Kid Chameleon (Sega Genesis) Review

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Kid Chameleon Review by The Every Gamer (November 2016)

Score: D-    (2.5/5)

   Ever had one of those games where you sit down and play for a while, only to turn off the TV and completely forget or regret what you just played? For me, Kid Chameleon is that very game. I had a Plug and Play Sega Mega Drive and this was one of the games included and I used to play it back in the days…and never finished it. I don’t know anyone who ever finished it, and there’s a reason why. Kid Chameleon, known in Japan as Chameleon Kid (カメレオンキッド), developed by Sega Technical Institute and published by Sega and was released in 1992 worldwide. Keep in mind that there is an old British comic strip called Kid Chameleon. So America, you like stealing stuff from us, first the name of Dennis the Menace, and now Kid Chameleon? DISGRACEFUL!!!

   As the story goes, an arcade has just been opened that has a Virtual Reality Arcade game and all the kids in town play it. However, children suddenly start to disappear; it seems they’ve been kidnapped by the Arcade game’s boss, Heady Metal, who managed to escape from his own AI and is going haywire. So it seems that no child could ever beat this guy…but, if you grew up in the 90’s and were considered uber-cool, you could do anything and barely get a scratch and The Kid is exactly that. He goes into the machine to defeat Heady Metal and save the kids. OOH The Kid, the 90’s stereotype, and it’s the sole reason why Sega and everyone else have forgotten you. Now according to some sites, his real name is in fact, Casey. However, that may not be the case since in the game, he’s just known as The Kid; he was named Casey in the British comic series Sonic the Comic. But even then, the character is with the times and that’s why he’s unappealing to most people today.

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   But when you think about it, this is a VR Arcade, we live in an age now where true Virtual Reality exists, and in Japan, there are plans for Virtual Reality Arcades and if successful, it could come to the west and Arcades may thrive again, though not in the way of yesteryear, but a more modern day version, so thank you Kid Chameleon for having a plot that’s ahead of its time.

   So you’re Kid Chameleon, and you journey around the game defeating enemies and turning into different heroes. The game has many similarities to your usual 2D Mario game, you run and jump on enemies or blocks to get gems or clocks and such to increase your timer and you platform around the place, so that part of the game isn’t too original.

   But the game does have something unique to it and it’s the masks. As I said, you’re able to turn into one of nine different heroes with their own abilities as well as a certain amount of health. You have the Iron Knight, a heavy git who can smash blocks and climb up walls. Red Stealth is basically the samurai man; he’s fast and uses a sword. Berserker, this Rhino-like man with a spikey helmet who can charge at enemies and break through tougher blocks. Maniaxe, who’s pretty much Rick from Splatterhouse, the hockey mask and all; but you have axes that you can throw at enemies, good for long-range combat. Juggernaut is some bloke in a tank and he shoots out skulls (I do have to say, that’s f****** cool), and it’s one of my favourite heroes in the game because of that…though he’s unable to get past declining tight places so I have to give it up to progress on…what a shame! There are more but these are the guys I played the most and this is where I talk about the next part: the levels.

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   So the game apparently has over 100 levels, based on the Sega Genesis cover. Though that may not be the case, so I’m going to break it down to make it easy to explain. There are 4 chapters with 14 levels each and each chapter ends with a boss. There are 32 mini-game levels, known as Elsewhere. To access them, you need to find a warp in a level. Sometimes, there will be levels that are very difficult to get to the exit, but there will be warps and you’ll go to an Elsewhere level, and go to that warp in that said level and you’ll be in another level in the next chapter. But continue on exploring and you’ll travel around different levels at complete random…well not so random, as you may remember how to get to a certain levels using a specific path, so the game is pretty much exploring until you get to the final boss…if you can get to the final boss, making the game artificially long and it’s something I don’t particularly like.

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   I mean, I have no problem with non-linear gameplay, but only when it’s done right, games like Terraria, Super Metroid, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, The Legend of Zelda, Out Run, Mega Man. Those examples are the best for non-linear gameplay, because even when you go to one path, you can go another one another day and you know where to go…AND THEY’RE GOOD. But with Kid Chameleon, the gameplay is quite dull, the difficulty is sporadic, and…it really isn’t fun. Some of you may like it, but it’s one of those “Where do I go?” games and the fact that you can’t save if you’re trying to play through the game from start to finish makes for utter tedium, taking ages to finish a level, then die and start over. Now I know why I never managed to finish the game when I was a child.

   The graphics and level design are OK, it only gets away of being wholly negative because it’s set in a video game…within a video game (how meta), you got the forest, cave, tropical, Hell, Ice, mountain, city, the works, something you’d find in the basic of games at the time. The music is…there, a couple tunes are good, but the rest are just background noise.

   Overall, Kid Chameleon might have been awesome back in the day since the journey is long and it would be worth your cash money. But nowadays, it won’t interest those who want to play it; it’s something to try to see if you find it enjoyable. As for me, it’s something I won’t pick up again, I just found it boring, but I will praise it for being ambitious for making a game like this, even if it was pretty flawed.

You can get Kid Chameleon on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, PC via Sega Smash Pack 2, PlayStation 2 and PSP via Sega Mega Drive Collection and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 via Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection.

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