"Yes, you can laugh as Conker the Squirrel lurches on-screen and slices the hapless 64 logo in half. You can laugh your silly little brains out for all I care. But should you not also stop and use those shrivelled brains to think for a moment? Yes you jolly well should, ignoramus! That poor logo is just as much a motif Ė a telling symbol of the game to come Ė as it is a comic device, and donít you forget it. Conkerís Bad Fur Day is the Norman Bates of video games. It is a game full of halves and ..."
Yes, you can laugh as Conker the Squirrel lurches on-screen and slices the hapless 64 logo in half. You can laugh your silly little brains out for all I care. But should you not also stop and use those shrivelled brains to think for a moment? Yes you jolly well should, ignoramus! That poor logo is just as much a motif Ė a telling symbol of the game to come Ė as it is a comic device, and donít you forget it. Conkerís Bad Fur Day is the Norman Bates of video games. It is a game full of halves and contradictions, and one that ultimately winds up losing sight of itself as the madness takes hold. Let us examine the patient.
Itís a game with a simple story to tell, but one that constantly grows and expands into an amazing odyssey.
Itís a mish-mash of countless parodies and appropriations, yet itís one of the most strikingly original creations of all time.
Itís a wickedly funny and blatantly crass piece, but at its heart lies a poignancy that transcends such stuff.
We begin with poor Conker - the apparent ďking of all the landĒ - bemoaning his state of affairs. Whatever could have happened to this tortured soul? What events could have led to his lowly position of king? We shall find out through flashback, as this ďbad fur dayĒ unfolds. It is to be a day of chaos, a day where the inconceivable lies around every corner, and a day the likes of which the gaming community has never seen before. From its humble beginnings - in which a hungover Conker stumbles around a pretty, pastoral environment - to its bloody, confrontational end, this is one journey that will prove to be a constant assault and a constant insult on all of your senses.
Do not be fooled by the pretty surroundings that first greet your eyes. Whilst that big olí barn over yonder may appear warm and homely, and those cascading waterfalls around the corner may dazzle you with their beauty, the inhabitants of Conkerís world do their best to undermine the gorgeous nature of the game. Who knows what will take your breath away more: the level of detail inside a certain little room, its rickety beams and swaying rope ladders spiralling upwards in an endless, intricate maze, or being told to fí off by the grumpy little cog that hangs on its wall. With each new character comes the arrival of a new taboo, each conversation seemingly more vulgar than the last. This game sets out to destabilise any prior notions we may have held about video games, to reinvent and revitalise a medium bogged down to long with the formulaic, and it does this in tremendous style. The concept of the ďbad fur dayĒ is simply an excuse to let loose an array of ridiculous circumstances and characters from some depraved minds, and itís a refreshing result. And somewhere along the way, in the midst of all the madness, profanity and sexual innuendo, some truly great gaming moments are born.
Unfortunately, it can only be moments from Conkerís Bad Fur Day that leave a lasting impression on us, and nothing more. One cannot marvel at its mighty scale and overall achievements, for it is a heavily fragmented experience and each new section can be judged solely on its own merits. Luckily, there are some moments that will stay well and truly etched onto the psyche long after the game is finished. One canít forget the disturbing pitter-patter of Conkerís sticky feet as they trudge through a puddle of poo, nor can one forget the whimsy of a musical montage woven ingeniously into a boss fight. It is the sheer genius and hilarity of such moments that best show how Conkerís schizophrenic approach to gameplay quickly turns from an amusing plus into an annoyance. It is not enough to provide us with a few engrossing minutes of shotgun-wielding, zombie-blasting action, or a slight taste of high-octane racing. As soon as one finds something enjoyable within the game, and starts to truly enjoy themselves, theyíre whisked away in a frenzy to sample the next little adventure. As Conker continually sends up movie after movie and game after game, the unique identity of his own adventure slowly evaporates. We are not so much helping a luckless squirrel get home as we are inserting his character into well-worn roles and laughing occasionally at the results. There are moments of sheer brilliance, but the overall hollowness of Conkerís adventures will soon rub off on those who play it. It is not until the final cut-scene that this problem is rectified, the warm-beating heart of the game coming far too late.
That being said, Conkerís Bad Fur Day is one of the most important titles to surface in recent years. With its amalgamation of cinematic and gaming elements, and tongue-in-cheek approach to anything and everything, itís a much-needed step in the right direction. The wit and verve that permeates this title is immense, and something greatly missing from far too many games. This is a mould breaker, and while it lacks substance enough to be a classic game in its own right, its original and innovative approach will undoubtedly have an influence for many years to come.
And rightly so!
At its best, Conkerís Bad Fur Day will outshine almost anything. The game sparkles with imagination, and will captivate you with its unique approach to game creation. Itís a world where death lurks around every corner (wheezing and swearing uncontrollably), where promiscuous bees assault comely flowers, and where cash prizes are your only reward. And somewhere, in the middle of all of these oddball characters and tiresome spoofs, a cute little squirrel just wants to get some sleep. If you can somehow ignore the extraneous elements that weigh down the journey and focus on whatís important, youíll be rewarded immeasurably. However itís more likely that youíll be anticipating the end of the ďbad fur dayĒ even more than Conker is, and thatís a damn shame.
Community review by kingbroccoli (July 09, 2004)
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