3D Altered Beast (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 06.07.2015

Review for 3D Altered Beast on Nintendo 3DS

In the summer of 1988, SEGA unleashed the beast into arcades and a year later on the Genesis/Mega Drive. Altered Beast was a highly popular scrolling beatem-up back in the day thanks to its striking visuals that featured large and well drawn sprites and its infectious sound design. There were not too many action games in arcades back then that had such boisterous looking graphics and monstrous transformations. Several years prior to the release of Altered Beast, the film "Clash of the Titans" was a rousing success and it is this film that seems like it might be the most obvious inspiration, much like how "Top-Gun" was the inspiration for the other SEGA arcade hit, After Burner. While Greek-fantasy has such died down, interest for Altered Beast has waned over the years- but not so much that SEGA wouldn't include it in its line of 3D ports. Does Altered Beast need to go back to the grave? Cubed3 exhumes 3D Altered Beast.

Altered Beast today does not have the same impact it did back in the 1980s. As 3D Altered Beast, the game fails to impress like the other 3D ports SEGA released, like 3D After Buner II or even 3D Fantasy Zone, since the core gameplay just does not hold up the test of time. This is a beat 'em-up at its core but does incorporate some mild shoot 'em-up elements, such as a constant scrolling stage and projectiles. While it may not have as varied gameplay as Golden Axe, this does share many of its visual flourishes and has similar audio cues, probably because both had direct involvement with Mokoto Uchida. When a game of 3D Altered Beast begins proper, the stage will slowly scroll forward, shunting the burly muscle hero in a linear path. The hero doesn't have many options in terms of attacks to engage the enemies, at first, but after a few "power-ups," the beefy Greek will get engorged with muscles until the point he transforms into a beast-man. The beast forms usually have more interesting attacks that wouldn't be out of place in a "Street Fighter" game with Hadouken-esque fireballs and psycho-crusher-style lunge attacks. 3D Altered Beast is generally more energetic and faster paced in the various beast-forms.

Being in human form is a chore, though. The lead moves too slowly and attacks look ridiculous, as well as not making any sense at all. The ducking kick attack, especially, is unintentionally hilarious and makes it look like the macho hero is doing ladies' yoga in his pink loin cloth. All of the attack sprites resemble aerobics or lack the striking finesse that should feel powerful, but instead the hero ends up looking like he is lazily shoving gorgons. There just really isn't much to it, since the game automatically scrolls forward - even if no inputs are pressed, the hero will walk on his own anyway. The boss fights are very boring and just require patience and memorisation as to where the danger will strike and, thanks to the option to create save-states in this port, pretty much any real challenge or cheap shot can be mitigated or ignored by a simple reload.

Screenshot for 3D Altered Beast on Nintendo 3DS

One of the finer qualities of 3D Altered Beast is the sound and the 3D effects. The sound and music was always a strong point and it has been preserved in this conversion. The silly voice clips have a very goofy charm about them, especially when the Greek hero says "POWER-UP!" where he sounds a bit like Hank Hill. While this conversion is based on the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Altered Beast, the graphics do hold up even today. Despite the limited and often in-congruent animation, the sprite work is still impressive and resembles the style of Frank Frazetta's fantasy illustrations (but with more pastel colouration), with influences of the original '80s "Clash of the Titans." There are two modes of 3D: pop-in or pop-out and both options look fantastic. The 3D effects combined with the sprites do breathe new life into these graphics, which are almost 30 years old at the time of this review, making some of the goofiest moves a muscle man can do really burst out of a 3DS system.

As far as the content goes, compared to the past 3D conversions that SEGA has delivered, 3D Altered Beast is sorely lacking in options and modes to justify the $5.99 price tag. This is only the Genesis/Mega Drive version and the tragic exclusion of the arcade iteration is a major oversight if just because it has a superior ending. This is also a very short title with no real replay value at all, which can be completed in less than 30 minutes. The only real notable features are the randomised beast transformations or the screen mode that make the 3DS look like an old 1980s CRT monitor. None of these are truly substantial, though, this 3D re-release is not recommended to anyone other than die-hard Altered Beast fans.

Screenshot for 3D Altered Beast on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

SEGA finally put out a dud of a game in its 3D Fukkoku Archives line on eShop. Altered Beast may have its fans, but even they deserve better when it comes to features for this 3DS port, which comes very bare bones. Anyone who enjoyed Altered Beast on the Genesis/Mega Drive will still love 3D Altered Beast, but everyone else? Skip it. This is a plodding and boring game that lacks much content and variety, and certainly has not stood the test of time.

Developer

M2

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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