ClayFighter Coming to Nintendo Consoles

It seems that the next big fighting game…  Wait, scratch that.  It seems that one of the newest fighting games coming to Nintendo consoles is going to be a new entry in the ClayFighter series.  It is better to omit the adjective “big” when referring to ClayFighter.  Now, I’m not here to ostracize the ClayFighter franchise from the gaming universe.  I’m not even here to state that the ClayFighter series doesn’t deserve some merit, because it does.

When the first ClayFighter was released for the Super Nintendo back in 1993, the gaming community was abuzz with skepticism and curiosity.   Developer Interplay brought forth a game that combined competent fighting gameplay and humor in an overall decent package.  People initially played the game because it was being marketed as a parody of serious fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, but a fun fighter with gameplay that surpassed the “merely average” mark was to be found in this SNES cart.

After a special Tournament Edition release and a Sega Genesis port, a sequel, C-2: Judgment Clay, was released the following year, but it didn’t reach the level of popularity that its predecessor did.  A third entry was planned for the cancelled Panasonic M2; this spawned a cancelled PlayStation game and two mediocre Nintendo 64 games.  The cancellation of the PS game and mediocrity of the N64 games go hand in hand, really.  Interplay was behind on schedule for both games, so while Sony opted to just scrap the game entirely, Nintendo decided to have Interplay release what many consider an unfinished game.  ClayFighter 63 1/3, as it was deservingly titled, featured a decent-sized roster of characters (some of which could only be unlocked by using a code), a handful of levels, no extra features, and no save function.  It was a bare-bones package that only magnified the fact that Interplay was not ready to release the game yet.  A Sculptor’s Cut edition was later released for rental at Blockbuster Video, and it featured all the characters that were left out of the original.

Since this time, Interplay has gone out of business only to reemerge onto the game-designing scene.  An Earthworm Jim sequel has already been announced, and the latest reveal from CEO Herve Caen is that of a new ClayFighter game.  The title is going to be developed by StudioBlack Games and Eric Hart, who worked on the previous ClayFighter games, and it is going to be brought to Nintendo consoles via WiiWare and DSiWare in the summer of 2010.  Caen expressed excitement about resurrecting the series for the current generation of gaming, and went on to say that the game will feature improved graphics and gameplay, quirky characters, and the sense of humor that has become prominent with the series.

Since the birth of the ClayFighter series in 1993, we have seen one successful release, one port, one special edition of that first release, two cancellations, one unfinished title (which was still put on store shelves for retail), and one mediocre special edition of the aforementioned incomplete title.  If it wasn’t clear before, I’m sure it has become crystal clear why we must omit the adjective “big” when referring to ClayFighter.  Now that the series is being revived, what can we expect from Interplay and StudioBlack?  Are gamers in store for yet another below-average fighting game?  Or will the developers release a true (and complete) sequel with good gameplay and numerous features?

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