When Clayfighter was first released on the 16-bit consoles in 1993, claymation had never before been used in video gaming. While television shows and motion pictures had experimented with the technology to varying degrees of success, it wasn't until the guys at Interplay decided to make use of the unique animation style for their upcoming fighting game that the video game world was introduced to clay animation. Making use of some of the most insane characters ever seen in a video game, not to mention the unique look of the clay animation, they carefully crafted one of the most original and unique games of the 16-bit era. But as impressive as the game's visual stylings were, it didn't do much to cover up the rather mediocre game play system housed inside of it all.
In Clayfighter you take control of one of 8 unique characters. The characters range from an Elvis impersonator to a pumpkin-headed scarecrow and everything in between. Each character has a number of attack moves, not to mention a few special moves to choose from. While these moves are pulled off in similar Street Fighter 2 style, they tend to be more awkward than accurate and can make playing the game more frustrating than fun. Toss in the fact that some characters are quite a bit more effective than others and what you have is a very unbalanced crew of fighters. It's also worth noting that many of the character's "special" moves aren't terribly special, not to mention rather ineffective in the overall scheme of things. It's fairly clear from the start that the majority of the emphasis during development was paid to the claymation visuals and not on the actual game play system.
The visuals in Clayfighter were very impressive back in 1993, but ultimately haven't aged very well over the years. While there are plenty of outrageous backdrops to fight in, they tend to be so overblown that they don't seem to fit in with the action that's taking place around them. The characters are all very unique and the clay animation might be a neat trick to behold for awhile, but once the novelty wears off there's really not a lot to hold your attention unless you are just a huge fan of this game and are searching for a little nostalgia.
The music in the game is very over-the-top and while it fits in with the funky backdrops, it doesn't keep it from becoming a bit annoying over time. Luckily there are quite a few different tracks to keep things from becoming too monotonous, but this Mega Drive version never really reaches the quality of the Super NES musical score, which in itself wasn't that impressive if the truth be told. Even the really cool opening theme song with full vocals of the Super Nintendo was cut from this version further detracting from the bland musical effort this version of the game sports.
Unless you are just a diehard Clayfighter fan, this is probably not a game that you're going to want to spend a lot of time with. It's just far too sluggish to be taken seriously by any hardcore fighting game fan and once the novelty of the claymation wears off, and it doesn't take long, all you're left with is an un-inpsired fighting game that's just not much fun to play. If you absolutely must have your Clayfighter fix, you'd be better off waiting for Clayfighter 63 1/3.