Kid Chameleon is a platform game in the tradition of the Super Mario series, borrowing a lot from the famous Italian plumber: floating blocks that hold power-ups and coins (actually, in this game they are diamonds), flags marking the end of levels, even bouncing on top of enemies. The similarities end there, however. Kid distinguishes himself with the ability to transform into new creatures with special powers.
Each power-up lets you perform new moves and gain special abilities: a knight helmet increases Kid’s health and allows him to scale walls; a samurai helmet turns him into a high-jumping, sword slashing feudal warrior; and a hockey mask changes him into an axe throwing maniac, not unlike Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. There are twelve different power-ups in total, ranging from the strange (shrinking to a fly that can “stick” to nearly any surface), to the truly bizarre (a gorilla driven tank that fires skulls). All of these power-ups can help you solve certain puzzles within each level so you can reach the flag. There are also multiple paths to take by flying, climbing, or breaking down walls. Time is a factor as well. You start with three minutes to clear a level, but can add two minutes with every clock power-up you find. While some levels may only last a minute, others seem so enormous that you’ll be baffled on how to get through them. There’s nothing worse than seeing the flag with only two seconds left, because if time runs out, you lose a life.
The enemies are as wacky as the power-ups. Detached hands will crawl and grab onto you, slowing you down until they disappear, lions will toss fireballs, and giant boulders on wheels will fire cannons. (That’s a few of the normal ones!). The boss will also appear at various points throughout the game, resembling an ancient tribal warrior–without a body. An enormous head (or multiple heads) will attack you and to defeat it you must either bounce on it several times or use your character’s weapons. Whenever an enemy makes contact with you, a life point is lost, and once they are all gone, you revert back to Kid. There are also “environmental” dangers such as spikes, acid pools and bottomless pits which will quickly take your life if you’re not careful.
Perhaps the greatest part of the game is the sheer size of it–it’s huge! There are over 100 levels and there’s no password or battery to save your progress. Fortunately, you can find shortcuts that will advance you to different levels in the game. The problem is, they can also warp you back several levels. There are often multiple flags within each level, but to get to these locations you usually need a certain power-up. Of course, finding it can be an adventure by itself…
Kid Chameleon seamlessly melds platform, puzzle and action elements to create an absorbing experience all its own. The game may not have a certain blue rodent or cute sidekick, but what it lacks in flash is more than made up in gameplay.
The game’s graphics actually get better as you progress through the game. Kid Chameleon looks like a baby Arthur Fonzarelli, and has very awkward looking jumps. Fortunately, you don’t play as the Kid very much!
The music and sound effects are very offbeat. The boss repeatedly says “die!” and Kid will say “bummer!” now and then. Each transformation has a funny little sound–my favorite being the fly. There’s an evil little laugh that makes me smile every time.
This game is packed with fun characters and great puzzles. The only downside is that there isn’t a password or save feature. But hey, that’s part of the challenge! The ending is very anticlimactic considering all you have to do to get there.
Secrets, hidden power-ups, 100 levels and over 1000 screens means there is a lot to see in this cartridge.
The manual explains everything you need to know.