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ClayFighter cover art (North American version)
Ringler Studios (Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version)
Danger Productions (animation)
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
ClayFighter is a fighting game released for the Super Nintendo in November 1993 and later ported to Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in June 1994. In 2009, it was re-released on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console.
ClayFighter's design was originally made to compete with fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, but without the heavy violence and gore that was becoming controversial.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'm no-one's fool."
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 1950s 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 opponent in single player mode, she fights 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 opponent 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., except Super Smash Bros. 4) 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 ClayFighter: 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 Sega 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 the Tournament Edition update in 1994, then two sequels, ClayFighter 2: Judgment Clay for the SNES in 1995 and ClayFighter 63⅓ for the Nintendo 64 in 1997, the latter of which had its own special edition with ClayFighter: Sculptor's Cut in 1998, which was only available as a rental game at Blockbuster Video stores in North America. The Sculptor's Cut edition included four additional characters (High Five, Lady Liberty, Lockjaw Pooch, and Zappa Yow Yow Boyz) who were cut out of the original release for 63⅓. Many special attacks that the characters used were removed and the combo system was also altered. Sculptor's Cut is widely considered to be the rarest game released for the Nintendo 64, with only 20,000 copies ever produced.
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.
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