Altered Beast (獣王記 Jūōki, literally "Beast King's Chronicle", in Japan) is a 1988 arcade game developed and manufactured by Sega. After its initial arcade release, it was ported to several home video game consoles and home computers. Makoto Uchida was the primary developer of the game and also was responsible for the creation of Golden Axe.
Altered Beast is a side scrolling, platform, beat 'em up game that puts the player in control of a centurion who had died in battle. The centurion has been raised from the dead to rescue Zeus' daughter, Athena. The player battles undead and demonic hordes, controlling the shapeshifting hero. He must fight through several levels in order to save the kidnapped goddess. Although 'Centurion' was a rank in the Roman Army, the game takes place in a setting resembling Ancient Greece, complete with gods, temples and ruined Ionic columns.
The player must battle armies of fictional and undead creatures to defeat the evil Demon God Neff, who is holding Athena captive. Along the way, the player has to obtain "Spirit Balls" (power-up orbs which increase his strength and size) from defeating blue two-headed wolves (it is hinted that this wolf might be the Cerberus dog of Greek Mythology). These enable the player to turn into a superhuman (stage one: "giant man", stage two: "superman"...). When three are collected, the hero transforms into a beast with exceptional abilities.
The game contains several levels which the player must battle through, which can only be completed if the player acquires the beast form. At the end of each level is a "boss" creature, which is Neff himself in different forms. Before Neff transforms at the end of each level, he says "Welcome to your doom!". The enemies the player encounters differ depending on the level as does the beast the hero transforms into. These beasts include a werewolf, a thunder dragon, a tiger man, a bear, and the more powerful golden werewolf (other beasts can be seen in the Japanese Famicom version and the Game Boy Advance version). Each beast has its own special abilities, such as the dragon's ability to fly. Between each level are small animations giving the player glimpses of Athena's peril.
The game was moderately successful, the player's ability to transform into different creatures being a big draw. The game actually does have an ending where the player rescues Athena. At the completion of the game (upon Neff's defeat in the city of Dis), Zeus thanks the player for his help. The credit sequence is rather long and gives the impression that the entire game was actually a film; interspersed in the credits are images of "actors" in various stages of costume for the different characters or monsters in the game. One of the more well-known features of Altered Beast is the quote "Rise from your grave!" said by Zeus. However, the quote has often been humorously interpreted as being "Wise fwom your gwave" or similar variants, due to the inherent distortion/garbling of the digitized voice stemming from the relatively new hardware of the time.
Altered Beast was produced as a standard upright only with custom artwork on the cabinet. In most versions, the game's controls consist of an eight-way directional and three buttons, one each for "punch", "kick" and "jump". The game has single player and cooperative two-player modes.
Certain differences are seen between the several versions of the game. Some of them, like the Master System one, was only single player and had only four levels (it also suffered from ongoing in-game slowdowns), while others have different beasts to mutate into, such as a humanoid lion form seen in the NES version, or the bear form seen in the Mega Drive/Genesis version. The PC-Engine CD version (released only in Japan) incorporated a new CD-quality soundtrack that differentiates it from other versions, however its graphics are virtually the same as the console version for the PC Engine (also only released in Japan).
Rather than serving as a sequel to the original game, the newer title features a more modern setting that is unconnected to the original game. The story follows a man called Luke Custer who is a "Genome-Cyborg", which in the game is a human that has had his DNA and other genetic make-up altered so that he can (after acquiring the chip containing the right genes for each creature) transform into a mythical beast. The main creatures he transforms into are a Werewolf, a Merman, a Garuda, a Wendigo, a Fire Minotaur, and a Thunder Dragon. Its storyline differs from the original Altered Beast games where during the game, you gain a serum that allows you to change at will. There are a number of difficult boss challenges and puzzles within the game, plus some extra characters to transform into including a White Weretiger, a Grizzly Bear, and the alien-cloned U.W.H. (Unidentified Weightless Human) for those who finish the game.
Hello, Sailor released a song titled "Hand Vs. Battle Axe" that includes a sound sample from "Altered Beast" that says "POWER UP!"
Matthew Sweet released his "Altered Beast" LP in 1993.
Altered Beast was the subject of a skit in the second season of Mega64.