Bates? Steba? Beats? Tebas? Baste?

Altered Beast logo

WHEN you are dead you might think that at long last you will get some time to yourself. Take in a few movies, hang about with your dead buddies, do a spot of haunting perhaps, and get a chance to find out what really swell guys worms are are after all. But no. For these are the pinky blue skies of ancient Greece and, here old heroes never die, they just around and wait to get resurrected.

Sure enough, some old geezer pops up eventually and asks you to rescue his daughter. So it is time to shuffle back on this mortal coil, but probably not for too long.

Here ranged against you are wolves, skeletons, large blue monsters and some more skeletons which are even more upset than the first bunch. Oh, and I forgot the funny flying gargoyle things that try to whip your wig off. Why the wolves do not run off with all those bones beats the hell out of me.

If you cripple enough white wolves and collect the glowing globey things, nothing much changes - a bit like getting the ECS I suppose. However, if you collect three of them, then for some jolly good reason you will transform into a werewolf yourself.

This new hirsute physique comes with the ability to hurl fireballs, whiz about at the speed of the blitter and beat everybody up fairly easily without even trying.

Everybody, that is, except for one. Some baldy old bloke with a face only the front of a very large truck could love will intervene, trying to do his dirtiest to stop you. He seems to have some sort of static electricity problem 'cos large sparks fly from his fingertips whenever you get close. Eventually he will turn into a large monster which keeps throwing his head at you. It is all right, he has a few to spare. And that is only the first level. I want danger money.

Progress further into the passageways of the earth and meet even more terrible monsters who defy gradation on any meaningful scale of horribleness. If I ever see those eyes again...

Fear not, though, for later you have the power to turn into a fearsome dragon and some sort of blue teddy bear with terribly bad breath - well the beasties do not like it anyway, and I cannot blame them.

If there is anything worse than a ball of blue fluff in your belly button it is a giant ball of blue fluff breathing all over you.

Ancient Greece is looking pretty good. Live at Pompeii, the only thing missing is the constant swarm of insects. The animation at the beginning and of the end-of-level beasties is quite impressive, but the transformation sequences, which were by far the best parts of the original arcade version, are sadly missing from this other fairly faithful conversion.

Also your bloke and his fellow combatants sometimes looks a bit murky - perhaps because of the choice of colours. Their animation is not up to quite the same standard, either.

It is a good job Activision has included those nice graphics for the intermission because it seems about a day's wait. What can it be doing all that time? Playing a sneaky game on its own? I thought part of the idea of re-writing the disc format was to make it a bit faster.

To say the gameplay is aggressive would be to commit criminal understatement. At later levels you will know what a small white plastic sphere feels like at the Olympics. If you do not get your enhancer potion quick, it is party time for all the worms again. It is easy to speculate that with such a long period between the release of the arcade machine and this Amiga conversion that someone could have done a better job of the graphics. Nevertheless, it is sufficiently playable and challenging to warrant investigation.

Altered Beast logo

ACTIVISION £24.99 * Joystick

The god Zeus has decided to bring you back to life, after many deeds of bravery and a while spent six foot under, so that you can go on a mission to rescue his daughter from the evil clutches of Nelf, the Lord of the Underworld.

Zeus is not the only one with the power over life and death and Nelf does not want to give up his prize that easily, so he has got together a whole army of zombies and other weird and wonderful creatures to keep you at bay. To aid in your quest there are power-ups to collect that can turn you into unreal creatures including two bizarre lycanthropes, a werewolf and a weretiger.

It is a horizontally-scrolling beat-em-up converted from the Sega coin-op with end-of-level guardians and a range of kicks and moves. But that is about it. The graphics are not too hot when they are still, but they are worse when they are moving: blocky and very jerky. The gameplay is basic but it is still very difficult to control your character in the moves needed.

Altered Beast is a below-average game that fans of the original will sadly be disappointed with.

Altered Beast logo

Die Umsetzung des gleichnamigen Coin Ops für Segas Mega Drive gilt als Meisterstück japanischer Programmierkunst: Wann immer ein Vorzeigespiel benötigt wird, um die grafischen Qualitäten der 16 Bit-Konsole ins rechte Licht zu rücken, muss "Altered Beast" ran. Macht die wandlungsfähige Bestie auf dem Amiga eine ebenso gute Figur?

Die Antwort lautet ganz klar: Nein! Das Game fühlt sich auf der "Freundin" nicht sehr heimisch und hat gegenüber der Konsolenversion arg Federn gelassen. Das fängt schon bei der Anleitung an: Die farbenprächtige Broschüre des Originals ist in Activision's Hexenküche auf ein schmales Schwarz/Weis-Heftchen zusammengeschrumpft. Auch die Titelmusik hat einiges der ursprünglich reichlich vorhandenen Mystik eingebüßt. Dafür sind die Loadingscreens recht ordentlich - besonders die beiden Bildschirm-füllenden Augen kommen echt gut!

Das eigentliche Game dürfte kaum jemanden vom Hokker reisen: Gottvater Zeus hat dich extra von den Toten wieder auferstehen lassen, um seine Tochter Athena aus den Klauen des Unterwelt-Bosses Nelfs zu retten. So stapft das muskulöse Heldensprite also durch die fünf mythologisch angehauchten Level, um in geradliniger Action-Manier den vielfältigen Gegnern Saures zu geben. Sporadisch tauchen gelbe Kügelchen auf - sammelt man diese ein, heisst's "Power up!", und der Recke wird um eine ganze Ecke kräftiger. Der Höhepunkt jedes Levels ist die Verwandlung in ein Fabelwesen (Werwolf, Drache, Bär, oder Tiger), das es dank besonderer Fähigkeiten mit den eindrucksvollen Schlussmonstern aufnehmen kann. Ist das Vieh erledigt, muss man seine Kraft-Kügelchen (drei Stück benötigt man wieder zur Verwandlung) wieder an Papa Zeus zurückgeben und in neuer Umgebung von vorne anfangen.

Man sieht: Das Spielprinzip war von jeher nicht das hellste. Das Game lebt vielmehr von der Präsentation, und genau da hapert es bei der Amiga-Version. Viele der ursprünglichen Features, wie z.B. die Darstellung der Verwandlungen oder die gruselige Stimmausgabe, fehlen und hinterlassen eine klaffende Lücke! Ansonsten ist die Grafik gehobener Standard, nur leider teilweise ein bisschen groß und unübersichtlich. Die Joystick-abfrage ist jedoch schrecklich ungenau, die Kollisions-abfrage eine mittlere Katastrophe! Häufig schwebt das eigene Sprite zwischen zwei Ebenen - nein, da hätten sich die Programmierer wirklich etwas mehr Mühe geben können!

Der Sound kommt an keiner Stelle über das Mittelmass hinaus, und auch die Spielbarkeit hat gelitten: Das Game ist zwar jetzt um vieles schneller als auf der Konsole, und es tauchen pro Level auch mehr Gegner auf, aber dank der miserablen Steuerung ist Treffen reine Glückssache. No Sir, für den Amiga gibt es haufenweise bessere Actionspiele - wer dennoch meint, dass er ohne Altered Beast nicht mehr leben kann, sollte ein paar Hunderter drauflegen und das Mega Drive gleich mitkaufen! (ml)

Altered Beast logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £24.95

PC Show time always heralds the appearance of many new titles and last minute deadlines for the software houses. Hot off the mastering machine is Altered Beast, due on the shelves around the time of this issue and certainly as impressive.

You start the game not having to worry too much about your health - actually, you're dead and not really much use to anybody. That is until the wholesome wizard interferes with your decomposition and reanimates you as his side kick. You climb out of the grave and start off in good stead for your quests.

If the forces of good can use corpses so can the bad guys. Thus the majority of your opponents on this first level are zombies. Thrown in is the occasional hell-hound: none are particularly dangerous and most oblige you by exploding into various bodily parts on contact with your fist or foot.

Now and then a flashing hound appears. Without a doubt, this is the central nasty in the game, kill one of these and then release small capsules which you have collected. The first makes you slightly tougher, the second turns you into a muscle man with a ferocious punch and kick; the third transforms you from man to beast. Apart from looking spectacularly cool in your new form you also lay claim to many new powers.

On level one you become a wolf man and throw small fireballs and transform yourself into one big fireball. Enter level two as the electric dragon, firing electricity bolts and using an energy shield; the hair bears feature on level three with a smile on the face, fatal breath, and an awesome jump. Level four marks the return of the wolf man.

At the end of each level is the evil wizard who transforms into a huge creature with the customary magician's puff of smoke. All it takes is a hefty pounding to reduce him to a pile of dust.

Each one of the five levels has a high standard of graphics, although several frames of animation have been sacrificed per character. But it nevertheless retains the overall look of the arcade game very well. The main tune is a very apt thumping soundtrack which fits the mood well.

All things considered, with the difficult nature of the conversion, Activision have done a sterling job in retaining all the original features - and the two player mode makes for a very neat conversion.

Altered Beast logo

Activision, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Meow! Woof! Baa! Moo! - ever felt like an animal? Well you should, as a human (we're assuming ZZAP! Isn't read by two-headed aliens from the planet Zlod!) you are technically an animal! But seriously, everyone must have wondered what it would be like to be a fire-snorting dragon or a bear without a sore head.

Well, let me tell you, it's not what it's cracked up to be. The mighty Zeus has decided reincarnate a Roman Centurion (you) to rescue the beautiful Athena (didn't she have a game of her own?!) from the clutches of the evil Nelf, Lord of the Underworld. To help you in your quest Zeus has given you the power to transform into various super-powered animals.

One or two players can take on Nelf's nasties on five horizontally scrolling levels in this conversion of a Sega coin-op. Starting off as a mere mortal, you must punch and kick the baddies which range from men to hopping and flying demons. Occasionally a wolf will appear - when killed it leaves behind a 'spirit ball' (two on Amiga - collect three (six - Amiga) of these and you will metamorphose into, depending on the level, a Werewolf, Dragon, Bear, Tiger, or Golden Wolfman. Each of these creatures has special weapons; for instance the dragon snorts fire while the bear kills with its bad breath!

At the end of each level there's a huge monster. Beat this and you will be transported to the next level, though to make it harder you are first changed back into a man.

Robin Hogg I can't understand how Activision could have made such a stupid mistake with the Amiga conversion. Unlike the coin-op and the 64 version, the two players are absolutely identical, making two-player games totally confusing! Otherwise, on both machines, the graphics are fine although never really spectacular. The kick and punch gameplay is fun, but except for defeating the large nasties, that's basically all there is to it.
I found the 64 game to be marginally the more playable of the two (especially for two players), making better use of the machine, although the multiload is a pain.
Stuart Wynne I've played Altered in the arcades, on the Megadrive and now on the two Commodores, but none of them really shine. On the C64 gameplay is a bit sluggish, but otherwise this is a fine version. By contrast the Amiga is so fast all the baddies can get overwhelming and the end-of-level monsters seem to take ages to destroy. Also, the identical sprites in two-player mode is a classic mistake. Still, a fine effort from Activision for a repetitive coin-op.