It’s pretty strange for an American-designed game to get a spinoff specifically for the Japanese market. And yet here we are with Klaymen Gun Hockey, developed by a company called KIDSMIND and published by Riverhill Soft, who also published the other Klaymen games in Japan. It’s pretty much just air hockey, except you shoot the puck with guns. On the playing field there are several power-ups that can block your goals, unleash multiple pucks, or speed up the movement. The player with the highest score when the time limit runs out wins. And that’s pretty much it. It’s incredibly simplistic, especially since the gun aims towards the puck anyway.
The whole game reeks of a cash-in. There are absolutely no claymation sequences, just some hand-drawn stills that tell the “story” of Klaymen’s quest to play everyone in the Neverhood in Gun Hockey. There are only a handful of characters, including Klaymen, Willie, Klogg, Hoborg and Weasel (the big plant thing from the first game). The music is depressingly bland too. It’s interesting to see the Klaymen characters rendered in 3D, at least. Gun Hockey feels like it would be a great minigame in another title, but as a standalone release (even a budget one – the retail price was set at 3800 yen), there’s little of interest in Gun Hockey outside of it being a mere curiosity.
After Skullmonkeys, The Neverhood went on to make only one more game – Boombots for the PlayStation. Although Klaymen had a cameo as a hidden character, it was pretty far removed from everything they’d done before, and it pretty much flopped. The various members of The Neverhood are still around – Doug TenNapel has been working in cartoons, and Terry S. Taylor still composes music. Here’s hoping another company will step outside the usual boundaries of computer animation and bring us something as uniquely defined as The Neverhood Chronicles.