This is an almost unplayably shitty beat ‘em up. That’s pretty impressive, because “beat ‘em up” is one of the very easiest game genres with which to make a passably mediocre game. Punch, kick, jump, jumpkick, throw, a bunch of enemies, colorful bosses… you’ve got yourself a beat ‘em up.
The fundamental divide in classic beat ‘em ups is between the games with an isometric “3d” playing field and those with a single plane with platforming elements. The former becomes about crowd control, keeping yourself from being flanked, while the latter is more about carefully timing your jumps.
The makers of Altered Beast boldly rejected both choices, instead making the stunning choice of not creating any platforming elements, while also giving the player only one plane to fight upon, thus taking all of the depth out of an already shallow genre. This rough game structure is rounded out with terribly stilted fighting, muddy garbage graphics, an a vague cloud of shame.
This game was a pack-in game with the Genesis. Everyone who bought a Genesis got a copy. The NES came with Super Mario Bros., the greatest video game of all time. The SNES came with Super Mario World, a masterpiece showcase of what can be done with 16 bit hardware. The Genesis came with a kick to the teeth. It is pretty shocking that anyone ever bought a Genesis under these circumstances.
When I was a kid, due to a mishear on my part, there was a period of time where I thought that this game was called “Ultra Beast.” Frankly, that sounds like a much cooler game. Sometimes I like to pretend that somewhere there IS an Ultra Beast game, one where you turn into monsters and that is totally rad to play.
Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.