Video Game: Kid Chameleon

Kid Chameleon was a product of the Console Wars, the Adventure Game that the kids who got the Genesis were blessed with. Despite being a Sega game, it was a shining example of Nintendo Hard.

The plot revolved around a breakthrough Virtual Reality video game system, which goes haywire and starts kidnapping kids who play the game. Turns out the Video Game's boss has gained sentience and it's up to Casey, the eponymous Kid Chameleon, to defeat the evil computer and save the day, by proceeding from one teleporter in a given play area to another, moving from room to room in a nonlinear progression. His strongest weapon is his Chameleon ability. Scattered throughout the game are blocks containing diamonds, which can be used to purchase powerups, and hats/masks for several of various powerups, each with a different power theme, attacks, and even max hitpoints.

The game, while punishingly difficult, is generally well remembered. It does have a small but devoted Speed Run community, and the multiple exits from any room and multiple paths in level progression provide for plenty of replay value.

Not to be confused with Kid Chameleon, a British comic strip about a semi-feral boy with chameleonic camouflage.

This game provides examples of:

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: 3 stages feature the aptly named 'Murder Wall'. All but one of these stages (the first encounter) can be avoided through teleporters.
  • All There in the Manual: The final boss's name is Heady Metal, a fact that is never explained in the game, and you'd only know it if you read the manual.
  • An Axe to Grind: The "Maniaxe" form uses these as a weapon.
  • Anti-Poop Socking : The Virtual Console release helped mitigate the original problem that plagued the Genesis version: that of having to play 100 levels with no ability to stop and resume the game.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The lions; they have hard-to-avoid projectiles, erratic movements, and the most hit points of all non-boss enemies (6 for orange and grey lions, 8 for black). The fact that they're the only enemies in their respective levels further give them a boss-like image.
  • Captain Ersatz: Several of the powerup modes are Expies of pop culture icons, such as Cyclops and Jason Voorhees.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: A short-lived series based on the game was included in several issues of Sonic the Comic.
  • Convection Schmonvection: A few of the levels take place inside volcanoes, but you don't get hurt unless you touch the lava.
    • Justified considering that it's not real lava.
  • Difficult but Awesome
    • Look down at Guide Dang It. Each of the "codes" is very complex (so you can't find them with random button presses), but each one is devastating: one summons a rain of damaging gems upon all enemies, another calls an enemy seeking gem snake that hunts down enemies, etc. etc.
    • The Skycutter effect is the most difficult powerup to control, as it is always moving, but is also the fastest. It can also reverse gravity on a whim, which can be abused to simulate the effects of Cyclone, only much faster. It can even bash blocks upside down, allowing it to uncover a slew of extra lives and continues, and cut through blocks from above like Red Stealth or Iron Knight. Naturally, it's a favorite amongst speed runners.
  • Easy Level Trick: The Whispering Woods II separates the starting position and the flag with steel blocks. Getting the Berserker helmet from the last Elsewhere will allow the player to push the blocks aside and reach the flag in less than two seconds.
  • Extra Eyes: Heady Metal's final form has twelve.
  • Eye Scream: The various forms of Heady Metal lose their eyes when you defeat them.
  • Goomba Stomp: The attack mode of Kid Chameleon's default form, and usable by most of the others.
  • Guide Dang It: Surprisingly averted for a game of this type. Knowing where to go isn't all that difficult (save for a few stages), it's getting there that's the challenge.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The only "true" bosses in the game - the various incarnations of Heady Metal - can be challenging in their own right, but don't hold a candle in difficulty to other levels (like the ones mentioned in That One Level).
  • Hat of Power: The hat/mask powerups.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja/Samurai: "Red Stealth" form.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Maniaxe.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Complete with the orange grid in the background.
  • Hover Board: "Sky Cutter" form.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: "Iron Knight" form.
  • Magical Mystery Doors: Millions of them, most leading to one of the dozens of levels named simply "Elsewhere".
  • Mighty Glacier: Subverted with the Iron Knight. It has the highest HP, his special increases Max HP and if he jumps on a block, it may break the block. But it doesn't slow down the Kid, nor did it increase his speed.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted. Every single death nets you with a nice "DIE!" voice clip before (or during, if you don't have a power up) the Death Throw. All the bosses shout this when they attack.
  • Nintendo Hard
  • Platform Hell: If not in terms of the actual gameplay (and that's arguable), the game is definitely this in terms of navigation toward the end of the game. Why does this Elsewhere look like the one you saw 45 minutes ago? Because it's the same one.
    • Also, Bloody Swamp is a complete nightmare, to the point where many people who beat the game have only done so because they avoided that particular level altogether.
  • Ramming Always Works: The Berserker's ability.
  • Shout-Out: Micromax = The Fly (the Vincent Price version).
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: What makes this game so difficult is that there are many branching pathways, yet the player is never allowed to backtrack; if they're stuck on a tough level, they either have to complete it or lose all their continues trying.
  • Speed Run
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Lots of easy extra lives in Frosty Doom... You know... That level RIGHT BEFORE BLOODY SWAMP!
  • Stone Wall:
    • The Iron Knight has the most health of all the masks, lacks the offensive abilities of the others, and has strictly defensive diamond powers.
    • Some enemies are defensively-oriented as well. The crab can only be attacked from the front and is immune to diamond powers, while the ninja blocks and dodges almost all attacks.
  • Tank Goodness: The Juggernaut. It shoots skulls.
  • Teleporters and Transporters
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Hills of the Warrior I. After eight relatively easy levels, the player gets a dose of Nightmare Fuel as they are chased by the Murder Wall for the first time. Lots of difficult-to-avoid traps are scattered about, and it's easy for the player to get stuck behind a wall and caught. For as difficult as it is on its own merits, it's only a sign of things to come.
  • Wall Crawl: Iron Knight's ability.
  • Warp Zone: The teleporters play with this. Many of them lead to short "Elsewhere" levels which then have teleporters leading to actual levels. Some Elsewhere levels lead to hidden levels. Others are "dead ends" and lead only to the stage the player came from. There are also two hidden teleporters that let the player skip a large number of stages.
    • Getting 100,000 points before the end of the fifth (non-Elsewhere) level sends the player straight to the game's half-way point. The biggest warp is the cheat-code-like one near the start that takes you to the final boss of the game.
  • A Winner Is You: It's a really long game with a really short ending.