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European Saturn cover art
Clockwork Knight, known in Japan as Clockwork Knight: Pepperouchau's Adventure – First Volume (クロックワーク ナイト ～ ペパルーチョの大冒険・上巻～?), is a side-scrolling platform video game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. It was released in Japan on December 9, 1994, in North America on the 1995 launch, and in Europe on July 8, 1995. It was followed by a sequel, Clockwork Knight 2.
Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III ("Pepper" for short) is a toy soldier. He is in love with the Clockwork Fairy Princess, Chelsea, whose voice wakes up the toys of the house every night at midnight. But he is clumsy and something of a laughingstock, especially when compared to his friendly rival Ginger who is also after Chelsea's heart.
One night Chelsea is stolen away by an unknown force, which also hypnotizes some of the lesser toys to become fierce minions and stand in the way of anyone who would try to rescue her. If there's no voice to wake them up anymore then the toys will never live again, so Pepper and Ginger head off to find Chelsea before it's too late.
This game is a side-scrolling platformer in the vein of the Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog series. Unlike those games, however, the game uses prerendered digitized 2D sprites of high-resolution 3D models similar to the Donkey Kong Country series, or Killer Instinct, on top of fully 3D levels (and with fully 3D bosses).
Pepper attacks enemies and opens passages with his key. A quick tap of a button will thrust it out horizontally. Likewise, repeatedly tapping the button over and over will cause him to twist the key around and around. This makes it a bit more powerful (e.g.: an enemy could be knocked out temporarily with a simple jab, but running into the key when twisting it will instantly take it out). He can also pick up unconscious enemies or objects such as footballs or springs and toss them; vertical tosses are possible.
The goal is to reach the end of the stage before time or hit points (typically three, though Gold Keys can increase that maximum) run out. There are no checkpoints; dying sends a player back to the beginning of a level. The levels are fairly large and contain numerous side areas with treasures.Every third level, Pepper must face off against a large, fully polygonal boss in a one-on-one battle. The game has 13 levels, including boss levels. The levels take place in four different rooms with two normal levels and one boss each, plus a final boss. If Pepper loses all his lives, the player can continue from the beginning of the current room by spending coins. If the player does not have enough coins to continue, the game is over and the player must start from the beginning of the game.
On release, Sega Saturn Tsūshin awarded the game a 29 out of 40. Famicom Tsūshin followed this up with a score of 32 out of 40 eight months later, giving it a 10 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review.
USA-based magazine GamePro reviewed the Japanese version of the game prior to the Saturn's launch in the USA. They highly praised the responsive controls and graphical effects such as the scaling of enemies when they move to and from the background, but criticized the game for lack of gameplay innovation, concluding that it is "excellent-looking" and "enjoyable to play" but "once the initial look of the game wears off, you're left with a game you've been playing for years." Their later review of the North American release was more forgiving. Though they criticized the music, controls, and low difficulty, they acknowledged that the game was a strong showcase of the Saturn's graphical features and concluded that younger gamers might enjoy it. Next Generation also reviewed the game prior to the Saturn's USA launch. They too were highly impressed with the game's graphics, noting particularly the "solidity" and depth of the objects, the exceptional parallax scrolling effects, and the textures of the scenery. However, they also concurred that the gameplay is "routine" and unoriginal platforming, and found the game too easy as well.
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly agreed that the game was a showcase for the Saturn's graphical abilities but considered this to be a negative, with one of them elaborating that "The 3-D perspective is practically shoved down your throat. There are enough colors to blind you for life..." Two of them felt the graphics were particularly wasted because the player character cannot enter the different scrolling planes. They rated it an overall "good game" and scored it 28 out of 40 (7 out of 10 average). Similarly to GamePro and Next Generation, Maximum commented that "The graphics do look great … and the gameplay is decent enough, but playing the game is in no way a new experience. Everything you can do in Clockwork Knight, you've probably done before in a 16-bit title." However, they felt the game's worst point to be its lack of longevity, asserting that "even the most unskilled player will have seen all four levels in one session."
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