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Clay Fighter – Genesis

Clay Fighter – Genesis

clay fighterPlatform: Sega Genesis

Developer: Visual Concepts / Ringler Studios

Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

Release Date (NA): 1994

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Clay Fighter. Yes. You remember this game. Or maybe you don’t. But if you do, I bet you mostly remember it from the super cool gaming ads that featured the main character, Bad Mr. Frosty, as a clay sculpture. Those pictures alone were enough to make kids of all ages want to pick up a controller and “kick some clay” with their friends! And pick up the controller they did. Clay Fighter was quite the popular game in 1snes_clay_fighter_-_tournament_edition_2993 and 1994. Originally released for the Super Nintendo, they would later port it to the Sega Genesis to broaden their audience (which was smart considering that the Genesis was winning the console battle against the SNES… but that’s an argument for a later date). While generally regarded as “popular”, I can’t remember a single person ever owning any of the Clay Fighter games Clay Fighter 63 1/3 for the Nintendo 64 has gained a strong cult following as a unique, richly detailed, and moderately rare title. In the gaming community, most people are so affixiated on this title that they have overall ignored the previous two Clay Fighter installments: Clay Fighter and Clay Fighter 2: Judgment Clay (a great play on Terminator 2: Judgment Day I might add). Then there was the forgotten Playstation project Clay Fighter Extreme. Regardless of the forgotten and remembered Clay Fighter games, what is Clay Fighter and why do we care?

The concept is simple: Clay sculpted figures fighting each other in a “less-than-violent” fashion (*Note: They heavily advertised themselves as “no blood or gore” to separate themselves from Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct). While Clay Fighter might look like a straight forward fighting game on the surface, the development of this game was entirely unique and revolutionary! These aren’t just computed generated graphics, y’all. The action figures you are fighting with were actually hand-sculpted and stop-motion photography was used to capture their movements. The camera used for capturing these images was hooked up to a computer using graphics editing software to digitize the images. Rumor has it that there were at least 70 different clay models created for the character Blob! Each model showed Blob in a different position and clay fighter islandby the process of scripting language to each character’s animation, you essentially would control the stop-animation clay sculpture using the buttons on your controller. This process was repeated for all eight fighters, some requiring more or less images (clay models) than others. Neat isn’t it?! The more you know!

But going through a painfully difficult and challenging development process to make a game doesn’t really have anything to do with the overall outcome. Just because you tried really hard doesn’t mean the gaming world is going to take pity on you. After all, we just spent $50 to buy this game! So, it’s widely important to understand, even though the developers worked endlessly for over a year to develop Clay Fighter, we should still consider the quality and depth of the game as a GAME and not as an art project.

An abandoned amusement park sits peacefully in the noonday sun. Playland was once the most popular vacation spot in all of the Muddville; these days it is only home to dust and cobwebs.

This, however, is about to change. From a bajillion miles away comes a mysterious purple clay meteor. It approaches seemingly with purpose – rocketing towards the center of the park. With deafening impact the meteor explodes, spreading clay devastation throughout the park. Playland has become Clayland.

Hours later, as the smoke begins to clear and the years of dust resettle, something stirs.

From the twisted ruins of Playland a mighty warrior emerges and then another and another, each the product of the strange meteor and circus rubble, each with only one thought in their soft clay brains – uh…, duh…, oh yeah…, become the King of the Circus.    

The road to become King of the Circus will not be an easy one. The Clay Fighter who wants this title will have to be stronger, smarter, and trickier than all the others. Who will it be? Blue Suede Goo with his hair blade, Ickybod Clay and his Ecto Ball, Helga, Bonker, Tiny, Blob, or Taffy? Each Clay Fighter was given special powers and abilities by the meteor, some abilities even they don’t know about. You’ll need to explore these unknown abilities if you wish to claim the title King of the Circus.

This is the storyline and I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the coolest, most fun, and purely goofy stories ever. Right off the bat you know that this game is serious but shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The entire mood and feel of the game is not what I expected when IClay_Fighter_2 first bought this in October of 2013. I remember Clay Fighter as a kid but I never had the privilege of playing it until now and man I was caught off guard. The first thing you’ll notice when you turn the game on is the crazy upbeat and high-tempo music paired with bright varying colors of pink, purple, blue, yellow, red, green, and more as they pair together to set the tone going forward. The menu screen, however, has a goofy slowed down kazoo-sounding tune that sounds more like something from the Toy Story game than from a fighting game. I can’t fully describe my feelings but I can tell you that it’s a bit odd and strange. The cover art for Clay Fighter is borderline horrifying for a kid. They’ve turned a lovable snowman into a menacing snow fighter with sharp claws and angry eyes. But, despite the complete contrast in perception versus reality, I was still intrigued.

There are varying levels of game speed, ranging from 1 to 12 and there are three difficulty settings. One unique thing about Clay Fighter is the full use and integration of a 6-button controller. It utilized X, Y, and Z for punches and A, B, and C for kicks. When using clay fightera standard 3-button controller, the start button is used to toggle between punches and kicks, which I can only imagine would grow very old very fast and become quite a chore and nuisance. In addition to the standard punches and kicks, each fighter has a slew of other attacks at their disposal, none of which are clearly defined in the game or the booklet as they encourage “experimenting” with the buttons to figure it out. These special moves involve close attacks, throws, holds, and special moves, which are possibly the most difficult and near impossible attacks to master or even figure out! Hell, the game booklet says “These moves can be relatively difficult and it may take you a while to master the timing required for the button and control pad movements. Timing is very important in any of the special moves, so it might take you a while to perfect this and other attacks.

After discovering that it would take me forever and a day to learn how to do anything other than punch or kick, I was immediately turned off. That kind of stuff makes this the kind of fighting game where the kid who owned it was basically the King of his house because he could play it alone and learn all of the special moves and annihilate his neighbors over and over to the point that they didn’t even want to play the game against him or go to his house anymore or invite him to any birthday parties. This sort of stuff is frustrating and unnecessary. If you want to make the button configurations difficult, that’s one thing. But making them difficult and not telling people what buttons to press?! That’s just ludicrous!

clay fighter 1

Clay Fighter provides ample attacks and a great list of characters to fight with, each with their own special fighting styles. Some fighters are atrocious and unfun, such as Taffy while others are outright awesome and strong, such as The Blob and Mr. Frosty. Each stage represents a different part of the circus, and for some reason is on an “island in the sky” (cliché term, yes.). The speed setting seems unnecessary yet it could be my gaming experience that makes me feel this way. With the setting on 12, the game seemed to move at the perfect pace and speed. It was just right. Speed 1 is UNBEARABLE and it feels more like the game can’t process even 2 sprites on the screen! But maybe some newbs could get down on speed 1 to learn the ins and outs.

clay fighter 2nd level

Overall, Clay Fighter is an average game at best with little to no replay value or redeeming qualities anymore. The concept is enthralling and truly a really awesome piece of 90’s gaming evolution, but current technologies have made this game entirely archaic. The in-game fighting needed many more frames to provide a smoother experience, but I can understand the limitations when developing this game too. There doesn’t appear to be a clear direction for the story mode. You press “start game” and then you choose a fighter. Where’s the set-up? Where’s the story? The meat is missing and all we have are potatoes. The development of Clay Fighteris truly marvelous and the digitized clay sculptures really create some awesome 3D rendered fighting sequences. In 1993 and 1994, Clay Fighter was right with the times and could have gone up against many other popular fighting franchises head to head. While games like Super Street Fighter II Turbo can stand the test of time, Clay Fighter suffers from old age which includes some arthritis and probably a bad hip. There comes a time when one should pull the plug and let the old man die… Now is that time. With a fair price of $5-$10 for Clay Fighter, one shouldn’t feel the need to buy it on the spot if they stumble across it because they are in ample supply. Just save that 5 spot for something better.


Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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  1. Pingback: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon - PS2 - Nerd Bacon Reviews

  2. Great review and funny. I like the SNL break in the middle, love Will Ferrell. I remember seeing this game at Blockbuster when I was a kid, but I never had the bad fortune to play it, now I know I didn’t miss much, thanks.


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