In the world of this game a new virtual reality game called 'Wild Side' proved hugely popular amongst those who frequent early nineties arcades. It's popularity is a surprise given that anyone who plays it mysteriously vanishes. It transpires that the game's boss, Heady Metal has been kidnapping the kids who play and lose. According to the back of the box "Only Kid Chameleon, the coolest kid around, can foil Heady Metal and his gang of gruesome thugs!”
According to Cerny, for 'Kid Chameleon' to succeed in a market packed with platform games it had to stand out from the crowd of mediocrity, it needed a unique mechanic. Programmer Steve Woita certainly remembers the pressing need to be original. "I had way more pressure on me working on 'Kid Chameleon' because the game was unknown at the time, so we had to prove to marketing and everybody else that we thought we had a good game our hands. It’s always extremely difficult to do an original game idea and hardly any of them make it to the market place, so there was extra pressure because nobody outside of our development group knew what we were doing and if it would sell."
Less conventional is a Nazi Tank and Maniaxe; a form which allows Kid Chameleon to throw axes. Though it seems to be parodying the many "Video Nasties" that were popular at the time, according to the game's developers it is a tribute to the main protagonist of the 'Splatterhouse'. Perhaps the most fun form to take on is Micromax. This makes Kid shrinks down to the size of a fly and like this he can stick to walls. In total there are ten different forms that kid chameleon can assume throughout the game and in the majority of levels progress depends on choosing the correct one. Across the game there are over a hundred levels though not all need to be completed to finish the game as some are hidden.
"Talk about a long game" observed EGM magazine. "With over 1800 screens you had better plan on spending some time with this cart". The stage design is sprawling, intriguing, and frustrating in equal measure. Most stages take place in a forest, cityscape or hellish landscape with precarious jumps. Selecting the right path is key to making it to the end of the stage. Unlike other platformer at the time, 'Kid Chameleon' isn't limited to simply scrolling from left to right. You’ll often need to work your way through labyrinthine levels traversing levitating tile staircases, through hidden underground pathways, bouncing across skyscrapers. To make things harder still, stages must be finished within a strict three minute time limit. Should you finish a level you're awarded points based on time taken and additional points are given if you managed to avoid getting hurt.
You always get the most expensive diamond power you can afford, so it is impossible to choose which upgrade you wish to use. It's all unnecessarily complicated especially as there are a dozen different types of terrain blocks that behave differently. To try to explain all the game elements the manual for the game is huge. With close to 90 pages it's twice the length of the one for 'Sonic the Hedgehog' and there are literally dozens of pages dedicated to explaining the different functions of each form. It's worth referring to this encyclopaedic tome though, if only to avoid spending your diamonds on the wrong ability. It's ludicrously frustrating to waste your hard earned diamonds on a purchased skill that doesn't allow you to get any closer to the goal. If you're playing on an emulator you can of course save before you make this error but if you're playing on the original cart there's no way to save. According to Steve Woita "There was a lot of talk about putting battery back up in the game so people could come back and play it where they left off [...] It would’ve jacked the cost of the cart some more and that was the last thing marketing wanted to hear with an unknown game." The game had to be finished in one sitting and As a result, 'Kid Chameleon' because infamous for being one of the "longest and hardest games on the Mega Drive".