Review by MaxH
Reviewed: 05/05/01 | Updated: 11/18/01
Let's not twist again
You can add all the gimmicks and special moves you like, but an average platformer is an average platformer. No matter how many bells and whistles you pile on it, the quality will stay the same. This, in case you thought I was off on some random rant, is the case with chameleon Twist. And it's quite a shame really, because the premise of the game is inspired, and actually executed very well. But the by-the-numbers platform leaping and enemy killing is too dreary, so the game fails to live up to it's potential.
You see, as a chameleon, Davy (Our controlled character, although there are some cosmetically different characters you can pick, such a pink one) can use his tongue to perform all manner of impressive stunts. Mostly, it's used to stretch out and grab onto poles which rest on further unreachable platforms. When the tongue hits this pole it will wrap around it and you will be pulled towards the platform. It can also be used to pole vault you to higher platforms and instead of being pulled towards a platform, you can choose to rotate around it once you've caught hold of it. Sticking your tongue out will also have you eating up the ugly little enemy sprites, after which you can choose to spit them all out in a barrage of badly programmed ant clusters, or simply shoot out one at a time. So your chameleon tongue is put to full use in a wide range of interesting moves. The controls are also responsive enough, although Davy runs a lot slower than I'd like.
The story to go with however, is complete and utter trash. In fact it barely exists. Davy sees a white rabbit jump into a hole shouting 'I'm late, I'm late!' a la alice in wonderland. Davy gets curious and follows the rabbit into the hole, where he is pulled into another dimension. And that's it. There is no real ending either, simply finish off the last boss, and you'll catch up with the rabbit who says nothing useful but instead explains that you can come back whenever you like. No thanks.
You begin in a simple jungle level, play is linear and very simple, things don't look too good. Of course it's the moments of tongue-twisting that really light up this game, and because it is there to introduce you to the more basic stuff, level one lacks that excitement. So it's bound to be a rather boring exercise, and it's disgustingly easy too. But to tell the truth, things don't really get much better.
Level two (Which can either be bomb world or ant world. Bizarrely, you only have to complete 4 of the six levels to complete the game) does improve on this slightly, with fancy tongue-related stunts to pull off around every corner, but play is STILL too simple and easy. It's all so effortless, to the point of depression. Chameleon Twist may have a wonderful idea in the middle of everything, but it's been integrated into a game with no soul, no challenge, no originality and very little fun.
The multiplayer, it has to be said, is a hoot. Gather four friends around in the arena and you'll have a blast trying to knock each other off. It's by no means a classic up there with Goldeneye or Mario Kart 64, but since it's not necessary to know the tongue attack skills to compete, it's good dumb fun. And there's a big enough variety of power ups and random arena 'events' to keep things fresh for quite a while. Shame about the single player though.
The adventure will last nowhere near as long as the multiplayer though, and can be whizzed through in little over an hour. Pretty pathetic I'd say. Because not only can you (rather absurdly) miss out two levels of your choice on your way to victory, everything is just so easy to get through. Because everything is so simple, the only thing that poses a threat to your life count is some precision jumping in the later levels, and even this isn't too hard to accomplish. Extra health is also far too easy to come by, I never once got Game Over in chameleon Twist. And because there's no challenge there's no fun. No-one wants to plough through long empty levels when they know nothing will get in their way. The boss-fights too are ridiculously easy. Why? Because they all adopt the same tactic of surrounding themselves with enemies you can use to spit at them and then just spinning around in random direction, every single one of them.
And all this lackluster mediocrity is a shame really, because at times the game can be slightly compelling, even throwing up a couple of clever challenges in the last level. Unlocking the mini-game of chameleon-pool provides a totally bizarre experience, but also a curiously fun one. And the poltergeist living room and rotating library of the final ghost level are some nice touches, turning previous tactics on their head and causing you to actually think for a moment. These instances are almost non-existent however, and only serve to show us what a quality inventive platformer this could have been.
It's all very fuzzy as well. Some of the textures used are quite detailed for an N64 game and the design is very bright and colourful, representing an accurate, but slightly patronising, feel to whatever environment you happen to be wandering around. But this is all marred by a very strong fuzz over everything, which makes it look a bit like you're playing the game on a very early colour television. And it's all very lazy and basic too, textures may be good, but lack of variation in the style of everything makes it all look very plain and dull. And the enemy characters are horribly jaggy rough looking sprites that make the game look very cheap.
The sound is no better, worse in fact. The music is all very cute and annoying, shoving ugly unbalanced NES quality music in your ears at every turn, with none of the likable simplicity or lovable catchiness of Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. The sound effects are also horrific, all so, SO simple and, once again, dull. And the annoyance of hearing the noise emitted from Davy when his tongue reaches it's length limit is unbearable.
So really, there's no reason whatsoever to buy Chameleon Twist. It's short, easy, basic and a waste of a good idea. Just for the fascinating tongue gymnastics you get to perform it's worth a rent for platformer fans, but others won't find any endearing qualities in this boring, average disappointment.
Let's Twist again
+ Excellent character idea, executed well. Pulling off the various moves is constantly satisfying
+ Very occasional sparks of fun
+ The multiplayer is tremendous fun, one that you'll be playing for a while.
+ Ooooooh, the pretty colours
- Exceptionally boring platforming that you've seen before
- Very very short
- Very very easy
- Blurry, lazily programmed graphics
- Awful sound
- Stories don't get much more redundant than this.
If you Like this....
Chameleon Twist 2 - N64: An improvement, but still too boring
Glover - N64: If you like platformers that use their gimmicks well and are also of a good quality, try this out.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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