SEGA Forever: Altered Beast is Free to Play

Jul 3, 2017

The late ‘80s and ‘90s were undoubtedly the glory days for SEGA, a once-great video game publisher and developer of such games as Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, and Gunstar Heroes. The company would never again hit the commercial heights that it managed with the Mega Drive, forcing it to rely more on nostalgia than brand new ideas. For some this is a fall from grace, but for others it creates new ways to relive their 16-bit days. Now, SEGA’s making some its impressive back catalogue available on all iOS devices free of charge, and one of the games seeing the transition is Altered Beast.

Perhaps not the most iconic of SEGA games but certainly one of the greatest, Altered Beast is a 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up. Players are resurrected as a soldier, tasked by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena. Creatures come from all angles for you to dodge, jump over, punch, or kick; with only three health bars and two lives, the number of times you can be hit by these it limited. One particular creature, a blue ox, releases a floating orb when defeated; catch the orb and you’ll increase in size and power; take three orbs and you’ll transform into a beast. The game is played over five levels, and in each you’ll become a different beast: a werewolf, dragon, bear, tiger, and golden werewolf. Each has unique powers that allow you to defeat the boss at the end of the level, mythical behemoths blocking your way from reaching Athena. It’s fast paced and hectic – everything an arcade game should be.

Altered Beast Review | Appolicious

Perhaps not the most iconic of SEGA games but certainly one of the greatest, Altered Beast is a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up. Read our review:

As far as ports go, the iPad version of Altered Beast is good – nothing more. Emulators are by far the most popular way to play retro games, but the majority suffer from lag, poor sound and picture quality, and controller delay. This version runs smoothly most of the time, but can suffer from drops in frame rate; this is most probably because it was ported in the software Unity. There’s also some slight crackling in the sound, but the controls are responsive enough when the frame rate plays at its optimal 60fps. The iPhone version ran similarly the majority of the time, but had more severe problems with drops in frame rate – if it’s a choice between the two, the iPad is by far the better option.

One of the bigger worries, though, isn’t about how responsive the controls are, but how easy they are to use. The Mega Drive controller uses an 8-directional d-pad, meaning there’s a button for each diagonal, and three main buttons: A, B, and C. Because there’s no lift off of the screen telling you which button you’re pressing at a particular time, it can sometimes be difficult with these ports to control your character properly. Luckily the buttons are big enough and far enough apart in the iPad version to make things feel simple, and the fact that movement within the game itself is limited helps also. No complicated combinations are needed, so your hands will be in the same place most of the time anyway. The same certainly can’t be said of a game that requires more speed, such as Sonic, but for Altered Beast the tap controls work.


In releasing it for free, SEGA has allowed players both new and old to experience Altered Beast. Retro games and consoles come at an expense, so it gives people the chance to play a brilliant game, a piece of video gaming history, for the first time in over 20 years or the first time ever. For that, no matter what the issues are, SEGA should be highly praised.

Available on Android and iOS.

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Chris Carr

A gamer ever since he owned Sonic on the Megadrive, Chris thinks that the only thing better than reading and writing about games is playing them

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