A BIT of History Part 4 : Altered Beast (Sega Genesis)

My TALDIG had some issues working for a while but I had it fix. Now that we are  ready to travel back to the past that shows us the past again, I find myself asking, is this to weird?  Perhaps we should make these things a bit more straightforward? 


Altered Beast is a well known classic for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. It started out as an arcade title in 1988 but was ported to Sega console the same year at least in Japan. The game then appeared as a launch title for the system for Europe and America and got numerous arcade releases bundle releases and was a part of the Sega Genesis Mini.
In this game you play a nameless fighter who gets resurrected by Zeus back in the days of ancient Greece (which roughly puts it at around 1200-900 BC) were you have to rescue his daughter Athena from the evil god of the Underworld Ha… I mean Neff. I distinctly remember that being somebody else though.

Altered Beast is all about changing, it’s a beat them up, the changes up the formula quite a bit. The length of the stage depends on how long it takes for you to gather three orbs that change you to more powerful forms and the final boss can only happen when you acquire beast mode. If you encounter Neff before this happens, the stage .. kind of loops on you.
You take the role of “Fighter” .. a guy in a pinkish Toga so clearly I was excited to play this one, but it left me wondering. Should I change as well?

I feel that the ‘A BIT of History’ concept might be a bit too weird to focus on. The history lessons taken from these games might be a bit too flimsy to focus on and best be relegated to a paragraph should I find such a game. So I am thinking of changing this series into “A BIT of Nostalgia’  in which  I revisit famous classic games or games that are very dear to me.
It offers me a bigger spectrum of games to play and allow me to play the games I would actually want to play, rather than have the time setting dictate which ones I should play. It took me a fair bit to get me to play this one because I wasn’t in a beat them up mood. Yet it was one of the most iconic ancient greece games. So expect some changes to this format soon. Now back to the review, because unlike the era of the ancient greeks, this game has not aged well.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures

This game features Fighter in Pink.. our hero that we all know and love! Back from the dead he has to stop the evil god of the underworld Neff and not Hadas..who turned Athena into a blue bird, which anime taught me mean she is a lesbian now. Throughout five stages you have to fight classic greek enemies such as cyclops (plural) and …. well there are Satyrs…sort of they have goat heads as well but I guess they are there? Though they are called Gory Goats here… then there are zombies, demons ant wasps and evil chickens with poisonous stingers. So clearly the greek setting is used very well. I can only assume all these creatures died out because Fighter in Pink really disliked them and punched them all to death.

The most important enemy in this game is the three headed wolf though, which came in two colours. The useless brown variant and the all mighty blue variant. Both will make the sound of a paper crumpling when you kick them and die right away, but by killing blue three headed wolves the ancient greeks could call upon the power of an orb, that turned them from buff philosophers into half naked Jojo characters.

Killing another  one then turns them into the old Dragon Ball Broly, and after killing a third blue three headed wolf the ancient greeks could turn into beastmen. The buffing up and the whole Neff  standing menacing before you, checking out if you are worth his time has a pretty big Jojo feel, this could be a new take on that series and since it’s set in ancient history I decided to name this Fighter in Pink. Jorges Jorda is a farmer who died from being attacked by animals.. now zeus resurrects him and by gathering the power of death…he can channel what caused his death.

The game does feel like a bizarre string of adventures with stages strung together like the graveyard, the swamp, the cave, the Greek building and the underworld/city of the dead. Wait.. if the hero died wouldn’t he already be in the underworld? Would that not be better to start? Now he gets resurrected and has to travel back to the underworld again. One could argue that Jorges would have to find his power orbs but Neff steals them at the end of each stage, assumingly needed to make him reach his final form or something.  Hmm.. clearly not all the ancient Greeks were philosophers. Zeus clearly wasn’t the smartest god either, then again that seems to be a bit of a theme with Zeus in games or movies, he tends to get blindsided a lot. So you heard it here first guys! Zeus can be outsmarted by uncle Fester from the Addams family.. because I am pretty sure that is who Neff is.

Too much bits

The Mega Drive was the first sixteen bit console, with amazing stuff like blast processing and an iconic sound chip.  Unfortunately it clearly shows that this game was not designed for this console and people were still a bit unfamiliar with the power of this machine. The enemies don’t look very clean. The three headed wolves look more like misshapen bulls to me and for a few other enemies I also had to struggle to look what they are. Now of course this in part is due to the home consoles being less powerful than arcade cabinets, but if we look at Turtles in Time, which although appearing later did it much better. Stages were changed up , difficulty was slightly adapted and  visuals and vocals were changed.  This games suffers from this being NOT the case in this port. In fact I like the Master System port more because it feels more distinct.

With the speech of Neff  included he welcomes players to their doom before the start of each boss fight, and doom you will face , over and over and over and over again. This is a problem with a lot of Beat Them Up ports. Most of these games were designed to be unrelenting so they can guzzle up as much of your quarters as much as possible. Basically in the arcade you have infinite lives as long as you have quarters. Good Beat them up ports thusly either give you infinite lives… as the price of a full priced game should get you infinite quarters or at least a series of lives and a handful of continues. Altered Beast on Genesis asks you to beat the entire game on three lives which basically equals three quarters. If even that!

There are NO healing items in this game so all damage is permanent. You get three “hearts”/blocks of life that can all take 1 to 3 hits depending on the enemies strength. Given that a random chicken enemy (who crossed over from Golden Axe) can take a complete life block away due to you having virtually no invincibility frames after being it.. this game is relentlessly hard.

Luckily by holding A (or 1)  plus start in the main menu you can at least continue on the stage you died on. Yet still finishing a stage is a rather herculean feat. Yet like most arcade games this doesn’t really come down to your gaming skills,but more to pattern recognition. If you know where the blue wolves will show up and you can manage to hit them quick and fast and gather your orbs fast enough these stages are fairly doable. Mostly because the bosses once you get their pattern down are actually quite easy. Except for the second boss.. whose tell of damage is so deceptive it took me five times to figure out that I wasn’t exactly damaging it when it flashes red when I hit it.. I needed to hit different hitboxes, which do not flash at all!?It’s things like this that show this game came out so early in the console’s life span, that actually influence how enjoyable the gameplay is.

Sega Does

I really wish I could be more positive about this game, but unfortunately there was very little that I liked about this game. That doesn’t make it is a bad game, just that I review if negatively, if you enjoy this all the power to you! I hope and know people do like this game, which is great, everything deserves love. I did like the variety in bosses and how you have to actually use your beasts powers and some strategy to take them down. I especially like the fourth stage boss, which is like a baby dragon with a huge lava ball. It releases some firebird minions as well as big strings of fire balls and avoiding both felt like a good challenge.

The third boss and the final boss however are total pushovers I beat them first try both without taking a hit just by using cheap tactics.  The third boss is a sort of dragonhead stuck on a helix fossil with some gooey egg sack material attached to it.. and it shoots purple balls and blobs. By using the Bear’s  (that stages animal)  spin jump while on it’s body you can defeat it without any trouble.  The third stage itself though has some awkward platform jumps which can be very irritating to get trough.

In the fifth stage we see Neff finally taking his true form, that of a white Rhino. Yet in the Master System it is Cyan and in the Arcade it is pink. It always grinds my gears when pink things are such pushovers. It isn’t much harder than Rocksteady from the first TMNT game on NES. You can easily jump over it and spam damage until it dies. No skill required. However everything else on that stage deals soooo much damage, especially the dark unicorns, so getting there.. is a long arduous process of learning where things spawn and when to punch it to death.

If you miss a blue wolf on your first roulation I found it rather impossible to stay alive long enough to reach the boss. The music is the same in about every stage with fairly little sound effects other as coming from the player so I am glad the fifth stage was the final one.  We see Athena standing next to some beastmen.. in the final cutscene and then we are done.
In the fifth stage we turn into the wolf again, we turned into the first stage as well..but this time he is golden. So I guess it’s a super Wolf?!

Also why go for choices like the Dragon and the Tiger? I get the wolf and the bear as those might be found in ancient greece but why not make one where you turn into a Bull/Minotaur and one in a horseman/centaur. So much potential here goes away with bad flavoring. I barely learned anything about ancient greece because.. nothing is done with the setting at all. The cutest thing is that they have  the chicken enemy from Golden Axe as a homage.

There was so much more they could do with this formula, even for an arcade cabinet. It’s not like the greek mythos is lacking in mystical creatures or cool enemies to fight. Yet according to this game it does, which by the logic of A BIT of History .. now means that I learned that ancient greek had plenty bland video game type enemies.. which in truth I never knew!

While I have no doubt that this game was amazing in 1988 and even in 1990 this game has been surpassed left and right by just about every other beat them up out there. Turtles 2 the arcade game, Turtles in Time, Streets of Rage, Final Fight and Towers of Mystara just to name a few. Nintendo in particular has time and time again shown that this does not need to happen to games. Sega more or less in their original IP’s as well. Yet even when we consider this one in the arcade , the better version it has been surpassed by just about everything. Sure the classic mario has been improved upon but you can still enjoy the original game, this just made me want to play Turtles in Time instead. I guess Sega really does what Nintendon’t . Because Nintendon’t age this poorly.

This cocktail has been sitting here for a while.. and it has fermented which leaves a Pine-Meh-Pple taste in your mouth if you can not add enough nostalgia sugar

All other posts in this series

Part 0: What is Pinkie Doing now

Part 1: E.V.O. The Search for Eden

Part 2: Flintstones Treasure of Sierra Madrock

Part 3: Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja’s


A BIT of History (Part 2): Flintstones Treasure of Sierra Madrock

My TALDIG is fired up once again. Today we look at the past trough video games of the past yet again. As my mutating Fish-Bird-Kotowaru-Evolve thing stranded in the early age of men! Let’s begin there! Because there is a lot we can learn about this. Like if we believe history books, Humans and Dinosaurs never lived together.. but if we look at these games.. we clearly find evidence that they did! And today’s game even proofs they had a advanced society…. AND mode 7 graphic segments.

I wanted to do some ccover-art.. but now I can give you art and the main theme! Yay!

This is how we Rock

This licensed based game was first released to the public in America in the month or march of 1994. Europe and Asia would get the game a few months later in June and August respectively.  The game was developed by Taito who also published it. In this game de designers build a game that used the Flintstones License into a Platformer with some board game, racing game and mini game elements. Anno 2020 a loose cartridge will cost you at least €25,- in Europe (PAL) but the American version easily run upwards of $50 dollars.  In original packaging the game can easily run you upwards of $150,- dollars. Trough completing platforming stages a player can move up to two character (Barney and Fred) through a board game stage where they have to hit a few set encounters to complete a pathway to four additional areas. Movement on the overworld is RNG based so if you fail that stage with lots of bonus items.. you might not get to play it again but at the same time if you get stuck, RNG could make you skip a level you can’t beat.

Fred is already looking for innocent dinosaurs to club!

It is a interesting and novel concept to play around with that has some issues in the first half of the game. In the first map your fated encounter travels across the map himself and with Wilma and Betty walking around the map, who upon encountering them can set you set back several spaces the chase of this water Buffalo guy can make this game feel way more tedious than it is in later stages. The game has a pretty exploitable life gain mechanic in the form of bingo. Each time you exit a stage the last digit of your time left gets crossed of a bingo card, the more paths lines you form with a digit the more lives you have. This resulted in me ending the game with 82 lives, which would have capped at 99 if I did not discover the sprint button so late into the final world.  All in all gameplay wise it’s a bit more floaty than Mario but due to how different it feels it just feels like a nice, slightly to easy change of pace.

The Wheel when invented cleary did things It doesnt anymore!

One Stone

Did you know that in the stone age they already had clubs and secret societies?  Did you know they already played bowling and had some sort of olympic coliseums where they held foot races, car races and even ice skating competitions?  Did you know that the cavemen had game shows that involved playing several mini games like Bobbing Monkeys on the head, Playing pinball with an armadillo and a shooting range for catapults? Well it’s in this historical game so clearly it must be true! In this game the Great Poobah, whatever that is decides to retire so he leaves everything he has.. in one TREASURE! He who will find it shall be named King of the Water Buffalo’s… wait a second…. this basically is the story of One Piece!

(He actually said those who find….. the treasure.. but this would be cool as well)
So both stories.. are explained on parchement as well..Hmmm

I am actually not kidding. Fred has to find maps, a compass and other tools to help him find a treasure their great leader has hidden. He who finds the treasure shall be made the new leader of the Water Buffalos. So all these silly people spread out across the world to search for this treasure.  So you see boys and girls, the Flintstones did this story 3 years before the first one piece manga came out! It was invented in the age of cavemen! Not the age of pirates. At least now we can safely assume that Gol.D.Roger’s ancestor was the great Poobah once. Such an honour. Anyway …… This story let’s you traverse through five different worlds. There is about 10 ish platforming stages in each with a few boss stages and special event stages in between.  You jump, climb, battle and race yourself to the title of Great Poobah… or you allow your wife to take you home and allow her to wear the pants in this relationship.. even if pants have not been invented yet.

Not sure if this abuse flies anymore!

No TRubble

In the town of Bedrock we fight big monkeys tossing coconuts, we cross waterfalls, beat huge armadillo’s and jump over stampeding cows. Occasionally we also have to avoid a cop car…  and no you dumb dumbs in the age of the flintstones cars did not have engines yet.. you just ran in them… you just could run a lot faster in them because they have wheels! Like big steam press ones! Jeezs! Get to learn your history guys! It’s good I am doing this thing. In the volcano level you mostly avoid tar pits, walk on huge stone balls that always fall out of Volcanoes for some reason. Not sure why.. but why are these rocks always huge stone balls? I mean it makes sense because now we can run on them like they are a barrel.. in every video game. But why are they so round? But again lesson learned.. apparently 20.000 BC all volcanoes .. and there were a lot of them, only spat perfectly spherical stones. They don’t tell you that during history class but fudge me.. that is interesting.

The Flintstones Treasure of Sierra Madrock does take a bit to get used to. Fred and Barney have this Yoshi like hover jump  along side a bit floatier jump than Mario. Apparently in the past humans could run in the air. But since they did live with dinosaurs.. and Yoshi is a Dinosaur who also knows that moves.. that kinda makes sense. They  must have seen the dinosaurs do it.. and mimicked it.. however with the Dinosaurs extinguished by a perfectly round meteor the knowledge must have been lost. Lessons. Mankind in the form of Barney and Fred later unlocked a double jump  by completing a complete olympic lap in under a minute which also explains why I can’t double jump. So again I think it’s safe to say this part of history is verified. Of course the double jump only works if you have clams in your pocket and I never do.. except for that one time. But that explains why Usain Bolt never double jumped either. All in all the first two areas are  perfect to teach you how to play the game. Once you figured out how timing works in this game you can zoom past these stages.

On the Rocks

Difficulty ramps up a bit during the ice stage, the platforming takes a bit of a puzzle aspect in some stages using slippery platforms and launch pads to spice up the actions. Unfortunately by this time any platforming enthusiast will have somewhere in the area of 60 lives already. Now that supply WILL dwindle there but in this stage the Board game aspect really hurts the game.  Sooner or later you will roll another digit on your bowling ball (I have not figured out how these caveman made that work.. perhaps like a magic 8 ball) and skip the stage you are having trouble with. Is this a good thing… I guess, you’ll never get stuck , but I also lacked a sense of satisfaction to finally beat a stage I struggled with, because some others are just so easy still.  Luckily you can keep walking in an area to complete all the levels, but while the bowling ball is heavily biassed to roll 1 (instead of 2 or 3) it’s kind of annoying to walk around waiting for you to land on the right tile to finish that one level you want to beat.

The fourth world of the game is a jungle themed one and is a complete throwaway , it’s super easy. I did not die a single time in this world.  It was in this world that I stopped completing all the stages as well because I knew they would not pose any challenge. This world mostly revolves around the mechanic of flying platforms. You see back in 20.000 bc a lot of Ptera dinosaurs, (not sure if Pteranodon or Pterodactyl) were born with a chain and platform attached to their feet. If a human jumped onto them the weight increase would scare them and prompt them to fly to a nearby platform so the human could jump of. Of course in the treetops of the jungle there aren’t a lot of platforms so they would fly to their family so they could carry the human for a while instead.  In theory is a moving platform world something potentially quite challenging, but with the moveset of Mister Rubble and Mister Flintstone as well as the movement speed and sheer size of these platforms it might even be the easiest world yet. The flavor is also a bit lost as the Water Buffalo’s did not get this far, from here on out no more ice racing, mini games or cafe’s to buy life points.
So now it became a kind of generic platformer. 

A rock solid game to Yabba-Dabba-Do

The final world is a series of dash to the finish stages that can be surprisingly challenging. They all feel extremely samesey though .. It’s like the cave stages in Super Mario World.. the Donut Plains 2 stage.  It’s basically exactly that.. just harder.., with a 30 second time limit and the bats look more evil and instead of gold.. there is just more rock! There were a lot of strange things about stone in the stone age. Not only does having a stone wheel make you walk faster.. It could also rise up  and down from the ground to block your path and crush you. Or it could delay you long enough for you to starve.. even if you ate an apple 30 seconds ago. Cavemen were weird back then. This fifth world has two tiers which means you have to play that samesy stage over about 15 times.. maybe 12 with some lucky rolls. I had fun, I felt challenged but each stage that started I was like..again..? Why am I not finished yet? 

After the fifth world you find the treasure and become the new great Poobah! But oh no! Your wife emancipated 22.000 years before most did so now you have to run or you will be dragged home by your ear! Since that now is 5 continents away.. you better avoid that. And we see the end credits.  I finished this game in just under three hours and could have been a lot faster had I discovered the sprint button earlier and not feel the need to complete all stages. Yet for the first three worlds I did indeed feel compelled to do it all. Which speaks well enough on it’s own to tell you how this game feels. 50% I really enjoyed and the other 50% was solid to playthrough but I felt saturated.  Since you do not want to use the password system of this game (believe me) this is one of those.. finish in one go kinda games.. not counting the power of the sonic save state. So for what this game is.. a game for an evening, this game feels pretty solid. Each time you play , be it alone or with a friend the rng system will give you a bit of a different route. It still will be easy for most who platform a lot, and if not I would not assume this game to be on your radar, but that is okay sometimes. It’s a perfect game to unwind.  I LOVED and I mean LOVED the cries the characters make when hit , both Barney and Fred as the Dinosaurs who get clubbed! Such Kawaii death sounds!

Check from 11:40 till 12:40 if you want a demo on all the cute sounds.

It’s such a shame that you will most likely mute them… because the music in this video game.. while not bad… is SOOOOOOOOO repetitive. Each world has 1 or maybe 2 world themes. A racing theme and an overworld theme. Yet each stage has 10 stages so hearing that same song every darn stage can make you lose your marbles. It is nice that the first overworld rocks a jazzy rendition of the main flintstones theme and the level completion music is cheery as well..jeesz a little variety never killed anyone. Personally I would have liked it if they went for a hard ,medium or easy route to get to a target each time you could switch lanes (difficulty) or progress of course with more rewards along the harder routes. Each difficulty could have it’s own music as well .. that would be killing two birds with one stone.  Could it be more yes! Yet all in all the 2,5 hours I spend on this game I still say where well spend. Not worth the $150,- but if you happen to be able to play it .. SOMEHOW. It’s worth a quick playthrough! 

Slight notes of Berry can be detected but that flavour that loses in intensity half way down the drink!

Now Fred has been locked outside his door once more, so it’s time to move on before he starts pounding and yelling. Next time we will look at our final pair of caveman, who have a sweetheart in every stage! Next time we finish our prehistory arc with Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja’s…  Did you know caveman could be Ninja’s? Neither did I .. but then again Ninja’s have always been secretive.. so it makes sense.. so it must be true! But that 1991 story will have to wait for the future! Remember I love you all and keep smiling!



Use this actual in game password to check out other BITS of History!

Previously on BIT of History

-Part 0: What is Pinkie Doing now?
-Part 1: E.V.O. The Search for Eden

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