, Zeus, in order to save his daughter, Athena, from a villain known as Neff. To aid in his quest, Zeus bestows upon the centurion the ability to transform into an array of powerful human/beast hybrid creatures, unlocked upon collecting three spirit balls on each stage of the game.

The game’s original Japanese title roughly translates as “Beast King Chronicle”

Altered Beast was conceived by Makoto Uchida, a Sega employee who had previously worked as a playtester on games such as Afterburner. After being given the opportunity to pitch a new game idea, Uchida suggested the concept where the main character would gradually increase in strength and power as the game progressed, rather than lose health. However, with no development team available at that time, Uchida went away and continued to develop his ideas further.

To illustrate how powerful the player could truly become, Uchida conceived the mechanic of allowing the main character to morph into a range of powerful animal-like beasts. This idea was reportedly inspired by the human-to-beast transformations depicted in movies such as 1981’s The Howling, as well the music video to Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit, Thriller.

The player can transform into one of five beasts including a thunder weredragon

A number of ideas were cut from the final arcade version of the game, such as the inclusion of pressure-sensitive buttons that would have been used to implement different moves and combos. One additional improvement the Mega Drive version included, over the arcade original, was the use of parallax scrolling for the in-game scenery.

In contrast to the arcade original release, the Mega Drive conversion of Altered Beast was not received as favourably, with some critics deeming it a little underwhelming. Despite this, the game has been included in countless Sega compilations over the past 30 years and is even, according to reports from 2016, one of a number of Sega titles currently being adapted for TV and film.

🕹Are you a fan of Altered Beast? Did this game come as the pack-in title with your Mega Drive? Have you ever played 2005 reboot?🕹



Twitter: @wleigh85

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