Clay Fighter 63 1/3Clayfighter sets new standards for all future N64 games.
Clayfighter 63 1/3 will remain a prominent title in the N64 library for years to come. Indeed, it is destined to be looked back upon again and again, each time a new fighter comes out for the 64-bit console. You see, Clayfighter is so terrible it sets the standards for bad. It takes bad to a whole new level, in fact, and then to a level after that.
Clayfighter 63 1/3 actually started out as an M2 project. For those of you who don't remember, M2 was Matsushita's short-lived dream-machine that never materialized. Probably realizing that M2 was a no-go in advance, Interplay scrapped the project and instead began developing the game for Nintendo 64. Aren't we lucky?
Clayfighter 63 1/3 comes packaged with nine ready to play characters plus three hidden that are accessible after beating the game on its various degrees of difficulty. The fighters in the game are made of 2D sprite based claymation and, despite pretty good over-all design, the animation is almost non-existent. One would think developers would have learned from the mistakes of Midway's Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but evidently Interplay never picked up a copy of the game. Clayfighter 63 1/3 actually makes MK Trilogy look like a fully animated Disney feature cartoon in comparison.
Bad Mr. Frosty, a Clayfighter favorite, returns for the N64 version, equipped with snow-rolls and raspy voice. In addition, there is also Blob (a green pile of slime), Bonker (a nightmare clown), T-Hoppy (a steroid pumped rabbit), Kung-Pow (a stereotypical Kung-Fu fighter), Taffy (Gumbi with attitude), Icky Bod Clay (a pumpkin-head monstrosity), Houngan (a voodoo...thing) and, of course, Earthworm Jim, everybody's favorite worm. The three hidden characters include a disgustingly fat Santa Claus, a mad scientist and Hobo Cop.
The 3D environments in Clayfighter are glitchy, but still one of the more impressive aspects of the game . Often while battling, though, (and we use this term loosely) 3D objects in the foreground obstruct the view of the fight. Even worse, in same cases the obstruction continues for the entire round, making it nearly impossible to play the game intelligently -- and so the button mashing begins. The sad part is players can still win 99% of the time. Bugs aside, we found ourselves wondering if two teams -- one working on animation and another developing the 3D backdrops -- had somehow managed to throw the finish product together.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't play particularly great, either, which might have been its only saving grace. Because of the choppy animation, fighters will sometimes react to moves that have been performed seconds before, catching up. "Hey, am I still controlling this sucker?", we cried out in frustration, but damn it, Kung Pow continued to perform his wacky moves. The stereotypical China-man was possessed, and hard as we tried, we just couldn't regain control. Then the animation caught up and once again, the analog stick became useful. And so, one 25-hit combo and three frames of animation later, we began to weep.
Combos are disguised as regular moves. A bright-blue light illuminates the character gearing up for a combo and warns challengers of the attempt at the same time. Nailing an enemy with a 15-hit combo never fails to satisfy.
Some of the moves are ridiculously funny, too. One of the characters hurls a chicken at his opponents, yelling: "Cluck you!" Another, Taffy, exclaims in a squeaky voice: "Sugar role!" as he bursts at enemies. Another yet, Sumo Santa, screams "Taste this!" as he throws his flabby belly at rivals. The game doesn't try to be serious and it's rather refreshing in that sense.
The best part of Clayfighter 63 1/3, though? The sound effects. Silly as it they may be (offensive and immature, for that matter), they still manage to draw a smile or even a chuckle from most everyone who has had a go with the game. Kung Pow in particular, who offers players a wide variety of stereotypical babble like: "Poo-Poo-Platter!", as he dances underneath an opponent or, "You need-a-more training" after besting one in a match. Certainly, blind people will love this title.
Clayfighter 63 1/3 tries to spoof on the fighting genre and might have succeeded had it lived up to its potential. Gameplay is managable, character design is above average and the theme of the game is comical. Fans of the series may get a kick out of it, but certainly won't be blown out of their seats.
Unfortunately, when it comes down to it Clayfighter doesn't excel in any category, and in fact actually manages to be exceedingly bad in more than a few. Animation is poor at best, play control isn't up to par and the 2D sprites look dated. The 3D backdrops, sadly one of the better aspects of the Clayfighter experience, suffer from foreground obstruction and horrendous animation transitions from level to level. In fact, the only quality of the game worth mentioning is its sound effects, which are humorous. Unless you're blind, though, or simply don't care about gameplay or small details like smooth animation, Clayfighter 63/13 isn't worth the hefty N64 price tag. Rent it. Better yet, have your friend rent it.