Monday, October 14, 2013

Altered Beast: An Old-School Trip to the Underworld

It's time for some classic beat-em-up action!  Altered Beast was originally an arcade game back in 1988, and was later ported to consoles.  In this game, you play as a Roman Centurion who is resurrected by Zeus in order to save Zeus' daughter Athena from an evil god named Neff.  How's that for a mish-mash of mythology?

Anyway, as you side-scroll your way through the five levels in the game (yes, it's pretty short), you can obtain power-ups which cause the Centurion to "power up" as the in-game voice states (every single time you pick one up, it's actually pretty funny to hear).  After collecting three power-ups, the Centurion will transform into a level-specific beast, such as a werewolf or a bear.

During your quest to save Athena, you'll visit locations such as the graveyard where your character is resurrected, the underworld, and the so-called Cavern of Souls.  In the graveyard you'll encounter flying demons, along with hordes of (surprise, surprise) zombies.  The zombies are actually pretty entertaining; some of them will burst out of their graves in order to attack you, and a well-aimed punch can knock off their head.  There's also a variation of this enemy that walks around holding it's disembodied head in one hand.

A detailed background scrolls by as you make your way to face the boss, containing mass amounts of gravestones.  However, the whole level is set in broad daylight.  Why would the developers go through all the trouble to make a bad-ass graveyard, and not set it at night?

The underworld level is a step in the right direction, given that it's set in a dark cavern that appears to stretch out to infinity.  Here you'll be fighting giant leeches that love to latch onto your character's head and drain his health.

This isn't going to end well.

Other enemies you'll frequently run into here are large snakes that burst from the ceiling and floor of the cavern, which can be decapitated with a well-timed punch or kick.

I mentioned the Cavern of Souls level earlier, mainly because with a name like that it should be a pretty awesome level right?  Unfortunately it's not, the level is a bland-looking cave where you fight giant ants and snails.  Way to go Sega.

Yea...scary stuff....I guess...

The end of each level features a showdown with Neff, who transforms into various monstrosities.  Notable among these are his demon form, where he will continually tear off his head and throw it at you, while a new head grows back in its place.  He will also turn into a plant-based creature which proceeds to shoot out damage-causing eyeballs.

Altered Beast is a fairly short game that can be completed in twenty minutes or so.  It's fun to play co-op with a friend, but there isn't too much replay factor due to lack of depth (it is an arcade port after all).  Have you guys had a chance to play Altered Beast, and journey through the (mostly) hellish locations?

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