Thursday, 4 June 2015

Altered Beast - Various

Save your time, play something else.

There's a lot of nostalgia factor with this game. Many will look back, or vaguely remember this game, rather fondly along the lines of "Oh yeah, that was awesome you could punch zombies and turn into a wolf thing" and the oft quoted speech "Wise fwom wor gwave" which only goes to show that they never got past the first level and I don't blame them for that.

"Wise fwom wow gwawe"

As an arcade game, it runs along the lines of the ancient story of girl gets kidnapped, God raises the dead to fight through Hell to get back girl, fighters turn into monsters and beat up a demon. The same old story. Being an arcade game there isn't much in the way of real substance here from "Move right and fight" although the addition of a pseudo-cutscene between each level is an interesting addition to the idea of a developing plot but really is just a monochromic powerpoint display.

Looks cool, isn't.

You start as a simple undead/rather-fleshy soldier that burst from his tombstone and begins immediately by punching, kicking and jumping your way through the level, taking on some rather disfigured enemies. However you will find yourself hopelessly outmatched unless you kill specific white double-headed dogs that release power orbs and allow you to "POWER UP" as the game happily announces. Each one making you more buff, harder to hurt, more physically imposing and doing more damage until you reach a third orb and then you turn into a monster with much a much more powerful moveset and the only real way you can even attempt to fight the boss of each level.

Snail...Dragon? Snaildragon? This become pokemon suddenly?

If you're unable to transform in time, you will fight the boss in your weaker form and that's on the assumption you even get that far. There's 3 chances to acquire the orbs at each stage of the level, but after the end of each stage you WILL be swarmed repeatedly by enemies you cannot realistically hope to defeat unless you transform at the next available instance. These white dogs are almost gleefully lampshaded by the game with the preceding brown equivalent dogs that will leap in first, usually knocking you to the ground, before the white one leaps in and past you while you get back to your feet.

This... is just shit.

Woefully unfair, the game pounds further with the idea of absolutely NO mercy invincibility after being knocked down. So each time you get back up, you can be on the end of a fist of pain and knocked down again, and again, and again until your meagre health bar is depleted and you're cursing at the arcade for being cheap. Coupled with almost entirely unavoidable boss-fight patterns, you'll soon find your safest route through the game is to walk away.

Yep, chickenleg is in Golden Axe. Go play that game instead.

But the fun doesn't stop there, your human character has barely any reach in fighting and only really becomes any actual use when they transform. Upon which your move set changes and you have to quickly learn the new controls and moves and how to use them effectively while still being attacked by your enemies. (Lovely bit of thinking on your feet really). While to add further misery, your move set's effectiveness is heavily dependent upon the creature you become. The werewolves have a fireball and fast kick move that serves very well against everything but airborne adversaries, the dragons have lasers and electric fields but are huge targets and move too slowly to avoid attacks. The bears are almost entirely useless having no range attack, just stone breath and a spinning jump that puts you next to enemies if you miss. The tigers have a vertical kick attack similar to the werewolves and a fireball of sorts before the last level gives you back the werewolves and by this point, you'll be very grateful for it.

Artsy, but nobody really cares.

It's hard to pinpoint why so many people like this game when really, it's a rather difficult and unplayable mess of a game, hampered by its own controls and almost deliberately infuriating the player to the point of them walking away from the game itself in sheer maddening frustration at once again being butchered by simply not being as powerful as the game wanted or by not realising the limitations of the characters brought about by the oddly coded movement and combat engine.

Hurry up and kill it, I'm bored.

The audio in the game is a mixed bag, while the slightly muffled sound samples are amusing to hear, the rest of the game's effects and music are rather drab and uninspired. It's also quite likely you won't hear it anyway as you'll be too busy shouting at the inept control system, confusing set up of directional attacks (Down and kick, kicks upwards?) and realising that level 3 is such a pain in the arse to contend with that you'll likely not bother and go play something else.

Why do I even bother...

Surprisingly, that sums up this game. Remember it fondly but don't go back to it, go play something else and leave this tired mess alone in the days where people forgot how to rate games appropriately.