Brian and Ray discuss Altered Beast and it’s role in shaping the brawler genre and giving all of us the true Arcade experience in the home for the first time.
Note* This episode was meant to be our pilot and the recording is bad. This has been fixed for future recordings, but sorry about the quality on this one!
Altered Beast – 1988
One of the first Beat um Ups
First Game to feature fist fighting was Heavyweight Champ in 1976 by Sega (Arcade)
Data East’s Karate Champ was first popular martial arts themed game in 1984 (Arcade)
Irem’s (still develops for Playstation) Kung Fu Master in 1984 introduced side scrolling (Arcade, NES in 1985)
Karateka in 1984 (Jordan Mechner at Yale Univeristy) combined Karate Champ style combat with Kung Fu Master style side scrolling and introduced a plot for the first time in the genre (Amstrad CPC, Apple II,Atari 8-bit, Atari 7800,Atari ST, Commodore 64,DOS, Famicom,ZX Spectrum, MSX, NintendoGame Boy (Original)
Taito’s Renegade (Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, westernized sprites) Introduced combos, enemies with damage meters, and introduced street brawling to the genre. (Arcade, Amiga,Amstrad CPC, Apple II,Atari ST, Commodore 64,MS-DOS, NES,Sega Master System,Virtual Console,ZX Spectrum)
Renegade’s Spiritual Succesor is Double Dragon (1987) which continues the Renegade trend with refined combos and damage meters.
Renegade is considered the start to the Golden Age of Beat Um Ups
Golden Axe and Final Fight were released in 1989. Both after Altered Beast.
(Info from Wikipedia)
Notable Games Released in 1988
Star Wars – Commodore 64, Arcade
Super Mario Bros 3 – NES (1990 in US)
Splatterhouse – Arcade Sega Genesis
Snatcher – PC
Metal Gear – NES
Mega Man 2 – NES
Phanty Star – Sega Master System
Zelda II – NES
Assault – Arcade
What did Altered Beast Introduce?
Power ups and Transformations! First beat um up to use power ups to reach a transformation completely changing gameplay (the way you can attack enemies changes with each powerup, thusly every powerup changes the way you can approach enemies).
Continues the Sega tradition of the Mega Boss (starting the Space Harrier) and introduces it to the Beat ‘em Up genre.
Introduces fantasy and mythos to the beat ‘em up genre. Very unique in beat em ups.
Use of voice sampling and parallax scrolling (on the genesis) were the first uses in the genre sprite scalling.
Altered Beast was developed by Sega DD (Developmet Division) #3 headed by Rikiya Nakagawa.
The same group is responsible for the Shinobi Series and Alien Storm
In 1990 Sega reorganized and expanded upon their R&D studios, and the Consumer Divisions and Development Divisions were all now renamed to Sega-AM Teams (Amusement Machine Research & Development Teams).
Sega DD #3 was renamed to Sega AM1 still headed under Rikiya Nakagawa.
Went on to produce Golden Axe (Golden Axe 2 was developed by the AM7 team), Indy 500 and Wave Runner, House of the Dead Series, and Dynamite Cop and Die Hard Arcade.
In 2003-2004 AM1 members moved over to WOW Entertainment following the merger of Sega and Sammy. And subsequently left Sega under rumors of being unhappy with the merger, now with Namco-Bandai? Internet trail goes cold.
Other Notable Team members that followed Rikiya.
Makoto Uchida – Designer (same games as Rikiya)
Rieko Kodama – Artist (also invloved with Phantasy Star, Sonic and Skies of Arcadia)
Kazuhiko Nagai – Composer (Space Harrier, Phantasy Star II, Michael Jackson Moonwalker)
Link to screenshots of versions of Altered Beast