Hello loyal readers, today I hope to provide you with something a little more meaty to sink your teeth into. We’re covering a couple of N64 games and a PSOne title today, and let me tell you there have never been two sets of titles that were more opposed than these two, at least in terms of quality. Onwards!!
Before we get into things properly, a quick note on a game that was supposed to be included this week but isn’t. The game Catherine is a PS3 and Xbox 360 title that I have a little bit of experience with and do actually own on PS3 myself, but as far as I can remember the game has very little to actually do with what I would have thought of as a classic 3D platformer. However, this is not why the game is missing from the list, in fact the truth is that my PS3 broke a little while ago and I’ve been waiting to get my hands on a new one to cover more of the games that I am missing for this platform. Once I’ve gone through the list I will go back and do a catch up article to cover anything I may have missed, so worry not!
The first game on the list comes from a little known developer called Japan System Supply who are responsible for only 4 games as far as I can tell, and two of them are on this list (for those of you interested, the other two are a tarot reading game and an RPG/Fighter). Although Chameleon Twist is a game few people are likely to have heard of, I have to say that it is one of the most interesting and unique games I have had to play for this list, and is one of the few that I have resolved to finish all the way through after I’m done with the list.
The story concerns a very normal chameleon who one day decides to follow a white rabbit (natch) into a magical pot and becomes an anthropomorphic chameleon, and that’s the entire thing. For some reason, once you become anthropomorphic you just decide to go on an adventure, and so the game begins.
Other than running and jumping, your main method of attack and mobility is to stick your tongue to things. You can use it to zip your way to poles across gaps, use these same polls to spin around in a circle to reach other areas, and you can stand up on your tongue to perform a high jump onto tall ledges. As for attacking you mainly have to use it to suck up enemies, Yoshi’s Island style, and then machine-gun them into other enemies and bosses. All of these moves flow together quite well, excluding some slight stutter that you get between using certain moves and attacks, although the one bee in the bonnet is the fact that the high jump move is very difficult to get the hang of, and even now I find it difficult to use well consistently.
Graphically the game is very standard for an N64 game, and does have a tendency to look bland and under-designed, but by far the biggest failing in this regard is the camera. The camera has a tendency to point at the ground constantly and make all of the levels feel very small and claustrophobic, and sometimes it can make platforming segments really difficult as it sticks itself into a corner and refuses to move, no matter how much you waggle the C-stick. Although the camera does cause a few issues they are by no means game-breaking and you can still get through the levels, despite the camera with attitude.
The gameplay has a lot of challenge to it, although it may not seem that way at first. When you start you have to make use of the basic techniques that you learned in the training mode (which is essential here by the way) to make your way across the levels, with only basic platforming skill needed. As things progress you’ll find more and more challenging areas, including spinning around at just the right moment to land on moving platforms, running to dodge a spinning ant queen before you knock her off her legs with a tongue spin, and sucking up missiles to blast at untouchable bombs to make new floor areas safe.
Finally, the music and sound effects are great and work well with the world the game creates. The lack of story isn’t a big deal considering that if you’re coming to this game for anything it’s probably going to end up being for the gameplay over the storyline.
Overall: A game that has some amazing gameplay, if a little stunted in the storyline department. Try to remember that the game will get tough at times and you should be able to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Chameleon Twist 2
Ahh the sequel, sometimes a great addition to the series that builds on the original and sometimes a travesty of a money grab produced by people who didn’t understand what made the first one good in the first place. I am glad to say that this is very much the former of the two. Genuinely I have never been more pleased with a sequel than I was with Chameleon Twist 2. I enjoyed the first game because it was different and challenging without being excruciating, and I love the second game for doing the same thing again but with more colour, more moves, and hell it just feels better.
The story this time concerns the same chameleons from the first game getting knocked into the sky by the rabbit from the first game and having to go on another adventure to collect coins and carrots across 6 different worlds. So yeah, the story hasn’t really improved since the first game, but once again that’s not what we’re really here for at all.
The gameplay is much improved from the first game, and there is no stutter between the moves that you can perform, making the entire game feel much smoother. It also means that you can string different moves together more easily, although the high tongue jump is pretty difficult to do. The new moves for the game include the ability to swing around poles vertically this time, adding swifter verticality to the game that the first one didn’t have, and the ability to use a parasol to glide across bigger gaps and catch a ride on wind currents which makes bigger areas more easily explorable. Another interesting note is that you can actually stick your tongue to walls as well as polls now, meaning more of each level is available to climb around on, and the addition of the ability to jump once you’ve reeled in your tongue means that you can combine this move with the vertical pole spin to have new level designs that include higher places to climb to.
The levels are much, much better here. Instead of being all on a single level and usually relegated to a series of individual rooms, the worlds here are all huge, open spaces that are freely explorable and contain many hidden areas and bonuses. The game also adds some power ups to the mix, which include things like health ups, movement bonuses, temporary invulnerability, and tongue extensions. The weirdest thing about these power ups is that they’re set on random and negative ‘power ups’ are thrown in as well, so sometimes you can end up getting a slowdown or even nothing at crucial moments.
Musically and graphically there are more improvements. The game is much more vibrant and colourful than its predecessor and the graphics do seem slightly improved, although obviously limited by the graphical capability of the N64. The music is perfect as well, it really fits with the upbeat style of the game and the colourful presentation. An odd thing is that for some reason one of the characters had their colour changed for seemingly no reason.
Overall: Ignore the first game, play this one. It is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had on this list and I will be surprised if anything manages to beat it at this point. Seriously, you need this game in your life.
How can things go from so good, to so bad? Cheesy is a game made by CTA Developments, who are responsible for approximately 3 whole games, all of which were published by Ocean Software. This information will not help you ,however, as they seem to have entirely disappeared since they finished this game. I wonder why?
Cheesy is a game about a mouse who is kept trapped by an evil scientist, so he must escape his cage and break his way out of the evil scientist’s house by defeating the tiniest UFO you have ever seen in your life. The animations that tell you of this are complete crap, and not just because of how they were modelled and produced. For some reason the videos are all very grainy and look like they were encoded with a potato. I know that it’s difficult to squash video onto a PSX disc, but I’ve seen other games handle it much better than this one.
Moving onto the gameplay…it’s awful. When you press a button on the controller the character keeps moving regardless of how long you’ve pressed the button for, sometimes it can take a whole 3 seconds for the character to actually stop. Considering that this game requires you to jump on enemies at first and eventually escape climbing flames, this makes the entire game excruciatingly difficult. At first it seems like the game is going to use tank style controls ripped straight from the Resident Evil series, but once you move onto a box nearby it switches into a 3D-rendered 2D platformer, which is a little jarring but not too bad, but then later on it switches again to a top down shooter, and then again into a behind the character ‘chase’ style level. This gameplay variation would normally be quite welcome, but the awful controls make having to overcompensate entirely annoying, and it feels like just after you get used to it you have to change it up completely.
As mentioned before, the FMV sequences are atrocious, but the in game graphics are no better. Everything looks as basic as possible and some of the enemies appear to be missing body parts. The textures used look like they were made in Microsoft Paint and Cheesy himself just genuinely scared me. There is no music whatsoever throughout the entire course of the game, and that leaves it feeling very empty. The sound effects are even worse if you can believe it, they play constantly and repeatedly and make you feel like your ears are going to jump off your head and run away.
The last thing to mention here is the fact that like many early PSOne titles, this game has no save feature and so relies on passwords so that you can progress in more than a single sitting. However, the password screen basically doesn’t work. I mean it’s technically functional as I had to use it to get through the game, but a single tap of the D-pad sends the letter selector speeding out of control. It took me about 10 minutes each time I wanted to enter a level code purely because I couldn’t land on the letter that I wanted to choose.
Overall: By far the worst game on this list, and yes that includes Bubsy 3D. Do yourself a favour and do not ever play this game, don’t even acknowledge that it exists.