Sunday, March 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Klayman!!!

Me Willie.
Me Willie Trombone!
This blog tells a story.
Story about good.
Story about bad.
This blog are all that are left of the TRUE story...
True story of the closing of the third age.
Willie know that once you know this truth, then you know what to do.
Listen! I tell you!

I was clearing up a lot of old computer junk at home the other day, and found an original CD with the Neverhood game. I installed it and it worked fine on Windows XP. Actually, anything else would have surprised me. I got the game at a press tour to Microsoft Campus in Seattle ten years ago. Microsoft launched it in October 1996 to promote Windows 95.

It is a masterpiece. Really.

The Neverhood is one of the most original adventure games ever made. It is done in clay animation (think Wallace and Gromit). The entire set of the game was built with three tons of clay and made with over 50,000 frames of animation. It was produced by Doug TenNapel, the man behind Earthworm Jim, and a group of eight developers who did all the clay sets, animations and voices themselves.

The result is nothing short of amazing.

The Neverhood is made in glorious 256 bit grainy 320x240 video graphics. Compared to today’s multimillion pixel virtual reality games it is mediocre, but the game is still extremely entertaining. (Remember that in 1996 a 166 MHz, 16 Mbyte RAM and 10 Gbyte hard disk PC was considered extremely high-end.)

The storyline is quite simple. You play the role of Klayman, who wakes up in Neverhood. Long ago the king Hoborg of Neverhood was betrayed by his trusted assistant Klogg. You meet Klayman's friend Willie Trombone and his mechanical sidekick Robot Bil [sic] . You save the Neverhood by navigating Klayman through a twisted plot of witty inventions, terrifying creatures and extraordinary machines. Most puzzles are quite simple, but they are well integrated into the game.

The music is also well-blended with the game and very innovative. The game is littered with bizarre and amusing sound effects and strange noises. And there is tons of extra stuff put in the game just for the fun of it. The many action sequences are hilarious, where Klayman is chased by monsters, running into closed doors, falling down stairs, etc.

The storyline is loosely based on the Bible and the story of the Creation. (If you visit Doug TenNapels blog you soon understand why.)

Despite its cult status Neverhood never found its niche. It neither sold well nor won critical acclaim, despite being both original and well executed. I remember that it was a bit expensive.

The Neverhood is one of only two adventure games that have been published by Dreamworks. (If they had chosen to release it as a movie instead of a game, it would have been a Hollywood blockbuster.) The sequel Skullmonkeys was oddly enough only released for the Playstation.

It is almost impossible to find today. Occasional you find it on eBay for $100, usually.

The "official" homepage is Swedish nowadays!
The best fan page
Polish fan list (in english) (wrong publishing date, September 22, 1997)

And btw, any of you ever wondered about the “Sound Effects Record no 33. Man Facing Backwards Taking a Shower“ in the radio? I put this song in Sound Forge and reversed it. The man in the shower is singing “Kum Ba Ya”.