Captain Claw Review | Monolith Rules Edition

Yarr harr, me lads n’ lassies, ’tis Captain Zenishira here! Who’s ready for a swashbuckling adventure, where gold and treasure is to be found? Sail the seven seas and defeat other landlubbers that dare cross your path! Do you like cats? Do you like Pirates? Do you like both? Well, do I have the game for you, introducing…

Claw Images - LaunchBox Games Database

Claw, more commonly known as Captain Claw, is a 2-D platformer developed by Monolith Productions in 1997. You might know them from their other game titles, most notably Blood, F.E.A.R. and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Yeah, after the viciously gory game that was Blood, they had to make something for the kids to enjoy, right? In this review, I will talk about the story, the gameplay, the platforming and the soundtrack.

Our main protagonist is Captain Nathaniel Joseph Claw (Voiced by Stephan Weyte, the same guy who voiced Caleb in Blood). Loved by many and feared by all, he is truly the best pirate to sail the seven seas. A stern commander, his crew is always loyal to him, and many of his enemies still have scars from when he either slashed them with his sword or simply scratched them with his claws.

Captain Claw - all Cutscenes - YouTube

Clear the debris, reload cannons and give them another run from our broad side!Captain Claw

He escaped many fights unscathed, however one unfaithful day he got captured by the Cocker Spaniards, more specifically by Le Rauxe. A snobbish, unscrupulous and pompous dog. The king of the Spaniards put a bounty of over 1,000,000 gold pieces for capturing Claw, dead or alive. With the feared pirate in his hands, Le Rauxe imprisoned him in La Roca, where we was scheduled for execution.

Claw (1997) - MobyGames

Well, well, this is indeed a rare treat!Le Rauxe

Whilst trying to find the exit from his cell, Claw discovers a piece of a map and a letter, written by a previous prisoner. The letter tells of the existence of the legendary Amulet of Nine Lives, a mythical artifact that provides the user with near immortality. Understandably, our captain was pretty skeptical after reading the letter for the first time, but his thirst for adventure determined him to make finding the gems of the amulet his quest. A guard who was suspicious of Claw opens the door to his cell, the pirate growls and takes down the officer. And now, we enter the first level.

Right, so to the right of us are crates, smashing them will reveal pieces of gold and other goodies! After climbing the ladder, you will encounter two or more guard dogs. You have multiple ways to deal with your enemies, the first being your trustworthy sword, because every pirate that respects himself must carry one. You also have a gun for long range combat, dynamite for when the enemy is either above or below you, and of course…


Man, this game brings so much nostalgia, I know, I know, I say this with every game I review here in this blog, but just… look at it! The animations are so smooth and the controls reflect that! Did I forget to mention that you can pick up enemies and throw them on the ground, on the walls, or even on other enemies? You can even throw barrels of explosives at them, if you think you’re too fancy for dynamite!

Woah woah woah, put me down!Cocker Spaniard, probably

There’s a multitude of pickups that can aid you in your journey, such as food and potions to restore health, ammo for your gun, orbs for your magic claw, extra dynamite, and also special power-ups like the golden and red mice, that allow you to jump higher, but you have to be quick since you only have a few seconds, the Red mice usually grant you more time for you to run to that hard to reach place, however do take in mind that you must be very accurate with the jumps, or else your time will expire and you will most likely fall into a death trap!

Also, don’t worry about dying too much. The game is pretty generous when it comes to checkpoints, which come in the form of these pirate flags. Yeah, unlike modern games that allow quick saves, Claw only allows you to start from certain flags, this essentially means that you have to find special flags with golden accents if you want to load your game from that save point. Each level has two of those. However, do mind the fact that the game won’t save your game if it detects you cheating. You aren’t a dirty, cheating scoundrel, are you?

The second level of the game, the Battlements, proves to change things a little bit to make it harder for you. The enemies are now ever so slightly stronger, they don’t take one hit to kill. What’s more is that the dogs with shotguns have also learned to crouch and shoot! You’ll have to maneuver through multiple guards, avoid the cannons that shoot you, jump over the oil pits, and jump on platforms along the way.

At the end of the level, you will come face to face with a familiar face, Le Rauxe! Every two levels you will face against one of these “bosses” and each and every single one of them poses a certain amount of threat. Except, the first boss, he’s pretty much a pushover, just poke him with your sword a bunch of times and grab his gem.

It’s payback time, Le Rauxe!

At last, Claw escapes the prison. He jumps into a lake and heads into the forest, hiding from the guards. Only he doesn’t know that robbers and cutthroats lurk within these woods…

The Footpath is essentially a journey through the lush green vegetation and purple dark caves. You can swing on the vines like Tarzan does, watch out for that tree! The fourth level, Dark Woods, is where it gets serious. You’ll have to use those weird plants as trampolines and avoid the green “acid” that will melt your skin off if you ever so touch it. But hey, at least you can throw those robbers into it, they deserve it!

BUUUUUUUUUUUUURP!! Excuse meCutthroat Bulldog

At the end of the fourth Level you fight against Catherine, who seems to be Claw’s ex-girlfriend. She uses a whip to attack, and she is quite agile, there’s two health potions at the top if you happen to get hurt, however you’d have to jump over crumbling platforms, so choose wisely.

We meet again, Katherine!

The fifth level features the port-town of De Lobo. I love how the background is pretty much the forest we came from, it also changes the more you progress within the level, showing more of the city. There are soldiers patrolling the streets, and also these annoying birds that just won’t let you be! The sixth level features… the sewers of the town for some reason! I don’t know who engineered these sewers, since they keep overflowing with sewage, ugh…

The third boss is the mayor of the town, Wolvington. He uses a gauntlet to punch you and some magic spells to fight at a distance. He may seem tough, however I found out that hitting him then crouching is the best solution, all he can do is uppercut for some reason, oh well…

Your men need more training, Wolvington!

After that whole ordeal, Claw heads inside an inn, and overhears a conversation held by two sailors, they talk about how Red Tail, one of Claw’s rivals, has found some of the gems of the amulet. They claim that the first mate, Gabriel, has one of the gems, and that Red Tail is headed towards Tiger Island. Claw follows the two sailors to a shipyard…

I’m telling you, it’s true!Sailor

The Shipyard level is characterized by its maritime setting, featuring docks, ships, and industrial structures. Players must jump, climb, and fight their way through various platforming sections, combating a variety of enemies including pirates, rats, crabs that throw bombs and those gosh darn birds again, now with even more divebombing and screeching!

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t let the Bear sailors “hug” you, trust me… you uhh… you don’t want-

Anyways, the fourth boss, Gabriel, requires a little bit of strategy. He sits atop of his ship, and you can’t quite reach him by jumping and slashing, he will taunt you if you attempt that. You’ll have to jump some platforms and push a button that redirects the cannon to shoot him instead of you. Beware though, he will throw bombs and order his henchmen to attack you in order to prevent this from happening. His death is quite dramatic and Shakespearean in a way, heheh.

Give my regards to Red Tail!

The pirate cove and the cliffs are where the game really starts to spike in difficulty. There are arrow traps galore and you’ll have to know how to dodge each and every single one of them like you’re Neo from the Matrix dodging bullets. Oh, what’s that, the game is hard? Well, at least it manages to make your mistakes actually be your own fault. It would be unfair for me to grade this game poorly for its difficulty…

The enemies there are also tough, this Scottish Terrier pirate is immune to your pistol, so you’ll have to somehow trick him into falling upon your sword.

Eat lead, boyo!Terrier Pirate

Marrow will be the boss of the cove, and he also requires brain power and a little bit of timing. You see, in order to defeat Marrow, you will have to hit his bird first, several times. After that, a bridge is formed, allowing you to cross the death pit that separates you from Marrow and hit him with your sword. Defeating him will earn you another gem.

Prepare for a watery grave, Marrow!

The next levels feature beautiful, crystal underwater caves, where Mercats live. I have to admit, I love how the male Mercats incorporate meta humor, instead of screaming in pain after they’re defeated, they’ll say something among the lines of “Well, I am not part of the living, am I?”, or “I appear to be deceased”. The female Mercats will attempt to stun you with their voice. There’s also piranha in the water and even more disappearing platforms that lead into pitfalls.

Gosh, I am handsome! – Male Mercat

After crawling through these caves, you encounter the monarch of the Mercats, Aquatis. Beware his tentacles and his fiery demeanor. Your sword won’t directly damage him, however you might notice a small hole behind him, and those sticks of dynamite might come in handy…

Claw: The Undersea Caves | Fighting Boss: Aquatis | Captain, Claws, Pixel art

The next level, Tiger Island, hoo boy… Yeah, this one’s only for the experienced. I know I keep repeating myself, dear reader, but you have to realize that this game expects a lot from you. The enemies from the Shipyard level reappear. Also, there’s these weird platforms that teleport right at the beginning when they finish travelling to the end, so uuh… watch out for those. I know, it hurts my brain as well, you’re not the only one.

Captain Claw - Level 13 - Tiger Island - YouTube

Red Tail… What can I say about this boss other than the fact that I never managed to defeat him without taking any damage? He has this wind attack that pushes you into the spikes, he throws knives in three directions and whenever he jumps, he always seems to land just beside you so that you take damage, annoying… Good thing he gives two gems instead of the usual one.

This is it, the final level of the game, the temple. This level looks like literal hell, that’s maybe because it’s kind of is hell. The enemies there are the toughest in the game, you HAVE to grab them or else they will pounce on you like tigers. There’s lava everywhere, on the floor, on the ceiling, falling through the grates… I am sure you will melt even before reaching the final boss…

Captain Claw (Perfects Collection) - The Temple HD - YouTube

Speaking of, Omar… You thought Red Tail was hard? Well, Omar has elemental shields that protect him from damage, you’ll have to travel ALL the way to the left, or right, to grab one of the two elemental swords that is opposite to his shield, Fire for ice and Ice for Fire (I forgot to talk about the elemental swords up until this point in this review, there’s also a thunder sword sometimes. They essentially do the same thing as magic claw). Either way, you have LIMITED time to hit him with a sword, you also have to be careful to not fall in lava or else you have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

Captain Claw - Final Boss - YouTube

Oh, you thought you were done? Nuh uh, he has a second phase! You have to use the elevator platform, or whatever it is, then fight him again. This time he throws blue magic balls of lightning or whatever at you and he LOVES spamming those. Either way, try shooting him or use some Magic Claws of your own to prevent him from doing that. Either way, defeating him grants you the last gem to complete the amulet…

Captain Claw - Fight with Omar - YouTube

And with the amulet granted by princess Adora, Claw becomes near immortal, and Omar will guard him and the amulet for ages to come.

So, we’ve reached the end of this review, is Claw a phenomenal game that holds up even to this day, in the year of our Lord 2023?

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It does, if you couldn’t already tell, and it’s not due to my nerdy nostalgia with this game, I mean I genuinely believe that this game has aged better than any other 2-D platforming game on the PC, maybe second only to Jazz Jackrabbit. This game’s silky-smooth movement, tight controls and gorgeous graphics, well thought out level design, like… Every piece of treasure, every enemy, every power-up was so carefully placed wherever they were needed. The very challenging, but mostly fair gameplay and the voice of Claw really show that Monolith put much effort into making this a masterpiece. Captain Claw (PC): Video Games | Claw game, Pc games download, Claws

Now, you may be asking: “Wowie, zowie, Zenishira, this game is so cool! Ehh, does it have a sequel?” To that I say “Yes, but actually no.” You see, this game is in a weird state, it’s not “technically” abandonware, I mean… Monolith hasn’t gone bankrupt, they still hold the rights to the IP, so what’s the hold up? They said that they would make a Claw 3D sequel and all we got was…

Nikita: The Mystery of the Hidden Treasure - PCGamingWiki PCGW - bugs, fixes, crashes, mods, guides and improvements for every PC game

We don’t talk about this one…Zenishira

Anyways, if you want to play this game, you can download it for free! There’s a site called Claw Recluse, where you can get an executable that runs on Windows 10/11 without much effort! If you want to see the cutscenes for the game, you can also download the CD/DVD version. I am telling you, even I did not expect this game to have such a dedicated community, however the game did advertise itself as being able to host a 64 player multiplayer server, back when such a thing was deemed impossible.

Almost forgot to put the OST video in this review, like I usually do, just take a listen to this score!

I really do hope that I brought attention to this masterpiece of a game. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did, and I sure hope you have a good one, Peace!

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