Altered Beast for the Sega Master System is a fairly faithful port of the arcade classic of the same name in a time when Arcade ports were fairly hit and miss. Packed to the rim in 8 bit action and awesome monster transformations, Altered Beast is a joy to behold.
Now, it’s not all swell and dandy. Due to certain limitations of the Sega Master System’s hardware there is a significant decrease in the amount of frames of animation and the sprite limitations can cause some rather disorienting sessions. This paired with the fact that Altered Beast runs quite a bit slower than it’s arcade port, can cause you to overestimate your position in comparison to the enemies.
With a large variety of enemies, and a few very different monster forms you can take (hence the name Altered Beast) the game seldom feels stale and is highly replayable. Depending on how you play you may or may not run into situations you ran into the last time, such as a certain boss fight.
Hardware limitations considered, the graphics are very nice. Perhaps one of the better games to use larger sprites on the system. The setting is clearly identifiable and the sprite work here is charming. Only on a few occasions did I have to really squint my eyes to tell what something was supposed to be.
The music is here is very nice. It sounds very warm and summons images of fantasy. The first thing I thought of when I heard the Music was of old MS DOS RPG, setting this games composers a bit ahead of their time. Unfortunately, this game also used PCM voice samples which (for the time) were awesome but nowadays are kind of obnoxious and distorted. But as far as master system voice samples go they are tolerable; my ears weren’t bleeding or anything. However, the voice actor of the main player character seems more than just a little out of place. The player character is supposed to be manly, yet has this wimpish voice and screams like a little girl when he’s been killed.
Ultimately, Altered Beast on the Sega Master System is one of the best arcade conversions to bless the console. It’s not perfect, by a long shot. Heck, some home conversions were ever more faithful, but Altered Beast makes the best of it’s limitations and creates an experience worthy of any hardcore Sega fan, if you can overcome the hardware that gamers faced back in those days. It’s no Streets of Rage, but it’s a still a beast of a game.