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Retro Fire

Written: 12.20.13
Acquired: 1.26.06
Status: Cart only
Price: FREE

Pub: InterplayNov. '93
Dev: Visual Concepts16 MEGS

Ahhh, Christmas. When I think of Christmas, many fond memories come to mind. There are several aspects that I associate Christmas with, or think of, for better or for worse, when this time of the year rolls around. Clay Fighter is among them. Released exactly 20 years ago, this Street Fighter II clone is but a small footnote in the annals of SNES lore. But to me, Clay Fighter will no doubt *always* represent something a little bit more than just that. Let's see...
The cover, with Bad Mr. Frosty coming at ya, was so badass cool

                                                                   OF DRAGONS AND CLAY

It's crazy for me to think that 20 years ago all these fighting games were being churned out one right after another on to the SNES, each battling for fighting game supremacy. You had Street Fighter II Turbo come out on August 13, 1993. Mortal F'N Kombat splashed onto the scene exactly one month later, with the infamous Mortal Monday, September 13, 1993. That same month you had my sentimental favorite, World Heroes. My old best friend Nelson and I loved World Heroes to death. Nelson bought a copy from day one and I remember us playing the crap out of this game well into Christmas season of that year. We'd hang out every Saturday morning, then we'd spend HOURS beating up on each other.
I was a huge fighting game fanatic and the SNES was cranking them out at a rate faster than we could handle. What a glorious era that period of time was
                                        It was truly a special time in gaming, and to be a 10 year old kid

One day I was at the grocery store with my mom. As usual, while she was buying produce I was camping out at the video game magazine section, gawking over the latest gaming magazines of the time. It was on this fateful Fall day of 1993 that I first came across this ad. I had to do a double take. Not only was it a brand new fighting game, but wow, it ribbed my favorite fighting game. It was such an odd mix of ten-year-old angst and intrigue. Clay Fighter? It sounded good, and it looked good. I stared at the ad for a good while, as if to determine whether I ultimately approved or not. Finally, after about a minute, a grin spread across my face and I began having visions of this game playing in my head. And I swear... my mind made it out to be the best fighting game EVER. Fall '93 was gonna be epic

I thought, "INTERPLAY CAN'T GET AWAY WITH THIS, can they?"

As the weeks went by and we got closer and closer to the release of CLAY FIGHTER, I had already played the game in my head a hundred times over. I was shouting its praise to my brother, my best friend Nelly and all my other friends. I drove everybody around me crazy. This was back in the good old days when you didn't have luxuries as the internet, Youtube or any of that. All you had were a small handful of colorful screen shots and your imagination. I fell in love with a game I hadn't yet played, or anyone else, for that matter. I remember staying home from school one day in November '93 because I was sick, and I spent the whole morning in bed just studying this ad over and OVER again. Looking back, it's amazing how much of a magical role those magazines played. Man, I will never forget 'em

                                      There's a reason we fondly call that era the Golden Age of gaming

I still remember fondly one night in early December of '93, my cousin called me. It was rare back in those days for her to call me, as we usually just saw each other in person and hung out that way. But on this fateful night she called asking me my Christmas wish list. My heart was racing as I knew there was really only one thing on my mind that would make my Christmas: a copy of Clay Fighter. I remember explaining to her over the phone what Clay Fighter was. I was sure she was going to buy it for me. After the phone call, I leaped for joy and began counting down the days until Christmas night!  It was gonna be a Claymas for the ages [*sigh* -Ed.]

The penultimate Clay Fighter ad trashed every major rival at once

                                       This is basically the gist of what I told my cousin that fateful night

As it turned out, she bought something else for me. It wasn't Clay Fighter, and it wasn't a game. I don't remember what it was, but I was severely disappointed. I was such
a nut for Clay Fighter that
I even abandoned my ole favorite, World Heroes, for a small stretch there. My best friend Nelson bought World Heroes and I loved playing against him. However, when Clay Fighter hit the scene, I actually turned my back on World Heroes -- as it became too popular with Nelson and the other kids. I was / am weird like that, heh. World Heroes was always the underdog, but when it suddenly became a hit in my gaming circle, with Clay Fighter on the horizon, I jumped ship. I remember the turning point came one night where there was a World Heroes tournament held in Nelson's gaming room with him, me and our mutual friends. I went home and to this day, I recall thinking "Clay Fighter will be much better. Taffy can whup Brocken's sorry butt."  I eventually rented Clay Fighter and ooh, it wasn't anywhere as good as I made it out to be based on my imagination from studying the previews. And that was the end of my very short-lived turncoat on WORLD HEROES

Christmas '93 was just a wonderful time to be a 10 year old robust boy living in suburban America. If ya had a Super Nintendo, a best friend and you loved fighting games -- what a season it was!  With fine titles like Street Fighter II Turbo, TMNT Tournament Fighters, World Heroes, Ranma ½ Hard Battle and Clay Fighter... there were plenty of choices. The 16-bit war was in full swing, and if you had both, like me, you were the ultimate winner!  That Christmas was one I'll never forget
                                       16-bit war, 10 years old, best friend, suburbia: WONDER YEARS!


After we got home from my cousin's house that Christmas of 1993, my dad saw how bummed out I was that she didn't buy me Clay Fighter. Being the cool and awesome father that my old man was, he promptly took me to the rental store the very next day, and there I walked away with Clay Fighter.
I remember studying the manual all the way home, and my first reaction: "Are you serious?! ALL three buttons to do a special move?!" Thankfully, they meant any one of three :)
It's amazing how some gaming memories stick with ya so vividly

As for the game itself, I remember running home from the driveway, shoving the cartridge in my Super Nintendo and being UTTERLY and totally... underwhelmed. I had hyped the game up so much in my mind and built it up to be something it simply wasn't, and, couldn't be. We all had our infamous childhood games that our imaginations built up to be amazing, but fell way short!

                                        ~JANUARY 26, 2006~ HOMECOMING: 10 YEARS IN THE MAKING

Some days you will always remember. This was one of those days for me. It was on this day 10 years ago that I'd moved from the town I grew up in. The town of my childhood. Some of my absolute best memories are courtesy of my old hometown, and my old house. With it being the ten year anniversary, I thought to myself why not pay her a visit?  Thus, as soon as class got out at University around 3:15-ish PM, I took off. I started off by visiting the old Toys R Us by my old house, right past the train tracks  ^_^

                                       It was a quest to recollect, collect and recall what was once good

Admiring the smells and sounds, I took it all in. Sometimes in life, things line up perfectly and certain things feel as if they were meant to be. Not ten days prior to my ten year anniversary of moving, I just got back into the SNES scene. It was on January 17, 2006, that I experienced my Super Nintendo resurrection. It was only fitting that I was now returning to my old hometown, to my old house, ten years to the day of moving away. The place where I grew up. Where I trick or treated. Where Super Soaker wars and water balloon fights reigned supreme. Where my friends, bro and I poured countless hours on SNES games like Super Mario Kart and Super Bomberman

I couldn't wait to hit the ole neighborhood again. See it in the flesh and its glory. There was just something incredibly innocent and nostalgic about that trek, going back to my roots. I recall it fondly today as I can any other day in my life. It felt like... sort of a mini adventure. I wondered if my childhood home even resembled the one I grew up in ten years ago. But that's later. RIGHT NOW I was on a mission to head to Game Crazy to pick off more SNES games to add to my increasing library :-)
But hell... would my hometown Hollywood Video STILL be alive?

Ah, the Hollywood Video by my childhood house still stood. I admired it as dusk quickly approached. More than ten years ago I often raided its horror film and Super NES offerings. At that time, several of my old childhood rental stores had already long closed down, so it was great to see at least one old friend still withstanding the test of time. Parking my car, I could feel the excitement welling up. What cool new SNES games might I find to add to the collection? Let's go inside shall we...
                                       This Hollywood Video was the last renting relic of my childhood!

After plucking through their decently sizable SNES selection in the glass case (early 2006 was still a gold mine of a time for SNES collecting. It was just right before the whole Game Crazy scene went to crap mid 2006 on), I bought Mortal Kombat II, Clay Fighter, Art of Fighting and Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 all for $4.99 each, with CF being free thanks to their Buy 2 Get 1 Free deal
Buying these titles in real life in the flesh was such a cool feeling

Mortal Kombat II -- I could go on for days about how terrific the SNES port is. Never played SNES Art of Fighting but I had always wanted to. I'd heard a lot about Baseball Simulator 1.000 over the years but I never got around to play it

                                      And fittingly enough, my old childhood curiosity, CLAY FIGHTER

With another bag of old
childhood favorites and
memories, courtesy of
Game Crazy, I made a
beeline toward my old
house. This was turning
out to be an epic night...
Celebrating 10 year anniversary in style!  But not done YET...

By now it was pitch dark.
I remember all those well-worn roads... and that old street corner. The little hill where me, my brother and our friends used to play tag and flag football. The smell of the crisp and cool night air, and the soothing sounds of the grass and leaves swaying gently in the calm still of the night.
I turned off the radio and engine. I sat there silently for a couple quiet minutes, admiring my house from across the street in the dead still of the night         Before my eyes, there it stood. The childhood home I grew up in!

Suddenly, a crazy thought came to mind. Before I knew it, I found myself at the front door of my old house, ringing the doorbell. I waited anxiously as a lady in her mid-30's answered the door

"Can I help you?"

"Um, yes. I need to use the restroom. May I?"

Surprisingly, she let me in. I walked in and it felt like I had entered a time machine. I remember thinking two things as I was taking a piss in my old pot:

1. She must think I'm freakin' NUTS!

2. Holy crap, I'm pissing in my old pot!

I spilled the beans to her when I got out. We ended up talking about the house for 10 minutes. She was really cool, and gracious, to let this total stranger in. It was a perfect way to honor the ten year anniversary, to be back INSIDE my childhood home. It was remembering and letting go

Finally, she and I bidded farewell. I slipped inside my car, took a glance at the SNES games resting on the passenger seat, cranked up the radio, stole one last glance at my old house, and floored the hell out of there

That night, driving home on the freeway, windows down, music blasting... what a day, what a day...

SNES buys + revisiting my old house 10 years later = an epic day

                                                                         THE CLAY FIGHTERS

Mix good old jolly Frosty the Snowman with a whole lot of 1990s attitude, and you have Bad Mr. Frosty. He's the face of this game. He plays like an eclectic mix between Ryu, Blanka and Dhalsim. Easy to use, his Snow Ball can even be performed in mid-air... ice!

                                       [That's supposed to say 'nice' isn't it?  Don't start that now... -Ed.]

Master of Goojitsu, Blob can manipulate itself into several deadly forms of offense. This includes a razor sharp buzzsaw, a hammer and even the big boot. Who knew a fighter with no arms or legs could be so much fun to control?

Blob is arguably THE most beloved Clay Fighter there ever was

It seemed as though every fighting game back in the early-mid '90s had to have one combatant who could stretch his limbs. Taffy actually makes a lot of sense, and Gumby fans can all rejoice. Due to his weird elongated shape, he can be a tricky guy to go up against. I used to think Taffy would be superior to the likes of Dhalsim and Brocken. Talk about a big stretch!  [Oh dear -Ed.]

                                      Stretch fighters back in the day was a classic fighting game staple

Although Bad Mr. Frosty was billed as "the man," Ickybod Clay to me was always the real true star. Based off the Headless Horseman legend, Icky's got the haunted house stage and the Shotokan (Fireball-Dragon Punch) skills, what's not to like? For added measure, he can also teleport and has a torpedo-esque special move that's reminiscent of M. Bison's. Ickybod rocks

Man, they missed a real good opportunity at calling it HaBOOken

Bonker is a perfect fighter for Clay Fighter's wacky universe. Throwing pies high and low, spinning out in cartwheels and even spraying the competition with water (hey, remember they are clay...), Bonker is proof... never trust a clown

                                       [Shoot, I learned that from Stephen King's IT back in 1990... -Ed.]

One thing ya had to hand Clay Fighter was the fact that they strived, in some ways, to be different from the games that they were drawing inspiration from. Whereas most fighting games were serious and violent, even bloody, this game went for humor and silliness. Ya, YMMV but there's no denying Helga broke the female fighting game code. That being, she's everything Chun Li, Sonya Blade, Janne and Mai were not... THICK

Yep, Helga's as big as a truck. She's proud and loud about it too!

Ah it's ironic I was just shouting its praises for deviating from the typical fighting game formula... because here comes Tiny. He's, to no one's surprise, the resident strong man, er, well, whatever he is. Surprisingly though, he does not have a big 360° throw like most big men in fighting games do. Guess he was too busy stealing Blanka's rolling attack and Muscle Power's Muscle Bomber (which strangely is the Japanese name for Capcom's Saturday Night Slam Masters. Go figure)
                                       He's called Tiny... because he isn't... so it's a rib of sorts... har har

This Elvis reject has a great name if you love puns. Be ready for lots
of "Hey, watch the hair, man!" "Oh mama!" and "Uh huh!" yelps. Yes, this dude actually shoots out musical notes. If you are into that sort of stuff, then I suppose Clay Fighter is a very stoner friendly affair [I would, um, know nothing about that at all... -Ed.]

Gotta love the name... a play off of 'blue suede shoes.'  "Uh huh!"

                                                    WE'VE GOT THE BEST "ADS" IN THE BUSINESS

Clay Fighter was all about the style. It had one of the coolest ad campaigns in SNES history. Whether it was insulting other high profile fighting games, or highlighting its outrageous fighters, the ads were very captivating, especially to a kid 20 years ago in 1993

                                       Man how I miss CLEVER and memorable gaming advertisements

Interplay gets an A++ for its advertising push. They made Clay Fighter seem like the best game of the century. Each ad popped out at you, forcing you to sit up and take notice. It was all part of the fun. Actually, it might be the most fun to be had with the game overall. Game just couldn't live up to how awesome those ads made it out to be. Hey, better at something than nothing at all!  Other average games could only wish they had even HALF the success that Clay Fighter attained
Two SNES sequels would follow... in addition to two N64 entries

As a child 20 years ago
I never studied ads with more fervor than I did the Clay Fighter ones. Each month I would scavenge through the latest issue *JUST* to see what the newest ad was. I wanted to know which rival game they were ribbing on next, or find out more in-depth detail behind another clay combatant. There was no doubt a definite thrill to that experience that has long faded away from the gaming industry. Those were the good old days

                                       Naturally I speak with a bias, but pre-internet gaming was special

David Letterman you got NOTHING on Clay Fighter, son. NUTHIN!

                                                                     ROUND TWO... FIGHT!!

Clay Fighter came out in November '93. Imagine my shock when I was reading EGM issue #55 in January of 1994 and they showed this. Holy clay. A sequel was already on its way, and the first game barely came out what, only two months ago?!  It was just a sign of the times. The SNES was king, fighting games were hot, sure why not. Everyone gets a slice of the pie. Clay Fighter 2 AKA C2: Judgment Clay (how clever) would come out around January 1995. They were high on puns*...
                                       CF: Call of Putty* was announced in 2009, a revival, but got nixed


The hype machine for this game was pretty strong, thanks in no small part to its bold and memorable ad campaign. The game held up well with the critics. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 8 and 8. GameFan slobbered all over it, with eye-popping ratings of 90, 90, 92 and a whopping 97 (!)... which perfectly goes to show you how easily GameFan handed out high scores; they practically passed it out like free condiments at some fast food joint. Super Play Magazine, on the other hand, was like the anti-GameFan. They were rather stringent on doling out the high marks, but they liked Clay Fighter enough to grant it a very respectable 85% score. The game was universally praised for its state-of-the-art claymation graphics, theme song and humor

TMNT Tournament Fighters... man, now THERE was a game  ^_^

Elsewhere though, Clay Fighter's considered a so-so fighting game by most gamers of that era, but it managed to earn high marks in the press. It is one of those games that you look back on, flipping through your old gaming mags, going "HOW THE HELL DID THIS SCORE SO HIGH?!" But hey, more power to the Clay folks. They sold 200,000 copies by the end of 1994, reportedly

Heck, there was even a revised tournament edition cranked out only several months later in May 1994. It began as a Blockbuster rental exclusive. The ads for it promoted a t-shirt as well as an in-store tourny. Box proudly proclaimed it was now boasting a rather impressive 24 MEGS. By May '94 I think only Super Metroid reached such high meggage. Clearly, the first game sold well enough to warrant this ever so slighly enhanced pseudo-sequel
                                       Damn, look, it's even got the HYPER rib going at Street Fighter II.
                                       Ah I miss the good old days when games flaunted their meg size!


It was 20 years ago that Clay Fighter roared its way through the vaunted Super Nintendo scene. It's a hell of a nostalgic game for me. Those creative and captivating ads stole my gaming heart, and I spent hours dreaming of how the game would play. All the characters were huge, the graphics were innovative and unique for its time, and it had more than its share of cool voiceovers. It's a shame then that the game doesn't play better than it does. CIay Fighter was an excellent idea, it had a brilliant advertising campaign and it had some memorable and extremely marketable fighters. But it fell short where it is most important: gameplay. It's not unplayable, not at all, but the control definitely left a little something to be desired. It's a novelty that wears off fast; the chewing gum of fighting games it is

This ad ribbed Mortal Kombat's Mortal Monday ad. Simply classic

Like I said, the control wasn't great, especially coming off a game like Street Fighter II Turbo,
a title which controlled flawlessly. Clay Fighter seems to have an odd split second delay. So you'll crank out a special move but it will seem to come out a touch slower than you would like. The "weight" of the characters also felt a bit... off. It just doesn't play like a serious fighting game... although
I suppose that's how you ought to approach it. If you take it for what it is, it can be enjoyable here and there. It's not anything to write home about, and I wouldn't recommend it even as a 'nice-to-have' game for any Super NES collection, but for me, the nostalgic Christmas memories, the history I have with this game, there will always be a place in my gaming heart for Clay Fighter. Heck, I fire it up for a few rounds every Christmas season. It just takes me back to that golden time of my childhood, which luckily clashed with the golden fighting game era. I'm taken back to a place and space where a one page colorful ad with a few rinky dink screenshots could blow your mind. Where seeds of hope are harvested and then later realized, or crushed, by reality through renting, borrowing or blind buying. It was all part of the magic back then. So here's a toast to Clay Fighter, who did more with its 15 minutes of fame than most other average games

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 6

Overall: 6.0

The end boss is, um, N. Boss. Geddit?  It's another pun and doubles as a shot taken at M. Bison. OK, so maybe that's a [Taffy -Ed.] stretch, or maybe it isn't. One thing that's for sure is N. Boss has every special move in the game at his disposal. It's a shame they didn't come up with
a more creative end boss character. Oh well. It's fitting we end this review with N. Boss in all its glory, or lack thereof...

UGH! describes N. Boss well. THE N.  [Oi, I should 'N' you... -Ed.]

2015 edit: Coming in 2016... REMASTERED CLAY FIGHTER. Welcome back, dudes