Clayfighter

Let’s face it, people love violence. Not to be misunderstood, I am referring to violence in entertainment. People have always enjoyed action packed spectacles, from the ancient Colosseum to Pay-Per-View; gaming is no exception. What is it about this aspect of human nature that terrifies and excites us? For some insight, one does not need to look any further than the video game genre known as “tournament fighters”. My pick for today’s forgotten favorites of gaming has the capacity to deliver a knuckle sandwich of zaniness with a touch of ferocious fire.

#5: Clay Fighter 63 & 1/3

For those who may not be familiar with the term, a tournament fighter is a game that centers around a group of combatants who engage in bracketed one on one fights. The last man or woman standing is crowned the victor. Probably the two most recognizable names in this genre are Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, with many other beloved titles getting releases over the years. With that said, Clay Fighter 63 & 1/3 may just be one of, if not the, wackiest tournament fighters ever created.

Clay Fighter 63&1/3 was the sequel to a previous title released on the Super Nintendo, and saw its own release in October of 1997 on the Nintendo 64. It’s strange title is inspired by another version of Clay Fighter that was actually set to be released on another, slightly older, console that was eventually shelved indefinitely. With a few architectural tweaks, the game was ported to the N64 and given its comical, self-aware title. As with all other tournament fighters, the new game saw the return of old favorites as well as some new faces. The game’s story takes place on the Isle of Klaymodo and after a mysterious asteroid crash lands, the evil Dr. Kiln sets about using the asteroid’s strange powers to conquer the world.

The roster of playable characters is nothing short of a cartoonish circus. We have “Taffy”: made entirely out of salt water taffy, “Blob”: ….a blob, “Bad Mister Frosty”: A grumpy snowman who can morph his body into winter themed death instruments, “Bonker”: a bitter circus clown guaranteed to give anyone coulrophobia, “T-Hoppy”: a cyborg rabbit parody of R. Lee Ermey, “Happy Harry Houngan”: a voodoo witch doctor, “Ickybod Clay”: a Jack-O-Lantern ghost who sounds like an evil Mr. Bill. “Earthworm Jim”: straight out of his own comic and TV show, and last but not least “Kung Pow”: a racially insensitive Bruce Lee knockoff. There are also other secret characters that players can unlock, but these nine make up the bulk of the game.

Every single one of these characters is unique and memorable. Their dialogue, movements, and attacks all align perfectly with their insane personalities. Each character also has three energy bars that fill as the fight progresses. Once one of these energy bars is full, players can unleash devastating super attacks which are, once again, unique to each character. To cap off each fight, Klaymodo’s finest warriors come fully equipped with “Claytality” finishing moves, some in the same vein as Tom and Jerry and others more like Itchy and Scratchy. Players felt like they are becoming more and more like cartoons themselves with each fight. It is impossible not to get sucked in by their absurd quotes and irreverent jokes.

Not even a year later, an updated version dubbed Clay Fighter: Sculpture’s Cut was released as a Blockbuster rental exclusive. What was fun and quirky before is now cranked up to 11! This new version featured improves fighting mechanics, more characters, updated arenas, and a lyrical intro theme. Sadly, the fact this was a rental exclusive meant that this version of the game was never available for regular purchase, and could only be obtained by winning a special Blockbuster contest.

Is Clay Fighter due for a new game, or a remake? Or is it destined to fade back into the annals of gaming history? One can never know with a game like this. If finds its way into a rare identity of being unique but largely unknown. Whatever its fate, I believe Clay Fighter 63 & 1/3 deserves to be played again. The regular copy can be easily purchased at game stores, Amazon, and eBay. However, any copies of the sculpture’s cut found on eBay command ridiculous prices. If you have the hundreds of dollars that sellers demand, then by all means, go for it. For the rest of us, the original is waiting to unleash a can of claytastic awesome.

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