Chameleon appears first in Mortal Kombat Trilogy as a partially transparent, color-changing masked ninja able to emulate the abilities of the game's other male ninjas. In this respect he is the counterpart of Khameleon, who appeared in the Nintendo 64 version as a mimic of the female ninjas. Unlike Khameleon, he receives no biography or ending in his initial appearance. In fact, the only shred of in-game information pertaining to Chameleon reveals a possible affiliation with Shao Kahn. It can be assumed that his status as a hidden character means that he is not an active participant in the competition, as this has been the case with many of Mortal Kombat's secret characters over the years. It will not be until many years later however that more concrete information about this shadowy ninja emerges.
In Trilogy, Chameleon's abilities are determined by his color, which changes at intervals. He is able to use all of the special moves of the non-cybernetic male ninjas while matching their corresponding color; unfortunately for the player, these color changes are random. It is therefor useful to approach playing Chameleon as a kind of Randper Kombat in which all characters but ninjas are disabled. In Armageddon, Chameleon's color still changes throughout the match, but he is no longer able to fully mimic other character's move sets. Instead, he adopts a single move from several of the game's ninjas. When these moves are performed, his color changes to signify which ninja the move belongs to.
Chameleon is one of the few playable Mortal Kombat characters to have no unique fatalities. He is able to perform any of the finishing moves of the ninja he is currently imitating, however, meaning the total number of finishers he is able to perform is surpassed only by Shang Tsung. This changes in Armageddon, of course, where the game's Kreate a Fatality system replaces character-specific fatalities for all fighters.
With his reappearance in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Chameleon finally receives a biography of sorts, however information is once again minimal. Though not originally intended to be in the game, he is added later on in the development cycle due to popular demand. As a possible result of his late inclusion, Chameleon is one of eight characters not featured in the game's introductory cinematic, and is one of only two to have no official biography video for the game. This leaves the entirety of his back-story to be conveyed through his ending.
It is learned that Chameleon has been present at every Mortal Kombat tournament since Liu Kang first participated. There he has bided his time in the shadows, ever watchful, waiting for the proper occasion to make his presence known. Though this sheds some light on the ninja enigma, there is nothing revealed of possible ties to other characters, nor what his motive in passively observing the tournaments might have been. Whether working alone or as proxy, Chameleon clearly recognizes the importance of Mortal Kombat and its effect on the realms.
Chameleon has but a single ending. Athough it does account for his whereabouts in previous tournaments, it unfortunately does little to divulge the secretive nature of his character.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (non-canon)
After years of watching the tournaments from the shadows, Chameleon finally has the chance he desires. Using camouflage to slip past the other fighters and race to the top of the Pyramid of Argus, he defeats Blaze and is enveloped with a power that grants him immortality. Finally deciding that the time for skulking is over, Chameleon deems that henceforth he shall be known across the realms as the true champion of Mortal Kombat.
Saurian Status and Other Unknowns
Due to the dearth of information surrounding him, there are several basic facts about Chameleon, such as his origin and alignment, that still remain unclear. He has been assumed by many to be a member of the same Saurian race to which Reptile belongs. They do share reptilian names and have both been shown to have green blood. Strengthening this connection, Khameleon, a fighter who shares his imitative capabilities, has been confirmed to be Zaterran as well. While he may in fact be Saurian, this has not been confirmed in any Mortal Kombat game to date, and thus must be taken as speculation.
Chameleon's alignment is also somewhat ambiguous, though most believe he is evil. The basis for this is rather tenuous, likely originating in a pre-fight message in Trilogy that states he is "one of Shao Kahn's deadliest warriors." This is not sufficiently compelling evidence, however, as numerous individuals have been allied with Shao Kahn over the course of the tournaments, not all of them evil. There is also the fact of his ambition to obtain the power of Blaze; there is regrettably no indication of the ends to which he used this power, other than the declaration that Chameleon wished to be known as Mortal Kombat's true champion. The case could be made that Chameleon is in fact the series' only true neutral, as he has not been shown canonically or non-canonically to have assisted or hindered anyone, nor has he shown any particular interest or disinterest in any combatant.
Chameleon was confirmed to not appear in Mortal Kombat (2011 Video Game). He could appear in future games, but who knows what the future holds? He does have a decent fanbase, so the possibility always remains.
- Chameleon is accessible in the Genesis version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 via a Game Genie code. Although playable, he is clearly unfinished, as he has no special moves or combos. Furthermore, this iteration of the character does not change color, instead having the same color palette as Scorpion. His finishing moves are limited to stage fatalites and Scorpion's friendship. On top of this, his VS. screen portrait does not accurately reflect his appearance, showing a ninja with strangely distorted skin and clothing colors. With all of these oddities, it is not surprising that most do not consider this to be Chameleon's official debut.