by Monolith Productions

Captain Claw, scourge of the seas is here in this very entertaining arcade game from Monolith Productions. Hot off the success of their first release, Blood, Monolith proves that they can develop a challenging side-scrolling adventure as well. You play the hero, Captain Claw, after his capture by the Cocker Spaniards on the high seas. While in prison, you hear of the legendary 'Amulet of Nine Lives', and find part of a map associated with it. Is it possible that it is not just a children's tale? There's only one way to find out, and it means escaping from prison and fighting for your life every step of the way. Yes, Claw is an arcade scroller with a story. Not an especially deep one, but one that will keep you amused throughout the game. The main focus of the game is the arcade sequences. Typical side-scrolling platform jumping, running, and shooting type arcade. The graphics are beautiful, the animation is extremely fluid, and the controls precise and responsive. The settings and backgrounds are extremely beautiful and interesting. The game takes place in many different types of locations - cities, forests, across ships, and much more. Each level has a distinct look and has it's own set of traps and barriers. Response time is quick, so even those tricky moves may be performed with only a little practice. You will fight hand-to hand, with swords, pistols, magic, and dynamite. You are able to toss objects around and use them against your enemies. And of course, you'll gather treasure along the way. Coins, gold bars, sceptres, and any number of powerups are there for the taking. I suggest using a gamepad for maximum control and precision. Every couple of levels, you will encounter a boss-type character, many of which cannot be defeated by conventional means, you will have to find their weaknesses and exploit them to your advantage. Sound effects and music are very well done, the mood is set nicely and accentuates the gameplay. Claw may be controlled by keyboard or gamepad, and all functions are fully customizable. Between levels, you will watch beautifully animated cutscenes that fill you in on clues and move you from one location to the next. Claw also offers up to 64 player multiplayer gaming via network, or Internet using Kali or a multiplayer service. Yes, you read it correctly... 64 simultaneous players! You can play level races or marathon level races that span multiple levels. All in all, it's hard to find flaws with Claw. It's not the most original concept in gaming, side scrollers have been with us for a very long time. Claw does offer a bit of a background story to go with it, some beautiful art, good music, and very fluid gameplay. If you're a fan of this type of game, Claw is highly recommended.

Graphics 90%
Sounds 88%
Gameplay 91%
Interface 89%
Overall Impression 90%

Bottom Line: Fantastic graphics, good music and sounds, smooth gameplay, and interesting bosses make Claw very worthwhile. 64 person multiplayer capability tops off a light, fun game.

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