Altered Beast (Arcade Retrospective)

It’s not every day that a Marvel comic book artist (as well as many other things) wants to join your band of enthusiastic yet mildly unprofessional band of retro gamers! Please welcome Chris McAuley to Arcade Attack!

As well as reviewing the arcade version of Altered Beast he’s also produced these two pieces of inspired artwork just for us! We hope to persuade him to do a lot more for us so watch this space. You can follow him on Twitter and have a read of his own blog where he writes about games, comics and everything in between!



There’s a title which in my mind is a classic of the gaming of yesteryear which has suffered from the modern fad of critiquing Retro Games. Altered Beast is now often panned for its technical faults, lacking graphics and apparent ‘basic’ gameplay mechanics.

But once, this was a classic, a title which when ported to home consoles and computers was the pride of place in many gamers’ libraries. With this retrospective, I intend to readdress the balance.



This game succeeded in bringing top class, high octane action to the arcades and injecting it with some unique ideas which helped it stand out amongst the other beat em up cabinets which littered the dim-lit, smoky arenas we all used to visit. The plot concerns the daughter of Zeus who has been kidnapped by the evil Neff and must be rescued. Zeus resurrects the body of a fallen, noble Centurion (or two Centurions if the two-player option is selected).

The first level of this horizontally scrolling beat em up is set in the graveyard, this particular level is infested with zombies who are also popping out of their own crypts. A punch to the rotting face or a kick to a skeleton rib cage will soon put them back in the ground. Later you begin to encounter Zombies who retaliate with a vicious right hook and once you encounter a few of those, you will soon see some of your precious energy bars begin to disappear.



Not all the creatures who you destroy are just there for increasing your score, some blue, two-headed wolves roam the levels. When destroyed they leave behind energy power-up capsules. Collecting these enable the player to grow in power (visibly – you grow muscles until the third power-up collected) collect enough of these changes the player into a were-creature of some kind. In some cases, it’s a werewolf or a were-dragon with special powers and skills which are essential to defeating the end of level bosses.



It was one of the most inventive concepts in a beat em up game and it’s one of the reasons I adored it at the time, and periodically return to it once or twice a year. I still find it fairly tough, though it’s more the slog through the level attempting to gain the power-ups, encountering the never-ending enemies whittling down your health, rather than the boss battles. I really recommend this title for anyone who has never played it before, it’s available on the Android and IPhone and various Sega collections on the PS3 and XBOX 360.

It is a classic of yesteryear and will give you many hours of pleasure and fantastic two-player action from the golden age of Sega greatness.



2 thoughts on “Altered Beast (Arcade Retrospective)”

  1. 100% agree, one of those games where you needed to just be there to understand it. Such a shame it has a poor rep now. Thank you for helping to restore the balance. Wise fwom your gwave!

  2. Mate that was awesome really well written. I actually could never understand the critique of matching an old retro classic to modern day. Ultimately yes the game was a slog in parts (and bloody difficult as a kid) but ultimately it was an awesome arcade game (which are designed to steal your money lol) brought into the home.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top