Monolith’s Captain Claw DVD game not quite perrrrfect

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To win Captain Claw, a player must be a god–or at least play like one. This scrolling adventure game long descended from Pitfall, follows the journey of a ship-commander cat and his attempts to piece together a map and find the Jewels of Nine Lives. From Monolith Studios, the game spins off a DVD-ROM. But only between the game action does Captain Claw take true benefit of the digital versatile disk technology. As the adventure proceeds and the fierce feline works his way through levels, the story unfold in Saturday-morning-cartoon-quality bits.

Unfortunately, on first installation, the cartoons were without audio and roughly illustrated. Downloading the Claw 1.2 patch from the Monolith Web site at or improved the cartoon quality significantly, but still the movies were silent.

Turns out my Compaq Presario’s FX700 monitor used USB to control the sound. Something in Captain Claw interfered with the USB and turned down the sound. The fix? Windows 98, believe it or not. With the integrated USB control and the latest DirectX 5, voices spilled forth from the speakers.

While the cartoons were entertaining, they added just story to the game–no clues, no hints and nothing remarkable.

Captain Claw attacks the enemies encountered with swashbuckling sword, of course, along with a gun, hand-to-hand combat and his "Magic Claw." He jumps, ducks and swings into action gathering the golden treasures, some health and food to carry him through.

With all that help, it takes a cheat god-mode to survive. With platforms that crumble and unseen dangers just one jump ahead, it requires more than good eye/hand coordination to make it through some of the obstacles.

For example, in many of the levels, these disappearing or crumbling platforms must be landed on in a certain order to survive and make it to the other side. Even at the highest 800-by-600 resolutions, only a fraction of the journey can be seen. With god-mode, I must have killed 30 Captains to finally reach the other side, only to find yet another difficult sequence of jumps ahead.

Game play is entertaining enough, although the challenge is more one of survival than strategy.

Also, it requires a cheat to get Captain Claw up to the highest video resolutions. Why this setting cannot be accomplished elsewhere, I’m not sure.

While its entertainment value is high with the cartoons, its DVD worthiness is still a little low. Out of five GiN Gems, I give it a two-and-a-half.

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