The Retro Critic


Some games start and you just know instantly you’re in for something special.

Case and point: Kid Chameleon.

Check this plot out:

A machine the size… of an arcade?!

So like Picard’s Holodeck?

Not sure I understand that but ok.

…that kid from The Wonder Years?!

No, this is Kid Chameleon (aka Casey), a totally rad amalgamation of Marty McFly, Lucas from The Wizard and Roddy Piper in They Live.

Oh yeah.

He’s here to chew bubble gum and wear masks.

And he’s all out of bubble gum.

The plot is an intriguing one: you’re playing a game within a game, a gamer as a gamer, to stop a boss who’s escaped and yet… still remains a threat within the game (?). Whatever, it’s great.

This is the kind of story only the greatest movies possess:

Right, I’m out.

Still, the game is kick-ass.

You play as the kid, of course, and you go around various settings fighting a truly weird bunch which includes these guys:

Angry black Venom sperm tadpole goo:

Green leaping hands:

Demon Mufasa:

And killer spinning pink gemstones:

(don’t ask)

There’s loads more: You name it, it’s tryin’ to kill ya.

The unique thing about the game is that along the way you pick up masks and each one gives you a certain unique ability. This means that one second you’re a samurai…

…the next you’re a goth skeleton riding a tank…

…and the next you’re Jason Voorhees:

It’s awesome.

This allows you to use a whole range of weapons and attacks. Otherwise, you can mostly jump on your enemies’ heads Mario-style but some masks can help you climb walls, burst through rock, fly-spin around, hover-board upside-down… so they do come in pretty handy regardless.

And they’re super cool.

Masks-aside, Kid Chameleon is still very much a good game: Visually it’s colourful, good graphics, the gameplay is fluid, the music is very Genesis (in a most radical way, of course) and it’s completely unpredictable. The aim of the game is to reach the flag at the end of each level (you can also beam around sometimes) and slowly but surely make your way to the big boss: Heady Metal.

*insert “Incoming Message From The Big Giant Head” joke here*





Yes, Heady Metal is nothing more than a big giant metal head made out of a The Thing-like structure of other heads.

Well, looks aren’t everything…

Kid Chameleon is loads of fun throughout and remains a completely addictive game but it’s still a tough one. You’ve got loads of levels to play through and although the masks you can pick up do get more fancy as you go on, it becomes one tough battle by the end. It took me a LONG time to finish it back in the day. But the game isn’t challenging due to confused controls or unfair trial and error pitfalls, you do need to figure some stuff out with that extra button on your controller: Your BRAIN. So that really helps to make the game more than just bouncing around and shooting at stuff, which can be fun, don’t get me wrong, but Kid Chameleon feels more balanced and ultimately more rewarding in that sense.

I like how more and more surreal the game gets as you move forward. It starts off with this kid fighting big lizards, which is already pretty weird, I think you’ll agree, and ends with the same kid, now a spinning, flying, pink superhero, battling these golden, floating green-eyed heads.

Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe how nuts this game gets. I mean, you become a human fly at one point!

That just happens!

The ending is nothing to go wild about but just knowing that you completed a game this hard and this epic is reward enough. You see Heady Metal’s wireframe looking all sad before being ripped apart:

Actually the whole game is ripped to shreds, which sucks because that essentially means no sequel (boo!) and you get this end message:


Man, I wish I was the first holographic game champion…

Although didn’t he save like loads of kids? Shouldn’t he receive some kind of medal? Being a holographic game champion is one thing but saving the world… yeah that kid deserves a bit more than that.

All in all, you get the idea: Kid Chameleon is a great game, a cult classic for the Sega Genesis. It’s fun, clever and hard to put down, frankly. If you haven’t played it, try and find it, it’s well worth playing.


Go on, take a walk on the Wild Side.