i finally got a dreamcast (just in time for its 10th birthday). continuing the trend, instead of starting off playing one of the classics i ended up playing something totally random, more specifically, one of the sega genesis games that appear on the sega smash pack compilation, the now-classic altered beast.
i’m pretty much a n00b when it comes to sega and its long and colorful history. the genesis version of altered beast was apparently the original pack-in game for the system in most areas outside of japan and is well known, although nowadays it seems to be among the many games that are universally panned (see poor milon’s secret castle as another example, which i recently reviewed). for a sample of modern-day reviews and people’s comments on altered beast, nintendolife.com has reviews of both the the original arcade version as well as the genesis version. both reviewers give the game the same score (3 out of 10), although the latter review seems to contain more nostalgic affection. for a run-down of the game itself, check out this page at i-mockery.com.
having no such nostalgia factor but having a much higher tolerance for old games and their limitations, i actually quite enjoyed this one. the “homoeroticism” is clearly just that peculiar brand of japanese humor that takes the form of extreme camp, which i found amusing, even more so when i contemplate the nations full of confused kids and their baffled parents that must have resulted. i was also entertained by the complete disregard for actual greek mythology (not unlike the classic kid icarus). the graphics are definitely impressive, keeping in mind this was almost exactly two years before super mario world was released for the SNES, and the character, enemy, and boss designs are all pretty well done. the enemies in particular are entertaining, with some classic japanese wackiness thrown in, e.g. the purple jump-kicking unicorns and yellow goats in the final level. i wasn’t bothered by the slowness of the gameplay, and although there’s not much variety in the main attacks they were still varied enough to make them worthwhile. the “altered beasts” and their attacks were the best part, and although i didn’t find the game to be overly repetitive, at five levels the game is definitely quite short; i would’ve definitely enjoyed another level with each of the beast forms. the ending is anticlimactic and the harder difficulties not much different than the normal mode, but the co-op was fun and the soundbites have added some classic quotes to my repertoire (the apparently much-appreciated “wise from your gwave!” as well as the baddie’s sinister “welcome to your doom!”).
i’ve settled on a few simple rubrics to help me rank games, including “would i want to play this again?” and “did i like this enough to check out some of the sequels?” for me the answer to both of those questions for this game is actually yes. and it turns out that there are a coupla sequels, and they’ve been catalogued by the good folk at hardcore gaming 101. sweeeeet. i mean, roooooaaaaarrrrr!!!
– cheats at gamefaqs, including how to continue and select a level and difficulty
– screenshots of the ending at vgmuseum.com
– entry at wikipedia
– random page with sprites
– FAQ at gamefaqs (although no one probably really needs it)