Kid Chameleon was one of the earlier standout titles on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. The plot involves a boy that daydreams his way in to different scenarios, these are represented by the levels. Each level contains a specific powerup mask that will transform the main character and give him new abilities. Notable transformations include the samurai warrior and the knight. Bizarrely there is also a hockey mask that turns the character in to a mini Friday 13th Jason Voorhees, it’s nice to see that the developers had a sense of humour.
The game play is surprisingly good for what is essentially a very simple game. There’s plenty to jump on, varied enemies and secret routes to uncover. I would say that the game isn’t particularly challenging but I think that this is likely to be for a younger target audience. There is also nice attention to detail in the graphics, the world’s seem bright and interesting. I’d also like to point out that each level appears to have been designed from scratch, so often in platform games you see sprites and backgrounds reused on each level giving the game a cheap look. The sounds are also very cheerful and the overall experience is a very pleasing platformer.
Kid Chameleon isn’t a game that’s going to set the world alight with innovation and slick graphics. It’s a game though that seems incredibly solid and has aged incredibly well. I’m confident that a newcomer to this game could sit down and really enjoy this game for what it is. The game is also very widely available so there really aren’t any excuses not to investigate this one. I’ve also included a short video below just to get you interested.
Fire Shark for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis is what I would describe as a good old fashioned shooter. Made by the people that brought you Truxton you know that you can’t go wrong with this one. The game follows a very similar format to many of the 90’s shooters. There’s a never ending supply of bad guys trying to take you down, as per the rules of gaming is just you against the rest of the world, it really makes you wonder why the good guys can never send a second ship along to help you.
So, he aim is to blast your way through the enemy and reach the level boss which usually consists of some variety of giant airship with ridiculous fire power. To help you can collect the powerups en-route and even collect additional smart bobs which come in very handy when you find yourself helplessly outgunned by the horde that stalks you. On balance I prefer Truxton as it seems more energetic and frantic with slightly more interesting weapons. Fire Shark is still an excellent game though with a nice difficulty curve. You should be able to pick this one up for a very reasonable price these days so I would recommend it for the price. Happy gaming.
King of the Monsters is about as Japanese as a game can get. There’s giant Godzilla-like creatures, atomic monsters and fighting around various location in Japan. The game has become somewhat of a cult classic with releases in the arcade and several home platforms. For what it’s worth I’d say that the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version recreates the arcade style of graphics a little better than the Super Nintendo version. The game is reasonably basic, you select your giant fighter and battle it out against the opponents in an increasing difficulty of stage. There are all the basic kicks and punches but the game really rewards you for the grappling moves. If you manage to throw your opponent a powerup will drop, one you have collected enough of these you will see an upgrade in your monster. It’s worth noting also that the edges of the arenas are electrified, this is an excellent way of inflicting bonus damage on your opponent.
For my liking the game plays a little slowly. The idea is really good it’s just that the controls feels a little dated and slightly clunky. It’s not a major complaint but it’s difficult to enjoy the game as much as I’d like. Taking in to account older games such as IK+ for the Commodore 64 that still feel fast and crisp, something seems a little lacking in longevity here. I do concede though that the game has masses of fans that enjoy this one and I can wholly entertain that this is a game worth picking up and playing for a few rounds. I think that this is another example of the nostalgia around the game building it up to more than it is. I have the same issue worth the original Mortal Kombat, the controls are really stiff and gameplay really unbalance, had it not been for all that controversy it may well have been forgotten.
King of the Monsters does have some nice features. Especially some of the background animations and army that try to get involved in the fights. The scenes are bright and the monsters themselves are well animated, sadly there only four playable. I do enjoy this title but can’t help thinking that in another generation there will be few that will fondly remember this one outside of Japan, as always only time will tell…
NBA JAM Tournament Edition is a fine example of a successful sports game, not only that, it’s a successful sequel. It’s a rare thing in the sports genre, to take a classic and make a new version different enough to be worth buying yet similar enough to alienate the fan base. That’s exactly what happened though. I’m based in the UK so the dreams of being a basketball player were never there, we just don’t have the skill for it. Unless it’s played on a wet and windy field somewhere the UK usually don’t get involved sports wise. So playing NBA JAM was a real cultural breakthrough, it’s a game where the rules are simple enough, the scoring is simple enough and the game controls let you get straight in to the fun.
This is the way that the game triumphs over the modern sports-sim where you need a degree in tactics, pin-point skill and the beard hair on every player must be accurate otherwise the fans complain. With NBA JAM it’s just fun. For me my introduction to ice-hockey, basketball and American Football all happened through the teachings of Sega. Interestingly I only got to see these sports professionally much later in life when I lived in Riga, Latvia. They have an excellent hockey team “Dinamo Riga” and basketball team “Barons”.
Anyway back to NBA JAM TE, it’s important to understand what’s different about TE to the original. Well, on first impressions not a lot. There’s the same two-on-two action, full list of teams and prominent players and even the menu system seems to have been recycled. The difference comes with the gameplay options, there’s new dunks and what seems to be slightly smoother gameplay. However, the main additions are the powerups, hotspots and juice mode. By enabling powerups you can collect various short term advantages during the match from power, dunks, 3-pointers and of course the fire ability. It’s a simple addition but it transforms the game completely. Add to this the hotspot mode where a player can score up to 9-pointers by standing on the icon, you’ve got a really interesting sports game. By the end of these additions the game barely resembles a traditional basketball game, it is really fun to play though. As if that wasn’t enough though the developers threw in one last gem, the special character select. By quickly tapping a short code on the vs screen you can play as characters such as Hilary Clinton, Jazzy Jeff or even the Timberwolves mascot.
All round this is just one of those games that need to be played. It’s not exactly a faithful simulator; it is a genuinely fun experience though which is what really counts. If you only play one retro basketball game this is the one to go for.