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A World of Games: Altered Beast

Rise from your grave!

The iconic line can be heard every time you start at the first stage in Sega’s classic side scroller Altered Beast. As one of Sega’s biggest arcade games of 1988, it was inevitable the game would eventually see a port (actually, it saw many ports) to home consoles throughout the years. More than likely, this is where most people first enjoyed the game.

The arcade version of Altered Beast is nothing incredibly noteworthy on the development side. The game has solid gameplay, good music, and a nice gimmick in being able to transform into a more powerful animal version of yourself. Though fun, I do not think the game did anything particularly well to set itself above and beyond its contemporaries at the time, such as Ninja Gaiden or Double Dragon II. Still though, a classic is a classic for a reason, and with Altered Beast I think it is from the game’s fun factor.

It’s really cool to grab those power-ups, literally punch and kick demons, and then eventually turning into a huge werewolf and dashing through bad guys! Seeing which transformation the next level would bring was also an allure to me. Having originally played the game on the Sega Genesis and then eventually playing the arcade version, I was impressed by the visual improvement the arcade version brought. Honestly, the Genesis game is a very faithful adaptation of the game, which might be a determent: it’s too much like the arcade game so there isn’t much draw to drop down your quarters to play.

Looking at the game cabinet itself, I am a big fan of the marquee. The mid-change eyes of the main protagonist is a neat feature, and a good draw to the game if you don’t know what you’re getting into. The side art also represents this transformation gameplay element, cementing the idea of the plot even further. Outside of that though, the cabinet isn’t doing too much to set itself apart from others in the arcade.

Though a classic through and through, I do not find Altered Beast to be a “must play” at an arcade. I think it’s a fun “Oh look, Altered Beast!” and then we move on sort of thing. I am sure there are fans of the game out there, and I respect that. However, I think my liking of the game will likely stay with the Genesis version.

Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019


I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.