The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Altered Beast

I haven’t reviewed something in a few weeks, so I’ve gotten a bit rusty at this whole playing games and moaning about them. In fact, I’ve forgotten what a video game is, so imagine my surprise when Altered Beast came through my front door. I thought this game was a bad movie, so when I shoved it in my VCR and subsequently broke it, I just thought was the opening scene. To be fair it was better and more visually impressive than Mission Impossible 2.
Realising the box said Mega Drive, I tried to insert it in my aging sega console. Of course, it doesn’t work on the Dreamcast, so I tried the Mega Drive instead. Nothing happened. By this point, I realised I hadn’t turned the console on…which probably should have helped, so I decided to put together this step by step guide to get into playing video games.

1. Buy a video game. These are usually sold in shops with Game in the name, except Games Workshop, they don’t let me in there because of a…thing. Anyway, games come in all wonderful formats, the good ones are the ones with the plumber on the cover, I think it’s called Call Of Duty. Then, and I can’t stress this enough, you have to pay for the game. I’ve made this mistake before. The plus side is I made a new friend, the bad news is you don’t get to go home.
2. Go home. Take the bus and help the environment, then throw your plastic bag with the rest of the rubbish.
3. Buy a Frappucino from Starbucks, they’re delicious and give you that bolt of energy you need when gaming. For a refreshing drink, choose Starbucks.
4. Put the game into your console and press the on button. Also, hold the controller with your hands. Not your mouth, using the thumbs to press the buttons, not your face.
5. Play the game and ignore your family, friends and everyone else until you finish it, taking regular intervals for a nice cool Frappucino from Starbucks. Eat fresh. Starbucks.

So there you go. How to get ahead in gaming. Where was I? Oh right, I was supposed to be reviewing a game….So Altered Beast comes from that school of bizarre themed beat ‘em up games, like King Of Fighters, except this one is more based on greek mythology. Maybe. You play as Stella (at least that’s the name on his grave) who is told to “WISE FROM YOUR GREY” and is brought back to life by Zeus to stop the evil wizard who looks a bit like Ben Kingsley (and will hence forth be referred to as such) who has kidnapped his daughter.

Now, why couldn’t Zeus get someone living to do this task? Stella can still die like any mortal, what makes him any more special than Steve from Sparta? Well, the central gimmick is how Stella can, once he collect orbs from kicking blue 2 headed dogs to death get powered up to the point where he transforms into a beast…or dragon…or other thing. And whilst the power-up system is nothing new, it’s utterly crucial to continue in the game, once you’re in beast form, some enemies can’t hurt you and only in beast form can you fight the levels boss, which is declared by Ben Kingsley declaring “Welcome to thunderdome your doom” and transforming into a foul creature, my favourite is still the clay monster who throws HIS OWN HEAD AT YOU REPEATEDLY. He just keeps growing them and chucking them. Anyway, so you defeat the boss and Ben Kingsley’s floating head takes away your powers. Boo.
This isn’t all bad, it at least gives the game some difficulty. Some enemies actually have specific weak points and have you hammering buttons whilst they punch you in the face, but it just makes it more rewarding replaying the game knowing everyones weakness and giving Cerberus a kick in the face. The Greek mythology setting is a lot of fun, even if there weren’t any dragons in Heracles (the hydra doesn’t count) making the central gimmick look a bit out of place, but it at least allows for some cool looking enemies, bird lizard things, zombies, this guy, more zombies.
The game’s pretty flawed though, there are small amounts of voice acting and it’s all pretty bad, it makes that scene in Troll 2 seem like Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Gangs Of New Mohicans or whatever that movie he won an award for playing Johnny Cash was called. Characters say their lines with little enthusiasm, when you get “Power up” the voice-over sounds bored and unaware of the context, I doubt you’d be that bored if you saw a guy transform into a wolf, unless you’re watching Teen Wolf 2. Zeus’ voice is muffled by his beard, I think he was complementing on my age when he said “WISE FROM YOUR GRAY”.

But this doesn’t distract from the fact that Altered Beast is pretty fun, it’s ultimately a guilty pleasure game, it’s well made, but isn’t anything special for a side scrolling beat em up. It’s gimmicky and the stuff it’s being remembered for are its flaws, but I think it gives it a charm that can’t be replicated in modern games, unless they reboot it, which they probably will, but as far as games involving Lucanthropy go, it’s certainly better than that awful Benecio Del Toro movie last year, An American Werewolf In Paris. Now I’m going to get a Frappucino from Starbucks…and check out their selection on sandwiches….get it, I said check out, because they have those in stores…

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One response to “Altered Beast

  1. Trixie 25/06/2011 at 07:52

    Hey, sblute must be your middle name. Great post!

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