PAL region PS2 cover art
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
Scaler, also known as Scaler: The Shapeshifting Chameleon, is a video game released in 2004 by Take-Two Interactive and Global Star Software for the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 video game consoles. Scaler follows the story of a lizard-loving 12-year-old boy named Bobby "Scaler" Jenkins who accidentately stumbles across an evil plot to dominate the world through use of mutated lizards.
The game begins with Bobby "Scaler" Jenkins constrained on a chair and being electrocuted. The torturer is 'Bootcamp', a drill sergeant who stars on television appearances. Bootcamp loses his temper as Bobby calls him "Sergeant Butt-breath." In response to his cheekiness, Bootcamp turns the coil on the torture machine to a high level, accidentally opening a portal to another dimension. This portal sucks several papers through, including Bobby's dossier. As the portal closes, Bobby notices a sudden transformation in the physical appearance of his arm still under restraints. It also causes the glass mirror to disappear temporarily, revealing four hideous humanoid lizards behind it. Bobby recognizes the monsters as 'Jazz', a female film director, 'Rhombus', a financial tycoon, 'Turbine', a construction worker, and Bobby's neighbor, 'Looger'. Soon after, it is revealed that these three had been pestered about their jobs at some point in the past by Bobby with his justified "saving lizards" and "lizard equality" campaigns. Due to this meddling, he became the object of their utmost hate and suspect. Looger, who is shown as the leader of the group of reptilian humanoids, scolds Bootcamp for opening the portal. They continue to torture Bobby, suspecting that he might be aware of their master plan to take over the world. Due to his stupidity, Bootcamp himself partly reveals much of the plan, to the dismay of Looger. At that moment, a fly appears in front of Bootcamp, and Bobby unintentionally fires his tongue from his mouth whilst the fly is sitting on Bootcamp's nose, and sucks it back into his mouth. Bootcamp loses his temper yet again, this time pushing the mechanism to its maximum setting. This ultimately transforms Bobby into his shape-shifting alter-ego, a vivid blue and yellow mutant chameleonic, electrostatic lizard with razor sharp claws, a long tongue, and the ability to shift into several other kinds of lizards. Doing so recreates the portal, which this time is more stable, and allows Bobby to break his restraints. With the portal being his only escape route, Bobby 'Scaler' Jenkins escapes from Looger through it, and his abductors immediately chase after him.
When he arrives through the portal, he is projected in a strange world. Bobby-now-Scaler initially thinks that he is simply dreaming. As he explores what he believes is only an ugly dream produced by over-eating, Scaler meets a reptilian men named 'Leon', who has found the dossier of Bobby that was sucked through the portal and had become interested in him. Disgruntled to being discarded as a simple dream by the boy, Leon leaves, but not much later they meet again when Scaler stumbles across Leon's pet, a large six-eyed, flying, laser-shooting, manta-like creature. This creature, called a 'Repadactyl' (or 'Reppy' as Leon calls her), can grant Scaler great physical enhancements by disgorging a smelly gas if fed with Klookies. In the game, Klookies are portrayed as small, orange orbs of energy that Scaler frequently collects.
Finally convinced that everything around him isn't a dream, Bobby accepts a challenge from Leon to save a lizard egg, which turns out that although different in appearance it is a lizard egg from Earth. Leon claims that he wants only to bring it back home. Not trusting him, Scaler decides to tag along. Through this, an uneasy alliance is forged between the two.
As they travel into this strange world of isolated and variegated islands filled with vicious (both humanoid and not) reptiles with the mysterious Leon, aboard Reppy, Scaler discovers more of Looger's secrets. He learns that Looger controls a network of unstable portals that are the only connections between the different dimensions in the "multiverse" through the use of a mysterious device. Any being in control of these portals would have the ability to move freely between the different worlds, and even capture them. And that is exactly what Looger plans to do, by mutating and then cloning en masse lizards in the form of horrible mutants. All of this is done in order to invade and conquer every plane of the multiverse. It becomes clear that Scaler must help Leon to rescue all the eggs and stop Looger, or lose all of the universes to darkness.
Meanwhile, due to the time spent with Bobby, the long-lost memories of Leon slowly began resurfacing and Scaler discovers that Leon is in fact his father. Years prior, he was a scientist, and while performing an experiment with his invention, the portal compass, he was dragged accidentally by his device into Looger's dimension through a portal, and immediately imprisoned by Looger for years. The tortures inflicted on him by Looger in attempt to make him reveal more about his technology left Leon an amnesiac, stripping him from most of his memories. Only now is he able to escape the lonely island, where he had meet his son. So Leon never, as Bobby thought, abandoned him and his mother. Leon is overjoyed to not only finally remember who he is, but also to see his son again, who has become a great hero. However, Scaler struggles a little to accept the truth and accept a father who for so long time he have thought being "a loser freak," who forced his mother to take two jobs to scrape by. In the end however he forgives his father, as after all it wasn't his fault at all.
After defeating Jazz, Rhombus, Turbine, Bootcamp (who in truth is a giant fire-breathing sea serpent) and a few of the mutant monsters, all the while rescuing the 20 remaining lizard eggs, Scaler and Leon arrive at Looger's stronghold. After defeating him and reclaiming the portal compass, they rush to a last portal meant to bring them home but Leon, having returned behind to save an egg fallen from a hole in Scaler's sack, remains on the other side of the portal while Bobby crosses over it. Bobby is back in Looger's basement, and it at last occurs to him that his father did not make it in time. The portal closes, leaving Bobby screaming in horror for having lost, for yet another time, his father.
By unlocking the secret ending, an unexpected event takes place: as Leon said, if you alter the multiverse by any means, it can produce unpredictable effects, even the merging of different versions of history. So, when Bobby screams in horror from the second loss of his father, the basement door opens behind him, and his father stands in its frame, concerned by the sudden scream. By defeating Looger, Bobby did in fact alter time, and Leon was never captured by the evil reptile overlord, meaning that he technically never left his family. Quite the opposite has happened in this timeframe, and the Jenkins family are living together in that same house that Looger would have owned. Bobby is overjoyed but soon discovers that he still has his chameleon tongue, and the reflex to eat flies, much to his own disgust.
Not much later, Leon returns to the basement again, revealing by a monologue to the player (voluntarily breaking the fourth wall), that he in fact maintained the memories of his journey with Bobby, despite pretending just before to not remember anything, and that he has kept the portal compass, expressing his nostalgia of Reppy and hoping that in future there will be more adventures.
The main attraction of Scaler is the ability to transform into five different types of mutant lizards, each one giving some sort of advantage depending on the environment. The different transformations are the Bakudan - a bomb-creating reptile, the Krock - a spiky, rolling reptile, the Doozum - a large flying lizard, the Fruzard - a reptile with the ability to shoot several organic bullets, and the Swoom - a penguin-like lizard adapted to swim. As the player journeys to different areas of the world, he or she will occasionally be given a challenge to defeat the creatures he wishes to transform into, thus enabling upon completion the ability to use their unique abilities to the player's advantage. Only select areas in which Scaler journeys allow him to transform into these creatures, and only one of this five forms are usable in these locations. By feeding Reppy Klokkies, she secretes a gaseous ooze that give Scaler some useful upgrades.
In addition, Scaler faces a wide variety of enemies, all of them proving to be a unique challenge in their own ways. Some enemies shoot projectiles, while others use direct combat or stealth. The gameplay is diverse in this way, presenting the player with a number of different strategies to devise if he or she wishes to overcome the obstacles.
Scaler may also be seen frequently riding upon long tube-like pathways around the map that charge his electrical bombs, rendering him ready for combat as soon as he departs from the tubes. These small, narrow tubes also carry him from place to place, allowing him to collect the eggs he needs and to get back to Reppy in a reasonable time span.
After its release in 2004, Scaler received mostly positive reviews. While receiving praise for its high production values and gameplay, some reviewers criticized it for having an unexciting plot and formulaic design. It currently bears a composite critic score of 70 out of 100 on Metacritic.
- "Scaler on Metacritic". Retrieved May 26, 2008.