“Welcome to your doom!”
So, you’ve just been raised from the dead to find yourself in ancient Greece, and you are called upon to rescue Athena, daughter of Zeus. To do so, you are going to have to wield some substantial shape-shifting powers to take on an army of the undead if you are to get your hands on the evil Demon God Neff. If all of this sounds familiar, you’ve likely tossed a few coins into a highly popular 1988 Sega game, Altered Beast.
Along the side-scrolling journey, there are plenty of mythological nasties to make life interesting, such as two-headed wolves and zombies who prefer to carry their heads rather than wear them on their shoulders. But those flashing white wolves hold the key to success, for by giving them a swift kick or punch, they release a blue ball of energy with magical transforming power. Capture one orb and your muscles become much more defined. Another orb and your animalistic side starts to surface. And with a third orb, you are no longer a mere warrior, but an altered beast. And, there were a few levels of altered beast to shoot for as well. On the first level, the transformation left you as a werewolf, (a werelizard if you happened to be player #2); the second level, you achieved the lofty winged weredragon status. The third level, a fierce werebear; the fourth, a ferocious weretiger; and if you made it all the way to the elusive level five – a golden werewolf.
As players moved up in levels, they acquired nifty new powers, all of which were invaluable to the task of beating the evil bosses that emerged at each level’s end. One’s arsenal might include such powers as the ability to throw fireball punches, zap with electric dragon charges, bear rolls or a swift tiger quick attack. But it was best not to get too comfy with all of these newly acquired powers, for when the next level arrived, players were stripped of those magical power orbs and had to go through the transformation process all over again.
A tad frustrating, of course, but addictive enough to keep fans coming back for more. Altered Beast had everything a gamer could want – colorful characters, gruesome images, wonderful animations of the various transformations, and best of all, plenty of madcap mayhem to keep em’ coming back for more.
If you have a few memories of battling your way through Altered Beast in your local arcade, or perhaps on the Sega Genesis, we’d love to hear your memories in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this popular video game of the 80s.