Chameleon Twist – Review & Revisit

ChameleonTwistMy sister has in recent years made it a habit to buy me a childhood favourite game for the holidays or my birthday. This year, I got to re-experience the childhood magic of a highly under-rated, nigh-forgotten, Sunsoft classic for the Nintendo 64.

In Chameleon Twist you control one of four chameleons following a white rabbit down a hole. The game takes you on a colourful adventure where you get to use your stretchy tongue for all kinds of creative purposes.

Gameplay: 4,5/5 – The gameplay is this game’s crowning feature. You can move your tongue in pretty much all directions horizontally, grab enemies, poles and items. You also need to chuck enemies in the correct spots and advancing sometimes requires a little bit of spatial puzzle solving. The only problem with the controls in my view are the occasional camera issues. Especially in the robot snake boss fight the view-angle becomes a bit disorienting and most of the stages have preset camera-angles (which you can affect somewhat). However, it’s only an occasional nuisance and mostly the game doesn’t suffer from it too much.

Graphics: 4/5 – Keeping in mind that this was an early Nintendo 64 title, I think the graphics and the general visual style of the game is delightfully cartoony and cheery. The backgrounds of each stage are well thought out and there’s a delightfully cartoony vibe you get from the stages and enemies. There are a lot of items which instead of being in full-3D are just sprites but I think they mostly fit well. The only time the sprites look a bit off is when they get right up close to the camera.

Animation: 4/5 – The opening animation may appear a bit choppy but I think the animation work is done mostly well. Plus, there’s a lot of nifty little detail (such as Linda winking during her walk animation and the facial expressions on the chameleons in general). For the time, this was pretty damn good.

Music: 4/5 – While I wouldn’t say that there are any timeless gems in the soundtrack, every single stage theme sounds appropriate, energetic and cheerful. There’s even a nice Asian vibe you get off from the Haunted House level (which I like, since the game doesn’t try to hide its Japanese origins). The credits theme is also pretty lovely though the sound compression is a bit annoying. Still, I didn’t get tired of any of the stage tunes and they kept sounding solid all the way through.

Sound: 3,5/5 – There’s nothing truly outstanding about the audio department though I think the sound-effects are cute and fit the game well. My particular favourite is the crystalish chime effect.

Replay value: 4/5 – While the game is admittedly short and you don’t even have to play through all the stages to beat it, I do think the game is just super adorable and fun to play. The controls are responsive and the levels are very creative. Plus, there are some hidden secrets if you’re into that kind of thing.

Difficulty: Easy – Probably this game’s only major flaw is its difficult which is a bit too forgiving. You get a huge life-bar and falling into a pit simply resets you to the closest exit or checkpoint. Enemies do barely anything to you and even if you die on the level boss and get a Game Over, you just get to keep continuing from where you left off. Your only punishment is that your clear time for the game becomes really poor. There are tricky parts in the game and some that require you to stop and think about how to get out of a certain room, but nothing that would really halt your progress too badly.

Score: 80% – Chameleon Twist is a really fun if a criminally short and easy game. However, I think its fun-factor greatly makes up for its easiness and it’s not nearly as much of a walk-in-the-park as Yoshi Story for the same system. If you want some good innocent 3D platforming fun with a twist (*rimshot*) give this game a try.