Conker’s Bad Fur Day Review

Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker’s Bad Fur Day was something of a mad experiment in its day. During the years of the N64, developer Rare was in its heyday. With games like Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, and many other releases on the system, Rare was an almost unparalleled force of gaming quality during the era. But one of their promising N64 titles quickly became obsolete, as Twelve Tales: Conker 64 – a cutesy, animal-filled platformer – was deemed repetitious after the release of Banjo-Kazooie.

It what may have been an extravagant act of spite on the part of Rare and designer Chris Seavor, Conker 64 was completely retooled into a raunchy, profanity-laden, M-rated title called Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

Conker, once a cute, unassuming squirrel who debuted as a member of the Diddy Kong Racing cast, became a swearing, alcoholic jerk, and the cute world he inhabited became riddled in poop jokes, sexual innuendos, and gore.

At a glance, this change might seem like a cheap means for Conker to differentiate itself from Banjo-Kazooie. Thankfully, Rare used the change in tone to the game’s advantage, ultimately mixing up the gameplay experience because of its drastically different nature from its contemporaries. Though not all of its ideas are winners, and certain segments have suffered the same affects of aging as many N64 titles, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, as a whole, is a work of mad genius.

The game begins after a night of binge drinking, and an inebriated Conker – simply trying to find his way home – makes a wrong turn that ultimately takes him to a distant land. Conker then sets out on an adventure with a simple goal in mind: to find his way home and reunite with his girlfriend Berri. But it won’t be so easy, as the ruler of this land, the Panther King, plans to kidnap Conker, as his top scientist has deduced that the red squirrel is exactly the right height to serve as the replacement for a broken table leg, which has given the Panther King grief over countless spilled glasses of milk.

If that setup sounds absurd, it’s only the beginning of it. The entire game takes place over the span of a single day (hence the title). A day that sees Conker encounter increasingly bizarre and offensive situations, and progressively more corrupt characters.

Conker's Bad Fur DayThroughout his adventure, Conker will ride a velociraptor, turn into a vampire, enlist in the military to fight nazi teddy bears, pee on fire demons to put out their flames, bounce on the bosom of a sunflower, and in the game’s most famous moment, Conker does battle against a giant, opera-singing poop monster, to name just a handful of the strange situations the not-so-heroic squirrel finds himself in.

Aside from the consistently offensive material (some of which pushes the boundaries of its M rating), what separates Conker from other platformers of the time is the absence of collectibles. While Mario was chasing Stars and Banjo was nabbing Jiggies, Conker was simply, well, doing stuff. Wads of cash (anthropomorphic dollars who enjoy cursing at Conker) serve as an exclamation point at the end of various objectives, but they are never presented as a collected goal.

Conker's Bad Fur DayInstead, Conker’s Bad Fur Day takes advantage of its offensive situations and daylong timeframe to make the experience feel like a seamless chain of events. There aren’t so much levels as much as there are different connected areas distinguished by their themes (which include barns, battlefields and mountains of poop, as opposed to platforming norms). The game is progressed through arcs in the overall story, as opposed to being advanced through obtaining more golden trinkets.

There are areas in the game, particularly early on, that use more traditional platforming challenges, but the adventure progressively adds new twists and tweaks to the gameplay, which makes for an incredibly varied gaming experience.

The game achieves this mostly through what is humorously referred to as “context sensitive situations.” Instead of giving Conker a robust and expanding moveset like Banjo and Kazooie, he himself is stuck with the basics (running, jumping, gliding, and a basic attack to stun enemies), but by hitting the B button while standing on certain pads or during particular situations, Conker receives exactly what he needs at that moment (hence “context sensitive”). Whether it be a shotgun to shoot some zombie heads, an aspirin to cure a hangover, or a swig of alcohol so he can unzip and extinguish those aforementioned fire demons, it’s all just a matter of pressing B at the appropriate time.

To top it all off, the game is complimented by a memorable musical score by Robin Beanland, and some of the best visuals and presentation in the Nintendo 64’s library. The voice acting is top notch and humorous, and the animations and lip syncing were far ahead of their time. There may not be another N64 title that matches it cinematically.

Conker's Bad Fur DayFor those who may feel the ten or so hours it takes to finish the game aren’t enough, Conker’s Bad Fur Day comes equipped with seven different multiplayer modes. Though some of these modes adhere to multiplayer norms (such as “War,” which includes basic death matches and capture the flag modes), others are a bit more unique (the mode titled “Raptor” sees some player’s taking control of the titular dinosaur while others play as cavemen, with the raptors killing the cavemen to feed their young, while the cavemen can find guns to defend themselves in their quest to steal the raptors’ eggs for food). The best multiplayer mode is “Heist,” which sees four color-coded weasels trying to nab a runaway bag of loot while killing their competitors in a spoof on Resevoir Dogs.

The multiplayer modes can be played against AI if you don’t have anyone else around, but for maximum entertainment value you should be playing with a full group of four players (Heist remains pretty fun even against the AI, however).

Unfortunately, not all is good in the world of Conker. Like so many N64 games, the camera controls are far from ideal, and a number of areas in the game are so dark you can’t see what’s right in front of you. Combine those two elements and you have a number of instances of accidental deaths.

Speaking of which, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a surprisingly difficult game, with certain segments feeling needlessly challenging, and in a few instances, somewhat unfair. Thankfully, checkpoints are plenty, so if you get past one difficult segment, you won’t have to repeat it once you wrap it up. Though I question why the game utilizes a life system (aside from tradition), considering you’ll start back from the same checkpoints whether you lose a single life or get a game over. The only difference is that a game over will take you back to the file select screen, which just seems unnecessary.

Some of the game’s chapters simply aren’t as fun as others, and even overstay their welcome. Some of the later chapters in particular, like the one based around vampires and zombies and the war chapter, feel like they would have been better if they were trimmed short. And some of the changes they make in the gameplay go unexplained to the player, which can be a little jarring with the first few tries.

Perhaps in a bit of a personal gripe, I also found the ending segment a bit disappointing, as it basically writes off most of what had been built up in the story in favor of a few extra movie references and fourth wall-breaking. Yes, the plot is nonsense, but the disregard the ending gives to certain elements still comes off as a letdown.

When all is said and done though, Conker’s Bad Fur Day truly is a game unlike any other. Not only for its irreverent and often obscene personality, but also for its willingness to reinvent itself on a moment’s notice time and time again. Not all of its ideas stick, and age has gotten the better of certain aspects of the game, but what may be the worst day of Conker’s life makes for a strangely captivating video game.

 

8.5

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Conker’s Bad Fur Day Review

  1. Matt

    So you did end up getting the game. Awesome!

    I agree that some of its segments are a bit unappealing and have not aged well (I do love the War and Vampire sections throroughly, though). Still, overall it is an excellent game.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      Thank you very much! Yes, I managed to nab the game on Amazon with some of the gift cards I got for Christmas (a big thanks to my siblings).

      It is indeed an awesome game, and I was tempted to give it an even higher score, but by the time I finished the game I think there were just too many frustrating moments for it to break into the “9” area. It’s a shame we’ll probably never see a proper sequel, they could do so much with the concept.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. AfterStory

    Great review! I personally loved this game as it is a brilliant work of satire and such a deviation from the traditional nature of the 3D platformer. I loved the world design and couldn’t wait to discover a new area. Plus Conker’s Bad Fur Day brilliantly incorporates multiple genres in an efficient manner! And although I can agree that the game has its fair share of frustration, I personally loved the zombie segment as it was an enjoyable parody of the rising popularity of zombies (ie Resident Evil). But seems like you enjoyed the game and that’s all that really matters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      I greatly loved Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It’s just like I said in the above comment, I just think there were enough aged/frustrating moments that held me back from giving it the “9” I was feeling during the first few hours. Though now I’m flip-flopping if it should have been an 8.5… Dang.

      I really did love the way it meshed genres together, while keeping a platformer at the heart of it all. Makes you wonder why no one else has borrowed this concept (some might argue the Jak & Daxter sequels did that, but I feel like they simply removed the platforming aspect altogether).

      Now I must ask, have you played Banjo-Kazooie yet? I think I’ll be revisiting it again soon myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. AfterStory

        Completely understand my friend! Yeah, the game hasn’t really aged very well in certain aspects so I definitely concur with the frustrations.
        I’d have to agree on your opinion of Jak & Daxter, while the plethora of genres added a sense of variation, the sequels could not be distinguished as a platformer by the end of it. And don’t get mad, but I still have yet to play Banjo-Kazooie:/ I ensure you that I will, I’ll definitely play before I make my list of favourite games but I am currently playing A Link to the Past – which is giving Ocarina of Time, my favourite Zelda, a run for its money. I’m really hoping that I can play enough games and plop out a list for March but there’s still so much for me to see 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. themancalledscott Post author

        If it makes you feel any better, I’m second-guessing my March deadline, and may up it to May…

        A Link to the Past is a masterpiece. It’s still the Zelda game I feel that the rest of the series has built on since. Either that or Wind Waker are my favorites in the series. Mario is a bit harder for me to decide…

        I do wish we could see a sequel to Conker that could build on its elements. At the very least, a spiritual sequel would be nice. Maybe Playtonic games will follow up Yooka-Laylee with a Conker-esque game (though probably not, seeing as it’s comprised of ex members of the Banjo and DK teams, as opposed to Conker’s).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. AfterStory

        That actually makes me feel a lot better 🙂 Yeah I love A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker – it’s fairly difficult for me to choose out of three. Yes a sequel or spiritual successor would be excellent! There was that Xbox remake of the original that was competent but its heavy censorship detracted from Conker’s audacious quality, delivering less of an impact. Since Microsoft (or Rare) own the rights to Conker, I’m not too optimistic on our chances on seeing a sequel for a little squirrel buddy 😦

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Zelda to play 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s