- This article is about the first game in the series. For the series itself, see ClayFighter (series)
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ClayFighter cover art (North American version)
Ringler Studios (Genesis version)
Danger Productions (animation)
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
|Distribution||16-megabit ROM cartridge|
ClayFighter's design was originally made to compete with fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, but without the heavy violence and gore that was becoming controversial. Interplay pushed the game saying "Parents who object to blood-and-guts games now have an alternative title that gives kids the kind of intense action they want to see in fighting games" to draw sales.
A meteor made entirely out of clay crash-lands on the grounds of a humble American circus. The goo from the interstellar object contaminates all of the circus' attractions, transforming them into bizarre caricatures of their former selves, with new superpowers.
The game features eight playable characters and one boss character:
Bad Mr. Frosty - A snowman with a bad attitude. His special attacks include throwing snowballs, spitting sharp balls of ice, sliding along the ground and kicking his opponent, and turning into a snow boulder and rolling into his opponent. His arena in 1-player mode is an icy lake in front of an ice block castle with penguin spectators. His taunt consists of his standing with arms akimbo or gesturing while stating, "I'm bad, I'm cool, I know it's true."
Blob - A blob of clay. A self-proclaimed master of "goojitsu," his specialty is "morphing" into objects to attack his opponent, with his specialty being transforming into a buzzsaw and cutting his opponent in half. He is said to be highly intelligent, despite being made up of the slimy dregs of the mutagenic meteor. His arena is a pool of green slime.
Blue Suede Goo - An Elvis impersonator with wildly exaggerated features, including a big gut and even bigger hair. He throws musical notes at his opponent and uses his hair as a blade. He fights on the keys of a flaming piano with the words "Big Hunk O' Burnin' Clay" (A parody of the Elvis song "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love") on it. His name is a parody of the song "Blue Suede Shoes."
Bonker - A cheerfully manic clown whose arsenal includes deadly pies, killer cartwheels, a spraying flower, and the big hammer that gives him his name. He will fight in two funhouses, one resembling a clown head, the other resembling a bubble-spewing rubber duck (Although their interiors are the same, save for a palette swap).
Helga - An obese opera singer with incredibly large breasts. She is Blue Suede Goo's rival and attacks by hurling herself at her opponents, stabbing them with the horns on her helmet, and by hitting that high note for a sonic scream. The first foe in 1-Player mode, she will fight the player on stage at an open-air opera theatre.
Ickybod Clay - A ghost with a pumpkin head. He can teleport and throw balls of ectoplasm at foes. His name is a play on Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow, and his pumpkin-head is based on the Headless Horseman from the same tale. His arena is a haunted house.
Taffy - A fighting piece of taffy whose attacks mainly involve stretching and twisting his thin but super-flexible body. As a result, Taffy uses some of the longest-reaching moves in the game. He can also twist himself tightly to cause himself to spin at his opponent while his arms flail. In 1-player mode, he will fight in two overflowing taffy factories.
Tiny - A diaper-clad wrestler-type character who does not really rely on wrestling. Instead, he uses his big fists to charge across the screen and punch, as well as rolling himself into a ball and flinging himself at foes. Another foe with two palette-swapped arenas, he will fight in a wrestling ring or at a coliseum.
N. Boss - The final boss is an odd necklace-like creature. Looking like nothing so much as a string of pearls with two round eyes (one wide-open, one half-closed), N. Boss only attacks with projectiles copied from other characters and a grab attack. Unlike the other characters, he does not appear to be made of clay and the announcer does not announce his name at the start of the match (similar to Master Hand from Super Smash Bros.) or when he wins, both suggesting that he was thrown in at the last second just to have a final opponent to face. N. Boss uses the purple meteor itself as his arena, although it is actually a palette swap of The Blob's. (In Tournament Edition, he has his own arena.) His name is a pun, poking fun at both M. Bison from Street Fighter II and the phrase "end boss."
ClayFighter was developed by the studio Visual Concepts and published by Interplay Entertainment. Visual Concepts president Greg Thomas stated that the game, consisting of silly, clay characters battling one another, was conceived as a "new" and "funny" alternative to the violent yet popular fighting franchises Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The developer took the idea to animation experts Ken Pontac and David Bleiman of Danger Productions, based in Brisbane, California. The two companies worked for nearly one year developing ClayFighter. Once the game's eight fighters were finalized, artists at Danger spent several months molding the characters into various positions with different types of clay. For instance, the thinner character Taffy was constructed with a stronger type of clay than the simpler Blob. Also, some characters required more models than others in order to capture all their movements; artists formed about 70 models just for Blob. The characters were then animated using stop motion photography. A video camera linked to an Amiga computer running a graphics editor digitized the figures. Designer Jeremy Airey described this portion of development, processing usable and scripting language character animations, as very long and tedious. Interplay also aided in the ClayFighter project by creating new character movements with spliced animation sequences; the publisher was also responsible for recording the musical score, voices, and sound effects.
In May 1994, Interplay released ClayFighter: Tournament Edition for the SNES. This version of the game was initially presented as an exclusive rental-only deal with Blockbuster Video in North America. Tournament Edition improved on the original ClayFighter by fixing many glitches, adding a number of stage backgrounds, and offering new difficulty settings, speed options, and versus modes. The original Genesis version of ClayFighter was released on the Wii Virtual Console in Europe on February 6, 2009 and in North America on May 25, 2009.
ClayFighter was followed by a tournament edition, then two sequels, ClayFighter 2: Judgment Clay and ClayFighter 63⅓ for the Nintendo 64, which had its own special edition version only for rent at Blockbuster Video stores in America. This "Sculptor's Cut" edition included bonus fighters cut out of the original release for 63⅓, including Lady Liberty, High Five, Lockjaw Pooch, and Zappa Yow Yow Boyz. Many special attacks that the characters used were removed and the combo system was also altered. While the game was a rental exclusive, although rare, it is not uncommon for people to have the game. For example, many Blockbusters liquidated their stock of rental copies and sold them in their stores as a used game.
On March 1, 2015, Interplay announced that a remastered ClayFighter would be released sometime in 2016 and would be developed in partnership with Drip Drop Games. It will include more than 20 characters and 20 "familiar" environments, unique "Claytalities," and new mechanics like double-jumping, air-dashing, counters, and reversals. 
ClayFighter sold 200,000 copies by the end of 1994.
GamePro gave the Genesis port a generally positive review, praising it as nearly identical to the Super NES original. They remarked of the game itself that "fighting fans with a funny bone will enjoy ClayFighter with its laughable characters, cool combos, and great game play." Electronic Gaming Monthly also praised the Genesis port for carrying over all the content of the Super NES version, though they remarked that a six-button Genesis controller is needed to fully enjoy the game.
- Nintendo staff. "Super NES Games" (PDF). Nintendo. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
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- Purchese, Robert (February 6, 2009). "Clay Fighter heads Virtual Console update". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- IGN staff (May 25, 2009). "Nintendo Download: 05/25/09". IGN. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- "Interplay Slings Clay, Not Blood into the Video Game Fighting Arena". December 7, 1993. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- Hutsko, Joe (February 1994). "Electric Word: Gobs and Glory". Wired (Condé Nast) 2 (2). ISSN 1059-1028. OCLC 24479723.
- "ClayFighter". Nintendo Power (Redmond, Washington: Nintendo of America) (55): pp. 22–9. December 1993. ISSN 1041-9551.
- IGN staff (October 25, 1996). "ClayFighter 3 Interview". IGN. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Johnston, Chris. "Get Some Clay...Again". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- Nintendo Power staff (June 1994). "Game Reviews: ClayFighter: Tournament Edition". Nintendo Power (Nintendo of America) (61): pp. 26–29. ISSN 1041-9551.
- ClayFighter for SNES - GameRankings
- "Review Crew: Clay Fighter". Electronic Gaming Monthly (62) (EGM Media, LLC). September 1994. p. 32.
- "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". 1994.
- Kunkel, Bill (December 1, 1994). Clay Fighter II Official Game Secrets. Prima Publishing. ISBN 978-1-559587-93-8.
- "ProReview: ClayFighter". GamePro (65) (IDG). December 1994. p. 94.