Many things can be said of Captain Claw. He is a cat that is loved, feared, and revered as the scourge of the High Seas -- a swashbuckler, a pirate of legend, and a wanted kitty.
Captured and detained by LeRauxe and the Cocker Spaniards for crimes against the king, Captain Claw stumbles upon information and a map piece describing the location of the magical gems that enable the Amulet of Nine Lives, an item of supernatural powers -- and until now, believed to be a mere pirate's tale. The wearer of the amulet gains special powers and near immortality, according to the legend. With nothing to lose, Captain Claw exacts a plan to escape and find out if the Legend of the Amulet of Nine Lives is true or not. On his journey, he will have to retrieve more map pieces and the nine gems that activate the amulet. The adventure will be fraught with peril -- as Captain Claw has a king's bounty on his head -- and enemies that will seek him out to bring him back: dead or alive.
Watch the adventure unfold before your eyes, as you gather gems, map pieces, untold treasure, and put together the Amulet activating its powers, and fulfilling your destiny.
Claw is a side-scrolling action game similar to and . The player must guide Captain Claw through each level, taking heed of danger and gathering treasure, all the while avoiding or destroying the evil denizens after his head. At Captain Claw's disposal are a number of useful weapons and power-ups to aid you on your quest to find all the gems, and make them one with the Amulet of Nine Lives. Captain Claw can crouch, jump, and pick up enemies and items and throw them. He can climb using ladders, and look up and down, much like Jazz Jackrabbit. As you make your way through the various levels of Claw, you'll be whisked back to the days when you fell to your death in Super Mario Brothers and countless other games like it. As I played Claw, I had that feeling of days gone by, when I would think, "Just a few minutes more, and I'll beat this @*!$ level!" Although with each little victory is yet another challenge which will keep you in the game for hours: you'll find yourself losing track of time. This is a bad sign for parents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends...
Like many other games of this genre, there are waypoints. If you can make it to them, they become your new starting points when you die. Some of these waypoints automatically save the game, and you can later access them from the main menu. Waypoints are represented by a black pirate flag conveniently stuck in the ground.
There are the usual moving platforms, disappearing stones, swinging vines, and chains to deal with. Captain Claw must use perfect timing, and cat-like reflexes (translation: get a decent game pad) to get by the tricks and traps to complete his quest. Of course, no game of this type would be complete without bubbling tar, burning lava, and piranha-infested waters to take away one of those 9 lives. I found the moving platforms with timed spikes in them quite refreshing (and painful).
Claw offers the player a number of cool attacks to take care of the onslaught of cohorts looking to put Captain Claw in the vet's office. Captain Claw's first line of defense is his sword, and hand-to-hand combat. He can use them while crouching, jumping, etc. There are also a number of swords that are imbued with elemental powers such as fire, lightning, and ice. Beyond his sword, he has several expendable tools -- dynamite for blowing bad guys up, a handy pistol (he likes to scream "eat lead" when shooting), and an item called "Magic Claw" which shoots a cat-claw-like projectile toward enemies. If dynamite and swordplay won't take care of the problem, get close to an enemy or explosive barrel, and hit Z. You've just picked up the enemy or barrel. Throw it at something for fun! For the tougher enemies, you may have to do it a number of times to get it to effectively kill the bad guys. A simple toss on some nearby spikes should remedy that problem, though.
Multiplayer (64 players!) LAN and serial connections are supported in Claw, using DirectPlay, which works well with programs likethat can run an IPX session. Expect to see more of DirectPlay in other Monolith games such as and in the future. I only tested the DirectPlay capabilities of Claw, and found them to be direct and easy to use .
Engage has exclusive rights to Claw as the online gaming service of choice. This is only a big deal if you use Engage. If you don't use online services, there's no need to concern yourself with this minor detail. If you use TEN or Mplayer (or any other online service besides Engage), you are out of luck.
Graphics and Design
The graphics in Claw are amazing. The graphics that stand out in my mind are the myriad of cut-scenes between each level. If one takes the time to watch all of them as they progress through the game, one will find that Claw has a well-written and intricate plot. Beyond the story itself, the 20 minutes of cinematic quality cut-scenes are simply a joy to watch. Monolith could expand this work to be a Saturday-morning cartoon.
Lighting effects and background effects, such as columns and vines that Captain Claw disappears behind from time to time, add a nice touch to the game. All graphics and effects are in sync with each other, and nothing seems out of whack in the world of Claw.
One final note on the graphics: they don't slow you down all that much in a normal game. Using the FPS Cheat (Frames per Second), my machine clocked in at 18 fps -- that's not too bad for a machine that has a meager S3 Trio 64 with 1 MB RAM. Those consumers lucky enough to have any kind of acceleration will be very pleased with the speed of Claw.
The audio in Claw is flawless. There is just enough dialogue and music to make you want to have it there. The various characters don't blather on like parrots. One important element to the dialogue Claw puts out: some of it reveals clues on how to play. For instance when Captain Claw comes upon a situation that is less than safe, he proclaims, "This will take perfect timing." This gives the player a clue that he or she had better plan on doing some rapid jumping or distinct maneuvering.
The music is minimal in Claw, but what is included is great. There is neither too much nor too little music in the game. Any more music would spoil the ambiance. Sound of any kind should be an extra that isn't a hassle, but an extra atmospheric effect that you want to hear. Claw pulls this off without a hitch.
This particular version (version 1.00) came with a CD insert that is pretty sparse. However, I don't think that a lengthy manual is required. The insert includes a moves list and a license agreement. For technical issues, there is a readme file that can be opened up with Notepad, either from the CD itself or after the install. If you have any technical issues, this is the first thing you should read. There is just enough documentation to get you up and running. Further information can be found at the Claw Web Site.
Requirements: Pentium 75mhz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95 (with DirectX 3a or higher), 4X CD-ROM drive, video card with 1 MB of video RAM (it says that it requires a card with 2 MB of video RAM, but it ran nicely on a card with 1MB), SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card
Recommended: All of the above, and a video card with 2 MB of video RAM
Claw requirements fall within the normal range that most new games require, and while not steep, owners of older systems will not be able to play Claw. Additionally, Claw comes in several different languages, including English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese. The game also comes in DVD format for those folks that own a DVD drive.
Claw is the new undisputed heavyweight of side-scrollers. It offers an intricate storyline, entertaining intermissions and a bestiary of baddies (40 to be exact). It also features enhanced gameplay and graphics, point-and-click setup, decent multiplayer support, and in the distant future, a level editor for the masses. If you have young children, if you like side-scrollers, cartoon-quality cut-scenes, and decent special effects, then Claw is worth the paltry sum of $39.95. I recommend Claw for its fresh perspective on a genre that, until now, seemed to be suffering from cardiac arrest.