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One day, a regular chameleon was walking on a log when it spotted an anthropomorphic white rabbit muttering to himself about being late for something. The rabbit jumped into a magic pot filled with magic dust, and the chameleon, curious, jumped in after it. When the chameleon came out on the other side, it saw that its body had totally changed, into a humanoid. And it now had a longer, bendier tongue. It must now survive a surreal, cartoon world.
If you actually think about it, that's pretty disturbing and has the potential makings of a fascinating horror story. But that's actually the cutesy setup to a fun little game on the Nintendo 64.
When the N64, PS1 and Saturn were new, it was exciting to see what kinds of brand new gameplay ideas would be made due to the 3D gameplay now possible. Chameleon Twist is very much a product of that time, feeling very experimental, yet following many of the gameplay tropes of that era.
You're a chamele- I mean, a human-like figure with a very long tongue that is independently controllable. Just hold B, and your tongue extends. While it's extending, you can move it around with the control stick. Since its movement can be controlled, the tongue can be used to make semi-elaborate shapes, and you can even move it in a circle around yourself, using it as some kind of makeshift shield. You can also do "handstands" on your tongue. The tongue also grabs onto poles, which can be rotated around or pulled towards. And finally, it can suck up enemies, which can be spat out one at a time, or all at once.
Every possible use for those abilities is explored. There are enemies that can only be beaten by tripping them, by grabbing your tongue onto a pole and swinging around in a circle to knock the enemy down. Some large enemies can only be beaten by spitting smaller enemies at them. Sometimes you need to do a tonguestand for height and then grab a pole in midair right after your jump. Sometimes you need to eat small enemies and spit them at objects in the distance. And sometimes your tongue is used to do things like hit an 8-ball on a giant pool table, its movement determined by the angle of your tongue.
The music is fantastic. Very catchy and upbeat, and a joy to listen to.
To add a bit of extra depth to the game, there are hidden crowns to find in every level. Some are fairly well hidden, but with enough looking around, and skilled use of your abilities, you'll find them. Earning 20 in each level earns you a boss rush, which I'm not a big fan of. I prefer to find the crowns for the sake of the optional challenge itself.
The game is short and easy, but sweet. I used to rent it a lot until I finally bought it, so that's saying a lot for me.
The second game? I found it disappointing. The music was changed from catchy to cutesy, the main character looked more like an actual anthro chameleon (in the non-Japan releases), and the challenge was through the roof! I much prefer the first.
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