—Chameleon's ending from Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Chameleon is a ninja who utilizes camouflage during fights in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He made his debut in the Sega Genesis/SNES versions of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Only through a Game Genie or Pro Action Replay; therefore, it's not his official debut). He also appeared as a hidden character in the PC, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn versions of Mortal Kombat Trilogy and as a playable default character in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
Chameleon first debuted in the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC versions of MKT as a male ninja with partial transparency that changed color. In the Nintendo 64 version, he was replaced by Khameleon, a female counterpart who is actually an entirely separate character. There was initially little information about Chameleon as he had no storyline or game ending. All that was known about him is garnered from the hidden option to fight him (available upon beating the game), in which he is referred to as "one of Shao Kahn's deadliest warriors". He later returned in MK:A with a completely new design and a backstory.
In his first appearance in MKT, Chameleon had the appearance of a male ninja with partial transparency which changes colors during gameplay. In his later return in Armageddon, Chameleon's skin was changed to a clear white skin in promotional renders, although his body is fully transparent during gameplay. He now has turquoise, glowing eyes without pupils. He still wears a similar garment that changes colors at random during gameplay (usually shown to be turquoise in promotional art). Upon using a special move, his costume changes to the color of whatever ninja the move belongs to.
At his debut, Chameleon was depicted as a very adept and formidable fighter, possessing all of the abilities of every single male ninja to appear up to MKT. His body was transparent and would often fade into black before coming back into focus with new colors to signify the powers of whichever ninja he is currently mimicking. Unlike the other secret ninja characters before him, Chameleon moves at the same speed as every other character.
In MK:A, his mimicking abilities are compressed into a single set instead to give him access to moves all at once, though he has none of the 'stun' moves his fellow ninja had. He is also depicted with nigh-invisible skin, only noticeable by faint outlines.
- Ninjas' Moves: In MKT, Chameleon constantly morphed into Ermac, Scorpion, Reptile, Classic Sub-Zero, Rain, Noob Saibot, and Human Smoke, using all their moves. (MKT)
- Green Wave: Chameleon fires a green fireball at his opponent. This move is taken from Ermac. (MK:A)
- Lizard Lightning: Chameleon raises his arms and summons a blue lightning bolt on his opponent, sending them into the air for a combo while they fall. This move is taken from Rain. (MK:A)
- Speedy Serpent: Chameleon dashes behind his opponent and delivers a successful elbow into their back. This move is taken from Reptile. (MK:A)
- Vanishing Kick: Chameleon disappears in a ball of fire and hits his opponent with a kick as he reappears from behind. This move is taken from Scorpion. (MK:A)
- Freezing Charge: Chameleon rushes the opponent with his shoulder, leaving a trail of ice on the ground behind him. This move is taken from Sub-Zero. (MK:A)
It was discovered that Chameleon was playable in the Sega Genesis and SNES ports of UMK3 with the use of a Game Genie or Pro Action Replay cheat device, suggesting that he had been planned for the series prior to his official introduction in MKT. He was an unfinished character as he only used Scorpion's sprites (his sprite would change to Rain's when a decapitation Fatality was performed on him). He has no combos, special moves, or Fatalities. His versus screen picture was that of the typical male ninja made up of multiple glitched colors. Curiously, his picture on the "Choose Your Destiny" screen was that of Kano's.
Chameleon is playable in MKT through the use of a cheat code at the character selection screen. Here, he is a palette swap of a random ninja who changes frequently into the other ninjas.
In MK:A, Chameleon was not originally planned to be in the game, and would have been omitted as a playable character along with Motaro. However, due to great fan demand, both were added to the roster.
Chameleon is similar to the Mortal Kombat 1 version of Reptile where he has no moves of his own, but rather has the moves of the ninja he is emulating. Where Reptile was named for being green, Chameleon was named for his color changing and camouflaging abilities, akin to a real-life chameleon. He is playable by selecting one of the seven male palette-swapped ninjas and holding a certain button combination. During gameplay, Chameleon switches between the seven ninjas randomly and can only perform the combos and special moves of whatever ninja he is currently impersonating. Upon winning, Chameleon will flash through all seven colors rapidly during his victory pose.
In MK:A, Chameleon is now able to perform a select number of the other ninjas' moves at any time, and his costume will change to the color of whatever ninja the move belongs to. He did not receive a move from Noob Saibot, despite being able to turn black in color. He also did not receive any moves from Smoke, nor does he turn gray during combat, apparently ignoring Smoke's previous status as a ninja. Also of note is that Chameleon uses Scorpion's "Vanishing Kick" move which the latter only possesses in the previous title, Mortal Kombat: Deception, not Armageddon.
- Chameleon bled red and green blood in MKT, but bled only green blood in MK:A.
- In UMK3, Chameleon was Scorpion but lacking any special moves.
- Unlike Khameleon, his female counterpart, Chameleon is never explicitly said to be a member of the Saurian race, nor does he ever interact with Reptile.
- Additionally, Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias has stated that his original intention was for Chameleon to be a Saurian, despite the fact that there has never been a bio or ending that stated it outright.
- However, in Mortal Kombat X, if Reptile is in a mirror match he will question if the Reptile before him is Chameleon. This could imply they not only know each other, but that Chameleon may indeed be a Saurian.
- Also in MKX, when Reptile faces Bo' Rai Cho, Bo' Rai Cho will reveal there is another Zaterran, a resident of Reptile's forgotten home and realm. This could be in reference to Chameleon, further implying that he's a Saurian, though given the ambiguity of this Zaterran's identity Bo' Rai Cho could have also been referring to Khameleon instead (which when accounting for Chameleon's poor popularity with the developers unlike Khameleon's more favorable treatment is more than likely).
- Chameleon is one of five non-boss fighters in MK:A to not have an alternate outfit, alongside Daegon, Mokap, Meat, and Khameleon.
- In the mobile game of MKX, Jacqui Briggs's Cosplay character card plays very much like Chameleon, being able to change her appearance to match a ninja fighter and gain abilities based on them.
- The main difference here is that two of the ninjas she can mimic are Tremor and Kuai Liang, rather than Bi-Han as Noob Saibot or as the original Sub-Zero.
- Another difference is that Jacqui's character card can only mimic six ninja instead of seven.
- The characters she can mimic are Scorpion, Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang), Tremor, Ermac, Rain, and Reptile.
- "Your reward is the opportunity to face one of Shao Kahn's deadliest warriors." Shao Kahn's Lost Treasures; Battle With Chameleon. Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Midway Games, 1996.
- "I think the original idea for khameleon/chameleon was that they were both a part of the same race as Reptile, I wasn't involved with embellishing their stories any further than Trilogy." Chameleon Exposed! Mortal Kombat's Most Mysterious Character, YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNEUkzOMoNg