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Chameleon Twist

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Released: 1998

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Nintendo 64

Publisher: Japan Supply System

Developer: Sunsoft

Submitted by: Brendan Jones

A quirky 3D platformer with characters who are out of this world! How many times have we heard this type of description, particularly as a substitute for quality?  Let’s see if Chameleon Twist fits the bill.  Quirky protagonist in the form of mutated chameleon Davy: check.  Quirky backdrops based on a microcosm of the insect and rodent kingdoms: check.  Control gimmick: check.

The control gimmick comes in the form of Davy’s prehensile tongue.  As soon as you shoot out the lizard’s tongue, the analogue stick controls its direction, allowing you to draw in enemies to use as projectiles.  The tongue can also act as a grapple to swing you between platforms, a tripwire for enemies, and even a pole to reach higher heights!

The game is very inventive, and definitely quirky.  Where things start to fall apart is in the game design- the worlds feel claustrophobic next to stablemates Super Mario 64 and Tomb Raider, and the animation suffers from a very low frame rate.  That being said, the basic visuals are very pretty, and the music is far catchier than it has any right to be.

The multiplayer is an odd addition for a platformer game, but adapts the game mechanics well.  Davy and his chameleon friends, Jack, Linda and Fred, attempt to knock each other off pedestals with enemy ammunition.  It’s a simple addition, but does help to expand the traditional gameplay.

Overall, Chameleon Twist suffers only from over-reaching ambition, rather than not trying hard enough.  The sequel is meant to improve on the original’s faults, so I look forward to finding a copy!

The cover front here is from my hardcase cover for this game, downloadable from www.thecoverproject.com