Chameleon Run is a short but super-sweet color-changing sprinter

Can you keep up with this speedy and deviously tough side-scroller?

mw ysp chameleonrun lead
Noodlecake Games

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Like the namesake lizard, there’s more to Chameleon Run than initially meets the eye. It’s a side-scrolling auto-runner with compact, yet typically complex stages, quite like Rayman Fiesta Run and other series entries, but there’s more to it than just leaping at the right moments: you’ll also need to change your character’s color quite frequently.

Keeping with the inspiration, your little sprinter can shift between yellow and pink body colors with a tap, and it’s essential to staying alive long enough to make it to the end of each level: land on a platform that’s a different color than your body and the attempt ends. Luckily, Chameleon Run throws you right back into it, immediately beginning another run, and this can go on and on dozens, if not hundreds of times until you finally figure out how to clear each stage.

mw ysp chameleonrun gameplay Noodlecake Games

Swap colors based on where you’re landing, but be sure to dodge the black platforms and obstacles.

And color-changing is just the start of it, as the game has other twists along the way that can throw a wrench into your perfect run. It’s compact, for sure, but also tough and totally tantalizing. Think you’ve got the skills to make it to the end? Here are three reasons why Chameleon Run is an essential iOS (and Apple TV) platformer.

It’s brilliantly designed: We’ve all played side-scrolling running games, from Canabalt to Robot Unicorn Attack or even Jetpack Joyride, but Chameleon Run feels distinctive. It requires a lot of precision and planning, and completing one of the extremely difficult later stages demands a balletic rhythm of taps and timing—which you’ll probably hone by dying over and over again.

mw ysp chameleonrun headjump Noodlecake Games

The head-jump move finds you bopping up and down from below a platform—that takes some getting used to, for sure.

Landing on the opposite color ends your run, but so does landing on a black platform at any point… or falling into the bottom of the stage, obviously. Tapping the right side of the screen makes you jump, while hitting the left side changes your color, and you’ll need decisive timing to compensate for moving platforms and other obstacles along the way. Everything feels super responsive and well-balanced, it’s just tough: so it’s on you to overcome that challenge.

Concise, but varied: Admittedly, Chameleon Run is pretty short: it has 20 stages (up from 16 when it launched last year), and a few of those are tutorials, so the game stands in stark contrast to some of the more voluminous games on the App Store. That’s not a complaint, for the most part. While I’d happily play more, Chameleon Run makes great use of its brevity, delivering perfectly built stages and throwing a new curveball into play every few stages.

mw ysp chameleonrun autochange Noodlecake Games

Later levels have translucent panels that force-change your color, which is another variable you need to plan for.

A double-jump ability is pretty common for the genre, but the head-jump is something new: rather than leap atop a platform, you’ll bounce below it. While that makes total sense with a bit of practice, it totally throws you off at first. And then the game introduces automatic color-changing portals, which force you to swap shades often before dumping you onto the wrong-colored platform.

In short, Chameleon Run never wants you to get comfortable with its mechanics and is built accordingly. There’s never a dull moment or repetitive level, and those wickedly intense last levels will probably keep you busy for a long while.

Lots of replay value: While Chameleon Run may not have a massive stack of levels to take down, it makes the most of each one. Beyond simply completing a level, you’ll find additional objectives—collecting all the marbles, for example, or finding the right path that allows you to finish without changing colors—plus the stages can be replayed over and over again to try and improve your best time.

mw ysp chameleonrun objectives2 Noodlecake Games

The bonus objectives and speed challenges help add fun reasons to return to each stage.

Chameleon Run makes a strong impact while it lasts, and if a game can keep me feverishly interested even after dozens of back-to-back attempts to clear a single stage, then it really must be something special. It’s absolutely worth the $2—and looks really superb in motion, which doesn’t really come through in screenshots—although I can’t help but hope we see even more additions in time.

Developer: Hyperbolic Magnetism/Noodlecake Games
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: $2

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