Good fighting games on the Nintendo 64 were a rarity, as the console was more of a 3D adventure world type of specialist.
We’ve never really cared for the genre, so it didn’t bother us back in the late ’90s. But quite a few gamers were complaining about it. Not helped by ClayFighter 63⅓, savaged by the likes of N64 Magazine and the rest of the gaming press.
Not Much Fun to be Had in ClayFighter 63⅓
Right, so this is obviously a joke fighting game. As you can tell on the parody title—the 63⅓ is a pisstake of the “64” suffix on most of the console’s games.
If the game was any good, that may have worked in some sort of way. Fans may have affectionately nodded to the title’s sense of humour.
Instead, the gaming press savaged the title. 24% in N64 Magazine and lots of 3/10s here and there as well. Whoo!
From American developer Interplay Productions, it’s pretty much only notable these days for its use of Earthworm Jim as a playable character.
This was Jim’s first of two appearances on the Nintendo 64, the second being on the largely forgettable Earthworm Jim 3D. Here he is in fighting form.
Not a good hit rate for Jim there, eh? At least Earthworm Jim 4 is out next year for him to set the record straight.
Anyway, ClayFighter 63⅓—coming hot off the heels of the SNES version ClayFighter (1994) the game uses that distinct clay visual effect. It’s a sort of stop motion animation look.
You can tell Interplay Productions tried in some respects with the game, as the arenas have multiple rooms you can bash and knock your way into.
And there are “Claytalities” (parodying more serious fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II Turbo).
But the overall aim is to have standard fights, where to opponents square off against each other. Battle for victory! etc.
The problems? Despite the games silly humour, it’s use of dodgy AI, poor animation, and weird game mechanics ruined any sense of fun.
Ultimately, if you bought the game, you’d fork out £50 for a handful of satirical chuckles. And then get annoyed by how mediocre/rubbish you find the game.
Not the best approach, eh? Interplay did try to spice the title up with Clay Fighter Sculptor’s Cut (1998). You couldn’t buy this in shops, you had to rent it in Blockbuster.
Although the rental chain did let a few gamers win copies in competitions. Bringing about a deflating, odd end for a distinctly odd series.
ClayFighter: The 16-Bit Era
The SNES version of the series launched in 1993. There was also a sequel called ClayFighter 2: Judgment Clay (a nod to Terminator 2: Judgment Day). Pun overload, eh?
Three developers got stuck in for first SNES game (and Mega Drive port):
- Visual Concepts
- Ringler Studios (Sega Mega Drive/Genesis port)
- Danger Productions
Reviews from the gaming press were a bit more encouraging back then. And we remember the first game a great deal and really got quite into it around 1995.
On holiday in Spain, we remember inventing some new characters for the series. Whilst obsessing over Theme Park on the SNES as well. Fun times.
But Interplay Productions took over for the sequel. And we must say, for the time the graphics were very impressive.
But, yeah, other than a distinctive look there’s not much else to add now. We’re not a big fan of fighting games, but this series did appeal to us.
We guess it was the innovative approach, even if ClayFighter never was near classic status.
Yet in the space of a few years it went from of passing interest on the SNES, to a dismal failure on the Nintendo 64.
That outing in 1997 was the end of it all, other than the final attempt to wrest something from the series with Clay Fighter Sculptor’s Cut. Then it was kaput.