Welcome to The Claw Museum. This is a place where fans of Monolith’s legendary 1997 PC game can share their experiences with the game.
The Claw Recluse — Download Claw for free!
It is almost certain that this page will mean nothing to you. You’ll feel like a 10 year old kid attending his parents’ high school reunion party, having to listen to stories and jokes and anecdotes that make no sense to you because you weren’t there.
If, however, you’ve ever played a PC game called Claw, you may find it somewhat interesting.
It’s partly about me. It’s partly about other people. It’s partly about an awesome but little-known game. That game is Claw, a platform game published in 1997 by Monolith Productions.
I write this having just turned 21. I was born in Darlinghurst, Australia, 1989. My family was poor, and I’ve spent much of my life in government housing. However, I had the coolest toys on the block.
My father wrote a regular column for a tech magazine, and from time to time that magazine would send us free stuff. We had a DVD player in 1997. We had the first digital camera in the neighbourhood. And there were games, too. Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and various shareware crap from Apogee (remember those?).
One day (some time in late 1997/early 1998, I think), my dad received a promotional copy of a game called Claw. He played it a bit, and then passed it on to me. The first thing that impressed me was the high-quality FMV cutscenes. They were a combination of hand-drawn animation and CGI computer graphics, and I’m convinced that they cost more to make than the game itself. They were just ridiculously, mind-blowingly good, and I was straight away sucked into Claw’s story: a pirate cat who visits death and dismemberment upon many, many borderline retarded animals, in his quest to find the Amulet of Nine Lives.
I started playing the game, and it seemed…perfect. I liked the art, the gameplay was fast and furious, the music stormed, and the game had plenty of attitude and character. It was paced just fast enough to stop me from getting distracted, and I’m a guy who is easily d…what was I talking about again?
The game had one trait, it was REALLY hard. Here’s one guy complaining at length about the difficulty, and he’s playing with the candy-ass “all bosses are wimps” v1.3 patch. For a while, I considered the game absolutely impossible. I couldn’t even get past the sixth level. I didn’t register this as a problem, I just thought it was part of the game’s unique identity. Birds fly, fish swim, and Claw is hard.
Nevertheless, the going was so tough that soon I began pressuring my dad for cheat codes, which he provided (we had an ISP in 1995! Booyah!). Armed with the invincibility cheat, I raced through seven levels in one day, and ended on level 11. And it was such a beautiful level, a mixture of crystals and rocks and waterfalls. I wandered around the level, amazed by what I saw. Sadly, a school trip to the Jenolan caves was wasted on me, because all I could think about was “this sucks next to the 11th level of Claw!”
Soon, I felt guilty about cheating, and I played the game the way God and/or Monolith Productions Ltd intended. The final levels were brutal. Endless jumping puzzles, nightmarish traps, ridiculously tough enemies.
But still I hacked away at it. I was relentless. I neglected schoolwork and everything else to finish Claw. Eventually, I defeated the final boss, Omar, and received the 9th stone to the amulet. It was nearly the proudest moment of my life.
A normal kid would pat himself on the back and move on. But I wanted more Claw. The game didn’t feel anywhere long enough. I replayed all of the fourteen levels, and eventually got to learn them like the back of my hand. I found all the secrets and punished myself because I could never get a 100% score on several levels (years later, I discovered that this is impossible due to mistakes made by Claw’s level designers, like a coin in level 2 that is juuuuust out of reach). But I still felt like I hadn’t played the game out yet.
My dad let it slip one day that there was a level editor for Claw, and I was very interested. “I can build my own levels for Claw?” The level editor was very tough for a 10 year old kid to use, so my father used to sit with me, and we’d design levels together. Later I’d design them, and he’d provide technical support.
Claw levels (or WWD files) are complex to edit but fairly simple in structure. You had one editing mode where you could place tiles (bricks, ladders, spikes, and so on) and another editing mode where you could place objects (enemies, treasure, decoration, etc). Choose your level base, plug in a starting position for Claw, and you were away.
My early levels were pretty lame. None of the tile edges matched up, and I placed so many enemies it lagged the computer. Still, I kept at it. Soon I had a little collection of about 5 homemade levels, and I wish I still had them. My favorite level base to edit was level 14, due to the tiles being simple.
Eventually, my obsession with Claw waned. By the turn of the millenium I had stopped playing the game completely. It had to happen eventually.
The New Era
Six years passed, and in 2005 I suddenly found myself remembering the game I had played as a kid. I found my old disk, but it had gotten scratched. Instead, I downloaded a ripped copy of Claw from Home of the Underdogs.
HOTU, by the way, was a legendary site not many people remember now. It was an “abandonware” site that hosted all sort of old games that you could download for free. How did they get the publishers’ permission to do this? So far as I know, they didn’t. They just shoved those games up there, in open defiance of the law, and, through some act of divine providence, nobody ever shut them down.
Playing Claw again after all these years was like coming to a winter cabin that hasn’t been touched in years, turning on the generator, and finding that everything still works. My skills in the game were still tight. I still remembered where all the secrets where. I blasted through the game in one day, felt the same “where’s the rest of it?” feeling I had felt as a kid, and immediately began downloading levels from the internet. By the next day, I installed the level editor and began re-learning how to use it.
My “first” level was Shotgun, based on level 5. Just a short level while I brushed up my level design skills. True to the spirit of the game, I filled it with all sorts of hidden puzzles and secrets, though I doubt anyone ever bothered to look for them.
My next level was Inner Sanctum. I felt it was pretty creative. It took an outdoor level set (level 2), and through clever use of Tiles I made it seem like the player was inside a building. I made it as challenging as possible, with enemies that couldn’t be killed easily, and a trick I had stumbled upon by accident (cannon towers that shoot diagonally).
By now, I wanted to share my levels with someone. So I went to the Claw site and discovered the Claw Forum.
The Claw Forum
Monolith’s Claw forum was dying by the time I got there, but it had been around forever. It was opened in 1998, and remained online until early 2008 or so, when it was replaced by a shiny new phBB forum. This new forum lasted a few months, and then Monolith pulled the plug on it forever. They must have decided that the few posts a week they were getting wasn’t worth it.
It was both the worst forum on the internet and the best one. If you think that’s impossible, damn straight, I don’t understand it myself. The place was completely unmoderated (what else do I need to say?) and it had the annoying glitch where you could click multiple times on the Post button and have multiple threads get posted. Spammers were quick to abuse this “feature” and some days the forums would be flooded with thousands of posts. There were no accounts, so you typed your name manually in the author field. It was common for trolls to impersonate other forumers and make them say stupid/offensive things (the forum logged IP addresses, but I’ll be damned if people looked at them).
But at the same time, it had a great atmosphere. When you posted there you knew you were posting on top of nearly a decade of history. And the “free for all” nature of the board made things very interesting. You had 10 year old kids and 14 year old high schoolers and 20 year old college students and grownups and the elderly all posting and intermingling. You could have a sensible discussion if you wanted it, or you could just joke around. There seemed to be something for everyone at the Claw Forum.
I posted under the name Grey Cat. If you’re expecting a funny story about my name’s meaning, I’m here to disappoint you. I was just eager to jump into the community and couldn’t be bothered to think of a good name, so I pulled “Grey Cat” out of my ass and used it from then on. It’s like when you ask a famous band how they got their name. Sometimes they’ll retroactively make up a cool story to tell the press (“Oh, our singer used to work at Starbucks and he’d constantly be saying ‘here’s your nickel back!’”), but usually the truth is so mundane and boring that even they have forgotten it.
In retrospect, I probably should have chosen something else, because “Grey Cat” has so many puns attached to it. I used to be called Gay Cat, Grey Scat, Grey Crap, and various combinations of the above.
By 2007 the forum had become impossible to use. Not only was it being hit hard by trolls from the neighbouring Blood forum (mouth, beard, Drakan, etc), automated spam bots were flooding the forum with messages and making discussion impossible. By this time, most of the Claw community had moved to a new forum, Gunner’s Claw Forum. Some of us still visited the devastated remains of the Claw Forum, mostly to direct newbies to the GCF (activity was constantly problem and we wanted all the posters we could get).
Then the fateful day came when Monolith finally put an end to the beloved forum, and 50,000 posts dating back to 1998 were lost into the abyss.
Requiem aeternam, Claw Forum. You will live in our hearts forever.
…But Let’s Back Up
I started posting on the Claw forum in 2005, when I was 15. Spammers and trolls weren’t such an issue at that point, and there was a crew of really nice people there. Names you might recall are Teo phil, Mr Cat, patts, Lakeesha, Keisha, Edd Brown, Felix, X Omega, Ghost, Aavishkhar Patel, V.N. and many others. There was hardly any discussion of Claw, but eventually that changed and people got more into the game.
The unofficial leader of the community seemed to be a guy called DjzeeAr. He was a quiet person who didn’t post much, but he had been around for a while and his Claw levels were famed for their quality. Before his arrival, Claw levels were usually (with some exceptions) short “quickies” that you could finish in five minutes. DzjeeAr’s levels were masterpieces, even better than the levels that had shipped with the game. You could play them over and over and still discover new things.
I emailed a few of my levels to him, and got a response that could be summarised as “well, they don’t exactly suck, but…” I set about making more levels, with a much higher quality. I started pimping them on the Claw forum, and got some positive comments.
Making levels became a bit of an obsession. I knew that not many people would play them, but even the act of making them was fun. I loved thinking up weird new ideas, like the final boss fight in “Dark Paths.” I would often experiment with weird variables in the editor, just to see if I could hit upon a usable trick for my next level. Sometimes my levels got too big for their own good (“Blackout” was a monster of a level that held the top spot as biggest Claw level for many years. Did anyone ever finish it?)
For reference (although nobody cares), here is the full Grey Cat canon, with comments where necessary.
Inner Sanctum (8/03/06)
Pretty hard, and pretty crappy in places. I still think this is my first “decent” level though.
Remora Bay (24/03/05)
This contains another first for me: a boss fight. I used a crab with a LeRaux logic.
Very big and very hard. I thought the boss fight was awesome, until someone realised you could simply throw him up on to a windowsill and he couldn’t get down. Damn.
Den of Thieves (14/05/05)
This one just went on and on. My levels were starting to get too big at this point. Despite this, I think the final section (with the climb up the mountain with millions of cannons shooting down at you) is pretty creative.
Fawlty Towers (7/06/05)
This is what Inner Sanctum should have looked like. I had discovered how to do awesome stuff with the layer editor, and created a very convincing indoor level. It looks a bit like the first levels of Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
River Race Revised (12/11/0)
A short experiment. The idea was that you raced Redtail (who was in a boat) to the end of the level. Redtail, of course, was just an elevator logic. This one is interesting because Claw exists in the background layer, instead of the usual action layer. It was very cool making him interact with things that had previously just been eye candy. In another first, it was a co-operative project between me and Treasurer. I created the level, he created the boss fight.
Blackout v2.0 Grey Cat, Treasurer 5 7/03/06
My personal Vietnam. It took six months to make, was the biggest level EVER made (I think one or two people have surpassed it in filesize by now), and, you know, the results were definitely not worth the effort. The editor was just slowing down like crazy by the end. I can’t remember exact counts but I think it had over ten thousand coins or something. Again, Treasurer provided the boss. A very unique boss, too, I’m embarassed about this level now. It’s just too big.
Dark Paths (19/09/06)
One of my favorite levels. It has hardly any treasure (it has 1 skull, 2 crowns, 3 geckos, 4 scepters, 5 crosses, 6 goblets, 7 rings, 8 gold bars, and 9 coins), and I worked very hard to make it feel creepy and lonely. From this point on, atmosphere became my main focus in making levels.
Palace of Zin (20/11/06)
A collaboration with DzjeeAr and my all time favorite level. I guarantee that the final part will blow your mind.
Revenge of Red Tail (20/12/06)
Not one level, five, with a story linking them together. I think this was a first in Claw level design, and I’m proud of the result. Basically, Omar and Red Tail team up and steal the amulet from Claw, and he has to journey to Omar’s underground lair to retrieve it. There’s a 3-digit password system, where you can only access the final boss fight if you’ve completed the other three levels (or hell, looked through them in Wapworld. I’ll admit it was clunky.) As an afterthought, I threw in my notorious Waterfall level, which contains Claw falling for nearly a thousand consecutive tiles.
Cross Country 15/01/07
Just a short, simple, fun level, similar to my early ones. I designed it with level racing in mind.
The Wind Tunnels (29/05/07)
I used invisible conveyor belts to give the illusion that Claw was being blown along. Another heavily atmosphere-driven level, with a final battle against an army of Marrows (it was hard to get him to work right).
Secret Lake (13/11/07)
My final level. Not bad, but not great. I confess I rushed this one.
There’s also an unfinished sequel to Remora Harbor. It was to be based on level 8. I had made fair progress when a power surge corrupted the file. To date, nobody has been able to get it to work. If you count that level as “official”, I’ve made levels on all 14 tile bases.
My First Claw Site
So, another problem. Where would I put my levels?
DzjeeAr had a small site were he hosted levels that he thought were good, but other than that there really was no place you could upload your levels. Armed with a small amount of HTML knowledge, I decided to build one.
In May 2005, my mother and my sister left the city for a few days, and with that breathing space I designed and uploaded The Belated Claw Fansite. I don’t have the VERY earliest version, but here’s what it looked like in late 2005.
Initially I just stuck my own levels up there, but soon I expanded and relaunched it to include other peoples’ levels. One of the Claw forum’s most infamous trolls (mouth) told me the site looked awesome. That just blew my mind.
I freely admit that the site had problems. I was 15 years old and I was figuring everything out by trial and error. One day Teo phil emailed me say that the links on my site weren’t working on Internet Explorer. Apparently I was typing in my URLs with forward slashes (http:\\….) and IE wasn’t able to autocorrect them. Oops.
Still, I learned a lot about HTML and CSS, and these skills later led to actual commercial work designing websites for businesses. That’s pretty neat, I suppose.
My Claw Site: Reloaded
I soon realised that the overwhelming majority of Claw fans didn’t care about custom levels. They were still busy playing the actual game, and they needed information. There were no big Claw sites around then, except for Monolith’s official one (which was more promotional than anything). There was nowhere you could go to find walkthroughs, downloads, fan stuff, etc. A void needed to be filled.
In 2006, I relaunched the site as The Claw Recluse. It had a lot more things on it, and I needed to do surprisingly little work. Using the Wayback Machine I recovered Rich’s Claw Walkthroughs, and on remote corners of the internet I found some interesting Claw-related stuff (such as Monolith’s design document). I typed up a few words on the enemies and bosses, suggested strategies for beating them, and there was my site. I also created the Claw Fanclub, where people could put down their names and email addresses. I don’t think I ever did anything with this.
The site even had a forum. It wasn’t mine, though. In 2006, a guy called Gunner became fed up with the official Claw Forum and created Gunner’s Claw Forum. It was moderated, and had all the modern bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from today’s forums. Sadly, not many people ever used it. It racked up a few thousand posts, went inactive, and the web host deleted it in 2008 (As a poetic coincidence, it died at roughly the same time as the official Claw forum.)
The Claw Renaissance
Before you knew it, the Claw community had gone from a dying forum and a couple of never-updated fansites, to nearly a full-blown revival.
I’m not a glory hog, but I think my site was a key factor in the game regaining popularity. Not because I’m an awesome guy or anything, but because just my site was catching a lot of people typing “Claw rip”, “Claw full version”, and so forth into Google. A trained monkey could have done the same. At one point The Claw Recluse was sucking in a couple thousand hits a week, and getting a ton of mail. At one point, excessive downloads caused my website to exceed its bandwidth limit and I was hit with a $60 fee. Yeah, that’s the kind of victory you don’t want.
Suddenly the Claw Forum was alive with Claw discussion, and custom levels were being being pumped out like crazy. Probably the coolest part was how many oldies returned and started playing the game again. Rich, Randy, Finn, Edd Brown, and Freya all made appearances on the forums at some point. And then there was Meezo, the Thomas Edison of level design. He had debatably made the first custom level ever (at least, the earliest one in my level folder). He hung around for a bit, made a few posts, and then disappeared. His posts were erased by the GCF auto-pruning feature, which nobody could figure out how to disable.
Here are some people who deserve major props in bringing Claw back from the edge of the grave:
Zuczek. In 2004-2005, a Polish kid showed up on the scene. Nobody could have guessed that he would turn into perhaps the most dedicated Claw fan of all. He made a few custom levels, and with the help of his brother he launched a Claw site of his own.
In 2006, his site and mine merged operations. He updated the Polish side of it, and I updated the English side. It was a bit awkward since basically the two of us updated whenever (and with whatever) we felt like, so the two sites were pretty desynchronised at times. I will fully admit that I’m not the most organised guy in the world, and his Polish site was undoubtedly the better of the two.
Zuczek made the site bilingual, and then trilingual (a latin-speaking fellow translated the page into Spanish). As of today, The Claw Recluse is in nine languages!
Teo phil was known as a skilled speed-runner (at one point he held the top spot in all 14 levels), a great level designer, and a dedicated player of the game. He had been involved with Claw for a long time, many years before I showed up. At some point in 2006-2007, he started working on the Claw Recluse with Zuczek and I. I know he wrote a pile of material for the Polish site, and translated some of it for me to use on the English site.
Perhaps his greatest legacy was the Claw DVD, which contained a cracked version of the game, high-quality FMV cutscenes, custom levels, and many other things. It was 2GB but it was definitely worth it. You may still be able to track it down today. In fact, it’s the version of the game I recommend you look for, should you seek to play Claw todays.
Gunner was an IT professional from India and a keen marksman. He posted a bit on the official Claw Forum, got tired of the sheer anarchy that went on there, and in 2006 he started his own forum: GCF.
A bold move, and long overdue. Claw fans had often speculated about launching a moderated Claw forum elsewhere, but nobody ever bothered to do it. He set it up with cjb.net and installed a Lord of the Rings theme, to the joy of Teo phil (who was a big LOTR fan) and to the annoyance of everyone else. Eventually the adminship was passed on to me, and I think I might have passed it on to Zuczek and Teo phil when I left Claw. I don’t remember.
Gunner wasn’t all that involved with Claw after launching his forum, but he did write part of an excellent Claw fanfiction. I think I might still have it.
Sometimes I wonder what he’s doing now.
For practical purposes, DjzeeAr was gone by 2006. He resigned in frustration from the official Claw Forum, and only posted infrequently at Gunner’s Claw Forum. From time to time he said he wanted to make new Claw levels, but not much came from it, only a short unfinished level called “Lavapit” which he said he would complete at some point.
In about 2007-ish, he emailed me an updated version of Lavapit, and said that, since he couldn’t be motivated to do the work himself, he wanted me to finish it. I was stunned. I considered him a level design god, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do Lavapit justice. But I worked on it for a few months, and eventually released a final version called “Palace of Zin.”
I think that Palace of Zin was maybe my most unusual and experimental level. The unfinished part left by DzjeeAr had a unique atmosphere. You were in a castle surrounded by lava, and there it felt…haunted. There were very few enemies, and very little treasure. You just kept exploring and exploring, and hoped you found your way out of the castle. I kept working on it, trying at all costs to preserve that atmosphere. I think I did an okay job at the end.
DzjeeAr got a kick out of my original planned title for the level, which was “Grey Cat’s Sex Palace.”
There were many others like Treasurer and V.N. and XeRo, all of whom left their mark on the Claw fandom. Respect to all you guys.
Speed Runs and Multiplayer
At some point, people realised that Claw has multiplayer. It’s not awesome, wonderful multiplayer, but it exists. For those sick of single-player levels, this was exciting new territory.
Basically, everyone would join a room (Hamachi was the usual way to host games), and then you’d all race together to complete a level. You could either do a time-based race or a score-based race. The levels would be scattered with curses that killed other players, froze them, store their points, et cetera.
Zuczek, Teo phil, and lots of Polish players jumped on board the multiplayer train in a big way. I had technical problems at my end (damned restrictive firewalls), and besides, I sucked big-time at it. My playing style was to move slowly and explore everywhere, not race across levels at the speed of light.
One day I came up with the idea of “speed runs”, where you complete levels in the shortest possible time. This quickly became the most frequently updated section of the site, and spawned a lot of discussion about rules, cheaters, and so on.
Various companies try to make a buck using Claw
One of the interesting things about being a fan of a small game is that people freely trample over copyright. You get to see some truly nice things that wouldn’t be possible with a major title.
First, there was Claw: Rapacious Edition. A Polish company re-released the game with custom levels (including some of mine) and some extra goodies like a t-shirt and a mouse pad. I don’t think they ever sold many copies, and when I search Google the only references are from the Claw Recluse. Nevertheless, it was amazing that things I had made were being shipped as a commercial product. I hardly believed it until zuczek sent me scans, showing my name credited in the booklet.
Next, there was the Claw mobile game. Nobody seems to know anything about it. I found some screenshots on the web and put them on the Claw Recluse. It seemed like a simplified version of Monolith’s game. I don’t think the game was licensed.
Last (both chronologically and in every other sense of the word) there was the elusive Claw 2 by Techland. I kept hearing rumors about it on forums, but it seemed to be a very “low profile” release with not much hype. Eventually, they changed the name (to duck a lawsuit, I suppose) to Nikita: The Mystery Of the Hidden Treasure. It now seems to have little to do with the first Claw, except that it’s about a pirate cat. I found this video.
I think that’s the song they hear in hell. Anyway, let’s move on. Nothing to see here…
Claw’s Decline and Death, and My Departure
Eventually (later in 2007), I became bored of Claw and didn’t feel like running The Claw Recluse anymore. Zuczek and Teo phil took over maintanence of the English site, and I basically left the Claw scene. No great loss, I hadn’t been doing much for the past half year anyway.
Running the Claw Recluse in that period was like managing a convenience store in a ghost town. The game was just…dying. All of the longstanding regulars (except Zuczek and Teo phil) had left and there didn’t seem to be much left to do or say. Monolith’s Claw Forum was a wasteland full of spammers and retards, and Gunner’s Claw Forum was on death’s door.
I’m talking, of course, about Claw in English. For some reason, the game is very popular in Poland, and this popularity continues to this day. I’m not sure why it is. Was Monolith waging some multimillion dollar ad campaign over there? Zuczek’s Claw forums now have about 70,000 posts, significantly more than what Monolith’s official Claw forum had back in the day. Here’s another rather amazing figure. In the later years of the Claw Recluse, my stats showed that over 40% of my traffic was from Poland. THE ENGLISH SITE.
Anyway, I said goodbye, and that was the last thing I had to do with Claw for about two years. I might have visited a forum occasionally. Not long after, all the major English Claw forums died. For practical purposes there isn’t a Claw fandom in English anymore.
Some time in 2009 Zuczek emailed me, asking for help with the site’s layout. I messed around with it a bit but didn’t get anywhere. As of today, this was my last piece of involvement with The Claw Recluse.
My experience with other Monolith games
I liked Claw so much that I eventually bit the bullet and checked out Monolith’s other titles.
I’m not so much into Monolith’s big forays into the mainstream FPS market (FEAR, etc). I prefer their smaller, “quirkier” games. Even here, I find Monolith to be rather hit and miss.
– Blood. This one was tons of fun. I’m a fan of Duke Nukem, and this is Duke with more gore and a more interesting setting. The voice actor for Caleb was also the voice actor for Claw. A bona fide classic. 9/10
– Blood 2. I played the demo, didn’t like it, and never touched it again. None of the atmosphere and style of the original. 3/10
– Gruntz. Generally inferior to Claw, but still an excellent game. An infuriatingly technical puzzle game where you use tools to help small creatures navigate to the end of the level. 8/10
– Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. A very confused FPS game. It throws a lot of different styles together (team combat, mecha, standard Doom-style gameplay) and doesn’t really do any of them well. It’s fun in parts, but it feels like you’re wading through filler most of the time. 5/10
– No One Lives Forever. A very deep and interesting game. It shares Blood and Claw’s preponsity for clever level design. Highly recommended. 9/10
– Get Medieval. Fun for five minutes, then just annoying. 2/10
Next up, Tron 2.0!
A Claw comic book?
At one point we had a person posting on the Claw forum. My memory is full of holes but I believe he claimed to be an artist who had done work with Takarajimasha. He said he had actually made a Claw comic book to illustrate the story.
We badgered him to post this comic. He said he’d upload some pages for us to look at. That was the last we ever heard from him.
An Actual Claw 2?
If you stayed around for the ending credits, you’ll see Monolith saying that a 3D version of Claw was in the pipeline. What happened to this?
Evidence is sketchy, but it appears that progress was made on the Claw sequel before it was abandoned. Monolith .plan updates (which I think have been lost now) from ’98 say that Claw 2′s engine was looking good. Whether Monolith was able to create any content for the game is uncertain. At a guess, I’d say Claw 2 was cancelled so Monolith could fry some bigger fish (ie, Blood 2 and Shogo: MAD).
The 15 hit sailor bear?
Aavishkhar patel made waves on the forum for a while, claiming that he had made a level called “Huggerland” that contained a sailor bear that took 15 hits to kill. This was of great interest to various level designers. Sadly, when Huggerland was released, it featured nothing of sort, and patel later admitted that he had gotten confused.
All of this happened only four years ago. But at the warp-speed pace of the internet, four years is an age. One of my proudest moments running the Claw Recluse was when I won a web award in 2005. Now, in 2010, the idea of web awards seems stupid. One tiny site bestowing a meaningless award on an equally tiny site. But hey, maybe that’s growing up. You don’t see many adults talking about the gold star they once received on their homework.
What do I do now? Well, I play music, I lift weights, I mess around with WordPress (had I rebuilt the Claw Recluse now I probably could have figured out some way of letting people upload levels with a handy little upload form) and I play a few videogames. I just got an Xbox 360. So as not to look completely out of touch with technology, I have a 60+ inch screen to play it on. My 21st birthday was a blast.
What about Claw? I haven’t touched it in years. I don’t even have a hard drive with Claw on it. One day I’ll definitely find the game again and blast through some levels for old time’s sake.
Claw was great fun. It was a small game that accomplished great things. But note the past tense: Claw was. At least for me. Those happy days will not be revisited. But they were great. Claw created an excellent community, and added a lot of fond memories to my life. Truth be told, that’s the reason why I created this page. I wanted to make a lasting monument to those memories, but not something I’d have to update every day.
I hope you enjoyed reading this.
And now it’s your turn.
My first contact with Claw was in 1998, when I was 6 years old. The CD was, luckily, bundled with a Creative SoundBlaster (Soundcard) which came as a gift from the entire hardware pack. This pack was so awesome that the best games I’ve already played in my life were from that. Among those other games I’ve received Twinsen’s Odyssey’s (LBA2), Moto Racer, Time Commando and others. Claw was my favorite among those games. It was impressive to besides receive a new computer (for the time) receive also a great game pack! As I’ve already told friend Pawel I had become stuck on level 6 with Wolvington, which till now, in my opinion is one of the most difficult bosses in the game. After a great time, in my 6 year-old life to manage to defeat Wolvington I had reached the other levels till the 14th and last level. Surprisingly I had bad times with the exactly final part of the level, just before the battle with Omar. This part was that which those appearing/disappearing platforms going up and down happened to exist.. Then a long time had passed and unfortunately I had also lost my original Claw CD portuguese version :( :( A great hiatus happened between me and Claw. If I’m not wrong I lost the CD around 2001 and began to play it again in 2007 thanks to someone who had told me about the existance of the torrent downloads. So at the end of 2007 (November) I had found my favorite game once again and, besides, in a version that I hadn’t known before(the spanish one) and my original and official language portuguese version. Up to nowadays I play Claw and it’s still among the best games I’ve already played.
I first played Claw in December 1999, when it was bundled with a special, Christmas issue of PC World. I still have the magazine and the Claw CD, the latter so frequently used that it probably doesn’t work anymore. Since they chose to include cheats in the game description, I pretty much started using them right away. Even so, I couldn’t figure out how to beat the level 8 boss, and shelved the game for a few months. The following summer I visited my cousins and introduced them to Claw. Together, playing in turns and still cheating like crazy, we completed it for the first time.
The next step was to do that again, this time without cheats. It turned out easier than I had expected, though by that time I didn’t even attempt to collect a lot of treasure, not to mention challenging for a top 50 score. However, practice makes perfect. By the end of 2001, I have read Rich’s walkthroughs and was ranked on the high scores list for the first time. Eventually, I’ve got all there was to get — without the infamous infinite loop glitch, that is.
In the meantime, I started using the WapWorld editor. The fun thing is that it was advertised as included with the game on the PC World cover, and there was even a short guide with screenshots in the magazine, but the editor itself was nowhere to be found on the CD. Eventually, I downloaded it in October 2000 (which was no small feat considering we were on a 56kbps dial-up connection at the time) and immediately started messing up with retail level 8. Thanks to a backup on a 3,5” floppy, the masterpiece survived to this day, and among my achievements are changing the default color (i.e. water) to yellow and placing an excessive amount of pearl necklaces. Not bad for a start, eh?
Soon after, I started working on a first proper level, using the Tiger Island tileset. It was fully playable by the end of the year, complete with a boss fight, way too many warps, weird secret areas, and other crazy stuff you’d expect from an 11-year-old. The tiles were properly matched, though :) During the next year and a half I became more interested in the Claw high scores list, and started designing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 levels. It wasn’t until mid-2002 that I dusted off my old level. With the existing part heavily redesigned, and much more added, it was released as Treasure Island on August 21, 2002. Randy was the first person to receive it.
Finn’s website, though still accessible, hadn’t been updated anymore, and e-mail was pretty much the only way to make a new level available to the public at that time (which is probably why so few levels from that time frame have survived). Treasure Island became fairly popular, and I even set up a Claw downloads website so as to make it easily obtainable. To the disappointment of many, including Aavishkar Patel, I wasn’t able to update the site regularly due to various circumstances. After a year or two, it was taken down.
In mid-2004, I finally got proper internet access, received a pile of e-mail from the last few months and visited the forum, where I was still remembered by some. Primarily as ‘the guy who doesn’t respond to our e-mails’, but whatever. It was all short-lived anyway, as in a few weeks I found the forum inaccessible. When it returned in early 2005, it wasn’t the same place it used to be. However, that year later proved to be a turning point in the history of the Claw community. It was then that The Claw Recluse (known as Belated Claw Fansite at the time) really began, followed by Gunner’s and Zuczek’s forums. To this day, I continue to manage the site with Zuczek, as well as the Polish forum and an IRC channel we’ve set up in April 2010. There’s also Zuczek’s YouTube channel with an exceptional collection of Claw videos. Between 2006 and 2010 I’ve designed seven further levels, some of which have enjoyed an absolutely unprecedented success in the Polish community.
The Claw Recluse is actually getting more and more hits each year (as much as 25k per month this summer), with quite a lot of foreign visitors, primarily from Latin America. New custom levels are still being designed, talked about and played, mainly in multiplayer matches. There’s even an ongoing attempt at reverse-engineering the .wwd and .rez formats so as to create a new version of the WapWorld editor. While I’m not involved in this project, it looks like there’s been reasonable progress so far. Also, we’ve heard from Randy and it turns out he’s halfway done with a new custom level. I can’t wait.
It’s funny you mentioned Blackout. Coincidentally, we’ve picked it for a huge multiplayer game just the other day. Damn, what a challenge it was. Some of the areas were quite annoying, but it only added to the satisfaction of having finished the level. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so overjoyed to see a checkpoint flag ;) Anyway, several players made it all the way to the boss fight, with the winner collecting over 90% of all the treasure. Now that’s just crazy. And no, it wasn’t me, in case you were wondering ;p
As for the DVD version, remember when we discussed how 1k downloads might be perhaps a bit too optimistic? It’s past 20k now and still going strong. Quite an achievement, considering that it’s still the very same, old torrent that took three days or something to upload with my crappy internet connection back in early 2006. On a side note, I’ve recently found the original Claw DVD on sale at a Polish auction site. For the equivalent of less than 2 USD, that really was a no-brainer. The disc isn’t in perfect condition, and there’s nothing else besides a standard, black CD box, but hey, does it even matter for a fan?
Here’s a few links every Claw fan should bookmark:
http://kapitanpazur.piasta.pl/ — The Claw Recluse.
http://www.youtube.com/LethalPwnager — Zuczek’s channel on YouTube. Be sure to watch the Wreckage trailer ;p
http://webchat.quakenet.org/?channels=captain.claw — our IRC channel on QuakeNet.
I was first introduced to Claw, my first Windows based PC game, in 1998 when I bought my first custom built tower system. It was a high end system for the time(paid 4k for it) with a 400mhz processor, 128mb ram and 8mb video card. The Claw game(DVD version) was packaged with it, of which the computer tech wasted no time playing it on my machine(for demonstration purposes). He obviously was a novice player…of which his gameplay was clumsy looking, poking at the keyboard. I had a hard time imagining myself moving a character on a screen using a keyboard; as I was from a generation where keyboards were only seen and used on a typewriter. My previous experience with games was limited to pinball machines, Pong(from the 1970′s), Atari and Nintendo consoles. There was one exception, which was DOS based game(circa 1991) on a 5.25″ Floppy, named The Terminator; where one had to enter commands to play it. That almost permanently ended my PC game playing days. So, at the time, I was more enamored with the new windows based interactive screensavers like marbles or flying cows, etc. As a result, the Claw CD sat on top of my pc tower for a good 6 months before I inserted it in the DVD rom. The Introductory Clip Scene, I noted to be of high quality, so I figured I’d give it chance.
Of course, like the computer tech, my movement of the character(Capt Claw) was initially pretty clutsy…but, with some determination, it all smoothed out for me. I then decided I better play the demo first to improve my skills; which gave me more confidence as I began Level 1 in the Retail game.
I finally finished the game about 6 months later, only with the goal to completing it. At the time, I didn’t realize the object of the game was to get all the treasure!…lol. So my score was pretty pathetic. I didn’t even know there was a Claw Website/Forum, where players were able to chat, compete with each other and post our scores.
So to me that is where the fun was. I got online and met the likes of Eugenio(known as one of the original guru players), Finn(a well respected and excellent player) with a few customs and website he already made, Meezo(who was kind of a moderator) and Scorpio(a tech from Lith and original custom builder for the retail level). Mind you, this was an early time still, when player’s posted scores didn’t reflect perfect or maximum scores for any one level(let alone actually finishing the game)….so, it was relatively easy to post into the top 50.
Rich Kleinhenz and myself(we were the same age, ie., the only oldies) joined the team around the same time, with Mahesh(very innovative and bright) joining us a sometime later. By then, the stage was set and we were off and running with daily chats, friendly competition and discoveries. At that time, no secret areas, tricks or glitches were known; with exception to Eugenio’s “Unreachable Coin” in Level 2(of which he refused to share that trick, and was the only one to acheive it for years to follow). So, the rest of us signed it off to luck; although theories abounded how to get the coin and other areas, such as using a cpu killer, or reducing resolution, frame rates, screen size, etc. During that time, even Mahesh had his theory, claiming his 233mhz processor allowed him to jump higher. I myself discovered perceived differences in Claw perfomance with cpu speeds and even with operating systems: Win95 vs Win98; as a few times I had to switch to my son’s Win95 PC to make certain jumps. But, alas, I was never able to get that Floating Coin….so, I basically just stuck to my PC Win98 system for my second attempt to play and finish the game with the goal of obtaining all ‘retrievable’ treasure. Apparently, the rest of the team named above, simultaneously got the same idea….so, the race was on!…and what great fun that was for the next year or two.
I first noticed Finn got some perfect level scores, so the rest of us ditto’d him, then I’d jump forward with perfect scores in other levels; with Rich closely behind taking notes for his excellent and precise WalkThroughs that he would later publish. During that interim, Finn and I coincidentally discovered the ‘walking clouds’, of which I took to a certain checkpoint collecting treasure; followed by Finn taking it back further to a previous checkpoint, followed by Mahesh who took it further thus discovering the so called ‘infinite loop’, and deservedly dubbed as such by him. But, by then we were far enough ahead of him in the game, that Finn and I finished the game, with me posting the highest ‘perfect’ overall score, without using any tricks yet unknown and without using the infinite loop. That title lasted for at least 6 to 12 weeks; until, that is, Mahesh caught up with his Infinite loop technique, forever increasing his overall score thereafter(and without sharing exactly what was infinite about it…lol). It was while on this journey we discovered other glitches and hidden treasure, such as those in Level 5; and the missing tiger guard(in level 14?) of which Finn speculated, and I found in the Wap Editor. I also found the unreachable bar in the crate(I recall was in level 9 or 10). There was more, but I’m basing this on recollection from years back. Go to this link for the actual Forum dialogs for more specifics on the evolution of these discoveries at: http://web.archive.org/web/19981202212851/www.captainclaw.com/forum/
It will be quite the tedious search, but interesting nonetheless.
Anyway, in the intensity of our daily collaborations, we had fast become friends to the point of codependancy(that was a good thing, even with the occasional friendly darts, slings and verbal sparring), Finn even photoshopped my image into Captain Claw with him as the parrot on my shoulder!…lol.(He was one talented kid then at the age of 13). But, like all good things the pot got spoiled with the entrance of newer players using the infinite loop, and with the discovery of the Claw Trainer; the High Scores Post became a sham. Some of us then refocused our attention to making Customs(that kept us in the Forum for another couple of years). Finn produced more, as did I; and even Mahesh was inspired to make one himself. Claw Jr entered the scene at that time, and created an excellent website and made 5 or 6 customs. There were others, so please excuse me for not remembering at this late juncture.
Initially, my first custom was in 1999 entitled “Randy’s 14th”. It really was just an edit of the 14th retail level, where I only changed some objects, leaving all tiles intact. The intent was to make it easier to reach the end and also providing me some hands on experience in the Editor.
By the way, the chronology of my custom creations has been reported in error:
My next custom was in 2000 entitled “Mother of All Caverns”(MOAC). Initially, when I opened the editor, I saw a big empty space; so I decided to make it one big cavern with isolated gameplay areas that can be reached by elevators and pegs to be revisited over and over again. That is how I was inspired to make it. I wanted it challenging for the seasoned players, yet also as skill training for those newbies who wanted to seriously tackle the retail game. I also wanted some unique play areas, thus some unusual tile combinations….hey, as long as it was palatable, right?….lol.
Of course, objections were posed as to difficulty, so the following year I edited “Mother of All Caverns”, and morphed it into “Mommy of All Caverns” for those who wanted it easier; aaaaand….. still needed their ‘mommies’ to play it…..lol….thus the play on words in the titles. Sorry about that!!!
For my then last custom created in 2002, was “UnderSeaWorld”(USW). In retroapect, perhaps as a rebound, my intent was to make it more difficult mostly to test most or all skill sets found in the retail levels, and then some. I felt if anyone can finish it, then they would be ready to champion the retail game. Yet at the same time it had to be doable within reason…so there had to be a cognitive fine balance in the difficulty level.
I also saw the opportunity to create more secret areas, making more use of Z coordinates; and inputing ‘rect’ values in the elevator logic. . As with my other customs, I repeatedly proof tested all game play and made sure perfect scores could be attained. My son, is also a testiment to that, as he achieved the same at his young age.
But, as they say: “Never Say Never”. After a 10 year hiatus, I somehow found inspiration(or it found me) to create a new custom level. Some of that inspiration was a remnant of years past that I never got around to testing; of which is now in the new level. It still might be a matter of months before I finish it, but I believe it will be my best work….and it will be rather large, which I didn’t necessarily plan on….just the way it worked out.
And, admittedly, the other part of that inspiration goes to the new guardians of the game. I appreciate your dedication to keeping the game alive with your current websites, and I congratulate you. I believed that once we saw the official Claw Forum descend into chaos and our old group dissipated, that that was the end. Apparently now, that is not the case, for I see a significant revival and perpituity of the Claw game for years to come. So, thankyou from one of the old players from years past.
Heh, this is quite interesting!
I thought the community was pretty much dead, which is quite a shame to be honest. Looking back at it, it was a rather fun part of my own youth :) And it’s great to hear from you again! Seems I’m not the only one ‘plagued’ by nostalgia.
It’s funny you dubbed me the ‘unofficial leader’ of the community considering I sooner bestowed that title to you. You were the one with a major website dedicated to claw anyway and you made a lot of good levels. The main reason I didn’t play them that much is because I’m not much of a claw-player to begin with :p The main reason I played it was to test my own levels, wether they functioned properly. I should probably apologize if I critisized your levels too hard at the time; if I considered anyone a “rival” it was you, when it came to level design.
Considering I started this email about twelve hours before sending it I’m not sure if I can find the time or motivation to actually write anything on the site itself, but all the same it’s good to hear from you and to hear you still have fond memories of that time :)
I really enjoyed reading this article. It’s always a pleasure to glimpse into the past and be reminded of the things you once enjoyed and in doing so recall the person you once were. I remember getting Claw for my birthday back in the late ’90s and being fascinated by the fierce-looking panther pirate on the cover. While I was disappointed that the in-game cinematics weren’t nearly as realistic or stylized, I soon came to love to game and play it daily.
I played that game nearly every day for months. I’m ashamed to say that I originally beat it with cheat codes as the final level proved too frustrating. I’m actually re-playing the game now, though, with hopes of beating it properly.
It’s still an amazingly fun game. I’m glad to see that its fans remain so dedicated to this day, years later. It’s unfortunate I was too young to get involved in any of the active fan communities. I know I would have contributed as often as I could.
Also, thanks for the comment on the interviews. I enjoyed conducting them, though I’m disappointed that several of the forumers didn’t seem to appreciate them for what information they did have to offer. Hopefully some of my future interviews will be better received.
Hello, Gultigargar here! (Or Mr Cat, as I so awkwardly named myself back then. Don’t really know what I was thinking ;P)
I would have posted this in the comments section on your site, but I couldn’t get past the spam protection no matter what I did. Hopefully sending this mail is OK?
I’m no good at long speeches, so long story short I was recently reminded of the good old brutally hard platformer Claw. I got some nostalgia going and search a bit on Google to see if there are still traces of the old community left, and well, here we are.
Your story about how you discovered Claw and entered the community was a very nice read. I couldn’t help but notice that you even had that weird comic I made. I honestly didn’t think anyone cared about those, but I guess it’s nice to see that they were at least acknowledged. Speaking of the old forum, I hope I wasn’t too annoying back then? Looking back at myself now, I’m not really sure if I’d like the me that posted then. :P Either way, great site, was a real blast form the past. It was also nice to see that some of the old forum members had left comments. All I have left to say was that I had the time of my life back then with you guys, and I’m glad to know you are doing well and to see that this great game is still being appreciated.
Nice summary of all those good childhood years I spent playing Claw, designing levels with wapworld and using the forum on good old 56k dial-up internet. I am at university now, which provides me with 100 Mbit internet, and play games on a monster gaming rig, but I still do have claw installed on a virtual machine and actually sometimes do play it or some custom levels occasionally. I still remember most of the old tricks and things ;)
@ The “15-Hit Bear Sailor” : I seriously don’t know how I came up with that and must’ve indeed been confused (maybe I had the weakening cheat code on :P ). I vaguely remember it had to something with something being negative, but can’t say. Haven’t used wapworld for like 5 or 6 years.
I still respect claw a lot. The game’s graphics still look great it’s amazing how a game designed in 1996-97 or so can run in 1280×720 and look brilliant at that resolution. I doubt I will ever make any custom levels anymore though.
claw is just the ultimate side scrolling game for people who like the older style game , the custom levels are great ,i enjoy playing them ,it means claw will live for ever . some one has a fan site on face book so claw is still very popular.more info should be published on how to make a custom level for beginners and how to get the program to work on windows 7 . if we all have claw in our hearts the game should live on for ever.