If you ever have a mission that needs carrying out, then it’s fairly obviously who you should call. Yep, a Spy Chameleon.
Think about it. The animal kingdom is a wonderful place and its master of disguise really does need something better to do than sit around on a branch all day long, swirling its eyes in different directions and eating copious amounts of crickets. My god, that must get boring.
So what better way to put the chameleons colour changing ability to good use than to drag him (or her) across five varying missions and through 75 levels of challenges.
Veteran Xbox owners may well have heard of Spy Chameleon. Originally released by Unfinished Pixel as an Xbox 360 Indie title back in 2009, the leap to a new generation, improvements in hardware functionality and indeed the obvious maturing of the developer have enabled Spy Chameleon to be remade with fresh new 3D visuals, new gameplay mechanics and most excitedly, new challenges. Honestly speaking, I was initially slightly worried when I heard Spy Chameleon was coming to Xbox One as the original 360 title didn’t seem like the most polished of titles. But hey, a full remake and a bit of cash can do wonders for the human race (just ask Hollywood’s finest), so why not lavish some of that on one of nature’s strangest critters.
An out-and-out arcade puzzler, that in no way takes itself seriously, Spy Chameleon is a rather enjoyable addition to the Xbox Games Store. Supremely colourful, you need to navigate your spy through a shed load of missions, creeping past security cameras, guards and goldfish (yep, goldfish), as you attempt to clear each of the levels of three objectives. Initially, you’ll probably decide to collect as many of the flies that have been left lying around as possible, before making a hasty exit, and once you have done so, further playthroughs of each stage will give you the chance to perfect your speedrunning and/or give you the chance to explore the surroundings a little more in the search of numerous ladybugs. Whilst you can’t unlock the latter objective until you’ve completed either of the prior ones, both the fly eating and timed runs give you a great idea of how to approach each level.
So whether you’re on the search for a lost painting, trying to take super-secret photos of a celebrity or discovering the formula for one of the world’s most successful soft drinks, Spy Chameleon will keep you busy for a little while.
In order to make your way through each level, you’ll need to utilise the chameleons special colour changing ability to full effect. A quick press of the yellow Y button, the blue X, the red B or the green A will enable you to blend in with whatever surface you are stood on. Whilst the majority of the 75 levels will be covered with coloured rugs in which to hide, later levels involve colour changing panels which see you flipping your way through multiple colours one after another.
And you’ll need to make sure you are well camaflouged as each stage is patroled by robot guards, looked over by nosey goldfish and kept safe by numerous cameras. Each guard type has it’s own unique cone of vision and you’ll have to make sure you are either out of the line of sight of whatever is in place to stop you, or at the very least are standing completely disguised in order to make it through to the end.
The levels ramp up ever so slightly in difficulty as extra patrols come into play but aside from the odd level or two that are slightly frustrating to work out, the vast majority can be swept through in a matter of seconds. In fact, whilst games usually get more difficult the further you progress through, the addition of a cardboard box as a place to hide, means that some of the much later levels are an absolute breeze to complete.
If you are only bothered about running through each level the once and taking in the end game credits, then the 150 gamerscore achievement for completing the entire game, on hard difficulty, in under 18 minutes kind of points to how many hours you are going to get out of Unfinished Pixel’s Xbox One attempt. But Spy Chameleon isn’t just about reaching those end credits, it’s about going back and perfecting your speed running and beating the times of your friends. In fact, it absolutely excels in that objective and without the leaderboard element, things would be over faster than a chameleons long sticky tongue searching for that tasty cricket.
If you have a spare evening and fancy something cheap that will give the old gray matter a little workout, then grab Spy Chameleon. As long as you have a decent understanding of the colouring and position of all the buttons on an Xbox One controller, then playing through the game on normal difficulty is plain sailing. Get involved in the hard mode (picking up the cheevos tied to the higher difficulty whilst you do so), and you’ll find something that will last you just a little bit longer; albeit not by much.
You never know, after that you may find yourself going back another time in order to complete all the objectives, and this is where the real replayability comes in.
For the price, it’s more than worth a punt.