- This article is about the videogame. For the eponymous character, see Kid.
Kid Chameleon, Also known as Chameleon Kid (カメレオン キッド Kamereon Kiddo) in Japan is a platform game released for the Mega Drive/Genesis.
A new virtual reality game called "Wild Side" arrived in town. The arcade made holograms to create a world not their own. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until kids began to disappear. The game's boss, Heady Metal, had freed himself from his scripted AI. He was using his new freedom to kidnap every kid who could not beat the game, which was all of them, until now. A boy named Casey who calls himself "Kid Chameleon" enters the game and must defeat every level, every boss and Heady Metal himself if he wants to save the others.
Overview & Credits
The player, as Kid Chameleon, progresses through a series of levels, going from one to another by reaching the flag (which is the main goal) or using the teleporters can take you forward in the game or divert your way to a secret path. Levels are basically composed of geographic terrain (mountains, caves, cities, etc.) and blocks that the player can break, move, use or open to collect prizes. A sheer variety of enemies are encountered, which are eliminated primarily by jumping on them. Also, a given amount of time is set to complete each level.
As the Kid cruises through the levels, he can collect several items, such as diamonds (the currency in the game, like Mario's coins, but used to buy special powers), clocks, score bonuses, extra lives and continues (which you'll need—did we mention the game was difficult?) and helmets that transform him into different characters — a knight errant, a samurai, a skater, a fly, etc. Each character has different abilities, weapons or movements, so arriving somewhere with a new helmet can make an old level a whole new experience. This variety in gameplay, plus the monstrous amounts of secret prizes, hidden paths and shortcuts, is what makes Kid Chameleon such an addictive game.
For a brief time, KC held the title of the longest, hardest game of its time. The length and difficulty of Kid Chameleon became sort of a legend. Without hosting the hundreds of levels that some uninformed magazines attributed to the game, KC is truly the Iliad of 16-bits. This legend is contributed to by the absence of a password system or other method of saving the game (in its original platform, that is). In KC, every path begins from Blue Lake Woods.
Since there is no general map of the game, it is also difficult to precisely tell where the player actually is in the game at any given moment, especially if taking teleporters which can warp you virtually anywhere inside the same level, or outside (though almost never backwards), and in the later stages, most levels lack a flag and use of teleporters is compulsory. This confusion helped to feed the legend. (The instruction manual provided a list of level names in the main path, but one can easily lose their way.)
The difficulty of the game stems mainly from two facts: Its sheer, merciless length, and the precision some levels (mostly later) require. The second-to-last level in the game is titled "The Final Marathon," and indeed all the preceding levels do comprise a marathon of gaming.
Also, the game is bubbling over with secrets: hidden passages through the terrain and invisible prizes or even teleporters.
However, difficulty is always relative. And as for length, of the just over one hundred levels, only about half are on the "main path" that one must follow to complete the game, and more than thirty are bonus or transition levels called Elsewheres (though these may be difficult as heck too and can cost the player a lot of lives).
There are a few major hidden shortcuts that seem to make up for the lack of saved games. These are hidden in the game in a way that only skillful players who prove to have already challenged earlier levels can find and progress to the later, harder rounds.
Wikid Chameleon estimations
So far, this wiki contemplates 103 levels. That number by itself makes it the most exhaustive guide in the Internet. Secrets are countless; although we try to list them all, the fear that we may have missed an invisible prize block in Bloody Swamp will always remain.
A temporary map of the whole game (probably all maps will be temporary) can be found here.
The game is also a part of the Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. It was released for the Virtual Console in Japan on May 22, 2007; North America on May 28, 2007; and Europe on June 1, 2007. It was also released in addition to a series of other Sega games, including Shining Force and Comix Zone, in Sega Smash Pack 2. The game has also appeared in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game's most recent re-releases came in the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis Classics for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC, as well as to the Apple Store and Google Play Store on mobile devices.
Kid Chameleon in Media
Appearances in Sega Visions
Sega Visions was a video game magazine focusing on games made for Sega video game machines such as Sega Master System, Game Gear, Genesis, and Sega CD. It was basically Sega's answer to Nintendo's Nintendo Power magazine, and contained many similar features.
Issue 7 of Sega Visions, released in December of 1991, features Kid Chameleon on page 29 under the section, "Coming Attractions." Since the game was released in May of 1992, the game was not complete at this point, and as a result, contains a rather peculiar description and screenshot of the game. Though most of the description still holds true to the game now, quotes such as "He's one ultra-cool dude who usually hangs in L.A. But now he's trapped in the 10 worlds of Elsewhere" and "In the combat helmet, he's Skull Crusher" raise some questions.
There's no description as to how he got in the 10 worlds of Elsewhere, but there is no mention of an arcade machine called Wildside or anything of the sort. This may have been the original story for the game and was changed later for whatever reason. "10 worlds" probably refers to the current 10 themes, and "Elsewhere" may have been renamed to Wildside, although it was later used to name the small stages that are four screen in size. Was the arcade machine Wildside actually located in L.A.? This is the closest information we have as to an actual fictional or non-fictional location for the story, so who knows if the game designers eventually decided on that.
As far as the screenshot, it is truly unlike anything seen in the final game. It shows a city-themed level that contains many Shifting blocks, a long row of Mushroom blocks, and even a Dragon—an enemy that was never featured in any City level. It is a remarkable image because this is one of the only screenshots we have that features a level during the game's beta stage. Since this screenshot does not resemble a single level by any considerable means, it is believed this map was scrapped entirely. Other than the level layout itself, there are also a few other observations about the game's beta stage made by this one screenshot:
- The palette for this beta City theme is slightly different, with blocks being a slightly lighter shade of gray.
- The diamonds are a little larger here than they are in the final game, and are colored gray instead of brown.
- The "P" on the Prize block is both slightly smaller and colored blue.
- There is no Hit point meter shown in this screenshot at all. Were hit points even used during the beta stage?
- The timer is at the top middle of the screen, instead of the top left.
- The Ankh counter is at the top left corner of the screen, instead of the top right.
- The "x" used to indicate how many diamonds you have is larger here than in the final version.
If you'd like to view this information in the context of the magazine, you can view it at the following link:
Issue 8 of Sega Visions, released in May of 1992, featured Kid Chameleon on the front cover of the magazine, and pages 12-15 were dedicated entirely to the game. The pages tell the story of Kid Chameleon, a brief description for each of the helmets, brief gameplay notes, and even contain maps for Under Skull Mountain 1, Under Skull Mountain 2, and Sinister Sewers!
Another couple of easter eggs referring to nicknames have been found in this issue, just as in issue 7. On page 13, Crystals are called by their alternate name, "Diamonds"; on page 15, Mini Hopping Skulls are referred to as "Imps", Tar Monsters are called "Water Hazards", and Tornados are called "Croc-Twisters".
In issue 9 of Sega Visions, released in August of 1992, pages 36 and 37 feature a very in-depth map of Woods of Despair 1, as well as a brief note on Lion's Den. The issue refers to the stages as "Woods of Despair" (no roman numeral) and "The Lion's Den".
More nicknames are mentioned on these pages of this issue as well. Tanks are referred to as "Carnivorous Rocks", and Fireballs here are called "Meteors" for whatever reason, even though the last issue referred to them by their proper name.
In early 1993, Kid Chameleon gained his own comic strip in the new Fleetway publication Sonic the Comic. The first strip, named "Kid Chameleon", ran from issues 7–12 and features Casey entering Wildside to rescue his friend Suzy, with a disembodied presence known as "The Voice" giving him advice and encouragement. Through each issue, he changes into one of the different personas: Red Stealth, Eyeclops, Micromax, Berzerker and finally Iron Knight, before his Chameleon powers run out and he has to take down a powerful enemy as his normal self. While he and Suzy escape Wildside, the story ends with Casey discovering that the local school bully, Brad, was also trapped in Wildside.
The second strip, named "Back to Unreality!" ran from issues 54–59. Here, Casey returns to Wildside to find Brad, at the request of Suzi. His return to the game is more confident, and aware of the threats he may have to face. This story follows the same structure as the first, where Casey enters a new area and transforms into a new character. That is until he falls into the sea and is washed up at Islecatraz, the game's prison. There, he finds that Brad has become a prison guard. Breaking free as Maniaxe and freeing the inmates as Cyclone, Casey chases a fleeing Brad until Casey loses his chameleon powers in the middle of a shark attack after revealing his true identity. The pair work together and make it to the exit telepad, but the damaged device can only teleport one of them. Brad sacrifices himself by pushing Casey on it, yet The Voice reveals that to exit, Casey will have to take it to "the final level."
Fleetway did not produce any more strips after "Back to Unreality!" The end of the second story was a cliffhanger, deliberately teasing readers as to what would happen in "the final level". The final caption asks readers to write in if they wanted to see the showdown. The lack of a finale suggests that either fan demand for another story was low, or it was another casualty of the gradual phasing-out of non-Sonic strips. There appears to be no plans to resurrect Kid Chameleon in Sonic the Comic Online.
For more information on the Kid Chameleon comic series, check out these links at the Sonic the Comic Wiki: