View Full Version : Altered Beast (Genesis/Megadrive )

09-21-2016, 01:28 PM
Sega 16 Altered Beast High Scores
Normal/Default settings: 1 credit, 3 life bars, normal difficulty

High Scores:
1st: 2,029,300 points - 11/03/20 - SEGA-Jorge

Score: 871,000
Setting: default

High Scores Outside Sega-16
Twin Galaxies: https://www.twingalaxies.com/game/altered-beast/sega-genesis-sega-mega-drive/ntsc-points/
1st: CKW - 4,713,800
2nd: Lee Venteicher - 4,682,500
3rd: Estel J Goffinet - 1,293,400

- 1st encounter bonus (first encounter w/Neff per/level gets the 100,000 point bonus)
- Note: Genesis Altered Beast loops from Normal->Hard->Hardest then loops on Hardest difficulty indefinitely.
- Edit: Loop life regen seems to work differently than I thought. This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the encounter bonus, it seems like you get whatever life blocks you had when you started stage 5. So, if you start stage 5 with 2 blocks, take damage, but win, you will start the next loop with 2 blocks. Still testing this out, but it seems to be accurate.
- I've read that doing something during the credits will do some sort of bonus for the next loop. I haven't been able to activate anything of the sort.

Rise From Your Grave! Tracking Edits! (Edit: 11/03/2020)
- Added info on Screen Scroll
- Added enemy behaviors Section
- Updated bumping info.

- Added Training/Practice Section
- Added Options/codes overview

General Strategy
Altered Beast is an arcade game, through and through. As such fast gameplay is rewarded handsomely (as coin-op devs focused on drop (How much money a cabinet made over time)) so the fastest path in each of the five levels rewards the player with the highest bonuses. That being said, getting the 3 orbs needed to transform is generally harder in the first section/path of each level, and maximizing score in the first path while grabbing all the orbs is generally the most challenging aspect of Altered Beast. Let's looks at what the level path breakdowns are, to help illustrate the high-scoring strategy:

Each level provides the player with 3 chances to fight Neff. Each opportunity is presented with a path or section of enemy patterns, some obstacles, and opportunities to gather orbs. If the player has transformed before meeting Neff, they can challenge Neff. Each path gets more challenging, and will provide more enemies, obstacles, and chances to transform, but the bonus the player gets is reduced at each encounter.

Level Example: Level 1 - Graveyard
|Start Path 1| --> Enemies (Slow Feet/Headless Horrors/Grave Masters/Skinny Orcuses/Wolves) -- Obstacles (Grave Stones) -- |1st Encounter (100,000 Bonus) else: Go to Path 2|
|Start Path 2| --> Enemies (Slow Feet/Headless Horrors/Grave Masters/Skinny Orcuses/Wolves) -- Obstacles (Grave Stones/Tall Walls) -- |2nd Encounter [If transformed: Fight Aggar](50,000 Bonus) else: Go to Path 3|
|Start Path 3| --> Enemies (Slow Feet/Headless Horrors/Grave Masters/Skinny Orcuses/Wolves) -- Obstacles (Grave Stones/Tall Walls/Half Walls) -- |3rd Encounter [Fight Aggar](20,000 Bonus)

As you can see, each path will provide more enemies and stuff to do, and another opportunity to fight Neff. Due to the nature of the bonus structure, and the number and value enemy points, it's always in your best interest to fight Neff at the first encounter. This means a few things:

A good loop (Finishing the game start to end) means getting first encounter bonuses on every level. That means, 5 levels @ 100,000 pts. should net you 500,000 pts in bonus alone. Then you toss on your Path 1 enemy values. As you improve, the focus will be on guaranteeing first encounter level finishes, mitigating damage, and then finally, maximizing Path 1 enemy clearing. That means, a perfect run of any level is getting every enemy in Path 1 of any level, getting encounter 1 bonus, and taking no damage.

So all this means, Path 1 mastery on Normal, Hard, and Hardest difficulty settings. The idea it so try to reduce [I]any damage taken, and mitigate any bad positions, which will result in being hit multiple times (enemy player juggling, I call bump juggling) so that you can get as many loops as possible. There is no way to regain health, or earn additional lives, so, outside the end of game bonus that refills your life after a loop (which is somewhat finicky, but more on that later) you only get the 3 lives and maybe a life regen after beating a loop. (and that's a loose maybe...)

Maximizing Path 1 Score vs End of Round Bonuses
The simple answer to this is always, always prioritize getting the first encounter bonus. There is no amount of enemies you can defeat that could make up for the loss of the first encounter bonus. You can't make up the 50,000 point loss with enemy scoring in path 1 & 2 combined. So if you have any doubts about a particular enemy sequence, or your ability to get a perfect path 1 score on any particular level, just skip it, and go for the first encounter bonus. You don't want to risk the loss in points, or risk taking damage. Again, there is no way to make up health points, so avoid exchanges unless you're sure you know that sequence and can get out unscathed. Many of the highest scores are achieved by avoiding the sketchiest enemy groupings. (Especially in stage 3).

A Couple Notes on Orbs
- enemies don't pause after you collect orbs unless you're transforming into a beast. You'll go through the whole power-up transformation and they will keep moving. Time your transformations, but try not to lose the orbs. Otherwise, this can lead to enemy juggling, etc.
- you can move after collection ONLY in air. If you collect the orb in the air from a low jump or high hump or neutral jump, you can move and attack in the air on your decent. Use this time to position yourself on the stage, and try to clear the area around your landing, to make time for the power up animation. (always collect in air if possible)
- High jump if applicable to cover landing/transformation. this will give you the most time to see your area and move and attack. That being said, you can't attack on the way up on a high jump, so there is a trade off. At the peak of your high jump, you can attack and continue to attack and move, on the way down.
- You can try to high jump onto a platform and complete the transformation above the stage surface. Most places don't allow this in Path one, but open up to more vertical stage layouts in paths 2 and 3 (stages 1, 3, 4, and all of 5)

Some Info on Damage
The damage system in Altered Beast can be a little confusing. Since there are very few ways to truly test every scenario, and get a complete idea of how health and damage works, I will just share what I've been able to gather:
The default system starts the player off with 3 blue health blocks. Each block can be depleted by getting hit by enemies. Each block of life can cycle through 4 stages, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Red. Each enemy has various moves that cause a part of a block of damage, up to a whole block. Losing a block will cause a knockdown. Standing up from the knockdown you are vulnerable to more hits, and "Bumps".

Bumps happen when you touch an enemy, but they are not attacking. Walking into a wolf, walking into a non-attacking Headless Horror, Etc. Some enemies seem like they are almost always in an attack state, and will seemingly cause damage just by touching them. Bumps are problematic because you can't move while you are being bumped, it can shove you into other enemies, who will either hit you, or, due to proximity, bump you. If you are between two enemies, a bump will most certainly lead to damage, as you will simply be juggled ("Bump Juggling") between them till one or both enemies enter an attack state, at which point you'll take damage. You can be bumped out of the air as well, additionally, non-attacking air enemies will bump you, and the air bumps will leave you immobilized till you reach the ground. If you hit another enemy on the way down, they'll bump you, if you run into an enemy in their attack state and make contact with their hit box, you'll take damage. (You can totally be bumped from the air, into hits...)

Some enemies will not damage you on contact, but will not register bumps in the same way. For example: A wolf that is not in an attack (its movement is also it's attack (leap?)) but if you walk into it while it's just standing in its neutral state, you will receive a bump, but the wolf won't budge. Alternatively, a Headless Horror, in this same scenario, will exchange bumps with you. (You will both go into recoils.) I will eventually notate which enemies behave like this. It's good info to know. (For example, you can bump Round Leaches in Stage 2!)

Bumps are essentially what makes Altered Beast seem broken or "cheap" to novice players. Getting bumped will, in most cases, lead to bumps, and the pushback on bumps and general close proximity of enemy groupings make bump juggles and bump combos almost inevitable. Try not to get bumped, and keep the area around the player free of enemies, as getting bumped into them will just turn into guaranteed damage.

Enemy Attacks and Attack Combos
Enemies will attack often. They cycle through attack phases based on range, player position (standing/crouching like the Grave Master) and off of basic timers. Some enemies will cause knockdown after certain amounts of hits (Headless Horrors will knock you down after 3 punches) and some enemies will knockdown on hit (Slow Feet explosion move) Additionally, all hits just cause damage and a hit stun that is treated like a mini-bump. That means you can get absolutely mauled in groups of enemies, as you will can take damage in a bump, and that bumps you. A pack of Headless Horrors can theoretically wreck your life bar very quickly. All hit you take, you take damage from, unless you are in a falling/knockdown state, which happens from certain moves, or when an enemy hits you a certain amount of times. It's just a theory, but I also think that some enemy moves will randomly knock the player down.

Attack Timing
All attacks in Altered beast share a similar attack timing behavior, which slightly punishes mashing. The trick to faster attacks is cadence. All the moves have a cadence, and you can get the most out of all the attacks by finding all their particular rhythms. There is slight variance between all levels of centurion, for example, as well as well as for all specials for the Beasts. Experiment with each attack, and learn the timing to get the fastest attacks. Remember, if your next attack is too early, you drop the next input entirely, and you will get a really slow subsequent attack. Conversely, if you do it too late, you will have gaps between attacks. Just like a fighting game, you want to get the next attack just as the initial attack is finishing.

Movement & Gameplay Strategy
Altered Beast seems really straightforward and easy to play. It is incredibly simple on the surface, and although it's not a complex game, as far as its requirements for difficult timing or technique execution, there are some things to keep in mind. First, the player has a range of moves at their disposal in Centurion mode. Keep in mind that Centurion mode is broken into 3 levels, and as you play, you actually spend almost all your time in one of those 3 levels, then transform into a Beast form. (all of which have their own quirks)

So a good mastery of all the moves available in centurion mode is essential to expediting Beast mode, and thereby beating levels quickly. That requires learning the mid-level and advanced stuff you can do in centurion mode. We'll break it down into the following techniques I believe are important to know. I made up names for most this stuff, so you may already do some of these things, as a result of coming across them as you play, but I think giving them a name, and explaining what they are and where you can use them will be helpful.

Centurion Levels
The Centurion levels up twice before transforming into a beast mode. The default mode, or centurion, is the level you start off each stage at, with no orbs. This I just centurion or centurion level 1. As you collect orbs you can get to centurion level 2 (Giant Man), and Centurion Level 3 (Super Man). Each level increases the size of the centurion, making him a bigger target. Speed stays generally the same, but range increases. Levels 2 and 3 introduce the blue fire or plasma effect on the all the attacks the centurion performs, and this effect I call power wave. This is a really important aspect of centurion level 2 and 3 to pay attention to, because it allows for some crazy techniques to be used. Additionally, the power wave causes more damage. You'll notice that 3-hit enemies will take 2 or 1 hit, based on your level, and for example, Slow Feet (basic zombies) will just explode on 1 hit, rather than take 2 or three hits to kill. Each enemy is different, and sometimes the damage can be inconsistent, or will not result in a kill, but for the most part, you will do way more damage. (In the arcade version of Altered Beast, this was even more apparent, as the base enemies had variants, so a normal Slow Feet took 2-3 hits with a level 1 centurion, but a brown Slow Feet in stage 4 could take up to 5 at times. Note: Enemies don't seem to have levels/variants in the Genesis port of Altered Beast, unfortunately.)

Centurion Level I (Centurion)
- No power wave
- smallest hit box

Centurion Level II (Giant Man)
- Power Wave
- Medium hit box
- Cause more damage

Centurion Level III (Super Man)
- Power Wave
- Large Hit box
- Longer Range attacks
- Cause even more damage
- Is slightly slower, as some attack sequences and techniques like Creeping Wave are far less viable. Windows for timed sequences, (faster attacks) feel shorter, as such, sequences just feel more porous. (lots of time between moves)

Movement Key
Standard Genesis A-B-C
P - Punch
K - Kick
J - Jump
st. - Standing
cr. - Crouching
j. - Jumping
hj. - High Jumping
sj. - Short/low Jumping (light taps!)

Movement Techniques - Centurion Mode
Low Jumping: Low Jumping is exactly what it sounds like. Low height jumps. They allow the centurion to move around the screen faster, while having options. When the centurion is walking, he only has access to his neutral attacks, (standing punch/kick crouching punch kick) but when he is jumping he has access to movement and fast attacks. Low jumping is accomplished by just tapping the jump button. The lighter the better. Low jumping is the first thing you need to learn to get better at Altered Beast. It opens up the game quite a bit, speeds up the action, and presents more options for movement, attacking, and power wave positioning.

High Jumping

Neutral Ranging
High-Jump Rapid Fire Attacks
Low-Jump Rapid Fire Attacks

Power Wave Shenanigans
The power wave appears as a blue aura around all the centurions attacks. They cause more damage, and the power wave dissipates over time. This is a very powerful aspect of the move, because the centurion can move around a bit while the power wave dissipates. This allows for a lot of offensive and defensive techniques that can be utilized by taking advantage of the window of time after an attack finishes and when a power wave completely disappears.

Movement During Dissipation
All moves j./st./cr.p/k power waves dissipate with recovery frames, and with most of them, you still have time to move.

Crouching Up Kick
- cr.k (up kick) allows fast recovery, so you can set power wave shield that can protect you from above (stop Skinny Orcuses or maybe the stage 4 Hammer Demons as Level 3 centurion)

Crouching Punch
- cr.p is the fastest grounded move. It's also the shortest range, and fastest start-up.
- cr.p allows for "Creeping Wave". Crouch, punch, stand, walk, crouch, punch. Really fast. It's an advancing low-height wave that recovers really fast.

Standing Kick
- one of the slowest recovery moves, but allows for a really far range power wave, and you can still move a little bit after. Time it right, and some enemies can walk into it. (Slow Feet, Grave Masters, Etc.)
- st.k allows for "far power wall" scenarios if you can get the walk away or immediately jump away from the move. Some enemies will just stop. (Headless Horrors, some Grave Masters) and this allows you to move, especially if you low jump away from the move.

Low Jump Kick
- n.sj.k(power wave) -> fade (jumping away): If you do a neutral low/short jump, immediately kick, then pull away from the target, you'll effectively fade away from them, leaving the power wave floating in air. You can still attack while you fade, it's a powerful set up for when you are surrounded.
- n.sj.p(power wave) -> high fade (jumping away): Same as above, but for enemies in the air, or who will be descending into the power wave.

Helpful Attack Sequences
Some moves complement one another, either by hiding their start up frames behind power waves, or allowing you to control ranges with the power waves. Experiment with sequences to find some simple waves to put as much plasma on the screen as possible.
- s.k -> cr.p : This covers the recovery of the standing kick while moving the next power wave just a bit back. covers a lot of the lower area in directly in front of the centurion.
- cr.k -> cr.p : Mentioned above. Timing is tight, but you can cr.k (up kick) and cover the area above your head and immediately go into cr.p. This puts plasma up above, and directly in front.
- st.p (repeated)
- cr.p (repeated)
- st.p -> st.k
- st.k -> st.p

Enemy Point Values (From the Instruction Manual)
Round 1:
Slow Feet: 100 pts
Headless Horrors: 100 pts
Skinny Orcuses: 500 pts
Grave Masters: 300 pts
Three-Headed Wolves: 1000 pts

Aggar (Boss): Based on encounter timing
1st encounter: 100,000 pts
2nd encounter: 50,000 pts
3rd encounter: 20,000 pts

Round 2:
Round Leeches: 100 pts
Chicken Stingers: 300 pts
Rattle Tail: 500 pts (same value for tail kill & head kill?)
Three-Headed Wolves: 1000 pts

Octeyes (Boss): Based on encounter timing
1st encounter: 100,000 pts
2nd encounter: 50,000 pts
3rd encounter: 20,000 pts

Round 3:
Cave Needles: 100 pts
Chicken Stingers: 300 pts
Rock Turtles: 500 pts
Grave Masters: 300 pts
Fossils: 0 pts
Three-Headed Wolves: 1000 pts

Moldy Snail (Boss): Based on encounter timing
1st encounter: 100,000 pts
2nd encounter: 50,000 pts
3rd encounter: 20,000 pts

Round 4:
Slow Feet: 100 pts
Headless Horrors: 100 pts
Chicken Stingers: 300 pts
Grave Masters: 300 pts
Three-Headed Wolves: 1000 pts
Hammer Demons: 500 pts

Crocodile Worm (Boss): Based on encounter timing
1st encounter: 100,000 pts
2nd encounter: 50,000 pts
3rd encounter: 20,000 pts

Round 5:
Saw Fishes: 100 pts
Gory Goats: 200 pts
Rad Boars: 500 pts
Dark Unicorn: 300 pts
Skinny Orcuses: 500 pts
Three-Headed Wolves: 1000 pts

Neff (Boss): Based on encounter timing
1st encounter: 100,000 pts
2nd encounter: 50,000 pts
3rd encounter: 20,000 pts

Some Notes on the Auto Scroll/ "The Screen Scroll" (Observations on the scrolling behavior of the game, Please feel free to correct/add etc...)
Altered Beast is a 2D action platformer/beat 'em up, but it has an automatically scrolling screen. This means that the player has options and things they can do, but the pace of the game is governed by the scrolling auto screen behavior. There are a few things to note about the Screen Scroll that may help reduce some of the random nature of enemy behaviors and help demystify some of the nuaunces of Altered Beast's pacing.

Screen Scroll speeds
There are different Screen Scroll speeds in Altered Beast. They work in unison to help tie game play together. The following information aims to clarify some of the details regarding the Screen Scroll behavior.
Base Screen Scroll Speed
This is the normal pace the screen scrolls. It's slower than the Player walks, so the player can get from end to end, but it will keep scrolling.

Transition Screen Scroll Speed
This is the speed that the Screen Scroll uses to move from engagement to engagement. The game is constantly trying to move the player to the next enemy/obstacle grouping, ending finally at a Neff meeting. This transitional speed connects transitions between groupings. You'll notice this as sort of jerking speed-up of the Screen Scroll. That's the game moving you onto the next "scene", which will engage the Base Screen Scroll Speed.

Scroll Behavior
The Screen is gonna scroll. It's doing almost everything it can to scroll, and only a couple things will stop it from scrolling:
- Neff: Neff is the the goal of the Screen Scroll. It's just trying to push you down the current stage path to meet Neff, at which point you either collected 3 Orbs, and will fight Neff, of enter the next stage phase and continue on the next part of the path. While you meet with Neff, the Screen Scroll will stop. Neff will shoot electricity, and then the scroll will continue if you haven't transformed.

- Max Enemy Threshold. The screen will stop scrolling if there are 4 or more enemies on the screen. Once that threshold drops, the screen scroll is set back to Base Screen Scroll Speed. This means that there are some scenarios where you the player can lock the game down. In the first level, for example, prior to the first meeting with Neff, there is a way to bump Headless Horrors so that the screen only has 4 Headless Horrors on screen. The Screen Scroll locks. If you crouch, the Headless Horror can't hit you, they won't bump you, and if you don't kill any of them, the screen will not scroll. There are other places the player could do this, but it's really, really infrequent, and tends to require killing off certain enemies.

- There are some safeguards in place to stop permanent Scroll Lock. For Example: As mentioned above, in stage one, you can force Scroll Lock with the Headless Horrors, after some time, ANY movement other than crouching will randomly cause damage to 1 or more of the enemies, eventually killing them and restarting Base Screen Scroll. This is more than likely similar to the safeguards that the arcade had, which helped make sure the cab couldn't be locked up/left in a a quasi-paused state. These all help the arcade game maintain its established pace manage coin drop efficiency.

- An enemy can walk off the screen, but still count toward the Max Enemy Threshold. If the screen is Scroll Locked, but there is less than 4 enemies on the screen, one of the enemies is just off-screen, and will be cleared after a couple seconds.

- Lots of enemy types will be on the screen momentarily. The Rattle Tails in Stage 2, Cave Needles in stage 3, etc. They are enemies that are on screen for a bit, then either leave, or are destroyed by the player. They can cause Scroll Lock, but will take a second to clear from the Max Enemy Threshold value. (For example, the Cave Needles in Stage 3 will run themselves into pits if left alone. They will cause Scroll Lock, due to their groupings, but will be cleared from the Max Enemy Threshold once they fall in the pits and are no longer registered once the game checks enemy counts again.)

Fun Design Note: This is also a reason Slow Feet (basic zombies) pop. As they appear in groups, they could theoretically lock the screen right away, (and they do on the first level, especially on Hard/Hardest, where there are more of them) and they will pop on contact to both cause damage, and reduce their numbers to potentially reset the screen scroll. This is a benefit, as this would move the player into oncoming enemies (the leftover Slow Feet) that will blow up on contact. Altered Beast is a master class in good arcade game design.

Misc. Enemy Notes (Things I've noticed. Please feel free to correct/add etc...)
Slow Feet - The basic zombie
- They take 2 hits, unless you're at Centurion Lv. 2, in which case, they'll take 1 hit.
- They take 2 hits of fireball damage (Wolf/Tiger)
- They take 1 hit of sub attack (Wolf/Tiger)
- They don't stop walking if you punch/kick in front of them. This means they will walk into floating power waves.
- The Explosion/Self Destruct will knock you down because it will cause a whole block of life.
- The Explosion/Self Destruct will still activate if you are in the air, and still cause knockdown and damage.
- The Explosion/Self Destruct will activate if you jump over them.
- Falling over them, as in being knocked into your downed state, but being tossed over a Slow Feet will not activate self destruct.
- You get no points for a slow foot that self destructs. That means, if you hit them once, and they don't die, then they self destruct, you get nothing.
- When a Grave Stone shows up, it may contain a Slow Feet. Don't break it. You get no points for a Grave Stone.
- Bumping a Slow Feet will activate their self destruct move, so try not to get bumped within groups, they'll all pop. (Pop does 1 block of damage!)
- Punches and Kicks carry damage across all Slow Feet in a group, so you can use Kicks/Hop Kicks, etc. to try to damage multiple Slow Feet in a group.
- If a Slow Feet is glowing to blow up, they always only take 1 hit to kill prior to explosion. They are still worth the same score (100pts)
- Slow Feet always move toward you. They never run away, they never pause. If you attack/jump/turn away/duck, they will just keep coming. This is important because...
- IF a Slow Feet spawns behind you, they will be walking to the right, still towards the player, but they will behave differently:
--- Slow Feet walking to the right of the screen toward the player will turn around if you jump. That means jumps/high jumps/and hops all make the Slow Feet turn and walk away from the player, but will turn back toward the player once you land. Use this knowledge to get slow feet to move away. (in the event you are trying to relieve pressure) This also works in groups. (the whole group will turn away)
- Slow Feet that turn and walk the opposite direction, do so slower than you can repeatedly short hop, which means, you can walk them off the screen by just hopping. Don't do this. But you could if you had to.
- Slow Feet walking right walk at screen scroll speed. (same speed the screen scrolls)
- Slow Feet Walking right will turn around if the player gets knocked down
- Slow Feet Walking right will turn away if the player collects and orb (during transformation)
- Slow Feet Walking right may turn away and walk off screen after a Neff transition. sometimes won't follow you from one stage phase into another. (If you don't have 3 orbs when you meet Neff, he'll leave, if a Slow Feet is on the screen, he might leave, assuming he can do so without running into the player.) (I think this can trigger if the slow foot was already at the edge of the screen)
- Slow Feet Walking right will turn away if you are bumping Neff's electric attack prior to his transformation. (Slow Feet boogie!)

Headless Horrors - The punching zombie
- They take 2 hits, unless you're at Centurion Lv. 2, in which case, they'll take 1 hit.
- They take 2 hits of fireball damage (Wolf/Tiger)
- They take 1 hit of sub attack (Wolf/Tiger)
- They stop walking if you punch/kick in front of them. They will pause if there is a floating power wave. (You can't really walk them in power waves)
- They punch 2 times in their sequence
- They always walk away after 2 punches
- 2 Punches will knock the player down
- You can crouch the punches (they'll still play out the sequence, 2 X punch, walk back)
- If you eat the first punch, you can still crouch the second punch (They don't combo)
- If you eat the first punch, you can smother the second by just walking into them and bumping.
- The player can walk a Headless Horror back by crouching the punch sequence, walking, then crouching. The Headless Horror will not advance on a player in front of them that is crouching, or force a bump.
- The player can bump a Headless Horror and recover first, crouch and punish the punch sequence after.

Options Menus and Practice (Some ways to use the options menus in Altered Beast to make stage mastery easier)
One of the things I find really interesting about Altered Beast is the inclusion of the various Options menus. Most of the games that came after Altered Beast would have what many Sega Genesis fans considered standard options menu controls, but prior to games likes Altered Beast, they were infrequently as robust. Quite a bit of the options menus in Altered Beast MD are quite similar to basic dip switches on an arcade. Dip switches allowed arcade staff to quickly and easily change certain parameters for arcade games to help optimize coin drop. Simple options like how many credits it took to start or continue, sound volume, sound during demo/attract modes, game difficulty, timers, etc. were often controlled by physical dip switches on arcade boards at the time Altered Beast was made. Many of the options in Altered Beast function similarly, but also include some really helpful options that will make practicing specific levels and scenarios quite a bit easier. The way I practice stuff is very much based around playing on real hardware, with no access to emulator tools, like save states, etc. So there are quite a few better tools available in emulators and flash carts that would more than likely make practice easier, (save states of specific enemy patterns/engagements/boss fights @ specific health levels, etc.) but I will go over what the game has available by default, and how to maximize use of those options.

Codes for Options Menus
All these codes can be entered at the title screen. Holding the corresponding buttons/directionals while the Sega logo is on the screen still registers the codes, so this makes for faster use. (good for rapid continues/resets to continues...) Additionally, all your scores, options, etc. are stored when you die, and even when you reset the console. So you don't have to continually reset options between practice sessions.

Continue - A + Start
This is a simple continue from where you last died option. It will just dump you right back to the beginning of the last stage you were at. If you have options set in the options menu, those options will take effect, otherwise, you'll continue at the beginning of the stage with a reset score and the same health/lives you began the stage with. This code is also used in combination with the options menu to simply start at any stage you want, by selecting it in the options menu, and then exiting and starting the game with this code.

Options Menu - B + Start
This is the main options menu. The options in this menu are simple, but in combination, you can set a good range of scenarios to help practice specific stages with specific settings. The options in the menu are as follows:

You can select which round to start from out of a total of 5.

Level (game difficulty)
You can set the difficulty of the game. Keep in mind, there is a difficulty/loop logic that will increase difficulty after each loop is completed. If you start on Normal, the next loop will be on Hard, then Hardest, then loop on Hardest indefinitely. I've read that loops on Hardest will toss in random elements, which are basically just enemies in levels that should be there. (Leeches in Stage 4, etc.) I've not seen too many crazy things in hardest, but I plan to eventually test this with an emulator and save states, and see if I can loop a good number of times in Hardest to get an idea of what kind of changes to expect.

Power (Health Blocks)
You can set the number of Health Blocks you start with. 3 is default, you can set it up to 5. This will change your Health Max. If you die, your starting life points will be this value. This is helpful for adding some challenge to the game, or for just practicing specific scenarios.

Some Fun Codes

Beast Select A+B+C + Down/Left + Start
Select what beast you turn into for each stage. Just a code for fun, but it does help change stuff up. This is the code that M2 used to make the Beast Randomization on the 3DS port of this game possible. It's fun.

Sound Test A+C + Up/Right + Start
Basic sound test. All the songs, sound effects, and voices can be fiddled with. There's some great sounds in here that weren't used that are just really good examples of how well the Genesis can recreate these iconic arcade sounds. Bonus, See if you can spot the Hokuto No Ken/Last Battle sound effect hiding in there!

Practice Notes
The use of the codes above allow for some pretty helpful practice tools. Using the options menu and continue tools allow you to set up specific scenarios to practice. Often, a good run on any stage requires Path 1 memorization and optimization. Again, that means, getting as many points on the first phase of a stage by killing all the enemies that appear, and getting all the orbs. This will trigger the boss fight for that stage on the first meeting with Neff and net you the largest stage bonus. (100,000 pts) This generally means being able to flawlessly run the first branch of a stage while juggling maximizing points and grabbing the orbs. This sounds easy, but keep in mind, any damage or bumps you take can often ruin a run. Missing a wolf or mid-level enemy will take a toll on your stage score, but also potentially cause damage. As you can never regain health, that damage follows you into the next stages, but also the next loops. Perfecting the path 1/phase 1 layouts is crucial to maximizing loop scores. Each difficulty will have slightly different layouts for each path, more enemies, and less room for error. After a couple loops on Hardest you're pretty much winging it. There will be your normal Hardest layouts, with random enemies tossed in to throw you off. Some of the setups may result in scenarios where you simply can't avoid damage, or in order to do so, you'll have to not get maximum points, or worse yet, need to skip getting the stage bonus and opt to fight on the next Neff meeting. You'll have to gauge what is the best course of action in these situations, but taking damage is almost always a gamble. Then again, you'll know your path 1 layouts for most of the stages, but no one is really practicing path 2/3 layouts, so you'll be winging those too. Altered Beast can be tough...

So, a good example I like to use is maximizing score on Stage 3 - The Cave. This stage is problematic because it's where most players will take damage, but more importantly, it's the only stage with bottomless pits. That means bumps, mistakes, missed short hops, etc. can lead to falling into a pit and losing a life, which is really, really bad in AB. I tend to run practice sessions in this stage to maximize phase 1 scores. So the settings for this would be:

In Options Menu:
Stage: 3
Level: Hardest
Power: 2
Lives: 0

Then I just start the game with the Continue Code (A+Start). This is a quick way to just drill this stage in a high pressure scenario. (No Health, last life, on Hardest. This is a scenario that WILL happen in score runs)
This essentially allows me to hammer out approaches to enemies, groupings, etc. Find out what triggers specific enemy spawns, and to figure out my timing for collecting orbs. The goal is get as many points as possible while collecting all the orbs to meet Neff at the end of phase 1. At any point you can reset or die and just A+Start and try again. This is super fast as well, because AB allows you to skip the game over screen and Sega start up screen, so you can repeat this pretty quickly. The ideal end result is getting 100% of the available points and getting all the orbs in phase 1 in every stage. You can totally practice that with these tools.

It's important to consider that every score run devolves into the scenario above. You'll maximize scores till you reach your loop limit, or make mistakes, then you'll eventually get to the point where you're beating levels, but ultimately just starting a death march. There's a point where you're just beating levels on 1 block of health and zero lives, and how long you can keep that up will mean the difference between good and bad high-score runs. How well you can tackle each stage in this particular state is essential to hitting crazy scores.

Practice Notes: What to focus on?
All the practice sessions, and by that, I mean anything that is not an actual high-score run, should be generally done on the Hardest difficulty. The reason I believe this will have the most positive impact on your score runs because it's the difficulty you'll spend most your more time engaging during high-score attempts. Generally, an attempt starts at Normal, and increases to Hard, then Hardest. So as a player, you have about 2 loops of warm up then you are just looping Hardest as long as you can. Although, I totally believe a person could loop Hardest indefinitely, there are a lot of small details to juggle, and missing any of them on hardest results in stage bonus loss, or health loss, which will ultimately chip away at the player. So I believe all practice sessions should just be drilling of Hardest perfect clears, and stage-specific strategies for maximizing path/phase 1 enemy scores, memorizing wolf spawns, and learning all the enemy groupings. This will also allow for pretty quick Boss fight practice.

In summary:
- Practice on Hardest difficulty.
- Use options/continue codes to spot-check individual stages to perfect each stage phase 1 and boss runs.
--- In each stage learn your enemy spawns, orb collection points, traps and enemy groupings, and clean up your boss fights. Each stage focus should be no-damage runs first, and enemy score harvesting last. The points you get from enemy harvesting are not worth taking any damage, or risking missing the first encounter bonus with Neff, and some of those stage-specific score maximizing strats tend to open you up to quite a bit more risk.


10-27-2019, 05:43 PM
Trying to build up again after not playing for a long time. Still having a hard time looping passed the first round of Hardest runs. I get through loop 1 (Normal) and loop 2 (Hard), but once loop three starts, which is the first loop on hardest difficulty, any error can cause you to lose hit points. Most, if not all of my strats are working, as far as boss strats are concerned. But it's certainly a matter of simply not getting hit. I will be updating the first post with my current high score, and if anyone ever starts playing from this forum, post your scores up, and I will add them to the list.

Difficulty: Normal/Hard/Hardest - 2.60 loops (5 levels, so I died in stage 3)
1,315,900 points

11-02-2020, 08:40 PM
Hi Zilog... I bet you're feeling silly. :love:

Let's do some score runs!

11-03-2020, 12:55 AM
I updated the main Strategy Post.
- Added info on Screen Scroll
- Added enemy behaviors Section
- Updated bumping info.

- Added Training/Practice Section
- Added Options/codes overview

Special thanks goes out to ZilogandMoto for reminding me to keep adding to this guide.

11-03-2020, 10:14 PM
I'm at it again...

Difficulty: Normal/Hard/Hardest x 2 - 3.80 loops (5 levels, so I died at the stage 4 Boss)
2,029,300 points