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Clay Fighter 63 1/3 Review

Publisher - Interplay
Developer - Interplay
Platform - N64
Type - Fighting
Score - 4 1/3 of 10

I've been a fan of fighting games since the original Street Fighter II machines hit the arcade (can we count Double Dragon?) and I've been a huge fan of Clayfighter since its debut on the Super Nintendo system. I had very high hopes for this games. If they could take the solid fighting engine from the first cart, add the insane wackiness, and serve it up with the power of the N64, I'd be the first in the line at the toy store. In no way did this game live up to my expectations.

There is no way I could possibly explain all the things that are wrong with this game, it would take too long. I can save a lot of time by telling you the only thing they got right: the characters look good. Well, the clay models they digitized look good. The other graphics in this game are miserable. The 3-D backdrops are weak and unbelievable. Furthermore, they look incredibly out of place when the game superimposes terminally flat character upon them. What really drags this game down is pathetic animation. There are so few frames of animation that there is no way anyone playing the game could mistake it for actually movement. The digitized characters make the stop motion creatures of old movies look miraculously smooth and realistic. The original 16-bit Super NES surpasses this game graphically. That is just unacceptable.

Further dragging this game down is the sickly sound. The squeaks and whistles that trickle out of the TV set also make me long for the 16 bit incarnation and draw attention to the fact that this game has no place in the 64 bit world. The noises the characters emit are caustic and repetitious and scream out "Take me back to the store and demand a refund!"

Even the fighting engine in Clayfighter suffers in the new version. The Blob, the character with the most outrageous morphing maneuvers has pitiful replacements in this version that display the lack of imagination that permeates the entire game. The original system was a comical caricature of the popular Street Fighter engine. The new engine has so many changes and unnecessary additions that I have to wonder if this game forgot that it's supposed to be a spoof, and started taking itself too seriously. Clayfighter incorporates combos, 3D side-stepping, and "Claytalities." Because of the animation problems, all the combos and moves are hard to execute. You can never tell what your character is really doing and the game quickly degenerates into mere button crushing. The worst addition is the side-stepping. Clayfighter is clearly a 2D fighter and nothing proves this more than "3D" side-stepping. Hitting the side-step button rotates the 3D background around the 2D characters. It just doesn't work.

I am deeply disappointed by Clayfighter 63 1/3. If you're looking for a good fighter, you can't do worse with any of the other fighting games available for the N64. If you've got a hankering for the peculiar magic of the original Clayfighter, march down to a used video game dealer and purchase the original. It is superior to this version in every possible way.

I am very tempted to give this game a three out of ten on the Spiffy scale, but it is possible that the goofy characters may appeal to a younger audience, and some people may actually like mindless, button-bashing fighters, so I'll have to give it a really, really low 4.