A Puzzle Game More for the Kids
For those who love puzzle games, Chameleon for the PSP is not the most challenging title on the market. While Chameleon is suited for puzzle gamers of all ages, it may lack a serious challenge for adults playing against the computer. However, it will probably have youngsters scratching their heads to solve problems. Still, playing versus live opponents can provide short-lived fun for those looking for a basic, few-frills puzzle game.
Essentially, Chameleon pins you against an opponent – either A.I. or a friend – with the goal of dominating the majority of the tiled board onscreen. Each player is given a starting tile located at either end of the board, and after choosing your color, you must gain ground in turn-based gameplay by joining other tiles of the same color together into one large group. Players have to slide the hexagonal tiles around to join them, and by completely surrounding different colored tiles, they will automatically turn into your color. It sounds fairly basic, and on its own the game is easy to play against the A.I. However, different obstacles thrown onto the playing board, such as large boulders to block your path, makes things a bit more difficult as you move on. There are also some specially-marked tiles that perform unique functions such as power-ups, making the game a bit less mundane but still not completely exciting.
Each player takes on the role of one of four characters who possess their own special attacks to be used when the player sees it is most vital, sometimes causing serious turnarounds in gameplay. The four characters are poorly animated manga girls who have short biographies and can do things such as shuffle all the free tiles on the board, add an obstacle to ruin your opponent’s progress, or remove a tile to help yourself. The inclusion of these characters is somewhat unnecessary, though it does make the game a tad less bland for the easily entertained, as they pop onscreen to break up the redundancy of the gameplay. It also makes this game feel much more like a children’s title.
But Depending on your age and knack for puzzle games, Chameleon can be overly simplistic to the point of annoyance. Each move is timed at ten seconds on default setting, which is great to keep up game pace, though the time limit can be adjusted to a player’s liking. Still, on the default setting, the A.I. seems to frequently make mistakes and moves that I, as an observer, would not have made. Stupid moves and wasted time by an opponent makes it very easy to capitalize in Chameleon, which is why the game definitely works better against a living, breathing opponent as opposed to the CPU. Even changing the difficulty setting doesn’t make this game a whole lot more challenging or interesting, which is something Starfish could have easily improved upon. Though Chameleon does not appear to target any age group in particular, most adults will find little challenge playing this game. But, for a child or pre-teen developing math, geometry, and puzzle-solving skills, Chameleon may very well be a beneficial and somewhat educational tool.
Another disappointment with Chameleon is its lack of game modes. There is what’s called a Race Round, which has you and an opponent start from the same area to join tiles in order to create a path and become the first to reach the checkered flag. There is also King Round, which presents players with a larger tiled board featuring three randomly placed crowns. Players will have to shuffle tiles as they would in a standard game, but will win this game mode by surrounding over half of two crowns to become king. Aside from these, there is the standard Single mode, which allows players to partake in four standard and Versus, matches.
With only four characters in the title and not many game modes, the game’s content feels pretty lacking. Content aside, Chameoleon gets its name because it is a game of color. As such, the brightness and attractiveness of the screen layout is definitely appealing. The tiles look nice, especially with a shaded outer edging to give them a three-dimensional appearance. Furthermore, the music suits the game style. What is annoying about the anime girls who pop up onscreen is their lack of movement. It definitely gives the game a feeling of cheapness, and though anime is never known for its fluidity, the lack of motion gives this game a very dated feel. At times, it feels as though you are playing a Flash game rather than a PSP title, though puzzle games don’t often need to be anything superbly attractive . If you decide to purchase Chameleon, I would recommend not paying too much for it.
In the end, Chameleon pretty much delivers what it promises. While it may not be developed for puzzle gamers seeking a serious challenge, it can provide limited fun for those interested in more juvenile problem solving. It is certainly well-suited for parents who want their children to gain educational value from their PSP as they fit shapes, calculate movements, and solve puzzles. However, this definitely seems more like a game a relative would give as a crappy gift rather than something PSP owners would purchase on their own.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.3 Graphics
Disappointing character designs. The animations are below standard. The game has nice-looking play boards though. 2.5 Control
Basic and comprehensive puzzle game controls offer nothing out of the ordinary. 2.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Upbeat music makes Chameleon fun, though it does gets repetitive. The lack of any character voices feels cheap. 2.3 Play Value
Chameleon definitely shines in Versus mode. Unfortunately, single-player becomes too repetitive and is not challenging enough for skilled gamers. 2.3 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.