Conker is a cute, cuddly squirrel. As such, you would probably expect a game that features said cute squirrel to be a whimsical kid-friendly tale that features all kinds of adorable talking animals and aww-inducing moments.
And you would be hilariously wrong. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is anything kid-friendly, and we couldn’t be happier because the game is a rollicking, insane adventure which features our titular squirrel binge-drinking, urinating on enemies and fighting foul-mouthed baddies while sometimes having to roll around in poo. Well done Rare, well done.
Rare’s history as a storied game developer is well known, but Conker’s Bad Fur Day is truly one of their shining achievements. Not only is the game crude and over-the-top, but also features remarkable level design, tight controls and graphics and sound which showcase the power of the Nintendo 64 to the fullest.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day sets aside the traditional formula for Rare’s 3D platformers – it features very little item collection that was central to games like Donkey Kong 64 – and instead focuses more on the action. You’ll run, jump and explore context sensitive mechanics (areas with giant ‘B’ marks) that give Conker a varied set of powers. At the start of the game, pressing B in one of these areas leads to our lovely squirrel drinking some hangover medicine after an all-night bender, a task which many of us can relate to intimately. In other areas of the game, pressing ‘B’ in these areas can have you doing things like throwing knives, activate slingshots, shoot two-handed guns and slow down time Matrix style to mow down enemies, turn Conker into an anvil to smite baddies etc. These context sensitive actions keep the game fresh and exciting. They also set the game apart from every other run/jump/double jump platformer out there.
Your journey through the game will take you through a series of massive levels within an interconnected world encountering interesting enemies and allies in vintage Rare fashion. Whichever direction your furry paws head in, there’s interesting quests to be undertaken and sub-quests that follow the ones you undertake originally. The game rolls from one thing to another seamlessly, a design achievement that is truly marvelous when you sit back and think about the pace of the game. There’s at least 15-18 hours of gameplay to be had here, and each minute of it is entertaining.
The context sensitive mechanics also play a role in solving the many 3D puzzles you will encounter in the game, in combination with your platforming abilities. After all, as a hungover squirrel trying to get back to your girlfriend, you probably hadn’t expected to get yourself into situations where you had to get cows to drink prune juice, have baby dinosaurs follow you to their death or navigate a tricky underwater tunnel system.
Making the proceedings more interesting is the game’s funny writing and clever humor replete with pop culture references, satire and a cast of outrageous and memorable characters. You’ll find references to The Matrix, The Terminator, Jaws, Aliens and others as you encounter singing piles of poo, potty-mouthed paint buckets and sexual bees. The combat features laugh-out-loud lines of dialogue and the interplay of the characters produces some of the game’s funniest moments. What’s amazing is that all of it fits organically into the overall adventure – it’s one big, insane, foul-mouthed joy ride.
Once you’re done with the single-player campaign, you can jump into the multiplayer modes and enjoy the game some more. The Beach mode has you playing as either the Frenchies or the Tediz, and your job is to escape to Paris (if you’re the Frenchies) or shoot your opponents before they escape (if you’re the Tediz).
Technical Side of Things:
The graphics are amazing, and this is without a doubt one of the best-looking titles on the Nintendo 64. The open worlds are huge and feature detailed lighting and textures. The character designs are cute and inventive, and the facial animation system for Conker and the characters he encounters lends each of them with a distinct personality and mood. In addition, all of the dialog is lip-synced by the characters in-game, adding to the sense of immersion. There’s a lot to praise here – from the subtlety of the shadows, the blended textures and intelligent use of transparency, the stellar particle effects system – and it all works together without producing any framerate drops.
The audio is great and sounds rich on the Nintendo 64, featuring hours of brilliantly voice-acted dialogue between hilarious characters, in addition to the distinct environmental and combat effects. There’s also a great soundtrack underlining everything, consisting of Shakespearean songs about poo, pulse-pounding jungle beats and techno tracks that would fit right into the matrix.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a brilliant game that features a great developer at the height of their powers. This game is funny, features amazing platforming and a whole host of memorable characters. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is a must-play.