Altered Beast, called Juuouki (獣王記) in Japan, is a Sega System 16 arcade game released in 1988 by Sega. It was developed by the creator of Golden Axe, Makoto Uchida and shares many graphical similarities as a result. The game was notable as it allows the player to take on the form of various "Were Animals". The Japanese title roughly translates to "Beast King Chronicle".
In Ancient Rome, the evil Demon God, Neff, has kidnapped Zeus' Daughter, Athena. Zeus revives a centurion from the dead to rescue his daughter. This is where the first stage starts, with Zeus saying the famous "Rise from your grave!" line. The centurion must kill the Wolf-like Demons that flash multiple colors (the Mega Drive version lacks the flashing effect and the characters stay blue instead). Killing them unleashes a spirit ball that the player must grab in order to transform. The first two increase muscle mass slightly while the third spirit ball will transform the centurion into a beast depending in what stage the player is in. The Sega Master System version lacks the first muscle increase, jumping directly to the body builder physique.
Once the player has changed into a beast he/she can then confront Neff who will appear and say "Welcome to your doom!" and create a smoke cloud which then disappears revealing a monster that also depends upon stage as well. If the player has not collected three spirit balls before reaching Neff, he will run away two times, after that the level will start over from the beginning. In the Sega Mega Drive version, you will have to fight Neff in human form on the third encounter. After each boss fight Neff's head appears from a hole in the ground and he steals all three of the player's Spirit balls causing the player to revert back to his/her normal state. The player then proceeds to jump down the hole continuing to follow Neff.
Here is a rundown of each stage. There are five stages in all:
Stage 1 - Werewolf
This is a graveyard of sorts. The centurion, is revived from here by Zeus. Upon collecting three spirit balls, the player will transform into a Werewolf. The Werewolf has the ability to fire energy balls from its hands and do an energy kick that makes it fly across the screen damaging anything in the way without stopping until the player reaches the edge of the screen. Neff becomes a weird horned demon thing that can launch his head off and grow a new one instantaneously. As a result, Neff can fire up to five heads at the player at nearly the same time. The heads then fall straight to the ground. In the Arcade version of this stage Alex Kidd's name as well as Stella's are engraved on some of the destroyable tombstones. Zombies litter the place, including self destructing and hard punching Zombies.
Stage 2 - Weredragon
The player is inside a cave. An enemy who would later appear as a steed in Golden Axe is in this stage. (it acts the same too.) Weird Rattlesnake things jump from the ground and ceiling vertically. Strange blobby things will jump on the players head and suck their health away but is easily destroyed by moving the directional button once it is on the player's head. The player Transforms into a Weredragon, which uses electric attacks. Punching makes the Weredragon shoot lightening from its fist while kicking causes it to generate lightening all over its body. Neff changes into a multi-eyed thingy, who can fire eyes at the player which slowly hover across screen.
Stage 3 - Werebear
In this stage the player is in a canyon. There are bottomless pits which will cause an instant death for the player and any enemies who fall in. The player transforms into a Werebear in this stage. The Werebear can turn opponents to stone by pressing the punch button and can curl up into a ball and bounce with the kick button. Neff changes into a dragon with a snail shell. It must be attacked repeatedly to make its head come out of the snail shell in the arcade version if the player wishes to do any damage. Neff can also shoot slow moving Swirling fire to damage the player. (Hint: The Bouncing ability makes the fight easier in the Mega Drive version of the game.)
Stage 4 - Weretiger
The Player is getting closer to Neff's Lair. The player is now in some sort of sanctuary. Exploding Zombies make a reappearance in this stage. upon collecting three spirit balls the player changes into the Weretiger. The Weretiger is the same as the Werewolf except that all of its attacks are vertical. Neff changes into a floating dragon thing that shoots fire out of its belly and moves up and down as well as forward some. In the arcade version the fire can pretty much waste a single credit (3 lives) with one shot due to the knock down effect present in the game. He shoots Miniature red Weredragons from his body as well.
Stage 5 - Golden Werewolf
This is the underworld, complete with Unicorn men and Goat men as well as a host of other nasty new and old enemies. The player will turn into the Golden Werewolf, which as redundant as it is, is only slightly stronger than the regular Werewolf. That being said The attacks are the same. Neff takes on the form of a Rhino man who ironically was a statue that appeared in the background of Stage 4. This boss charges at the player with his horn extended forward or he tries to punch the player.Right before each attack, puffs of steam come out of his nose and he shakes a little.
Ending - Basically in the arcade version, the ending acts like the whole game was a movie. Monsters and the main characters remove their costumes and celebrate the completion of their movie with a toast and mugs of beer. Then it shows a drawn version of each person involved with the game's creation except that a white bar appears over their eyes giving the impression that the don't want the player to see to actually see their faces. Typical Sega humor for that time period.
The Mega Drive version's ending is the same except that the movie cast sequence doesn't happen. Instead credits roll and the Centurion is standing off to the side of the screen with the background of stage 1 behind him. Interestingly the player can control the Centurion during this sequence. When he touches the words of the credits he acts like an enemy knocked him down. He will not die though. In addition to this, if the player decides to play the Mega Drive version again without turning off the power, they will start from the beginning of the game but there will be more powerful and dangerous enemies lurking in the earlier levels. (many of the ones that appeared in stage 4 and 5.) The boss fights also become more fierce. The ending remains unchanged. After the third playthrough loop, enemies and bosses don't become stronger anymore.
This game was ported to various consoles, including the Sega Mega Drive, which it was bundled with during the console's early years. This version was considerably remixed in terms of enemy layout and hit detection, making it easier to play. There was also a watered down port for the Sega Master System and several ports to non-Sega systems, including console rivals the Famicom and PC Engine. The Master System version is especially notable for receiving abysmal reviews.
In 2006 an emulated version of the Mega Drive port was released for the WiiVirtual Console, followed by the Xbox 360 in 2009, then Steam and iOS in 2010. The iOS version was removed from iTunes in 2015.
And despite being heavily ported and widely distributed, did not see a sequel until Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms for the Game Boy Advance in 2002. This game was developed by the now defunct, 3d6 games and the game's concept is quite consistent with the original game's formula. There were also new beasts to transform into as well as power ups.
A second sequel called, Juuouki: Project Altered Beast was developed by WOW Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. This game is set in a more modern scenario and the story follows a "Genome-Cyborg" named Luke Custer. The game is heavily criticized for bad camera angles and some other crippling programming mistakes.