Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spy Chameleon (Wii U eShop) Review

A rare Sunday review reveals itself from the shadows! That's a suitable introduction here, as my review today is for a stealth game called Spy Chameleon. Available on Steam already, Spy Chameleon scampers his way onto the Wii U eShop. How well does he pull off his caper? Let's find out with my review!

I spy with my little eye... a fun little game that 
stars something that can camouflage.

For stealth game fans, there's a name that's synonymous with the genre, Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series. However, now there's a new challenger waiting in the wings, and while he doesn't have the same level of gravitas or hype around him, he's a solid contender for being in a stealth game that's less about crazy plots of world domination and more about pure, unadulterated gameplay. This is Spy Chameleon, and it's a surprise of great quality for the Nintendo eShop.

What is Spy Chameleon? While not the most novel game title, Spy Chameleon pits you as the titular hero, completing five missions spanning across 75 levels. Played in an overhead perspective, the goal of each level is to avoid detection while aiming to reach the exit of each level.

Spy Chameleon is exceptionally easy to pick up and play. There's but two things that our star can do, and that's move and change colors to camouflage himself with his surroundings. The latter allows him to change into one of four colors, each mapped to one of the Wii U controller's face buttons. There's time where you can simply run to a piece of colored carpet and blend in, while later game challenges require you to be on the move as you seamlessly switch from color to color as needed.

In many regards, it's amazing how much the development team of Spy Chameleon was able to squeeze out so many levels with so much variety with just two moves the player can use. It's even more amazing how multiple new mechanics and obstacles are thrown in to keep the game feeling fresh and building off the aforementioned simple to learn controls.

Some levels you'll be maneuvering yourself past robotic guard drones. Although without sight, if a drone runs into you, you fail the level. Then there's security cameras and other enemies that display a field of sight, and if you enter that field, then yes, once again your mission ends. Thankfully, all of the lengthier levels in Spy Chameleon have at least one checkpoint that can be returned to if the stealthy reptile were to get caught.

There's a myriad of opportunities where our hero can slip by these fields of sight undetected, whether it's by carefully timing his movements to run past them while a camera's temporarily turned the opposite way or, better yet, using the various colored carpets, rugs, and flooring to use to blend in with his surroundings. This allows him to be in a field of vision of a foe without being caught, that is, as long as he is the correct color (i.e. being colored yellow on a yellow carpet).

While reaching the exit of a level is the main goal of Spy Chameleon, there are three other objectives to take care of. It's through these that Spy Chameleon allows players to play their way. If one wishes to speed run a level, they can do so, hopefully beating a given level's target time and earning a place on the online leaderboards at the same time. If one likes to collect things, there's ten flies to nab in each level, although these are generally placed in the path of how the developers think one should solve the level. Finally, after a level has been completed once, a ladybug or two (or three!) is placed in the trickiest of locations in each level, requiring the greatest skill to nab. Thus, depending on how you want to play Spy Chameleon, there's a goal for everyone. (Of course, I had to be a completionist and do everything!)

Speaking of completionists, finishing everything Spy Chameleon has to offer takes around six hours. That's beating every level 100% on both normal and hard difficulties and successfully completing each and every achievement. It's a solid amount of time for a game at this asking price.

Spy Chameleon won't wow many with its rather basic presentation, but what is here works and works rather well. Menus are simple enough to follow and look sleek, and the levels are easy to see where you need to go and what you need to avoid. The music, while replaying often, suits the look and feel of a slick, '60s spy series, something that I would imagine the developers had in mind.

What you end up having with Spy Chameleon is a wonderful game that challenges your brain as much as your timing. For a game with such simple controls and a lack of abilities for the player to utilize, the level design constantly introduces new concepts to keep the gameplay interesting. Each level is as refreshing as the last and offers as much novelty, too. While not without problems, Spy Chameleon gets a loud (but not too loud as to give away my stealthy position) recommendation and two color-changing chameleon thumbs up.

[SPC Says: 8.25/10]

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