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Claw is a fun but little-known side-scrolling 2D platformer game from Monolith. The Adrenaline Vault's detailed review explains why action fans should take a look:
"Based roughly during the 15th century, Claw takes us to an almost parallel earth where the known world is ruled by the Cocker Spaniard Kingdom. However, instead of playing a human, cyborg, or mushroom like in other popular side-scrolling adventures, you get to play a part in one of the classic rivalries -- cats against dogs! Your role in this monumental adventure is that of Captain Nathaniel J. Claw, a feline pirate of the seven seas, infamous to all. The King, tired of your exploits, has put a rich bounty on your head of one million gold pieces, dead or alive. The game begins as you attempt escape from your Spanish prison and your search for the gems that power the [Nine Lives Amulet, which is reputed to grant immortality to the owner].
Claw is filled with 14 huge levels to play through, with each level progressing you further towards escape and the Nine Lives Amulet. So how big is huge? Well, the first three levels will probably take you twenty minutes each, but once you hit level four, The Dark Woods, expect to spend at least an hour or more. Each level is unique and draws you far deeper into the story than you would ever expect a side-scroller to accomplish, but Claw does so easily. As an example, once you escape from La Roca prison, you fight your way through the Battlements to a showdown with your captor. Once slaying him, which is no easy feat, you escape to the Footpath and then The Dark Woods. As you reach certain points in the game, you'll see animated cutscenes which relate more of the storyline to you. These cutscenes are professionally animated movies when it comes right down to it and their depth rivals some Disney movies I've seen.
One thing I really noticed about Claw was how fluid the animation is throughout the game. Each character and background looks as though it was "painted" onto the screen. Imagine playing a cool 3D cartoon and you've come fairly close to what Claw is like. The maps contain that cartoon depth, with some of the background extending forward to conceal areas of the map. Plus, each character is drawn with such detail that you could just watch them for a couple of minutes and be entertained by it.
Of course, true to side-scroller style, there are objects to be picked up throughout the game, plus warps to secret levels. The main item you'll pick up, either floating in mid-air or dropped when you slay some enemy is gold. Gold, as you might expect, adds to your point total during the game and how much your score goes up depends on the type of treasure you receive. The most common item is the gold coin, followed by items such as scepters, amulets, and even crowns. There are also special weapons you can pick up like the fire sword, which sends a burst of flaming death across the screen torching all the creatures in its path and special items like invisibility and invulnerability.
Whereas with most games you can only play with eight other people, Claw supports 64 players at the same time when on a LAN or online network! The network play has several cool features as well which include: level racing -- for the best time or score across a level, marathon level racing -- which is similar to level racing but the race can span multiple levels, the ability to use custom maps, and the ability to upload your high score to the Claw website for instant ranking with other players. Perhaps the only downside to Claw's multiplayer support is that the game was designed to be used exclusively with Engage, which on first glance might make you think this excludes most of the people out there. However, since the game also supports LAN (IPX) games, you will probably be able to play on any online service that supports the IPX protocol for games.
Claw gets a 5 star rating and with good reason, this game is intense and more fun to play than most of the games that have come across my desk in quite some time. Monolith doesn't fail to impress with Claw and are certainly becoming more impressive as a whole than many companies are already. Kudos also have to go out to Takrajimasha, Inc. who helped in Claw's creation by helping to produce such a top-notch game. All this praise isn't to say Claw is perfect, the game has some annoying "flaws." For instance, I felt the game had too few save game locations in it. Claw, like most side-scrollers, will let you continue from locations when you pass a flag on the way should you die and have another life. However, Claw only contains two actual save game locations in each level, so if you die completely, you usually end up having to fight through a hideous amount of territory to get back to where you were before. In addition, the game doesn't offer up as many extra lives as most games do, and finding extra magic ammo is rare. These few "flaws" in Claw are enough to make the game incredibly difficult but overall, still addictingly fun to play."
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