Saturday, 1 April 2017

Kid Chameleon (Mega Drive)

It's been said many times that Sonic the Hedgehog was SEGA's answer to Mario. This isn't just true on the basic level of being a company mascot, but from the way Sonic's first game was designed, to his brash, rebellious personality made him different to Mario, and by extension, made SEGA different to Nintendo. Kid Chameleon can also be said to be SEGA's answer to Mario, especially Super Mario Bros. 3, a game which saw Mario take on various different forms as the game went on.

While Sonic's games were almost totally different to Mario's, other than being platform games, Kid Chameleon is very similar to SMB3 in a number of ways: a main character who transforms, blocks containing power-ups that are broken from below and so on. But philosophically, Kid Chameleon shows a different set of ideas to Nintendo's game. Super Mario Bros. 3 is designed like a game adults think children should enjoy, while Kid Chameleon feels as if a ten-to-thirteen year old had played SMB3, and designed their own heavily-inspired game in an exercise book stolen from school, and then somehow their drawings had become an actual game. (I'd like to note that I don't mean to disparage either game here. They're both classics, of course.)

As you play Kid Chameleon, you can hear that kid's voice saying "Mario changing into a raccoon or a frog is okay, but what if you were a badass dude in shades, and you could turn into a knight or a samurai?", and then of course, the more you play, the further the ideas get from the family-friendly Nintendo fare: "What if you were a nazi tank in hell that shot skulls? And then you turned into Jason Voorhies and got chased around by giant skulls that scream 'DIE!' at you?". The structure of the game feels faily adolescent, too. The stages are huge, and full of secrets. Secret areas, invisible power-ups, and of course, secret exits that lead to extra secret stages.

I don't really know how to end this piece, since Kid Chameleon is already a pretty well-known game, and most people reading this will have probably played it at some point and already formed an opinion on it. I guess there's this anecdote: when I was a very young child, someone told me they were playing this game, and that it was so long and hard, they might not live long enough to ever finish it. Obviously, I suggested that they have it put into their coffin so that they could continue playing it in the afterlife. I was a very practically-minded child, I'm sure you'll agree.

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