Insert Disk collects Kid Chameleon for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Kid Chameleon for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a rather simple but fun game from the early 90’s. Sega packed in some excellent platforming game play with a twist. Enter the interactive game arcade and take on different personas via a collectable mask system. These masks will give you new power up abilities to complete the levels.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. If you were playing video games back in the early 90’s then you’ll remember that game characters were all about attitude. Some were great and could carry it off, others had personalities that grated very quickly with the audience. Today I’d like to take a look back at a game that successfully managed attitude with classic platforming game play. Join me as I take a look back at Kid Chameleon for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis.
Released in Western territories in 1992 by Sega, Kid Chameleon was a relatively simple game that has stood up very well over time. The back story involves a high tech video arcade which is essentially a hologram experience. Naturally the kids can’t get enough of it. However, becomes all too clear that the games become too real and the games boss starts taking the children by defeating them at the games. Cue the cool Kid known as Kid Chameleon. Now being more of a champion for the every day nerd this character that could have been instantly unlikable. If someone has to try this hard to look cool in real-life then they almost certainly aren’t. However, this is a computer game from the 90’s so in context this was actually sort of cool. Look, he’s got the shades, leather jacket and everything. $5 says he’s got a limited edition gold Tamagotchi in his left hand pocket too, or maybe some Pogs. Anyway, first impressions aside you are going to have fun controlling this character. The cool vibe was for the box artwork and opening screen, once you’re through the doors we go back to a classic age of gaming feel.
For any platform gamer of the 80’s/90’s you’ll feel an instant connection with this one even if you’ve never played it. It simply incorporates a lot of standard mechanics of the day. You’ll be destroy blocks to reveal gems and certain power ups Super Mario style and generally working your way through somewhat linear levels with hidden bonus rooms thrown in for good measure. The real hook of Kid Chameleon is the mask system. Destroying blocks will occasionally drop a mask that will power you up in to a new persona. In turn these also give you a new ability. There’s the knight mask to give you the ability to climb walls. The Samurai mask to give to a sword. The Helmet to run through walls as well as various other masks. These masks seem to drop when you need them for the most part. The level with the caves will drop a skeletal mask which gives you a full blown tank and WW1 style helmet. Good stuff. May favourite has to be the Friday the 13th style Jason hockey mask. It’s not officially Jason’s mask but Sega knew what they were doing here by the outfit and cleaver. Or you could argue that is a nod to Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti which Is obviously based on the same premise. Either way Kid Chameleon the game all of a sudden is cool. With its pop culture references, hidden rooms and tight game play you will have forgotten all about the slightly dated initial cool marketing of the character.
Kid Chameleon has been re-released many times over the years in various guises. However, you can’t beat the original physical release for nostalgia. The front cover to the case is really well thought out. It still carries that cool vibe but stops short of appearing obnoxious. It also alludes well to the games content. Overall the case, manual and cartridge are still pleasing and get the job of selling the game done well. In terms of pricing you should still expect to spend around £10 or $14 on a mint boxed Kid Chameleon although you can often find much better deals in retro bundles from the online sellers. The game certainly isn’t considered rare but for a rather standard platform game the price has held up well due to the desirability for collectors and more casual retro gamers looking for a decent game to play for all ages. Personally I would say that Kid Chameleon gets a lot of elements right. The destroying of blocks, powering up of the main character and the varied backdrops all make for a rather classic experience.
Absolutely nothing here will blow your mind in respects to game play, graphics or sound. I’d venture that most gamers would find this game a little easy and certainly a lot tamer than the action packed platform adventures that came later in the 16-bit generation. That is to Kid Chameleons credit though. It’s not a laser show of a game with action happening all around you and a developer cramming in 8 layers of parallax scrolling or proving that they can program the largest boss sprites. No, this is a game all about good old fashioned honest fun. Some might now criticise this game for playing it safe but I can see a real place for Kid Chameleon for modern gamers.
If you’re a student getting in to game design then this is a great example of how to make an engaging platformer without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles. For newer generation of gamer, you’ll appreciate the charm of this simpler time and for those that are a little older, you’ll certainly be able to pick this one up and remember that time when games were all about the experience rather than the specifications on the side of the box. It’s simple, it’s fun. It’s Sega’s Kid Chameleon.