Altered Beast is an influential Sega beat ’em up first released into arcades in 1988. In some respects it was the predecessor to Golden Axe and Alien Storm; both similar games, and both to come later from Sega.
Altered Beast is a cooperative two-player game with ‘forced’ scrolling (meaning: the screen moves and you must follow it), which gives the game a kind of ‘on rails’ feel.
Player one controls “Beast King” and player two controls “Altered Beast“. Both are centurions who were once dead but have now be resurrected by the God Zeus and tasked with rescuing the goddess Athena from the underworld ruler, Neff.
The two centurions can punch, kick and jump, and must fight their way through five challenging levels, collecting power-ups as they go.
Every two-headed wolf the centurions kill will drop a spirit ball. Collecting one of these will increase a character’s strength. Collecting three spirit balls will transform whoever collected them into a powerful beast with special abilities. Beast forms include a werewolf, a “thunder weredragon”, a werebear, a weretiger, and a golden werewolf.
Playing Altered Beast now is still fun. The combat can be a little frustrating at times because it’s very difficult to avoid taking damage, but you can at least carry on from where you died if you put more money into the machine.